“Loyalist Trails” 2018-35: September 2, 2018

In this issue:
Certified Free by General Musgrave (Part 1 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
Book: The Loyalist Conscience: Principled Opposition to the American Revolution
Borealia: Continuing the Journey
JAR: Guilty of Desertion? Charles Hanley, 4th (King’s Own) Regiment
Washington’s Quill: A Visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Ben Franklin’s World: Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America
Phillis Wheatley: The First Published Black Woman Poet
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post
      + Donald Gordon Axford, UE
      + Ivan Chester Forsyth, UE


Certified Free by General Musgrave (Part 1 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Thomas Musgrave was an English nobleman who served as a general in the British Army during the American Revolution. Decorated for bravery during a rebel attack and remembered in an engraved portrait at the British Museum, Musgrave’s name has nevertheless been almost forgotten in the annals of loyalist history. But for the more than 260 Black Loyalists who held emancipation certificates authorized by Musgrave, the officer’s name meant freedom and the beginning of a new life. In this four-part series, we will consider General Musgrave’s accomplishments as well as the stories of the Black Loyalists who were set free by his signature.

While the impact that Musgrave had on the lives of hundreds of Black Loyalists would have reprecussions for decades to come, the fact that he had been the commandant of New York City who authorized the emancipation of Britain’s black allies is not mentioned in any of his biographies. Instead, they record the fact that he would one day represent the fifth generation in his family to bear the title of baronet. In 1638, his ancestor Edward Musgrave was granted land in Nova Scotia. A later Baronet Musgrave represented England’s Cumberland County in the House of Commons.

Thomas Musgrave, the sixth son of Sir Richard Musgrave, was born in 1737. By age 22, he was a captain in the 64th Regiment of the British Army, rising to brevet-major at 35, and then to lieutenant-colonel of the 40th Regiment at 39. In August of 1776, Musgrave was one of the officers who accompanied 30,000 British troops to America under the leadership of General Howe. Their mission: the quashing of the colonial rebellion.

Having succeeded in taking New York City and Long Island in September, Musgrave commanded a regiment that pursued the retreating rebel army fourteen miles to the northeast of Manhattan to Pelham Manor. There, on October 18th, patriot troops under the command of Colonel John Glover fought British and German soldiers.

A rebel eyewitness to the battle recalled “There was a considerable firing of Field Pieces and Small Arms between Scattering Parties but no general Engagements of any large Bodies but the Enemy falling into a sort of Ambush sustained much loss.”

Musgrave was wounded at the Battle of Pelham Manor, but in less than a year he was with Howe’s troops when they captured Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. Within a year’s time, he was once again in the thick of battle.

Germantown was a British outpost near Philadelphia that was manned by Musgrave and five companies of his regiment. It came under rebel attack on October 4th. The British secured themselves in a stone house, and although Musgrave was wounded during the battle, “he successfully held the American forces at bay until the British columns rallied” and “the Americans were compelled to abandon the field on which they came so near to success”. Thanks to Musgrave and his men, Philadelphia would remain in British hands throughout the winter of 1777-1778.

For his bravery under fire, Musgrave received a silver medal. The Chew House from which he and his men defended Germantown was featured on the medal as well as in the background of a later portrait of Musgrave.

In 1778, Musgrave was reassigned, serving as a quartermaster general for British troops in the West Indies (which the crown valued far more than its rebelling thirteen colonies). Under the command of Major-general James Grant, Musgrave was among the soldiers who successfully captured and defended St. Lucia.

Falling ill during his time in the West Indies, Musgrave returned to England. In 1781, he was made an aide-de-camp to King George III, and by the following year, he was promoted to brigadier-general. When Sir Guy Carleton sailed to New York City as the new commander in chief of British forces, he had no idea that he would be responsible for overseeing the evacuation of British troops and thousands of loyalists – both black and white.

Thomas Musgrave helped Carleton with the onerous tasks of hiring transport ships, providing relief for loyal refugees, and guaranteeing the freedom of Britain’s black allies. During the hectic days of 1783, Musgrave came to know a number of loyalist refugees, including Edward Winslow. Although the loyalist from Massachusetts had settled his family in Nova Scotia prior to the departure of the refugee evacuation fleets, he kept in touch with Musgrave back in New York City.

The letters between Musgrave and Winslow indicate that the British officer had hopes of settling on the St. John River (in present day New Brunswick) after the final evacuation of New York City. Writing on August 30, 1783, Musgrave confided, “My ancestors were among the original Baronets of Nova Scotia and had very large tracts of land annexed to their Patent and altho’ they may have forfeited their pretensions to them by not fulfilling their agreements, yet I should hope they might be restored to me or at least other lands of equal goodness.”

How the histories of Thomas Musgrave and Nova Scotia would be intertwined will be discovered in next week’s edition of Loyalist Trails.

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

Book: The Loyalist Conscience: Principled Opposition to the American Revolution

by Chaim M. Rosenberg

Freedom of speech was restricted during the Revolutionary War. In the great struggle for independence, those who remained loyal to the British crown were persecuted with loss of employment, eviction from their homes, heavy taxation, confiscation of property and imprisonment. Loyalist Americans from all walks of life were branded as traitors and enemies of the people. By the end of the war, 80,000 had fled their homeland to face a dismal exile from which few would return, outcasts of a new republic based on democratic values of liberty, equality and justice.

Chaim M. Rosenberg: Practicing as a psychiatrist in and around Boston Chaim became interested in the abandoned nineteenth-century textile and shoe mills, the people who built them and the people who worked in them. He decided to switch from medicine to history. He has a number of books to his name.

Borealia: Continuing the Journey

by Keith Grant 31 August 2018

Next week at Borealia we begin our fourth year of blogging about the vibrant scholarship being done on the histories of northern North America. We remain enthusiastic about our goal of hosting engaging conversations for both academic and public readerships.

Regular readers will no doubt have noticed that things have been a bit more sporadic over the past year or so, as Denis and Keith settled in to early years of full-time teaching, shepherded a book to publication, and completed a dissertation (respectively). We see blogging as complementing other forms of scholarship, so it’s natural that there will be seasons of greater or less activity. Thanks for letting us know that this venture continues to be worthwhile.

Turning to the future of Borealia, we are thrilled to announce that Laura Smith is joining the editorial team! Laura is a historian of the Irish in the British Empire, and migration, religion, settlement, and violence in Upper Canada – themes that featured in an earlier essay here, and which will be developed in her current book project, Unsettled Settlers: Irish Catholic politics and religion in Upper Canada. She is a historical consultant for Ireland Park Foundation, and is also engaged in a project tracing the movement of Irish migrants from Upper Canadian ports into the rural townships of the province and to the United States.

Read more.

JAR: Guilty of Desertion? Charles Hanley, 4th (King’s Own) Regiment

by Don N. Hagist 27 August 2018

This week JAR Editor Don N. Hagist presents the testimony from five British desertion trials held during the American Revolution. For each trial, see if you agree with the court’s verdict and sentence.

British soldiers charged with desertion were tried by a general court martial, a board of thirteen officers tasked with determining whether the defendant was guilty, and if so, his punishment.

In determining guilt, the court considered several factors: was the man enlisted properly as a soldier in the first place? Had he been paid and provided clothing in accordance with his enlistment contract? Did he have a good reason for his absence?

In sentencing a punishment, the court considered different factors: was the man was absent due to simple misbehaviour (such as intoxication), or was he trying to abscond from the army? Did his actions appear premeditated or spontaneous? Did he return voluntarily, or was he caught? If he was caught, did he resist? Were there other mitigating factors? The court had to decide between capital or corporal punishment, so the differences were quite important.

Below are the proceedings of a court held in British-occupied Philadelphia…

Read more.

NOTE: Four other examples were published during the week of August 27. Visit allthingsliberty.com.

Washington’s Quill: A Visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

By Kim Curtis, Research Editor, August 24, 2018

Last month, my family and I took a day trip to Virginia Beach. On the way home, we stopped by the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. This visit to the museum (our first) was particularly special: we had the privilege of receiving a tour from Dr. Thomas E. Davidson, a senior curator, who retired from the museum at the end of July.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which opened in the spring of 2017, replaced the Yorktown Victory Center, built in 1976. While the Victory Center limited its subject matter to the Yorktown siege and surrender, the new 80,000-square-foot museum building, located next to the Yorktown Battlefield, expands its focus on the entire Revolutionary War and how the war (as well as its buildup and aftermath) affected diverse populations on both national and global scales.

In order to house a substantial increase in its collections, the museum includes a 22,000-square-foot permanent exhibition space, which is 25 percent larger than its previous space. This new space is divided into five themed galleries: the British Empire and America, the changing relationship between Britain and North America, the Revolution, the new nation, and the American people. Period artifacts, immersive environments (such as a recreated wharf), dioramas (including the little-known 1775 Battle of Great Bridge in Virginia) and short films help tell each theme’s narrative.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America

Catherine Kelly, Editor of Books at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and author of Republic of Taste: Art, Politics, and Everyday Life in Early America, joins us to explore the world of art, politics, and taste in the early American republic and how that world contributed to the formation of American character and virtue.

As we explore this world of early American taste, Cathy reveals early American ideas about taste and how it could be used to build and shape the new republic; The ways Americans hoped taste would unify them into one, national people; And, information about aesthetic entrepreneurs, who were promoters and small business owners who attempted to capitalize on the early republican need and desire for taste.

Listen to the podcast.

Phillis Wheatley: The First Published Black Woman Poet

Although Phillis Wheatley never lived in east London, and may only have visited it once, the area is associated with her groundbreaking literary achievement.

When her book of poems was published in Aldgate in 1773, Phillis became the first known African American woman to see her book in print. (The earliest known African American woman poet is Lucy Terry, but her work was published later.)

The girl who would become Phillis Wheatley was born around 1753 in West Africa, most likely in modern day Gambia or Ghana. She was enslaved, and when she was seven or eight transported from Africa to America on the torturous journey known as the ‘Middle Passage’. She arrived in Boston in 1761 and was bought by merchants John and Susanna Wheatley. She was given their surname, and for her first name they chose the name of the ship she was brought on: the Phillis.

Phillis was taught by the Wheatley’s children, Mary and Nathaniel, and by the age of 12 she was reading Latin as well as English. She wrote her first poem aged 14. The family recognised her talent and encouraged her to write. Her first published poem ‘On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin’ appeared in the Newport Mercury newspaper in 1767.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where is Loyalist Trails contributor Stephen Davidson?

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.

  • Nova Scotia Branch meeting upcoming with presentation on Black Loyalists, Sept. 22nd at Acaciaville Baptist Church Hall (near Digby, NS). An event not to be missed if in the area! See article from the Tri-County Vanguard of Yarmouth. See also the flyer, details about speaker Alllister Barton, a descendant of the Black Pioneers, and the Black Loyalists of Brinley Town, a former Black settlement near Digby.
  • The Bedeque PE Area Museum closes today (Sept 2) for the season. The United Empire Loyalist exhibit tells the story of the settlement of Loyalist families around Bedeque Bay in 1784, led by William Schurman and Thomas Hooper. The families who arrived with Schurman and Hooper (or followed shortly after) include Anderson, Darby, Green, Lefurgey, Linkletter, MacFarlane, Murray, Silliker, Small, Strang, Waugh and Wright. The exhibit includes maps showing where particular families settled and offers insights as to why they settled in the Bedeque Bay area. The new Loyalist exhibit also tells the story of the Valley Farm, which has been in the Schurman family since 1839, when it was purchased by Isaac Schurman (a son of William, the Loyalist) for his son, Solomon. The house, which is still lived in, had been built in the 1820s by the previous owner, William Taylor, who operated a mill on the Dunk River. There is a display of objects from the house, and photographs telling the story of the farm, provided by David Schurman, a great-grandson of Solomon.
  • Travels with the Mullallys: On the trail of loyalists, murder mysteries and elderberries – things to see in the Eastern Townships. It’s those who dare to wander less than two hours southeast to the less known bucolic regions of the “Canton de l’Est” (Eastern Townships), who score the best unexpected discoveries. On a recent trip to Montreal, my husband David and I strayed away from our familiar favorite haunts to the small Victorian village of Knowlton on the vast shores of Lac Brome near the Vermont border. First settled in 1802, many of Knowlton’s inhabitants are descendants of the United Empire Loyalists who migrated north after the revolutionary war. The lakeside hamlet is the soul of the Eastern Townships, where the past and present of two distinct Canadian cultures continues to flourish with bilingualism as the bridge for harmony. There’s a vibe of entrenched tradition in this close-knit welcoming community sometimes nicknamed “The Knamptons” with a wink for the northern community of affluent seasonal residents.
  • Wedding Shoes in the Georgian Era. A presentation at the Bata Shoe Museum 21 Oct 2018 Toronto

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte on the wall in the Red Chamber at Province House, Halifax, Nova Scotia, submitted by Brian McConnell
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 2 Sep 1769 Benjamin Franklin warns against the dangers of “law enforcement” antagonizing an already hostile people.
    • 1 Sep 1774 British General Gage raids powder magazine in Charles-Town, Massachusetts, triggering “Powder Alarm.”
    • 31 Aug 1778 British officers Col. Simcoe & Lt. Col. Tarleton ambush party of Mohican Indians, killing 30-40.
    • 30 Aug 1776 Washington refuses to entertain General Howe’s offer of reconciliation following defeat at New-York.
    • 29 Aug 1776 Gen Washington orders a night retreat from Brooklyn in boats. Fires burning to convince British the Americans remained. Fog hid the Army’s movements Glover’s Marblehead men ferried all 9K Continentals through the night. Washington was among the last.
    • 29 Aug 1779 Sullivan defeats Iroquois and Loyalist forces at Chemung in upstate New-York.
    • 28 Aug 1775 First USS Enterprise, a captured British sloop, embarks on expedition into Canada; fails at Quebec City.
    • 27 Aug 1776 British are victorious at Battle of Brooklyn Heights, but fail to capture American military commanders.
    • 26 Aug 1779 3500 American forces depart Ft Sullivan to complete destructive sweep through Haudenosaunee in New-York.
  • Townsends:
  • Robe à la française, ca. 1748-1752Dress, petticoat, stomacher. White moire brocaded with red, purple, yellow and blue sprays. Skirt: Hem ruffle, trimmed with chenille. Dress: fitted, full skirt, self robings, chenille trim. Stomacher: matching. Separate pocket on a string with matching fabric.
  • Robe à la française, possibly from the Netherlands, c 1775, with silk  passementerie & silk fly/floss fringe
  • 18th Century dress, an American dress made from British 1730’s fabric, worn by Mary Waters, Salem, MA at her marriage to Anthony Sigourney of Boston in 1740. Dress was restyled in 1763 when their daughter wore it at her own wedding
  • Collection of 18th Century dresses & accessories, mid to late Century via Kyoto Costume Institute
  • 18th Century dress, Robe à l’Anglaise, c.1770’s
  • 18th Centurymen’s court suit, French, 1780-90
  • 18th Century men’s court suit, with waistcoat, French, c.1790
  • 18th Century men’s embroidered waistcoat, from the Greenleaf collection, 1770-1780
  • Pair of shoes, English, c.1700-30. Yellow silk taffeta, bound with ribbon; floss silk embroidery in French knots, tied with ribbon. Design of scrolling stems with leaves and flowers.

Last Post

Donald Gordon Axford, UE

Donald passed away peacefully at his home in Calgary on August 24, 2018. He was 81 years old. Although he was only a member of the Calgary branch for a short time, he was proud of the certificate he received as a descendant of Adam Baker UEL and was a celebrity when he took the certificate and the tri-corner hat we presented to him to his local bar. He was also proud of being able to swim 80 lengths in 80 minutes for his 80th birthday although he was limited in mobility.

He was born in Brandon, Manitoba in 1937, earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brandon University in 1962, became a policy director in the Alberta government and then completed a Master of Divinity at University of Western Ontario in 1977. Don was ordained in the Anglican Church in 1978 and served in a number of communities in Ontario and Alberta, of which the most important was Stettler, Alberta, where he served for 15 years before moving to Calgary. In Calgary he served with the Cathedral until his retirement in 2003. He continued serving occasionally and earned a Master of Theology from Edmonton in 2009. Don enjoyed playing the piano and singing and used his skills to provide music to a number of organizations.

…Suzanne Davidson

Ivan Chester Forsyth, UE

Ivan was born on July 30, 1928 and passed away on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at the age of 90 years, having lived a long and fruitful life. He passed away peacefully at the Assiniboine Centre with his wife and family by his side. Ivan was predeceased by one daughter Judy in 1974, two sons, Gordon in 1994 and Ken in 2007, and one sister Shirley (D’Arcy). Left to mourn are his wife Amy, daughter Dianne (Rempel), son Doug (Roxanne), 13 grandchildren: Keith (Angel), Marlene, Dawn (Mark), and Phillip; Robert (Kim), Tanaya and Christina; Ben (Jacklyn), Matt (Katherine), Graham (Aislinn); Jonathan, Andrew (Chelsea) and Sabrina (Drake); and 10 great-grandchildren: Meghan and Breanna; Alea, Loranne, Renae and Aaron; Bryce; Jackson and Hudson; and Calvin; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Ivan spent most of his life working for the C.P.R. as a dispatcher and retired in 1985 at the age of 57. Although he worked nights most of the time he did not neglect his family. Many an evening you would find him at the baseball diamond either cheering his sons on or coaching them to victory. His other joy was curling. Ivan and his three sons could be found Sunday morning at the curling rink playing together. Winning or losing, they were having fun as a family.

After retirement, Ivan and Amy joined a tour group and were off to see the world. They travelled to many countries in Europe as well as down under to Australia and New Zealand. Ivan was a member and, for a time, president of the Brandon Kiwanis Club and was granted an Honorary membership in 2017. He worked tirelessly for the organization and every year helped raise money. One of his great joys was the annual car derby, which he was in charge of for many years. Some of his grandchildren and even two of his great-grandchildren came out to race. One of them even won a trophy.

The last three years of his life Ivan lived with his wife Amy at the Rotary Villas on 10th Street in Brandon. His failing health sent Ivan to the Assiniboine Centre in February. On July 7th, Ivan returned home for the day to join with the family to celebrate his 90th birthday and their 70th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful time of celebration for everyone.

Ivan is a descendant of the United Empire Loyalists and proudly carries the initials UE after his name. A Celebration of Ivan’s Life will be held at Brockie Donovan Chapel, 332 8th Street, Brandon, MB on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Doug Craig officiating. Interment will be held at Rosewood Memorial Gardens on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Ivan may be made to Central United Church (Memorial Fund), 327 – 8th Street, Brandon, MB, R7A 3X5 or a charity of your choice.

…James Adair