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Christmas Day, December 25, the date of the Nativity
In the 3rd century, the date of the nativity was the subject of great interest.
Various factors contributed to the selection of December 25 as a date of celebration: it was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar and it was about nine months after March 25, the date of the vernal equinox and a date linked to the conception of Jesus (now Annunciation).
The winter solstice, hiemal solstice or hibernal solstice, also known as midwinter, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, December 25 was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar. They chose Jesus to be born on the shortest day of the year for symbolic reasons, according to an early Christmas sermon by Augustine: “Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase.”
Linking Jesus to the Sun was supported by various Biblical passages. Jesus was considered to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied by Malachi: “Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings.”
The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. King Edmund the Martyr was anointed on Christmas in 855 and King William I of England was crowned on Christmas Day 1066.
King Richard II of England hosted a Christmas feast in 1377 at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten.
However, in 17th century England, some groups such as the Puritans, strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the “trappings of popery” or the “rags of the Beast”. In contrast, the established Anglican Church “pressed for a more elaborate observance of feasts, penitential seasons, and saints’ days.
The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many Calvinist clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration. As such, in Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland discouraged the observance of Christmas, and though James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, attendance at church was scant. The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been “purged of all superstitious observation of days”. It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday. In the UK, Christmas Day became a bank holiday in 1834, Boxing Day was added in 1871.

The Hanging of Hare and Newbury: Part Three: Soon With His God
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
Patriots under the command of Captain William Snooks arrested Henry Hare, a member of Butler’s Rangers, as the Loyalist walked home on the evening of June 19, 1779. There had been rumours that Hare was visiting his wife and children. Had Hare’s friend William Newbury not been hampered by a sprained ankle, the two men would have been on their way back to the safety of Fort Niagara within British lines.
The next day Hare was taken 18 miles away to a large field tent in the settlement of Canajoharie where he was tried by court martial. The transcript of Hare’s trial has survived to the present day. The charge against him: “lurking about camp as a spy”. To this, Hare pleaded not guilty.
Major Newkirk testified that he had been informed that Hare “was at home with his family at Nights & on Friday the 18th Inst. he collected a party of men & had them placed near the house of the prisoner; and on Saturday morning the 19th Instant the said party took him returning to his home.
When Hare was cross-examined, the court learned that he had been three-quarters of a mile from the encampment of the Third New York Regiment on the day that he returned to his family home. Hare had “no defence to make” and threw himself on the mercy of the court. The verdict: “The court having considered the evidence & the prisoners own confession are unanimously of opinion that the said Henry are is guilty of the charge & sentence him to be hanged by the Neck until he is Dead.”
The Patriots lost no time in carrying out the sentence. Despite the pleas of Abigail/Alida Hare and friends of Henry’s, his hanging was scheduled for the following day. The historian William H. Seeber noted that General James Clinton, who was in the region at the time, left the area “to avoid the importunity of {Hare’s} friends” who begged that the Loyalist be spared, ” and especially … Mrs. Hare”.
Clinton had not forgotten that Hare had been charged with killing and scalping a young woman at the Battle of Oriskany. He had a man named Johannes Roof ask Hare if he the charge was true, for as Roof explained “you was seen with your hands in her hair”. Hare confessed that he had, indeed, killed Caty Steers and scalped her.
A few details of Hare’s execution have survived.
Gallows were built on Academy Hill in what is now the village of Canajoharie. Two Y-shaped poles were erected and then a third pole was put across them. The hangman’s noose was suspended from the horizontal beam, and Hare was made to stand in a wagon beneath it. Witnesses recalled that Hare was wearing “a spotted calico shirt ruffled at the bosom and cuffs”. The wagon was pulled away and — in the language of the day —“he was soon with his God”.
Hare’s body was given to his relatives for burial, and while it waited interment, the coffin was put in a cellar. A typed manuscript in the Montgomery County archives says that as Hare’s mourners gathered in the cellar, “a large black snake darted through the window, and ran under the coffin, and could not be found.”
The story of the snake’s visitation spread through the community. The more superstitious Patriots saw the snake’s appearance as an omen, “considering the black snake as a devil anxious to receive his victim, and anticipating a delightful sacrifice.” They saw this as befitting a traitor to the rebel cause.
Hare’s execution generated ripples throughout both British and Patriot military circles, but naturally his wife Abigail and her children felt its impact most heavily. In less than a year, the Loyalist’s family was in Montreal where Abigail — being “miserable, poor and needy”– petitioned General Frederick Haldimand for a “yearly supply or aid… in order to assist her and her distressed children”. Sadly, although seven Hare children were listed in a letter written by Captain Walter Butler in 1779, Abigail’s petition of 1780 makes reference to only “six small children”. Had the 290-mile journey from Fort Hunter to Montreal been the cause of death for one of the Hare children?
The ultimate fate of Henry Hare’s family is not certain. His brother Peter –and his brother John’s widow Margaret and her family– settled in the St. Catharine’s region of Upper Canada, and it would be reasonable to assume that Abigail would locate her family near her husband’s siblings. An 1802 letter from Upper Canada’s surveyor general to the colony’s clerk of the executive council suggests that Hare’s widow may have received land. The letter from D.W. Smith asked if it was possible to grant lands to a list of Loyalist veterans. Included in that list is “Lieutenant Henry Hare, said to have been of the Indian Department and to have been taken by the Americans and put to death as a Spy.
The letter went on to say, “And in case any of the heirs, assigns or representatives of any of the above persons should have made application by petition or otherwise, for lands in right of the above persons, I request you will be pleased to communicate to me the results of such petition, whether it has been favourable to the petitioner or otherwise.
So in the end, Henry’s widow may have been granted land in Upper Canada that she could call home. Abigail Hare died at the age of 72 in 1820.
And what of Henry Hare’s friend, William Newbury? His story will be told in the next edition of Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Did You Know? Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster in Canada 2021
The Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is observed in Canada on December 11 each year to mark the statute’s establishment. The Canadian flag and the Royal Union flag are flown together on this day.
Statute of Westminster gives legal status to the independence of Australia, Canada, Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa. The Statute of Westminster, passed by the UK parliament in 1931, gave legal recognition to the de facto independence of the dominions.
In 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognized them as independent countries “within the British Empire, equal in status” to the United Kingdom. The statute referred specifically to the “British Commonwealth of Nations.” When World War II broke out in 1939, the dominions made their own declarations of war.
Four years after Lord Balfour first suggested independence for the Dominions, negotiations were complete and the Statute of Westminster was signed on December 11, 1931. The Statute granted Canada independence from British regulations and the freedom to pass, amend, and repeal laws within an autonomous legal system.
The original Royal Union flag, or Union Jack, was first raised at a British settlement in Newfoundland, Canada, after 1610. In 1870 the flag was incorporated into the flags of the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1904 the flag became a Canadian symbol and was used by Canadian troops during World War I.
However, for many years during the early 20th century Canada sought to gain formal recognition of its autonomy from the United Kingdom. Finally, in 1931 the Statute of Westminster, 1931, which was an Act of the British Parliament, gave Canada its autonomy. This statute marks the independence of Canada as the nation that it is today.
In 1964 Canada’s parliament approved for the Royal Union flag to be used as a symbol of Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and of the nation’s allegiance to the British Crown. Canada remains close with the United Kingdom and flies the Royal Union Flag along with the Canadian flag for occasions such as the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, Commonwealth Day, and Victoria Day.

JAR: Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware’s Only Revolutionary War Battle
by Kim Burdick 14 December 2021
On December 5, 2018, the State of Delaware announced that it had acquired the historic property at Cooch’s Bridge, site of the only Revolutionary War battle to take place in the First State. The acquisition included ten acres, several outbuildings, and the Cooch family’s ancestral home, a three-story structure built circa 1760.
The house was first listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and has been documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey. Cooch’s Bridge is much-beloved by local folks and after nearly 250 years, its legends, artifacts, and related primary documents remain an important part of Delaware history.
After a frustrating series of stalemates between British forces and American troops in New York City and New Jersey in the first half of 1777, British Gen. William Howe decided to try a new approach to capturing the rebel capital of Philadelphia. On July 23, 1777, General Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, left New York City with an armada of 265 ships carrying 18,000 troops. Continental Army scouts warily followed the progress of their fleet. Read more…

JAR: North Carolina Colonel Joseph Williams in the Cherokee Campaign of 1776
by Travis Copeland 15 December 2021
“We have every reason to believe,” proclaimed the North Carolina Council of Safety, that “the emissaries of [the British] government are making use of every means in their power to induce the Indian Nations to fall upon the inhabitants of these [Southern] Colonies. Your own prudence will direct that you hold the Militia of your Department in readiness to repel any Hostilities which may be Commenced against us by any of the Indian Nations.” North Carolina’s officials were gravely concerned. As the Revolution began in earnest in the eastern part of the state in 1776, the threat of surprise violence and sudden attacks from the Native American nations was growing. On the 11th of July, the Cherokee were heard to be readying for an attack by “boaling flour for a march and making other warlike preparations” with “about 600 warriors.” War was coming to the Appalachians and western North Carolina.
To handle the emerging threat, the colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia decided that military action was needed. The Cherokee’s number was great and placed at about “2,000 or 2,500;—one half Overhills, the other below the Mountains . . . among the Creeks, from 4,000 to 5,000.” While British Indian agents unsuccessfully tried to delay the Cherokee’s embarking on the war path until they could be coordinated with His Majesty’s regulars, Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford, an Irish-born French and Indian War veteran living in North Carolina, was tasked by the three colonies in June 1776 with taking the fight to the Cherokee. Read more…

The Shoemaker and the Tea Party
9 December 2014, Museum of the American Revolution
The first of two essays in Alfred F. Young’s The Shoemaker and the Tea Party shows the contributions of ordinary people to the American Revolution by focusing on the life of George Robert Twelves Hewes. Hewes was an unremarkable shoemaker, save his participation in events like the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773. As Young explains, ‘He was a nobody who briefly became a somebody in the Revolution and, for a moment near the end of his life, a hero.’ Here is Hewes’ recollection of the Tea Party, much of it in his own words.
At the Tea Party on the night of December 16, 1773, Hewes the citizen ‘volunteered’ and became the kind of leader for whom most historians have never found a place. The Tea Party, unlike the Massacre, was organized by the radical Whig leaders of Boston. They mapped the strategy, organized the public meetings, appointed the companies to guard the tea ships at Griffin’s Wharf, and planned the official boarding parties. Read more…

The First Picture of the Boston Tea Party
By J.L. Bell 19 December 2009
As a farewell to the Boston Tea Party on this anniversary week, I’m running what I suspect is the earliest visual depiction of the event, created by Philip Dawe in 1774.
Does that proximity in time mean this is our most accurate portrayal? Not at all. Dawe didn’t see the tea destroyed since he was in London. And he wasn’t trying to be historically accurate. The daytime sky and the ease with which the Bostonians are tipping those heavy chests over the rail show that the artist was merely representing what had happened. He ignored what became a major element in later American images: the men’s “Mohawk” disguises. Read more…

In the Aftermath of the Boston Tea Party: British and American Perspectives
by Sara W. Duke, 13 December 2019 in Library of Congress
As a curator of historical prints, one of the first questions I ask myself is, “Why does this print exist?” It is an essential question to ask when trying to use pictures to explain the past.
Take, for example, the Boston Tea Party, which occurred when angry colonists, dressed as American Indians, destroyed 342 chests of tea on December 16, 1773 to protest recent tax hikes imposed by the British Parliament. For nearly a century, the only contemporary depictions of the reaction to the Boston Tea Party that the Library of Congress had to offer researchers were those created in England for a British audience. An example is the mezzotint print attributed to Philip Dawe, The Bostonians in Distress, which was published in London in the wake of the Intolerable Acts, which the British Parliament passed to punish Boston.
One of the Intolerable Acts was the Boston Port Act, enacted by the British Parliament on March 31, 1774 which closed the port to everything except food and fuel. However, the print was published several months later in London, on December 16, 1774. Read more…

A Tree Grows in Planter Nova Scotia
It was a thrill today – 15 Dec. 2021 – to stand beside a Pear Tree brought to Nova Scotia 235 years ago as a young shoot from Connecticut when King George III was the British monarch. Brian McConnell UE.
Atlantic Loyalist Connections, by Leah Grandy 26 Feb. 2020
First brought to Nova Scotia as a young shoot in 1786, the “Bishop Pear Tree” still stands—gnarled but solid—near the edge of the Ken-Wo Golf Club in New Minas, Nova Scotia. The young tree was carried from Connecticut by Peter Bishop Jr. returning with his new wife to Nova Scotia, two hundred and thirty-four years ago.
Peter Bishop Jr. (1763-1848) was the son of Connecticut Planter, Peter Bishop Senior (1735-1825), and had gone back to his father’s hometown of New London to get married. The elder Peter Bishop had been one of the original land grantees in Horton Township, settling in what is now New Minas, Nova Scotia. Peter Bishop Sr. had come with the New England Planter migration, which included his father, John Bishop Sr., and three brothers —John Jr., William, and Timothy— around 1760. Read more…

Niagara schools can ‘Meet Chloe’ with the help of Carousel Players
By Luke Edwards 12 Dec 2021 Niagara Falls review
The people of the past that we venerate can say a lot about the present.
Carousel Players’ latest digital performance tackles just that issue. Called “Meet Chloe,” it tells the story of a student tasked with doing a history project on John Graves Simcoe only to come across another fascinating figure of local history: Chloe Cooley, a young Black woman who was a slave to a United Empire Loyalist who lived in Queenston, in what was then called Upper Canada.
“With regards to ‘Meet Chloe,’ the system in question is the Ontario curriculum, a.k.a. the education system. Who gets to be remembered in our history books? Whose stories continue to be shut out from our understanding and teachings of history?” said director Marcel Stewart. Read more…

Port Hope, Port Perry and the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
By Norris McDonald 13 Dec. 2021, Toronto Star
Port Hope, Ont., is a lovely little town about 100 kilometres east of the Big Smoke, also known as Toronto.
Founded in 1793 by United Empire Loyalists (and called “Toronto” for a short time after the War of 1812 — I kid you not), it officially became a town in 1834 and, because of the efforts of local conservationists, its downtown looks about the same today as it did back then.
Which makes it the perfect platform to film scenes for period TV dramas like the CBC’s “Murdoch Mysteries,” which has happened. Read more…

English Nursery Rhyme – c1764

They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who takes things that are yours and mine.

Christmas Rhymes for Family Researchers
Lorine McGinnis Schulze (Olive Tree Genealogy) puts a family history twist in the Twelve Genealogy Days of Christmas

Although not in rhyme, Lisa Lisson (Are You My Cousin?) notes what she believes you could discover from records of holidays past in 12 Days of Christmas Genealogy Records.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: COOK UE, Dorothy Ruth Watt
Dorothy Cook passed away quietly on December 10, 2021 at the age of 97. Dorothy was the third child of Herbert and Francis Watt. She was predeceased by her husband VB (Jim) Cook, brothers Herbert Watt and Edwin Watt, and sisters Mary Scott and Phyllis Stinson. She is survived by four children; Tom of Canmore, AB, Casandra (Gregg) of Silver Star Mtn, BC, Deborah (Peter) of New Dundee, ON, and Robert (Janice) of Winnipeg, MB, ten grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Dorothy was born in Killarney, MB, and grew up in Dryden and Port Arthur, ON, where she spent the majority of her life. After school she was a secretary for Marathon Paper, until meeting and marrying Victor (Jim) Cook. Her passions were skiing, painting, golf, bridge club, genealogy, United Empire Loyalists, Engineer’s Wives, and family.
She loved skiing, which she started at 16 years of age, long before the days of tows and lifts. She was always proud of going to Mt. Ste. Anne for downhill races where she placed 2nd. They had to climb the hill before the race (no lifts).
Summers were spent at Silver Harbour until retirement, when Dorothy and Jim decided to move to the camp permanently. The year was full of summer activities (boating, fishing), and winter was, of course, skiing.
Special thanks, to the staff of The Village of Winston Park, Kitchener. Donations may be made to the charity of your choice. The funeral will take place at “The Gathering Table” (St. John’s Anglican Church) in Thunder Bay on August 12, 2022. Visit Dorothy’s memorial. at Henry Walser Funeral Home in Kitchener. Published by The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal on Dec. 18, 2021.
Dorothy Ruth Watt Cook proved Loyalist descent from John Butler as a member of Kawartha Branch in 1985

Published by the UELAC
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