In this issue:

  • Last call to Register for the UELAC AGM – Deadline is Friday 21 May
  • UELAC Conference 2021: be part of the story Hosted by Bridge Annex , May 27-31
  • The Most Notorious Malefactor Imaginable – Part 1 of 2 by Stephen Davidson UE
  • Podcast: The Black Loyalists of New Brunswick
  • Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Planter Paternalism and Violence on William Vassall’s Loyalist-Era Green River Plantation, Jamaica
  • Friends of St. Alban’s, Church of St. Alban the Martyr, U.E.L. Memorial Church
  • Borealia: Entangling the Quebec Act
  • JAR: David Wooster Kept the Men at Quebec: Giving Credit to a Much-Maligned General
  • JAR: A Fatal Dispute Among the Guards
  • Ben Franklin’s World: From Inoculation to Vaccination, Part 2
  • 18th Century Shoes and Their Secret Stories
  • Late Bloomer: the Exquisite Craft of Mary Delany
  • Events
    • Toronto Branch “The Loyalists of Digby” by Brian McConnell UE Tues 18 May @7:30PM ET
    • City of Toronto: Status of the First [Ontario] Parliament Site, Tues. 18 May @6:30 – 8:30 ET
    • David Centre: Uncovering the Virginia Loyalists: (on demand)
    • David Centre: Loyalist Claims of Virginia’s Feme Soles: Wed. May 26 @3:00-5:00 pm ET.
  • From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Connect with us:


Last call to Register for the UELAC AGM – Deadline is Friday 21 May
The AGM will be Friday 28 May at 11:00AM ET
Package Now Available in the Member’s Section
NOTE: The AGM is a function of the UELAC and has its own registration, separate from the Conference which is organized by Bridge Annex, which too has its own separate registration.
The AGM 2021 page has now been posted in the Member’s Section at You will find the registration form there, along with other reports and instructions.

UELAC Conference 2021: be part of the story Hosted by Bridge Annex , May 27-31
Bridge Annex has created an interactive and memorable experience that will immerse you in Loyalist and related history. Visit our interactive map and explore what you can expect May 27-31, 2021. Use the interactive map on the web-site to navigate the conference offerings.
All live events are now virtual.
The All-Access Pass is an amazing value at only $50.00 – attend all presentations and events virtually and get a free music download, courtesy of our musical entertainment, the renowned Celtic group, The Brigadoons!
Come be part of the story!
See the details and register

The Most Notorious Malefactor Imaginable – Part One of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
Ann Nevil deserves to be more widely known, but her story has been lost along with so many others having to do with the accomplishments of Loyalist women. This forgotten heroine successfully guided British, and German prisoners of war over 90 kilometers from New Jersey’s northernmost county to British headquarters in New York City in December of 1778.
Thanks to six documents found in the British Headquarters Papers for New York City, Nevil’s story can be pieced together. The first of these six papers is a petition that Ann Nevil sent to Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in chief in which she outlined her services to the crown and her desperate need for help.
Also known by her nickname, Nancy, Ann Nevil was a native of Sussex County, New Jersey’s northernmost county. In introducing herself in her petition, she said that she was “always loyally inclined to exert herself {with respect to} his Majesty King George’s interests or subjects.”
She went on to say how she had travelled from Sussex County to New York as a “pilot” or guide with “part of General Burgoyne’s men”. The latter British general had suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Patriot forces at the Second Battle of Saratoga in October of 1777. Rather than officially surrendering to the Continental Army, Burgoyne negotiated an agreement or “convention” whereby the 5,900 British, German and Loyalist soldiers would lay down their arms, be given safe passage to Europe, and agree not to fight in North America for the remainder of the war.
Burgoyne’s troops marched from Saratoga, New York to Boston, Massachusetts where they expected to board ships bound for England. However, the Continental Congress was loath to honour the Convention of Saratoga, and held the defeated soldiers in prison camps near Cambridge and Rutland, Massachusetts until the fall of 1778. During that year of captivity, hundreds of men were able to escape, making their way back to British headquarters in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island.
On November 9, 1778, the remaining 3,000 prisoners, their wives, and children were marched overland from Massachusetts to what was considered a more secure area in Virginia. One stop along that 700-mile route was Sussex County, New Jersey.
Two New Jersey historians make passing reference to the days when Burgoyne’s soldiers passed through the country. Rev. Casper Schaeffer recalled that “a dozen or more Hessians” deserted from the convention army as it passed through Sussex County. They settled in the area and had descendants who –as late as 1907– still lived in their ancestors’ homes.
The historian Peter Lubrecht spoke of Burgoyne’s men as being a “ragtag mob of people” who were “hungry and poorly clothed, and many had no shoes. Food was scarce and needed to be obtained along the march”. Although no further mention is made of the British soldiers or Loyalists among Burgoyne’s men, these recollections of Sussex County’s place along the route from Massachusetts to Virginia corroborates what Ann Nevil wrote in her petition.
A year after their defeat at the Battle of Saratoga and incarceration in Massachusetts, Burgoyne’s men were once again in the vicinity of British headquarters in New York. They just needed someone to guide them south to sanctuary. That someone was Ann Nevil.
In her petition to General Clinton, Nevil failed to describe any aspect of her role as a “pilot” for the men who followed her to New York City. Was she part of a group of Loyalists who took it upon themselves to help the marching prisoners of war? Or did she act on her own initiative? These questions remained unanswered. The route that Nevil took south would have been a journey of about 90 kilometers and –if it did not involve travelling by boat down the Hudson River– would have taken several days. The sources used by one New Jersey historian state that Nevil led as many as 400 men to safety. This seems to an extremely large number — one that would surely have been noticed by Patriot militia patrolling the shores of the Hudson River — and one that would doubtless have received more gratitude from the British army once the men were safely delivered to headquarters.
Whatever the number of men that Ann Nevil guided across the British lines, they were no doubt grateful. The Loyalist woman then returned to Sussex County, obviously feeling that she had been able to effect the rescue of Burgoyne’s men without attracting the attention of local Patriots. But somehow word of her service as a guide leaked out into the community.
In her petition, Nevil said that for “some time {she} was suspected by the rebels to be the most notorious malefactor imaginable”. Shortly after she returned home, she was “informed of the rebels’ malignant intention” to arrest her. “They made a close scrutiny for her”, but she was able to “escape from place to place for sanctuary” over the next two months. However, she could not evade capture forever, “at last being apprehended by them and committed to {the} Sussex gaol where several other loyal men {were} in company with her”. She was “confined in irons”.
Two Loyalists from Sussex County who eventually settled in Upper Canada following the revolution had memories of being incarcerated in the local jail. They may — or may not—have been the fellow prisoners to whom Ann Nevil referred in her petition.
Alexander McQueen “suffered much by the persecuting Americans both in property and body as he was imprisoned in Sussex Gaol”. John Mills was “long imprisoned, indicted and sat in a pillory for a long time in extreme cold season that it nearly cost him his life”. It is an indication of Nevil’s stoic character that she did not go into the details of her confinement, but the stories of these other two prisoners paint a picture of the desperate conditions within the Sussex gaol. She did, however, report that she was “violently disordered with an intermitting fever” during her time in jail.
Learn the fate of Ann Nevil in next week’s edition of Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Podcast: The Black Loyalists of New Brunswick
By the Champlain Society as part of their “Witness to Yesterday” podcast series.
Patrice Dutil welcomes Stephen Davidson to discuss the origins and experiences of Black Loyalists in New Brunswick in the late eighteenth century. Davidson is the author of Black Loyalists in New Brunswick: The lives of Eight African Americans in Colonial New Brunswick, published by Formac. Among the topics discussed are the general phenomenon of Loyalism in Canada and the state of historical studies when it comes to the Black communities in Canada. The focus is New Brunswick and the lives of few particular Black immigrants who experienced extraordinary events. Listen in… (28 minutes)

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Planter Paternalism and Violence on William Vassall’s Loyalist-Era Green River Plantation, Jamaica
“It is unpardonable in an overseer to be a hard punisher”:
By Harrison Dressler 12 May 2021
Slave-based sugar cultivation on the island of Jamaica was nothing if not brutal. In the late eighteenth century, it was also rapidly industrializing. By professionalizing management practices, embracing technological change, and increasing rates of reproduction among enslaved populations, planters could momentarily distinguish themselves in a crowded scene of ever-competing estates.
One man, an absentee planter and American loyalist named William Vassall, whose volumes of letter books have survived over two centuries of wear and tear, celebrated just such a process. “It is a planter’s interest,” writes Vassall, “to make a good crop, & at the least expense possible. In order to do this he must consider in what manner he can improve his land so as to make the same quantity of sugar with the least labour, and with the smallest expense.”
…Technological innovation could only stunt the disabling effects of sugar cultivation so much. Poor nutrition, dramatic rates of infant mortality, the naturally strenuous conditions of sugar production, and inhumane punishments including whipping were still widespread throughout the island. The era’s plantations were notorious for serving meagre and innutritious rations to their bondspeople. Vassall himself is on record in serving his enslaved population plantains and sugars, as well as oatmeal, pears, and beans “to give to the Negroes for a change of diet, to give to weakly & sick Negroes, & to children, and to guard against illness.” Read more…

Friends of St. Alban’s, Church of St. Alban the Martyr, U.E.L. Memorial Church
Wonderful progress by the Friends of St Alban’s, according to their Spring newsletter as they work to fulfill their vision of transforming St. Alban’s into a vibrant community hub, while also preserving and celebrating the church’s unique heritage.

  • We have completed three capital projects at the church: waterproofing the roof on the bell tower, upgrading the electrical system, and setting up our new outdoor café, Hallowed Grounds, which will open on weekends as soon as COVID-19 regulations allow.
  • When permitted, the popular guided tours will resume on Saturdays, and self-guided tours will be available each weekend, complemented with “discovery cards” that explain heritage features of the church.
  • Updates on these and other events and news will be shared on our new website,, as well as in posts on our Facebook page. These online resources are also a useful way to send us any ideas or activities you would like us to consider.

Congratulations on the progress. Some additional background on St. Albans is available at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, U.E.L. Memorial Church.

Borealia: Entangling the Quebec Act
Transnational Contexts, Meanings, and Legacies in North America and the British Empire — A Review of a book edited by Ollivier Hubert and François Furstenberg
Review by Adam Nadeau, 10 May 2021
A series of ten original essays by historians working in North America and Europe representing the first dedicated study of the Quebec Act since Philip Lawson’s seminal work on the integration of Quebec into the British empire over thirty years ago.
The book is transnational in its geographic and historiographical scope, entangling Canadian and American national histories, Indigenous history, and British imperial history in an histoire croisée of legal, political, religious, and cultural analyses of the Quebec Act’s origins, effects, significance, and legacy.
Passed by the British Parliament in June of 1774, the Quebec Act was intended to more firmly establish the constitution of the Province of Quebec, which had been in a state of relative limbo since France’s cession of Canada in the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Key features of the Act included confirmation of the “free Exercise” of Roman Catholicism and the maintenance of the Catholic Church in the province in its “accustomed Dues and Rights,” the retention of “the Laws of Canada” “in all Matters … relative to Property and Civil Rights,” provision for the governance of the province by “the Governor and Council of Quebec,” and the extension of the province’s boundaries beyond the St. Lawrence Valley and through the regions surrounding the Great Lakes to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
The Quebec Act represented a dramatic shift in British imperial governance away from an imperial project that was predominately “Protestant, commercial, maritime, and free,” to “a more pluralist model of empire. Read more…

JAR: David Wooster Kept the Men at Quebec: Giving Credit to a Much-Maligned General
by Mark R. Anderson 13 May 2021
Most modern historical treatments of the American invasion of Canada disparage Brig. Gen. David Wooster for his leadership in Canada. A detailed examination of his command from January to May 1776, however, lends credence to an early biographer’s conclusion that “Gen. Wooster was censured by those who did not know the obstacles he had to encounter.” One episode particularly illuminates Wooster’s skilled leadership during the campaign, when he kept his army intact outside Quebec City for weeks after one half of his men’s enlistments ended.
Wooster’s command began on January 5, 1776, when news of an unexpected misfortune reached his headquarters in occupied Montreal. His superior, Brig. Gen. Richard Montgomery, had died in a failed New Year’s Eve assault on Quebec City. Wooster was suddenly responsible for all Continental operations in Canada. The sixty-five-year-old Connecticut general had vast leadership experience as an acclaimed captain in the 1745 siege of Louisbourg, as well as from provincial regimental and brigade commands in the French and Indian War. Unfortunately for him, he was already burdened by a troublesome reputation in the Revolutionary War that developed before he ever got to Canada. Read more…
[Editor’s note: if you have wondered what transpired with the Americans in Quebec after the New Year’s Eve attack failed, this is a good summary]

JAR: A Fatal Dispute Among the Guards
by Robert N. Fanelli 6 May 2021
The British evacuation of Philadelphia had been under way for several days. Given the honor to be among the last units to leave, the Brigade of Guards slept on their arms by the redoubts north of the city the night of June 17. At daybreak, they embarked on flatboats to cross the Delaware into New Jersey, under the powerful guns of the floating battery Vigilant, which had played a central role in reducing Fort Mifflin to rubble the previous October.
But the Honourable Cosmo Gordon, lieutenant colonel of the Guards’ 1st Battalion, a privileged bon vivant, spent the night in comfortable quarters, sleeping so late the next morning that the family whose home he occupied “thought it but kind to waken him, and tell him ‘his friends, the rebels’ were in town.” Scrambling to find one of the last boats to ferry him across, Gordon and his servant barely escaped American patrols probing the abandoned streets for stragglers.
Over the years, Gordon has attracted considerable attention as a figure of romance. A charge of murder and the records of three court trials paint an intriguing picture of the man’s character, while also revealing details of the Battle of Springfield, on June 23, 1780. Read more about a point of honour, a court martial trial and ultimately death…

Ben Franklin’s World: From Inoculation to Vaccination, Part 2
The history of smallpox allows us to see how the world’s first and second immunization procedures, inoculation and vaccination, made their way to North America. It also allows us to see how early Americans at first challenged and then adopted measures of smallpox control and prevention in the name of public health. It was the quest for a healthier and safer alternative to smallpox inoculation that led to the world’s second immunization procedure: vaccination.

  • Dr. Edward Jenner’s observations and the creation of the smallpox vaccine
  • Controversy over the private inoculation hospital in Marblehead, Massachusetts
  • The effects of smallpox on the Revolutionary War
  • George Washington’s wavering feelings on inoculation
  • Mass inoculation of the Continental Army
  • Edward Jenner’s vaccination experiments on James Phipps
  • The use of enslaved and orphaned children to transport the smallpox vaccine
  • Spanish King Carlos IV decision to vaccinate the Spanish empire
  • The Balmis Expedition
  • How the news and practice of vaccination spread throughout North America
  • Benjamin Waterhouse’s failed vaccination campaign
  • Massachusetts public health efforts to make vaccination widely available
  • How we get from the first smallpox vaccine to the COVID-19 MRNA vaccine

Listen in…

18th Century Shoes and Their Secret Stories
Posted by jasnasouthwest on 24 Apr 2021
By Kimberly Alexander
If you missed Kimberly Alexander’s wonderful April 24, 2021, talk on “18th Century Shoes and Their Secret Stories,” or want to revisit the presentation or share it with a friend, the video is now live on the JASNA Southwest YouTube channel. The chat is also available. In addition, Alexander provided a bibliography for further reading.
The beautifully illustrated presentation took attendees on a tour of women’s footwear from the 1740s through the 1790s. She described early branding efforts and the allure of purchasing shoes from some of the leading manufacturers of the day, such as Rideout and Davis in London. Many shoes could be worn on either foot, which allowed women to alternate how they wore the shoes in order to reduce overall wear. Alexander explained that silk brocade shoes might cost 18 shillings, while more common footwear made of wool might cost four to six shillings. Because of the high cost of footwear, some 75 percent of the shoes from the era that still exist today have been repaired and altered. Read more and watch… (A bibliography is available there too.)

Late Bloomer: the Exquisite Craft of Mary Delany
The British Museum.
This Women’s History Month we’re shining a light on women artists in the collection. Here we take a closer look at the life and work of Mary Delany, who at 72 years of age began producing a series of 985 extraordinarily detailed floral collages. Mary Delany’s stunning works are a remarkable combination of art and science. Often mistaken for water colours, they are in fact carefully constructed paper collages, or ‘mosaicks’ as she called them.

Toronto Branch “The Loyalists of Digby” by Brian McConnell UE Tues 18 May @7:30PM ET

Please join us on May 18, 2021 at 7:30 pm via Zoom to hear about Brian McConnell’s latest book, The Loyalists of Digby, which explores the experience of the United Empire Loyalists and the Black Loyalists who arrived in Digby and Digby County, Nova Scotia, in the 1780s.
Digby County in Nova Scotia is one of the most Loyalist in Nova Scotia.
Contact Sally Gustin for the link.

City of Toronto: Status of the First Parliament Site, Tues. 18 May @6:30 – 8:30 ET

On May 18, the City of Toronto will hold a Zoom Meeting between 6:30 and 8:30 to update the status of the site of the Upper Canada parliament buildings, and its potential development. First Parliament Project — Consultations — City of Toronto Last week, Toronto City Council passed a motion calling for the Province’s transit authority Metrolinx to keep the property in public hands. Residents fear that Metrolinx intends to take the land from the City and then sell it to developers to pay for the construction of the new subway line – the Ontario line – in Toronto.
David Raymont

David Centre: Uncovering the Virginia Loyalists: Wed. May 26 @3:00-5:00 pm ET.

The David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society.
Virginia was a largely patriot state during the Revolution, right? Maybe not. Check out Uncovering the Virginia Loyalists with Drs. Stephanie Seal Walters & Alexi Garrett part one of our look at Chesapeake loyalism.
NOTE: Drs. Stephanie Seal Walters & Alexi Garrett are recipients of the UELAC Loyalist Scholarship
Episode is available on demand – listen…
[Editor’s Note: Recommended listening if you would like to know more about the Loyalist Claims process, with several interesting cases]

David Centre: Loyalist Claims of Virginia’s Feme Soles: Wed. May 26 @3:00-5:00 pm ET.

Wednesday, May 26 @3:00-5:00 pm ET. Alexi Garrett (Iona College), “Rhetorical Strategies and Enslaved Property in the Loyalist Claims of Virginia’s Feme Soles.” Register…
A comment from Alexi “…hundreds of Loyalist “families” suffered terribly in 1775 and 1776 in Virginia’s Tidewater region. From the moment the British fleet arrived in Norfolk in October 1775, to when Patriots finished scorching the city in February 1776, Loyalists fled for their lives; they watched angry mobs ransack and burn their homes; they lost their entire fortunes; and they fought and died in skirmishes….”
Contributed by Christine Manzer UE and Bonnie Schepers UE

From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Published by the UELAC
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