“Loyalist Trails” 2017-52: December 24, 2017

In this issue:
Bound for Charleston with General Clinton, by Stephen Davidson
Georgian Papers Programme: A Royal Christmas List
Borealia: Yule and Misrule in Early Newfoundland and Labrador
JAR: China and the American Revolution
Ben Franklin’s World: The Age of Revolutions – The American
Washington’s Quill: From Mummers to Santa: Christmas in America
The Unsupervised Tailor’s Apprentice & Christmas Coat for a Cat, 1775
Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew
Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil, 1754-1849
Alexander McGillivray
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post
      + Rebecca Fraser, UE
      + Larry Nelson England, UE
      + Muster Rolls for the 84th Regiment, 2nd Battalion


Bound for Charleston with General Clinton

© Stephen Davidson, UE

As most accounts of the American Revolution are written by American or British historians, it is difficult to put faces on loyalist soldiers who fought for their king. Fleshing out their individual stories is even more daunting. However, the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) give us insight into at least two Americans who took up arms against the rebels of Charleston, South Carolina, helping to bring about the single greatest patriot defeat of the revolution.

During the Christmas of 1779, Sir Henry Clinton left New York City with upwards of 14,000 soldiers and sailors in 90 transports and 10 warships. He was confident that by quashing the southern colonies, he would finally bring the revolution to an end. Among the loyalists who sailed with Clinton were Lt. Col. James Chalmers and Joseph Durfee.

Born in Scotland, Chalmers sought his fortune in the West Indies when he was just thirteen years old. Twenty years later, he settled in Chester, Maryland, more than ready to invest the £10,000 he had earned in the Caribbean. He married Ariana Margaretta Jekyll, an heiress to quite a bit of Kent County land and bought himself a plantation.

Life looked very good for the industrious Scot. Before Maryland’s delegate signed the Declaration of Independence, Chalmers could look out over a 1,398 acre estate (“the best lands in America”) containing 22 horses, 24 head of cattle, and 15 enslaved Africans.

With the outbreak of the revolution, local patriots offered Chalmers the command of a regiment. Refusing this appointment, he “did everything in his power” to keep his neighbours loyal to the crown. Chalmers was described by contemporaries as “well-bred and well-informed,” notwithstanding “the strong peculiarities of his temper, manner, address, and diction”. Richard Smyth, one of his acquaintances, testified that Chalmers “stood forward among the first in favour of the British government”.

The rebels of nearby Chester were so hostile that Chalmers “armed his family to repel force by force”. Beginning in the summer of 1776, Chalmers testified that he was “molested … insulted and much bruised by the populace” because of his loyalty. Initially, Chalmers drew on his skills with the pen — rather than the sword—to counter the rebels.

In January of 1776, the patriot Thomas Paine published Common Sense — a pamphlet that urged the thirteen colonies to cut all ties with Britain. Two months later, James Chalmers, using the pseudonym of Candidus, countered Paine’s arguments in a pamphlet titled Plain Truth. Unfortunately, Chalmers had a literary style that appealed more to the colonial elite rather than to its working classes. The pamphlet’s ponderous, wandering prose contained sound arguments, but few were able to grasp them easily. Later historians would dismiss Plain Truth as “atrociously written”.

A year after failing to win the war of words, Chalmers fled to New York City where he joined the royal army. Mrs. Chalmers remained at home with their four children to watch over the family estate.

Chalmers was able to provide Sir William Howe, the British commander in chief, with intelligence on the rebel forces in Maryland and the “weakness of that country”. He later followed the British to Philadelphia where he raised a regiment of 400 men, the First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists. Chalmers’ soliders served the crown in New Jersey, Rhode Island and in Florida where a “detachment of his regiment behaved with great spirit and suffered greatly”.

In 1780, Chalmers reported that he “was at the taking of Charlestown and returned to New York with Sir Henry Clinton where he remained until the provincial regiments were disbanded”. What his regiment did during the siege of Charleston and in the years of occupation that followed goes unreported.

Leaving New York in the fall of 1783 with other loyal evacuees, Chalmers arrived in London in October. By February 11, 1784, he was standing before the commissioners of the loyalist compensation board. (Mrs. Chalmers was still in Maryland, clinging onto the land that was her inheritance, while helplessly watching patriots confiscate her husband’s land and chattels.) Fortunately for James Chalmers, the RCSAL determined that he was “an active and zealous loyalist” and granted him compensation for all his losses.

The loyalist who had seen the fall of Charleston with General Clinton told the compensation board that he was “now going to Nova Scotia”. As it turned out, Chalmers remained in London for the rest of his life, dying in his Chelsea home in 1806 at the age of 72 .

Joseph Durfee is the second loyalist whose RCLSAL transcripts put him at the siege of Charleston in 1780. A “seafaring man” who eventually became a merchant in Norfolk, Rhode Island, Durfee never wavered in his loyalty to the crown. Angry rebels forced him to move his family to Dartmouth, Massachusetts. However, “the fury of the mob” compelled him to return to Norfolk.

His patriot neighbours permitted Durfee to “remain quiet”, not forcing him to take an oath of allegiance or imprisoning him for his loyalist convictions. With the arrival of the British in December of 1776, Durfee was free to demonstrate his loyalty, joining the Associated Loyalists and eventually attaining the rank of captain. When the British evacuated Rhode Island in October of 1779, Durfee went to New York City with them. Within two months’ time, he was among Sir Henry Clinton’s troops, bound for Charleston, South Carolina.

The details on Durfee’s role in the capture of Charleston are few. However, it is known that Clinton “express(ed) himself highly of the claimant’s character and loyalty and services”. After returning to New York, Durfee came to the attention of the barrack master general who made him superintendent of small craft, a position he held until the loyalists evacuated New York.

In April of 1783, Durfee’s family and three Black Loyalists boarded the schooner Nancy, bound for Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Joseph served as an escort for the freeborn carpenter John Daniel (31), and two former slaves, Jacob Somerset (21) and John Gibbons (43). The fate of these three Black Loyalists is not known.

In December of 1785, six years after his Christmas departure for Charleston, Joseph Durfee stood before the RCSAL board when it convened in Halifax to seek compensation for his wartime losses. A number of highly placed officials testified as to his worthiness. Nova Scotia’s Governor Parr wrote that Durfee was “a good subject and an honest man”; Brooke Watson, the British commissary in New York, said that he had been “a faithful servant of the crown”; and Sir Andrew Hamond, the former lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia recommended Durfee “strongly” to his superior in the Halifax Command.

Durfee was held in high regard throughout the rest of his life. His 1801 obituary reminded readers that he had “removed to Shelburne with his family and the wreck of his property and sat himself down upon a tract of uncultivated land. The same industry and perseverance which had uniformly distinguished him soon rendered him an example to that infant settlement. Few men possessed a more manly and independent mind, exhibited more striking traits of industry, or have quitted life more generally and universally regretted.”

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

Georgian Papers Programme: A Royal Christmas List

By Robert Paulett, 23 December 2017

As the holiday shopping season intensifies in these last weeks, it is always tempting to wonder whether you should buy less. Should your non-plussed children balk at such an idea, you can cite as precedent the Christmas present list from the household of Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II and father to the future George III.

Young George and his six siblings received a very modest haul indeed in the year 1750, receiving courtesy of toymaker Michael Dassonville only “a Red trunk” “a fine Landau [toy carriage] & 6 horses” “2 Chairs… with Dolls in them” and “4 whirligigs.” These all arrived right on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. And only a few modest packages arrived in the ensuing twelve days.

Borealia: Yule and Misrule in Early Newfoundland and Labrador

By Stephen Hay 22 December 2017

When we think of Christmas in Newfoundland and Labrador, mumming comes to mind, the famous tradition of visiting in disguise.[1] Yet, this is just one of many Christmas customs that Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans enjoyed. Newfoundland and Labrador holiday customs during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century included burning the Yule log and shooting firearms. This dismayed at least one merchant who wrote about how his servants’ customs ruled on Christmas eve. These Yule customs happened at both the margins and the core of the fisheries and appear to have been fragments of English traditions that fishing people brought to the Americas. Did these customs reflect underlying conflict between the unruly fishermen and anxious merchants, or did these customs mediate those conflicts? Disagreements about that question burn as hotly as any Yule log ever has.

Read more.

JAR: China and the American Revolution

by Simon Hill 7 December 2017

Historians are aware that imperial China had ties to the American Revolution. Indeed, James Fichter wrote that “tea, though an Asian commodity, helped bring about American independence.” Tea, which was shipped from China into Britain and then re-exported to Britain’s American colonies, formed part of Britain’s controversial taxation agenda for the said colonies during the 1760s and 1770s. Therefore, this commodity was often ridiculed by the colonists. Fichter also commented on how, post-1783, the newly independent United States developed trading relations with China (beforehand they had been largely prevented from doing so by Britain’s regulatory Navigation Acts). In due course, these American merchants proved formidable commercial rivals to their European counterparts trading in the East. The impact of the American War (1775-1783) upon British commerce at the Chinese port of Canton has also been studied.

China’s ties to the American Revolution and War of Independence often remains over-looked in textbooks and popular histories of the subject. These publications mention how the war gradually escalated between 1777 and 1780 to include the French, Spanish and Dutch as belligerents against Britain. Henceforth, this clash of European empires generated a “war beyond America” reaching the West Indies, Africa and India. Yet China — one of the most powerful nations during the eighteenth century — is rarely incorporated into these texts. Highlighting China’s ties to the origins of the American Revolution, analysing how the war affected British trade at Canton, and determining what the consequences were for the Eastern trades after 1783, further develops the view that the American Revolution had global implications.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: The Age of Revolutions – The American

Our exploration of what the American Revolution looked like within the larger period known as the “Age of Revolutions” continues. Janet Polasky, the Presidential Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Revolutions Without Borders: The Call of Liberty in the Atlantic World, leads us on an exploration of the Age of Revolutions and how the American Revolution fit into that age.

As we explore this period in greater detail, Janet reveals information about the Age of Revolutions and why it took place; How the American Revolution fit within the Age of Revolutions; And, how revolutionary ideas and revolutions spread across the Atlantic World.

Listen to the podcast.

Washington’s Quill: From Mummers to Santa: Christmas in America

by E. Richard Knox, 22 December 2017

Christmas celebrations have changed radically since George Washington’s presidency. The new republic that Washington had guided into being was only beginning to create itself as a nation and had little unifying cultural identity. The 13 states differed significantly among themselves, including in how their new citizens observed – or ignored – Christmas.

Inevitably and understandably, colonial traditions persisted after independence. In colonial Massachusetts, the descendants of 17th-century Puritans looked with disdain on Christmas and often banned any celebrations associated with the day or season. They acknowledged the birth of Jesus of Nazareth but believed that setting aside a special day to mark it, and specifically December 25, was non-Biblical, even pagan. In colonial Virginia, on the other hand, the primary religious traditions were those of the Church of England, which celebrated Christmas as a feast day on December 25, and Washington himself often attended church on that day.

Read more.

The Unsupervised Tailor’s Apprentice & Christmas Coat for a Cat, 1775

Two Nerdy History Girls 19 December 2017

James Potter Collins (1763-1844), born in Tryon County, NC, enlisted in a local militia company at the age of seventeen, and saw action in several of the most important battles of the southern campaigns. But Collins’s memoirs also include this entertaining anecdote from his days as a twelve-year-old tailor’s apprentice with a bit too much unsupervised time.

“I had been at work about two months when Christmas came on — and here I must relate a little anecdote. The principal [the tailor] and his lady were invited to a party among their friends…while it devolved on me to stay at home and keep house. There was nothing left me in charge to do, only to take care of the house. There was a large cat that generally lay about the fire. In order to try my mechanical powers, I concluded to make a suit of clothing for puss, and for my purpose gathered some scraps of cloth that lay about the shop-board, and went to work as hard as I could. Late in the evening I got my suit of clothes finished; I caught the cat, put on the whole suit — coat, vest, and small-clothes [breeches] — buttoned all on tight, and set down my cat to inspect the fit.”

Read what happened next.

Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew

Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew GCB, (born Benjamin Hallowell) (?1 January 1761 — 2 September 1834) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy. He was one of the select group of officers, referred to by Lord Nelson as his “Band of Brothers”, who served with him at the Battle of the Nile.

Although he is often identified as Canadian, Hallowell’s place and exact date of birth have been the subject of dispute among researchers. He was possibly born on 1 January 1761 in Boston, Massachusetts, where his British father, former naval captain Benjamin Hallowell (1723–1799), was Commissioner of the Board of Customs. His mother, Mary (Boylston) Hallowell, was the daughter of Thomas Boylston, and a first cousin of Susanna Boylston, the mother of the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams, and grandmother of the 6th President, John Quincy Adams. He was a brother of Ward Nicholas Boylston and a nephew of Governor Moses Gill.

His father’s job exposed Hallowell’s Loyalist family to attacks as American revolutionary sentiment grew. In August 1765 the Hallowell house in Roxbury was ransacked by a mob and the family relocated to Jamaica Plain and in September 1774 his father was pursued by a furious mob of 160 mounted men who had gathered to hear news of the resignation of other customs officials. The family left the country in March 1776, at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and their estates were stolen. They stayed for a short time in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then took a passage to England in July 1776.

Educated in the private schools of England, through his father’s connections with Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood, Hallowell entered the Royal Navy at a slightly later age than was normal, receiving his promotion to lieutenant on 31 August 1781.

Benjamin Hallowell’s naval career spanned the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, and he took part in a number of important actions in all three.

Read more.

Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil, 1754-1849

Campbell entered the army as an ensign in the 42nd Regiment in April 1769, and obtained a lieutenancy in the 2nd Battalion Royals the following year in Menorca. He moved to the 62nd regiment later that year in Ireland and went with the regiment to Canada, where, as a captain of light infantry under General Carleton, he fought in the campaigns of 1776 and 1777 with General Burgoyne in the American War of Independence.

After the surrender of Saratoga, he was sent to New York, with the rank of major, and was appointed to the 1st Battalion of Light Infantry. He received the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 62nd Regiment in 1782. Soon afterwards, he returned to Scotland, where he remained with his regiment until 1789. He served with the Duke of York and Albany in the 1790s and was given the rank of colonel on 1 October 1793. He raised the 116th Regiment in 1794 and was their first Brigadier-General.[citation needed] He was sent to the West Indies under Sir Ralph Abercromby and on 10 November 1796 was appointed colonel of the 7th West India Regiment.

He returned to Scotland at the end of the 1790s and was placed on the Staff in Ireland and Scotland for five years. On 11 July 1804, he was appointed colonel of the 19th Foot and served during the battles in South Africa, being present at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1806. He was also present at the battle of Corunna, where he commanded the 20th Regiment and subsequently became general on 1 January 1812 and colonel of the 32nd Foot in February 1813.

In 1808, he acquired the estates of Possil in Lanarkshire from his father John Campbell, founder of the West Indian trading house of John Campbell Sr. of Glasgow, and subsequently the estates of Torosay and Achnacroish on the Isle of Mull, Argyllshire.

In the 1830s “Alexander Campbell of Possil” is noted as residing at 12 Abercromby Place in the Second New Town in Edinburgh, overlooking Queen Street Gardens.

Source: Wikipedia.

Alexander McGillivray

Alexander McGillivray, also known as Hoboi-Hili-Miko (December 15, 1750 – February 17, 1793), was a principal chief of the Upper Creek (Muscogee) towns from 1782. Before that he had created an alliance between the Creek and the British during the American Revolution. He worked to establish a Creek national identity and centralized leadership as a means of resisting European-American expansion onto Creek territory.

McGillivray was born Hoboi-Hili-Miko (Good Child King) in the Coushatta village of Little Tallassee (also known as Little Tallase, Little Talisi and Little Tulsa) on the Coosa River, near present-day Montgomery, Alabama, in 1750. Alexander’s mother, Sehoy Marchand, was the daughter of Sehoy, a mixed-race Creek woman of the prestigious Wind Clan (“Hutalgalgi”), and of Jean Baptiste Louis DeCourtel Marchand, a French officer at Fort Toulouse.

Alexander and his siblings were born into the Wind Clan, as the Muscogee had a matrilineal system, and gained their status from their mother’s clan. They identified as Creek. Their father was Lachlan McGillivray, a Scottish trader (of the Clan MacGillivray chief’s lineage). He built trading-posts among the Upper Towns of the Muscogee confederacy, whose members had formerly traded with French Louisiana.

As a child, Alexander briefly lived in Augusta with his father, who owned several large plantations and was a delegate in the colonial assembly. In 1773, the boy was sent to school in Charleston, South Carolina, where he learned Latin and Greek, and was apprenticed at a counting house in Savannah, Georgia. He returned to Little Tallassee in 1777. The revolutionary governments of Georgia and South Carolina confiscated the property of his Loyalist father, who returned to Scotland.

Read more.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • More than 300,000 newly digitized pages from Colonial-era North American life are viewable on the new Colonial North American Project website: 
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 23 Dec 1783: “Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theatre of action.” – George Washington
    • 22 Dec 1775: Esek Hopkins, onetime failure as slave ship captain, appointed commander in chief of Continental Navy
    • 21 Dec 1781: Great Britain declares war on the Netherlands.
    • 21 Dec 1782: British attack & capture three American vessels at Battle of the Delaware Capes.
    • 20 Dec 1782: Three British frigates catch sight of and give chase to three American ships off Cape May, NJ.
    • 19 Dec 1776: “These are the times that try men’s souls,” Paine urges militia to re-enlist.
    • Dec. 18, 1775: A company of foot rangers raids Sullivan’s Island, SC, where Gov. Campbell has retained slaves & Tories.
    • 17 Dec 1777: King George III pledges renewed efforts after defeat at Saratoga.
  • Townsends: Enduring Winter During the Revolutionary War. A few excerpts from “A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution” and “Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier: The Narrative of Joseph Plumb Martin”
  • A history of the Christmas Pudding. Following the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Royal family celebrated Christmas with gusto and the rest of the nation followed their example. Charles Dickens has certainly helped plant Christmas in our minds as a very Victorian custom. However, the Christmas pudding itself has much earlier origins.
  • Cambridge UK relics of ’18th Century Starbucks’ found. Artefacts from an 18th Century coffee shop have been found in a disused cellar at the University of Cambridge.
  • 18th Century men’s embroidered silk waistcoat, 1790s
  • 18th Century 1780s gown, via National Museums Northern Ireland
  • Rear view of an 18th Century dress, robe a l’anglaise ca. 1780’s via National Museums of Northern Ireland
  • Buckskin breeches like this might be work by a Cavalry or Dragoon soldier
  •  18th century equipment for testing wine.
  • @UELAC: Wishing you a happy holiday season and a very merry Christmas #HappyHolidays2017 #loyalthenloyalnow

Last Post

Rebecca Fraser, UE

Our long time member, Rebecca Fraser UE, has passed away. Rebecca was a Past President of the Vancouver Branch and also a former Branch Genealogist. During the time that Rebecca was Vancouver Branch Genealogist, she maintained our library in her home. The past three years, Rebecca’s health has failed and she was unable to attend most Vancouver Branch events. She will be missed by her many friends in the UELAC.

Rebecca’s daughter Francis has asked that, in lieu of cards, members donate to the UELAC Scholarship Fund if they so desire.

There will be a Celebration of Life sometime in the Spring.

…Linda Nygard, UE, Genealogist, Vancouver Branch

Larry Nelson England, UE

Larry passed away peacefully on December 17, 2017 at his home in Popkum, BC at the age of 66. This just one year after he achieved his dream of his entire family receiving their UE designation for their Loyalist Samuel Anderson of the KRRNY.

Larry was born in Regina, Sask. into a military family, who ended their career retiring in Chilliwack, BC. Larry graduated from Sardis Senior Secondary School. His sports and hobbies over his life were Greco-Roman Wrestling, where he earned a gold medal at the Alberta Provincial Summer Games, football, caring for Abe and Ted’s horses, emu farming and volunteering with all the sports his kids were involved with including: Chilliwack Minor Hockey and helping with the Chilliwack School track meets. He enjoyed helping Katie with all her school volunteering projects and book fairs.

Larry started his work career with Bowes Moving and Storage, worked for Corrections Canada as a warehouseman and retired from Metrié Doors in Langley, BC.

Most of all, his biggest joy in life was his family. He spent as much time as he could enjoying the company of his best friend and love of his life, Katie, his kids and his beautiful grandkids of whom he was so immensely proud.

Larry is lovingly remembered by his wife Katie, his son Derek, daughter Jennifer together with his grandchildren Nolan, Hannah, Liam, Michael and Glenda. He was predeceased by his parents Gerald and Eileen (MCEwen) England, twin brother Garry and his sister Cheryl Anne. A gathering of family and friends will be held at 1:30 pm on Friday, December 29, 2017 at the Evergreen Hall in the Slesse Room in Chilliwack, BC. Graveside Service will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, December 29, 2017 at Chilliwack Cemetery. We wish to thank Larry’s doctor – Dr. Hirst, the paramedics and all those who assisted on December 17. Memorial donations may be made in Larry’s name to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital.

Larry had been in ill health for a couple of years, and was unable to re-join or participate in any of our Chilliwack Branch events this past year. He and his family were featured in our Branch newsletter “Link Up” edition of Feb. 2017. The ceremony to present his Loyalist Certificate took place at his home on Dec. 28, 2016.

…Marlene Dance, Chilliwack Branch


Muster Rolls for the 84th Regiment, 2nd Battalion

I appeal to anyone knowing the location of Muster Rolls for the 84th Regiment, 2nd Battalion for the period 1 Jan 1779 to 24 June 1782. – (British, Loyalist). It is extremely important to locate these Musters. Many of the usual and most likely repositories have been checked with negative results. Copies of the documents cannot, as yet, be found! The 2nd Battalion served during the Revolutionary War, (1775-1783), at various locations in Atlantic Canada, and during 1779-1782 five Companies served in NY and “the Carolinas” – Charleston, Wilmington, Monck’s Corner, Eutaw Springs, etc. These five Companies were attached to other larger British Regiments or Units.

I would greatly appreciate if you would review your records, sources and Contacts, (Historians/ Researchers/ Records Custodians, etc.). The finder of the missing Musters will certainly be “Mentioned in Dispatches” and will be a friend of mine forever! I will most willingly reciprocate data which I have accumulated regarding the 84th and Loyalist Settlers over the past 20 years.

There are many names, but some of the soldier’s surnames of primary interest to me personally are: BLISS, CLARK, CONNOR, CONOLLY, CRAIG, GOSS, LEIGHTON, MacDONALD, MacLEOD, SMITH, & SUTHERLAND.

I earnestly appeal to you or anyone knowledgeable on the subject, to contact me if they have any clues or key information that will lead to positive results being achieved.

…Calvin Lee Craig, UE , Certified Genealogist (Canada)