“Loyalist Trails” 2017-44: October 29, 2017

In this issue:
Goin’ Down the Road: Maritime Loyalists’ Migration to Upper Canada, by Stephen Davidson
Rev. Samuel Cook, UEL
Alida Vrooman Hare, UEL
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Sleepy Hollow and The Hanging of Major André
Borealia: Britishness and Whiteness in Early Canadian Culture
JAR: Luke Ryan, Premier Privateer
The Junto: A Short Ode to Slow History
Ben Franklin’s World: The Revolution’s African American Soldiers
Book: Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield
The Farmer’s Almanac
Loyalist Gazette: Progress and Early Delivery
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
      + George Cosby UEL
      + Response re Newsletters from the US


Goin’ Down the Road: Maritime Loyalists’ Migration to Upper Canada

© Stephen Davidson, UE

When the American historian Lorenzo Sabine wrote “Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution” in 1847, he was able to identify ten refugees who moved on to Upper Canada following their initial settlement in the Maritimes. Here are the stories of the last four such men that he featured in his biographical dictionary.

Thomas Merritt was a loyalist born in Bedford in New York’s Westchester County. Although Sabine lists him as a Harvard graduate, his name is not found in the list of university alumni. Whether he trained to be a doctor is a moot point as the revolution forced Merritt into a very different career path. After serving as a cornet in Emmerich’s Chasseurs, the young loyalist transferred to the Queen’s Rangers. Under the command of John Graves Simcoe, Merritt fought in the southern colonies.

At one point rebels captured Merritt and crammed him “with about twenty others . . . in a small nasty dark place, made of logs, called a bull pen.” After organizing his fellow prisoners, Merritt broke out of the jail and guided them over 50 miles to British-controlled territory.

During his time in South Carolina, Merritt met Mary Hamilton and married her on July 27, 1781. They would eventually have five daughters and a son. A year after their marriage, the Merritts followed the British troops to New York, staying there only a year before being evacuated (along with Thomas’ brothers and father) to what became the loyalist colony of New Brunswick.

Within seven years the Merritts were back in Thomas’ hometown of Bedford, New York. For undisclosed reasons, the loyalist veteran travelled to Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), where John Graves Simcoe, his former commander, “gave him so great encouragement” to settle.

And settle he did, making a home for Mary and their two surviving children at Twelve Mile Creek. In time, Merritt held the offices of sheriff of the district of Niagara, and surveyor of the king’s forests. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Merritt was made major commandant of the Niagara Light Dragoons that fought at the Battle of Queenston Heights.

According to family lore, one of his daughters helped General Brock to buckle his sword prior to leaving for his final battle. The historian Carl Christie reports that Merritt later accepted part of the blame for the lack of preparedness at Queenston Heights. The loyalist confessed to a friend that no sentry had been posted because “they thought the Devil himself could not get up there.” Thomas Merritt was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of Sir Isaac Brock.

Following the surrender of the Americans at Queenston, Merritt gathered up the swords of the enemy officers who were taken prisoner. One of these swords is now on display at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto.

Thomas Merritt died at St. Catharine’s, May 1842, aged eighty-two. Had he stayed in New Brunswick, he –like his brother Nehemiah—might have become “a gentleman of great wealth”. Nehemiah died at Saint John, New Brunswick at the age of seventy-two in 1842.

Joseph Ryerson was a Paterson, New Jersey loyalist who was one of 550 volunteers that enlisted to fight patriots in Charleston, South Carolina. He was only 15 at the time. Ryerson became a trusted courier, taking dispatches 196 miles from the coast into South Carolina’s interior. After becoming a lieutenant in the Prince of Wales Volunteers, he fought in six battles, being wounded in one conflict.

At the end of the revolution, Ryerson and his brother Samuel Ryerse were among the evacuees on the Esther that brought loyal refugees to the mouth of the St. John River in the fall of 1783. He and his wife Mehetabel Stickney raised six sons, five of whom became Methodist ministers — but not in New Brunswick. Like many loyalist veterans who settled along the St. John River, Ryerson caught “Niagary fever” and pulled up stakes. (Niagary Fever was the quaint name given to the strong desire of New Brunswick’s early loyalist settlers to find new homes and better opportunities in Upper Canada.)

Both Joseph and Samuel settled their families near Vittoria in Upper Canada’s Norfolk County. Joseph became a colonel in the local militia and — along with three of his sons—fought in the War of 1812. One of his sons, the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, became an influential figure in the development of Upper Canada’s public school system and its Methodist congregations.

According to Sabine, Joseph Ryerson died near Vittoria in 1854 at the age of 94, “one of the last of the old United Empire Loyalists”.

The Irishman John Stewart immigrated to New York after completing his studies at Dublin University. A merchant, he became an officer in the commissary department during the revolution. Sabine says that this loyalist settled in Digby, Nova Scotia around the year 1785. He and his wife had ten children. By 1861, his son James had become the town’s postmaster. However, John left Digby in 1819 to live in Upper Canada. He died sometime before 1822.

Ephraim Tisdale’s life would be one marked by a great deal of travel. Born in Freetown, Massachusetts, his loyalist principles compelled him to find refuge in New York City in 1775. During the course of the war, he was on a ship bound for East Florida’s St. Augustine. Anxious to avoid capture by rebel vessels, he abandoned his ship at sea and “gained the shore in safety”. With hardly any money on his person, he walked 1,500 miles overland back to New York.

In 1783, Tisdale was once again at sea, but heading north this time. He and his wife were among the loyalist refugees on The Brothers. When his wife gave birth to a son en route, they named the baby in honour of William Walker, the ship’s captain. (Walker Tisdale lived his entire life in Saint John, New Brunswick. When his family had a reunion in Canada in 1845, he met 163 of his parents’ 169 descendants.)

Little Walker was the ninth child that the Tisdales had to support (in addition to a servant) when they arrived at the mouth of the St. John River. Although Ephraim Tisdale held (as Sabine notes) a number of “civil and military offices”, he migrated to Upper Canada in 1808 after a quarter of a century in New Brunswick. He died eight years later. The Tisdales who went with Ephraim “were active on the side of the crown” during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, being “distinguished for loyalty”.

While compiling his biographical sketches of loyal refugees in the 1860s, Lorenzo Sabine was able to only identify ten of his loyalists as having settled in Upper Canada after initially putting down roots in the Maritimes. While we know that hundreds –if not thousands– of other loyalists made the same decision to seek new opportunities, Sabine nevertheless has provided historians with a starting point as they trace the centuries-old Canadian phenomenon of “goin’ down the road”.

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

Rev. Samuel Cook, UEL

In last week’s issue of Loyalist Trails, I was excited to find my 4th Great grandfather Loyalist Rev. Samuel Cooke in the article Interactive Historical Story Map: “New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys”.

Here is an excerpt about the Rev. Cooke from “The Narrative of Hannah Ingraham, Loyalist” published in the “Syllabus” of the Genealogical Conference of New York Inc., held at Rochester, New York, July 5, 6 & 7, 1990.

There was the Chief Justice and the Governor and Parson Cooke and his family and we sold them cream and butter; they were glad to get the things….”

Parson Cooke came over to baptize my little brother Ira and dined with us. He lived over the river at St. Mary’s. There were many people settled there.”

Parson Cooke held services in the King’s Provision Warehouse close by the church green until the church was ready.”

One day Parson Cooke came over for a funeral. It was in May at freshet time and the water was high and the wind began to blow and we wanted him to stay until next day, but he said they would be waiting for him, so he and his son, a big boy, started to paddle over home. The next day someone saw a straw hat floating, his son’s hat, and then the canoe bottom up, so they knew they were drowned, and it was more than a week before they found the bodies floating down the river. Oh it was a terrible grief. We all loved him so. There’s many a one named Cooke after him.

Read more about Hannah Ingraham via the University of New Brunswick library.

…Rod and Bev Craig

Alida Vrooman Hare, UEL

Today I received a Loyalist Certificate to my 5th gt-grandparent. She is one of the few women who were considered UEL in their own right. It took a lot of research, but I am delighted to with this ward.

Variously listed as Alida/Alita/Alada/Allada/Aita/Abigail/Abigal/Elatta Vrooman. She married Henry Heer (sic) on 15 Apr 1765 at the Reformed Dutch Church in Stone Arabia, Tryon (now Montgomery County), New York.

Henry Hare came home for reasons which included visiting his wife Alida for her 32nd birthday on 17 Jun 1779.

In June 1779 while her husband Henry was spying for the British, he also “brought home for his wife several articles of clothing, such as British calicoes, dress-shawls, Indian moccasins, etc., and on the very day he set out to return to Canada, she was so imprudent as to put them on and go visiting”. (The Frontiersman of New York, Jeptha R. Simms, Albany, N.Y., 1883, VOL. II, pp 241-244).

Her husband was caught and accused of spying for the British. She pleaded for his life to no avail. She showed her loyalist standing at the court martial of Butlers Ranger Sergeant William Newberry on 20 Jun 1779.

Butlers Ranger Sergeant William Newberry (who was captured and tried with her husband Henry Hare) appeared before that court.

Question 12 posed to William Newberry was “Who were the persons that gave you the Intiligence (sic) of our movements?” Newberry answered “Thomas Plato, Wilham Rombauch and Henry Hairs wife – said Hairs wife went backwards and forwards every day to gain Intiligence for us .”

Question 14 posed to William Newberry “…The Prisoner being Requested to make his defence says…” (answr.) “He also say his Intentions in coming down this present time was only to see his Family + should have given himself up to the mercy of his Country if he had thought he could obtain a Pardon, but Henry Hare + wife + Thomas Plato told him there was no mercy shewn any of those who had joined the Enemy + was from these arguments afraid to deliver himself up…”

Reference and credit: Captain Andrew Porter’s Journal, ed. Jay H. Jakovic, Dutch Settlers Society of Albany Yearbook, Vol. 44, 1972-1974, Albany, N.Y., pp 6, 7, 9, and 10.

Petition of Abigal Hare, widow of the late Lieut Henry Hare of Indian Department. Humbly shewth, that your petitioner, is a poor widow, with six small children, without any means to support them, the want of every necessary of life and the continual insults of the rebels obliged her to leave the province of New York and come off to this. Your petitioners said husband being ordered on a Scout, last summer, was taken by the rebels: who charged with being a spy. Tried him for the same. An unjust trial condemned him, in consequence of which, he was executed, whereby your petitioner is rendered miserable, poor, and needy. Her situation emboldens her to crave your excellency support and protection humbly praying, your excellency will take the same into consideration, and allow such a yearly supply or aid, as your justice may see fit, in order to assist her and her distressed children. Montreal 10 May 1780. You are hereby authorized and directed to pay to Mrs. Abigal Hare, widow of the late Henry Hare, a Lieutenant in the Indian Department, in consideration of her misfortune and distress, above related, the sum of 20 pounds sterling, as a yearly pension to be continued to her during her life, for the maintenance of her and her children. Given under my hand at Quebec this 25th day of May 1780. Fred. Haldimand to Colonel Johnson Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

After her husband’s execution, she married First Sergeant Adam Empey.

Tom Raub, a fifth-great-grandson of Alida Vrooman Hare

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Sleepy Hollow and The Hanging of Major André

By Leah Grandy on 25 Oct 2017

A key component of the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” recalls the tale of Major John André for whom “Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major André was taken, and which stood in the neighborhood.” The giant tulip tree which features prominently in the tale was “connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known by the name of Major André’s tree.”

André was indeed a charismatic, tragic, and heroic figure of the American Revolution who became a legendary figure for both sides of the conflict. A multi-talented man, André was born in England in the year 1750 to a Huguenot family. He was educated, but also showed a strong aptitude for art, geography, languages, and writing, speeding his advancement in the British army following his enlistment in 1771. By 1778, he was promoted to major, and then went on to become the Adjutant General in America. An excellent record of the last years of his life have survived in his journal and maps, as well as other contemporary accounts held in The Loyalist Collection.

Read more.

Borealia: Britishness and Whiteness in Early Canadian Culture

By Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy on 23 Oct 2017

In the September 28, 2017 issue of the New York Review of Books, Fintan O’Toole explained Brexit as the consequence of a rebirth of English nationalism: “Brexit is a peaceful revolution but it is unmistakably a nationalist revolt. It is England’s insurrection against … the belief that contemporary nationality must be fluid, open, and many-layered.”[1] To him, the gradual creation of the UK, led to a Britishness that amplified Englishness without threatening it; the EU integration did, hence the backlash. Yet, by the first decades of the nineteenth century, Empire 2.0 was already giving Englishness a global scope, while simultaneously undermining its hegemonic grasp of ‘Britishness.’ As my post will argue, whiteness has always been part of the story. The second British Empire rebuilt after the loss of the thirteen American colonies was perforce a more multicultural venture than the first, as it encompassed large non-white, non-English swaths of the globe. Crown and Empire became repositories of the British constitution on a transatlantic scale. British paradigms of belonging gravitated towards a civic, rather than ethnic model, which allowed the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish to reap the privileges of Britishness civility outside Britain. These shifts occurred at a time when new scientific ideas about race brought whiteness and citizenship in direct relationship to one another; Britishness became caught in a settler-colonial racial dilemma further complicated by the existence of the United States. To be British across the globe implied whiteness, even though British criticism of the U.S. targeted precisely its racial policies.

Read more.

JAR: Luke Ryan, Premier Privateer

by Bob Ruppert on 25 October

Luke Ryan was born in the County Dublin coastal village of Rush on February 14, 1750. His parents were Michael and Mary Ryan. As a twelve year old boy, Luke worked in John Grimes’ boatyard in Skerries and then at age sixteen began his shipwright apprenticeship under Edward King in Ringsend. It is unclear if he completed his apprenticeship which would have lasted between five and seven years. We do know that following his years as an apprentice, he began to get involved in small time smuggling.

In 1777, Dublin newspapers began carrying stories about American privateers seizing British ships in the Irish Sea. Being a privateer was dangerous work; it involved long sea chases, bloody but brief engagements, lightening raids, smuggling, and at times, kidnapping for ransom. Because the Royal Navy could not afford to assign ships to deal with these privateers, they began to recruit privateers of their own from both England and Ireland. The ships, granted British Letters of Marque, were fast and heavily armed. Luke Ryan (and his cousin, Edward Wilde) decided to convert his smuggling ship into a privateer and rename her the Friendship. In February of 1778, the Freeman’s Journal reported that the Friendship, moored at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin, was “ready to sail, being completely armed and manned, carrying 14 carriage guns and 60 as brave hands as any in Europe.”

Little is known about Ryan for the next twelve months. Two things, however, occurred that would influence his life over the next six years: first, France and the United States signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance; and second, M. de Sartine, the French Minister of Marine, drafted a set of regulations “concerning the formalities to be observed respecting the prizes … brought into the ports of this kingdom by the American privateers.”

Read more.

The Junto: A Short Ode to Slow History

By Casey Schmitt on 25 Oct 2017

An article just came out in the American Historical Review’s October issue that should be on the radar for anyone interested in early American history: Holly Brewer’s “Slavery, Sovereignty, and ‘Inheritable Blood’: Reconsidering John Locke and the Origins of American Slavery.” In it, Brewer connects Locke’s criticism of absolutism with an opposition to inheritable slavery, thereby casting our understanding of democracy, capitalism, and slavery in an entirely new light.

This nuanced and deeply researched argument challenges the tendency to portray Locke as a proponent of slavery, claims rooted in the fact that he authored Carolina’s Fundamental Constitutions. However, as Brewer argues, “Locke’s support for slavery was weaker than his critics have implied” since his role in Carolina’s constitution was “as a lawyer writes a will,” or as paid employment rather than philosophical conviction.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World:

Judith Van Buskirk, a professor of history at the State University of New York, Cortland and the author of Standing in Their Own Light: African American Patriots in the American Revolution, helps us kick-off a two-episode exploration of the military aspects of the American Revolution by guiding us through the military experiences of the approximately 6,000-7,000 African American men who served in the Continental Army.

During our investigation, Judy reveals what motivated African American men to join the revolutionaries’ military units; The Continental Army’s policy toward African American soldiers; And details about both the all-black First Rhode Island Regiment and John Lauren’s attempt to form a similar all-black regiment from South Carolina.

Listen to the podcast.

Book: Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield

Edited by Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin.

Bloomfield was an officer in the 3rd New Jersey Regiment from 1776 to 1779. His service took him from the Mohawk Valley (Guy Park Manor, Johnson Hall, Fort Dayton, Fort Stanwix and others) to Fort Ticonderoga in New York, to the battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania, and to the battle of Monmouth in his native state. Also included are Bloomfield’s important notes on the culture and behavior of the Iroquois tribes known collectively as the Six Nations, which played a crucial role in revolutionary New York.

A new edition of the eyewitness account that introduced readers to the experience of the Continental army: “About sunset we made a stand, when I was wounded, having a Ball with the Wad shot through my left forearm & the fuse set my coat and shirt on fire.” So wrote Major Joseph Bloomfield in his journal on September 11, 1777, describing his experiences during the hard-fought battle of Brandywine.

Unpublished and all but unknown when the first edition appeared, Bloomfield’s wartime journal was praised for providing both scholars and general readers with new information on the Continental soldier; the revolution’s impact on society; warfare in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; and the motives and actions of the revolutionary generation. Soldiers and civilians, Patriots and Tories, come alive in this fascinating eyewitness narrative. This new edition of Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield – the first in 35 years – includes a new introduction and bibliographic essay by the editors.

The Farmer’s Almanac

Just to say that the Canadian version of the Farmer’s Almanac was being celebrated on CTV news this morning. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been published continuously since 1792, making it the oldest continuously published periodical in North America. The Editor of this year’s Almanac said that it has not changed much since then as the precepts on which it is based have remained constant since 1792 – adding the exception that in recent times some adjustments was needed due to some warming!

For me, personally, this was amazing as in Grimsby Ontario at that time, the Council was just 2 years old and John Moore (my initial United Empire Loyalist ancestor) was the secretary of this FIRST Council to be founded in Canada. Later that year there were 2 more Councils formed. Notes from those early Council meetings were almost entirely connected with farming and fencing the land. So it is possible to see how important this foundational Almanac has been to farming and farmers through Canada’s history.

…Judy Nuttall

Loyalist Gazette: Progress and Early Delivery

Bob McBride and Michael Johnson have completed the preparatory work for The Fall Gazette, which is at the printers. When it is completed, it will be delivered to the mailing house. If things proceed well, that could happen this coming week, and into the mail the following week.

You can still read a copy before the paper copy is delivered. NOTE: to be eligible, you must be a current paid-up member of a branch of UELAC, or separately a paid subscriber to the Gazette.

…Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where are Prairie Region UELAC members Gerry Adair and Barb Andrew?

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.

  • Edmonton Branch celebrated its 30th anniversary with a dinner on Oct 20. At that event, they distributed a booklet showing many details about the branch over its history. You too can celebrate with them – read it here…

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Remembrance Day on Nov 11.  Friday, Oct. 27th was the beginning of the 2017 poppy campaign. When you donate and wear a poppy you tell everyone you are part of a great country Canada, willing to support the past, the present and the future.  Show you care.
  • Brian McConnell visits gravestone of United Empire Loyalist Walter Willett in Pioneer Cemetery at Belleisle, Nova Scotia
  • Interesting old postcard of St. Mary’s Church in Auburn, NS which was consecrated by Loyalist Bishop Charles Inglis
  • Dr Joe Stoltz (@DrJoeStoltz) of Alexandria VA asks (see tweet) “Know anyone working on Loyalist officer culture in the #AmRev that would like to present on a panel w/ me and Rachel Engl?”  
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 28 Oct 1776 Battle of White Plains ends in Washington retreating to New-Jersey.
    • 27 Oct 1776 Royal Navy forcibly impresses 1,000 sailors from boats on the Thames for service against America.
    • 26 Oct 1774 First Continental Congress adjourns in Philadelphia.
    • 25 Oct 1776 King George III issues proclamation urging able seamen to enlist in Royal Navy.
    • 24 Oct 1775 British naval attack on Norfolk, Virginia ends in humiliation at hands of Patriot riflemen.
    • 23 Oct 1783 Virginia frees slaves who fought for the Americans in the Revolution.
    • 22 Oct 1779 New-York legislature seizes property of 60 Loyalists, including Governor Lord Dunham, General Tryon.
  • Townsends: Bacon Pancakes?? – A 1773 Bacon Fraze. Another great recipe from “The Universal Cook” by John Townshend.
  • Detail of 18th Century sack back dress, silk, 1760-70
  • Athens ON has shored up its reputation as the Village of Murals by adding one more.  The Athens and Area Heritage Society on Sunday unveiled the village’s new mural, which celebrates Joshua Bates, an early pioneer of the village. The mural depicts him as a Loyalist, but was he? Read more…  Athens is a township in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in Eastern Ontario. It is located approximately 25 km north of the St. Lawrence River, near Brockville, west of Addison, and about 90 km south west of Ottawa. Formerly, it was a part of Yonge township before becoming Rear of Yonge and Escott with Athens as its own census division and finally, Athens township.
  • Find of the day goes to the Royal Provincials pewter button. I wonder where they found it?

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • McMicking, Peter – from Dennis Wally Reid
  • McMicking, Thomas – from Dennis Wally Reid
  • Van Nostrand, Cornelius – from David Crombie with certificate application
  • Walker, William – from Jo Ann Tuskin
  • Wert, Conrad – from Earl Belisle

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for instructions and guidance.


George Cosby UEL

We have run into a real road block in trying to find out if George Cosby was related to the Gov. of New York (1730 — 1735) William Alexandria Cosby. I thought if we could find a person in the U.S. with like mind we may be able to advance a little further and exchange the information we have with them of his life in Canada. From Gavin Watt’s book, George was listed in James Rogers 2ND Battalion, Kings Rangers, and served at Pointe-Au-Fer. He had enlisted while in New Jersey. Very little information is available about his life or family during that period, or before.

Any help, suggestions, etc., would be most welcome.

Wilfred L. Cosby, UE

[Editor’s Note: A fair bit of detail has been submitted by both Wilfred and Phyllis Cosby for George’s entry in the Loyalist Directory, including Phyllis’ application for a Loyalist Certificate.]

Response re Newsletters from the US

In response to last week’s query from Wilfred L. Cosby, there is of course the Journal of the American Revolution which has been linked on Loyalist Trails.

The Four Revolutionary War Hereditary and Patriotic Societies (The Society of the Cincinnati, the Sons of the Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution (listed in order of their founding) all have quarterly or in the case of the DAR every other month publications. Those of the SR and SAR are available on-line, however, they are more along the lines of the Loyalist Gazette than Loyalist Trails which I find by far the most enjoyable such publication. kudos to Doug Grant.

…Ed Garrett