“Loyalist Trails” 2018-27: July 8, 2018

In this issue:
The “Very Clever” Loyalist Wife (Part 2), by Stephen Davidson
Battle of Monmouth: June 28, 1778
JAR: Struggle for a Lighthouse: The Raids to Destroy the Boston Light
Washington’s Quill: Why Did Martha Washington Free Her Husband’s Slaves Early?
The Junto: Golden Hill Roundtable: “Commerce is Trust”
Ben Franklin’s World: Partisans, The Friendship & Rivalry of Adams & Jefferson
UE Loyalist Certificates Issued Recently
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


The “Very Clever” Loyalist Wife (Part 2)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The loss of her son William and the family’s New Jersey estate in the summer of 1780 must have been overwhelming for Margaret Hutchinson who only four years earlier had arrived in the New World filled with dreams of prosperity and happiness. Tragedy struck again when her son Ralph “died within British lines”. The story passed down through the family is that he was thrown from his horse while serving with the New Jersey Volunteers. At some point in the war, the Hutchinson’s third son –Major — drowned while with the same loyalist regiment.

Having lost three sons, Margaret and her husband John made arrangements for Francis, their seventeen year-old boy, to board with a farmer in Pennsylvania as they waited for the expected victory of the king’s army. The family acquired a farm four and a half miles north of New York City on the road to Kingsbridge (now in the northwest Bronx).

Mourning the death three sons and the separation from a fourth, Margaret then had to come to terms with the unwanted but necessary absence of her husband John in the fall of 1781. Historical records do not say whether his motivation was to seek out compensation for his wartime losses or to make arrangements for his family’s return to England, but Hutchinson had been making careful preparations for a transatlantic journey.

On November 15th, John drew up a will, seeing to it that his extensive property in New Jersey would be divided among his remaining family members: Margaret, Francis, his daughter Margaret, and Ann. As his wife Margaret would also receive all of his personal estate. Major Thomas Millidge, a fellow New Jersey loyalist, was one of the executors listed in Hutchinson’s will. Having settled his family and his affairs as best he could, John Hutchinson then boarded a ship for England. It would be the last time he would see his family and his newly adopted country.

At some point in 1782, Margaret Hutchinson learned the devastating news that she had become a widow. Word reached New York that during its passage to England, John Hutchinson’s ship had filled with water and sunk. John had drowned in the shipwreck.

As she waited for the defeat of the patriot forces, Margaret arranged to have Francis, her remaining son, leave Pennsylvania and join her in New York. And then came the stunning news of the defeat of the General Cornwallis’ army at the Battle of Yorktown. For all intents and purposes, the war that had taken Margaret’s three sons and husband was over. Returning to Hanover Township was an impossibility for the loyalist family. But where would Margaret and her three children go?

By August of 1783, the forty-six year old widow made her decision. With the help of Samuel Brownejohn, a New York City loyalist, she sold the farm on the Kingsbridge Road and prepared to join the thousands of loyalist refugees who sought sanctuary in what remained of British North America. Having the proceeds of the sale of her house as her only financial resources, Margaret left the United States of America on a ship bound for Annapolis Royal on Nova Scotia’s western shore. Twenty year-old Francis, 19 year-old Margaret, and 11 year–old Ann sailed with their mother.

Major Thomas Millidge, a family friend and an executor of John Hutchinson’s will, sailed on the brig Nancy, and so it is very likely that Margaret and her children were also passengers on this vessel. Among the other ships in the fall evacuation fleet were the Michael, the Robert and Elizabeth, the Betsey, the Lehigh, the Cato, the Skuldham, and the Hope. The voyage could not have been an easy one. Three ships in the fleet, the Joseph, the William and the Henry made it as far as the Bay of Fundy where they encountered hurricane winds that drove them south to Bermuda. The three sailing ships did not arrive in Nova Scotia until May 1784.

The Rev. Jacob Bailey, an Anglican minister and fellow refugee who would come to befriend Margaret Hutchinson, was a witness to the 2,500 loyalists who flooded into Annapolis Royal in 1783. He commented on the desperate housing shortages that saw the local church, courthouse and stores crowded with refugees. Bailey noted, “Hundreds of people of education and refinement have no shelter whatever”.

Margaret and her three children eventually settled in Cornwallis, a community 13 km outside of Annapolis Royal. And now what would this “very clever” loyalist widow do?

The establishment of St. John Anglican Church in the refugee settlement would signal the beginning of the next chapter in Margaret’s life. Her new congregation had called upon a minister that many of them had known when they lived in Falmouth, Massachusetts (modern Portland, Maine).

The story of Margaret Hutchinson and the Rev. John Wiswell, a loyalist widower from Massachusetts, will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.


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

Battle of Monmouth: June 28, 1778

Also called Battle of Monmouth Court House, indecisive engagement in the American Revolution, fought at Monmouth, New Jersey.

The British surrender at Saratoga brought the French into the war as American allies in February 1778. The new British commander, Lieutenant General Henry Clinton, received orders to follow a defensive strategy and consolidate forces in New York City. He abandoned Philadelphia and marched his army north. After a 40-hour halt at Monmouth Court House, the army moved out, leaving a small covering force. In order to strike a vigorous blow at the retreating enemy, American general George Washington ordered Charles Lee, commanding the advance guard, to attack the British rear.

By late afternoon both sides were exhausted and fighting stopped. Clinton rested his men until midnight, then he slipped them away to the coast and evacuation by the Royal Navy. Washington did not follow.

Having about equal forces, both sides claimed to have won victory, but the British claim seems more valid since Clinton was able to complete his march without molestation. Washington presently marched to the Hudson River to join the Continental Army there, while Clinton’s forces returned to New York. The combatants thus resumed the positions held two years before.

Read more at Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Reenactment of The 240th Anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth, June 16-17, 2018

by Michael Cecere, 3 July 2018

In addition to museums and historical sites, a way to learn about Revolutionary War history is to attend a reenactment. There are many, large and small, all over the country. Each year commanders of reenactment organizations throughout the country select two events that they will all support, insuring an especially large turnout of participants, and, therefore, an especially impressive visual spectacle for the audience. The first such event for 2018 was held on June 16-17 at Monmouth Battlefield in Freehold, New Jersey. As one of the more significant battles of the Revolutionary War, battle reenactments are held there annually, but this year marked the 240th anniversary of the actual battle.

On both days at Monmouth, I time travelled back to 1778. The organizers, as well as all of the combatants who “raised their game” in these battles, did a great job and I leave Monmouth very proud to be a Revolutionary War reenactor.

Read more in the Journal of the American Revolution.

JAR: Struggle for a Lighthouse: The Raids to Destroy the Boston Light

by Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick 5 July 2018

In the days following the British pyrrhic victory of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, Gen. George Washington, in his new role as commander-in-chief, assumed the leadership of approximately 14,000 troops. While Washington’s army laid siege to Boston, the town’s British garrison of some 7,000 soldiers, sailors and marines were stretched thin as they attempted to hold the town and its immediate environs.

Prior to 1716, when all Americans were loyal subjects of the Crown, the ocean approach and harbor route to British North America’s then largest city was one of the worst for shipping within the American colonies. The various islands and reefs, coupled with significant winds, caused an ever escalating number of shipwrecks due to the increasing commercial shipping traffic and Royal Navy usage; by 1713, those losses could no longer be disregarded. In 1713, the Boston merchant community proposed to the Massachusetts General Court that it would be a good idea to construct a “light Hous and lanthorn” at the mouth of the harbor. The erection of a lighthouse was not an insignificant project. This was especially true of the type of proposed structure known as the “wave-swept light” built on rocks or shoals exposed to the wrath of the sea. There were few of these types of lighthouses even in Europe and none in the New World.

Beginning in 1774, while the British military presence in Boston and its surrounding islands was expanded, the Boston Light, as it became universally known, reverted from civilian to military control. When hostilities broke out, , the Boston Light was a critical link in the maritime infrastructure that sustained besieged British forces; it is astounding that protection of this important resource was not initially given a higher priority.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: Why Did Martha Washington Free Her Husband’s Slaves Early?

By Kathryn Gehred, 6 July 2018

Shortly after George Washington’s death, the London newspaper Bell’s Weekly Messenger praised the first U.S. president’s decision to free his slaves in his will. George Washington’s slaves legally became free on Jan. 1, 1801. While the journalist was eager to commend her worthy impulses, Martha did not choose to free these people prematurely out of any moral imperative. She did so because she feared for her life. As Abigail Adams put it, “In the state in which they were left by the General, to be free at her death, she did not feel as tho her Life was safe in their Hands, many of whom would be told that it was [in] their interest to get rid of her.”

Read more.

The Junto: Golden Hill Roundtable: “Commerce is Trust”

By Tom Cutterham 2 July 2018

This week at The Junto, we’ll be featuring a roundtable on Francis Spufford’s 2016 novel, Golden Hill (London: Faber & Faber, 2016). Set in colonial New York city, and written in self-conscious homage to eighteenth-century literary style, Golden Hill has plenty of resonance for anyone interested in the period. Following my post today, we’ll hear from Junto members Jordan Taylor and Katy Lasdow, as well as Hannah Farber, and a Q&A with Spufford himself. We will warn you if a post contains plot spoilers!

Many novels are about struggles to know the truth, and to live in a world of ambiguity, secrets, and false pretences. In Golden Hill, those themes are given eighteenth-century specificities. They appear in all sorts of symbolic guises, but none more frequently and clearly stated than the murky, miscellaneous substance of eighteenth-century money. If Golden Hill is a novel about what it means to take something—or somebody—at face value, that metaphor is made literal when the protagonist Richard Smith walks into a merchant’s office in the book’s opening pages and presents “a paper worth a thousand pounds.”

Smith’s bill is one thing: to assure himself of its veracity, the merchant Lovell inspects it for the paper’s watermark, the handwriting and signature of the counterparty in London. What Smith is given once the bill is proven is another. Along with a pile of foreign coinage, he gets “a pile of creased and folded slips… of varying shapes and sizes; some limp and torn; some leathery with grease.” The colonial money of New York and its neighbours becomes, for Smith, a metaphor for uncertainty and alienation. To colonials themselves, of course, that money looked quite different. As Benjamin Franklin and many historians have agreed, the printing of paper money was a crucial boost to local economies, providing a cheap medium through which trade and investment could expand.

Read more.

Also from The Junto:

  • Golden Hill as Historical Historical Fiction, By Jordan E. Taylor. Golden Hill is an unusually historical work of historical fiction. Most novels that market themselves as “historical fiction” do so based on the fact that they tell a story set in the past. But while Spufford’s novel easily meets this criterion, it also engages the reader as a work of historical investigation and study.  Read more…
  • Courage and Cowardice? By Hannah Farber. What a pleasure it is to wander around mid-eighteenth-century New York City with Francis Spufford, admiring the city’s homes with their “stepped Dutchwork eaves” and their “blue-gray pediment[s] of Connecticut pine”. What a pleasure, too, to join him in pawing through the humbler artifacts of daily life in the colonial city. Pap. Milk punch. A bog-wig. Every page of Golden Hill overflows with weird stuff like this, and it’s just great. Read more…
  • Retracing Mr. Smith’s Steps Through Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, by Katy Lasdow. Spufford’s exhilarating read follows Mr. Smith through the escapades and perils of mid-eighteenth-century New York as he attempts to convince those he encounters of his “credit worthiness.” As he meanders through the tangled web of city streets, Smith’s journey from the island’s southern tip to its northern outposts is filled with adventures and twists at every turn. The reader soon learns that many of the men and women he encounters have secrets to hide. There is much to like about Golden Hill. For this urban historian, one of the most enjoyable aspects is the book’s sense of place. Read more…
  • Q&A: Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill by Jordan Taylor 6 July 2018. What led you to write a historical novel? Why mid-eighteenth century New York City? Tell us about your research process. Read more…

Ben Franklin’s World: Partisans, The Friendship & Rivalry of Adams & Jefferson

Barbara Oberg, General Editor Emerita of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, and Sara Georgini, Series Editor of The Papers of John Adams, join us to explore the lives and relationships of John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

During our conversation and exploration, Barbara and Sara reveal the value of the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson and what it reveals about life and politics during the American Revolution and the early republic periods; Details about how the Adamses became friends and correspondents with Thomas Jefferson; And, information about what caused the breach in their friendships and what led them to reconcile after more than a decade of silence.

Listen to the podcast.

UE Loyalist Certificates Issued Recently

The 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 June 2018. The same updates have been applied to the Loyalist Directory.

Where in the World?

Where are Carol and Peter Davy of Kingston & District Branch?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • Bedeque Area Historical Museum exhibit tells the story of the settlement of United Empire Loyalist families around Bedeque Bay, Prince Edward Island in 1784. The settlement was led by William Schurman and Thomas Hooper; others include the names Anderson, Darby, Green, Lefurgey, Linkletter, MacFarlane, Murray, Silliker, Small, Strang, Waugh and Wright.
  • A successful 20-year battle to preserve and protect the historic Cooley-Hatt pioneer family cemetery in Ancaster ON was recognized with an Ontario Historical Society award to three key warriors in the fight — including Rick Hatt, great-great-great grandson of the man credited with establishing Dundas. The Cooley-Hatt cemetery was discovered to hold the remains of an estimated 100 United Empire Loyalists.
  • You are invited. Hamilton Branch UELAC will be hosting a special unveiling of a Loyalist Burial Site plaque at Waterdown Union Cemetery, 6 Margaret Street, Waterdown, Ontario, in honour of Loyalist Jacob Bastedo UE. You and anyone who wishes to attend are indeed invited to this historic event on Saturday August 18th 2018 at 2:00 p.m. See flyer… More information Doug Coppins coppins2861@rogers.com

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Historians Episode 222 podcast.Jennifer DeBruin is the author of three historical novels and is working on a non-fiction-book on Loyalist espionage during the American Revolution. Many Loyalists ended up, as did DeBruin’s ancestors, settling in Canada. She was a speaker at this year’s conference on the American Revolution sponsored by the Fort Plain Museum.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 7 Jul 1777 The only battle of the Revolution fought in Vermont, Battle of Hubbardton, ends in Patriot defeat.
    • 6 Jul 1777 Ft. Ticonderoga retaken by British, with great loss of critical military supplies, light casualties.
    • 5 Jul 1775 Congress offers Crown the “Olive Branch Petition,” appealing for reconciliation with Colonies.
    • 4 Jul 1776 Congress approves the text of the Declaration of Independence, two days after voting for independence.
    • 3 Jul 1775 Sword aloft, George Washington takes charge of Continental Army, leading it to eventual victory.
    • 2 Jul 1776 Congress votes for outright independence, severing all connections with the Crown.
    • 1 Jul 1775 Congress decides to seek alliances with Indian tribes, if Britain does so first.
  • King George III’s magnificent royal observatory converted into a beautiful family home has come up for rent in the delightful Richmond-upon-Thames. The King’s Observatory in Richmond isn’t the most expensive place to rent in London, nor is it the largest. But if you’re after a truly extraordinary, beautiful and historic home on a long-term let basis in London right now, it’s hard to imagine anything more perfect than this wonderful place.
  • 18th Century dress, Robe à la française & Petticoat, 1760–65 with later alterations, French
  • Another time lapse from La Dauphine Costuming. This time of getting dressed in a robe a la francaise. (do directly here)
  • 18th Century dress, robe à la polonaise, c.1780
  • 18th Century court dress, worn by a new bride being presented at court as a married woman 1775-80
  • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, about 1780-90, silk satin coral red, embroidered with sequins, beads and tinsel
  • 18th Century men’s coat, 1760-1780
  • From the Dawes family collection a small hide covered chest, made in Keene NH by saddler Daniel Watson @MHS1791
  • Cases & vignettes for Mass. Historical Society fashion “Fashioning the NE Family”, the embellished gentleman. Here 18thc shoe buckles – Bromfield Vinson & Anonymous paste stones in orig case
  • Actors reenact roots of Canada’s democracy at Sharon Temple near Newmarket Ontario. The rebellion has been described by some as the starting point for Canada’s democracy. In 1837, a group of reformers — many of them farmers struggling with crop failure, heavy taxation and unfair land policies — rose up under William Lyon Mackenzie. Calling for the introduction of democratic reforms, about 700 supporters marched to Montgomery’s Tavern in Toronto.
  • 3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake. Happy Fourth! By Dylan Matthews on 3 July 2018. This July 4, let’s not mince words: American independence in 1776 was a monumental mistake. We should be mourning the fact that we left the United Kingdom, not cheering it.
  • Where did you go on Historic Places Day – yesterday 7 July? National Trust Board and Staff Picks. This posting has a photo of one historic site in each province and Yukon. If you have visited six or more of these sites, let me know and I will include in next week’s Loyalist Trails – indicate how many you have been to. Include a brief – one or two sentence – anecdote if you are so inclined.