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A Palace Fit for a Loyalist, Part One of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
When the first Loyalist evacuees set sail for Halifax in March of 1776, the British naval outpost was not ready for their arrival. The town of 2,000 was suddenly overwhelmed by a thousand Massachusetts refugees and five times as many troops in desperate need of housing and food. While some found shelter in overflowing army barracks, most of the destitute Loyalists had no other choice but to live in army tents out on the snowy, windy slopes of Halifax’s citadel. In addition to having to cope with food and housing shortages, these loyal Americans had to deal with an outbreak of smallpox. It is little wonder that the colony would come to be known as “Nova Scarcity”.
But a lot can change over three decades.
By 1807, Halifax had a population of 8,000, and –thanks to the influx of Loyalists following the American Revolution — Nova Scotia was home to about 65,000 people. The colony’s lieutenant governor at this time was one of those Loyalist refugees: John Wentworth, the last royalist governor of New Hampshire.
His official residence in Halifax bore absolutely no resemblance to the canvas tents that provided shelter to the Loyalists who first sought sanctuary in Nova Scotia. Wentworth’s mansion –known as Government House– is now Canada’s oldest official residence. In addition to its second story private apartments, its first floor features a drawing room for gatherings, a dining room for state banquets, and a ballroom for formal entertaining. In the centuries since it was first built, Nova Scotia’s Government House has entertained heads of state, international dignitaries and over a dozen members of the royal family. But initially, it was a miniature palace fit for a Loyalist.
Nova Scotia’s first residence for its governor was a much more modest affair. Its frame, windows and cladding arrived in Halifax on a ship from Boston in 1749 — the year that Halifax was founded. This 18th century version of a pre-fabricated house was a low structure with just one story.
Six years later, the first governor’s house was hauled to another location by horses, and a new house was erected on the same site in the centre of the town. Surrounded by a fence, this second official residence was a two and a half story clapboard house that was painted to look like stone. It later had a ballroom built at one end and was known to have accommodated up to 60 people at evening gatherings. John Parr, who governed Nova Scotia from 1782 to 1791, called his residence “a most excellent house” that had “a very good French cook”, a “cellar well stocked”, and “plenty of coals and wood against the severity of winter”.
However, when Sir John Wentworth and his wife Frances became the occupants of Parr’s official residence in 1792, they were not impressed. Used to living in stately mansions in New Hampshire during John’s term as governor, and having travelled in aristocratic circles in Great Britain as Loyalist refugees, the Wentworths had a far different concept of what a governor’s mansion should be. John wrote to English friends about the dangers of “falling into the cellar” in a building made of “green wood and rotten timbers”. It was, he claimed, so cold and damp that it was a hazard to his family’s health.
The opportunity to build a more opulent residence came in 1796 when the colony’s legislature voted to buy land that could be used as the sites for a House of Assembly, government offices, a courthouse, and a lieutenant governor’s residence. Two years later, the assembly narrowed its construction plans to just building a new Government House. It was not a popular decision as those who represented ridings outside of Halifax wanted to see tax dollars used to build roads. Eventually funds were voted to construct both a new Government House and the much needed country roads.
Where the first two official residences had been located in the centre of Halifax, Wentworth chose a plot of land that –in that day—was on the outer fringe of the town. Rather than being surrounded by buildings on all sides, the new Government House had room for landscaped grounds and gardens — as well as uninterrupted views of the harbour.
On September 11, 1800 the house’s cornerstone was laid with great ceremony. Beginning at the site of the old Government House, a procession that was accompanied by a marching band made its way to what was then a field between Hollis and Pleasant (now Barrington) Streets. After Wentworth placed the cornerstone, the ceremony concluded with a prayer from the rector of St. Paul’s Church and a light luncheon.
The colony’s general assembly had voted £10,500 to cover the costs of the new official residence, having every reason to believe that such a substantial budget would be more than sufficient. Not surprisingly, expenditures continued to rise over the seven years that it took to complete Government House. In the end, the total cost of the building was almost three times what had originally been budgeted.
The Wentworths’ new residence was, in the words of cultural historian Michael Prokopow, “the most elegant structure in the province” and “arguably among the finest Georgian buildings in Canada … Given Wentworth’s understanding of the role that the house should play in the life and political functioning of the colony and his own taste for luxury, the vice-regal mansion became the fashionable centre of social life.” However, Wentworth’s immediate successor (and the second occupant of Government House), Sir George Prévost felt that it was “an edifice out of all proportion to the situation.
Seven years of labour had created a structure that had more in common with the country estate of a British lord than what one would have expected for an official residence in a small colony far from the centre of empire. In one official description of Nova Scotia’s Government House, it was said to be “a monumental, early 19th-century stone mansion built in the Palladian style, and is distinguished by its overall symmetry, regularly arranged double-hung windows, and its recessed three-story central pavilion flanked by two-storey wings.” It was surrounded by stonewalls and cast iron fencing, and included a carriage house and formal gardens.
It had taken the better part of a decade for talented overseers, diligent labourers, and skilled artisans working with materials from across Nova Scotia and points further afield to construct of such an opulent edifice. Their stories will be told in next week’s edition of Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Robert Nelles UEL: A 260th Birthday Celebration
United Empire Loyalist Robert Nelles was born on October 6, 1761, in the Mohawk Valley, New York State. He arrived at The Forty (Grimsby) in the early 1780s having been a member of the British Army. He finished building Nelles Manor, 126 Main Street West in 1798. He became a Colonel while leading the 4th Lincoln Militia during the War of 1812. He was a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Upper Canada Legislature twice and an entrepreneur. Robert had mills, a store and was also the first to make whiskey in the area. He presided over the marriage of 200 couples. Robert died 27 Jul 1842 at the Manor.
Nelles Manor Museum celebrated his 260th birthday Thursday October 7 at the Grimsby Farmers Market. More about the Museum and the Nelles Family.

McKee’s Purchase: Early Land Agreement with Indigenous Peoples
John Boileau 5 October 2021 The Canadian Encyclopedia
McKee’s Purchase of 1790 (also known as the McKee Treaty and Treaty 2) was an early land agreement between Indigenous peoples and British authorities in Upper Canada (later Ontario). It is the southernmost Upper Canada treaty and consisted of a large strip of territory from the southwestern shore of Lake Erie north to the Thames River and east to a point southwest of modern-day London, Ontario. This land was made available for settlement by Loyalists who were displaced by the American Revolution.
Historical Context
In 1701, the French founded Fort Detroit. Over the years, a settlement gradually spread along both sides of the Detroit River on land granted to settlers by its Indigenous occupants. After the fall of New France in 1760, the area became British territory by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which gave France’s North American possessions to Britain. The new British commanders at Detroit knew of these grants, which were contrary to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. In accordance with that document, only the Crown could negotiate for land from the Indigenous peoples who lived there and then subsequently grant or sell it to settlers. In 1771, Major-General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, said that such grants were illegal, must stop and any buildings erected in Indigenous territory were to be destroyed. While Gage’s instructions were followed elsewhere, in the Detroit area they were either ignored or not enforced.
As a result of the American Revolution (1775-83), all the lands south or west of the Great Lakes became the territory became the territory of the new United States. The western posts at Oswego, Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac, however, remained in British hands until until 1795, after Jay’s Treaty was ratified. Read more…

JAR: What Were the Brooklyn Line of Forts in 1776?
by David M. Griffin 7 October 2021
The planned capture of New York City in 1776 by British forces set the stage for what was to become the largest battle of the Revolutionary War period. British and Hessian forces were able to defeat their American opponents easily in open conflict in the early stages of the Battle of Long Island in 1776. The attackers were also able to outflank the American Army and set themselves directly in front of the Brooklyn defensive line, an extensive line of forts and entrenchments encircling the narrowest part of the Brooklyn peninsula. The Brooklyn line of forts utilized the natural landscape to great advantage. The jubilant British force, so successful in their generalship, was ultimately halted at this line. The British decided against continuing their advance and ordering an assault on the lines. Instead, they set up for a general siege of the forts. Many have contemplated that the British were wary of duplicating losses suffered in their assaults on Breed’s Hill near Boston in 1775.
In light of this history, this author has continually questioned what was the physical reality of this defensive line. Were the American works indeed exceptional or were the attackers being overly cautious in their moves after the battle? What did the actual fortifications look like? These questions lack clear evidence. Research of the physical constructions themselves is challenging. The works were destroyed after they were abandoned by the Americans and the region was fully in British control. In time even the natural landscape was removed in the development of New York City.
One of the immediate questions is why Brooklyn was attacked and not the city of New York directly? The principal reason that New York was not attacked directly or from behind was because lower Manhattan and its inner harbor had been strengthened and fortified by American defenders. … In order to protect the city from an attack overland from Long Island a continuous defensive line, strengthened by forts, was constructed at the narrowest part of the Brooklyn peninsula. The British, who were limited in their control of the waterways due to these inner harbor defenses, chose to attack from the southern part of the Brooklyn peninsula instead. Read more…

Canada’s Provinces Each Has Its Own Official Motto
How well do you know Canada’s provincial mottos? Every province actually has its very own official phrase and some are a little cooler than others.
Some of the proverbs pay tribute to Canada’s national anthem, while others have a religious element or historical context.
Whether you’ve heard them all a million times over or are learning something new for the first time, here’s a look at official mottos from across the country:
The Latin motto on Ontario’s coat of arms is Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanent, which means “loyal she began, loyal she remains.”
According to the Government of Canada, this references the United Empire Loyalists who settled in Ontario back in the 18th century.
Read about the mottoes.

Husking Parties in Concord, Massachusetts
“The season was cheerful, the weather was bright,
when a number assembled to frolic all night.” – Jacob Baily, Loyalist Poet
Husking Parties
Although Halloween was not celebrated near Concord, Massachusetts until late in the 19th century, the locals did have festivities referred to as “husking parties,” and “frolics.”
At their core, husking parties were an important activity meant to prepare food for the winter. After the annual harvest, local farmers needed to ready their corn for storage by removing the silky husk that trapped moisture and caused rotting. This process called, “husking,” ensured the families survival through a harsh winter.
According to one local writer, families spent weeks preparing for a husking frolic. The house was cleaned, food prepared, and “The cider barrel had been ‘hossed up’ in the dooryard, beside a bountiful pile of ‘eating apples.'”. In 1828, Concord citizen John Neil wrote an article titled, “A Husking As It Is.” In his work, Neil claimed,
“When one of our thrifty New England farmers intends to have a husking, he picks his corn from the hill, or cuts it up by the roots and hauls it too, and piles it up in one end of his barn for two or three days previous to the appointed night; the day preceding the husking he sends a boy round within the circumference of a mile perhaps, with particular and general invitations… The boy who bares the invitation sometimes carries the empty jugs about with him, as a sort of bait, or to let them know that white-eye [New Rum] will be there.”
Life in Concord during the 18th and 19th centuries revolved around community and agriculture. “Huskings” or “frolics” provided an opportunity for neighbors to gather and for younger individuals to begin romantic courtships. Read more…

What Happened the Day After the Boston Massacre?
J. L. Bell, Summer 2016 in HUMANITIES
On the morning of March 6, 1770, Boston was in crisis. The night before, British soldiers had fired their guns into a violent crowd, leaving four dead and seven wounded. This event was soon labeled the Boston Massacre, a milestone on the path to the American Revolution.
Bostonians demanded that acting royal governor Thomas Hutchinson remove all soldiers from town. Would that action keep the peace or reward mob violence? Did Hutchinson even have the authority to alter orders from London? Any choice would be fraught with consequences. This spring, modern crowds in Boston watched the discussion unfold again in a new play supported by Mass Humanities called Blood on the Snow, staged inside the same walls where the governor and his advisers debated those questions in 1770. Read more…

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Morality and Sin of Clergy in the West Indies Colonies in the 18th Century: The View of a Chinese Atheist
Wenxin Xue, UNB Libraries, 6 Oct, 2021
“Chinese”, “Atheist”, “The history of Anglican clergy in the West Indian colonies in the 18th century”?!? I think it must be very difficult for you to connect these things together now, and you may think it is ridiculous. But please, believe me, this is not a spoof. As the first Chinese student who is about to finish a degree in the UNB Department of History in recent years, my working experience in UNB Archives & Special Collections this summer gave me the opportunity to dig up historical truths, integrate these seemingly unrelated topics, and then have a brand-new way of thinking and understanding of that history.
The charm of history is that people can see the macro from the micro. From a historical macro point of view, the 18th century was a turning point in history, such as the Industrial Revolution, the Anglo-French War, the American War of Independence, the Abolition Movement and so on. These important historical events promoted the initial formation of the whole modern, secular world pattern. The historical upheaval caused by the great changes of the times and society is also reflected in the individuals in the society at that time. As an atheist from China, when I had the opportunity to understand this period of history, some letters between Anglican clergymen, bishops and government officials in the 18th century West Indies colonies attracted my attention. Read more…

JAR Book Review: Ill-Fated Frontier: Peril and Possibilities in the Early American West
Reviewed by Timothy Symington 4 October 2021
Author: Samuel A. Forman (Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2021)
Samuel A. Forman, author of Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty, was asked if he was related to Samuel S. Forman, who chronicled a trek to the western frontier in Narrative of a Journey Down the Ohio and Mississippi in 1789-90. No connection exists for the two Formans other than the name, but the twenty-first century Forman was intrigued enough about his namesake that he started to research the man’s exploits in the years after the Revolution. That research culminated in a book that is an exciting and interesting story of the early western frontier: Ill-Fated Frontier: Peril and Possibilities in the Early American West.
The narrative written by Samuel S. Forman was about his family’s 2,400 mile-long migration across what was then the western frontier, starting off at Monmouth, New Jersey, and ending in Natchez and New Orleans. They traveled through western Pennsylvania to the Ohio River, and then down along the Mississippi River. The Formans who feature prominently in Ill-Fated Frontier include Samuel S. Forman (referred to in the book as simply “Samuel S.”), Ezekiel Forman, and General “Black David” Forman. The chiefs of the Northwest Indian Federation are central to the events in the book, such as McGillivray, Little Turtle, Buckongahelas, and Blue Jacket. Enslaved African Americans and Spanish colonial officials are also showcased as important characters in the story. Read more…

Members Only: Branch Presentations
Recordings of several Presentations made to branches are in the Member’s section at (see ). The most recent additions are:

  • Some Loyalist History of Eastern Ontario by Stuart Manson UE to Gov. Simcoe Branch on October 6, 2021
  • Scurrility and Street Names: Exploring the House of Hanover & the Town of York by Richard Fiennes Clinton to Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch on October 2, 2021
  • Brought in Bondage: The African People Enslaved in Niagara by UELs in Colonial Ontario by Natasha Henry to Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch September 4, 2021
  • The Loyalists of New York Province by Todd Braisted to Gov. Simcoe Branch on Sept. 8, 2021


Fort Plain Museum. Celebrate Hallowe’en.Rebels, Recoats & Zombies“. Costume Judging at 7 PM. Saturday, October 30th, 5 PM to 8 PM. More

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • This Week in History
    • 9 Oct 1768, about a week after army regiments arrived, the Boston Whigs reported, “This night the frame of a guard-house designed to be erected on the town land at the entrance of the town, was cut and otherwise destroyed by persons unknown.”
    • 3 Oct 1769, selectmen let William Moore into the smallpox hospital in West Boston to care for his sick child, “he engaging to leave it when his Room shall be wanted.” Eight days later a doctor reported Moore and his family were healthy and smoked.
    • 8 Oct 1775 General officers of Continental Army meet, decide to bar slaves & free blacks from enlisting.
    • 2 Oct 1776 Thomas Jefferson resigns from Continental Congress to serve in Virginia House of Delegates.
    • 5 Oct 1776 Georgia Constitutional Convention meets to draft plan of gov’t for post-colonial state.
    • 4 Oct 1777 Americans defeated at Battle of Germantown; nonetheless, Washington’s audacious attack impresses French.
    • 6 Oct 1777, British forces captured Forts Clinton & Montgomery on the Hudson and destroyed the Americans’ chain across the river. Redcoats advanced as far north as Esopus but didn’t link with Burgoyne’s army
    • 7 Oct 1780 Patriots crush Loyalist militia at Battle of Kings Mountain, South-Carolina.
    • 3 Oct 1781 French cavalry & British forces skirmish at Gloucester, Virginia; French block supplies to Cornwallis.
    • 6 Oct 1781 Americans & French begin siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown; final major battle of #RevWar.
  • Clothing and Related:
    • 18th Century dress, back detail of a Robe à la Française of printed cotton, c.1770
    • Detail of 18th Century stomacher, pinned to close the overcoat of the gown. It is beautifully embroidered with floral designs, using coloured silk and metal thread. c.1725
    • 18th Century day dress of white cotton printed in purple in vertical rows of chinoiserie ornament, possibly inspired by prints of Jean Pillement. The 13 hooks and eyes on either side of the stomacher fronts appear to be original. 1770’s
    • 18th Century women’s dress, 1770’s & men’s waistcoat & coat, 1790’s. In China yellow was associated with the Emperor, as chinoiserie gained popularity in Europe so did the colour
    • Rear view of an expanse of fine silk embroidery on an 18th Century men’s Court coat, French, 1780-1790
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat or vest, cream silk and embroidered with floral sprigs in blues, greens and browns, with pastes & silver spangles, 1790’s
    • 18th Cent men’s waistcoat, Anna Maria Garthwaite’s original design of this is at @V_and_A & identifies not only the artist but also the weaver, Peter Lekeux, & date of sale – Oct 23, 1747. Both were important contributors to Spitalfields silk industry.
  • Townsends
  • Miscellaneous
    • Elizabeth Raffald’s Syllabub made under a cow. A bottle of beer & a pint of cider into a punch bowl. Grate in nutmeg, sweeten. Milk as much milk from the cow as will make a strong froth, & the ale look clear. Let it stand an hour & strew over a few currants. Then send to table.
      • Horace Walpole wrote on 18 June 1764 that he treated his guests, “representative majesties of France and Spain” to “an English and to them very new collation, a syllabub, milked under the cows that were brought to the brow of the terrace.”
    • This mourning fan for Louis XVI in the British Museum is an “objet séditieux,” or subversive object; it was dangerous to show support for the guilllotined monarch. Only when the leaves are partially closed do we see the king’s profile and “Vive Le Roy” (Long Live the King).
    • And yes… Of course I found a uniform and went for it. This rich, elegant mid-18th c uniform took my breath away. It belonged to Colonel Richard St George, first 20th Foot Regiment, then 8th Dragoons. This is everything.

Last Post: Brown UE, Jerimiah William – 1928—2021
Known to all as Jerry.
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our Jerry Brown on October 5, 2021 in Chilliwack, BC. Jerry was born in Lethbridge, Alberta on June 8, 1928. During WW2 he served in the RCAF where he received his training as a mechanic. He never missed a Remembrance Day Service and could fix almost anything. He married his beloved Jean Margaret Rowse in 1953 in Cranbrook and moved to Chilliwack in 1954. They settled and raised their family here.
Both were active in the community including Kiwanis, UELAC and the Carman United Church. Jerry served a term as President of the local Kiwanis branch. He dressed as a clown and entertained everyone in the various Chilliwack parades over the years. Jerry was also family historian, joining the Chilliwack Branch of the UELAC. He applied for and received his UELAC certificate March 24, 1997 for his Loyalist James Brown. He then proceeded to encourage his whole family to obtain their UE as well. Our Branch history records note: “it was a proud moment for all when the Brown family were presented their certificates at our December 1997 Christmas party.
Wife Jean died in 2009 and Jerry carried on in their home on Rochester till his passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his children, grandchildren and his many friends. You will be very missed Jerry. Rest well with Jean.
Marlene Dance UE, Chilliwack Branch

Happy Thanksgiving! ….doug

Published by the UELAC
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