“Loyalist Trails” 2017-19: May 7, 2017

In this issue:
2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots
The Portrait of Sarah Hay: Part Three, by Stephen Davidson
JAR: Hearts of Oak on Canvas: Watson and the Shark
The Royal Archives Reveals the Hidden Genius Behind George III’s “Madness”
Ben Franklin’s World: Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post
      + Albert Woolland Crook, UE
      + Joyce Sybilla Polgrain (nee Wood), UE
      + Veronica Victoria “Vera” Scott (nee Varga)
      + Robert Philip Smart, UE


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 Three

© Stephen Davidson, UE

When she was just six years old, Sarah Harding was among the thousands of loyalist refugees who disembarked at the mouth of the St. John River in 1783. The New York native grew and matured as did the city in which her family had settled. Parrtown became the city of Saint John, rapidly rising as a hub of banking and business in the new colony of New Brunswick. Her husband John Hay was one  of the city’s many bakers. Over their 17 years of marriage, the couple had seven children who would, in their own time, contribute to the growing prosperity of their city and colony.

Sarah Hay’s 69th birthday in 1846 was noteworthy given the fact that the arrival of 9,000 immigrants had triggered an outbreak of cholera that took hundreds of lives throughout the province. Immigration, however, continued unabated. In the month of June 1847 alone, 35 vessels brought 5,800 Irish immigrants to Saint John.  2,400 of those passengers either died at sea or before they could leave their ships. The city had seen nothing like it since the days of the loyalist arrivals in 1783.

The cemetery in which Sarah’s husband John and two sons were buried was the final resting place for most of the city’s loyalist settlers. In 1848 it was running out of room, and so the city council decided that no new burial plots would be permitted after May first. Many of the city’s older residents such as Sarah Hay actually prayed to die before the deadline so that they could be buried with their family and friends.

Two fires raged through Saint John in the early months of 1849, destroying over 100 buildings and forcing 700 families to run into the streets to escape the flames. Later that year such disasters were reported over telegraph lines that had been installed between Saint John, Boston, and Halifax.

In 1851, New Brunswick saw its first “horseless carriage” when Thomas Turnbull demonstrated his “Audromonon Carriage”.  It was the same year that saw the beginning of the construction of the European and North American Railroad that eventually connected Saint John to the Nova Scotia border and Portland, Maine. 1851 was the year in which the Marco Polo, the fastest sailing ship in the world, was launched from Saint John’s shipyards. It sailed from England to Australia in 5 months and 21 days, carrying 930 passengers and 60 crew. It could cover 428 miles in a day.

The times certainly were “a-changing”. Sarah Hay began using Canada’s first postage stamp when New Brunswick issued the Three-Penny Beaver. A stagecoach ride now took its passengers from Saint John to Halifax in just 48 hours. The world’s first steam foghorn could be heard blaring in the city’s harbour.

In 1854, Sarah once again escaped an untimely death. One in twenty of Saint John’s citizens died in a devastating cholera epidemic. Attendance at church was reduced to a trickle; children’s Sunday School classes were cancelled. But life went on. The Prince of Wales visited Saint John; the heir to the throne was accommodated in a house filled with furniture made by New Brunswick craftsmen.

Sarah Hay was 84 years old when the American Civil War began. A surprising number of New Brunswick’s young men went off to serve in the armies of either the Union or the Confederacy. After two Confederate diplomats were taken from a British vessel, 6,000 British troops were sent to Saint John with orders to march overland to defend the Canadas from a possible American invasion.

By 1864, Saint John was the largest city in the Atlantic colonies; its population of 42,000 made it almost as large as Quebec or Toronto. According to one report, the men dressed informally, wearing new-style bowler hats on the backs of their heads. Havana cigars were smoked — even on Sundays, and men chewed tobacco in the streets. The smartly dressed women were a little flashy by Canadian standards. One report said they had “tightly-corseted figures swelling incredibly at the bosom, their hair brushed up in short curls on the top of their heads, and their long skirts swirling and flirting over rustling crinoline petticoats.”

However, changes far greater than those in street fashion were just around the corner. The notion of uniting all of the British North American colonies had been discussed just that summer in Charlottetown. Delegates from the conference –men who later be called the Fathers of Confederation– were guests at a banquet at Stubb’s Hotel in Saint John.

Photography studios have been in Saint John for 25 years by 1866. At some point in time, Sarah Hay’s children and grandchildren persuaded her to pose in front of the camera. Wearing a bonnet, her face etched with the cares of a long life, Sarah Harding Hay sat for a black and white portrait.

On July first, 1867, Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick formed a confederacy of British North American colonies. The Dominion of Canada was born. Sarah Hay was 90 years old. The little girl who had sailed into Saint John’s harbour with her loyalist family in 1783 was among the oldest members of the new Dominion’s population.

Finally, after a life fully lived, Sarah Hay breathed her last on Thursday, September 27, 1867. Just three of her nine children survived her: George, Elizabeth, and James. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren from as far away as Connecticut and Australia mourned her passing. Sarah’s husband John had died 45 years earlier; she had been the loyalist baker’s widow for half of her ninety years.  Mrs. Hay’s funeral was held at the home of her son George at 84 Charlotte Street, an address that was nothing more than a grove of trees when her loyalist family first arrived in Saint John.

Sarah Hay’s life was an ordinary one that had been lived out in extraordinary times. At her death, locomotive engines rather than sailing ships were the fastest means of transportation; telegraph lines could carry messages over thousands of miles in an instant rather than over weeks. The invention of photography allowed anyone –not just those who could commission an artist– to have a portrait made. And yet, like painted portraits, the black and white photographs of the 19th century often hid much more than they revealed. The photograph of Sarah Harding Hay, a loyalist refugee child, is just one case in point.

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

JAR: Hearts of Oak on Canvas: Watson and the Shark

by Kyle Dalton May 2, 2017

A single day of gory trauma defined the life of Brook Watson. As a teenager, he had gone swimming in Havana harbor, where a shark attacked him. The shark first peeled off the skin of his calf with its thrashing bite. With its second turn, Watson’s foot was wrenched away at the ankle. His own blood swirling around him, Watson must have contemplated his impending death. At the final moment, a boatload of sailors rowed to his rescue. They fended off the beast with a boathook and hoisted the critically injured boy aboard. Watson suffered an amputation and spent the rest of his life on a wooden leg.

This event so affected Watson that he later incorporated his lost leg, complete with torn flesh at the top, in his coat of arms. In 1777, Watson commissioned the artist John Singleton Copley to commemorate the event on canvas. Copley’s towering painting proved to be his most enduring masterpiece. Watson, naked and bleeding, reaches up from the water toward the outstretched hands of sailors. Rounding the stern, the shark opens its maw for a final, fatal bite. A single sailor, his foot on the bow, holds a boathook like a spear to deliver a blow of his own that would smite the creature.

Read more.

The Royal Archives Reveals the Hidden Genius Behind George III’s “Madness”

Historians are salivating at the opportunity to gain new insights into the massively misunderstood monarch.

Windsor Castle is a hybrid of medieval treasure and modern marvel. Moving past guards and a fierce-looking cannon, I ascend 104 steps to reach the iconic Round Tower, where the Royal Archives are housed. There, a small army of researchers is orchestrating a revolution in archival access—one focused on George III, the monarch whose supposed tyranny sparked a revolution in the American colonies, shaping the course of world history.

Reading the royals’ mail in person at their castle calls for a bit of time travel. A few steps from William the Conqueror’s 11th-century footprint, technicians painstakingly stitch together digital images of manuscripts. Across the way, in the Royal Library, bibliographers bustle along the same walking gallery where Elizabeth I strode daily. Down in the bookbindery, a new fleet of apprentices learns to bind books, apply royal seals with gold finishing, and conserve volumes. Nearby, Windsor archivists ponder the metadata needed to make George’s life word-searchable and wrestle with imposing order on such a massive archive.

Blame the bustle on a horde of historians curious about George. They are now welcome in Windsor thanks to the Georgian Papers Programme, launched by Elizabeth II in April 2015 to open 350,000 private manuscripts to the public. In a milestone installment, roughly 33,000 documents of George III, Charlotte, and their royal household are now available to read online for free. By 2020, the entire archive will be online.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire

Today, we explore early American history through a slightly different lens, a lens that allows us to see interactions that occurred between Native American peoples and English men and women who lived in London.

Coll Thrush, an Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and author of Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of the Empire, leads us on an exploration of Native American and European interactions that took place in London.

During our exploration, Coll reveals when and why Native Americans started to visit London; How Londoners expected Native Americans to act and what Native Americans thought of London and Londoners; And how Coll went about uncovering and recovering the voices of early Native American travelers to London.

Hear more in this podcast.

Where in the World?

Where are Bonnie Schepers, Bicentennial Branch, and Sue Hines, Grand River 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.

  • UELAC’s AGM, Members’ Information, Voting.  The Annual General Meeting of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada will be held Saturday 24 July 2017 in London ON.  Members of the Association may vote in person or by proxy.  Members: For information on your voting options and the Annual Reports package, go here for instructions about how to access them.
  • The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit will run Oct 13-15 in Halifax NS. The speakers, recently announced, include Betty Dobson speaking about The Forgotten Loyalists of Guysborough County. For those interested in researching or proving their Loyalist lineage, there will be a pre-eventLoyalist workshop with Kathryn Lake Hogan UE of Bicentennial Branch UELAC on Friday, October 13, 2017 at the the hotel.
  • Great to see craft beer becoming increasingly popular. In the Niagara ON area, combine history and beer on May 6  at Cask fest at Fort George. Looks like a fun time.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • UELAC Scholar Sophie Jones @sophiehjones1: I’ve lived 20 minutes from this all my life and today is the first time I’ve seen it! Memorial to NY loyalist Frederick Philipse
  • RevWarTalk: Richard Prescott (1725–1788) was a British officer, born in England. He was appointed a major of the 33rd Regiment of Foot, on 20 December 1756, transferred to the 72nd Regiment of Foot on 9 May 1758, and on 14 December 1761, lieutenant-colonel of the 17th Regiment of Foot, before in May 1762, transferring to the 50th Regiment of Foot, with which regiment he served in Germany during the Seven Years War. He afterward transferred to the 7th Regiment of Foot before he was brevetted colonel in the army on 25 June 1772, before he went to Canada in 1773. Read more…
  • RevWarTalk: Lieutenant General James Murray (19 March 1734 – 19 March 1794), was a Scottish soldier and politician. He was given a captain’s commission in his uncle’s regiment, the Black Watch, and was placed in command of one of the companies being raised for the French and Indian War. He then sailed to North America and joined the fighting in New York State. Many years later, he joined the Brigade of Guards in North America in March 1777, where he was wounded during the Philadelphia campaign. Read more..
  • On May 5, 1784, Moses Gerrish begins the Loyalist settlement of Grand Manan Island.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 6 May 1776 Governor of Rhode-Island sends Washington proclamation discharging inhabitants’ allegiance to the Crown.
    • May 5th 1775 The 16-gun sloop HMS Falcon (Captain John Linzee) confiscates colonial sloops at Bedford MA to transport sheep to Boston
    • 5 May 1776 British Gen. Clinton offers broad amnesty to North-Carolina patriots for their “wicked rebellion.”
    • 4 May 1776 Rhode-Island renounces allegiance to the English King, but continues to call itself an “English Colony.”
    • 3 May 1775 Governor of North-Carolina Colony instructed by British gov’t to organize Loyalist militias.
    • 2 May 1776. France & Spain secretly allotted munitions valued at one million livres to the patriots. Covert action would aid Cause!
    • 2 May 1776 France loans 1 mil livres to a company created to support the American cause.
    • 1 May 1778 Battle of Crooked Billet PA. British bayonet attack vs PA militia. Buckwheat straw used to set dead & wounded on fire.
    • 1 May 1775 NY’s Committee of 100 suggests that every man acquire weapons & school himself in military discipline.
    • 30 Apr 1780 British force takes possession of Lempriere’s Point, where rebels had abandoned cannon and guns.
  • Seeing the loyalist cemetery in St George NB in such poor condition is really sad! I hope it gets repaired!
    • As a citizen, is there anything I can do??
    • Volunteer to clean up at one. There are cemeteries in need of TLC all over the Maritimes, many of which are Loyalist.
    • Ok thanks. I wasn’t sure if I would be overstepping municipal policies. I’ll do that!
  • Okill Stuart UE, 96, has a remarkable connection to the Queen’s husband Prince Philip that dates back 80 years: they were classmates at Gordonstoun School in Scotland as teenagers in the 1930s. “He was Prince Philip of Greece and proud of it,” Stuart said from his home in Saint-Lambert, in Montreal’s south shore. Read and watch interview with Okill, Past-president of UELAC and member of Heritage Branch in Montreal.
  • Vibrant boudoir slippers – ideal indoor footwear for elite Victorian women. Emphasis on the front of the slipper.
  • Snazzy stripes on this gown, and what a bonnet. Portrait of a Lady, School of Johann Jacob,  c.1772-85
  • Everyday Clothing: A Rare Woman’s Shortgown, c1780-1800. Shortgowns were most commonly worn by working women, and they often turn up in the advertised descriptions of runaway indentured and enslaved servants.

Last Post

Albert Woolland Crook, UE

Passed away at Fairhaven Nursing Home, on Sunday, April 30, 2017. Albert is survived by his wife of almost 48 years, Constance “Connie” UE (formerly Brummel, nee: Brown, a member of Kawartha Branch and Author). Loving step-father of Elisabeth Ann (Marc) Beranger and Deborah Lois (Daniel) Floyd. Loved Grandfather of Sarah Marie and Kathryn Genevieve Beranger; and Alexander Berton, Ryan Benjamin (Amanda), and Jordan Daniel Floyd. He is predeceased by his parents, Arthur and Ellen Crook, and his brothers, Reverend Russell (Gwen) and Edwin (Ailsa). Albert was the Chief Custodian at Queen Mary Public School for several years which he enjoyed greatly.

In place of flowers if desired, donations to the Fairhaven Foundation, Friends Peterborough (for the homeless), or the charity of your choice would be appreciated. Condolences to the family and service details at www.AshburnhamFuneral.ca.

Joyce Sybilla Polgrain (nee Wood), UE

1933-2016. Peacefully, with her family by her side, Joyce Polgrain at Victoria Hospital, on Friday April 28, 2017. Beloved wife of the late Bertram Polgrain UE (2003). Loving mother of Ted (Sue) Slomer. Cherished Gramma of Matthew (Lindsay) and Adam, and GG to Elizabeth and Charlotte. Dear sister of Fran (Jim) Sommerman and Bernice Flett UE. Predeceased by Pearl M Wood (nee Nablo) and Frank Wood and her sister Louise (Lorne) Graves. Joyce will be missed by her Family and close circle of friends.

Descended from UEL William Koughnett, Christian Keller and Josiah Harnes.

It is with much sadness that we note the passing of our London and Western Ontario Branch member Joyce Polgrain UE. Joyce was the sister of our former Branch and Dominion President Bernice Flett. She had become a close personal friend and was a great supporter of our London Branch. Joyce and her late husband Bert were generous contributors, presenting Fanshawe Pioneer Village with a UE Flag and large Flag Pole. Whenever we are at the park we fly our Loyalist Flag from it and I will always think of Joyce. Recently when we have had some financially tighter times Joyce has financially helped our branch out. She was extremely interested and proud of her Loyalist heritage and committed to make sure we here at London succeed. She was hoping to attend the 2017 Conference here in London and was excited about it as we kept her informed of the upcoming events. Joyce will be sadly missed by our branch and especially by myself as a mentor and by her family. There will be a private family interment of her ashes at a later date.

…Carol Childs, President, London and Western Ontario Branch

Veronica Victoria “Vera” Scott (nee Varga)

Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch members are saddened at the passing of Veronica Victoria “Vera” Scott at the Victoria County Memorial Hospital in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, on Saturday, January 7th, 2017 in her 84th year. Vera was the beloved wife of the late UELAC Past Dominion President & President of Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch UELAC, Edward G. Scott UE for 54 years. Vera was predeceased by her parents Teresa and Kalman Varga and sister Teresa Fenton. She is survived by her children, Terri Spinney (Bruce) of Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Thomas Scott (Melissa) of Nanaimo, B.C. and Mark Scott (Karen) of Victoria, B.C. Dear sister of Zoli Varga of Port Colborne. Beloved grandmother to Ashley Spinney (Joe Young), Aaron Spinney and Noah Scott.

Veronica was a lifetime member of the Catholic Women’s League and a faithful member the Parish Community of St. Kevin. A celebration of Vera’s life was held at the Parish Community of St. Kevin, on Tuesday May 2nd. As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to the CNIB or the Canadian Diabetes Association. Online condolences available at www.cudneyfuneralhome.com.

…Bev Craig, UE

Robert Philip Smart, UE

Died April 4, 2017 at the John M. Parrott Centre in Napanee, Philip was born March 9, 1936 in Brockville, Ontario, to Dr. Robert “Bob” Smart and Dorothea”Dot” Jowsey. He was brother of the late Edwin Smart and is survived by his sister Harriet Fear-Taylor (David), his brother Stephen Smart and sister-in-law Lynn Smart, all of Toronto and by nieces and nephews, Julia Fear, David Fear (Kirsten), Robert Fear, Gregory Smart, Becky Smart-Revenaz (Thibaut) and Amy Smart and by his extended family and dear friends. He was a descendant of Loyalist Sgt. Joshua Booth of the Odessa area. Philip resided in Toronto for many years, then moved into the historic Booth home in Odessa. He was a long time members of our Branch as well as Toronto and Kingston branches. A Celebration of Life for Philip will be held at the Paul G. Payne Funeral Home, 178 Main St., Odessa, Ontario K0H 2H0 (613-386-7373) in May – date and time to be announced.