“Loyalist Trails” 2017-47: November 19, 2017

In this issue:
UELAC Conference 2018: Mark Your Calendar, Book Your Room
Isaac Allen: The Hesitant Abolitionist, by Stephen Davidson
Historic Book of Negroes Gets Fresh Look Through Online Portal
Difference Between Patriots and Loyalists
Atlantic Loyalist Connections:
Borealia: No, Confederation Wasn’t About ‘Freedom’
JAR: The Tragic Death of Major Charles Cochrane
JAR: The Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Second Year
Ben Franklin’s World: The Politics of Tea
UE Loyalist Certificates Issued
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


UELAC Conference 2018: Mark Your Calendar, Book Your Room

UELAC Conference 2018, June 7-10
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Temple Garden Hotel and Spa

Planes-Trains-Automobiles and more! Take a trip back in time. One of four Western Development Museums in Saskatchewan, it’s specialization is transportation. It features a “Snowbird” display and if you like old cars there’s everything from Model Ts to the ’70s.

Burrowing Owls? Observe the tiny Burrowing Owls in captivity or your hand. On the endangered species list since 1995, it’s numbers continue to diminish.

Rooms are filling up quickly, book yours now by calling 1-800-718-7727 and quote “UELAC – Saskatchewan Branch 124551.”

As more details become available, they will be added to the conference pages.

Isaac Allen: The Hesitant Abolitionist

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Isaac Allen was a complicated loyalist. Although he owned upwards of seven African slaves at one time, he was a friend and champion of free blacks. During his time of service with the New Jersey Volunteers in Charleston, South Carolina he met and befriended a Baptist minister who had once been a slave. Allen admired the loyalist guerilla leader, Colonel Tye, a man who had been enslaved in Pennsylvania.

At the revolution’s end, Allen escorted a free black family to the mouth of the St. John River where he wrote a letter recommending that they be treated as other Loyalist refugees. Seven years later, although he was an Anglican and a slave owner, Allen helped his Baptist minister friend receive a license to preach in New Brunswick.

As a judge of New Brunswick’s supreme court, Allen had a reputation as a champion of justice. When a white man shot and killed an Indigenous man, Allen ordered the former to be executed – as would have happened if the victim had been white. This treatment of First Nations people as equals did much to placate the local Natives. Years later, when his grandson toured the province as a circuit judge, both Natives and those of African descent would make a point of seeing him because of the positive impact that Isaac Allen had had on their lives.

Many Indigenous people knew Allen as a neighbour. In 1794, he bought 500 acres from the Malecite (now referred to as the Wolastoqiyik) on the site of their village of Aucpaque. The black community of Kingsclear was also near Spring Hill, the loyalist’s estate. Allen was later remembered as being “personally very kind” to both groups of neighbours. And yet he was a slave-owner until 1800! Who was Isaac Allen, and what eventually turned him into an abolitionist?

Born in New Jersey, Isaac Allen practiced law in Philadelphia where he married Sarah Campbell in 1769. The Allens eventually settled in Trenton, New Jersey and had five daughters. Known to be loyal to the crown, the 35 year-old Allan had to flee rebel persecution.

In 1776 he became the lieutenant colonel of the Second Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers. Allen saw action in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, fighting in both the battles King’s Mountain and Eutaw Springs.

Did Allen’s time in Pennsylvania among the Quakers make him sympathetic to their abolitionist sentiments? Did seeing the plight of enslaved Africans in the southern colonies shape his views on slavery?

Such questions remain unanswered. What is known for sure is that prior to the loyalist evacuations of 1783, Sir Guy Carleton sent Isaac Allen to Nova Scotia to assess its suitability as a refugee for loyal Americans. Liking what he saw, Allen moved his wife and daughters, a younger sister, and at least five slaves to Wilmot, Nova Scotia in 1782. After the birth of his only son in June of 1784, Isaac moved the family across the Bay of Fundy where on November 25th, he was appointed one of the Supreme Court judges of the new colony of New Brunswick.

Isaac Allen’s legal training, his experiences during the American Revolution and his encounters with free Black Loyalists required only a single spark to turn the Loyalist judge into an abolitionist. That event – that spark – came about in 1800 when the 59 year-old had to make a decision in the case of an enslaved woman named Nancy. Her trial became a test case for the legality of slavery in New Brunswick. Arguing that Caleb Jones, a loyalist from Maryland, had no right to own Nancy were Ward Chipman and Samuel Denny Street. The two lawyers saw themselves as volunteers “for the rights of humanity”.

Having heard the arguments, the four Supreme Court judges made their decision. Chief Justice George Ludlow and Judge Joshua Upham supported Jones’ right to own Nancy; Judge John Saunders and Judge Isaac Allen “strenuously insisted that it is beyond the power of human laws to establish or justify” slavery. Because the court was divided, no judgment was made. Nancy was returned to Caleb Jones.

However, the trial did have a number of ripple effects throughout New Brunswick. Most immediately was a threat on Isaac Allen’s life. Stair Agnew, a loyalist who had once purchased Nancy, challenged Allen to a duel. Bravely, the loyalist judge refused, and instead Agnew dueled with one of Nancy’s defense lawyers.

Because the colony’s supreme court was divided on the legality of slavery rather than affirming it, many would-be purchasers were reluctant to buy slaves, fearing that if abolition were declared they would lose on their investment. Some owners began to pay their slaves wages.

And some – such as Isaac Allen – decided to free their enslaved Africans. Whether it was what was contained in the defense lawyer’s eight pages of arguments or a final quickening of his conscience, something prompted Judge Allen to free all of the slaves on his Spring Hill estate. The Loyalist who was known as a friend of Black Loyalists finally saw the error of his ways and became one of the first Loyalists in New Brunswick to give his enslaved servants their freedom.

Among those who were emancipated was George Leek. Born sometime in the 1780s, Leek was the illegitimate son of Allen and one of the family’s female slaves. Leek and Jane Hector, his Indigenous wife, bought land near Fredericton from his biological father and raised a large family.

Judge Isaac Allen died on October 12, 1806 at the age of sixty-five in his home at Aucpaque. His wife Sarah died at 58 two years later. Allen was laid to rest with other Loyalists in Fredericton’s Old Burial Ground. Compared to the rest of his family, the judge died relatively young. Isaac’s sister Hannah died at 91 in 1835. John Allen, the judge’s only son, died at 91 in 1875. Three of Allen’s daughters died unmarried: Margaret at 89 in 1861, Frances at 90 in 1879 and Anne in 1834. In the latter’s will, she mentions three other spinster sisters, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Fanny/Sarah – as well as her half-brother, George Leek (!). Mary Allen, the wife of Captain Joseph Kenah, died at 77 in 1863.

Isaac Allen’s grandson, John Campbell Allen, became a barrister of New Brunswick’s supreme court and in 1852 was the mayor of Fredericton. Nine years later, he became the speaker of the provincial assembly and, in 1875, J.C. Allen became the chief justice of the province. Twelve years later, Queen Victoria recognized the contributions of the Loyalist’s grandson “by conferring upon him the honour of knighthood.”

Through their daughter Mary and son John, Isaac and Sarah Allen left a host of descendants who looked back proudly on the accomplishments of their Loyalist ancestor. However, if they could consider their forefather objectively, they would have to admit that he was a rather complicated individual.

Isaac Allen was a lawyer who kept slaves – and fathered an illegitimate son by one of “his” women. He championed the causes of oppressed Black Loyalists, yet kept slaves during the seventeen years that followed the American Revolution. By 1800, he finally recognized that nothing could justify enslaving a fellow human being and emancipated his slaves. One can only hope that Isaac Allen’s legacy to his contemporaries and descendants was recognition of the equality of all people, both black and white.

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

Historic Book of Negroes Gets Fresh Look Through Online Portal

Information about 3,000 black loyalists bound for Nova Scotia is now available in an open data set. The image on the computer screen looks innocent enough: A ledger showing a list of names, ages and descriptions of physical stature – all of it written in a precise script that hasn’t been practised in more than two centuries.

But a closer examination of the Book of Negroes online reveals a time when black people were – legally speaking – nothing more than property.

The book was compiled in New York between April and November of 1783 at the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War.

Read more.

Difference Between Patriots and Loyalists

The United States of America as we know them are a result of an independence war fought between 1765 and 1783, when the thirteen colonies obtained independence from Great Britain. Before the military clashes began, hostile sentiments built up for years. Americans were not happy with the way in which Britain was administering its colonies and felt that they were being treated unfairly. Within the thirteen colonies, different ways of thinking began to spread, and two opposing sides soon emerged: patriots and loyalists. The first were at the forefront of the fight for independence from Britain while the latter believed that the British rule was fair, just and necessary. The opposition between the two factions built up for years, but patriots were much more numerous than loyalists were and, with the support of France and other parties, eventually succeeded in gaining independence.

Read more.

[Editor’s Note: I would be interested in comments about the similarities and differences noted in the article. Some surprised me in the extent to which they contradicted or differed from my understanding. I am not a serious scholar; just a surprised one.]

Atlantic Loyalist Connections:

Read more.

Borealia: No, Confederation Wasn’t About ‘Freedom’

by Shirley Tillotson 14 Nov. 2017

Fundraisers love anniversaries. They’re like birthdays, right? Presents can’t be far behind. But when it’s the anniversary of a death, it’s not so much fun. For me, as an historian (and an old person), most dates on my calendar are full of births and deaths. Every celebration evokes at least a tinge of grief among the memories.

So, this summer, when I read in a National Post op-ed (July 10, “Dalhousie Student Union’s ban on Canada Day celebrations was shameful”) that “Canada Day celebrates Canadians’ freedom from oppression,” I had one of those moments of mixed memories.

July 1st – and #Canada150, for that matter – reminds me of so much more than just contemporary Canada’s goodness.

Read more.

JAR: The Tragic Death of Major Charles Cochrane

by John Knight 15 November 2017

Though grey autumnal rain soaked his uniform, and the monotonous, deadly shriek of enemy mortar fire filled the air, Charles Cochrane was the only British officer with a spring in his step that dreary October morning. Promoted on arrival at Yorktown to “acting Aide de camp” to Gen. Charles Earl Cornwallis, his service, bravery and tenacity had finally reaped their just rewards. A man in a hurry, the major had long coveted a position as influential and conspicuous as this. Although the British situation here seemed untenable to all, as right-hand man to the army commander further preferment and advancement must now assuredly follow.

Although it was only days since George Washington had symbolically signalled the opening salvo, the intensity of the Allied barrage had already incapacitated much of the offensive capacity of the British guns. To man them meant almost certain injury or death to artillerist and marine alike. Banastre Tarleton later remembered that “Every hour of the day and night was an hour of watching and danger to the officers and men, where every gun was dismounted as soon shown.” Morale amongst the gunners was close to outright mutiny. Yet Cornwallis and Cochrane were officers known to share the tribulations of their men. Brazenly ignoring the dull thud of the cannon balls pounding the “hornwork” embankments they determined to review the last few batteries not yet disabled by the relentless fire.

Whether it was an act of bravado or, more generously, a display of the audacity he had shown throughout his career, Cochrane suddenly decided he should fire a field piece at the enemy works en ricochet.

Read more.

JAR: The Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, Second Year

by Bob Ruppert on 16 November 2017

….a continuation…. uring the three months that the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State for the Colonies, was on holiday from August to November 1773, the Secretary of State’s office received only routine dispatches from the colonies. Shortly after he returned in November, he was faced with another colonial issue -the Boston Tea Party.

In 1772, the East India Tea Company was on the verge of bankruptcy partially due to corruption and mismanagement and partially due to the Dutch merchants who were selling their tea in the colonies at a much power price. The directors of the company claimed that if they were allowed to sell their tea in the colonies without paying an export tax, the company could become solvent.

Parliament not only agreed to this but also allowed the company to sell its tea directly to colonial merchants, bypassing the wholesalers. It is important to note that many members of the House of Lords as well as the Royal family were stockholders in the company.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: The Politics of Tea

Jane Merritt, Jennifer Anderson, and David Shields take us on an exploration of the politics of tea during the era of the American Revolution so that we can better understand how tea came to play a sizable role in the American Revolution.

During our exploration, these scholars reveal how the early American tea trade and later obsession with tea developed; How tea influenced different aspects of the early American economy; And how tea parties and tea tables came to serve as important social gatherings for the discussion of revolutionary politics.

Listen to the podcast.

UE Loyalist Certificates Issued

A list of UE Certificates issued since late in 2012 – showing the Loyalist ancestor, name of descendant (when permission is granted), branch and date – has been updated with the certificates issued in August, September and October of this year. The same updates have been applied to the Loyalist Directory.

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • On Wed. 29 November, the Morrisburg Branch of the Stormont Dundas Glengarry Library will welcome Jennifer DeBruin UE, St Lawrence Branch member of UELAC to explore the connection of that region to the history of slavery in North America.
  • Ticonderoga: Winter Workshop Series: “Surtouts & Straight-Bodied Coats”: January 27-28, 2018. In this two-day workshop, explore construction details on 1770s men’s civilian coats as you build your own. Participants can choose between building a surtout – a fitted overcoat – or straight bodied coat, closing down to the waist. Choose between blue, brown, and drab broadcloth for the exterior of the garment. Don’t miss your chance to build one of these warm, practical coats that appear so commonly in accounts of New Englanders at Ticonderoga.  This workshop includes lunch, a cut-out kit for your coat, and sewing materials. Read more, and registration…

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • A wonderful George II silver slide action snuff box c.1730-50
  • Sign for Moodys Lane in Weymouth, Nova Scotia named after United Empire Loyalist Lt. Col. James Moody
  • George III Indian Peace Medal
  • A very nice example of a classic French & Indian/American Revolutionary War Period English Sea Service/Naval Type Brass Barrel Military Blunderbuss, ca. 1750. Overall length, 32″.
  • a wooden document box.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 18 Nov 1781 British evacuate Wilmington NC in the wake of surrender at Yorktown.
    • 17 Nov 1777 Congress submits Articles of Confederation to states for ratification.
    • 16 Nov 1776 Ft Washington NY falls to British under Hessian Knyphausen.
    • 15 Nov 1777 After six days’ bombardment by British fleet, Americans abandon Ft. Mifflin PA.
    • 14 Nov 1775 Tories assassinate North-Carolina militia leader Capt Francis Bradley.
    • 14 Nov 1775 George III notifies Lord North that he has contracted 4,000 German recruits for Great Britain.
    • 14 Nov 1776 London’s St. James Chronicle denounces Ben Franklin as “head of the rebellion.”
    • 13 Nov 1775 General Montgomery takes Montreal without a significant fight.
    • 12 Nov 1776 North-Carolina elects delegates to Provincial Congress, begins writing Bill of Rights and Constitution.
  • Townsends: Historic German, Root Vegetable Soup. This is another German recipe given to us by Kayla and Karen at Old Salem Museums and Gardens, who are presently translating two period German cookbooks. This one is delicious! Be sure to visit Old Salem’s website – http://www.oldsalem.org
  • A taste of the past: Chefs recreate 200 years of Nova Scotian recipes. Food editor found archival recipes and got local chefs to modernize them in an upcoming cookbook. You can taste roughly 200 years of history in one bite of warm potato pudding. The recipe, captured in Fanny Wentworth’s curled handwriting, acts as a portal to another time, letting diners sample exactly what would have graced the table of Government House when Wentworth lived there with her husband. Read more…
  • Search begins in Saint Andrews NB for Black Loyalist burial ground. Archeologists are searching the Algonquin golf course, thanks to efforts of New Brunswick Black History Society. Field researchers spent the week taking “an initial stab” at the site close to the golf club, which – according to the oral history – was a place where black settlers lived and were buried. More…
  • Woman’s chintz jacket– textile French India c. 1750; European, remade c.1780. Mordant-painted & resist dyed cotton, lined w/linen from excellent printed textiles exhibit. On view now Colonial Williamsburg
  • Wine goes wireless: Historic vineyard field tests Bell’s new IoT network. Deep in Niagara wine country, a family business with eighteenth century roots is pilot testing some of Canada’s newest Internet of Things technology. In 1794, Nicholas Smith was awarded a plot of land in the area for his service to United Empire Loyalist forces during the American Revolution. Almost two centuries later, his great-great grandson founded Henry of Pelham winery on the same land in what’s now known as St. Catharines, Ont. Today the business is run by Smith’s great-great-great grandsons Daniel, Matthew and Paul Speck. Read more…