“Loyalist Trails” 2017-05: January 29, 2017

In this issue:
Massachusetts Loyalists Buried in Halifax (Part 2 of 3), by Stephen Davidson
Nursery Rhyme Challenge: I Saw A Ship A-Sailing…
Second thoughts on George III: Online Project Could Alter View of King
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Rampant Crime of Saint John County
Borealia: Anishnaabeg in the War of 1812: More than Tecumseh and his Indians
JAR: Those Who Could Not Serve
Research: Searching Loyalist Claims on Ancestry.ca and Elsewhere (Part 1 of 2)
Resource: Guysborough Sketches and Essays by A.C. Jost
A Sweetheart Deal For Ontario Drivers: February Special
Where in the World?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Estelle Pringle, UE


Massachusetts Loyalists Buried in Halifax (Part 2 of 3)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

By taking a virtual stroll around one of Canada’s oldest cemeteries, you can discover the stories of Massachusetts loyalists who found sanctuary — and their final resting place — in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Jonathan Snelling was interred in the Old Burying Ground in December of 1782, just six years after fleeing Boston’s violent rebels. In his home city, he had been a prosperous merchant, interested in protecting trans-Atlantic trade. In a letter to a business colleague, he explained why he had allied himself with loyalists when they sent an “address” to Massachusetts’ royal governor.

“For my part, I never interested myself in political affairs, nor concerned myself in any of our public disputes, but hearing from undoubted authority that our late Governor …would be the likeliest man to get our difficulties removed, and seeing what distressing times were coming upon us … I signed, with the sincere motive of doing good to my native country.”

Snelling and his family paid a high price for “doing good”, finding themselves among the evacuees of 1776. After his death, his widow and his son Samuel (just seventeen) returned to Boston, hoping to reclaim Snelling’s property but were dismayed to find that it had been confiscated. Nevertheless, Samuel Snelling decided to settle in the new republic. His oldest brother, 25 year-old Jonathan Junior, remained in Halifax for the rest of his life.

Jeremiah Dummer Rogers practiced law in Littleton, Massachusetts until he made his loyalty public knowledge by signing the same document that had made a refugee of Jonathan Snelling. Finding sanctuary in Boston, Rogers became the commissary to the British troops in Charlestown. His wife Bathsheba and four of their children took refuge in Halifax with Rogers until the lawyer’s death in 1784.

The three Rogers daughters married notable Bostonians. Samuel became a merchant; two of his brothers died young. Only Jeremiah Rogers Junior adhered to his father’s loyalist stance. After being educated in England, young Rogers became a classical scholar, having among his students Lord Byron, one of Britain’s greatest Romantic poets. Today, you can visit Nottingham and see the monument erected in young Rogers’ memory. However, if you were to visit Halifax’s Old Burying Ground, there would be nothing bearing the family name. Jeremiah Dummer Rogers was placed in an unmarked grave.

Christopher Minot, a Boston customs officer (or “tide waiter”) and a Harvard alumnus also lies in grave without a headstone. In 1783, he died a bachelor at seventy-seven years of age.

Given that so much of the rebel anger and violence had to do with British taxes on trade, it is not surprising that 37 heads of households who fled Boston in 1776 were with the “Customs House”. Including their families, that made up 132 of the Massachusetts refugees who found sanctuary in Halifax.

One such Customs House official among the Boston evacuees was James Murray who brought six of his family with him to Halifax. He would seem to be the same Murray featured in Timothy Compeau’s 2015 doctoral thesis, Dishonoured Americans. His conflicts with patriots began long before 1776.

Despite being a member of the Massachusetts elite, James Murray suffered insult and humiliation when he attended a 1769 trial in support of a loyal customs officer. The crowd hissed at Murray as he entered the courtroom, ripped the wig off his bald head and then paraded down the street with his hairpiece on a pole. Until he left with the royal army in 1776, Murray was regularly subjected to being insulted on the streets despite his escort of British soldiers.

Two years later, Murray was among those listed in the Massachusetts Banishment Act. Should he have attempted to return to his former home, he would “suffer the pains of death without benefit of clergy”. Having endured humiliation, persecution and banishment, James Murray died in Halifax.

A prominent American customs official who had Mayflower ancestors was Edward Winslow of Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was clerk of the courts, register of probate and collector of the port. The extended Winslow family included 21 displaced persons when it arrived in Halifax in 1776. Edward Winslow would live in exile for the remaining eight years of his life. Documents of the era note that the ceremonies at his funeral were of “a style to confer the highest honor.”

Winslow was buried in the upper right hand corner of the Halifax burying ground. His flat, gray tombstone reads: ”Sacred to the memory of Edward Winslow, Esquire, who died the 9th of June, 1784, in the 72nd year of his age. Descended from a race of ancestors, Governors of the ancient Colony of Plymouth, he in no one instance degenerated from their loyalty or virtue, but while he filled the first offices, became as conspicuous by public integrity as he was amiable in the milder shades of private life. Although his fortunes suffered shipwreck in the storm of Civil War, and he forsook his native country from an attachment to his sovereign, neither his cheerful manners nor the calm reward of conscious rectitude forsook him in old age. He died as he lived, beloved by his friends and respected by his enemies.”

Benjamin Kent, another loyalist buried in Halifax, was quite a character. He began his professional life as a clergyman, a role for which he was thought to be too “unclerical and humorous”. When he became a lawyer, his friends included a number of prominent rebels. John Adams –destined to become the second president of the United States– once noted, “Kent is for fun, drollery, humor, flouts, jeers, contempt. He has an irregular, immethodical head, but his thoughts are often good, and his expressions happy.”

In his seventies when he became a loyalist refugee, Kent and his wife Elizabeth welcomed their daughter and son-in-law to Halifax in 1783. Nine years earlier, Sarah Kent had married Samuel Salter Blowers, a prominent Massachusetts loyalist. In 1788, Sarah must have been thrilled that her husband had become the first loyalist appointed to the colony’s legislative council. Blowers later became a Supreme Court judge, playing a crucial role in the demise of slavery in the colony.

But 1788 would also be a year of sadness for Sarah. Her father, Benjamin Kent died at eighty-one on October 21, 1788. Her mother Elizabeth would live for 14 more years.

This series on loyalists found in a Halifax graveyard concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails with the story of the tragic death of a loyalist woman.

(To read about other loyalist refugees in Halifax’s Old Burying Ground, see Brian McConnell’s feature.)

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

Nursery Rhyme Challenge: I Saw A Ship A-Sailing…

Modification of “I saw a ship a-sailing” by Pamela Stowe.

I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the seas;
And oh, the ship all laden,
With many war refugees.

Crying babies in mothers’ arms,
And family heirlooms in the hold.
Sad men think of their family farms,
And the bread is covered in mold.

On board some with no regrets,
Others grieve for lost sons.
All feared the wrath of pirates,
That is why the need for guns.

The sails are made of dreams,
The masts of determination.
The current is their friend,
Leading them to a new nation.

The anchor drops early that day,
St. John, they look, and see not a thing.
Not a wharf or small tavern to stay,
Nor a church steeple with a bell to ring.


The original poem, by Mother Goose

I saw a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing on the sea;
And oh, it was all laden
With pretty things for thee!

There were comfits in the cabin,
And apples in the hold;
The sails were made of silk,
And the masts were made of gold.

The four and twenty sailors,
That stood between the decks,
Were four and twenty white mice,
With chains about their necks.

The captain was a duck,
With a packet on his back;
And when the ship began to move,
The captain said, “Quack, Quack!”

© 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.

Second thoughts on George III: Online Project Could Alter View of King

Royal Archives leading work that could prompt radical reappraisal of British king who lost America. He is one of the most maligned monarchs in British history, portrayed as dull and overly frugal in his lifetime, labelled the “royal brute” by Thomas Paine and remembered by subsequent generations as the mad king who lost America.

But a major project led by the Royal Archives will, it is hoped, lead to a radical reappraisal of George III, one that pitches him as a complex, humane and deeply engaged polymath.

The archives have announced details of the Georgian Papers Programme, in which more than 350,000 usually unseen documents are being made available online over the next four years.

On Saturday, the online portal opens for business, allowing anyone, whether an academic or someone with only a vague interest, to go through documents including intimate letters between the king and his wife, Charlotte, household bills, essays, notes about the war in America and menus for grand occasions.

Read more as published in the Guardian on 28 January 2017.

The Royal Collection: Georgian Papers Programme

Launched on 1 April 2015 by Her Majesty The Queen, the Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) is an ambitious five-year project to transform access to the extensive collection of Georgian papers, held in the Royal Archives and Royal Library at Windsor Castle.

Read more.

George III’s draft abdication letter released

A draft letter of abdication written by King George III during the American War of Independence has been made public for the first time. The unused letter – which includes crossings out, redrafts, blotches and scrawls – was written when the king faced political trouble in March 1783. In it, George said he intended to exile himself to Hanover after he abdicated.

Read more at BBC.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Rampant Crime of Saint John County

The City and County of Saint John, New Brunswick, was awash with crime throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Criminals prowled the streets and waterways of the Loyalist city – committing cases of assault, bastardy, nuisances, keeping disorderly houses and more. These lawbreakers and miscreants faced various punishments from the Law Courts for their misdeeds—mostly fines and/or imprisonments. One crime in particular, however, in Loyalist Saint John was treated with extreme caution and severity: larceny.

Read more.

JAR: Those Who Could Not Serve

by Bob Ruppert on January 26, 2017

Armies are tasked with enforcing government policies. When it came time for the British military to enforce parliamentary policies concerning the American colonies, however, some members of the army and navy found themselves unable to answer the call because they disagreed with their government. A number of officers across all grades, who were distinguished for their bravery and ability, refused to serve in America. Their positions were respected for the most part by the King, his ministers and their countrymen. Those who took such a stand did so for reasons of conscience or political principles; they could not be participants in war against fellow Englishmen.

Some regimental officers, those subject to deployment to America in direct command of troops, resigned their regimental commissions. Most of them, however, stated that they would serve King and country if France and Spain entered the war; they were placed on half-pay, an inactive status that allowed them to be recalled to active duty. Others sought transfers, by exchange or promotion, to regiments not ordered for service in America. Exchange with an officer in another regiment could be accomplished only by agreement of both officers and by the colonels of both regiments, if the rank was equal, and no money was exchanged to sweeten the agreement; the Secretary at War and the King also had to approve exchanges. Some officers belonged to powerful families (or their families had powerful friends) who used their influence to obtain commissions in regiments remaining in Great Britain. A few who could not resign on half-pay or exchange went so far as to ask permission to sell their commissions.

Read more.

Borealia: Anishnaabeg in the War of 1812: More than Tecumseh and his Indians

It is well known that the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potowatomi, Mississauga, Algonquin, and Nipissing) fought during the War of 1812, the majority siding with the British, although some sided with the Americans. It is also well known that Shawnee Chief Tecumseh was a dynamic and charismatic leader who worked to form a confederacy of Nations to resist American expansionism. The War of 1812 is synonymous with the names Tecumseh, General Brock and Laura Secord. If any other “Indians” are mentioned, it is likely Tecumseh’s brother the Prophet (another Shawnee), Roundhead (A Wyandot), or John Norton (a Scotchman with Cherokee blood and adopted by Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant). Many would be hard pressed to name ten Anishinaabe warriors who fought in 1812. We know that our ancestors fought during this war, and that some died in battle. The majority of the Canadian population, as well as our own people, however, likely cannot name many Anishinaabe chiefs or warriors who fought, which is a shame because the sheer numbers of Anishinaabeg that participated should warrant more attention.

Read more.

Research: Searching Loyalist Claims on Ancestry.ca and Elsewhere (Part 1 of 2)

Ancestry.ca has in its reference works “UK, American Loyalist Claims 1776-1835” which are micro-film copies of American Loyalist Claims, 1776–1835. AO 12–13 in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England. (A subscription to Ancestry is needed to access this document and the one mentioned below). AO 12 consists of 146 files organized by colony/state containing the evidence heard and other files containing the determination by the Loyalist Commissioners of each claim also organized by colony/state. AO 13 consists of 140 files organized again by colony/state also including New Brunswick (943 pages in two files) and Nova Scotia (1759 pages in 3 files) containing new claims and other claims. The files have not been indexed by Ancestry so you cannot use the search engine to locate where a particular person’s claim might be found within these files. Most of the files are done in alphabetical order and some have an alphabetical list of claims at the beginning. Some claims may be found in the state from which the claimant originated and others in the colony to which they fled. Within each file you can select the page number you wish to see which helps narrow down the names by alphabetic order much more quickly than proceeding page by page through documents often numbering more than 500 pages each.

Ancestry.ca also has in it reference works “American (Loyalist) Migrations 1765-1799” by Peter Wilson Coldham, (Original data: “Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Migrations 1765-1799: The lives, times, and families of colonial Americans who remained loyal to the British Crown before, during and after the Revolutionary War, as related in their own words and through their correspondence. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000”.), which has abstracts of all 5,800 individual claims–the entire contents of the papers of the Loyalist Claims Commission that form record classes AO 12 and AO 13 at the U.K. Public Record Office. This book has been indexed and can be searched. Each abstract provides details of where the actual memorial, evidence heard and determination can be found in the AO 12 and 13 series. For example, I have found from the abstract for my Loyalist ancestor Daniel Smith of New Milford Connecticut, who arrived in Saint John on the “Union” at the head of the Spring Fleet in 1783, that his claim is recorded in A0 12 file 1 pages 333-341, AO 12 file 57 page 50, AO 12 file 109 page 278 and AO 13 file 76 pages 472-482. In examining these files, I found that AO 12 file 1 pages 333-341 (“Evidence, Connecticut, 1786-1787”) contains Smith’s undated memorial, an inventory of losses submitted by him totalling £1247, which mentions but does not value a tract of land on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania; and the evidence heard by the Loyalist Commissioners in Saint John on 17 February 1787. AO 12 file 57 page 50 (“Decisions, Connecticut, 1786-1788”), dated 28 February 1787 contains the determination by the Loyalist Commissioner that Smith was “a Loyalist who bore arms” and that his total claim for £1000 in losses was approved in part (£487). Claims for 96 acres in Kent, Litchfield County and for land on the Susquehanna River were disallowed “for want of title and want of proof of title”. AO 12 file 109 page 278 (“Reports and Statements, 1784-1789 “) is a table of claims heard in New Brunswick which lists the names of the claimants: for Daniel Smith: the amount of their losses (£1000), the sum originally allowed (£487), the sum allowed on revision (£487) , the percentage to be deducted by Act of Parliament (0), the Total Sum Payable under Act of Parliament (£487), the Sum already received (£194/16), the Balance after such receipt (£292/01), deductions on account of pension (0), and Final Balance (£292/1). AO 13 file 76 pages 472-482 (“New Claims: Connecticut”) contains Daniel Smith’s New Claim as No 1541 dated 27 April 1786 with his memorial, dated 9 March 1786, a statement of losses which totals £1247, a sworn oath dated 19 April 1786, copies of the documents he submitted to support his claim, but not the record of his hearing nor the testimony of his witnesses, and on page 482 a “schedule of the real and personal estate to be the property of Daniel Smith late of New Milford in Connecticut and confiscated by that state” which totals £1790 and which evaluates his property in New Milford at £988, 90 acres in Kent at £270, another 48 acres in Kent at £144 and 2000 acres in Susquehanna at £200. This schedule appears to have been prepared by the state authorities in Connecticut and is £550 higher than Smith’s claim to the Commissioners for £1247. How the Commissioners lowered it to £1000 is not known.

(Cont’d next week)

…John J. Noble, UE

Resource: Guysborough Sketches and Essays by A.C. Jost

In Guysborough Sketches and Essays author A.C. Jost talks about the people and has compiled a collection of essays detailing the background of Guysborough County. A group of interlinking articles, this collection of essays and genealogies of the original Loyalist settlers has been regarded as the most authoritative account of the history of this area. An invaluable source of information about local lore, Guysborough Sketches and Essays recalls many noteworthy events including the county’s early turbulent past, the tragedy and drama of three shipwrecks in three years beginning in 1780, and the discovery of gold in Wine Harbour in 1860. With maps and drawings, this history book is a valuable resource for those conducting genealogy research and for those seeking stories about this treasure.

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 Carl Stymiest and Mavia Pickett of Vancouver 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

  • What Loyalist doesn’t have a special place in their heart for these refugees? Read about the German Palatines. A number of their descendants became Loyalist refugees again during the American Revolution. Welcoming, or refusing refugees has been a controversy for the ages. Looks like the issue is not going away soon.
  • GLOUCERSTER POINT, Va. Archaeologists nearing the end of a prolonged Gloucester Point dig were rewarded for their doggedness this past week when they unearthed one of the most noteworthy caches of Revolutionary War artifacts to be found in the region in years.
  • Historical spoon from 1784 -1984 Loyalist Bicentennial, Prince Edward County, Ontario
  • Crispy Wafers At Gunston Hall! This is the first video in a series of videos where we make recipes with the wonderful people at Gunston Hall.
  • Thinking About 17th c. Potatoes (And Eating Them). By 1500, the sweet potato (and/or yams) had become an established crop in western Europe. They were a staple of European sailors’ diets. And they were fed — often with great violence, and by force — to enslaved women and men, on the African continent, during the middle passage, and after arrival in the Caribbean and the Americas. “Common,” or white potatoes, took a bit longer to catch on; they arrived in Europe as a cultivable vegetable between 1550-1570. Not specific to Loyalists, but an interesting read.
  • French quilted ensemble in a lovely shade of blue, c.1760; silk, linen, cotton.

Last Post: Estelle Pringle, UE

Members of Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch UELAC were very sorry to hear that long time member, Estelle Pringle UE passed away this week. She was very proud of her Loyalist ancestor Joseph Pringle Sr. Estelle was an excellent researcher and historian. She was a founding member of the Dunnville District Heritage Association. Estelle maintained their archives in the Lalor Room at the Dunnville library, assisting many researchers and UEL members with their research. A born teacher, Estelle taught her students well, especially about the United Empire Loyalists and the Loyalist flag – years after they left her class they could recognize it anywhere and tell people about it.

Our deepest sympathy to her family and friends. Bev Craig UE.

From Estelle’s daughter: Respecting her wishes, there will be no service. Anyone wishing to donate in her honour: Dunnville Veterinary Clinic, 110 Ramsey Drive Dunnville, ON N1A 1K8, 905-774-7642, Critter Care Program. To know Mom was to know her love for animals.