“Loyalist Trails” 2019-42: October 20, 2019

In this issue:
New Brunswick’s Loyalist Slave Owners: Part 1, by Stephen Davidson
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: To Face Violence at Home or go into Exile? Daniel Babbit’s Decision
JAR: Picking Up the Pieces: Virginia’s “Eighteen-Months Men” of 1780-81
JAR: Joshua Barney, the Hyder-Ally’s Triumph, and its Aftermath
Washington’s Quill: Bushrod Washington: Slavery and Colonization in the Shadow of George Washington
Ben Franklin’s World: Creating the First Ten Amendments
Loyalist Gazette Spring 2019 Issue Catch-up Mailing
Region and Branch Bits
      + Sir Guy Carleton Branch Fall Social: Nov. 9
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


New Brunswick’s Loyalist Slave Owners: Part 1

© Stephen Davidson, UE

It is a sad fact of our country’s history that the greatest influx of slaves into what is now Canada occurred when the Loyalists sought refuge in what remained of the British North American Empire. Those enslaved were not part of an Underground Railway seeking freedom in the North. They were brought into the Maritimes and the Canadas against their will; they were considered to be the property of the refugees of the American Revolution.

Thanks to probate records and the Book of Negroes ledger it is possible to gain an understanding of who was enslaved as well as who was a slave owner in the early days of New Brunswick – a colony that was created by Loyalists in 1784.

Enslaved Africans were among those evacuated from New York City with white Loyalists from April 23rd until November 30th, 1783. Sailing with the passengers aboard the 20 ships of the April fleet were nine slaves who arrived in Parrtown (modern Saint John) in the middle of May. By the fall, no less than 129 enslaved Blacks were working to help their white masters establish homes in the wilderness of the St. John River valley or at its mouth.

The second New Brunswick destination for enslaved Blacks was Fort Cumberland, the site of modern day Aulac, near the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. While they were only ten in total, they represented two out of every three Blacks who were brought to this region. It would be very difficult for the five free Black Loyalists who disembarked from the Trepassey in October of 1783 to be treated as British citizens given that so many of their brethren were considered the property of their white neighbours.

Forty-three of the ships that carried white Loyalists to New Brunswick had slaves as their passengers. However, these are only the ships that are registered in the Book of Negroes. Although this ledger was commissioned by Sir Guy Carleton to serve as a record of all free and enslaved Blacks who left New York City with the white Loyalists, it was not a complete or exhaustive list. Some Loyalists hired their own evacuation ships; others arrived in New Brunswick after 1783. In other words, the 139 slaves recorded in the Book of Negroes as arriving in New Brunswick can only be understood to represent the minimum number of enslaved Blacks brought to the colony.

An example of a slave brought to New Brunswick who was not recorded in the Book of Negroes is found in a news item in the August 30, 1862 issue of the Carleton Sentinel. A “coloured man” named Moses Hodges, who was known to be over a hundred years of age, had died a few days earlier. The Sentinel went on to report that “he came to the province with one of the loyalist families in 1776 having been a slave previous to that on a southern plantation.”

A quick review of the early probate records reveals more names of enslaved Blacks and their white Loyalist slave owners who are not found in the Book of Negroes. Benjamin Seaman, who died in Saint John in 1785, bequeathed his “Negro boy called Will” along with his watch, cane, gun and sword to his son William. His second son John received his “Negro boy called Tom”.

A year later, the Rev. John Sayre, an Anglican priest, died and left a variety of items to his wife and son. However, this Connecticut Loyalist made a provision in his will that his “servant Rosanna be freed”. Rosanna did better than most slaves. In 1789, when an inventory was made of the estate of Richard Hewlett, it included £336 of goods as well as “one Negro boy” valued at £25. No provisions were made for his emancipation.

In the spring of 1796, the will of New York Loyalist Samuel Hallett provided his wife with furniture, a large mirror, all the paintings in their home, and “a Negro woman named Phillis”. Four years later, a Loyalist from New Jersey named Charles Harrison divided up his worldly possessions among his children, including his “old servant Negro”. The latter was not identified by name but was, instead, noted for his monetary value – £10.

Jacob Ellegood was a Loyalist from Virginia who was used to having a great number of enslaved Africans. At his death in 1802, his son Wiliam received “all my Negroes except one wench called Better and one girl not above 12 years of age.” His granddaughter Rebecca was willed “one Negro girl not above 12 years of age to be chosen by her”. His son Jacob Junior was to receive his “Negro boy John”. His son John was to be granted his “mulatto wench Pleasant and her three children, James, Sally, and William.” Finally, son Samuel Ellegood was to be given a slave referred to as his “Negro boy Irvin”.

When John Hume, a Loyalist who settled in Westfield, New Brunwick, died in 1804, his will revealed that he once worked as a mason in the West Indies with “his two Negroes”. He must have brought his two skilled slaves to New Brunswick with him, as there was a further reference to Hume doing stonework in May of 1785 with “three Negro masons”.

George Harding died in Maugerville in 1808, leaving his daughter Elizabeth Miles “all livestock and all Negro slaves”. A year later, the Rev. James Scovil left a third of all his real estate, and his “two servant boys Robert and Sampson” to his wife Amy. The term “servant” clearly meant “slave” as Scovil instructed that the two Blacks be “set at liberty” on their 26th birthdays, “provided they do faithfully discharge the duty of servants until that period”.

Robert was 12 and Sampson was 10 years old when the will was written in 1804 – evidence that Scovil had bought the boys after his arrival in New Brunswick. The colony’s slaves were not simply “property” which the Loyalists had brought with them in 1783, they also included those purchased in a continuing slave trade following the founding of New Brunswick. After the death of Rev. Scovil in 1809, Robert would have had to wait 9 years for emancipation, and Sampson would have had to endure 11 more years of enslavement before he was set free.

This quick review of the probate records of New Brunswick’s Loyalists indicates that slavery was part and parcel of life up and down the St. John River Valley in the early years of the colony’s settlement. Next week, we will consider the 139 enslaved Blacks who sailed to New Brunswick with white masters in 1783 – and discover the names of both as found in the Book of Negroes.

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

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: To Face Violence at Home or go into Exile? Daniel Babbit’s Decision

By Kieran O’Keefe, 16 October 2019

Loyalists who tried to return home at the end of the American Revolutionary War often faced the threat of violence. Daniel Babbit was one of those Loyalists. He was left so frightened by his experience, he chose to leave the country rather than risk his personal safety by remaining.

Daniel Babbit was born in 1744 at New Milford, Connecticut. When the Revolution began in 1775, he lived in Fredericksburgh, New York, then located in southeastern Dutchess County. He had a tenant farm from Beverly Robinson’s portion of the Philipse Patent consisting of eighty-seven acres. Babbit drew the ire of patriots early as October 1776, when a revolutionary committee ordered that he be “disarm’d apprehended and secured.” Three years later, Babbit decided to flee to British lines at Kingsbridge, just north of New York City, arriving on July 16, 1779. He then went to British-occupied Long Island where he took the oath of allegiance and worked as a blacksmith the remainder of the war.

Like most Loyalists, he wanted to return to his home at the end of the conflict. In April 1783, he decided to risk the attempt, traveling northward towards Fredericksburgh. After getting within about fifteen miles of his home, Babbit was apprehended…

Read more.

JAR: Picking Up the Pieces: Virginia’s “Eighteen-Months Men” of 1780-81

By Michael Cecere, 15 October 2019

The first half of 1780 had gone disastrously for Virginia. The surrender of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln’s army at Charleston and the destruction of Col. Abraham Buford’s detachment of Virginia continentals at the Waxhaws virtually eliminated Virginia’s continental line. A force that once boasted sixteen regiments and thousands of men was now reduced to a handful of stragglers who had been left in Virginia (typically for health reasons) and a force of roughly 400 state troops under Col. Charles Porterfield who were pressed into continental service in the Carolinas.1 Colonel Porterfield and his detachment would meet their demise at the Battle of Camden in mid-August, yet another American defeat in South Carolina in 1780.

Six years of hardship and loss had significantly dampened support for the war in Virginia and the handful of continental officers still in Virginia to recruit in 1780 found few Virginians willing to enlist. In desperation, Gov. Thomas Jefferson and the state legislature authorized a draft in July to raise 3,000 new continentals.2 The new law instructed county leaders to select men from their militia ranks at a ratio of one for every fifteen to serve as continental soldiers until the end of 1781.3 These “eighteen-months men” trickled into Chesterfield County Courthouse, about fifteen miles south of Richmond, in the fall of 1780.

Washington, who was with the main American army outside New York City, had provided a plan to rebuild Virginia’s continental line after Charleston’s fall. Unfortunately, it was based on his understanding that Virginia would raise 5,000 men.

Read more.

JAR: Joshua Barney, the Hyder-Ally’s Triumph, and its Aftermath

By Louis Arthur Norton, 17 October 2019

One of the most colorful men to seek and earn an officer’s commission in the Continental Navy was Joshua Barney. He was a man with little formal education or military experience; a mariner who had natural gifts of seamanship, leadership, and courage. Barney took part in thirty-five Revolutionary War naval engagements and lost only five of these encounters. He suffered imprisonment three times, but escaped twice by using clever disguises. He was shipwrecked twice and put down a mutiny. Barney’s impressive sea victories, frustrating setbacks and cleverness as a prisoner of war constitute a remarkable series of events.

Joshua Barney was born on July 6, 1759 to an upper middle class family near Baltimore, Maryland. Each of his parents, William and Frances Barney, had inherited considerable farmland holdings. He was raised near Bear Creek on Patapsco Neck as one of fourteen children. The seaports along Chesapeake Bay had just begun to rise in prominence and shipbuilding emerged as an important industry. The family farmhouse was near one of the many inlets for the small boats that plied the Patapsco River. Electing the life of a sailor, young Joshua Barney signed on as a hand aboard a Chesapeake pilot schooner to learn the rudiments of seamanship in 1771.

Barney went on to serve with distinction as a junior officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War. After a few triumphs and many defeats against Britain’s daunting and disciplined navy, by the spring of 1782 America’s Continental Navy was decimated.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: Bushrod Washington: Slavery and Colonization in the Shadow of George Washington

By Lynn Price, 18 October 2019

The American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816, supported the mission of removing free African Americans and freed enslaved individuals from the United States. The concept of colonizing a portion of the national population was founded upon the belief that America could not exist as a multi-racial society. Between 1822, when the colony of Liberia was founded on the western coast of Africa, and Liberia’s independence in 1847, the ACS facilitated the emigration of more than 11,000 black Americans to Africa. The federal government gave no funds to the venture.

The founding president of the ACS was George Washington’s nephew Bushrod Washington. Bushrod’s prominent surname lent an air of legitimacy to the society; in addition, he was the godfather of one of the leaders of the movement, Charles Fenton Mercer.1 From the beginning, contemporaries debated whether abolitionist convictions or proslavery beliefs fueled the colonization movement.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Creating the First Ten Amendments

Kenneth Bowling, a member of the First Federal Congress Project and a co-editor of Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791, leads our investigation of how and why Congress created the First Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution.

During our investigation, Ken reveals information about the First Federal Congress Project and its work to compile 22 published volumes of documents related to the First Federal Congress; The origins of the Bill of Rights and how Congress came to amend the Constitution; And the role documentary editions play in our historical knowledge and in our constitutional history.

Listen to the podcast.

Loyalist Gazette Spring 2019 Issue Catch-up Mailing

Over the next week, Dominion Office will be mailing the Spring 2019 Loyalist Gazette to full year members who joined or renewed after the spring bulk mailing. Copies will also be mailed to members who reported their spring Gazette damaged or lost in transit.

Because of the transition to our new membership system, it is possible that some members who requested a digital copy of the Gazette will receive a paper copy. If this occurs, please send an email to uelac@uelac.org requesting a digital-only Gazette and our records will be updated.

If you receive a paper Gazette in error there is no need to return it to the office. If you don’t want the paper copy, please pass it on to someone who might enjoy reading it.

…Jim Bruce, Dominion Office UELAC

Region and Branch Bits

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

Sir Guy Carleton Branch Fall Social: Nov. 9

Saturday, November 9, 2019, 1:00 pm

Speaker: Sue Morse-Hines, Dominion President, UELAC.

Topic: “Are the Loyalists & their Contribution to Canada Still Relevant in the 21st Century? What can we as descendants of the Loyalists or those simply interested in Canadian history do to address this question?”

Meeting at 1:30 at the City of Ottawa Archives (Room 115, 100 Tallwood Drive, Ottawa).

Guests are welcome! Light refreshments will be served.

Please confirm attendance by November 6 to carletonuel@hotmail.com or call the Branch Secretary at 613-824-0980.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • A new garden to be built in Lake Ontario Park in Kingston Ontario will commemorate a First Nation that was moved in the middle of the 19th century. The new garden, to be called “Manidoo Ogitigan” (“Spirit Garden”), is to memorialize the Alderville First Nation, which in 1837 was relocated from the Kingston area to a 1,450-hectare (3,600-acre) site near Rice Lake in Alnwick Township north of Cobourg. The move was part of a “land surrender,” prompted in part by an influx of United Empire Loyalists following the American Revolution. Read more…
  • This Week in History
  • Townsends:
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Miscellaneous:
    • In 1780, the spy Aristarchus revealed a plan, a “horrid and bloodthirsty machination”, to assassinate George III, who’d been spotted walking in his garden in disguise
    • Instead of friendship bracelets, it was common in the 18th century to exchange locks of hair! Here is some of Queen Charlotte’s hair that she sent to Mrs. Delany in 1780
    • Various accessories were taken to the theatre in the eighteenth century. A lady’s pocket might include a spyglass to view the assembled crowd and stage. Pictured here is a spyglass that would have been used and is also a token.