“Loyalist Trails” 2019-29: July 21, 2019

In this issue:
The Prince Who Dined with Loyalists, Part 3: Quebec and Nova Scotia, by Stephen Davidson
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: “Behind Rebel Lines” – An Untold Story from the Battle of Trenton
Borealia: Reconciling Chignecto: The many stories of Siknikt
JAR: The Last Vestige of the Clove Road
Washington’s Quill: Documentary Editing and Princeton: 2019 and 1777
Ben Franklin’s World: New York, Schoharie Crossing of The Erie Canal
Another Revolutionary War Shipwreck Found in York River
Margaret Kemble Gage: A Rebel Spy?
Research Resources: Quebec City Municipal Archives Website
Research Resources: Free Historical Newspaper Links Ontario: The Ancestor Hunt
Loyalist Connection Leads American Author To Prince Edward County
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
      + Loyalist Heritage Centre, Adolphustown ON
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


The Prince Who Dined with Loyalists, Part 3: Quebec and Nova Scotia

© Stephen Davidson, UE

During his tour of Quebec, Prince William Henry stopped in Sorel, the site of a major Loyalist refugee camp during the American Revolution. The garrison at the seigneurial mansion honoured him with a royal salute and the surveyor general of the colony gave the prince a new town plan for Sorel. Royal fever demonstrated itself with a request to rename Sorel “William Henry”. The prince consented and the town bore his name until 1845.

During the festivities at Sorel, William Henry met the Rev. John Doty, an Anglican minister from Albany, New York who had been imprisoned twice for “plotting against the state” in the earliest days of the revolution. After being freed in 1777, Doty joined the King’s Royal Regiment as its chaplain in the following year. Seven years later, he was sent as a missionary to Canada and founded the first Protestant church in what is now the province of Quebec.

Doty was among the Loyalists with whom Prince William Henry dined during his visit to Sorel. The Anglican minister later wrote, “I had the honour of being introduced to and dining with His Royal Highness, who appears to be a very intelligent and amiable young personage. His engaging manners have made him the idol of the people.”

After visiting Montreal, His Royal Highness ventured as far as Cornwall (now within the boundaries of eastern Ontario) where he spoke to Loyalists, urging them to make their homes in what became known as Upper Canada. The prince also had an audience with members of the First Nations communities. Whether these were Indigenous men who had once served with the Loyalist forces is not recorded.

After enjoying a royal tour of Canada that extended from Cornwall to Quebec City, Prince William Henry set sail for Halifax. It would be his second visit to Nova Scotia’s capital – and a deepening involvement with one particularly attractive Loyalist, Fanny Wentworth.

His Royal Highness arrived in Halifax on October 26, 1787 as the captain of one of four ships in a fleet commanded by Commodore Herbert Sawyer. His appearance at the Royal Naval Station was recorded in the diary of a young British officer named William Dyott. The diarist noted that His Royal Highness “positively declined any compliments as a prince”.

Within days of the prince’s arrival, Dyott caught his first glimpse of William Henry. “His Royal Highness is very much like his Majesty, but better looking. He is about 5 foot 7 or 8 inches high, good complexion and fair hair.”

Dyott, four years older than the prince, came to William Henry’s attention at a regimental dinner. The two quickly became friends, and so Dyott’s diary became a source for detailed glimpses of the prince and his encounters with the Loyalists and settlers of Nova Scotia.

As well as dancing with Governor Parr’s daughter and “all the pretty women in the room”, William Henry would also “go into any house where he saw a pretty girl and was perfectly acquainted with every house of a certain description in town”. And dining was always on the prince’s itinerary.

On October 30th, His Royal Highness attended a midnight banquet hosted by Governor Parr. Dyott remembered it as “a most elegant thing, near sixty people sat down”. Again, the Loyalists at the table went unnamed.

On November 4th, Dyott attended St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the morning and then met the prince at the home of Mrs. Frances Wentworth, the Loyalist woman William Henry had first encountered during his summer visit to Halifax. Dyott made a point of noting that John Wentworth, Frances’ husband, “had gone up country on business”. Writing of Mrs. Wentworth, he would later confide in his diary that “there was a mutual passion which subsisted between his Royal Highness and her”.

The prince spent another week in Halifax, attending a round of balls, dinners, and drinking parties. The Wentworths’ home was still the address where Dyott met up with the prince for their various escapades – and was where William Henry changed out of his day clothes into formal dinner wear.

The Pegasus sailed out of Halifax harbour on Monday, November 12, 1787, but it was not the last visit that His Royal Highness would make to Nova Scotia. Dyott’s diary for August 17th of the following year notes, “to the surprise of everybody, arrived his Royal Highness, Prince William Henry, in the Andromeda.” William Dyott officer had been spending the evening at Mrs. Wentworth’s when the prince suddenly strode into the house. After catching up on the news from England, Dyott “had the honour to light him to his chamber as he had got a bed from Mrs. Wentworth”.

Now twenty-three, His Royal Highness was once again received with great celebrations. A “sham fight” on the Halifax Commons that involved the members of three regiments resulted in several soldiers being wounded when their muskets burst during the performance.

At some point in time, Prince William Henry visited Windsor (a garrison town that was settled by Loyalists), Kentville and Annapolis Royal (an entry point for a number of Black and white Loyalist refugees who would settle in nearby communities). While the names of those he visited remain unknown, the prince clearly dined with a number of Loyalists and leading citizens as the only record of this tour notes that he accepted “hospitality from several private citizens along the way”.

In late August, Prince William Henry told his friend Dyott that he wanted to visit Shelburne, the largest Loyalist settlement in the British Empire. During his four-day visit to the town, he had the opportunity to renew acquaintences with a number of Loyalists that he had met during his 1781 visit to New York City.

Of course, His Royal Highness could not appear in a Loyalist community without having to attend a ball. The Shelburne festivities began with William Henry leading the dancers with Mrs. James Bruce as his partner. There is a James Bruce who served as the collector of customs in West Florida as early as the 1760s. Another Loyalist by this name was banished from Boston because his ship brought East India Company tea to the Massachusetts capital in 1773. Upon his arrival in Shelburne, Mrs. Bruce’s husband became the collector of customs for Shelburne.

At some point in his visit to the Loyalist city, Prince William Henry journey out to Birchtown, a Black Loyalist community that was recognized as the largest settlement of free Blacks outside of Africa. There, the prince dined with Stephen and Margaret Blucke. Blucke had once been the commander of the Black Brigade, an elite corps of free Blacks that served alongside the Queen’s Rangers in protecting New York City. It may be that His Royal Highness first met Blucke in the latter’s capacity as a guardian of the British headquarters in North America when the prince visited the city in 1781.

Having brought 108 Blacks to Nova Scotia on L’Abondance in July of 1783, Blucke became the acknowledged leader of the Black Loyalist community, serving as its school teacher, militia leader, and liaison with the leaders of Shelburne. His home was the only one in Birchtown that could be described as middle class in size and furnishings. Recent archeological discoveries in the Black Loyalist town have unearthed a number of dinnerware items that once belonged to a middle class family. Now on display at the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, these dishes may well have been used by His Royal Highness when he dined with the Bluckes.

Next week’s Loyalist Trails will feature the conclusion of this four part series on Prince William Henry and his dinner guests.

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

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: “Behind Rebel Lines” – An Untold Story from the Battle of Trenton

By Harrison Dressler 17 July 2019

1776 was a year full of victory and bloodshed for Loyalists and Patriots alike. From prominent American and British officers like George Washington and Richard Howe, to everyday individuals like the Irish-born Charles Cooke, the fate of the American Revolution was a matter of life or death.

Most likely born in 1731, Charles Cooke emigrated to New Jersey in 1766 with strong hopes of creating a prosperous business alongside his brother and life-long business partner, Robert. The two settled near Crosswicks, a small community in Burlington County, New Jersey where they worked as general merchants and plantation owners for the better part of 10 years. The Cooke brothers had no idea of the extent in which the American Revolution was about to affect their lives.

By the summer of 1776, the British Army had managed to secure key victories across the North-Eastern United States, including the capture of New York City. The Patriots had been forced to retreat to Pennsylvania, leaving New York and New Jersey virtually free for British occupation. General George Washington was none too pleased with the events that had transpired in the North, writing to Robert Morris (a key financer of the Revolution) about his doubts and hopes regarding the war: “I agree with you, that it is in vain to ruminate upon, or even reflect upon the Authors or Causes of our present Misfortunes, we should rather exert ourselves, and look forward with Hopes, that some lucky Chance may yet turn up in our Favour.”

However, Washington was insistent on taking matters into his own hands, eventually deciding to craft a plan to retake New Jersey and bolster his army’s morale.

Read more.

Borealia: Reconciling Chignecto: The many stories of Siknikt

By Anne Marie Lane Jonah, 16 July 2019

Although many residents of and visitors to Atlantic Canada have seen, even at a glance, the National Historic Sites (NHS) of Beaubassin and Fort Lawrence, many fewer have visited, or have an inkling of the dramatic and tragic history of that place. Beaubassin, an Acadian village destroyed in 1750, and Fort Lawrence, built on the ruins of the village, occupy a ridge to the south east of the Missaguash River that today forms the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. (They’re behind the Nova Scotia visitor centre.) In the past few years, Parks Canada staff have been working to better understand and present the history of these places. As the work progressed, the idea took shape of creating a linked and coherent presentation of these sites and two others in the Chignecto region, Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland NHS and Fort Gaspareaux NHS; making the landscape of the Isthmus of Chignecto central to the story.

Beaubassin, an Acadian community somewhat distant in its day from the alternately French and British capital at Port Royal/Annapolis Royal, had prospered for generations based on its agriculture and trade before its destruction. Knowledge of the site of the village had endured in local oral history, cherished by Acadians, some descendants of the villagers. In the early 20th century, the curious had gone searching for artefacts in the fields, and studies of the place were undertaken: history, archaeology, and genealogy. In 1991 a farmer grading a large section of his field to build a barn turned up archaeological objects by the thousands, bringing the site to greater attention. Still, it was not until 2005 that it was designated as being a site of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board and acquired by Parks Canada. From 2007 to 2010, Parks Canada archaeologist Charles Burke led public archaeology programs to study the remains of fort and village, bringing to light a large collection of artefacts, and inspiring tremendous attachment to and interest in the site, still essentially a field.

Read more.

JAR: The Last Vestige of the Clove Road

By Gabriel Neville, 16 July 2019

With no actionable intelligence, General Washington had to guess where British Maj. Gen. William Howe was taking his army. So in July 1777, he led the Continental Army north from New Jersey into what was then a rough, dangerous, and little-known pass through New York’s Ramapo Mountains. He had guessed incorrectly, however, and they were soon racing south again. Two hundred and forty-two years later, one of the last vestiges of this frantic Revolutionary detour may fall to a bulldozer.

After wasting much of the spring of 1777 trying to lure Washington’s army out of the Watchung Mountains, General Howe moved his army out of New Jersey and back to Staten Island. The preceding twelve months included the battles of Long Island, Harlem Heights, White Plains, Trenton, Assunpink Creek, Princeton, and Short Hills, but Howe was now literally back where he had begun. Together, the eight battles had earned the British little more than possession of Manhattan.

In July, Howe’s soldiers began to board ships. This was big news, but not actionable intelligence. Washington needed to know where the enemy planned to go. Howe’s ships could take the Crown troops any place near navigable water. The Continentals, on the other hand, would have to race on foot to meet Howe’s Anglo-German army, planning their first movements on nothing more than an educated guess. This was an extreme disadvantage for the Americans. Washington reported to congressional President John Hancock, “The amazing advantage the Enemy derive from their Ships and the Command of the Water, keeps us in a State of constant perplexity and the most anxious conjecture.”

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: Documentary Editing and Princeton: 2019 and 1777

By William M. Ferrar, 19 July 2019

The Association for Documentary Editing (ADE) held its annual meeting this year in Princeton, N.J., from June 20 to 22, with The Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University hosting the event… The real value of any ADE meeting is the opportunity to learn from other editors and hear perspectives on editions and practices that might impact my own editing. A presentation during the opening plenary session proved particularly illuminating. Marty Mathews, who has worked extensively at historic houses and other small sites, emphasized the importance of annotation being accessible…. Only then was it probable that this material would find its way into exhibits at historic sites and deepen the understanding of their tour guides.

Finding Will Krakower, site manager for the New Jersey State Park Service at the Clarke House, a structure present at the time of the battle on Jan. 3, 1777, we introduced ourselves as editors of The Papers of George Washington. Will already displayed plenty of enthusiasm, but he brightened even more upon learning that his knowledgeable visitors had never been on the Princeton Battlefield. He then proceeded to walk us across the preserved open space while explaining how the battle unfolded on that frigid day.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: New York, Schoharie Crossing of The Erie Canal

A “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809.

Jefferson’s comment did not discourage New Yorkers. On January 4, 1817, New York State began building a 363-mile long canal to link the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes and the Midwest.

Janice Fontanella, site manager of the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, New York, leads us on an exploration of the Erie Canal.

During our conversation, Janice reveals why New York State built a 363-mile long canal between the Hudson River and Lake Erie; How laborers built the Erie Canal and the technological innovations that developed during its construction; And, how the Erie Canal impacted the economy, demography, and geography of both New York State and the United States.

Listen to the podcast.

Another Revolutionary War Shipwreck Found in York River

By Joanne Kimberlin, 4 July 2019 in the Virginian Pilot

Researchers scouting the York River for Revolutionary War shipwrecks believe they’ve found another one – complete with cannons, “a historic diver’s dream,” said one of the explorers.

Like most of the 10 wrecks previously discovered, this one is entombed in the muck, a ghostly witness to America’s fight for freedom, shrouded with a mound of silt and oyster shells.

The wrecks are a reminder that Yorktown played a pivotal role in our country’s first chapter.

This small town on the York River was the scene of the bloody bookend, the last major battle of the war. The wrecks are the remnants of Lord Charles Cornwallis’ fleet, sunk in 1781 during the Siege of Yorktown, a 25,000-man slugfest that finally broke the back of British rule in the colonies.

As many as 40 British ships were lost here.

Read more.

Margaret Kemble Gage: A Rebel Spy?

Margaret Kemble Gage (1734-1824) was the wife of General Thomas Gage, who led the British Army in Massachusetts early in the American Revolutionary War. She was born in New Brunswick, Province of New Jersey and resided in East Brunswick Township. She died in England in 1824. Mrs. Gage was a gateway ancestor to centuries of English nobility who have Dutch and Huguenot ancestry from what was once New Netherlands and later the Thirteen Colonies of British North America.

Some historians feel that Margaret Kemble Gage may have been instrumental in causing the first shots to be fired in the American Revolution (the Battle of Lexington and Concord).

In the days leading up to the battle, the Sons of Liberty could see that the British troops in Boston were preparing for something. Dr. Joseph Warren, one of the key leaders of the Sons of Liberty, had a confidential informer, who was well-connected to the British high command. He could only use this informer for the most important matters, and this seemed like the time. The secret informant provided “intelligence of their whole design” – “to seize Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were known to be at Lexington, and burn the colonists’ military stores at Concord.”

Research Resources: Quebec City Municipal Archives Website

The Quebec City municipal archives has digitized and recently made available online more than 70,000 historical records, such as maps, illustrations, architectural drawings, and 30,000 photos.

This major improvement to its website coincides with the temporary move of the city’s 400,000 archival records to a warehouse while the Gabrielle-Roy library, where they were housed, is being renovated.

To ensure the public has online access to a significant portion of the archival collection, three employees have been digitizing records for the last four years.

For more information, access details, translation etc, read the post by Gail Dever.

Research Resources: Free Historical Newspaper Links Ontario: The Ancestor Hunt

Ontario is one of the Canadian provinces that does not have a single central online repository for searching historical newspapers. However, there are several large collections of historical newspapers. Also, there are quite a few free publications available on other sites and there are collections available on subscription sites. See a list of where the titles are stored with the links so that you can access them.

Loyalist Connection Leads American Author To Prince Edward County

By Jason Parks, 15 July 2019 for The Picton Gazette

A highly decorated high school history teacher from the United States paid a visit to the heart of Loyalist country earlier this month.

And there was certainly something serendipitous about Alan Kay discussing the research into his historical fiction novel Neither King Nor Country (available through Amazon and electronically through a number of modalities) in the offices of Canada’s oldest community newspaper on the day reserved for celebrating his home country’s independence.

The visit to Prince Edward County and the surrounding area held in high value by Loyalist descendants such as the landing place in Adulphustown is part of a reckoning this proud patriot and fan of George Washington has been undertaking over the last decade or so.

A man whose efforts were recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution as the Outstanding American History Teacher of the Year in 2002 has found part of his family took part in the northern migration after the colonial revolt in the mid to late 1700’s and a page turning read that should appeal to readers on both sides of the 49th parallel is the fruits of that deep dive into the pages of his own family history.

“I have always tried to present a balanced approach both as a historian and as a teacher to my students and present both sides of the picture,” Kay said of his teaching efforts.

A natural history buff, Kay became enthralled with George Washington during a fourth grade reading assignment and the native New Englander who now teachers in Tarpon Springs, FL even spent time researching the first US president at Mount Vernon.

Family folklore had Kay as a distant relative of fellow founding father John Adams.

But as he started to look up his family genealogy, a startling discovery was awaiting Kay.

It wasn’t John Adams, the second US President and subject of the popular HBO mini series that Kay was related to but rather John Adams, a Loyalist whose family settled in the British North America portion of the Maritimes and later had an island off the coast of Newfoundland named for him.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where is Nova Scotia Branch member Brian McConnell?

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.

Loyalist Heritage Centre, Adolphustown ON

A photo of, and remarks by, one of the summer staff at the UEL Heritage Centre and Park. For more information, visit the website.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Big thanks to UELAC for these great hats for our crew! If you see us in Boston or southern Ontario over the next few weeks, come by to say hello! …Størmerlige Films
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • July 20, 1775, Gen. George Washington was finally able to report to Congress on the army’s strength after repeated reminders to his officers to send in their paperwork. He wrote, “[I] hope in a little time we shall be perfectly regular in this.”
    •  19 Jul 1779 Massachusetts launches disastrous attack in modern-day Maine; worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor.
    • 18 Jul 1776 Declaration of Independence read from the balcony of Boston Town Hall to great celebration.
    • 17 Jul 1776 Congress backs Washington’s refusal to meet British peace mission because they didn’t call him General.
    • 16 Jul 1779 “Mad” Anthony Wayne leads bayonet charge against British fortifications on Hudson, resulting in victory.
    • 15 Jul 1776 Loyalists & Cherokee allies attack Lindley’s Fort in SC backcountry, but are repulsed.
    • 14 Jul 1780 Washington writes to Congress to inform them that French fleet under Rochambeau sighted off Newport, RI.
    • 13 Jul 1787 Congress enacts NW Ordinance, establishing means of making 3-5 slave-free states out of territories.
  • 159 years ago today: July 17, 1860 the opening of the Welsford Parker Monument at St Paul’s Cemetery, Halifax (now the Old Burying Ground) and the monument as it appears today.  In memory of Major Augustus Frederick Welsford (1811 – 1855) and William Buck Carthew Augustus Parker (1823 – 1855) – the only monument to the Crimerian War in North America.
  • King George III on wall in Commissariat House, provincial heritage site in St. John’s, Newfoundland
  • 325 years ago, July 18, 1694, the Oyster River Raid (on present-day Durham, NH), resulted in the death of 104 English residents and were 27 taken captive by the Native American raiders.
  • It’s 1741, you’re Foster Wentworth, you’re 16 and a bit bored. Your father, Benning Wentworth was recently named the royal governor of New Hampshire. Seems like a good time to carve your initials into a newel post of his rented mansion The Warner House
  • The “L’Enfant Pattern” of early American flags featured the stars in an elegant oval. Designed in 1783 by Major Pierre L’Enfant (what DIDN’T L’Enfant design?) Silk & gilt-painted stars c1800 On display at the Museum of the American Revolution through 7/21
  • Townsends
  • Rear view of an 18th Century dress, Robe à la Française, striped & floral silk, c.1775
  • 18th Century dress, Robe à la Française, 1760’s, this cotton textile’s pattern alludes to Jean-Baptiste Pillement’s chinoiserie designs, the French fabric interprets an Indian export fabric that itself was a copy of a Chinese pattern
  • Detail of 18th Century stomacher, pinned to close the overcoat of the gown. It is beautifully embroidered with floral designs, using coloured silk and metal thread. c.1725 
  • 18th Century men’s white wool coat, with silver thread embroidery, c.1760’s
  • 18th Century men’s embroidered silk waistcoat and court frock coat in detail, 1780’s
  • 18th Century men’s Court coat and waistcoat, silk, c.1780-1790’s
  • Returning to the U.S. for the first time in 400 years since leaving Jamestown, on loan from the UK National Archives, and on display at Jamestown Settlement now through Sept 30, read this blog “‘Master Pories parlement business‘ – The Proceedings of the First General Assembly of Virginia, July 1619 by John Pory”. Join us July 27 & 28 for a “Democracy Weekend” of themed tours, interpretive programs and military exercises honoring the first General Assembly – the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere – that convened at Jamestown in 1619.