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September 1787: Butler’s Rangers Seek Compensation – Part One of Three
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
In August of 1787, almost 80 people associated with Butler’s Rangers travelled over 660 km from the Niagara region to Montreal to seek compensation for their losses during the American Revolution. By the end of August, 24 Rangers and one widow had stood before the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) to make their claims. It is remarkable that in addition to the 35 Rangers who submitted petitions for compensation, there were 42 others who joined the “road trip” to Montreal for the sole purpose of serving as character witnesses. It was a long way to go to help a fellow veteran.
Between September first and thirtieth, the last 10 members of the Rangers made their cases before the compensation board. The RCLSAL’s commissioners —Col. Jeremy Pemberton and Col. Thomas Dundas— realized that granting compensation to the loyalists who had found asylum in British North America would aid “the progress and improvement of their infant settlements {and} would eventually prove beneficial to the whole province.”
Anxious to gather as much accurate background evidence as possible, the RCLSAL also sent John Anstey, a barrister at law, to the United States to collect lists that itemized the seizures of loyalist property, the names of banished loyalists, and any accounts that would substantiate or negate a loyalist’s claim. Everything was in place to make to give the remaining Butler’s Rangers a fair and unbiased hearing.
When John Brown stood before Pemberton and Dundas, the commissioners noted that this Rangers veteran was on Anstey’s list, a fact that would help underscore the credibility of his claim. Testifying on Saturday, September 1st, Brown told the commissioners that he had been a farmer in the Schoharie Valley in New York’s Albany County. In addition to the 200 acres that Brown had bought and cleared, there were also 300 acres that been inherited by his wife. The land, his livestock, a house and a barn would all eventually be confiscated.
His Patriot neighbours’ persecution made it difficult to remain in his home. Brown left for Niagara when he “was ordered to quit the country by the rebels as being a Tory”. The Albany County farmer joined Butler’s Rangers in 1781 and served with the corps until the end of the war. Despite hearing Adam Custer’s testimony as a witness on Brown’s behalf, the commissioners felt that his case was “ill supported in evidence”. Brown was told to get a certificate of sale. Unfortunately, the records do not show if he was able to do so. Whether the Ranger veteran received any compensation or not is unknown.
William MacLellan made a better impression. Notes made by the commissioners on his transcript said, “He is a fair man”. MacLellan left Ireland in 1768 to settle in New York’s Cherry Valley. By the start of the American Revolution, he had cleared 20 of his 50-acre farm. His “buildings and all his effects” were destroyed by Indigenous allies of the British army. As James Ramsey, MacLellan’s witness, testified, the Loyalist’s property was destroyed so that the “effects should not fall into the hands of Americans”. MacLellan went on to say that if the Natives had not burned down his buildings, “the Americans would have”. The Irish Loyalist joined Butler’s Rangers in 1779, and was able to show his discharge papers that were issued at the end of the war.
Then MacLellan and Ramsey switched roles. Ramsey made his claim and MacLellan served as his witness. Ramsey had also lived in Cherry Valley where he “continued quiet” at the beginning of the revolution and managed to avoid serving in the local Patriot militia. Then in 1778, he joined Col. Butler’s Rangers and their Indigenous allies when they came to the settlement.
Leaving home had its consequences. Rebels took much of his livestock, and he had to leave “furniture and utensils” behind when he joined the Rangers. He was able to get “most of his things” out of the house before it, like MacLellan’s house, was burned by Natives. He “carried away hardly anything but the clothes”.
Ramsey served in the Rangers for just a year, being discharged “on account of illness”. He initially settled at Detroit, but four years after the revolution’s end he was living “near the falls of Niagara” with other veterans. The RCLSAL commissioners felt that Ramsey was a “good man” and should be compensated for his losses, “but not to the amount of what he claims”.
The last Rangers veteran to testify on September 1, 1787 was Peter Shunk. This Loyalist soldier was a German who had come to America 22 years earlier. He had a 300-acre farm just nine miles outside of Albany, New York where he grew wheat, tended an orchard, maintained cattle and horses, and had built both a house and barn.
Shunk took up arms against New York’s rebels early in the revolution, joining Loyalist forces “very early, long before {General} Burgoyne was taken” in 1777. It was sometime after he began serving with Butler’s Rangers that he was “disabled by wounds from doing his duty”. Unfortunately neither Shunk nor his witness John Seager gave any more details about how the Loyalist was wounded in action.
During Shunk’s absence, the local rebel committee went to his farm and took away everything that could be moved. The farm itself became the property of a veteran Continental Army colonel named Hank Shaver. The RCLSAL commissioners concluded that Shunk “seemed a good man”.
More stories of the Rangers who sought compensation in Montreal in September of 1787 will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

New Book – Treaties and Treacheries – The Early Years of the Revolutionary War on America’s Western Frontiers, 1775-1778
By Gavin K. Watt
Published by Global Heritage Press, Ottawa, September 2021
Watt’s previous works have concentrated on the events of the American Revolutionary War in lower Quebec, upstate New York and Vermont. In this new book, he ventures west and south to examine the conflict out of Detroit across western Pennsylvania and the Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky territories that was hugely complicated by the colonists’ incessant encroachment onto First Nations’ lands.
Treaties & Treacheries examines the war’s first four years when political control of the northwest region remained uncertain. Thereafter, the United States dominated, as Britain abandoned attempts to rule the region and withdrew support of her many Indigenous allies. At war’s end, many of the region’s anglo-loyalists settled in western Ontario, while the Indigenous inhabitants and the majority of the Canadiens — many of whom had supported the Crown – accepted United States’ ascendancy and remained in their pre-war settlements.
More information and order including a browseable Index:
Rick Roberts, Global Genealogy News <>

JAR: 10 Amazing Women of the Revolutionary War
by Pamela Murrow 14 September 2021
I desire you would remember the ladies“—March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams to her husband, John Adams
After reading the “Most Overrated Revolutionary” and the “Most Underrated Revolutionary,” and the amazing contributions by each and every person, it started me thinking about “the ladies” that I feel, in their own ways, helped achieve independence. The impact that ladies had on the revolutionary effort did not take center stage and has been underrated. The involvement of some of these women has not been as recognizable as others but they all had one thing in common, patriotic passion. These women were steadfast, dependable and assisted in every way imaginable, many even risking their own lives and fearing for their personal safety.
Even though society did not easily permit females to participate in the Revolutionary War, women did great things by giving to their country in many different ways. So their husbands did not have to manage homesteads, these ladies supported them by working farms, managing the Indians /Redcoats /frontier environment and caring for the sick so their families could stay together while their husbands were either fighting, creating or rallying the nation. These Patriots endured hardships only they could understand. John Adams wished to be a soldier, and expressed his desire that “every body must and will, and shall be a soldier” but was much more successful in congress while his wife ran the farm. Many times women uprooted families to follow their husbands or left their children behind to be raised by friends and family, enduring the unwritten history of living life, the day in and day out hardships of survival. The women and children that followed endured the same living conditions and suffered the same privations as the soldiers in an army, which sometimes included a lack of food, clothing and shelter. Read more…

JAR: Guns on Mount Defiance
by Michael Barbieri 16 September 2021
Discussions about the American evacuation of Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga on the night of July 5, 1777 frequently address the question: could shot from artillery on Mount Defiance (commonly called Sugar Hill in the eighteenth century) reach Mount Independence and Ticonderoga? Those who believe it could use that potential as support for the decision to abandon the post. In contrast, nay-sayers often cite the lack of the threat as part of a criticism of the evacuation. Few with either view offer any factual support for their position. A look at period documents provides a clear answer at both hypothetical and practical levels.
An investigation at the hypothetical level requires breaking the main question into two smaller queries. First, how far did the shot have to travel?
…Armchair engineers comparing range and distance tables is all well and good but are there other period documents available that provide evidence of a practical nature? Read more…

Ridgefield CT 1777 Battle. History Unfolds: Steps in July 2021
Heritage Consultants (Heritage) continued research on the Ridgefield Historical Society’s (RHS) National Park Service (NPS) American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant studying the 1777 Battle of Ridgefield (BOR) which began March 1, 2021.
The Heritage Research Team completed the “processing” of historical materials gathered since March in terms of cataloging the materials in the Source Database, transcribed relevant materials, and analyzed the documents for details needed to reconstruct battle events and the battlefield landscape. They are now moving forward with drafting the historical narrative necessary for the Final Technical Report.
A resident of Wilton, Connecticut [Ken MacCallum] contacted David George of Heritage wishing to discuss BOR research. The resident shared a great deal of information regarding New York Militia research concerning the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Westchester Regiments and New York veterans from the battle. Read more…
Ken MacCallum

Ben Franklin’s World: Religion and the American Revolution
Katherine Carté, an Associate Professor of History at Southern Methodist University and the author of Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History, leads us on an investigation of the role religion played in the American Revolution.
During our investigation, Kate reveals the role Protestant religion played in the British Empire form the seventeenth century through the American Revolution; Competition and cooperation among the British Empire’s three privileged Protestant denominations, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism; And, details about the role and impact of religion during the American Revolution and the founding of the new United States. Listen in…

Borealia: Calling the Police before the Police in Newfoundland
Book: Rough Justice: Policing, Crime, and the Origins of the Newfoundland Constabulary, 1729-1871, by Keith Mercer (St. John’s: Flanker Press, 2021).
Review by M. Max Hamon
Drawing out ambiguities of the “police before the police” is an excellent way to explore the past as a different country in the classroom. For instance, a great hook to tell students is that in Newfoundland the colonial government forced tavern keepers to moonlight as constables in exchange for their liquor licences. This opens up the opportunity to explain the strangeness. The history of the police before the police has become one of the most teachable moments in my pre-confederation classes or, as Daniel Samson has written in another post, making the familiar dis/comfortingly strange.
Unpacking the term “police” helps students untangle the origins of social regulation, governmentality, and the first constables themselves. We look at the growth of state through the history of those agents appointed to enforce the laws. Inevitably, however, the issue of definition comes up. To call police “the police” before the police can be, to put it mildly, confusing.
British historian Clive Emsley helps unpack it: “the word police was generally applied, not to an institution but to the management and government of a particular piece of territory, particularly a town or city.” The debates surrounding the formation of Canada’s first “police town,” Kingston, studied by George Betts, illustrate this point wonderfully. Read more…

Query: Loyalist Migration from Pennsylvania to Niagara
William Lundy migrated from Maiden Creek, Pennsylvania to Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1786. I am interested in understanding more about what such a trip would have been like.
For about 8 years I have been looking for such details, through diaries or articles describing similar trips made by other families, but thus far have found nothing. Families such as Silverthorne, Biggar and Lemon may have made this trip.
William Lundy came with his wife Nancy Silverthorne, and five sons; their sixth son was born in Niagara, I believe. They travelled some 500/600 KM to get here with some livestock and wagons. Such a trip would be quite an undertaking.
Any help or thoughts would be appreciated.
Rod Lundy UE 1.705.245. 4144

Alumnus of Boston Latin School
Following the publication of Loyalist Trails last week with this item “The Boston Latin School is a public exam school in Boston, Massachusetts. It was established on April 23, 1635, making it both the oldest public school in the Americas and the oldest existing school in the United States. (More at BLS website, and at Wikipedia)”, an email message arrived:

Just thought you might like to know that a past President of UELAC (1982-1984), attended Boston Latin School, 1950-1953 ,when his family of six lived in Boston. At the time, my father was not only a minister serving various churches in the Boston area but attended both Harvard University where he earned his Master’s Degree in Systematic Theology (ST.M.) and Boston University where he earned his Th. D. The latter institution is where both my father and Martin Luther King Jr. attended some of the same classes while pursuing their respective doctoral degrees in Theology (Divinity)

Charles J. Humber UE

John Childs, Rope Flyer
By J.L. Bell 4 A[pril 2007 at Boston 1775
Yesterday I quoted John Childs’s announcement that he planned to fly from the steeple of Christ Church in Boston’s North End, the church we now call Old North. The 15 Sept 1757 Boston News-Letter duly recorded:

Tuesday in the afternoon, John Childs, who had given public Notice of his Intention to fly from the Steeple of Dr. Cutler’s Church, perform’d it to the Satisfaction of a great Number of Spectators; and yesterday in the Afternoon he again perform’d it twice.
The last Time he set off with two Pistols loaded, one of which he discharged in his Descent; the other missing fire, he cock’d and snap’d again before he reached the Place prepared to receive him. Read more… (See drawing)

Honours: Cal Craig UE
The New Brunswick Genealogical Society shared in their Fall Newsletter that C.L.(Cal) Craig has been presented with a Life Membership in honor of his services to genealogy N.B. The award was presented by Jason Gaudet, President – NBGS Inc.
Cal has been a lifelong member of UELAC NB and past President of the Fredericton NB branch as well as NB Branch Genealogist.
Angela Donovan UE, New Brunswick Branch UELAC

Presentations on Nova Scotia Loyalists by Brian McConnell UE Available
My zoom presentation to the London and Western Ontario Branch of the UELAC was my fifth one about United Empire Loyalists. I have been fortunate to be asked and pleased to present to Victoria Branch, Toronto Branch, Grand River Branch, Bay of Quinte Branch, and London and Western Ontario Branch. These branches have also publicized the event among members and in newsletters as well as mentioning my books. Notice has also appeared on social media.
I have prepared two different powerpoint presentations which are: 1) The Loyalists of Digby; and 2) Loyalist Cemeteries and Gravestones of Nova Scotia. Both presentations include information from my books on Loyalists as well as other research. If you or a group of which you are a member is interested in a presentation, contact me.
I am also willing to work with any group to make a new historical presentation about United Empire Loyalists in Nova Scotia.
Brian McConnell UE,


Kawartha Branch with Trish Groom UE, Sunday, 19 Sept 2021 at 2:00 ET

Guest speaker, Dominion President, Trish Groom UE, will talk about her role in the UELAC. This virtual meeting will also introduce Bill Russell UE as the new Kawartha Branch President.
Join the meeting. Meeting ID: 823 8916 5911 Passcode: 157651

Victoria Branch Meeting The History of British Child Migration by Patricia Skidmore Sat 25 Sept 10:00AM PT (1:00PM ET)

Patricia, an author, is a daughter of a British child migrant. Researching the layers of British child migration has enabled her to understand her family’s role in this incredible 350-year-history of Britain shipping children to the colonies. She lives on Vancouver Island, BC. More about Patricia and her books at
To apply to attend this free virtual via Zoom meeting on Saturday 25 September 2021 @10.00 am PT, send an email to and indicate if you are a member of UELAC or not; if so, which branch.

Kingston Branch, WHEREAS it is Unjust”, Jean Rae Baxter, Sat 25 Sept 2:00PM ET

Kingston and District Branch, UELAC next meeting is Saturday, September 25, 2021, 2:00 p.m. EDT. Author Jean Rae Baxter will speak on “WHEREAS it is Unjust” — Upper Canada’s Role in the Fight to End Slavery. More Loyalists than you might think arrived in Canada with Black “servants.” Pre-register here, and you’ll receive a confirmation email that can serve as a reminder. The registration process also gives you the opportunity to add the meeting to your online Google or Outlook or Yahoo calendar.


From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • There are now 33 videos of Loyalist Cemeteries and gravestones in Nova Scotia that can be viewed here on YouTube. Brian McConnell UE,
  • This Week in History
    • Colonial newspapers contributed to the perpetuation of slavery. Advertised 250 years ago today: “Four young new Negro slaves, three of them girls and a boy, to be sold cheap for Cash. Inquire of the Printer hereof.” (Connecticut Courant 9/17/1771)
    • 16 Sep 1775 Constitutional Gazette, #OTD Sept 16, 1775: “An officer in Boston, writes…: ‘General Gage and his family have for this month past, lived upon salt provisions. … General Putnam…sent a present to the General’s lady of a fine fresh quarter of veal.'”
    • 17 Sep 1775 Fort Saint Jean sur Richelieu in Quebec besieged in American attempt to liberate Canada from British.
    • 17 September 1775 #OnThisDay JOHN PARKER passed from tuberculosis. Vet of 7 Year War at Louisbourg & Quebec. At Lexington, credited with saying “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
    • 11 Sep 1776 British Adm. Howe meets John Adams, Ben Franklin, & Edward Rutledge for fruitless peace talks.
    • 14 Sep 1776 General Court at Watertown, MA blocks sale of two black prisoners, rules they be treated as other POWs.
    • 15 Sep 1776 British armada arrives at NYC, completing the occupation and dealing a heavy blow to the American rebellion.
    • 13 Sep 1777 British General Burgoyne crosses the Hudson River near Saratoga, but will find his intended path toward Albany blocked by American forces.
    • 17 Sep 1778 Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant leads raid on German Flatts, New-York, killing 3 & burning town.
    • 16 Sep 1779 Savannah GA besieged by Americans & French; ends in failure.
    • 12 Sep 1780 Skirmish between Loyalist and Patriots at Cane Creek, NC is a prelude to Battle of King’s Mountain.
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Townsends
  • Miscellaneous

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