“Loyalist Trails” 2017-15: April 9, 2017
In this issue:
– 2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots
– Unpacking a 1784 Land Grant (Part Three): The Tangled Story of Titus Finch, by Stephen Davidson
– Reader’s Contributions Appreciated
– Remembering the Loyalists of Queens County, Nova Scotia
– Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Silas Deane: A Secret Agent in France
– JAR: The Prowess of American Riflemen: a Mystery Now Solved
– The Loyalist Gazette: Spring 2017 Issue
– Ben Franklin’s World: Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History
– “Branching Out”: Histories of Branches of UELAC Updated
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Last Post: Evelyn (Powell) Denton, UE
June 22-25, 2017; London, Ontario
Hosted by: London & Western Ontario Branch and Grand River Branch
© Stephen Davidson, UE
In “unpacking” the stories of the men who received land grants along New Brunswick’s Nashwaak River in 1784, the most difficult task has been to untangle the knots of biographical errors surrounding Titus Finch. As stories of his experiences in the Prince of Wales American Regiment (PWAR), a refugee settler and a Baptist minister in Upper Canada were retold over the centuries, all manner of false assumptions, incorrect timelines, and claims of nationality entered his biography. It’s time that a framework for Titus Finch’s life be reconstructed.
Rather than beginning with his pastoral work in Ontario’s Norfolk County, one should step back to 1783 when Titus Finch was part of the Fall Fleet – an armada of thirteen ships carrying over 3,000 loyalist soldiers and their families from New York City to the mouth of the St. John River. Finch was a passenger aboard either the Montague or Elizabeth, the two ships that transported Lyman’s Light Infantry Company in the PWAR. (Only the lists of African passengers for these ships survive to this day in the Book of Negroes.) By October, Finch and his wife had pitched an army tent as their only shelter for their first winter in Nova Scotia’s Sunbury County – a portion of land which would – within a year’s time – be included in the new province of New Brunswick.
The first primary source to carry Titus Finch’s name was a document issued by John Parr, the governor of Nova Scotia on February 17, 1784.* It gave notice that land along the Nashwaak River (oppostie modern day Fredericton) was being granted to 39 members of the PWAR. Titus Finch received a total of 150 acres – 100 because he was a private and 50 more because he was married. Finch’s wife was Nancy Anne Clark. Together the couple would eventually have eight children. The birthdate of their first child, Thomas, on August 13, 1784 is enlightening.
Titus and Nancy may have met and married during the PWAR’s last posting on New York’s Long Island. Alternately, it was not unusual for loyalist soldiers to marry their childhood sweethearts before refugee evacuation vessels left New York City. Given the proximity of Long Island’s British garrisons to Finch’s hometown of New Haven, Nancy could have been waiting in Connecticut to marry Titus at the end of the war. (At least one historian thinks Nancy may have been a widow.) However it was they met, the Finches were married sometime before the fall of 1783; Nancy was pregnant with their first child in November of that year.
A year after the birth of little Thomas, Finch petitioned for more land, and did so again in 1789. Other children joined the family: William (1787), Jeremiah/Jerry (1791), George (c. 1791), Titus (c. 1793), Nancy (1795) , Rebecca (1797) and Dancy/Prudence (1802).
At some point after settling along the Nashwaak River, Titus Finch came in contact with devoted Protestants. During the American Revolution, many Planter settlers of the lower portion of the St. John River had become followers of Henry Alline, a charismatic itinerant evangelist. The congregations that grew up in the wake of Alline’s preaching were known as the New Lights. Since Alline had not given his followers any clear guidelines for church polity or instruction on sacraments, the New Light congregations were assemblies of re-invigorated Christians rather than the founders of a new denomination.
One such New Light congregation was in Maugerville, just 22 km down river from Titus Finch’s Nashwaak homestead. This church may have been visited by a Baptist preacher as early as 1790. A Black Loyalist named David George based in Shelburne, Nova Scotia visited New Brunswick’s black populations that year. After journeying to Fredericton to get authorization to preach, George then ministered to black communities along the St. John River as he returned to Saint John. If George stopped in Maugerville, this may have been one of the New Light congregation’s first contacts with Baptist teaching.
Some histories of Titus Finch claim that he was a Baptist believer before leaving New Brunswick – or that he was ordained as a Baptist preacher. A brief review of Baptist history in New Brunswick proves the impossibility of these claims.
One of Henry Alline’s followers was a Nova Scotian named Edward Manning. Although he did not embrace Baptist theology until 1798, Manning preached to New Light congregations along the St. John River in 1793. If Titus Finch was influenced by the Nova Scotian’s preaching, it was still too early for him to have become a Baptist. It would not be until five years later that New Brunswick had its first ordained Baptist minister, Joseph Crandall. The first Baptist church in Saint John did not form until 1810.
However, by 1798 (or 1799), Titus Finch and his large family had pulled up stakes, left the Nashwaak River, and headed for Upper Canada, settling on Young’s Creek in Norfolk County’s Charlotteville. He completely missed the New Light congregations’ transition into Baptist churches back in New Brunswick. Titus may have been a man of deep religious convictions when he arrived in Upper Canada, but he did not yet subscribe to Baptist convictions.
Though he did not have a denominational label, Titus Finch felt motivated to share his faith with other settlers in Norfolk County. Six years after moving to Charlotteville, Finch was immersed by Baptist missionaries from New York. Fulfiling this denominational requirement, the loyalist farmer was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1807.
For the next 27 years, Titus Finch faithfully served the Baptist congregation in Vittoria and was instrumental in founding congregations in Alymer, Woodstock and Ingersoll. His life as a loyalist soldier was never forgotten, and in, 1824, he was among those who made claims for “losses by them sustained” during the American Revolution. Finch asked for £588 in compensation and eventually received £440.
When the War of 1812 threatened the safety of Finch’s new home, four of his sons came to the defense of Upper Canada. Fortunately for the Baptist family, their only loss sustained during the war was a mill destroyed by American soldiers.
After a full life as a loyalist soldier, New Brunswick farmer, and Upper Canadian Baptist minister, Titus Finch died and was buried in the Vittoria Baptist Cemetry. But even in death, Finch had a story that needed untangling. His tombstone – erected decades later by a well-intentioned descendant – says that the loyalist veteran died on September 14, 1824. Titus Finch actually enjoyed ten years of life more than his tombstone claims.
By 1834, the pastor must have felt his end approaching, given that he wrote his last will and testament in February of that year. The family Bible that belonged to Finch’s son Jeremiah notes that the Baptist minister met his Maker on April 12, 1834 in his 78th year.
* For a complete transcript of the land grants, click here.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Mike Mallery sent an email to note that he had some additional information and corrections about the first of series, specifically regarding his ancestor Daniel Lyman. Stephen is revising “Unpacking a 1784 Land Grant (Part One): The Prince of Wales American Regiment” to reflect the updates. The new version will replace the initial one in the archives. We will make a note when this is completed so you can check it, if it falls in your area of interest.
By Brittany Wentzell
After the American Revolution, thousands of loyalists fled the American colonies to find home in British-owned territory, including Nova Scotia.
Mary Dahr is a descendant of the families who settled in Port Mouton after the war and she’s trying to keep some of that history alive.
Dahr, who was born in Queens but lived in Alberta most of her life, moved to Port Mouton two years ago, just a couple kilometres from a small, forgotten cemetery. The people buried there were members of or descendants of Banastre Tarleton’s Legion, a group of soldiers from the British Legion who fought against the rebels in the American Revolution.
“I was kind of annoyed, all this rich history and it’s not apparent to people who live here,” said Dahr. “There are people who were born here who don’t know about the Tarleton Legion and it’s a shame.”
Port Mouton Loyalist Cemetery finally gets its due
It all started when Port Mouton resident Mary Dahr, who has loyalist roots, noticed the deplorable condition of the loyalist graveyard in her community.
Nearly a year ago, The Advance published an article on Dahr’s wish to have the cemetery restored, and that brought the issue to the attention of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists. Port Mouton Loyalist Cemetery finally gets its due Brian McConnell, president of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists of Canada, wearing his loyalist soldier’s uniform. Brian McConnell, who is president of the association, happened to read the article. And he decided something could be done.
Acts of espionage and covert operations were widespread during the American Revolutionary War, being utilized by both the British and their North American foes. However, it is the latter group that greatly depended on such stealthy tactics as they were outnumbered in infantry, equipment, and funds. It was at this point in time that the adventures of Silas Deane began, a man who helped achieve victory for the struggling Patriots.
Born in Connecticut in 1738, Deane attended Yale University and went on to practice law for a short time before becoming a successful business merchant. In 1768 he began his political career by serving in the Connecticut House of Representatives and from 1774-1776 was a delegate to the Continental Congress. After his stint as a delegate, Deane was chosen to travel to France for a secret endeavor aimed at securing aid for the struggling American Colonies in their fight against the British.
by Ian Saberton, March 20, 2017
In his Colonel George Hanger to all Sportsmen, and particularly to Farmers and Gamekeepers (London, 1814) Hanger retails a diverting anecdote about the prowess of American riflemen, but, ever since, the date and precise location of the incident to which it relates have remained a mystery:
Colonel Tarleton and myself were standing a few yards out of a wood, observing the situation of a part of the enemy which we intended to attack.
The newest issue of the Loyalist Gazette has been submitted to the printers and the order for the number of copies to be printed will be submitted early this week. After the periodical is ready, it will go to the mailing house for distribution. Time will tell if it will be delivered to Canada Post by its May 1 target date. Will keep you apprised.
There is still time.
Many members have requested the digital copy, and a good portion of those are now receiving the journal only in digital format, although some prefer to also receive the paper copy.
If you are a member or Gazette subscriber, and haven’t yet but would like to try out the e-zine version of the Spring 2017 Gazette – earlier delivery, full colour – complete the request form.
…Robert McBride, UE, Publications Committee
Historians often portray the American Revolution as an orderly, if violent, event that moved from British colonists’ high-minded ideas about freedom to American independence from Great Britain and the ratification of the Constitution of 1787.
But was the American Revolution an orderly event that took place only between Great Britain and her North American colonists? Was it really about high-minded ideas?
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Alan Taylor joins us to explore the American Revolution as a Continental event with details from his book, American Revolutions: A Continental History. 1750-1804.
The History of the UELAC Branches has been updated with the Branching Out reports from the Fall 2016 issue of the Loyalist Gazette.
Current branches have the option to submit a summary of their significant events to be included in each issue of the Gazette. A number of branches do this. About one year after publication, each summary is appended to the archival record of submissions. This is a great source of information about each branch, its members and events.
Thanks to Fred Hayward for initiating this project and for making the addition twice each year.
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 email@example.com.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- The Nova Scotia Branch meeting was held April 8 at West Queens Recreation Centre near Port Mouton, with a tour of the old loyalist cemetery. Photo of Jim McKenzie UE RVP, Brian McConnell UE Branch President and Barb Andrew UE President UELAC.
- NEHS: Six Revolutionary Forts. The remains of dozens of revolutionary forts can be found throughout New England. Some, like Fort Halifax in Maine, date to the French and Indian wars. Others, like Fort Washington in Massachusetts, were built during the American Revolution. They range from the extensive remains of Mount Independence in Vermont to mere traces of earthworks. They were all sited along waterways and harbors, making them pleasant summer destinations today. Here are six revolutionary forts, one for each state. If you know of another revolutionary fort worth visiting, please mention it in the comments section. Read more about…
- Black Rock Fort, Conn.
- Fort Halifax, Maine
- Fort Washington, Mass.
- Fort Constitution, NH
- Fort Conanicut, RI
- Mount Independence, VT
- From the Mount Vernon Collection: this Pounce Box was allegedly used by Washington during the Rev. War. Find out what it did
- George Washington’s Own 1793 Map of Mount Vernon. We know him as a war hero and the first president of the United States, but George Washington was also a practiced chartmaker and cartographer. He became an official land surveyor in Virginia at the age of 17, and was involved in creating many maps throughout his life, including the map above of his home, Mount Vernon. Published in 1801 after his death, Map of General Washington’s Farm of Mount Vernon from a Drawing Transmitted by the General depicts the farms on the estate from the eyes and words of the founding father himself. It was adapted from an assortment of sketches and notes in a letter sent to a well-known English agriculture expert, Arthur Young, in 1793.
- Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
- 1 Apr 1776 Congress establishes Treasury as permanent office.
- 2 Apr 1792 Congress creates U.S. Mint, establishing $10, $5, $2.50, $1, 50c, 25c, 10c, 5c, 1c, and 1/2c coins.
- 3 Apr 1776 Continental Congress authorizes privateers to attack British shipping.
- 4 Apr 1776 Washington’s army leaves successful siege of Boston for the defense of New York.
- 5 Apr 1776 General Charles Lee arrives in Williamsburg, VA, & writes Washington he fears the British will attack.
- 5 April 1778 Continental Congress allows British Gen John Burgoyne & his staff to sail for Britain while his Army remains in prison
- 6 Apr 1776 In defiance of Parliament’s American Prohibitory Act, Congress declares ports open to non-British trade.
- 7 Apr 1776 First US Navy capture of British ship, Lexington under Captain Barry takes Edward.
- A good Revolutionary War Period 4 lb. “solid shot” cannon ball.
- The Dey Mansion located in modern-day Wayne, Passaic County, New Jersey, and originally known as “Bloomsbury Manor,” played an integral role in the American Revolutionary War. Built by Dutch settlers in the middle of the 18th century it served as Washington’s Headquarters on several occasions.
- Ontario university libraries collaborate to digitize 1,000+ historical maps. The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) announced Tuesday the online release of more than 1,000 historical topographic maps of Ontario to coincide with the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary and OCUL’s 50th anniversary.
- Archaeology helping to deepen a community’s roots. Under the boughs of a huge tulip poplar, buried among clumps of roots and piles of oyster shells, is the brick foundation of a building, a remnant of a once-thriving slave community. For 18 months in the early nineteenth century, it was home to a young Frederick Douglass, the future African-American statesman, diplomat, orator, and author. Here, at the age of seven or eight, a shoeless, pantless, precocious Douglass first saw whippings and petty cruelties. Here, he first realized he was a slave. “A lot of the horror that comes through his autobiographies is grounded in those months that he was there,” says James Oakes, a historian at the City University of New York who is working on a book about Douglass’s relationship with Abraham Lincoln. The modest excavation at Wye House Farm, a 350-year-old estate on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has yielded sherds, buttons, pipe stems, beads, and precious knowledge about everyday slave life, and is allowing the descendants of that slave community, many of whom live in the nearby rural African-American town of Unionville, to reclaim a lost cultural heritage.
- On April 19, the Museum of the American Revolution will open its doors in Philadelphia. The collection has an impressive selection of artifacts from the period leading up to and shortly following the American Revolutionary War. The museum also effectively incorporates the narratives of certain groups of people that are often left out of the story of the American Revolution, including women, African-Americans, and the Oneida tribe that supported the cause of independence. Read more…
- Early American Whiskey. Today Brian Cushing from Historic Locust Grove takes us on a tour of their new distillery and it’s history. Jas. Townsend & Son
- April 9, 2017. Message from Her Majesty The Queen on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. “Today, as people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean gather to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, there will be difficult memories of loss and of suffering, but also memories of many heroic acts of bravery and of sacrifice on the part of those who served. On this day a century ago, thousands of Canadian soldiers stood far from home together with their allies in defence of peace and freedom. They fought courageously and with great ingenuity in winning the strategic high point of Vimy Ridge, though victory came at a heavy cost with more than 10,000 fallen and wounded.” Read more…
Born in Aulac, New Brunswick, Evelyn was a daughter of Thomas Leonard Powell and Mabel (Giles) . She grew up in her beloved village of Maccan, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. She married Reverend Harvey L. Denton in her sophomore year at Acadia University. One of their pastorates was First Baptist Church, Halifax from 1940-52. After her husband’s death in 1965, she returned to Acadia and graduated with her B.A. in English at the age of 60. She taught grade 11 English at Halifax West High School. Before she retired in 1975 she travelled the world and visited the homes of many of her favourite English writers.
Evelyn was very proud of being the descendant of Gabriel Purdy, a United Empire Loyalist who settled in Westchester Township, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia and received a UE Certificate or certificate of loyalist descent from the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC) in 1982. Gabriel Purdy was born in Westchester County, New York in 1755 and served as a Sergeant in Colonel James Delancey’s Regiment during the American Revolution. Evelyn was a long time member of the UELAC in Nova Scotia and on her 108th birthday in November, 2016 received a Certificate of congratulations from the Nova Scotia Branch.
She was predeceased by her husband, Harvey L. Denton; sister, Dorothy (Malcolm) Shaffner; and grandson, David MacKay. She is survived by her son, Tom (June), Winnipeg; daughters, Carol (Roy) Snair, Halifax; Evelyn (John) Dickinson, Digby; grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in First Baptist Church, Halifax, on Thursday, April 27 at 2 p.m. Reception to follow in the church parlour. No flowers please. Thank you to the staff of Mount Lane at Parkstone Enhanced Care who earned mother’s love; her many loyal friends and relatives and Reverend Nelson A. Metcalfe, Minister of Visitation, First Baptist Church, Halifax and visitation members. To leave an online condolence please visit www.jasnowfuneralhome.com.
…Brian McConnell, UE, Nova Scotia Branch