“Loyalist Trails” 2017-34: August 20, 2017

In this issue:
Penelope Winslow: The Loyalist “Princess” of Plymouth (Part 2), by Stephen Davidson
Scholars Wanted
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Geo-Historical Sleuthing
JAR: Offering of the Ladies: Esther Reed’s Sentiments, Washington’s Objections
The Junto: Q&A with Carla Pestana on The English Conquest of Jamaica
Ben Franklin’s World: British Soldiers, American War
Siege of Pensacola in 1781
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory


Penelope Winslow: The Loyalist “Princess” of Plymouth (Part 2)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

This is the second installment in the story of one American woman who could be said to fit the stereotype of a “loyalist princess” –Penelope Winslow of Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is a story of high society, sumptuous balls, and elegant carriage rides — but it is also a story of loss, separation and loneliness.

Even before the revolution forever destroyed Penelope’s fairy tale existence, Miss Winslow had had to deal with personal disappointments. Despite being the daughter of a respectable family, she had not caught the eye of an equally respectable young man. To be an unmarried woman of 32 in 1775 was to be beyond hope of ever having a husband and family. Penelope’s fortune, whether good or bad, would therefore always be tied to that of her father or brother.

Not that Penelope was unattractive to men. In the summer of 1778, Montfort Browne wrote to Edward Winslow to recount his meeting with Penelope. While encamped in Rhode Island with the Prince of Wales American Regiment, Browne took “the liberty to visit” Edward’s “amiable sister”. He found her to be “the pleasing counterpart of her affable and agreeable brother for whom as well as his sister I retain the most perfect friendship and esteem.” Penelope, it seems, had that characteristic so valued among princesses: personality.

But charm was not enough to shield Penelope’s family from the consequences of their political decisions. By 1774, rebels had stripped her brother Edward of all political offices and chased him out of Plymouth for his loyalty to the crown. When it was discovered that he had fought with the British forces at the Battle of Lexington, a patriot mob attacked the Winslows’ mansion. After initially dragging the senior Edward out into the street, the rebels had him confined to his home for the next two years.

During that time, Penelope, her sister Sarah and their parents lived in fear of ever-greater persecutions from their neighbours and former friends. At least they had not been subjected to having their personal affects and furniture auctioned off to support the rebel cause. Not yet.

Having permission to go to New York with his youngest daughter and a black slave for six weeks, Edward Senior decided to seek sanctuary in the British-held city. The rebels of Plymouth tossed Penelope and her mother out of their home, seizing all of the family’s goods. Mrs. Winslow was “never able to get back a single bed”.

Within a year’s time, Mrs. Winslow and Penelope were reunited with Edward Senior and Sarah in New York’s fashionable Bowery district. Their new home was “sweetly situated… about two miles out of the city”. Edward Junior was also in the city, serving as the muster master general for the provincial (loyalist) forces.

Most of the details of Penelope’s life in New York City have been lost over time. If not in the style to which they had been accustomed, Penelope’s family received enough of a pension from a sympathetic British government to allow the Winslows to live in comfort. (The crown also provided the loyalist aristocrats with rations, fuel, and candles.)

Given her standing in loyalist society, Penelope no doubt attended parties, balls, and theatrical performances in the company of her brother Edward and his fellow British officers. The large refugee community in Manhattan would also have provided entertainment and opportunities to socialize. In a 1782 letter, a friend of the Winslows referred to the “flow of spirits that used to enliven the little Plymouthian society when {they} were all happy together.”

When the British Empire lost its will to continue to fight the patriot forces in the thirteen rebelling colonies, the long wait for life to return to “normal” was over. But the Winslows could never again return to Plymouth. Banished from their “kingdom”, where could Massachusetts “royalty” go?

Some loyalist friends urged the Winslows to remain in New York — at least until the spring of 1784. Edward Junior felt his parents and sisters should find sanctuary in England. In the end, Edward Senior decided that the family should join other loyalists and seek refuge in Nova Scotia, a place Sarah Winslow described as an “uncultivated country”. Penelope was far more blunt, calling Nova Scotia a “new world of trees and stumps”.

Despite the fact that they were impoverished refugees during their stay in New York, Penelope had been happy there. Her sister noted Penelope’s feelings. “We are parting with numbers who have formed a most delighted society … My Sister, happy girl, is entirely reconciled to staying.”

Penelope expressed her own feelings in a letter to a male companion. “I have not judgment to learn what step to take that will be most for our peace; my resolution is miserable, my spirits at a low ebb. With becoming firmness I supported our first great reverse of fortunes. I bid a long farewell to an elegant house, furniture, native place and all its pleasures with but little emotion save wounded pride. From a great share of vivacity & a tolerable good disposition I was not only reconciled but happy at New York. The banishment to this ruder World you are a witness I submitted to with some degree of cheerfulness.”

Displaying yet another characteristic of a princess –pluck—Penelope said goodbye to the delights of New York and tried to make the best of her new life in Halifax.

Within four months of arriving in Halifax, the Winslow family had settled into a house near the Grand Parade. Edward Junior wrote, “The old folks are delighted with Halifax, they receive every civility and attention — the Girls {that is, Penelope and Sarah} have a larger circle of their friends than they have been accustomed to since they left their home, they all remember you most gratefully and affectionately.”

By 1784, Penelope in particular had made a wide circle of friends and was enjoying a “princess” lifestyle that echoed that of her years in Plymouth. Ball gowns, hairstyles, and society gossip once again gave her life rhythm and meaning.

The life of renewed gaiety momentarily ground to a halt when Penelope’s father died in June of 1784. With the demise of the old loyalist, the three Winslow women were dependent upon Edward Jr. for their financial well-being.

At some point in that year, their brother was able to secure a grant of 400 acres for his sisters on the St. John River. The “princess” now had her “kingdom”, but would she be able to leave Halifax any easier than she had left New York?

Penelope’s story concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Scholars Wanted

In 2018, UELAC will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the Loyalist Scholarship. We look forward to adding new scholars to our impressive list of recipients.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 UEL scholarship program. The UELAC Loyalist Scholarship is available to Masters and PhD students who are undertaking a program in relevant research. The award is for $2500 per year and will be provided for each of two years for Masters and three years for PhD students.

Additional information and application requirements are available at UELAC Scholarship.

The deadline for applications is February 28, 2018.

Questions may be sent by email to scholarship@uelac.org.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Geo-Historical Sleuthing

The quest to pinpoint historical places, even those from the late eighteenth century, can prove a difficult endeavour for researchers and requires the skills of both Sherlock Holmes and an experienced historian. In New Brunswick, for instance, two main cites existed under alternate names for the early period of loyalist settlement: Parrtown or Parr Town for Saint John and St. Anne’s Point for Fredericton. In the process of creating a GIS story map plotting the lives of loyalists in York County, New Brunswick, and transcribing New Brunswick county court records, we at the Micoforms Unit of the Harriet Irving Library have had to do some serious detective work to make a final determination on settlement and community sites, land grant locations, and geographic features.

Read more.

JAR: Offering of the Ladies: Esther Reed’s Sentiments, Washington’s Objections

By Conner Runyan (July 12, 2017)

Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and, to a much greater extent, lesser notables such as Reed, Rush, Morris and dozens more profoundly understood what it would take to keep an army together, but it may well be that their wives and daughters knew something that they did not. A group of ‘knotty matrons’ proposed a most remarkable plan, but the Commander-in-Chief, a man of his time, would not — could not—let it happen. But they found a way, one almost now forgotten.

In March of 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband:

I long to hear that you have declared an independency … and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion …

The Fall of Charleston, South Carolina in May of 1780 was the event needed to accelerate the “fomentation” process in Abigail Adams’ determined rebellion. The loss of a major Southern port, and equally, the total elimination of an entire army, stirred places like Philadelphia into action. Among the many who understood how deep was the loss of optimism, not only in the South, but among Northern troops, was Esther Reed, and her elite social circle. Young, frail, feeble, delicate, nursing a child and fairly new to America, Esther Reed had a number of things going for her that might serve to propel her into a position of leadership. She was the wife of Joseph Reed, Washington’s trusted aide, military secretary, and at the time president (governor) of Pennsylvania. She was also, as were most of the women about her, highly intelligent, supremely perceptive, well informed, knowing the inner thoughts of men such as her husband and the namesake of one of her sons, George Washington. She was likewise wonderfully audacious. On balance, however, it would be an interesting effort to find a more unlikely individual to lead a rebellion. Within a month of the disaster at Charleston, she had the courage to write one of the most effective publications of the American Revolution, The Sentiments of An American Woman, 1780.

Read more.

The Junto: Q&A with Carla Pestana on The English Conquest of Jamaica

To accompany the review by Casey Schmitt that was published yesterday, we are pleased to have this Question & Answer with Carla Pestana today regarding her new book, The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire (Harvard University Press, 2017). We thank Dr. Pestana for her time.

JUNTO: Your book, The English Conquest of Jamaica, is a story of ambitions and realities. Oliver Cromwell wished nothing less than to take over Spanish America. And while the end result mostly entailed the island of Jamaica, the implications were still immense. In short, what was “The Design,” how did it evolve, and how did it shift the geopolitical landscape?

CARLA GARDINA PESTANA: The Western Design began as a secret plan to take the Spanish empire in the Americas. The name—the Western Design—came about because contemporaries needed a vague way to refer to the project. At first they simply called it “the Design” or “the present expedition,” but after the fleet sailed and its general destination became known, the term “western” was added. The secrecy allowed Oliver Cromwell, then Lord Protector, to maintain an element of surprise, and it sent many in Europe and the Americas into paroxysms of speculation.

Read more.

[NOTE: an interesting read which provides some description from a century earlier than the Rev War of the evolution of the Americas politically and economically.]

Ben Franklin’s World: British Soldiers, American War

In this episode, Don N. Hagist, author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, leads us on an exploration of the British Army and the men who served in it during the American War for Independence.

Don reveals how many men served in the British Army; How they became one of the best fighting forces in the late eighteenth-century world; And whether some of the myths that we have heard about the British Army hold true, such as whether the men who served in it represented the dregs of British society.

Listen to the podcast.

Siege of Pensacola in 1781

The Siege of Pensacola was a siege fought in 1781, the culmination of Spain’s conquest of the British province West Florida during the American Revolutionary War.

When Spain entered the War in 1779, Bernardo de Galvez, the energetic governor of Spanish Louisiana, immediately began offensive operations to gain control of British West Florida. In September 1779 he gained complete control over the lower Mississippi River by capturing Fort Bute and then shortly thereafter obtaining the surrender of the remaining forces following the Battle of Baton Rouge. He followed up these successes with the capture of Mobile on March 14, 1780, after a brief siege.

Galvez began planning an assault on Pensacola, West Florida’s capital, using forces from Havana, with the recently captured Mobile as the launching point for the attack. British reinforcements arriving in Pensacola in April 1780 delayed the expedition, however, and when an invasion fleet finally sailed in October, it was dispersed by a hurricane a few days later. Galvez spent nearly a month regrouping the fleet at Havana.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where are Bay of Quinte Branch members Peter Johnson and Doug Knutson?

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.

  • Last Thursday (Aug 3), the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, made a special trip to the Little Hyatt One Room Schoolhouse in Milby to present a Canada 150th Commemorative pin to Milton Loomis for his exceptional contribution in preserving local heritage. It was a fitting venue for the event as the almost complete 22-year project of restoring the schoolhouse and transforming the site to receive and educate visitors about local history has been spear-headed by Mr. Loomis and his wife, Beverly. Read more… The restoration and operation of the Little Hyatt One Room Schoolhouse has been a project of the Little Forks Branch UELAC. Through grants, UELAC has also made some contribution. See some photos from this special occasion.
  • United Empire Loyalist Certificate of Descent Presentation at Admiral Digby Museum, Digby, Nova Scotia on August 19, 2017. This is a short video of the event on Saturday 19 August 2017 at Admiral Digby Museum in Digby, NS when two Certificates of Loyalist Descent were presented to Nova Scotia Branch member Glen Cook for Loyalists Maurice Peters and Isaac Titus. Loyally, Brian McConnell, UE, NS Branch President.
  • Upcoming: Please note the next meeting of the Nova Scotia Branch UELAC will be on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Auburn, Nova Scotia. The meeting will start at 11 a.m. and there will be lunch provided afterwards followed by a Tour of the church which was consecrated by Loyalist Bishop Charles Inglis. The church was completed in 1790 and is closely associated with the Inglis family as well as other Loyalists who settled in the area in 1784. It contains some original items, Prayer Boards, King George III coat of Arms over the Governors Pew, etc. More information on the church.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Gravestone of Loyalist Enoch Towner, b. In Connecticut, to Digby, NS in 1783, became Baptist Preacher for 30 yrs (Brian McConnell UE)
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 19 Aug 1779 Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee successfully leads daring raid on British at Paulus Hook, New-Jersey.
    • 18 Aug 1780 Americans & British clash in two different places in SC, with a victory — and a defeat — for each.
    • 17 Aug 1775 Major Roche, “bearing a large purse of Gold,” raises recruits in Cork, Ireland for American effort.
    • 16 Aug 1777 At Battle of Bennington, Vermont militia, aided by Massachusetts troops, wipe out force of 800 Hessians.
    • 15 Aug 1780 Patriots at Camden ordered into battle despite widespread food poisoning, suffer “total defeat.”
    • 14 Aug 1775 Americans plunder at least 100 barrels of gunpowder from Crown storage magazine at Bermuda.
    • 13 Aug 1781 French fleet departs for America, where it will prevent reinforcements to Cornwallis at Yorktown.
  • Bayonet: British Shortland Pattern Second Model Brown Bess Bayonet (photo, description)
  • The drum and fife regulated the Revolutionary War soldier’s life. By commands of music, the soldier was notified when to awake in the mornings, when to attend drill, when to stop for meals, and when to report for pay. While on the march, music assisted with cadence and order, helping men to march in time. Music encouraged soldiers to press a march or attack with vigor. Read more…
  • Thomas Gaddis: Thomas Gaddis (1742–1834) was an officer in the American Revolutionary War. He was born December 28, 1742, in Winchester, Frederick County, Virginia and married Hannah Rice in 1764; the same year he built Fort Gaddis, a refuge from the Indians, located on the Catawba Trail. In fact, Pennsylvania and Virginia had conflicting claims in the area Gaddis settled. Though he maintained his loyalty to Virginia, Gaddis also protected his investment by recording his patent with Pennsylvania authorities. By 1773, both states created new geo-political boundaries in recognition of increased white settlement. Pennsylvania formed Westmoreland County out of the larger Bedford County, and Virginia established the District of West Augusta. In 1776, West Augusta was further divided into three counties: Ohio, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela, where Gaddis and his family resided. [NOTE: Interesting points: colony boundaries; Rev War; Sandusky expedition; Whiskey Boys] Read more…
  • A fun bit about a couple cycling from Quesnel BC to hopefully Newfoundland. This read is about their time in southern and eastern Ontario, including an overnight at the Loyalist campground at Adolphustown. Read more…
  • A close-up look at some of the beautiful blooms on this black woven brocaded silk open robe, c.1748 (dress altered c.1780)
  • Woman’s gown of black silk satin, embroidered in multicolor flowers with pinks, blues and creams predominating. Bodice has low squared neckline, with button-front stomacher, edged with self-fabric ruching and multicolor tied fringe (also known as “fly fringe”). 1770s, remade from earlier style.
  • A search for evidence of a Black Loyalist burial ground at the Algonquin golf course (St. Andrews-by-the-Sea?). Graham Nickerson is a member of the New Brunswick Black History Society, and board member of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, based in Nova Scotia. CBC Radio.
  • Townsends: To Dress A Dish Of Mushrooms – 18th Century Cooking (video)

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • LYON, (Capt.) Joseph Oliver – from Stephen McDonald