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The Loyalist with the Disfigured Face: Part One of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
He was just 24 years old when the Declaration of Independence was declared. A pacifist Quaker, he was a schoolteacher in Pennsylvania’s Plumstead Township. By the standards of the day, he was considered to have a “fine figure”. In addition to being skilled horsemen, he and his brothers were noted for being “extremely athletic, tall and good looking, with dark brown hair, long necks and Romanesque noses.”
Eleven years later, the young teacher was a political refugee and a wanted criminal. He and his wife –along with their young son— had found sanctuary in Humberstone Township not far from Niagara Falls in a Loyalist settlement in Upper Canada. The only official record of the Quaker family’s arrival states that the head of the family “came into the province 1787; was wounded in the face”.
Four years earlier, this Loyalist had been shot through the cheek, resulting in the loss of several teeth. According to one source, his face was torn “in such a frightful manner as to leave an ugly mark which the refugee carried to his grave”. And so Joseph Doan Junior became the Loyalist with the disfigured face.
Much of Doan’s story has been muddied by myth and exaggeration, but even when told in broad strokes, it is one that is deserves to be more widely known. In one person, we have a pacifist embroiled in violence, a handsome face forever disfigured, a school teacher who became one of the American Revolution’s most wanted men, and a senior citizen who was incarcerated in the midst of the War of 1812.
Named for his father, Joseph Doan was born on April 1, 1752 in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County. He was the second of nine siblings who made up the family of Joseph and Hester (Vickers) Doan. Noted as having “received an education above that of the average young man at the time”, Joseph Junior became a teacher for the children in the Plumstead Township.
As Quakers, Joseph’s family were pacifists and wished to remain neutral during the American Revolution. Patriots, on the other hand, believed that all those who were not “with them” were by definition “against them”. This led to pressure being applied to the Quakers of Pennsylvania to declare themselves in favour of the revolution. Failing that, Quakers were persecuted until they either joined the rebels or fled to safety across the British line. In the case of the Doan family, the new Patriot government confiscated their farm, jailed Joseph Senior for refusing to pay taxes, and then forced Hester, their three daughters and youngest son off of their land.
The persecution at the hands of Patriots backfired, making the Quaker brothers violent opponents of Pennsylvania’s rebels. By 1774, the five older Doan boys had formed a gang led by Moses, their oldest brother and began to terrorize local rebels. On June 15, 1778, the state government officially declared that the Doans were traitors. Know as the Plumstead Cowboys, Joseph Doan and his brothers spied for the British government, stole horses to sell to the king’s army, and robbed wealthy Patriots. The latter activity made local Loyalists think of the Doans as noble robbers in the tradition of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Patriots, on the other hand, saw them as terrorists and posted a £100 reward for their capture. By 1783, that reward had tripled.
Given their notoriety, myths and tall tales grew up around the Doans’ adventures. Separating fact from fiction is a challenge. One story that was retold by Joseph following his settlement in Upper Canada had to do with the theft of a horse belonging to a Patriot named Joseph Sackett.
Joseph Doah recounted how his brothers stole Sackett’s horse on three different occasions “for the pure fun of it and did so only to let him and his neighbours know that it could be done”. At first the horse was returned after being stolen 9 months earlier. Then it was returned after being stolen 3 months earlier. When they felt that they had tormented Sackett enough, the Doans returned his horse to its pasture under cover of night.
The other story that relates to Joseph Doan is when he impersonated Lord Rawdon. Francis Edward Rawdon was an Irishman who, in addition to fighting for the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill, had raised the 2,000 members of the Volunteers of Ireland (the 2nd American Regiment).
While on a spying mission in Philadelphia, Joseph Doan dressed “as a gentleman” and had lodgings at the Sign of the Covered Wagon. His clothing and his striking resemblance to Lord Rawdon led one of Philadelphia’s leading citizens to mistake Joseph for the Irishman.
When asked why he was in Philadelphia, Doan whispered that he was “passing in disguise from the army in the south” and asked for the man to keep his presence in the city a secret. Anxious to be of help to the man he assumed was Lord Rawdon, the man invited Joseph to visit his home the next day. He did and ended up spending the night there. Before sunrise, Doan snuck out of his host’s house, taking with him $500.00 worth of silver plate.
Despite the fact that the revolution was no longer being fought following the British defeat at Yorktown, Joseph and his brothers continued to rob the Patriots of Pennsylvania. According to an Act passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1783, the Doans were “robbers, felons, burglars and traitors” to the American cause whose reign of terror throughout Bucks County had to cease. The increased reward for Joseph and his brothers prompted greater efforts to capture them.
In September, Moses, the 33 year-old leader of the Doan gang, was shot following his arrest by a local posse at Halsey’s Tavern. The other Plumstead Cowboys fled. In time, each one would eventually be captured.
The events around Joseph Doan’s arrest and imprisonment vary depending on the account one consults. Given the amount of folklore that grew up around this band of Quaker brothers, it is difficult to determine which story is the most accurate. But what is common to each of the six accounts that we have of Joseph’s capture, it is clear that he found himself imprisoned in Newtown, Pennsylvania due to the fact that he had been wounded in the face following an attempted robbery at Colonel Robinson’s tavern in Montgomery County’s Upper Dublin.
How the Loyalist with the disfigured face received his injury –as well as the stories of his further adventures in Upper Canada– will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
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JAR: In Defense of Mount Independence
by Michael Barbieri 27 July 2021
It’s an understatement to say that the spring of 1776 had not gone well for the American army in Canada. After a campaign that had stalled at the walls of Quebec City the previous winter, May brought British and German reinforcements who thoroughly routed the remnants of the army camped outside the city and drove them back up Lake Champlain. June found the depleted and dispirited American army at Ticonderoga trying desperately to construct defenses against a British army that would certainly be coming after them.
Realizing that the dilapidated fort had been built by the French to defend against an attack from the south, the American commanders looked to develop the north-facing promontory across the quarter-mile-wide southern extension of Lake Champlain. Called East Point or Rattlesnake Hill, the Americans renamed it Mount Independence after news of the Declaration of Independence arrived. The Mount became home for thousands of American soldiers until July 1777, when British Gen. John Burgoyne’s advance forced an evacuation. The British 62nd Regiment initially garrisoned the fort but was soon replaced by the 53rd, which along with the German Prinz Friedrich Regiment lived and worked there until they abandoned the post four months later. The Mount did not experience any long-term occupation or development for the rest of the war. Read more…

Jar: The Odyssey of Loyalist Colonel Samuel Bryan
by Douglas R. Dorney, Jr. 28 July 2021
Colonel Samuel Bryan is thought to be the highest-ranking Loyalist officer to remain in the United States after the Revolutionary War. Despite being a high-ranking British officer in command of hundreds of men, little is known about him and the militia unit he commanded. With the arrival of British regulars in the Carolinas in 1780, Bryan came out of hiding and fled to British lines where he was put in command of a Loyalist militia regiment named the North Carolina Volunteers. While historiography of the period relegates Bryan and his regiment as minor participants in the military contest, it was another aspect of the war for which Bryan acquired a degree of infamy. In the post-Yorktown period, Bryan and two of his officers were defendants in the highest profile North Carolina treason trial of the era. Given their relatively high ranks, the men were not confined long, instead becoming bargaining chips in prisoner exchange negotiations among North Carolina governors, Gen. Nathanael Greene, and British Gen. Alexander Leslie. Ultimately exchanged, the men found themselves with the same uncertainties facing other Loyalists at the end of the war. Would they be allowed to remain in the United States? If so, would they be persecuted or imprisoned? Would they be able to keep (or more likely regain) their confiscated property? For Bryan, his officers, and other Loyalists, there were no clear answers to these questions in 1782. This uncertainty flung them to the near and further reaches of the British realm. Read more…

All Things Georgian: Tibby Tinkler, bookseller of Richmond, Yorkshire
By Sarah Murden 17 March 2021
What an amazing aquatint of a woman I would love to have met. It was produced after her death, but it’s full of such character, but who was she? Her name was Isabella, known to all as Tibby Tinkler.
The image itself does provide a few clues about her. We know that she was a bookseller in the town of Richmond, North Yorkshire and possibly the very first in Richmond and that the image above by George Cuitt, of Richmond, tells us that it was produced after her death in 1794 when she was aged 92.
Now, firstly, was she really 92 when she died? well yes, for a change we know that this to have been accurate. Read more…

All Things Georgian: The Eighteenth Century Gin Craze
By Sarah Murden 13 June 2019
In today’s world gin has seen something of a resurgence, with gin bars popping up everywhere and flavoured gins becoming the drink of choice for many. So how do you take yours? Pink perhaps, with a tonic, ice and a slice — sound good, yes? Well, if we take you back to the 18th century we can offer you gin, but would have been a somewhat weaker gin than you’re used to today, as it was only about 30% proof — but how does the addition of oil of turpentine and sulphuric acid oil of vitriol (better known today as sulphuric acid or drain cleaner!) sound? No takers then, presumably? Despite this, gin became the drink of choice for the poor, including children, although, people really had little idea of what it was they were actually consuming.
We can but hope that lessons have been learnt since the 18th century as can be seen in Hogarth’s caricature of Gin Lane which shows just what the effects of it could be. The detail in this caricature show the link between poverty and the demon drink, with people taking anything they owned to the pawn broker just to raise enough money to worship at ‘The Temple of Juniper’ and to feed their addiction to ‘Juniper water’ or ‘Madam Geneva’ as it was often referred to as. Read more…

Parmesan ice cream
Would you give this recipe from 1789 a go?
Take 6 eggs, 1/2 a pint of syrup & a pint of cream; put into a stewpan & boil until it begins to thicken; then rasp 3 ozs of Parmesan cheese, mix & pass through sieve & freeze it.
Cheese ice cream — yes or no?

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

    • Well preserved headstone of Corp. Charles Barry who served with the 42nd Royal Highlanders, aka the Black Watch, in Fort Massey Cemetery at Halifax, N.S. – Brian McConnell UE
    • King George III on wall inside historic Uniacke House at Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia
    • This Week in History
      • 30 July 1619, Governor George Yeardley, his council and 22 burgesses in the Virginia colony convened on a hot summer day at Jamestown, marking the meeting of the first legislative assembly in British America and the beginning of representative government.
      • 30 Jul7 1733: “The oldest duly constituted and chartered Masonic lodge in the Americas” was founded at the Bunch of Grapes tavern on King Street in Boston #OnThisDay in 1733.
      • 25 Jul 1750 Boston, MA. Henry Knox was born. Knox had his own bookstore, allowing him to read many works on military tactics & science. This would make him a key advisor to Washington and commander of the Continental Army artillery & future Sec of War.
      • 29 July 1771 Colonial newspapers contributed to perpetuation of slavery. Advertised 250 years ago today: “Ran-away … a thick well-set Negro Man named Cesar …. speaks very good English … seen at Cambridge on Commencement Day, and the two following Days.” (Boston-Gazette 7/29/1771)
      • 26 July 1775, British prime minister Lord North and his Cabinet responded to news of the loss of Fort Ticonderoga by agreeing to raise an army of 20,000 by the following April to put down the rebellion in America.
      • 26 Jul 1775 Continental Congress establishes Constitutional Post, forerunner to the US Postal Service.
      • 29 July 29 1775 James McHenry, a young doctor born in Ireland & educated in Philadelphia, drafted his first will in preparation for volunteering as a Continental Army surgeon. He began, “Being about to set off for the head Quarters in New England…”
      • 24 Jul 1776 President Hancock reprimands General Schuyler over disruptive dissent in his militia ranks.
      • 28 Jul 1776 Declaration of Independence received with cheers by solders when read at Fort Ticonderoga, New-York.
      • 29 Jul 1776 Patriot forces invade Cherokee territory at North-Carolina to discourage alliance with British.
      • 30 Jul 1776 Washington offers exchange of any British officer for return of Col. Ethan Allen, captured at Montreal.
      • 27 Jul 1777 Marquis de Lafayette & Baron Johann de Kalb arrive in Philadelphia to assist Continental Army.
      • 25 Jul 1779 Penobscot Bay, MA Commodore Dudley Saltonstall’s squadron is driven off by three British sloops under Capt Henry Mowat. Saltonstall is afraid to maneuver his vessels in the Bagaduce River, where British shore batteries can pound him at will.
      • 25 Jul 1783 Final action of the Revolutionary War, Siege of Cuddalore, Carnatic (India), ended by peace agreement.
    • Clothing and Related:
      • 18th Century Court Mantua, c.1760, It was probably worn by Mary Holt, wife of the 7th Earl of Haddington and may have been worn at the wedding of King George III to Queen Charlotte in 1761.
      • Unusual 18th Century women’s banyan, It would have been worn over stays & petticoats in the privacy of home, either in the morning before dressing formally for the day or in the evening before changing for bed. 1750-1770
      • 18th Century dress, An open robe and petticoat of pale yellow silk brocade featuring bunches of flowers in shades of white, purple, blue, pink, red, with green leaves floating over a grid of fine violet and brown check. c.1770, English
      • A rare survivor – An 18th Century silk dress designed by Rose Bertin and supposedly worn by Marie Antoinette and passed to one of her Courtiers, 1780’s, altered in the 19th Century, but the quality of the silk & the embroidery is still clear.
      • Purse, 1800–1820
      • 18th Century men’s fawn-coloured coat and matching waistcoat made of broad cloth, a woollen fabric woven on a wide loom. Embellished with silver thread embroidery & spangles, adorned with buttons covered in silver wire, c.1766-1775 via Museum of London
      • 18th Century Court coat and waistcoat, the coat is made of purple silk velvet, cut & voided in alternating stripes of satin ground and figured velvet. 1790’s
      • 18th Century men’s waistcoat made of dark pink silk brocaded with yellow silk thread partially wrapped with silver strip and coloured silks in a woven-to-shape pattern of a curving branch with flowers and leaves. c.1760’s
    • Townsends



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