“Loyalist Trails” 2017-04: January 22, 2017

In this issue:
Massachusetts Loyalists Buried in Halifax (Part 1 of 3), by Stephen Davidson
A Good Time to be ‘Sic’
Nursery Rhyme Challenge: Sing a Song of Loyalists
Canada 150: Celebrating our Loyalist Ancestry – In Song
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Crime in Saint John County
JAR: George Washington Tells a Lie
Book review: From Revolution to Reunion: The Reintegration of the South Carolina Loyalists
A Sweetheart Deal For Ontario Drivers: February Special
Where in the World?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
      + Information About Squire Thomas
      + Big Alex and Big Norman MacLeod


Massachusetts Loyalists Buried in Halifax (Part 1 of 3)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Ghost stories portray cemeteries as places of dread and horror, but for the historically minded, a graveyard is a library of biographies waiting to be discovered. The stories that lie hidden within the tombstones of long-dead loyalists are little harder to bring to light, but they are worth the effort. Let’s see what a quick virtual tour of Halifax’s Old Burying Ground reveals about those who became refugees of the American Revolution and who were laid to rest in one of Canada’s oldest cemeteries.

The first large wave of Loyalist refugees to find sanctuary in Halifax arrived in the naval port on April 3, 1776. With Boston surrounded by rebel troops in March of that year, British soldiers and their families boarded 120 ships to escape capture. A tenth of those 11,000 evacuees were loyal Americans.

Thomas Hutchinson was among the more fortunate of the loyal evacuees who fled to Halifax that winter. Having “connections”, he did not have to endure Nova Scotia blizzards in an army tent erected as refugee housing on Citadel Hill, contend with smallpox, or pay inflated prices for food as the poorer refugees did. His diary records the following:

“April third: Landed at Halifax. Edward Lyde Esq. invited me to his house, where I tarried till I embarked for England. I was very happy in being at Lyde’s, as there was so great an addition to the inhabitants from the navy and army, and Refugees from Boston, which made the lodgings for them very scarce to be had, and many of them, when procured, quite intolerable. Provisions were here as dear as in London. The rents of houses were extravagant, and the owners of them took all advantages of the necessity of the times … I pitied the misfortunes of others, but I could only pity them: for myself, I was happily provided for, and was the more happy, as I had been very sea-sick during my 6 days’ voyage…”

The loyalists who could afford the fare set sail in May for England where they stayed in the expectation that the revolution would soon be quashed. The refugees with fewer resources made Halifax their home. For many, it would be their final resting place.

William Brattle was one of the first of the Boston evacuees to be buried in Halifax. A Harvard graduate, he had represented Cambridge in the Massachusetts house of assembly. He also served his colony as a clergyman, a lawyer, a doctor and a major general in the militia. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography notes “His talents and attractive manners made him a favorite with the governor, and popular among the people. When the revolutionary war began, his attachment to General Gage impelled him to side with the British.”

Brattle and his wife Katherine had a son Thomas and a daughter Katherine, both of whom were to die in Massachusetts as citizens of the new republic. Although Thomas did not have any children, the Brattle name can be found in places other than William’s tombstone. A street in Boston bears the family name. The loyalist’s portrait had been painted by the famous loyalist artist, John Singleton Copley; a framed canvas which for many years could be found in the home of one of William’s grandchildren.

Katherine Brattle married a Boston merchant. Upon his death, she moved back to Cambridge and was the means by which her brother held on to the family estate. Thomas Brattle was studying in England when his parents sought sanctuary in Halifax, and he chose to stay there until 1779. Five years later, Thomas reclaimed his family’s estate. Finding it ransacked and damaged by Continental troops, he was able to restore it before his death in 1801. Neither Katherine nor Thomas is ever noted as visiting their loyalist father’s grave in Halifax, a site that is unmarked to this day.

Jonathan Sterns was also a Harvard alumnus who sought sanctuary in Halifax. Ten years later, his appears in the transcripts of the loyalist compensation commission as a witness for Patrick Wall, a loyalist tailor of Boston. In 1797, John Wentworth, Nova Scotia’s first loyalist lieutenant governor, reward Sterns’ loyalty and abilities by appointing him as solicitor-general of the colony. However, Sterns would only enjoy this position for a year. He died on May 23, 1798, “leaving a large family” to mourn him as he was laid to rest in Halifax’s Old Burying Ground.

Nathaniel Ray Thomas and his son Charles were two other loyalist who fled Boston in 1776. Thomas was a Harvard graduate who settled in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Because he had been made a member of the Mandamus Council (a group of 36 men chosen by the governor as the colony’s upper house), he was persecuted by rebel mobs and was forced to seek shelter in British-held Boston in 1774. His wife Sally (Dearing) and the younger children remained at their farm in Marshfield right up until the end of the revolution. Thomas and his son Charles only stayed in Halifax for a year; they settled in England for the following six years.

In 1784, Thomas was back in Halifax, seeking compensation for his wartime losses. At the time of his death seven years later, Thomas was a farmer in an undesignated part of Nova Scotia. Charles, the son who had fled Boston with his father in 1776, became a lieutenant in the British Army and is the family member whose grave can be found in Halifax.


Learn about the grave of a loyalist (and Mayflower descendant) found in Halifax’s Old Burying Ground in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

(This three-part series complements previous research done on other loyalist refugees in Halifax’s Old Burying Ground. Read more by viewing Brian McConnell’s feature, “Loyalists in the Old Burying Ground at Halifax.”)

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

A Good Time to be ‘Sic’

As all readers of historical research know, writers put the Latin word “sic” in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original. However, as this bracketed intrusion often slows down the narrative of a historical article, a writer often chooses not to insert it in his/her work.

In the January 8th edition of Loyalist Trails, Stephen Davidson’s story raised a few eyebrows because he neglected to insert that important “sic”. His feature included a reference to a Norfolk, Rhode Island. Check a map. No such Rhode Island city exists.

Ah, if only the sentence in question had read, “Joseph Durfee, a Norfolk, Rhode Island {sic} loyalist, had a 33% interest in the schooner Dolphin.” Geography would not be the matter under discussion; it would, instead, be a question of transcription accuracy.

If one were to consult the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL), one would see the source material on Durfee that was recorded on a 1785 December day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The loyalist before the board was described as “Joseph Durfee, late of Norfolk, Rhode Island”. Did Durfee lie about his hometown — or is it an error in transcription?

There seem to be two solutions to the mystery of the nonexistent Norfolk, Rhode Island. Perhaps there was a Norfolk in 1785 (it is, after all, referenced several times in the RCLSAL transcript) that was renamed in the years following the American Revolution. However, the more likely explanation would be that the stenographer for the compensation hearings thought that he heard “Norfolk” when Durfee gave his hometown’s name. Newport — a coastal city that played an important part in the revolution’s history and that had its fair share of loyalists — might sound like “Norfolk” if it had been rendered in a strong Yankee twang at the RCLSAL hearings. Given that Newport is mentioned a number of times at later points in Durfee’s transcript, this may be the real name of the loyalist’s Rhode Island home.

The British stenographers for the RCLSAL often had difficulty hearing or understanding names that loyalists used at their hearings. (Cobequid, Nova Scotia, for example, was once rendered “Cobblegate”. It doesn’t take much imagination to think of all the ways that they misspelled the “Kennebecasis River”!)

Simply including “sic” would have spared a mad search through a map of Rhode Island or questions about geographical accuracy, and —perhaps– left us questioning the skills of the RCLSAL’s stenographers. Or would the inclusion have slowed down the telling of an interesting loyalist story?

Nursery Rhyme Challenge: Sing a Song of Loyalists

Based of course on “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

Sing a song of courage, hope that will not die.
One hundred thousand Loyalists stoutly defy
Tarring and feathering, the loss of home and friend
For principles they lived by in order to defend.

Sing a song of hardship with many a weary sigh
In the dead of winter, hear children’s hungry cry.
A cabin built of logs in a land that they must tame.
High the price for them to pay to live up to their name!

Sing a song of promise, a faith that will not lie
Till many years of toil bear fruit, and a better life is nigh.
Then with one strong and loyal voice they all begin the sing.
In thankfulness and tribute to duty and their King.

© Jean Rae Baxter 2017

Reader Challenge: A wee opportunity to let loose your poetic skills and energy. Are you up to the challenge? Write a nursery rhyme based on one you are familiar with but change the content to reflect the Revolutionary War period – events leading up to it, during it or afterwards, including loyalist settlement in Canada. Indicate the title of the nursery rhyme it is based on. Preferably short ie one, two or three verses, but longer ones won’t be refused. Submit to the editor, loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Canada 150: Celebrating our Loyalist Ancestry – In Song

If you open the Heritage Canada site that speaks of Canada’s Founding Peoples, nowhere is there any reference to the influence of the Loyalists. In the 2017 celebrations there should be at least some token recognition of this contribution, as well as how the Loyalists may be an and early example of Canada’s current policy in the welcoming of Refugees.

There are a number of poems and songs attributed to the loyalist sentiment prior to their move to the north. However, there seems to be lack of any that describe how they felt about and experienced their new land.

As an initial suggestion, and for members’ and readers’ comments and further suggestions, here is a draft series of verses that may fill this gap. Its meter is associated with “On Top Of Old Smokey”. Apparently one google reference to Old Smokey states that the origin was actually England.

Based of course on “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

A New Home
We’re pleased with the prospect,
New neighbours, have we,
A community spirit,
No longer just “ME”.

Old friends had objected,
To Monarchy’s rules,
But republican masters,
Made the rebels their tools.

Said the King was ignoring,
The views we put forth.
But the wealthy land owners,
Was why we came North.

This country has promise,
To meet all our needs,
With our Loyalist’s labour,
And land grants in deeds.

As more years soon follow,
All Loyalists will sing,
Our praise and thanksgiving,
And “God Save the King”.

In more generations,
Will our history glean,
Honorable mention,
In two thousand, seventeen.

May our new country welcome,
People ‘cross all the seas,
Like our Loyalist families,
Canada’s” first Refugees.

Lew Trecarten, Ottawa

Loyalist Song Suggestions, please: Lew has initiated this suggestion with a great contribution. How can we collectively develop the idea as part of the celebrations this year? Reply to loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Crime in Saint John County

Crime was running rampant throughout the busy and filthy streets of New Brunswick’s Saint John County in the early nineteenth century. While the Saint John County Court of General Sessions dealt with matters such as the appointment of parish officers and the individuals granted liquor licenses, the majority of the court records from this time period pertain to crime. Saint John County limits included the City of Saint John and the Parishes of Portland, Lancaster, Saint Martins, and Carleton. The many offenses listed within the Court Records during this time range from petty to extreme. Examples of some of these offenses included, but are certainly not limited to: assault, libel, larceny, rioting, selling liquor without a license, and even bastardy. With events like these happening on a daily basis, the Saint John courts certainly had their hands full!

Read more.

JAR: George Washington Tells a Lie

By Benjamin Huggins, January 19, 2017

In June 1780, Gen. George Washington told a lie. In fact, he planned a major deception. But as it was intended to deceive the British high command during the midst of the Revolutionary War, most Americans would likely forgive him. General Washington, with the aid of Major General Lafayette, wanted the British to believe that the French army under the command of Lieutenant General Rochambeau, soon expected to arrive in North America, was intended to help the Americans liberate Canada from the British yoke.

Washington and Lafayette designed a proclamation that they planned to have printed in Philadelphia. “We talked of a Proclamation to the Canadians,” Washington wrote to Lafayette in May, “If it is not already done, I think it ought not to be delayed. It should be in your own name, and have as much as possible an air of probability.” Washington wanted to use the document (to be written in French) to propagate an elaborate ruse. The proclamation, the American commander wrote, “should contain an animating invitation [to the Canadians] to arrange themselves under the allied banners. … you should hold yourself up as a French and American officer charged both by the King of France and by Congress with a commission to address them upon the occasion. It may indeed be well to throw out an idea that you are to command the corps of American troops destined to cooperate with the French armament. The more mystery in this business the better. It will get out and it ought to seem to be against our intention.”

Read more.

Book review: From Revolution to Reunion: The Reintegration of the South Carolina Loyalists

By Rebecca Brannon (University of South Carolina Press, September 2016). Reviewed by Wayne Lynch.

First and foremost, let me just start by saying what a unique and interesting subject Ms. Brannon chose for her book. There are many books out on what happened to the Loyalists who departed for Nova Scotia, England, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands. To my knowledge, there is almost nothing written on what happened to the loyalists who stayed behind. I have always noticed a large discrepancy between the numbers of those who departed and the numbers of Loyalists who lived in the South Carolina back country. Because of that discrepancy, I was very excited to be assigned the task of reading and reviewing this text.

The American Revolution in South Carolina developed into a very vicious and personal campaign where neighbors turned on each other and whole families found themselves ostracized from the community. By the time the conflict ended the victorious Whigs were ready for some official and permanent payback. If the Loyalists were not outright banned as leaders they found their property taken and under threat of confiscation by the state. South Carolina needed money and the easiest way out of their situation seemed to come from sale and confiscation of Loyalist property.

Read more of the review.

A Sweetheart Deal For Ontario Drivers: February Special

While the United Empire Loyalists arrived long before Confederation you can still share your pride in their heritage as you celebrate the 150th anniversary. You may remember the special centenary Ontario Licence Plate project that kicked off the 2014 celebrations. With less than forty-eight plates beginning with 02UE, you still have a chance to get a plate that you will remember and cause comments wherever you drive.

SAVE: for the rest of the month of February, you can save 30 dollars when you place your order. AND we will also ship your request FREE!

Take these 2 steps now:

1. Email public.relations@uelac.org with your preferred number chosen from the following: 16-19, 23, 24, 26-32, 34, 36-38, 40, 42, 47,49, 52-55, 57,59, 67, 69, 72-75, 79, 90-95, 97, 98.

2. Send your cheque for $80.00 and this form to the George Brown House office.

Show your support of the UELAC and your pride in your pre-confederation heritage

…Fred H. Hayward, UELAC Public Relations

Where in the World?

Where are Pat Blackburn, Ruth Nicholson, Paul Lewington, and Marilyn Hardsand of Hamilton Branch?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Brian McConnell UE visits the Loyalist cemetery at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Weymouth North, Nova Scotia – short video.
  • Brian McConnell UE @brianm564 notes that there are now over 850 graves of United Empire Loyalists listed in the Loyalist Graves Site.
  • TEXTILIS: 18th & 19th Century markgin of linen. [My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: LXXIV | By Viveka Hansen]  In larger homes containing a considerable quantity of linen and underclothes that needed to be kept under control, some form of sorting system would be used to ensure that each item could be returned to its correct place after washing, mangling and ironing. Garments would be numbered, often with the owner’s initials or name added. Read more… with photos of some artifacts.
  • Two Nerdy History Girls: Friday Video: Historical Dresses Undressed. an interesting video produced by the Mode Museum (MoMu) in Antwerp, Belgium, in conjunction with their 2012 exhibition Living Fashion: Women’s Daily Wear 1750-1950. There’s a splendid selection of dresses from the exhibition, photographed “in the round” so the backs (which can be the best parts of 19th c. dresses) is visible as well as the fronts. It’s a great way to see the complete stylish silhouette. In addition, a number of the dresses are shown with the undergarments that give them the necessary fashionable shape – including a daunting maternity corset from the 1860s. Other highlights are an early 20th c. ridging habit shown “riding” a ghostly, galloping horse, and how a c.1900 dress was refashioned into a 1940 “war dress.”
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos)
    • 14 Jan 1784 Congress ratifies Treaty of Paris, officially ending over 8 yrs of Revolution.
    • 15 Jan 1777 Vermont declares independence from Britain–and New-York, remaining an independent Republic to 1791.
    • 16 Jan 1776 Loyalists in British-occupied Boston tear down Patriots’ old North Meeting House to use for firewood.
    • 17 Jan 1777 Patriot forces begin moving on a British post at Ft. Independence, King’s Bridge.
    • 17 Jan 1781 Americans rout British at Cowpens, undermining idea that they could not defeat British in open battle.
    • 18 Jan 1777 Congress orders signed copies of Declaration of Independence sent to the States.
    • 19 Jan 1770 Riot known as the Battle of Golden Hill erupts when British post handbills attacking Sons of Liberty.
    • 20 Jan 1781 300 weary American troops at Pompton, New-Jersey mutiny, in echo of earlier Pennsylvania Line mutiny.


Information About Squire Thomas

The Thomas Family descendants are seeking to find the birthplace (likely in one of the original 13 American colonies) for “Squire Thomas”, born in either 1751 or 1752. Much of his history has been gathered for the time he lived in Canada, after 1780, but we know little of what happened before this time. Our family tree is available to the public on ancestry.ca under “Thomas Family Tree”. We would like to know more about Squire Thomas’ early life, who his parents were, and where they were from. Did he have any siblings? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. The document attached – Family of Squire Thomas – will tell you what has been gathered to date by Robert Thomas, a 3rd great-grandson of Squire Thomas. Robert is my cousin. Thanks in advance for any help.

Anne Lennox

Editor’s Note: The referenced document lists the children of Squire Thomas b c1751 and Elizabeth Fishback b 1765, married in Montreal in 1796. Pages three through six note Squire’s relationship to the Johnson and Claus families, an application for land in Hereford County in 1792, petitions for land at Newark by both Squire and Elizabeth (as a DUE) in 1797. Soon back in Montreal, he is noted in 1816 he is noted as living at 24 St Maries St. – not too distant neighbours are Sir John Johnson at 57 and John Molson at 41.

Big Alex and Big Norman MacLeod

On the UELAC website there is an article about the Loyalist Rose. Big Alex and Big Norman are my 5th and 6th great grandfathers and I am trying to find source material for them.

Apparently Norman settled in Lancaster before he died and was considered a Loyalist? Also according to this article Big Alex was denied Loyalist status in error.

According to MacLeod of Glengarry book on page 159 Alex’s son William is buried in the UEL cemetery in south Lancaster.

I’d like to connect with other researchers of this line. I don’t see either one of them (Alex or Norman) in the Loyalist directory.

Thanks and kindest regards,

Bill Morrison