“Loyalist Trails” 2017-17: April 23, 2017

In this issue:
2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots
The Portrait of Sarah Hay: Part One, by Stephen Davidson
Jacob Farrand UEL and Peter Everitt UEL
Borealia: Refugees Fit for Rescue: Loyalists, Maroons, and Mi’kmaq
JAR: Did Generals Mismanage the Battle of Brooklyn?
Ben Franklin’s World: The Road to Concord, 1775
The Junto: “We lost our appetite for food”
The Loyalist Gazette: Status of the Spring 2017 Issue
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Peter Warren Wentworth Bell, UE
      + Stilljohn Purdy


2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots

June 22 – 25, 2017; London, Ontario

Hosted by: London & Western Ontario Branch and Grand River Branch

Registration and details.

The Portrait of Sarah Hay: Part One

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The Hays of Saint John, New Brunswick were always very proud of their loyalist ancestors. For generations, a treasured family photograph was one that showed a loyalist great-grandmother named Zuriah Kent. She died in 1847 as the widow of William Melick, a loyalist from New Jersey.

But the Hays were mistaken. The squinting lady in the frilled bonnet was not Zuriah Melick.

The true identity of the woman in the hand-tinted photograph was finally discovered in the opening years of the 21st century. Two fourth-cousins met online and through e-mails began to share their common interest in the Hay family’s genealogy. One day, Lloyd Wood of London, Ontario shared a photograph he had of his ancestor, Sarah Harding. It was identical to the picture of Zuriah Melick in New Brunswick! Wood, however, was not a descendant of the Melicks. Why would he have her picture?

After much discussion, the Hays of Saint John realized that over the years, a mistake had been made. Melick’s photo was –indeed– one that showed a great-grandmother and a loyalist, but she was not Zuriah Melick. She was Sarah Harding, a woman who had married John Hay, an ancestor of both Wood and the Hays of Saint John. But who was Sarah Harding Hay?

The answer was a surprise to both families. Sarah Harding had come to Saint John, New Brunswick as a six year-old girl in 1783. A loyalist’s daughter, she died in 1867, the year of Canada’s Confederation, at 90 years of age. She had witnessed the founding of New Brunswick as a haven for refugees and lived to see her colony become one of the first provinces in the new Dominion of Canada. This is her story.

Sarah was born on Wednesday, February 19, 1777 to William Harding and Leah Gillies of Newburgh, New York. When he was just five years old, Harding’s parents had emigrated from Derry, Ireland to New York in 1750. He entered the carpentry trade, married, and by February 1777 was the father of four children.

However, Harding was not home for the birth of Sarah, his fourth child, because he had been serving with the loyalist forces for the past year. As a pilot who knew the North River, he guided British ships; at other times he fought alongside fellow loyalists under Major Ward. In one such battle, rebels wounded Harding and took him prisoner near Trenton, New Jersey. He spent three weeks chained in irons, but managed to escape after bribing the prison’s sentries.

Leah and the Harding children eventually joined William in New Jersey where he was made an agent for one of nine ships that would take 360 loyalist refugees north to Nova Scotia. In the fall of 1782, William Harding boarded the Amphitrite in the hope of rebuilding his life in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Little Sarah Harding was just five and a half years old as she walked over the ship’s gangplank with her mother and siblings.

During the revolution, Sarah’s Uncle George had served the British as a spy, going on missions that took him as far west as Niagara. George’s family and their slaves sailed on the Amphitrite along with Sarah’s family in the fall of 1782. Family legend has it that one of the Hardings jumped out of their boat as it neared land, swimming to the beach to be the first one to arrive in their new home.

After a chilly winter in Annapolis Royal, William Harding decided to take his family across the Bay of Fundy. At first the Hardings settled in Maugerville on the St. John River, then Belleisle Bay, and finally in Saint John.

Sarah was just a little over six years old when she first saw the rocky, tree-clad hills of the future Saint John. When grants were given to the loyalist refugees, her father received lots on Dock Street and Germain Street. Harding eventually set up a shoemaker’s shop and a tannery — an interesting change of careers considering that he had been a carpenter in New York. The smell of the chemicals that cured the leather in her father’s tannery would become part and parcel of Sarah’s childhood.

At eighteen, Sarah married John Hay on Tuesday, June 2, 1795. Although he was 27 on his wedding day, Hay had been just eleven when his family arrived in Saint John. His father was a Massachusetts loyalist who had served with the First New Jersey Volunteers. John Hay Senior came to the mouth of the St. John River in the fall of 1783 and by 1786 was given a grant of land in west Saint John. In time, John Hay Junior became one of the loyalist city’s first bakers.

Ten days after their first anniversary, Sarah and John welcomed little William into the world. Despite a virulent outbreak of smallpox, the Hays’ newborn survived his first winter. More children followed: Thomas (born 1798) Elizabeth (1800), James Man Hay (1802), John (1804), Stephen (1806), Ebenezer (1807-1809), George Harding Hay (1810), and Henry (born and died 1812).

Little Henry’s death was just the first taste of tragedy for Sarah Hay. Her husband John became so ill in 1813 that by April he decided to pass the management of his bakery to William. Their eldest son was just two months short of his 17th birthday. On Christmas Eve, John Hay died at 45 years of age. After 17 years of marriage, Sarah Hay was suddenly a widow with the responsibilities of caring for seven children. She was 35 years old.

World events did not pause to note Sarah’s dilemma. In May of 1814, the citizens of Saint John gathered in King Square for an ox roast to celebrate the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte. Over 300 freed blacks who had been enslaved in Virginia and Maryland settled on the outskirts of Saint John, adding the first new group of Africans to New Brunswick’s population since the arrival of the Black Loyalists in 1783.

Next week’s Loyalist Trails will continue the story of Sarah Harding Hay, the loyalist refugee who came to New Brunswick as a child.

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

Jacob Farrand UEL and Peter Everitt UEL

Jacob Farrand (Farent), was born in America, and enlisted in the First Battalion of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York on November 2, 1777. He achieved the rank of Seventh Senior Lieutenant in the Regiment. He was a Volunteer in Major James Gray’s Company from 1777-1781. He was promoted to Ensign in this company in 1782, and promoted to Lieutenant on December 25, 1882. He was a Lieutenant in Captain John Munro’s Company in 1783. Jacob Farrand was a nephew of Major James Gray.

Peter Everitt was born in America and enlisted in the First Battalion of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York on October 28, 1776. He achieved the rank of Second Senior Lieutenant. He was a Volunteer in the Colonel’s Company, Sir John Johnson, in 1776, and promoted to Ensign in the Major’s Company, Major James Gray, on August 24, 1777. He was promoted to Lieutenant on November 14, 1781, and was Lieutenant of the Grenadiers from 1781 to 1783. Peter Everitt was a farmer in New York state.

Read more about the community where they settled – Farran’s Point – and how it evolved over time. Information provided by The Lost Villages Historical Society.

Borealia: Refugees Fit for Rescue: Loyalists, Maroons, and Mi’kmaq

By Ruma Chopra

How does Canada’s more open, even welcoming policy towards Syrian refugees fit with other refugees, black loyalists and Maroons who entered the Maritimes over 200 years ago when the colonies were peripheral regions within a larger British Empire? Part of the difference between earlier exiles and those of our own time is sheer scale: our age with its modern warfare, and the quasi-theological ambitions of totalitarian men — is an age of mass immigration. When we consider refugees today, we imagine large groups of bewildered families requiring urgent international assistance. The entire world, it seems, mourned for the three-year old boy drowned off the Turkish coast.

How do these concerns connect to the views expressed towards two groups of black refugees who entered Nova Scotia two centuries ago? That too was a moment of massive transformations, an era of Atlantic revolutions (American, Haitian and French), as well as Atlantic-wide anti-slavery movements. It too was an age of refugees. About 3,000 black loyalists came to Nova Scotia in the 1783, at the end of the War of American Independence. Like white loyalists, the black loyalists in addition to being pro-black were pro-British — they had faith that a British monarchy offered more freedom than an American republic. And 550 Maroons entered in 1796, comprised of about 150 families. After less than a decade, in 1792, over 1,000 of the black loyalists left Nova Scotia. These Maroons stayed four years in Nova Scotia, from 1796 to 1800, and thereafter also relocated. Both groups went to the British West African settlement of Sierra Leone.

Why did these two groups of black refugees flee Nova Scotia? How did the society fail their aspirations?

Read more.

JAR: Did Generals Mismanage the Battle of Brooklyn?

By Gene Procknow April 20, 2017

Outmaneuvering and overwhelming the Patriots during the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn, the British won a huge victory by executing a daring night march around the Patriots’ left flank. Patriot commander Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam is heavily criticized for not guarding a vital pass that allowed British forces to surround the advance units of the Continental Army, leading to a complete rout and mass surrender. However, the British commander, Sir William Howe, also has been heavily criticized for not following up on the victory to completely crush the remaining elements of the Continental Army. In fact, many historians believe that this was the last opportunity for the British to end the rebellion.

It is overly simplistic to focus on the Putnam and Howe “mistaken decisions” as determining the ultimate outcome of the battle. Given information available to the commanders on the 1776 battlefield, these battle strategy decisions were rational and other factors led to the Patriot defeat and to the British inability to capture Washington’s entire army. However, with the benefit of hindsight and heavily influenced by participants with military reputations to protect, historical accounts generally depict these decisions as mistakes.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: The Road to Concord, 1775

Episode 129, with John Bell.

How did the colonists of Massachusetts go from public protests meant to shame government officials and destroy offending property, to armed conflict with British Regulars in Lexington and Concord?

John Bell, the prolific blogger behind Boston1775.net and the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, leads us on an investigation of what brought colonists and redcoats to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

During our investigation, John reveals details about the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party of 1773; What the Massachusetts Government Act was and how the people of Massachusetts responded to this punitive measure; And information and clues about the Boston Artillery Company’s four cannon and how they may have been stolen.

Listen here.

The Junto: “We lost our appetite for food”

By Rachel Herrmann, 20 April 2017

In August 2015, Oxford Dictionaries declared that the word “hangry” had entered our common vocabulary. Surely most people living in the twenty-first century have experienced the sense of being simultaneously hungry and angry. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, hunger was also everywhere. A recent NPR essay examines how slaveholders withheld food from enslaved people, such as Frederick Douglass, because hunger gave them greater control over people of African descent. Historian Alan Taylor has written about periods of famine after the American Revolution. During some of these years of food shortages that Taylor describes, Iroquois clan mothers pressured other Native Americans into ceding land because they wanted “peace and food relief,” as they did in 1785 at Fort Herkimer. Hunger has been, and continues to be, a key facet of power relations. Hangriness implies that being hungry should engender rage. But historians also know better; they know that for a long time, hunger did not make early modern people angry because they expected it. Carla Cevasco demonstrates that New England colonists could cope with hunger throughout the eighteenth century, but did not do much to stop it.

So yes, hunger was a problem in the early modern period; crops failed, famine ensued, and people died of starvation as their bodies consumed themselves. But hunger was also unexceptional, and rarely was it a cause for anger. During the American Revolutionary War, hunger meant different things at different times, and lots of people — enslaved people, Native Americans, and ordinary soldiers — had to deal with hunger, ignore it, prevent it, and create it.

Read more.

The Loyalist Gazette: Status of the Spring 2017 Issue

The Loyalist Gazette has been printed, and delivered to the mailing house. Depending on how smoothly the label data editing and mailing process progress, it could well be delivered to Canada Post by its May 1 target date, or not.

As a member of a branch of UELAC, or as a subscriber to the Loyalist Gazette, there is still time to try out the digital version – get early delivery, full colour – just complete the request form.

An email with instructions to access the digital version will be sent out to those registered, prior to the paper copy going into the mail.

…Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where is Brenda Dougall Merriman of Toronto 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.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • Loyalist Parkway Canada Day celebrations (Napanee, Bath & Adolphustown ON)
    • Friday June 30th
      • Celebrate Our UEL Heritage Fundraising Dinner in South Fredericksburg in support of Allison House. See flyer.
    • Saturday July 1st
      • Northern Brigade will be encamped at the 1796 Fairfield Gutzeit House in Bath.
      • Morning presentations by Todd Braisted and Gavin Watt.
      • 1pm Parade will feature the King’s Rangers, KRRNY 1st & 2nd Battalion, Jessups Rangers and Herkimers’s Batteaux Coy.
      • www.bathcanadaday.com
    • Sunday July 2nd: UEL Heritage Park & Centre in Adolphustown
      • Morning tours of the Museum & site
      • 1pm Loyalist Landing on an original landing site
      • 2pm Loyalist Ceremony at the UEL Memorial & Cemetery
  • The Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society (HMHPS)is a volunteer organization committed to promoting public awareness of and appreciation for Halifax’s rich and diverse military heritage. If you are attending the Tall Ships Halifax 2017 which is part of Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, then check the HMHPS website for the many sites of military history there. Loyalists arrived in Halifax in November/December of 1783 before sailing on to Shelburne and many other points off ettlement. The best of Nova Scotia will be showcased through music, culinary, historical and family friendly experiences on both sides of the harbour and in outport communities around the province. Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador Bluenose II will be front and centre during the event, highlighting their seafaring history and sail training passion.
  • Check for more about the Canadian leg from June 30 to August 20, 2017. At their arrival in the Gulf of St Lawrence, the Tall Ships will start the Guest Port Program portion of their trip and will stop in more than 35 Canadian ports. The trainees will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful provinces of East Canada: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Québec. Other Tall Ships coming from the Great Lakes in Ontario will also land in Québec City and Lévis.
  • Path Through History: Mohawk Valley. If you are visiting the Mohawk Valley area and have an interest in history, this website has lots of interesting sites – grouped into different categories – to see. Visit Path Through History – Plan My Trip.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Brian McConnell visits the grave of United Empire Loyalist Isaac Bonnell at Trinity Church Cemetery in Digby, Nova Scotia. In this cemetery there are over 200 known Loyalist graves.
  • The founder and namesake of Digby, Nova Scotia. “An illustrious career. Admiral Digby, a gallant, far – sighted founder”
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 22 Apr 1778 American John Paul Jones attacks British Isles directly, burning 3 ships and spiking guns at 2 forts.
    • 21 Apr 1777, British troops under Gen William Tryon attack Danbury, Connecticut, & begin destroying everything in sight.
    • 21 Apr 1775 Governor Dunmore orders Royal Marines to take gunpowder from magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia.
    • 20 Apr1775 Mass. Committee of Safety mobilizes 13,000 militia & militia men gather in force around Boston. Siege of Boston begins!
    • 20 Apr 1776 Germany & Britain arrange to have more troops sent from Germany to America, including 670 infantrymen.
    • 19 Apr 1775 From Lexington, Massachusetts, British retreat under fire to Concord–the “shot heard around the world.”
    • 18 Apr 1776 The Isabella, carrying British troops, is met by American militiamen at Cape Fear, North-Carolina.
    • 17 Apr 1783 British Capt. James Colbert launches attack on Spanish Fort Carlos in Arkansas, unaware war was over.
    • 16 Apr 1776 John Hancock writes the Maryland Council of Safety advising them to seize Royal Governor Robert Eden.
  • Rare parchment manuscript of US Declaration of Independence found in England. Two Harvard researchers have found only the second known parchment manuscript of America’s formative text in a West Sussex archive. On Friday two Harvard University researchers announced they had found a parchment copy of the declaration, only the second parchment manuscript copy known to exist besides the one kept in the National Archives in Washington DC. Professor Danielle Allen and researcher Emily Sneff presented their findings on the document, known as “The Sussex Declaration”, at a conference at Yale on Friday, and published initial research online. Read more…
  • A Wonderful Discovery of a Hermit Who Lived Upwards of 200 Years ([United States: s.n., 1786?]). Broadside with hand colored woodcut. Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books. Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University. Probably the best domestic seller of 1786 was James Buckland’s An Account of the Discovery of a Hermit. Read more…
  • 18th Century Tea kettle on stand Clignancourt Porcelain Works, France Porcelain, enamel, brass, wood, 1775-90
  • Dendrochronologists have determined that a 50-foot ship discovered along the colonial waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia, was constructed with wood from trees that had been chopped down sometime after 1741. Benjamin Skolnik, a City of Alexandria archaeologist, said that the researchers were also able to determine that the trees had come from Boston. Eighteenth-century maps show the ship sunk in the river when the city expanded and filled in the waterway. Read an update about Virginia’s Colonial Ship.
  • Maps: Want to know your ancestor’s world better? Maps can help. Nancy Hendrickson has written about maps. In this short post, she links to an article “Why genealogists need to use maps”. She also links to several free map collection resources that she uses frequently. Worth exploring.
  • Steph Walters: Good to see loyalists represented at the USA National Council on Public History annual meeting! Here Loyalist Elizabeth Thompson is portrayed by Darci Tucker.
  • YouTube Can Be Scary. Instead on answering questions, today we have questions for you. We are so thankful for this great community and we need your thoughts! Jas. Townsend & Son.

Last Post: Peter Warren Wentworth Bell, UE

(May 15, 1939 – April 5, 2017) It is difficult to give full measure to the many contributions to UELAC by Warren Bell. Until further information is given, a review of the statement made in 2016 when he received the Philip E.M. Leith Memorial Award ( read the tribute ) will reveal how he touched so many in the short time of his membership. “Warren exhibits all the characteristics of a volunteer for our branch and the Association as a whole. Warren is a member of the Association and the branch in good-standing who contributes much and goes “that extra mile”.

He was particularly proud of his United Empire Loyalist ancestor, Capt. John Dease, MD.

…Fred Hayward


Stilljohn Purdy

I am researching a loyalist Stilljohn Purdy who went to NS. I am trying to find out more about him. I find a land grant for him in 1790 in Nova Scotia (where his two sons Nathaniel and Joseph are) of 100 acres at Sable River.

I do have their land grants in Nova Scotia but am looking for more information about them, both before the war and after they settled in Nova Scotia.

I have no information before Stilljohn arrived in Nova Scotia; where did he live?

He is listed in the “New York in the Revolution Supplement” pg 127 as having had his property confiscated but there are no details, it is simply a list.

There is a digitized online document “List of loyalist against whom judgments were given under the Confiscation Act” but the first page of this document says 1802 (they were still taking property 20 years later??) and it is a very small list compared to the list in the Supplement. There are Purdy’s on it, but not Stilljohn.

He is said to have married Elizabeth Horton in 1753 in Greene County, but Greene County is not established until 1796. It is said his son Nathaniel is born in the Catskills. I know he has a brother, Elisha Purdy 1740 in Ulster County and have started looking there for information.

There must be detailed documents of the original land confiscations in 1783. It would help if I knew where he lost the property but I am unsure of how to find that information. Any help would be appreciated regarding how to access details of property confiscation.

If anyone has information about Stilljohn Purdy, or any family members including sons Joseph and Nathaniel, would like to connect.

…Linda Herman