In this issue:

  • Loyalist History and a 1930s Road Trip Through Nova Scotia, Part 1 by Stephen Davidson UE
  • The Irish Among the Loyalists who Settled Digby
  • JAR: Nathanael Greene and the Challenge of Supplying the Southern Army
  • JAR: Virginia’s Independent Frontier Companies
  • New England Historical Society: Six Loyalist Houses
  • The Second Boston Tea Party in March 1774
  • The Patriotic Woolen Shoes of the Revolutionary Era
  • Borealia: Was New France a society of the “long Middle Ages”?
  • Book: Loyalist Descendants in Saskatchewan
  • Book: Sacred Ground: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario Vol 1
  • New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys: A Mapping and History Project
  • National Trust for Canada: Explore Canada’s Immigration Stories with Six Places
  • Events
    • Kingston and District Branch “The 1786 Ernestown Project” Sat. 27 March
    • Webinar — Hobkirk’s Hill and the Siege of Fort Watson — Sat 27 March
    • Fort Plain: VALCOUR The 1776 Campaign That Saved … Liberty — Mon 5 Apr
  • From the Twittersphere and Beyond

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Loyalist History and a 1930s Road Trip Through Nova Scotia, Part One of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
Fragments of Loyalist history are to be found in many an unlikely source. Take for example, a Nova Scotia travelogue published by Clara Dennis in 1934. Armed with her camera and a desire to “seek and find Nova Scotia”, Dennis criss-crossed the province in her car, noting points of geographical and historical interest. At the end of her travels, she wrote about her adventures in “Down in Nova Scotia: My Own, My Native Land”. No less a person than the former prime minister, Sir Robert Borden wrote the book’s foreword.
Of interest to students of the Loyalist era is what Clara Dennis recorded when she visited Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Once the fourth largest city in North America at the height of its Loyalist settlement, the Shelburne of the early 1930s had only about two thousand citizens. Nevertheless, the descendants of Loyalists had stories to tell the travel writer, stories that have not appeared in other accounts. During one conversation with a Shelburne man, Dennis learned about a Loyalist house that had been torn down just a few years earlier.
In its day, the dwelling known as the Firth House was an imposing structure. Its location on King Street, the main thoroughfare of the city, made it a convenient place for public gatherings. It featured a high verandah that was supported by stone posts and a balcony from which a person could address a large crowd. On July 20, 1783, it was the building from which Nova Scotia’s governor, John Parr, gave an important announcement.
From that day forward, the Loyalist settlement formerly known as Port Roseway would be known as Shelburne in tribute to William Petty Fitzmaurice (Lord Shelburne), the British secretary of state for the colonies. Parr’s news did not receive the warm reception that he had anticipated. The Loyalist refugees who now populated their renamed sanctuary felt that Lord Shelburne had paid more attention to pacifying the victorious Patriots rather than their upholding their interests during the negotiations that brought the American Revolution to an end.
Tales of the day that Parr renamed Shelburne had survived into the early decades of the 20th century. Clara Dennis recorded this account given her by Loyalist descendant who had sold the house from which Governor Parr had delivered his speech:
“My father told me the flags fell as they were being hoisted the day that Shelburne was named, and that is was a bad omen, and that Shelburne would never be a city.”
He continued, “I sold the Firth House and it was afterwards torn down. It was about one hundred and forty years old when it was taken to pieces. The frame was of red pine and came from New York. It had been built by a Major Johnson, an officer in the British Army, and had many fireplaces in it. Prince William, afterwards William IV, was once a visitor at the house.”
Dennis then interviewed the man who dismantled the Firth House. “Yes, I bought it, and yes, I tore it down. The frame had been cut and fitted in New York and was one of the most thorough jobs I ever saw. Its red pine frame had plugs of white oak. The braces and beams were all dove-tailed. There wasn’t a particle of decay anywhere. I used most of the wood in another building. That tiny brass handle was off one of the doors, and the wooden post you see there is one of the posts of the verandah on which Governor Parr stood when he gave to Shelburne its name.”
Thanks to Clara Dennis’ resolve to come to know her native Nova Scotia better, historians have a description of a loyalist era house, an insight into how it was constructed, and the knowledge that pieces of the Firth House are scattered throughout Shelburne.
While in the Shelburne area, Clara Dennis met a Black Loyalist descendant, and discovered a story that would not be verified by archaeology until sixty-five years after her book was published. Next week’s Loyalists Trails will tell the remarkable stories preserved in one family’s oral history.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

The Irish Among the Loyalists who Settled Digby
For St Patrick’s Day here is a story about the first large group of Irish who settled in Digby, Nova Scotia. They were Loyalists. Interestingly, when the Town of Digby was first laid out after the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 the largest number of lots assigned to persons not born in America did not go to English but to Irish. Included in the names was Major Robert Timpany (1742 – 1844) , native of Newtownards, Co. Down who served with 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers. His headstone is in Digby’s Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery.
Read more “The Irish Among the Loyalists who Settled Digby“, by Brian McConnell UE.
Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day
[Editor’s oversight: Brian submitted this in time to publish in the issue of Loyalist Trails prior to St Patrick’s Day, but I missed it – sorry Brian]

JAR: Nathanael Greene and the Challenge of Supplying the Southern Army
by Travis Copeland 16 March 2021
A New England Quaker in his late thirties was not the ideal candidate for the job, according to the Continental Congress. Instead, Congress chose Gen. Horatio Gates. Gen. George Washington dithered and dissented in his gentlemanly way with Congress, but to no avail. General Gates was appointed commander of the southern theatre of the War in 1780, but his command was short-lived. His defeat, at the hand of British Gen. Charles, Lord Cornwallis in Camden, South Carolina, gave “The Fighting Quaker” a second chance. With Washington’s directive, the Continental Congress appointed Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene to command the southern army. The newly-minted commander had served as a general under Washington, gaining fighting experience when the British landed in New York in 1776. As the war expanded and logistics demands grew, Greene was shelved as a combat general and took on the underappreciated but extremely important position of Quarter-Master General of the Continental Army. Although it was a post he was suited for, Greene famously remarked that quarter-masters were forgotten to history.
The scholarly and bookish commander, now restored to a combat role, entered Charlotte on December 2, 1780 at the head of the Southern command. He sauntered into town only to discover a rag-tag army of irresponsible militia and sickly continental soldiers stationed around the courthouse. Many were ill with smallpox, starved, or enduring ailments brought on from the elements. The destitution of disease and lack of supplies brought the Southern army to a new low. The visual state of the men demonstrated the importance of previously-overlooked things. Greene took a quarter-master approach, and he acknowledged that, “the article of clothing is but a small part of the expense in raising, equipping, and subsisting an army, and yet on this alone the whole benefit of their service depends.” Patriot hopes in the Southern Colonies were set on men who were simply trying to remain alive. Clothes and food were now the weapons of war and in fearfully short supply. Read more…

JAR: Virginia’s Independent Frontier Companies
by Gabriel Neville 17 March 2021
When the American Revolution began, the Virginia Colony faced not one military-territorial contest, but four. Its ousted Royal governor, Lord Dunmore, was in the Chesapeake actively plotting a forcible return to power. A longstanding dispute with Pennsylvania over the headwaters of the Ohio had turned violent. A formal peace with the Shawnee on the northwest frontier was still pending after Col. Andrew Lewis’s October 1774 victory at Point Pleasant. A new war was brewing with the Cherokee to the southwest. Virginia’s early military preparations had to account for all of these threats.
In July 1775, Virginia created two full-time provincial regiments and a network of regional minute battalions to supplement the militia system. Seven more regiments were authorized in December. These regiments were intended for service in the east opposing the Crown and were taken into the Continental Army in 1776.
Largely forgotten are the colony’s independent provincial companies that were created at the same time to handle the western threats. They are often misidentified as militia and are glossed over in most histories, which reflects their short existence and the limited information in the surviving record. Just three of the companies are listed in E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra’s A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations in the American Revolution, 1774-1783. Another standard reference, Robert K. Wright’s The Continental Army, correctly notes that there were actually five original companies but provides little additional detail.
This wafer-thin historiography validates a claim made by Charleston Physician Joseph Johnson in 1851. “Historians of the American Revolution all lived on or near the sea coast,” he lamented. “Many of the sturdy sons of the forest were therefore unknown to them, and the daring acts and patriotic sufferings of such worthy persons have never been written or published.” Read more…
Continued in part 2 of Virginia’s Independent Frontier Companies

New England Historical Society: Six Loyalist Houses
A Loyalist House was likely to be seized and sold when the American Revolution broke out. Many colonies passed laws that let them confiscate the property of known Loyalists, criminalizing dissent against the war and raising revenue for the war effort.
Many Loyalists fled to Canada or England. The British government compensated some for their loss, but tried to pressure the United States into giving restitution. Under the Jay Treaty of 1794, the U.S. agreed to ‘advise’ the states to return Loyalist property. Some families are still trying to get their property back.
Connecticut took a more lenient approach than the other New England states in confiscating Loyalist houses. It waited until four other states had passed confiscation laws. Local officials also dragged their feet in identifying Loyalist properties.
Vermont, on the other hand, eagerly seized Loyalist property in order to pay for the Green Mountain Boys.
Here, then, are stories of six Loyalist houses and their fate during the American Revolution.

  • Henry Whitfield House in Guilford, Conn.
  • William Pepperell House in LKittery, Maine.
  • Isaac Royall House in Medford, Mass.
  • Mark Wentworth House in Portsmouth, N.H.
  • Lucas-Johnston house in Newporet, R.I.
  • William Marsh Tavern in Manchester, Vermont

Read about each…

The Second Boston Tea Party in March 1774
by J.L. Bell 19 March 2021
The second Boston Tea Party on 7 March 1774 made a smaller splash than the first on the preceding 16 December.
There was much less tea involved—fewer than thirty chests as opposed to more than three hundred.
The tea was much less valuable. It was the Bohea variety, an everyday black tea rather than a more expensive blend or a green tea.
The destroyed tea wasn’t owned by the highly connected East India Company but by the private firm of Davison & Newman, consigned to the Boston merchant Henry Lloyd. It had less financial importance for the Crown. Read more…

The Patriotic Woolen Shoes of the Revolutionary Era
By Kimberley Alexander 16 March 2021
For Revolutionary-era women, it was a mark of patriotism and good taste to don made-in-America footwear.
If you were a wealthy or middle-class woman living in British America around the time of the Revolution, you probably owned a pair of calamanco shoes. Like sneakers or black pumps today, calamancos were the everyday footwear of early American life: practical clothing items that can reveal a great deal about the day-to-day lives — and aspirations — of their owners.
But first, what was calamanco, this special item coveted by women of wealth and women of the middling sort? Calamanco (also spelled callimanco, calimanco, or calamink) is a worsted wool textile finished with a glossy, glazed surface created by forcing the cloth through hot rollers. Historians trace the earliest usage of the term back to the late 16th century. Some scholars attribute the derivation of the word from a modification of Spanish calamaco, from the Late Latin word calamaucus, referring to a felt cap or skullcap.
Early American consumers got most of their calamanco from Norfolk, England. Read more…

Borealia: Was New France a society of the “long Middle Ages”?
By Arnaud Montreuil 15 March 2021
With the arrival of the first explorers, then as settlers began to claim land, medieval West burgeoned in the Americas. This is the idea put forward by historian Jérôme Baschet in a series of works, including his book La civilisation féodale: de l’an mil à la colonisation de l’Amérique and his article “Un Moyen Âge mondialisé.” The Middle Ages, he argues, became globalized by crossing the Atlantic, in the sense that the dynamics of medieval civilization extended to the shores of the Americas, a phenomenon that he calls “feudal-ecclesial globalization.”
To my knowledge, Baschet’s theories have not been echoed in studies on New France. This is explained on the one hand by the fact that, despite the calls of certain historians such as Benoît Grenier, there are few bridges between the history of New France and medievalism, and on the other hand because Baschet himself was mainly interested in the process of colonization of Latin America.
The objective of this post is to present to historians of New France the key dynamics of Baschet’s concept of feudal-ecclesial globalization, to initiate a critical dialogue between two historiographies. Read more…

Book: Loyalist Descendants in Saskatchewan
The Saskatchewan Branch’s book “Loyalist Descendants in Saskatchewan” is now ready for distribution. The price is $50, freight included, anywhere in Canada. We can mail 2 books for the same freight so 2 books would be $80. The other option is to pick one up at either Moosomin on Regina for $30. More details in the Feb 28 2021 issue of Loyalist Trails.
Please send all orders or inquiries to Gerry Adair at or phone 306 646 7860.

Book: Sacred Ground: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario Vol 1.
Local historian Stuart Lyall Manson is pleased to announce the publication of the first volume of his book series called “Sacred Ground: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario.”
The cemeteries are in the counties of Stormont Dundas & Glengarry:

  • Knox-St. Andrew’s United Church Cemetery, Bainsville
  • St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church Cemetery, St. Andrew’s West
  • Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery, Cornwall
  • Maple Grove Cemetery, Cornwall
  • Pioneer Memorial, Upper Canada Village, South Dundas
  • Iroquois Point Cemetery, Iroquois

The book features detailed site histories of these six cemeteries, coupled with detailed biographical profiles of selected loyalists confirmed to be buried at those locations. Stuart interweaves their personal stories with the broader historical context of the times. For example, he explores the persistence of African slavery here in our corner of Upper Canada, and its connection to local loyalists. The book is based on extensive and thorough primary and secondary source research. Stuart is an historian by profession; he co-owns an historical research company located in Ottawa. He was born and bred in the loyalist City of Cornwall, where he currently resides with his wife and daughters.
The book contains 215 pages and two dozen illustrations, many of which are in colour. It is published by Global Heritage Press and is now available through Global Genealogy

New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys: A Mapping and History Project
New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys recreates the stories of loyalists of the American Revolution utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and the resources found within The Loyalist Collection and UNB Libraries. The initial phase of this project features the lives and Atlantic migrations of loyalists settling in York County, New Brunswick, illustrated through maps, images, primary documents, and biography.
Visit the site “New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys” The “overview” tab offers an extensive review of the project. The York County tab reveals significant details of the ten Loyalists who have been included.
A lot of work is represented by each Loyalist, but it is a great reference source for those Loyalists presented.
Spotted by Carl Stymiest UE

National Trust for Canada: Explore Canada’s Immigration Stories with Six Passport Places
For centuries, Canada’s vast landscape has welcomed immigrants from every corner of the globe. Immigrants have and continue to contribute to the country’s identity in multiple ways, bringing unique languages, gastronomies, art, and building practices. From coast, to coast, to coast, Canadian heritage sites serve as long-lasting evidence of determined and resourceful immigrants who left their homelands and ventured into the reaches of North America, interacting with Indigenous communities as they built settlements. Today, these distinctively Canadian sites are a living testament to the legacy of settlers with diverse life experiences that influenced local customs and culture. Each of the following six heritage sites has a special story to tell. Read about the six which are featured…


Kingston and District Branch “The 1786 Ernestown Project” Saturday 27 March @2:00PM ET

Kingston and District Branch UELAC invite everyone to our next meeting on Saturday, March 27 at 2:00 PM EDT on Zoom. Richard Parry will talk about”The 1786 Ernestown Project”. What is that? Come to the meeting to find out. Our website has the link to join the Zoom meeting.

Webinar — Hobkirk’s Hill and the Siege of Fort Watson — Sat 27 Mar 2021, 9AM ET for 2 hrs.

Hosted by”Tales of the Southern Campaigns” with

  • Ed Forte on Siege of Fort Watson and the the 2nd Partnership between Light Horse Harry Lee and the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion
  • Charles Baxley on the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, covering cover Greene’s decision to come south after Guiford Courthouse and the resulting campaign and Battle against Lord Rawdon, and
  • Wayne Lynch discussing the relationship between Nathanael Greene and The Gamecock, Thomas Sumter.

Register here

Fort Plain: VALCOUR The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty – Jack Kelly

Monday, April 5, 2021 – 7 PM EST
During the summer of 1776, just three days after patriots declared independence from Britain, an enemy invasion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the new nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort stunned the British and forced the enemy to call off the invasion.
More details and registration.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond


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