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Saint John’s Loyalist Coffee House — Part Two of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
A Loyalist who served in a New York regiment during the American Revolution opened the first coffee house in Saint John, New Brunswick in August of 1784. Four years later, Charles McPherson placed an ad in the St. John Gazette and Weekly Advertiser in the hope of selling the Exchange Coffee House.
Unable to find a buyer, McPherson rented the building to William Rogers. His second attempt to sell the coffee house in 1798 also failed, but it acquired a new tenant named White Raymond, a 39 year–old Loyalist born in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Raymond tried something new to attract customers to the coffee house. It was an 18th century variation on a modern café providing free internet access to its customers. In June of 1800, he notified the public that he would “open the Coffee–Room in the Exchange Coffee House for the reception of the Gentlemen Merchants and others, and will engage to furnish, by every Packet, the London Newspapers, as also the New York and Boston Papers by every opportunity, for their perusal, as soon as a sufficient number of subscribers shall appear to defray the expense of the room, fire, and, candle light, &c.
In May of 1803, William George Cody, “having taken the Exchange Coffee House … is prepared to furnish entertainment, liquors, good board and good stabling for horses“. This Irish immigrant became known as “the prince of caterers and the most obliging of landlords.” Cody took advantage of the fact that the property he was now leasing was within walking distance of the major hubs of commerce and government — the courthouse, city hall, the market, the post office and a printing office. Why not create an exclusive men’s club on the coffee house’s premises?
After advertising the formation of the Subscription Room Club, 44 of the city’s leading citizens — mostly Loyalists–became members. It was Cody, rather than the club’s member, who decided who was suitable to join the ranks of the club. No one but members (known as subscribers) with their non-resident friends were allowed admission to the Subscription Room.
Membership fees were 20 shillings a year. In return, subscribers could expect to have access to daily newspapers from New York and Boston, weekly papers from Halifax and Saint John, a tri-weekly London paper and Lloyd’s List, which provided weekly shipping news. Cody promised to provide fuel for the fire, candlelight, and “a blank book for insertion of news {plus} pen, ink and paper.”
The historian John Russell Armstrong has listed a number of special events that occurred at Saint John’s most prominent coffee house. Those who wanted to celebrate political or military victories — or who wanted to observe St. Andrew’s Day or St. George’s Day– usually gathered at Cody’s establishment, often hosting a ball to mark the occasion. The city’s Masonic Lodge met there for ten years, and it was also the site of the founding of the Saint John Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1819. Armstrong noted that “many other gatherings for the promotion of the moral well-being of the community were held” in the coffee house.
Long time employees of the coffee house became well known to members of Saint John’s business community. When William Taylor, a Black Loyalist servant at the Exchange Coffee House, died in 1813, it was noted in the local newspaper. Dying at the age of 65, if Taylor had been an early employee, he may have worked at the coffee house for three decades.
Things must have gone well under Cody’s direction for in October of 1817 he was able to purchase the Exchange Coffee House from Charles McPherson for £1,500. Nineteen years later, Cody placed an ad to sell the coffee house for £7,000. He had no buyers at the time. Following his death in 1840, the coffee house was sold at auction to John Gillis for £5,650. It would remain standing for 13 more years until, in 1853, it was finally torn down.
We’ll give the final word on Saint John’s Loyalist coffee house to the historian, William Franklin Bunting. In his 1895 book, Freemasonry in New Brunswick, he wrote: “It was a noted place of resort to the early citizens of St. John, and was better known to them than any other place in the city … The public room in the upper story, the scene of the many gay and festive gatherings, often resounded with the light–hearted laugh, the mirthful joke, the pleasant song, interspersed with toasts and sentiments. Wit, wisdom, gaiety and humour were there. The health of the king, attachment to the throne of Great Britain, and devotion to the fair sisterhood found hearty and outspoken expression around its festive board. The merchant, the lawyer, the politician, the scholar–all classes and professions–mingled here and talked of merchandise, briefs, public matters, Shakespeare, and the latest news from Europe.
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JAR: Major Robert Rogers and the American Revolution
by Scott M. Smith 23 November 2021
After his exploits during the French and Indian War, Robert Rogers (1732-1795) was indisputably the most famous military leader born in the thirteen colonies; however, he played only a cameo role in the Revolution because both the British and American commanders-in-chief, Thomas Gage and George Washington, not only scorned him but actually arrested him for treason. Rogers’ self-promotion, his financial debts, his indifference to the politics of the times, and his penchant for alcohol all contributed to his demise, but he was far from the only leading man of his day to suffer these faults.
Rogers’ humble roots in the New Hampshire wilderness, combined with his daring escapades, inspiring leadership, and courage under fire fueled a steady stream of publicity in the burgeoning broadsheets of the day. After the First Battle on Snowshoes in 1757, the Boston Gazette blazed: “The brave Rogers is acquiring glory to himself in the field and in some degree recovering the sunken reputation of his country.” When Rogers straggled back to Crown Point in 1759, barely alive but victorious from his raid on the Abenaki village of St. Francis deep inside the Canadian wilderness, the Boston Weekly Newsletter headlined: “What do we owe to such a beneficial Man? And a Man of such an enterprising genius?” After he accepted the French surrender at Detroit in 1760 and returned east, the New Hampshire Gazette boomed: “As soon as the arrival of the Gentleman was known, the people here [Philadelphia] . . . immediately ordered the bells to be rung.” Of course, the headlines glossed over the rumors of scalpings, prisoner executions, cannibalism, and massacres that earned Rogers the respect of the Indigenous warriors as well as the Abenaki nickname Wobomagonda, White Devil.
Unfortunately, Rogers borrowed heavily (roughly $200,000 in today’s currency) to recruit, train, and outfit his regiment, aptly nicknamed Rogers’ Rangers. These debts would force him away from the American scene for much of the next fifteen years, essentially crippling him for the rest of his life. When Parliament passed the Stamp Tax in March 1765, Rogers was in London evading his creditors while also hoping to raise the funds to repay them. Accordingly, he missed the virulent debates in the colonies that led the Crown to rescind the hated tax a year later. Read more…

JAR: John Adams’s Love of Cider
by Jack Campbell 24 November 2021
It is not exactly a secret that John Adams was a fan of cider. The Massachusetts-born second President’s love of the drink has been mentioned before. He famously had a drink of it just about every morning. But just how did he express this fondness? Obviously, there is no way to quantify how much one person loves or enjoys something like a type of drink. But a look at some of his letters can give a really interesting perspective in understanding his enjoyment of it.
Now, if a man is drinking the same drink every morning, one can probably understand that he has some level of attachment to it. And then when he writes, as young man, that it is one of just five things that he needs in life to be happy, then we really start to see that attachment being manifested. Writing to his cousin and friend Zabdiel Adams in July 1763, a year before his marriage to Abigail and just as the strife of the coming Revolution was beginning to bubble, Adams gave his attitude about politics: “Give me Bacon, and Cyder, and Books and Girl and Friend, and I will frisk it.” Now, this might come off as rather dramatic, not unusual when it comes to Adams, but it is nonetheless an interesting and rather humorous example of the lengths he was willing to go to describe his feelings toward the drink. Read more…

Thanksgivings in America
Nancy Egloff on 24 November 2021
In November every year, Americans think about roast turkey, pumpkin pie, Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. In the United States, Thanksgiving is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday in November, following a presidential decree issued by Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century. Our November Thanksgiving combines an annual celebration of the harvest with a commemoration of the survival of the Pilgrims or Separatists in New England in 1621. Although Americans associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims, other areas of the country also have claims to sponsoring the “first” Thanksgiving in America.
Before the arrival of any Europeans in America, the Indigenous peoples held feasts and festivals at harvest time. In Virginia, Captain John Smith noted that the Powhatan people encountered by the first English settlers actually had two harvest seasons. Read more…

Book Excerpt: Toronto City of Commerce 1800–1960
By Katherine Taylor 22 Nov. 2021 in NOW
In 1801, the Rev. John Stuart UE wrote a letter outlining his impression of, and concerns with, the young town of York (Toronto). He wrote:

I need not observe to your Lordship, thatYork never was intended by nature for a metropolis; and that nothing but the caprice and obstinacy of Genl Simcoe raised it to that Dignity. The Harbour is not commodious, as the wind that carries a vessel out of it, is a headwind when it enters the Lake. The town is a Hot Bed, where everything is forced, unnaturally, by English money. I know of no trade now existing, or to be expected at any future Period, to support or enrich it.

And Stuart was not alone. Many other early residents and visitors were similarly underwhelmed by the muddy little town and felt that their fortunes, or at least a comfortable existence, lay elsewhere.
At the time of Stuart’s letter, York was still being carved from the wilderness. The first waves of British colonists and United Empire Loyalists, hoping to lay crops, had to contend with clearing their heavily forested lots. Read more…

Regency Explorer: Object of Interest: A Currency Calculator
By Anna M. Thane 18 October 2020
For British merchants doing business with France, the French Revolution brought a special challenge: Revolutionary France introduced the metric system of weight and measures in 1795, and made the franc the single monetary unit in the country in 1803. Thus, the value of British money had to be reevaluated for export and import, and adjusted to the new system of weight and measures. How could this be achieved?
Instrument-makers in France quickly found a solution to deal with this latest problem of currency exchange. Instrument-maker François-Antoine Jecker (1765 – 1834) seized the opportunity to supply standards of length, weight and capacity throughout France. His instrument to calculate currencies was portable, foldable, and easy to handle. The weight of gold was expressed in ‘gros’ and ‘grains’; the values of the gold coins was expressed in francs. Read more…

All Things Georgian: False Rumps!
Sarah Murden 1 March 2018
Fashions are continually changing but briefly, during the 1770s and early 1780s, women wore the most amazing items known as false rumps. They were large pieces of cork worn in ‘pockets’ under the straps of their stays, which enhanced the lady’s posterior and made her waist look smaller and more delicate. Think Kim Kardashian: does she know that she would have been the ultimate late eighteenth-century fashion icon, we wonder? False rumps were mocked mercilessly by the press and in satirical caricatures (the old-fashioned way of breaking the internet!), and there was even a suggestion that they should be taxed to raise money for the government. Read more…

Ben Franklin’s World: Yellow Fever, Immunity, and Early New Orleans
In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. This purchase included the important port city of New Orleans.
Kathryn Olivarus is an Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University who specializes in the antebellum South, the Greater Caribbean, and disease. Her forthcoming book is Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom, tells a story of yellow fever, immunity, and inequality in early New Orleans.
During our discussion, Kathryn reveals what epidemic yellow fever was and how it spread in early America; How early New Orleanians used yellow fever and ideas about immunity to create a harsher system of racialized and class–based inequality; And what the history of disease can tell us about early American history. Listen in…

CommonPlace: Sullivan Ballou’s Body: Battlefield Relic Hunting and the Fate of Soldiers’ Remains
James J. Broomall
Confederates’ quest for bones thus connects to a bizarre history of the use, and misuse, of human remains. Bones from the Bull Run battlefield were taken as acts of domination and displayed as trophies of war. However macabre, human remains became part of the deeply variegated material culture of war.
Major Sullivan Ballou’s last letter home has become something of a sacred text. Penned days before the first major battle of the American Civil War, the major’s words enjoyed an outsized afterlife when they became part of Ken Burns’ immensely popular documentary The Civil War.
Ballou’s body, buried in late July 1861 at Sudley Church near the Bull Run battlefield, did not rest in peace. Sometime after the battle, rebel soldiers dug up the remains of United States troops. According to local Blacks who witnessed the scene, the Confederates first searched for buttons as souvenirs. Their work then turned far more macabre. Read more…

For Members: Recordings of Presentations; Branch Newsletters
Presentations: When branches have guest speakers at a branch meeting which is online (virtual), they may choose to record the event and can then choose to make it available to other members of UELAC to look at, on-demand, when convenient. Just login at and in the Members’ Section, look for “Presentations to Branches”. The two most recent ones are:

  • The Doan Gang: My Notorious Ancestors“, Janet Hodgkins presentation to Col. John Butler Branch on November 6, 2021
  • First People: Exploring Toronto’s Indigenous History“, Richard Fiennes-Clinton presentation to Gov. Simcoe Branch on November 3, 2021

Newsletters: Many branches publish a newsletter for their members. Several branches share their newsletters (now sixteen branches have shared thirty-three newsletters) with members of other branches by posting them in the Members’ Section – just look for “newsletters”.
A recent issue by Gov Simcoe Branch for November 2021 notes new certificates issued, new members, and although relatively rare to have women as original UELs, three members of the branch have proven theirs. The ancestors noted with varying descriptions include: Joseph Orser, Isaac Orser, Lewis Mosher, Hannah Sypes, Alida (Vrooman) Hare, Catharine Reid Munro Leech, brothers Mark and Daniel Bowen (one a Loyalist, one a Rebel) and Edward Wright.

Upcoming Events:

Gov. Simcoe Branch: Loyalists of Digby by Brian McConnell UE Wed. 1 Dec. @7:30pm EST

Although Digby, Nova Scotia received the second largest number of refugees from the American Revolution in the province the experiences of the United Empire Loyalists has not received much attention. Hear more about this Loyalist story.
By Brian, President of Nova Scotia Branch.
For presentation details, more about Brian and to register, go here.

Newport Historical Society: Count de Rochambeau’s army. Thurs 2 Dec @5:30 EST

Join us for a free virtual lecture on December 2nd at 5:30pm, in which author Norman Desmarais will discuss recent discoveries about the Count de Rochambeau’s army that counter popular assumptions about the French participation in the American Revolution. Details and registration.

Fort Plain “Christmas at Fort Plain” Sat Dec 04, 2021

Author Book Fair, Colonial Christmas Music, Bookstyore and Gift Shop, Refreshments and Holiday Cheer. Details

Friends of St. Alban’s: “A Christmas Carol” Sun. 12 Dec @3:00 & @7:00

On Sunday December 12th, the Friends of St Alban’s and the Lennox Community Theatre will stage a reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Judy Maddren and directed by Andy Palmer. Afternoon 2 p.m. for performance at 3 p.m. and Evening 6:00 for 7:00, both followed by some friendly Christmas cheer.
Reservations: contact Alice Carlson at 613-373-2662 or

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • This week in History
  • Clothing and Related:
    • An example of stripes in 18th C fashion with this 1780s silk bodice. There was once a skirt attached. Stripes on sleeves were usually horizontal during the 18th century.
    • Detail of an 18th Century dress, Sacque gown a la Piedmontese, c.1780, possibly Italian, plain cream ribbed silk, metallic & silk embroidery.
    • 18th Century caraco and petticoat, c.1790. Very fine white cotton, embroidered with garlands of vine and grape clusters
    • I am totally in love with this beautiful cotton English round gown from 1795, which is decorated with the most lovely shimmering metallic embroidery and fringing.
    • A lacy little something (gloves) from Milan! C.18th century
    • Well these fingerless mittens beat your average 21st century hand warming solutions. Dating to c1720, they were designed to cover the forearm and hands, richly embellished in gilt threads
    • 18th Century men’s beautiful blue silk frock coat, c.1780’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:
  • Miscellaneous
    • Decorative boxes were all the rage in the C.18th, carrying everything from snuff to sweets. Boxes were so popular that it led to the ‘language of the snuffbox’, a phenomenon at European courts where specific gestures involving a box had hidden meanings – a secret code

Last Post: MEYERHOF UE, Dorothy Pauline (nee Ostrom)
June 20,1948 — November 24, 2021. Passed away peacefully after a short, courageous battle with cancer. Born in Burnaby BC, she is the daughter of the late Muriel Arline Tate and the late Robert Gordon Ostrom. Dorothy attended Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, receiving a B.Sc.(hon.) in Chemistry and subsequently a M.Sc. in Chemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton where she met her future husband. Dorothy was a research manager with Health Canada for many years and was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for her contributions.
She had a long–standing interest in genealogy, was an active member of several genealogical organizations, and published a detailed ancestry on one branch of her family. She also had an interest in history and had almost completed writing an extensive history of her local neighbourhood to be published posthumously. She also enjoyed other hobbies including cooking, gardening, reading and travel. She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Thomas (Tom) Paul.
The excellent care she received by the oncology doctors at the Ottawa Hospital, General Campus as well as the nurses and staff of 5 East is gratefully acknowledged. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Ottawa Hospital or another favourite charity would be appreciated. A graveside service will be held at Beechwood Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, on Thursday, December 9th at 2 pm.
Dorothy held a number of positions on the executive of Sir Guy Carleton Branch, including Librarian, Archivist and Web Manager. She was also a member of She was a proven descendant of Thomas Cutler UEL, Roelof Ostrom UEL and Rev. Thomas Shreve UEL.
She was such a benefit to our branch, she will be greatly missed.
Penny Minter UE

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