“Loyalist Trails” 2018-37: Sept. 16, 2018
In this issue:
– The UELAC Badge
– Fall 2018 Loyalist Gazette: Will You do Digital?
– Certified Free by General Musgrave (Part 3 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
– Vancouver Branch Reaches out to Students
– Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761
– Borealia: The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright
– JAR: The Glorious Career and Unfortunate Death of John Laurens
– The Junto: Fashioning Colonial New York’s Dutch Merchant Elite
– Ben Franklin’s World: Alexander Hamilton
– A Silk Vest Honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, c1824
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
The badge is proudly displayed on the right side of the UELAC homepage.
Brian McConnell UE offers information about it in this 3-minute video.
Also, a written description about the Armorial Bearings, Crest, Badge, Motto and Letters Patent is available by clicking on the Armorial Bearings or the Badge on the homepage.
The Loyalist Gazette is published twice each year by UELAC in a magazine format with historical articles, news, UELAC activities, book reviews, photos and more.
The periodical is distributed to members of a UELAC Branch.
The publication is also available in digital format, which offers colour throughout and an earlier delivery. Many members have requested the digital copy, and a good portion of those are now receiving the journal only in digital format, although some prefer to also receive the paper copy. All of these digital subscribers will be reminded reminded of their digital preferences this week coming.
The digital version is made public about one year after its release date. You can see past issues up to the Fall 2017 issue here.
If you are a UELAC Branch member or Gazette subscriber, and haven’t yet but would like to try out the e-zine version of the Fall 2018 Gazette, complete the request form.
NOTE: Should there be a Canadian postal strike, a digital copy could avoid delay in delivery.
The Fall issue is in final steps and will be headed to the printer in the coming weeks. Target date to be delivered to Canada Post is November 1.
…Robert McBride, UE, Publications Committee
© Stephen Davidson, UE
Because his name was on the certificate that granted freedom to the slaves who fought alongside Britain during the American Revolution, Samuel Birch is commemorated in Nova Scotia’s Birchtown, once the largest settlement of free Africans in all of North America. The treasured “Birch certificates” gave their bearers their freedom and the right to go to “Nova Scotia, or wherever else he may think proper”. It cited the names of the British officers who had issued the initial offers of emancipation and gave permission for the certificate holder to leave New York. The final touch was Brigadier General Birch’s signature – at least in almost 90% of all emancipation documents.
But the remaining ten percent of the certificates that granted Black Loyalists their freedom were signed by General Thomas Musgrave, a decorated war hero and the last commandant of British-occupied New York City. With General Birch’s departure from the United States in August of 1783, one of his responsibilities – that of securing the emancipation and safe evacuation of Black Loyalists — fell to Thomas Musgrave.
No towns bear Musgrave’s name in either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. Few Black Loyalist descendants recount the stories of their ancestors’ Musgrave certificates. And yet those single pages granted the same degree of freedom as Birch’s certificates. Here, then, are the stories of some of those who looked to Thomas Musgrave, not Samuel Birch, as the man who granted them emancipation and the chance for a new life.
The 3,000 Black Loyalists and enslaved Africans who left New York City between April and November of 1783 were recorded in a ledger commissioned by Sir Guy Carleton, the last commander-in-chief for British forces that fought in the American Revolution. In addition to listing blacks’ names, ages, former/present enslavers’ names and colonies, physical descriptions, and lengths of service to the crown, the Book of Negroes also noted whether a person had been issued a General Birch Certificate (GBC) or a General Musgrave Certificate (GBC). GBCs were first issued in April of 1783; GMCs were first signed in August of that year when Musgrave assumed Birch’s responsibilities as commandant of New York City.
Counting the children who accompanied their free parents, there were 342 Africans set at liberty by Musgrave’s signature. These Black Loyalists had been enslaved in North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, NewJersey, Virginia, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Massachusetts. While each Black Loyalist served the crown in some capacity for a minimum of a year, some GMC holders are known to have served with the Black Pioneers, the wagon department, and the Royal Artillery Department for as long as seven and a half years.
When they left New York City, those with Musgrave certificates typically set sail for loyalists settlements in Nova Scotia such as Annapolis Royal, Port Roseway (Shelburne), Port Mouton, Halifax and the St. John River (part of western Nova Scotia at this time). However, some Black Loyalists opted to begin new lives in Germany, the Bahamas, England, and Belgium.
With one exception, GMC holders fled to freedom between September 13 and November 30 of 1783, being among the very last loyalists to leave New York City by the date set by Britain and the new United States. Their evacuation vessels were William and Mary, Mars, Sovereign, Pallesier, Supply, Prosperous Amelia, Nancy (both a brig and a ship by that name), Caron, Lord Townsend, L’Abondance, Hope, Kingston, Cato, Joseph, Elijah, Elizabeth, Commerce, Molly, Mary, Aurora, Jenney, Nisbet, Peggy, Danger, Concord, and the Diannah.
The nineteen Black Loyalists who sailed on the Joseph when it set sail for Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia on November 9th had quite a story to tell when they finally arrived at their destination. Their ship made it all the way to the Bay of Fundy when it encounted a hurricane and was then was driven to Bermuda where the refugees stayed until April 1784, while their ship was repaired.
Most of the Joseph’s passengers had been members of the Black Pioneers, the largest African military unit established during the American Revolution. A “pioneer” was a soldier who cleared land, dug latrines, and performed other engineering duties. He did not take up arms and fight.
When the British recruited those who were enslaved by rebels, they allowed them to serve as pioneers, rather than as regular soldiers. Free blacks could be non-commissioned officers, but the commissioned officers were always white. Nevertheless, the Black Pioneers were adequately clothed and fed, treated with respect, and promised freedom at the end of the war.
Among those who received GMCs were Thomas Peters who would later become instrumental in the founding of a Black Loyalist colony in Sierra Leone. Also on the Joseph was Murphy Steel, a man who had an amazing vision in 1781. Steel had a vision that was so amazing its message was passed along in a letter to General Clinton. After hearing a man call him by name, Steel was told that General Washington “must surrender himself and his troops to the king’s army and that if he did not, the wrath of God would fall upon them.”
The voice went on to say that if Washington failed to surrender, then the British would raise “all the blacks in America to fight against him”. If Washington did not surrender, Steel was warned, then Clinton and Cornwallis were “to put an end to this rebellion for … the Lord would be on their side.” Things, however, did not work out according to Steel’s vision. One can only wonder if the 34 year-old Black Loyalist recounted this story one more time as Thomas Musgrave signed his certificate.
The youngest passenger holding a GMC aboard the Joseph was six-year-old Nancy Cromwell. She was travelling with her father Sambo Cromwell (44), her mother Phillis (30) and her brother Anthony (8). This family had escaped their master Nathaniel Cromwell of Goose Creek, South Carolina in 1779 when little Nancy was just only two years old. How the family made its way to New York City and how it served the crown until 1783 is not revealed. Five other passengers aboard the Joseph were also from South Carolina.
This series on the Black Loyalists who held Musgrave certificates concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
On Tuesday, September 18, at the Bonsor Recreation and Community Centre in Burnaby, BC, the UELAC Vancouver Branch will host and present their Annual BC Heritage Awards to student winners for their 2018 BC Heritage Regional Fair projects.
The UELAC Vancouver Branch BC Heritage Fair Annual Award is presented “in recognition of outstanding achievement in highlighting the history of the settlement and growth of Canada prior to Confederation (1867) in particular, the United Empire Loyalists or their descendants and their contribution to the development of Canada.”
The winning students and their parents are invited to attend our Branch’s September Regular Meeting. Students present their oral and visual heritage history projects to the membership followed by the Awards Presentation and Reception.
Learn more at BC’s Heritage Fairs Society.
…Carl Stymiest, UE
by Oriana Visser, 12 Sep, 2018
While conducting other research in the Loyalist Collection at the Harriet Irving Library, a collection titled Indian Affairs: A Collection of Manuscripts: 1761 — 1864 from New Brunswick caught my eye. The first document on the reel was a Peace and Friendship Treaty signed between the “Jediack tribe of Indians” and the British government at Nova Scotia. I immediately had to know more. What I found was that this treaty was not just a singular, one off treaty but was actually part of a series of treaties signed within a two year span, and also part of a string of treaties signed between 1725 and 1779 in the Maritimes that are collectively known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties. I had not heard of the “Jedaick tribe” that was named in the treaty. What I found was that Jediack is a variation of Shediac. The modern day place of Shediac in New Brunswick derives its name from the Mi’kmaq group indigenous to the land. It is plausible it was misspelled by the English. The name Shediac comes from a Mi’kmaq word Es-ed-ei-ik, meaning running far in/far back. The French most commonly spelled it Gedaique or Chediac but there are up to 16 variations of spellings on early maps.
Ann Little’s The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright (Yale University Press, 2016; paper, 2018) traces the remarkable story of a woman from her New England childhood to Wabanaki captivity and adoption to adulthood as an Ursuline nun in eighteenth-century Quebec. The book’s innovative use of sources and narrative provokes conversation about what a biography could be. Borealia’s Keith Grant interviews the author about the book’s approach and themes.
Who was Esther Wheelwright? Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780) was born in colonial British America in what’s now part of the U.S. state of Maine. At age seven, she was abducted in an attack on her village by the Wabanaki and likely adopted by a family. At age 12, she is enrolled at the Ursuline convent school in Quebec City, where she remains for the rest of her life as a novice and then a choir nun.
by Jeff Dacus, 11 September 2018
George Washington surrounded himself with the best and the brightest young men involved in the revolutionary cause. Alexander Hamilton, Tench Tilghman, Robert Harrison, the Marquis de Lafayette, James McHenry, and John Fitzgerald were a few of the talented people that served alongside Washington in his “family” at various times. One of them, John Laurens of South Carolina, seemed destined for greatness.
The son of a president of Congress, Henry Laurens, John was born into the life of a country gentleman. His father was a successful businessman, planter, and well-respected citizen of Charleston. John was taken to England for his education in 1771. A year later he went to Switzerland for further education but returned to England to read law after only two years of studying science and medicine. When differences between the colonies and mother country erupted into violence, John left his studies and a wife and small child to return to South Carolina.
By Cynthia Kok, 13 September 2018
“I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” – Carrie Bradshaw
Centuries before New York became known as a fashion capital – and Carrie Bradshaw emerged as a style icon – the city’s colonial-era merchants anticipated the words of Sex and the City‘s lead character by investing newly earned wealth in clothing made from luxurious fabrics. And, like today’s Rich Kids of Instagram, they documented their exclusive material success through portraiture. Painted at the turn of the eighteenth century, that of Isaac de Peyster (1662-1728), the son of an affluent Dutch-American mercantile family, presented both his physical features and a luxurious silk robe patterned with rocks and spindly vegetation. The artist captured the soft, luminous sheen of the gold silk and hinted at the robe’s lining with a flash of red along an upturned sleeve.
Joanne Freeman, a Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, and one of the foremost experts on the life of Alexander Hamilton, joins us to explore the life and politics of Alexander Hamilton.
During our conversation, Joanne reveals details about Alexander Hamilton’s early life in the Caribbean; how and why Hamilton joined the American Revolution; And information about Hamilton’s politics and ideas about government.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Sept. 10 marked the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine, a pivotal confrontation in the American Revolution between General George Washington and his Continental Army and General Sir William Howe, commander of the British troops. I’ve written posts about the battle several times before (here and here. Aside from Brandywine’s significance as the largest land battle of the Revolution, it also marked the debut in the war of a young volunteer from France.
An aristocratic idealist with a military background, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) was only nineteen when he met General Washington in August 1777. Already commissioned by the American Congress as a major general, Lafayette was not at first given troops to command, but instead became a member of Washington’s staff. At Brandywine, he saw his first experience in the field; he was shot in the leg, yet still was cited by Washington for his “bravery and military ardor.” Lafayette went on to play a key role in the war, not only as an officer and close friend to Washington, but also as a diplomat who helped secure the French ships and soldiers that ultimately tipped the scales for an American victory.
Read more, including his return to the USA in 1824….
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- On Sunday, September 9, 2018, Brian McConnell UE, President, NS Branch was invited to attend the dedication of the Queen Elizabeth II Walkway in the Halifax Public Gardens. The event was attended by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, His Honour, the Honourable Albert J. LeBlanc, ONS, QC, who is the Patron of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. Other dignitaries and supporters attended. A video of the event was produced and can be viewed here
- At the monthly meeting of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia on Saturday, October 27, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, 33 Ochterloney Street, Suite 100, Dartmouth, NS, Brian McConnell, President of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada will speak on the topic of United Empire Loyalists in Nova Scotia. All are welcome.
- This map of Philadelphia was made in 1777 during the American Revolution and shows the fortifications constructed by English troops. Zoom in to see the intricate details! A survey of the city of Philadelphia and its environs shewing the several works constructed by His Majesty’s troops, under the command of Sir William Howe, since their possession of that city 26th. September 1777, comprehending likewise the attacks against Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, and until it’s reduction, 16th November 1777.
- Candlesticks from the Signing of the Treaty of Paris
- Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
- 15 Sep 1776 British occupy NYC, dealing a heavy blow to the American rebellion.
- 14 Sep 1776 General Court at Watertown, MA blocks sale of two black prisoners, rules they be treated as other POWs.
- 13 Sep 1778 Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant leads raid on German Flats, New-York, killing 3 & burning town.
- 12 Sep 1780 Skirmish between Loyalist and Patriots at Cane Creek, NC is a prelude to Battle of King’s Mountain.
- 11 Sep 1776 British Adm. Howe meets John Adams, Ben Franklin, & Edward Rutledge for fruitless peace talks.
- 10 Sep 1779 USS Morris surprises and captures HMS West Florida in Battle of Lake Ponchartrain.
- 9 Sep 1776 Congress formally adopts “United States of America,” replacing “United Colonies.”
- Amid trade fight, Canada returns to its roots in opposition to US. Thomas Jefferson, in drumming up support for war against the British Empire in 1812, boasted that capturing the territory that is now Canada would be a “mere matter of marching.” That sense of American superiority was voiced 206 years ago. But it feels uncomfortably familiar to modern-day Canadians like Eugene Oatley, a descendant of a United Empire Loyalist — American colonists who fled north at the Revolutionary War and sought refuge under the British Crown. Canada was built upon a vision that was explicitly distinct from the US, starting as early as 1776. The Loyalists were the first significant wave of English-speaking settlers in Canada and fundamental to its identity. Read more…
- Personal favourite 18th Century dress, black silk with pink & green floral pattern, 1780’s
- 18th Century rear detail of a court mantua of embroidered silk with coloured silk & metal threads, England, 1740-45
- 18th Century dress and accessories, c.1790
- 18th Century dress, Robe à la Polonaise, 1776-1780
- An Indian Chintz Gown: Slavery and Fashion. Walking down the street in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1786, a white woman spotted a gown that had been stolen from her two years before on the body of an enslaved woman. The gown was a fashionable one: an “Indian Chintz, white Ground, with Stripes and Figures of different Sorts of red, if not other Colours.” It might have resembled the chintz jacket and petticoat worn by Ann Van Rensselaer in New York about 1790. Read more… (from the Junto)
- 18th Century men’s waistcoat, c.1780, British, made of silk, cotton and flax
- I adore the patches of delicate colour interspersed with the silver on this 18th Century man’s sleeved waistcoat, England, 1740’s