“Loyalist Trails” 2018-48: December 2, 2018
In this issue:
– The Loyalists Are Coming! The Loyalists Are Coming! (Part 2), by Stephen Davidson
– 2018 Recipients of the Phillip E. M. Leith Memorial Medal
– Borealia: Colonizing St. John Island: A History in Maps
– JAR: Major James Wemyss, The Second Most Hated British Officer In The South
– Washington’s Quill: A Cryptic Record of a Family Tragedy: The Unhappy Progression of Patsy Custis’s Epilepsy
– The Junto: Julia de Recour, the Digital Archive, and the Histories of Atlantic Children of Colour
– Ben Franklin’s World: Skepticism & American Faith
– Georgian Papers Programme: Inoculating the Royal Children against Smallpox
– A Loyalist “Donation” Stamp
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Last Post: David Woodward, UE
© Stephen Davidson, UE
If one wants an account of the Loyalist story untarnished by centuries of interpretations and re-interpretation, the best sources are the primary documents of the 18th century. One such source is the journal kept by Benjamin Marston, a Loyalist driven out of Massachusetts in 1776. Appointed the surveyor of the Loyalist settlement of Port Roseway, Nova Scotia in 1783, Marston had the unique experience of witnessing the arrival and settlement of thousands of Loyalist refugees.
Marston was not one to call a spade anything other than a spade. Despite having shared the experiences of many of the settlers of Port Roseway, he did not feel that it excused their laziness, in fighting or disregard for authority. Twelve days after their arrival in Nova Scotia, the settlers of Port Roseway still had their problems.
Marston’s journal entry for Friday, May 16, 1783, noted “People inclining to be mutinous. They suspect their leaders to have private views, and not without some reason. In fact, the captains — at least most of them—are a set of fellows who mere accident has placed in their present situations; much less worthy of it than many they command. Real authority can never be supported without some degree of real superiority.”
Unimpressive as the refugee leadership may have been, Marston was soon to discover that the bureaucrats of Nova Scotia were not much better. Stephen Binney, a deputy collector and “impost officer” sailed into the harbour on a rainy Saturday with mill-sawed boards for the settlers. Rather than staying among the refugees, Binney moved into Marston’s tent for the night.
Sunday morning found Marston’s unwanted roommate desperately looking for a barber to shave him, but when he found one, “the fellow was clumsy and cut him pretty much; he was all the rest of the day at times examining the wounds”. (So much for the first recorded barber’s shave in a loyalist settlement!) Marston could see that Binney “won’t live long with us — our fare is too hard.”
Monday meant a return to work despite being “misty and rainy all day”. The following day it became apparent that Binney had only sailed to Port Roseway to “pick a little money out of people’s pockets” by trying to collect customs fees. The settlers called a town meeting to discuss matters, causing Marston to prophecy that “this settlement must get into other kind of hands before it will flourish.”
On Wednesday, Loyalists who hailed from Marblehead, Marston’s hometown, arrived in Port Roseway, asking to be admitted as settlers. Despite the fact that the surveyor thought that they would be “an invaluable acquisition to this place”, they were not warmly welcomed by “the association from New York” which Marston described as a “curious set”. “They take upon them[selves] to determine who are the proper subjects of the king’s grants.” After forming a 16-member committee, the Port Roseway Associates decided that only 441 men could draw lots for grants.
On the twentieth day since the Loyalists’ arrival at Port Roseway, Marston recorded that “those engaged in settling” the refugees were “justly exasperated at the insolence and impertinence of one sort of people”. Having to deal with “their cursed republican principles”, Marston spent the day “appointing people to their lots. Some grumble, some are pleased. They are upon the whole a collection of characters very unfit for the business they have undertaken. Barbers, tailors, shoemakers and all kinds of mechanics, bred and used to live in great towns, they are inured to habits very unfit for undertakings which require hardiness, resolution, industry and patience.” Port Roseway’s Loyalists, like all of us, seem to have had a good measure of human frailty and pettiness.
On Monday, May 26th, the Loyalist settlement suffered its first disaster. “About noon there broke out a most furious fire among the dry stuff in the streets suspected by some to have been kindled on purpose. This is not improbable, though the ignorance, stupidity and carelessness of the bulk of the collection here is sufficient to produce any such disastrous event. It has ended with fewer serious consequences than might have been expected. One or two families have lost their all.”
On Tuesday, Marston noted, “Yesterday’s fire out. People began to be sensible that they have acted very foolishly in more things than setting woods on fire in a high dry windy day. Things will come right by and by.”
On the 29th, Marston had the unenviable job of “fixing people upon their lots”. “Many are pleased. The, idea of owning land is some how or other exceedingly agreeable to the human mind. Some whose lots have fallen to them in not so pleasant places are much out of temper, and some designing ones, who have missed the advantageous situations, are likewise dissatisfied.”
The first three days of June were uneventful ones, but the 4th was King George III’s birthday, and even British subjects in the Nova Scotia wilderness had to have their holiday. Impatient to complete the establishment of the town, Marston was a bit of a party-pooper. He noted that there was “no business”, although he felt that “any neglect of business ought not to be in ye least countenanced at present”. However, he derived some comfort from the fact that “some fine showers” had fallen during the day, helping to prevent “the ill effects of a nonsensical feu de joie*, which was performed just at dark, and would have fired the streets in an hundred places but for the rain”. There was also a ball that night, but Marston, a true introvert, was “very happy to be absent”.
Perhaps the most significant event of June 4th was the departure of the evacuation ships that had brought the loyalists to Port Roseway a month earlier. All of the settlers, furniture and livestock had been transferred to the settlement’s rocky shores; there would be no opportunity for anyone to leave until the next fleet of transport ships arrived from New York. The Loyalists were truly alone in the wilderness.
All of the celebrations for the king’s birthday produced a communal hangover, and it took all of the following day “to get rid of the previous day’s and night’s excess”. Marston’s fellow Loyalists were certainly not doing anything to improve their reputations.
“These poor people are like sheep without a shepherd. They have no men of abilities among them. Their Captains, chosen out of their body at New York, are of the same class with themselves — most of them mechanics, some few have been shipmasters, they are the best men they have. Sir Guy Carleton did not reflect that putting 16 illiterate men into commission…was at best but contracting the mob. But perhaps he could do no better. … Upon the whole, considering who and what they are and the confused way they are huddled together, it is much in their favour that we have had no great enormities committed among us.”
And with these comments, Benjamin Marston finished his account of the first five weeks of Loyalist settlement in Port Roseway. It was by no means a glorious beginning. History books recounting the story of this era certainly haven’t featured illustrations of these “sheep without a shepherd”.
Marston had not finished his journal on June 8th, 1783. More Loyalists, including the Black allies of the crown, Nova Scotia’s governor, and a host of disbanded soldiers had yet to arrive. Those stories will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
* Feu de joie – a rifle salute fired by soldiers on a ceremonial occasion, each soldier firing in succession along the ranks to make a continuous sound.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Established in 2006, the Vancouver Branch inaugurated the Phillip E. M. Leith Memorial Medal to be awarded annually to a person, from the Pacific Region, as recognition for their outstanding volunteer work on behalf of the association.
In 2018, two more have been recognized (see photos):
• Alan Reid, UE, Chilliwack Branch
• Aurelie Stirling, UE, Victoria Branch
By S. Max Edelson, 14 November 2018
Great Britain launched intensive surveys of North America and the West Indies after the Peace of Paris in 1763. The treaty declared all of the “countries, lands, islands, places, and coasts” that comprise modern-day Labrador, Newfoundland, and the Maritime Provinces (now known collectively as Atlantic Canada) to be unambiguously British. The Gulf of St. Lawrence, formerly the entryway to New France, had interrupted Britain’s claims to the North Atlantic coastal plain. Since 1713, the borderlands separating Nova Scotia and Acadia, inhabited largely by the Native Americans, had devolved repeatedly into violent confrontations. With the exception of two small, hardscrabble islands, St. Pierre and Miquelon, the lands and waters from the Great Lakes to Newfoundland became unequivocally British—in the eyes of European statesmen, if not to their thousands of indigenous and French inhabitants.
To turn this paper sovereignty into an extension of its western empire, Britain attempted a directed program of colonization on St. John Island (renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798) by using intensive geographic surveys to put all of this new colony’s land into the hands of entrepreneurial landlords. The failure of Britain’s St. John Island scheme underscored the tension at the heart of imperial reform in the generation before the American Revolution. Great Britain possessed the idea of using rigorous information about land, navigation, population, and resources to manage the progress of empire, but it lacked the state capacity to put this information to effective use.
Read more (with numerous maps)
By Randy A. Purvis, 27 November 2018
No British officer was more reviled by Patriots in the South during the American Revolution than Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Based partly on fact and partly on myth, Tarleton’s name became synonymous with brutality to many Americans. Another British officer, although less infamous, earned a similar reputation for his actions in South Carolina in 1780. Maj. James Wemyss is most often remembered for the expedition that he led through the Peedee in September 1780. Dr. Robert Bass, who authored biographies on Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and Banastre Tarleton, referred to Major Wemyss as “a demon” and declared that “Wemyss became the second most hated man in the British army.” Walter Edgar, a former Professor of History at The University of South Carolina and author of Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the Tide of the American Revolution, echoed the sentiments of Dr. Bass, declaring that Wemyss, after Tarleton, was the most despised British officer in South Carolina.
The opinion that James Wemyss was a ruthless officer is not merely that of modern era historians, but one also shared by his contemporaries. In a letter from American Brig. Gen. H.W. Harrington to British Lt. Col. George Turnbull, Harrington refers to the British major’s raid into the region and cites the “wanton cruelties committed on Peedee by Major Wemyss” and adds that “Major Wemyss here played the petty tyrant.” Who was James Wemyss? Was he a rogue officer intent on unleashing his own brand of barbarism on the inhabitants of South Carolina who supported the patriot cause or was he simply following orders from his superior officers?
By Philander D. Chase, 28 November 2018
When George Washington married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis on Jan. 6, 1759, he acquired not only a wife but also two stepchildren, four-year-old John Parke “Jacky” Custis and two-year-old Martha Parke “Patsy” Custis. By 1772, when Charles Willson Peale painted a miniature portrait of Patsy, she had grown to become an attractive young girl on the verge of womanhood.1 She also was a wealthy heiress. Her share of the large Custis estate was £2,250 sterling in bank stock and bonds, a substantial liquid asset in the cash-starved economy of colonial Virginia.2 Wealth bought Patsy many luxuries: fine clothes and jewelry, a harpsicord and dancing lessons, excursions to Williamsburg, a pet parrot, and other pleasant things.3 It could not buy her good health, however. From a very early age, Patsy was afflicted with epilepsy.4 As she entered adolescence, the disease began to grow ominously worse, much to the distress of her family.
by Nathan H. Dize, November 28, 2018
In September 1782, Julia de Recour boarded the St. Patrick in Cap Français with her mother, a woman of about 40, to join some relations in Baltimore. When she arrived, Charles Biddle writes that she had the “good fortune” of attracting the French First Consul, Charles François Adrien Le Paulmier le Chevalier d’Annemours, who immediately took her as his wife. Biddle describes Julia as a lively French lady and a “spritely brown girl of 16.” Biddle’s account of Julia’s travel on the St. Patrick is shrouded in innuendo, particularly when Julia took to the ship’s deck in the cold to dance and “perform some other monkey tricks.” Without providing more information Biddle writes in his autobiography that we do not know when or where Julia died, but that it is reasonable to believe that she was not living in 1792. As Saidiya Hartman once wrote of the enslaved girl immortalized in William Wilberforce’s speech before the House of Commons in April of 1792, “a few musty lines […] are the entire story of a girl’s life.”
Christopher Grasso, a professor of history at William & Mary and the author of Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War, challenges and complicates traditional ideas about the early American religious landscape by offering the idea that religion and doubt operated along a continuum.
As we explore this idea, Chris reveals what early Americans meant by faith and skepticism; The role of religion and skepticism in early American life; And, why we need to study both skepticism and faith when we explore the religious history of early America.
In the second of our postings linked to the first release of medical materials among the Georgian Papers, Helen Esfandiary of King’s College London considers inoculation in the royal family.
The involvement of the Hanoverian Court in helping to popularize smallpox inoculation is well documented — Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737, wife of George II) when Princess of Wales spearheaded the very first trials in England in 1722, and Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, continued her unwavering support of the practice despite losing her sons Alfred (1780-1782) and Octavius (1779-1783) to it. Notwithstanding the part civic duty doubtless played in obligating these royal figureheads to embrace the technique for the public good, just how difficult a decision might it have been on a more personal level to expose one’s child to such a dangerous and uncertain procedure? Recently digitized material in the Georgian Papers among the material relating to Queen Charlotte affords a valuable insight into this process.
From David Clark: I have attached a “donation stamp” that I have never seen (photo). Supposedly from 1918 it shows a zeppelin being attacked by bi-wing fighters. It was listed on Ebay – I typed in United Empire Loyalists and on the second page it was posted. It says it is a “re-print” of a donation stamp and is being sold out of the Russian Federation. The second to last line says Canadian Aviation Fund and the bottom line says it was issued by “British American Bank Note Co., Ltd., Ottawa”. It is offered for $5 and change and $6.64 shipping.
NOTE: A google search brought a stamp auction from Nov. 2017, the Dr. Paul M. Cere Collection of Semi-Official Air Posts of Canada. The stamp was described: “…these labels, inscribed “Lick the Stamp to Lick the Hun” were used to help in raising funds for the Canada Aviation Fund to help support a World War I pilot training school in Toronto.”
Where is Kingston & District Branch member Anne Redish?
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 email@example.com.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- From Canadian Cemeteries History @CaCemeteryHist “It remains one of Saint John’s biggest, least-explored green spaces.” 43,000 “permanent residents”. From CBC news: Secrets of Fernhill: Inside Saint John’s spooky, historic cemetery. Founded in east Saint John in 1848, Fernhill is the largest cemetery on the East Coast. Two decades older than Canada itself, Fernhill is home to secret paths, quiet fountains, famous politicians, victims of tragic shipwrecks, and ordinary folks from all walks of life. Here is buried Amos Botsford UEL. NOTE: The New Brunswick Branch hosted the UELAC Conference in 2008. A bus tour of local sites included a stop at Fernhill Cemetery where the recently restored Botsford Family Memorial was dedicated. New Brunswick Branch undertook the restoration project.
- The Fort Plain Museum’s annual holiday event, Christmas at the Fort, will be held on Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm
- Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
- 30 Nov 1782 Draft of Treaty of Paris, ending Revolutionary War, finalized.
- 29 Nov 1775 Congress establishes a Committee of Secret Correspondence to seek assistance from European nations.
- 28 Nov 1777 John Adams replaces Silas Dean as commissioner to France.
- 28 Nov 1775 Gen Richard Montgomery and 300 soldiers board ships at Montreal to sail for Quebec and join Benedict Arnold.
- 27 Nov 1777 Congress suggests to states that Loyalists’ estates be confiscated; “forfeited the right to protection.”
- 26 Nov 1783 Final text of Treaty of Paris first published in America.
- 25 Nov 1783 British depart New York City, defiantly leaving one last flag on a greased pole.
- 25 Nov 1777 Marquis de Lafayette defeats larger Hessian force at Gloucester NJ in his first battlefield command.
- 24 Nov 1775 Pennsylvania Assembly brands as public enemies all who refuse to accept provincial bills of credit.
- Affidavits of woollen burials, 1700s. The Burying in Woollen Acts, 1666-1680, made it law that the dead be buried in wool. At the time, trade in British wool was under threat. The practise was followed until the mid 1700s when it began to decline.
- Two Nerdy History Girls: Friday video: Dressing Queen Elizabeth I. We’ve been doing quite a few “getting dressed” videos, yet I don’t hesitate to offer one more because, well, historical clothing. And then, too, it’s Lucy Worsley!
- Two Nerdy History Girls: Some time during the mid-18thc, this length (unfolded, it measures 283 cm x 5 cm) of gold wire bobbin lace was made in Europe. Whether bought by an individual there or imported to the American colonies to be sold in a shop here, the lace was purchased and carefully wrapped in blue paper with the price written in iron gall ink. For whatever reason, the lace was never used, but instead put away in its original paper wrapping. Metallic lace was a costly and luxurious trim, designed to sparkle in 18thc candlelit rooms. It could be used to adorn a woman’s gown or a man’s waistcoat, or even the cap of a special baby. Read more about the MHS exhibit and this item (with photo)…
- SilkDamask: Items listed in Sarah Williams probate inventory at @HistDeerfield include: 1 taffeta robe at 6 pounds; 1 damask robe at 3 pounds 15 shillings; 1 chintz robe; 1 calico robe; 1 silk quilt…Also listed 3 pairs of stays: black, yellow & red Read more: The Reproduction of Garments from Sarah Williams 1738 Probate Inventory.
- Tea Glossary and Tea Terms of the 18th and 19th Centuries by Geri Walton 26 November 2018. Samuel Pepys was the first person in Britain who documented drinking a cup tea, which he noted in his diary on 25 September 1660. At the time, it was an exotic drink and was in fact so exotic sometimes people didn’t really understand how to prepare it. by the mid-1700s, according to Jane Pettigrew, “tea was widely drunk amongst even the poorest families in Britain.” Read a tea glossary and tea terms of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries gathered from different documents of the 1700 and 1800s.
- Punch vs. Tea in the 18th Century. In the 18th century, whether a person drank punch or tea revealed a lot about gender, stereotypes, sociability, and domesticity. Tea—enjoyed at home by women—gained a reputation of polite gentility. Punch had the opposite connotation—its convivial, communal consumption was the province of men.
- Well-preserved late C18th wedding bedcover. White silk taffeta with coloured silk embroidery, matelassé cotton lining etc… (Uppland, Sweden).
- 18th Century British court dress, detail of stomacher showcasing metallic thread work, 1750’s
- 18th Century dress, robe a la française, originally c.1735 and restyled c.1770
- 18th Century dress, Polonaise gown, British, c.1775-1780
- 18th Century dress, 1775, American: Round Gown, similar to a Robe a l’Anglaise
- 18th Century men’s silk suit and waistcoat, c.1790
- 18th Century men’s Court suit, embroidered silk frock coat and waistcoat, 1785-1790 via Fashion & Lace Museum, Brussels
- William Hodges Portrait of a Cherokee Man England (c. 1750s) The Hunterian Museum
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Adam Huber (Hubbert) – from Barbara Musgrave
- Ethel Davis (Davison) – from Barbara Musgrave
David passed away after a battle with cancer surrounded by his family at The Carpenter Hospice in Burlington on Sunday, November 4, 2018. David was an elementary teacher and principal with the Halton District School Board for 31 years. Colleagues of the time were Ruth Nicholson and Fred Hayward. David had numerous careers, one being with the management team at a movie theatre (AMC) and after that tending gardens at Tim Hortons Head Office.
David was very good in volunteering at Hamilton Branch general meetings and events and had the Programming Position a few years ago. David’s Loyalist ancestor was Gilbert Orser. His latest achievement was authoring “Pathway through Memories”, a historical memoir of the people who once lived in Burlington’s Burloak Waterfront Park. The park area once was the property of David’s grandfather. David worked hard in getting the City to upgrade this field-like park to today’s plan. He will not see the finished park but it is far enough along for him to realize it will be finished and such an asset to east Burlington. Service of Remembrance was held at Smith’s Funeral Home on Guelph Line, Burlington November 17, 2018.
…Pat Blackburn, Hamilton Branch