“Loyalist Trails” 2020-05: February 2, 2020

In this issue:
UELAC Annual Conference Hosted by Manitoba Branch: Update
Thomas Knox, Deputy Muster Master (Part One), by Stephen Davidson
George III’s Collection of Military Maps published online
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Treasures in America’s Historical Newspapers: Early American Newspapers
Black Loyalists Fought for Their Freedom During the American Revolution
JAR: John Morgan vs. William Shippen: The Battle that Defined the Continental Medical Department
JAR: France and Spain Invade England … Almost
Washington’s Quill: George Washington Sees Automatons in Action
A Sampler of Bethiah Hastings
Region and Branch Bits
      + Burlington, ON – February
      + Victoria, BC – Feb. 9
      + Chilliwack, BC Branch, Feb. 15
      + Kawartha, ON: 16 February
      + Kingston, ON: Feb. 18 & Feb. 21
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


2020 UELAC Conference, Hosted by Manitoba Branch, June 24-28

Visit the 2020 conference page for details. Some revisions were made last weekend and posted mid-week to each of the major documents: Schedule, Presentation Topics and guest Speakers.

Conference Registration is being prepared and should be available by the end of February.

Important note re room reservations (Jan 26): Due to a miscommunication, the Queen Double rooms did not originally appear in our reserved block of rooms. This has now been resolved. However, if you booked your room early hoping for a double but could only reserve a king, PLEASE either try again, or email us at UELMB2020@gmail.com and we will help you sort that out.

In addition, a list of some alternate hotels has been added to the conference page.

…Wendy Hart and Mary Steinhoff, Co-Chairs

Thomas Knox, Deputy Muster Master (Part One)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Loyalist historians and genealogists tend to focus their research on the refugees who fled the United States to find sanctuary in various parts of the British Empire. The resulting articles and books often contain lines such as “the loyalists were given land grants”, “the loyalists received provisions”, or “the loyalists were transported”. It is not as common to hear the accounts of those who supervised the granting of land, distributed the food rations, or who saw to the safe travel of the loyal refugees. And yet the officers and civil servants responsible for these services were crucial personnel to the survival of the Loyalists following the revolution. One such forgotten employee of the crown was Thomas Knox who facilitated the settlement of Loyalists in New Brunswick.

The documents of the era don’t have much to say about Thomas Knox before his arrival at the mouth of the St. John River in 1784. In May of the previous year, he submitted a bill to Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander-in-chief in New York City, for his services in mustering the king’s troops in December 1782. As the deputy commissary of musters for the British forces, it was Knox’s job to inspect and list the soldiers on Staten Island, Paulus Hook, and King’s Bridge. He kept tabs on who was in active service, their rank, and their wages. It was a job that required the combined skills of a census taker and an accountant.

Knox must have impressed Carleton with his attention to detail and competency for by the summer of 1784, he had been appointed the deputy muster master at Fort Howe. This British garrison guarded the mouth of the St. John River. Situated high on a hill, Fort Howe looked down on the loyalist refugee settlements of Parrtown, Portland Point and Carleton. In addition to feeding (“victualing”) the soldiers stationed at Fort Howe, its commissary was tasked with providing rations to the 12,000 Loyalist refugees who had flooded into what would become New Brunswick.

At first the settlers received regular provisions of flour, butter, peas, oatmeal, beef and pork. But when supplies ran out or transport ships were delayed, the refugees had little more than potatoes to keep them alive.

Impatient to settle on land along the St. John River, some Loyalists had left the communities next to Fort Howe, making it very difficult for them to maintain access to the garrison’s “victuals”. Those who settled at St. Ann’s Point (which would become Fredericton) were 90 miles from Fort Howe’s commissary.

Added to the problems of providing and distributing sufficient food was the fact that some of those who claimed to be Loyalists had inflated the ages of their children or the number of their servants so as to receive more than their fair share of provisions from the “royal bounty”. Some were not even legitimate Loyalists. The royal bounty was intended to be “a relief to indigence and a spur to industry” – not a privilege to be abused.

Having been promised provisions for a year, the loyalist refugees were afraid that they would no longer be able to draw on Fort Howe’s commissary after May 1784. To allay their fears, the garrison’s commander, Major General John Campbell, issued a proclamation in March of 1783 saying that provisions would continue to be issued “to such Loyalists, at the different settlements, whose necessities may require it, until His Majesty’s Pleasure shall be known”.

The best way that Campbell could determine who required provisions was to appoint someone to 1) make up a list of those who ought to receive provisions from the commissary, 2) devise an efficient food distribution system, and 3) discover who had actually settled in the colony. In the words of one official, they needed someone “of activity and judgment to muster all the men, women and children who had actually become settlers.”

Thomas Knox was the man appointed to muster those who settled along the St. John River. Within a month of his arrival, he had submitted his first report to the garrison’s commander. His letter to Campbell on June 24, 1784 shows a man who was compassionate as well as dedicated. As he was about to set off to visit settlements along the St. John River, he encountered 124 refugees who had only just arrived in Parrtown. Technically, they had not yet become settlers even though they had “certificates of loyalty to the king”. How to proceed?

In the end, because of their “extreme indigence”, Knox decided to issue certificates that would allow the recent arrivals to receive provisions from Fort Howe’s commissary for a fourteen-day period. Having dealt with their immediate needs, he would postpone a more careful scrutiny of their claims upon his return to Parrtown.

Knox also felt honour bound to help another segment of the refugee population. Although the commissary had refused to give out rations to new born babies, Knox took “the liberty to interfere in behalf of children who have been born since the arrival of the Loyalists…their numbers are few and the necessities of the new settlers require every aid.”

Knox had initially hoped that he could have the colony’s Loyalist settlers gather at two or three central locations to muster them. However, it proved to be far too difficult to have the heads of families leave their work and homes for what could be as much as a three day journey to be mustered. “From the dispersed state of the people and the necessity of seeing every individual”, Knox reported, he decided to visit the settlers in their homes. Although not as convenient, this unusual form of mustering did give Knox the opportunity to see the refugees’ homes, gain a sense of their living conditions, and hear their complaints.

Thanks to the provision of a boat from Fort Howe, Knox was spared having to walk to the settlements along the river. With efficient transportation, the muster master had every hope that his work would be “done effectively; every man will have justice done him and at the same time I have reason to believe many thousand rations will be save to the government.”

The story of Thomas Knox and his life in New Brunswick will continue in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

George III’s Collection of Military Maps published online

Release date: Wednesday, 29 January 2020

On the 200th anniversary of his death, George III’s unparalleled collection of more than 3,000 military maps, views and prints in the Royal Collection have been made publicly available for the first time. The culmination of ten years of research by Dr Yolande Hodson, a new website (militarymaps.rct.uk) allows these important documents to be explored in minute detail, offering an extraordinary insight into the art of warfare and mapping.

‘George III’s Collection of Military Maps’ presents a diverse range of material from the 16th to 18th centuries, from highly finished presentation maps of sieges, battles and marches, to rough sketches drawn in the field, depictions of uniforms and fortification plans, providing a vivid contemporary account of major theatres of war in Britain, Europe and America.

Highlights of the collection include two-metre-wide maps of the American War of Independence. George III took a close interest in every detail of the war, from how many blankets were required by the British forces to the number of cannon in the French fleet.

Read more.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Treasures in America’s Historical Newspapers: Early American Newspapers

By Leah Grandy, 29 January 2020

Many forgotten and often trivial incidents of daily life can be found by just a quick glance at historical newspapers, including the loss of Basil Rorison’s sorrel mare. Rorison was a member of the provincial loyalist regiment, the King’s Orange Rangers, and misplaced his horse while at Harlem, New York during the American Revolution. We are lucky today that most modes of transportation do not tend to wander off on their own – with our possessions attached!

The advertisement submitted by the unfortunate Lieutenant Rorison is just one small example of what may be found in the rich digital database, America’s Historical Newspapers, of which UNB Libraries has access to Series 1, 1690-1876: From Colonies to Nation.

The types of information found in the database’s newspapers are extremely varied… The content is especially valuable for the period of the American Revolution, as newspapers of the era were political tools and provide insight into expressions of loyalist and patriot beliefs.

Eighteenth and nineteenth-century newspapers were much shorter than twenty-first century papers, sometimes only four pages in length, but packed full of a variety of information. They were often based in small communities, and recorded the regular lives of many populations through their interests and worldviews.

Read more.

Black Loyalists Fought for Their Freedom During the American Revolution

By Dave Roos, 30 June 2017

In 1775 the British royal governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, issued a stunning “emancipation proclamation” promising freedom and land to all slaves who would take up arms against their rebel masters. Dunmore was looking for manpower to put down an armed rebellion in Virginia, and he found it. Between 800 and 2,000 slaves and indentured servants fled their plantations and joined with the British, including a hard-fighting militia that would become known as Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment. The Ethiopian Regiment marched to battle in uniforms inscribed with the insignia “Liberty to Slaves.”

Dunmore’s proclamation was the “first mass emancipation in American history,” says Isaac Saney, a history professor at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia. It happened nearly 90 years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery in areas not under the control of the United States government.

When the tides turned against the British in 1779, they issued a second emancipation called the Philipsburg Proclamation, which extended the promise of freedom and land to any slave who would cross the British lines without the requirement to fight. The move, says Saney, was a form of economic warfare against the colonies.

“Escaping Africans would weaken the rebel economy,” says Saney. “You’d have this mass emancipation taking place, and the colonists would now have to expend resources to guard the plantations, instead of using them in battle.”

An estimated 12,000 slaves of African descent fought for the British, but the war was lost. When the British surrendered in 1783, one of the central points of contention, Saney says, was “the return of what George Washington deems ‘U.S. property,’ which are the enslaved Africans.”

Read more.

JAR: John Morgan vs. William Shippen: The Battle that Defined the Continental Medical Department

By Justin McHenry, January 28 2020

John Morgan and William Shippen, Jr. stood shoulder to shoulder in the crowd outside of old Westminster Hall on September 22, 1761. They were awaiting the appearance of the empire’s new king, George III, and queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz – their new king and queen. The two men were a few of the vast throng the likes of which London had never seen.

Though the coronation brought Morgan and Shippen together, their worlds entwined with one another time and time again. Born a year apart, the two men were both Philadelphians and travelers to the Old World to continue their medical education.

Shippen journeyed over a few years before Morgan. He finished his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh when Morgan arrived to begin his. Their paths crossed in London and they made the most of it. They both were young, ambitious, and hungry, wanting to make their marks and to represent America and Philadelphia…

Nineteen years later the two were together once again, riding side by side. Silent riders on a dirt road. They were doctors now, two of the most respected and esteemed doctors in America. They were active participants of the continental cause in the Revolutionary War that raged around them.

Both had been in charge of the Continental Army’s medical department at some point during the war. And they could not hate each other any more than they did at that moment.

Morgan, the disgraced former Director General of the Medical Department, rode as a deputy judge advocate for the Continental Congress. Shippen, the current embattled Director General of the Medical Department, was riding under fire from the man in the saddle beside him. The two rode, collecting depositions together. It was a part of Shippen’s court-martial trial that Morgan brought about by years of complaints.

Read more.

JAR: France and Spain Invade England … Almost

By Bob Ruppert, 30 January 2020

On February 6, 1778, France signed two treaties with the United States, one of Amity and Commerce, the other, a defensive Alliance. In them, France recognized the absolute sovereignty and independence of the United States. On March 10, the Foreign Minister of France, the comte de Vergennes, sent a dispatch that included a copy of the treaties to the Marquis de Noailles, the French Ambassador to the Court of St. James. He was directed to deliver the copy to the Court. The result was on March 17, 1778, England declared war on France.

The thrones of King Louis XVI of France and King Charles III of Spain were branches of the same tree – the House of Bourbon; in fact, King Charles was King Louis’ uncle. Through the Pacte de Famille of 1761, it was agreed in article four that “whoever attacks one crown, attacks the other.” It was this Pacte that led Vergennes to believe that Spain would come to the aid of France if attacked by England. The Prime Minister of Spain, José Moñino, the Count of Floridablanca, however, was hesitant to involve Spain in France’s business. Spain had just ended a war with Portugal, her treasury was depleted, her colonies were unprotected by sea which made them vulnerable to the powerful British navy, and her government was never informed prior to the announcement that France had been negotiating the two treaties with the United States. It was not long, though, before Floridablanca saw the situation as an opportunity. He made it known to Vergennes that Spain might consider an “enterprise worthy of the two powers” if it was in Spain’s interest. On November 20, Floridablanca asked Vergennes: what was the plan he was considering if the two countries combined forces; what concessions could Spain expect for her participation; and how would Spain be guaranteed the concessions before any peace agreement was sought? Due to ill health, Vergennes was not able to respond to Floridablanca’s questions until December 24 when he sent a draft of the general plan and invoked the Pacte de Famille as sufficient promise that France would not make a separate peace.

It was not until February 26, 1779, that Vergennes agreed to all of the concessions requested by Floridablanca.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: George Washington Sees Automatons in Action

By Carly Dotson, 31 January 2020

According to his presidential household accounts, on April 5th, 1794, George Washington “pd. for 8 tickets to see automatons by order.”1 These automatons were mechanical creations made of wood or plaster, operated by “hidden springs and gears.”2 With the ability to perform many different complex actions, such as writing, dancing, and imitating human movements, automatons created a source of lively entertainment for spectators.3 These contraptions originated in the 18th century, but unfortunately the art of making them is largely lost today.

Read more.

A Sampler of Bethiah Hastings

By J.L. Bell, 28 January 2020

Stacey Fraser at the Lexington Historical Society shared an image of a sampler from its collection and thoughts about its political significance.

“This sampler was completed by Bethiah Hastings of Lexington at age 8” in 1774, Fraser wrote. So how did the political boycotts of the era, leading up to the Continental Congress’s Association, affect her family’s ability to find silk thread and steel needles?

I got curious about what else Bethiah experienced. She was the seventh child of Samuel and Lydia (Todd) Hastings, who by that time were in their fifties and forties, respectively. A previous girl named Bethiah had died the year before she was born, and baby Thomas born in 1772 would die in late 1775.

Bethia’s father and her oldest brothers, Isaac and Samuel, Jr., were all members of the Lexington militia. Samuel, Sr., and Isaac were actually lined up on the town common when the British army columns arrived on 19 Apr 1775, the father said to have “stood at the right of the front line.” They survived.

Read more.

Region and Branch Bits

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

Burlington, ON – February

Burlington ON celebrates Heritage Month with a series of events about its rich heritage. The Chair, Heritage Burlington “Thanks to all civic and volunteer groups who contributed to this year’s events; with a special thanks to Martha Hemphill of the United Empire Loyalists Association for her leadership.”

Victoria, BC – Feb. 9

Feb. 9, 2:00-4:30pm, Heritage Day events at the Church of Truth Centre (111 Superior St.) celebrate the collective histories of Black pioneers and their descendants. Check out historical and other related displays set up by the Society, Old Cemeteries Society, Saanich Pioneers, United Empire Loyalists, Victoria Genealogical Society and the Salt Spring Island Archives. The experts on hand welcome questions. Black History in B.C. is celebrated throughout February.

Chilliwack, BC Branch, Feb. 15

AGM on February 15th. As February also celebrates Heritage Week and National Flag Day, we will include some items of interest to reflect these celebrations. Carman United Church Hall, 7258 Vedder Road, Chilliwack BC Trooping of the flag will commence at 11:45am – followed immediately by lunch – then a planned program.

Kawartha, ON: 16 February

“Looking back and Looking forward at the History of Kawartha Branch and the UELAC” fits very well with Heritage Week. St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church (Water Street, Peterborough)

Kingston, ON: Feb. 18 & Feb. 21

Getting Started in Genealogy. Three-hour sessions will be presented by Nancy Cutway of the Kingston Branch Ontario Genealogical Society (and of the Kingston & District Branch, UELAC). More details.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Financial pressures push Town of Shelburne NS toward dissolution. ‘Either we hack and slash or we apply to dissolve,’ says Mayor Karen Mattatall. CBC report.
  • ‘Of Loyalist Descent’ is inscribed on gravestone of Joseph Kirk Tobin in Forest Hill Anglican Cemetery at Digby, Nova Scotia. He died on Jan. 27, 1905 in Lynn, Massachusetts, USA descended from United Empire Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia in 1783. Brian McConnell UE
  • Take a peek inside John Hancock’s traveling desk, an item that was on exhibit from 2017-2019. This item is being packed up and put away in preparation for our new exhibit, opening March 8th!
  • Rare old postcards show what rooms in Museum at Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia looked like some 100 years ago. Brian McConnell UE
  • Unfortunates: The Wonch family, a large Collingwood area family who often found themselves in the news of the late 1800s, including a double murder. The former Mary Ann Ogden, who was likely not nearly as old as recorded, was born in Upper Canada to American parents, possibly United Empire Loyalists, who had fled post-Revolution unrest in the United States. They settled in the area of present-day Markham. Read more…
  • This Week in History
    • Jan 31, 1766, grand jurors in New Haven indicted Benedict Arnold and nine others for whipping a sailor who had threatened to inform on them to the Customs office. A crowd responded by parading effigies of those grand jurors.
    • Jan 30, 1769, the Boston Whigs complained that “one or two o’clock has been the hours for dining in this town, time out of mind; the [Customs Commissioners] have pitched upon four a clock as a more courtly hour.”
    • Jan 28, 1770: Lord North becomes Prime Minister. He would serve in that position for the next twelve years, finally brought down by his failure to suppress the American Revolution.
    • Jan 29, 1770: Gov. Hutchinson writes that tensions between the patriots in Boston and regulars are so charged that any accident could turn to tragedy which “would have set the whole province in flame, and maybe spread further.”
    • Jan 29, 1770: Benjamin Franklin writes another anonymous column in London, explaining why it is a mistake to think that the colonies should be responsible for British war debt. Read more…
    • Jan 31, 1770: George Washington writes to his brother Charles about the acquisition and occupation of lands in western Virginia that the King had reserved for Native Americans. Read more…
    • Jan 28, 1775, King George III told his Secretary of State for the colonies that war in America would require “more activity and decision” than Gen. Thomas Gage exhibited. He hoped Gen. Sir Jeffery Amherst was available. (Amherst declined.)
    • Jan 25, 1776 Congress orders creation of memorial to General Montgomery, killed in attempt to take Quebec City.
    • Jan 26, 1776 “The Town of Boston, which in its most flourishing state might contain about 15000 Inhabitants, is now reduced to about 3500. . . . Of the 1000 males I have no doubt that 500 are truly loyal subjects.” – Lt. Gov. Thomas Oliver
    • Jan 29, 1776, Gen. Nathanael Greene was dealing with a crisis back home: Friends of his wife had played cards in front of his Quaker mother. “Surely Mrs Greene [his wife] could not be present,” he wrote. “She must have known better.”
    • Jan 31, 1776 Congress accepts newspaper accounts of appointment of MA delegates, in absence of formal credentials.
    • Feb 1, 1776 Pacifist Moravian group refuses North-Carolina Royal Governor Martin’s order to join in supporting Crown.
    • Jan 28, 1777 British plan to split New England from other Colonies via Lake Champlain & Hudson is submitted.
    • Jan 29, 1777 Patriots abandon attack on Fort Independence in Bronx County, NY, ultimately defeated by weather.
    • Jan 27, 1781 Pompton Mutiny is put down by General Robert Howe, leaders executed by firing squad on the spot.
    • Jan 30, 1781 MD is last to ratify Articles of Confederation, establishing 1st national gov’t.
    • Jan 26, 1782 In Battle of Frigate Bay, Royal Navy repulses larger French force, cannot stop surrender of St. Kitt’s.
    • I would just point out, for your readers, maybe for “this week in history”, Jan 29th, 1820, yup, exactly 200 years ago this Wednesday, His Majesty the King, George III, died after a lengthy illness. 200 years already. How time flies. David Moore, KRRNY. 29 Jan 1820 King George III dies, blind, deaf, and insane, having ruled for longer than any British monarch before.
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
    • Deborah McClenachan Stewart, daughter of Irish immigrant and Philadelphia merchant Blair McClenachan, posed for this following her wedding to Colonel Walter Stewart, who led his troops against the British at Brandywine and Germantown.
    • Good morning, sunshine- likely a sleeve fragment c1760-80; hand-painted Chinese plain weave silk
      with polychrome paint, silver. Pattern evokes western woven silks; naturalism collection @HistDeerfield
    • More about that glorious 18thc gold lace in its original wrapping now at MHS1791. Imagine how this would have glittered by candlelight! It’s a common modern misconception that people living in 18thc America wore only rough homespun and drab colors. Nothing could be farther from the fashionable truth. In the global economy of the Georgian era, nearly everything that was available in a shop in London or Paris was also be found in New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. Read more…
    • French quilted ensemble in a lovely shade of blue, c.1760; silk, linen, cotton.
    • One of my favorites – the robe à la française! This example is void of superfluous trimmings and the basic ruffles are the same bright canary as the rest of the dress. Stunning example of c1760 fashion. Bright, airy, and refreshing!
    • 18th Century day dress, with an affixed stomacher beautifully embroidered with flowers, c.1760’s
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, mauve striped silk with silk & metallic thread embroidery, metal beads, silk satin, printed & painted, 1790’s
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, silk embroidered with neoclassical designs, late 1790’s
    • Detail of embroidered pocket area of men’s court coat, probably French, 1790’s
    • Charles Edward Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Young Pretender, died in Rome On This Day in 31 January 1788. This silk velvet, linen and wool tartan coat, from National Museums Scotland, is said to have belonged to the Prince.
  • Miscellaneous: