“Loyalist Trails” 2019-51: December 22, 2019

In this issue:
Samuel Whitney and Samuel Miles: Two Loyalists Acquainted with Personal Grief, by Stephen Davidson
More Information: Skeletons Found Near Ridgefield Battle Site
“At length the Gentleman fired a Pistol” (Boston, Nov. 1773)
Book Review: No Despicable Enemy, by Gavin K. Watt
Book Review: A Crisis of Peace, by David Head
Kelly Arlene Grant: Caps – At Some Point, We Have All Done It Wrong…
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: A Winslow Christmas
JAR: The Siege of Fort Laurens, 1778-1779
Washington’s Quill: George Washington and the Bearing of Arms
Ben Franklin’s World: One Colonial Woman’s World
Old Hay Bay Church Looking ‘New’
Add a UELAC Patch to Your Clothing or Gear
Last Post: Sylvia Fairlie-Stuart
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Lost Email Messages, Please Resend
Editor’s Note: Best of the Season


Samuel Whitney and Samuel Miles: Two Loyalists Acquainted with Personal Grief

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Rather than setting sail in April on the Union with his wife’s family and other Loyalist refugees who had lived near Fort Franklin, Samuel Miles, his 23 year-old wife Abigail, and their two children took passage on another vessel. With them were Mile’s business partner, Samuel and the latter’s pregnant wife Ann Whitney. Having worked together for a number of years on Long Island, it seems that the two Connecticut Loyalists planned to continue their partnership in their new place of sanctuary.

Complications in Ann Whitney’s pregnancy forced their evacuation vessel to sail into Yarmouth, Nova Scotia where the two business men and their families stayed, waiting for Ann’s recovery. Samuel Miles left Yarmouth four months after little Richard Whitney’s birth and returned to New York City to submit his compensation claim. He rejoined his partner, Samuel Whitney, in Nova Scotia the following month.

Eventually, the two Connecticut Loyalists and their families settled across the Bay of Fundy in Saint John. All references to Samuel Whitney after 1783 refer to him as a merchant – the same description that is given for his partner Samuel Miles.

There is nothing to indicate what happened to these two Loyalists during their first decade in New Brunswick other than what is recorded in the transcripts of their petitions to the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists when it convened in Saint John. Samuel Miles appeared before the board on November 16, 1786 to recount the story of his service during the revolution, enumerating all of the property that he had lost. Since his arrival in Saint John, Miles had become a part owner of a vessel, so it seems that he was able to resume his career as a merchant quite quickly.

Samuel Whitney did not seek compensation for his wartime losses until April 4, 1787. Abigail Miles, the wife of his former business partner, was one of Whitney’s witnesses, testifying that she had known the claimant “many years”, remembered his arrest, and had seen the goods that Patriots had stolen from him in 1780. Although he mentioned that he had been a partner with his brother Stephen during the war in Newtown, Connecticut, Whitney did not make any references to Samuel Miles in his presentation to the board. It would seem that by 1787 the two former partners had gone their separate ways.

Eight years after she testified on behalf of Whitney, Abigail Miles died on August 20, 1795 at the age of 35. Her grieving husband had her laid to rest in Saint John’s burial ground where her tombstone could still be found as late as 1874. Samuel Miles later married a widow named Mary Wentworth, but neither the tombstone of Mary nor Samuel Miles can be located today.

Samuel Miles died at the age of 82 on November 18, 1824. In the will that he had drawn up just three days earlier, he left property to his widowed daughter-in-law Amy, the 35 year-old widow of his son. (Samuel Junior had died at the age of 34 just three years earlier.) Miles’ other heirs were his daughter Molly (Mrs. Samuel) Ferris, William Stone (the son of a second daughter), and Miles’ second wife, Mary.

Miles had come to Saint John as a refugee businessman in 1783. At the time of his death, 41 years later, he left an estate valued at £3,326 (approximately $765,000.00 in current Canadian dollars). This was quite an accomplishment for someone who had once been a refugee and lost a Connecticut estate worth £300 (approximately $69,000.00 in current Canadian dollars).

Although he had acquired many worldly riches within his lifetime – including homes on King Street and Prince William Street – Miles had also suffered the loss of his first wife and their only son. After seven years as a widow, Mary Miles married her third husband, Edward Roche, in December of 1831. She died in Oswego, New York as the age of 73.

Newspapers of the era shed light on the fate of only two of Samuel and Abigail Miles’ descendants. Their grandson William Stone died at the age of 22. The couple’s daughter-in-law, Amy Merritt Miles, died a widow in Toronto on Christmas Day, 1871 at the age of 83.

As well as being an alderman on Saint John’s city council, Samuel Miles had also been a member of its militia company. During the revolution, Samuel Whitney, had been an unwilling member of his local militia, while Samuel Miles avoided military service by paying a man to serve in his stead. Ten years after putting down roots in Saint John, the two Connecticut Loyalists joined other leading citizens to form a militia company known as the New Brunswick Brigade of Garrison Artillery. Its first muster roll, dated May 4, 1793, includes the names of both Samuel Miles and Samuel Whitney.

Whitney and his wife Ann had ten more children following the birth of Richard in 1783: Henry (June 8, 1785), Archibald (Aug 25, 1787), Charles (August 29, 1788), John (June 8, 1791), Elizabeth Ann (June 5, 1792), Sarah/Sally (April 2, 1795), Charlotte (May 25, 1797), James (June 28, 1799) and (yet another) Charlotte (July 2, 1803). (As previously mentioned, Samuel, a son born to Whitney’s first wife, had been born on February 10, 1779 in Norwalk, Connecticut.)

By 1808, the Whitneys had grieved the loss of five of their eleven children. At this point, they would have been justified to feel that they had shared in the trials of the biblical patriarch, Job.

Little Archibald Whitney was only eleven months old at his passing on July 28, 1788. Ten years later, Charlotte died at eleven months of age on April 25, 1798. Her older sister Sarah passed away on September 16, 1805, followed by 21 year-old Henry on May 17 1806, and then 24 year-old Richard – the son born to them when they fled Manhattan Island in 1783. Richard had been working as a clerk in a New York business for three years prior to his death on March 17, 1808. This Loyalist’s son was buried in graveyard of that city’s Trinity Anglican Church far from both his Connecticut birthplace and his parents in New Brunswick.

Samuel Whitney would have further need to keep his mourning clothes at hand. His wife Ann died at age forty-six on February 25, 1810. Having borne the loss of five children with the support of his wife, Samuel was now left alone to bear the grief of the death of yet another son and daughter.

Four weeks after his wife’s death, the Loyalist widower learned that his nineteen year-old son John had drowned while travelling by ship from Liverpool (whether it was the port in England or Nova Scotia is uncertain) on March 26th. He was buried at sea. Eight months later Whitney’s daughter Elizabeth Ann died at age 18 on November 15. Samuel Whitney had lost three family members all within the year 1810.

Would he, like Job, be counseled to “curse God and die”?

The story of two long-suffering Connecticut refugees concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

More Information: Skeletons Found Near Ridgefield Battle Site

Following the note in last week’s issue (“Three Skeletons, Possibly Revolutionary War Soldiers, Found Under House”), an additional article with more background. Read more.

…Elsie Schneider

“At length the Gentleman fired a Pistol” (Boston, Nov. 1773)

By J.L. Bell, 15 December 2019

In November 1773 tensions over tea in Boston led to a mob attack on a house on School Street, a pistol shot from the house, and lots of broken windows – but at least no one died.

Richard Draper published an issue of the Boston News-Letter on Friday, 26 Nov 1773.

That in itself was notable. The News-Letter normally appeared on Thursdays. The one-week change might reflect a flood of news during the tea crisis, or just some difficulty at the print shop.

On item appeared on page 2, prefaced with this notice: “As we had not Time last Thursday to collect the Particulars of the Transactions at Mr. [Richard] Clarke’s House the Evening before, the following Facts are sent for Publication, at this Time:— —“

The report that followed was less sentimental and more detailed than what the Boston Post-Boy had published earlier in the week, quoted here. This account appears to come from one of the young men involved in arguing with the crowd outside the Clarke house…

Read more.

Book Review: No Despicable Enemy

No Despicable Enemy: 1779: The Continental Army Destroys Indian Territory, by Gavin K. Watt (Carleton Place, ON: Global Heritage Press. 2019). Paperback; 434 pages. See cover.

Reviewed by Peter W. Johnson, UE.

This lengthy book represents ‘the end of an era’, as author Gavin K. Watt is retiring from further research and writing after an astonishing fifteen books. Recognized as an authority on the American Revolution and the Northern Department in particular, he has been practically in a league of his own. For those who have known Gavin either personally or through his books, there is the sense that this final book should be a special farewell…and it is.

Before one tackles the text, one is confronted by the bold, stark cover photograph. The image by Geoffrey R. Harding shows Philip Craver representing a member of the Six Nation’s Indian Department. Arguably it is the most striking design on any of Gavin’s books.

Several of Gavin’s books incorporate Period quotations as part of the book title and the latest is no exception. No Despicable Enemy refers to a remark by Rebel General Sullivan who was cautioning against underestimating the capabilities of the loyal Native Nations.

Gavin is not in the business of writing fairytale endings. From a Six Nations and Loyalists’ perspective 1779’s Sullivan Campaign was a disaster. Had the events occurred closer to our century, words such as “genocide” might have been bandied about. The intent of the campaign was to drive the loyal Native Nations out of the War by destroying their settlements and crops, and as is noted several times, the Rebels became well acquainted with the fertile landscape and crops they were destroying and undoubtedly bookmarked those areas for future settlement. Nevertheless a primary goal of driving the loyal nations from supporting the British did not work. Raiding continue long afterwards with an added thirst for revenge.

Gavin does not deliver historical events out of context. A considerable space is devoted to explaining what was going on elsewhere in America and even farther afield. One of the gloomier aspects was the entry into the War of France and Spain. Allied to the Rebel Cause, they put considerable strains on the British across the globe. It also helps explain why the British response to the invading Sullivan Army was so tepid. British resources were too stretched and Governor Haldimand needed extra military support that was not available in sufficient numbers. The response was too little too late.

One side event which seldom gets coverage is Joseph Brant’s Raid on Minisink in Orange County. Isuch a distance to cover! The Rebels planned an ambush but premature firing by a Capt. Tyler gave it away and those planning the ambush became the ambushed. Capt. Tyler was among the casualties. (Gavin doesn’t mention it, but Capt. Tyler’s first name was the unusual “Belazeel”, used for at least four generations in that family. Capt. Tyler’s sister married a Loyalist and I am descended from her).

The one notable battle of the Sullivan Campaign was Newtown. The loyal Native Nations and Butler’s Rangers were involved and the result was not encouraging. This reviewer has memories of participating in the Newtown Bicentennial in 1979. A relief force of King’s Royal Yorkers was organized later but far too late to challenge the Rebels who had retired south by then. Fortunately Ft. Niagara was never attacked. Had Ft. Niagara fallen, that would have been ‘game changer’. The Sullivan Campaign was a technical success but failed to remove the loyal Native Nations from the War.

As with Gavin’s other books, this one features extensive notes, a fulsome bibliography and an index- all indications of dedicated research. This book demands the full attention of the reader, and that attention given is rewarded amply. As with Gavin’s earlier books, this is another not to be missed.

Book Review: A Crisis of Peace

A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution, by David Head (New York: Pegasus Books, 2019).

JAR review by Kelly Mielke

Students of the Revolution are likely already familiar with the tale of George Washington winning over a group of disgruntled officers at war’s end through strategic use of his eyeglasses and a heart-tugging reminder that he grew old and blind in the service of his country. The events leading up to this commonly lauded occasion have often been constructed as a possible conspiracy between nationalists in Philadelphia and the army officers encamped at Newburgh, although the exact details remain murky. However, in A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, The Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution, David Head reconsiders the Newburgh Conspiracy’s events and evaluates evidence within the context of eighteenth-century society as well as the context of interpersonal relationships to dismantle scholarly misinterpretations and provide a more complete portrayal of the events surrounding the so-called conspiracy and its aims.

Read more.

Kelly Arlene Grant: Caps – At Some Point, We Have All Done It Wrong…

Caps are one of those things that make or break an outfit. They are the easiest to fix, and yet, at some point, many of us have gotten things horribly wrong.

See, even I have made some horrible mistakes. I dressed my mum in a hurry for this event, without having time for a fitting, and the cap was made in the car on the way to Louisbourg. It was a horrible style, made of too heavy a linen, and she wore it so that it swallowed her face. I hated that cap, and as soon as we were home again…actually as we were packing up, it went into the fire.

Read more.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: A Winslow Christmas

By Christine Lovelace, 18 Dwcember 2019

On December 25, 1807, New Brunswick Loyalist Edward Winslow, Jr. wrote in his diary: “Very dull Christmas.”

In the days before this entry, Winslow notes typical NB weather: “Snow storm–nothing extra happen. Mrs. Winslow taken very ill” and “Rec’d pantaloons and socks from Mr. Pain.” There is no mention of visiting with friends or family, feasting or going to church to hear a Christmas sermon, things we associate with Christmas today. In other Christmas entries in his diary, Winslow complains of gout, mentions killing hogs, carrying wheat to the mill, and other day-to-day business. At first blush, Christmas does not seem to be much of a holiday for Winslow.

Perhaps it was because Edward Winslow, Jr. was descended from the Puritans who founded Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he grew up in a mansion overlooking Plymouth Rock.

Read more.

JAR: The Siege of Fort Laurens, 1778-1779

by Eric Sterner 17 December 2019

During the American Revolution, British-allied Native Americans raided American homesteads and settlements all along the Ohio Valley. As the war progressed, the increased frequency and ever-widening circle of Indian raids forced the Continental Congress and Army to respond. In 1778, a Congressional committee studied the matter and concluded that a defensive war “would not only prove an inadequate security against the inroads of the Indians, but would, in a short time, be much more expensive than a vigorous attempt to compel them to sue for peace.” Then it drafted a resolution “That an expedition be immediately undertaken, whose object shall be, to reduce, if practicable, the garrison of Detroit, and to compel to terms of peace such of the Indian nations now in arms against these states as lie on, or contiguous to, the route betwixt Fort Pitt and Detroit.” It wanted 3,000 men for the mission. Washington made available only the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment under Col. Daniel Brodhead and the 13th Virginia under Col. John Gibson, roughly 250 men. Congress hoped the Virginia militia would provide the rest. The state disapproved, but authorized Brigadier Lachlan McIntosh, whom Washington had appointed to command in the west, to call on county lieutenants closest to Fort Pitt, in effect leaving it to the locals.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: George Washington and the Bearing of Arms

By Jeffrey Zvengrowski, 20 December 2019

George Washington’s understanding of what we now often call “gun rights” would not seem to readily square with the views of today’s contending factions, each of whom commonly invoke Washington for support. He does not appear to have thought that every citizen possessed an unlimited individual right to bear arms, for criminals and traitors were to be forcibly disarmed. Washington, however, believed that all citizens faithfully engaged in state militia or federal army service ought to be granted combat-worthy firearms from the proper governmental authority. He also believed that citizens should be skilled with hunting rifles at least before commencing militia or army service. Colonel Washington expressed this latter conviction in a letter to Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie during the French and Indian War: “As I am convinced that no other Method can be used to raise 2000 Men, but by draughting; I hope to be excused, when I again repeat, how great Care shoud be observed in choosing active Marksmen; the manifest Inferiority of inactive Persons, unused to Arms, in this Kind of Service (tho. equal in Numbers) to lively Persons, who have practised hunting, is inconceivable; the Chance against them is more than two to one.”

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: One Colonial Woman’s World

Michelle Marchettie Coughlin, a historian of early American women’s history and author of One Woman’s Colonial World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, joins us to explore the life of an average woman who lived in early New England. Keep an eye out for her new book: Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life.

In today’s episode, Michelle reveals who Mehetabel Chandler Coit was and why her diary is so special; What the diary or life record of Mehetabel Chandler Coit reveals about the lives and interests of colonial American women; And, the types of daily chores early New England women performed around their households.

Listen to the podcast.

Old Hay Bay Church Looking ‘New’

Bay of Quinte Branch UELAC has been supportive of the ongoing restoration of Old Hay Bay Church, and it is a pleasure to report tangible progress. Phase One of the project was tackled and completed in recent months. This involved exterior work and notably the replacing of the siding with an appropriate type of wood. To the visitor the appearance will look dramatically different for the time being. The cedar siding will be left to age naturally before anything is applied. Thus what now looks very new will weather to a warm grey in time. See a photo of Old Hay Bay Church looking good, courtesy of Roger Preston.

The Trustees of Old Hay Bay Church and the Restoration Committee are grateful for the support and pleased that work has commenced. Phase Two will focus on the interior. Dominion UELAC has already made a contribution towards this phase. It is not too late to donate to the “Old Hay Bay Church Restoration Fund” The building was erected in 1792 and over seventy percent of the original Founders were Loyalists.

Submitted by Peter W. Johnson UE.

Add a UELAC Patch to Your Clothing or Gear

A year ago Trish Groom added two versions of a patch to the UELAC promotional items available from her. One is a “battle-worn” while the other is “clean”.

More recently a somewhat larger patch featuring our new logo was added.

For both, see UELAC Patches inside the larger promotional items catalogue. If you have questions, or to order something, check the ordering information page.

Last Post: Sylvia Fairlie-Stuart

After a beautiful life, Sylvia Fairlie Stuart, peacefully passed away surrounded by family Saturday, November 16, 2019. She was predeceased by her beloved husbands, James Fairlie and Okill Stuart. Also predeceased by brother Lorne and sisters Isabelle, Patricia, June. Cherished Mother of Lesley Fairlie Liddy and Kemp Fairlie (Carole). Loved by stepchildren Colin Stuart (Vicki) and Heather Stuart, sister Barbara Clermont, grandchildren Christopher (Rachel) and Andrew Liddy, and great-grandchild Jackson. Also many nieces and nephews, loving friend Phyllis Beaulieu and devoted caregiver Penny Noseworthy.

Visitation Thursday, November 21 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Collins Clarke MacGillivray White, 307 Riverside Drive, St. Lambert. Funeral service Friday, November 22, 2019, at 2 p.m. St. Lambert United Church, 85 Desaulniers Blvd., St. Lambert. Donations can be made to a charity of your choice.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Plaque in historic Trinity Church, Saint John, NB to Benjamin Lester Peters (1790-1852), son of prominent Loyalist James Peters of Long Island, NY & Agent for Associated Loyalists.  Also wife Mary Ann Winniett of Annapolis Royal, NS – Brian McConnell UE
  • This Week in History
    • 15 Dec 1769 George Washington petitions the Governor of Virginia for 200,000 acres of land that had been promised to him in 1754, but which had been protected for native tribes by King George’s Proclamation of 1763.
    • 16 Dec 1769 An anonymous pamphlet appears in New York City criticizing the colonial government.  The legislature bowed to pressure from London to pay for the quartering of troops within the colony
    • Dec 1770 What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week? (Massachusetts Gazette & Boston Weekly News-Letter 12/14/1769)
    • 16 Dec 1773 Sons of Liberty throw tea shipment into Boston Harbor to protest Tea Act.
    • 17 Dec 1773 “The die is cast: The people have passed the river and cut away the bridge: last night three cargoes of tea, were emptied into the harbor.” John Adams to James Warren.
    • 14 Dec 1775 Continental Army forces occupy Norfolk, Virginia, leading to its burning to deny British use of town.
    • 18 Dec 1775 A company of American foot rangers raids Sullivan’s Island, SC to retake fugitive slaves from British.
    • 20 Dec 1775 “George the Third’s last speech has shut the door of hope for reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. . . . We are now driven to the necessity of making a declaration of independence.” – Gen. Nathanael Greene
    • 21 Dec 1773 Gov. Thomas Hutchinson was finally able to convene his Council after the Boston Tea Party. One member told him, “The people…had taken the powers of government into their hands – any attempt to restrain them would only enrage them.”
    • 15 Dec 1776 British defeat superior French naval force at battle of St. Lucia.
    • 19 Dec 1776 “These are the times that try men’s souls,” Paine urges militia to re-enlist.
    • 20 December 1776 Continental Congress sets up new capitol at Henry Fite House in Baltimore Maryland.  Congress was offered the county courthouse, but decided a tavern was a better location.  Building destroyed by fire in 1904.
    • 17 Dec 1777 Paris, France.  France first recognized US ambassadors as ambassadors of an independent nation.  The British surrender at Saratoga was the tipping point convincing the French  to openly support the US
    • 17 Dec 1777 King George III pledges renewed efforts after defeat at Saratoga.
    • 18 Dec 1777 The United States observe their first national day of Thanksgiving, celebrating victory at Saratoga.
    • 16 Dec 1780 Militia “Overmountain Men” ward off attempted attack by British-allied Cherokee at Boyd’s Creek, TN.
    • 20 Dec 1782 Three British frigates catch sight of and give chase to three American ships off Cape May, NJ.
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Miscellaneous:
    • share in the holiday spirit during “Christmastide in Virginia” with hands-on historical fun & holiday traditions of early America – like the making of this 17th-century syllabub, similar to today’s eggnog.

Lost Email Messages, Please Resend

When my email arrives, it is automatically sorted into one of three or four different places. I had a technology problem this last week and some of the messages in my “Loyalist” in-box were lost. They had arrived between the dates of Wed. Nov 20 and Mon. Dec. 16. If you recall sending me a message between those dates and I had not yet handled the request or responded to a question, please send it again.

My apologies, and thank you.

Editor’s Note: Best of the Season

The Winter or December Solstice arrived just before midnight Eastern Time last evening and Christmas day is almost upon us. Whether you follow the Christian faith, or another religion which notes special days at this time of year, may you find some of the true meaning of the time.

However you celebrate it, have a Merry Christmas with family, friends and neighbours.