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More Members of the Loyalist Rogues Gallery – Part One of Three
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
Thanks to his Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Lorenzo Sabine did much to change attitudes towards those who had remained faithful to the British crown during the American Revolution. He demonstrated that loyal Americans had come from all classes of society and that most acted out of personal convictions. However, he also identified at least 20 Loyalists as men whom he felt were nothing more than “robbers and marauders”. Having already used Sabine’s research as a starting point into the examination of 14 Loyalists’ lives in an early series of articles, we’ll now investigate 10 more of the men whom he considered as inductees for a Loyalist Rogue’s Gallery.
His “rogues” were an interesting group. Among them was a man that Thomas Jefferson said should be immediately executed for treason without a trial, as well as another Loyalist “marauder” who escaped jail disguised as a woman.
At the outset of the American Revolution, Josiah Phillips was a labourer in Virginia’s Princess Anne County. Sabine states that the colony’s governor, Lord Dunmore, commissioned Phillips to command a “band of Tories who were much feared in the section of the country which they desolated”. Citing Phillip’s crimes “at which humane men shudder”, Sabine listed “murders, the burning of houses” and “the wasting of farms” as all being committed in 1777.
In April of 1778, Phillips “the noted traitor” “had again made an insurrection in Princess Anne County at the head of fifty men”. The man who had notified authorities of the Loyalist’s activities requested 150 rebel militiamen to seek out Phillips. A reward of $500.00 was offered for the Loyalist’s capture dead or alive — as well as permission for any militiaman to receive a share in “the booty taken from said insurgents”. However, only 30 men could be persuaded to take up arms against the Loyalists. A quarter of the rebels deserted on the very first night, so Phillips must have been an intimidating character.
The historian John L. Gibson fleshes out the Loyalist rogue’s story by referencing Thomas Jefferson’s 1778 Bill of Attainder that was passed by the Virginian legislature in response to Phillips’ activities. Fearing a loyalist insurrection, Jefferson sought to quash the efforts of those who supported the British crown. He demanded that Phillips and his confederates turn themselves in no later than June 30th of that year.
Jefferson perceived Phillips as being nothing more than a “brigand” – a man who hid in swamps during the day, and at night he emerged, “perpetrating … enormities.” One member of the gang, an runaway slave named Will, was thought particularly fearsome; a local militiaman tells us he struck “terror into the inhabitants of Norfolk and Princess Anne” counties.
Brian Palladino notes that Josiah Phillips’ gang included fugitive slaves who “joined the gangs for survival, profit, revenge, or all three.” Given Virginia’s massive slave population, the rebels’ fear of attacks from freed Blacks is understandable.
Matthew Steilen, another historian, raises an interesting question. Was Phillips’ group a robber gang (banditti) or a loyalist militia that should have been protected by the laws of war? This historian points out that Phillips, a labourer, organized men from society’s lowest class and runaway slaves, challenging “the gentry who led government” in that part of Virginia. Was it not possible that Phillips could have been motivated by “genuine, independent political attachments, rather than an interest in plunder”? It seems that Jefferson could not imagine any motivation other than personal gain, and so he did not consider Phillips as the leader of a militia in service to the crown.
If the Loyalist and his men did not surrender to Virginian officials, then they would “stand convicted and attained of high treason, and shall suffer the pains of death”. Jefferson, the champion of an individual’s rights, not only accused Phillips (and declared him guilty without a trial), he also condemned him to death and permitted him to be hunted down. The bill said, “it shall be lawful for any persons with or without orders to pursue and slay the said Josiah Phillips and any others who have been his associates or confederates at any time after the 1st day of July.” Desperation to capture a Loyalist rogue had corrupted Thomas Jefferson’s high ideals.
Other than a reference to Captain Amos Week’s volunteer company taking Phillips into custody, Gibson the historian notes that there are no other details to explain how it transpired that Josiah Phillips appeared in a Princess Anne County courtroom on June 6th. The Loyalist was put in jail where he waited 4 months for his trial to commence – a trial that charged him with various counts of robbery rather than treason.
As theft was a capital offense, trying Phillips for robbery rather than as a prisoner of war would allow the courts to have the Loyalist executed. Phillips ascertained that he was a British subject; that he had acted orders from Lord Dunmore. He maintained that he was a prisoner of war. Despite the fact that Phillips actually had his commission from Dunmore in his pocket did not change the focus of his trial.
On October 30, 1778, the local media —The Virginia Gazette— reported that Philips had allegedly “robb[ed] the publick waggons”, not making any reference to the fact that he was a traitor to the new republic. The article broke the news that the Loyalist and his four companions were “capitally convicted”. Their jury had found them guilt of robbery.
The Gazette’s December 4th edition noted that Phillips and four other men “were executed at the gallows”. The Loyalist’s three years of terrorizing Virginia’s Patriots had come to an end.
The historian Steilen provides insight into the legacy of Josiah Phillips. Two years after the Loyalist’s execution, a Princess Anne County official wrote that the region “has neither civil nor military law in it”. Referencing Loyalist activity, he said, “Murder is committed and no notice is taken of it.”
Not all of Phillips’ men had been arrested in 1778, and in 1781 they were still launching raids and doing “mischief in the nights”. However, by the following year, some of the Loyalist “refugees out in the swamps” were ready to end their hostilities. It was felt that if they were pardoned, “the whole nest would be broken up”.
Lorenzo Sabine concluded his account of Josiah Phillips by saying, “Though the facts of the case were undoubtedly as here stated, there was much sympathy excited in his behalf, and much clamour raised against those who were instrumental in bringing him to punishment.
If Phillips was indeed simply a robber, then he deserves a place in the Loyalists Rogue Gallery. But if he was acting as a militia leader under a governor’s commission, he deserves to be counted among those who failed to receive justice from the new republic.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

The British Entry Into, and Occupation of Charlotte, September 26 to October 14, 1780
by Ian Saberton 11 Oct 2022 Journal of the AMerican Revolution
The first objective in Lt. Gen. Earl Cornwallis’s first invasion of North Carolina was the capture of Charlotte. He intended to establish a post there, not only to control adjacent territory, but also to facilitate his communication with the south as he advanced farther.
At daybreak on September 7, 1780, accompanied by two 3-pounders, Cornwallis quit Camden, South Carolina, and marched towards Charlotte with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the 33rd Regiment and the Volunteers of Ireland, leaving behind material numbers of their dead, sick and wounded. Two days later he reached the border settlement at the Waxhaws and was joined by Samuel Bryan’s North Carolina militia. The troops soon set up camp on Waxhaw Creek, living on wheat collected and ground from the plantations in the neighbourhood, most of which were owned by Scotch-Irish revolutionaries who had fled. Read more…

Loyalist Peterson Family at The Blockhouse at Bull’s Ferry, New Jersey
I have a personal family connection to the Blockhouse as referenced in last week’s Loyalist Trails in Anthony Wayne’s Repulse at Bull’s Ferry.
Five family members of the Nicholas Peterson family were among the small group of Loyalists who were stationed there and defended it. Two of them are direct ancestors.
Read more including an article from Stephen Davidson UE and cite four other accounts of the battle at, where you’ll find a rather full account of one Loyalist.
Roger Peterson UE

Elegant Dining with the Lees
by Elmer Woodward 13 Oct 2022 Journal of the American Revolution
Not THAT Lee. And not at his plantation. And not actually at Stratford Hall. No rustle of silk, silver platters from the kitchen, obsequious servants bowing and scraping, no twitter of conversation, nor the tinkling of crystal. Our repast was much less spectacular. In his Memoirs, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee told of a dining experience during the Race to the Dan on or about February 11, 1781. We tried to recreate that meal.
Lee’s Legion had been assigned By Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene to Col. Otho William’s Light Division, which had in turn been tasked with luring the British away from Greene’s main army on its retreat to Boyd’s Ferry (now South Boston, Virginia). Williams apparently roused his men at 3 a.m. at Guilford Courthouse….
…By 1781 in North Carolina, with many, many exceptions, army rations were essentially a pound of protein and a pound of carbohydrate per day, roughly four Quarter Pounder hamburgers per day. “Protein” in the 1781 south was meat, usually pork, fresh or salted. Carbohydrate was usually ground corn, and was packaged from the mill in barrels of about 200 pounds. Rations were usually issued in three day lots to the company, although six day lots were not unheard of. Williams’ Light Division was “Light” because it did not contain wagons, so the men had to carry everything, including rations, themselves. Stopping to distribute rations would certainly lose the Race to the Dan, so the men were probably issued six days rations (two pounds per man per day, or twelve pounds per man) beforehand….
…Rations were issued raw, and it was the messes’ responsibility to cook them. One of the most essential pieces of equipment was therefore something to cook them in….
…Earlier this year my son Patrick and I decided to try some applied archaeology and figure out just how the corn and pork ration system in the 1781 south worked. Read more…

Ben Franklin’s World: Prisoners of War and the War of 1812
Nicholas Guyatt, a Professor of North American History at the University of Cambridge, joins us to investigate the War of 1812 and the experiences of American prisoners of war using details from his book, The Hated Cage: An American Tragedy in Britain’s Most Terrifying Prison.
During our investigation, Nicholas reveals a brief history of the War of 1812 and its causes; The history of Dartmoor Prison and why it was thought an ideal place to house Great Britain’s prisoners of war; And, details about how American prisoners of war experienced life inside Dartmoor Prison until the prison was fully evacuated in July 1815. Listen in…

Celebrating the Rich and Varied Contribution of the Irish in Canada
By Eamonn McKee 9 Oct 2022
In this list below you will find at least one governor, military officer, provincial founder, business leader, bishop, educator, rescuer, murderer, labour leader, brewer, explorer, botanist, statesman, actress, journalist, novelist, and the founder of a legal system.
What do they have in common? They were all born in Ireland. They helped make Canada what it is today. They made that contribution over more than three hundred years. Read more…

Loyalist Gazette Fall 2021 is Generally Available
The Loyalist Gazette magazine is published twice yearly by the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, in the Spring and Fall.
The Gazette contains articles and pictures of particular interest to those with an interest in the Loyalist period – the era of the American Revolutionary War.
The current issues are available to Members of Branches of UELAC. One year after publication, issues become generally available.
The Fall 2021 issue is now publicly available. It includes:

  • TIMOTHY MUNRO: and his Rebellion Boxes, Part Two
  • REFLECTIONS on the appointment of Mary Simon as Governor General
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO The Loyalists of Redding?
  • ADAM PAPST: Loyalist – Part Two

Upcoming Events

Toronto Branch, Billy Bishop UE by Greg Childs – Thurs Oct 20th @ 7:30 pm ET

In honour of the upcoming Remembrance Day, Greg Childs of London Branch will speak to us via Zoom on Thursday, October 20th at 7:30 pm about our famous Canadian war hero, Billy Bishop, who was himself descended from three proven lines of United Empire Loyalists. He is widely known as the top Canadian flying ace of the First World War but also played a significant role in WWII. Greg will also include a segment about what it means to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Canada. The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system and has a slightly different meaning in Canada.
Please register with Sally Gustin Programme Coordinator, Toronto Branch UELAC, She will send the link close to the date.

Nelles Manor Museum: Restless Spirits Ghost Tours

Discover the history of Nelles Manor in Grimsby ON through stories from the Spirits that linger.
October 21, 22, 28 and 29.
Five tours per night starting at 5:30. Limit of 10 guests per tour.
See details and order tickets.

Fort Plain: Sir William Johnson and the Wars for Empire Conference Oct 21-23

Sir William Johnson was a larger than life character who dominated the Mohawk Valley and beyond during the 18th century in warfare, politics, trade and diplomacy. This conference will address aspects of Johnson’s historical impact as well as the larger scope of the great wars for empire. This new Fort Plain Museum conference will offer a look at the colonial era when major personalities, like Sir William, dealt with overlapping cultures and the impact of war on society. At Johnstown NY
See Details and Registration.

2023 UELAC Conference (01 – 04 June 2023), Vancouver/ Richmond, British Columbia Pre/Post hotel Accommodation Update.

If you are planning an extra pre or post 2023 UELAC Conference, “Where the Sea Meets the Sky” holiday, please follow the instructions below when making your Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel and Conference Centre Reservations.
Pre/Post Conference Reservations
Attendees needing pre- and post-conference reservations, please book the 2023 Conference dates online first, and then call the hotel (604 273 7878) to confirm availability of pre/post conference extension at the conference rate. The pre/post conference nights can be booked subject to availability.
Carl Stymiest UE

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • “In 1784 a few Loyalist families came to Chester, with some property; but, being unacquainted with farming, they expended their money on buildings and unprofitable pursuits. Discouraged and disappointed, most of them abandoned the settlement, and returned to the United States.” (Source: “A General Description of Nova Scotia” printed at the Royal Acadian School in Halifax, 1832 as republished in ‘History of the County of Lunenburg’ by Mather Byles DesBrisay, published by William Briggs, Toronto, 1895.). By Brain McConnell UE
  • October is Mi’kmaw History Month. Do you know of the Mi’kmaw flag and it’s meanings? The white denotes the purity of creation. The red cross represents humanity and the four directions. The sun represents the forces of day and the moon represents the forces of night.
  • John Glover was born in 1771 in Sussex County, New Jersey, and died in 1863 at 92 (his stone’s dates are slightly off). His brother, Jacob, was a Loyalist, and in some unknown year he was brought to Grimsby, Ontario, leaving his old life behind. The stones lead to stories.
  • George III recognised the importance of creating a positive image for the Royal Family. He encouraged painters to record his public appearances with the Queen & their children. This fan depicts the King & Royal Family attending the Royal Academy Exhibition. 1789-90
  • This week in History
  • Clothing and Related:
    • To follow the previous cut steel & Wedgwood zodiac button, here’s another fashionable set of Jasperware & cut steel buttons of classical cameos. The smaller buttons would have been used on a matching waistcoat. 1785-1800
    • We’ve done this before to test the historical hive mind – but what does everyone think of this altered male court waistcoat from the 18thC, made into a ladies dress front in the late 19thC? We assume a common practice? The final image might be the style achieved by a 19thC maker?
    • Detail of an 18th Century Court dress, contains 10lb weight of silver thread in an elaborate ‘Tree of Life’ Design. Signed ‘Rec’d of Mdme Leconte by me Magd. Giles’. The name Leconte has been associated with Huguenot embroideresses working in London 1710-1746
    • 18th Century dress, 1780-1785. The cream silk is adorned only at the edges with an embroidered band, ribbon & a stencilled fringe. This restraint in decoration illustrates the growing influence of the Neo-classical style in textile design.
    • 18th Century men’s frock coat, rear detail black silk velvet figured with silk gold yarns embroidered with gilt-silver wires, sequins & bits of glass, 1785-1792, French
    • 18th Century waistcoat, silk embroidery showing an idyllic scene of a young man resting on a mossy rock as he serenades a brightly plumed wild turkey with his flute. 1780-1795
  • Townsends:
  • Miscellaneous
    • Skeletons: The remains of more than 240 people, including children, have been unearthed by archaeologists working on the remnants of a medieval priory found beneath a former department store. The “hugely significant” discovery was made under the old Ocky White building in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Archaeologists believe the ruins are from St Saviour’s Priory, founded by a Dominican order of monks in about 1256. Read more… (from Ivy Trumpour)
    • 13 Oct 1792 The first publication of the “Old Farmer’s Almanac” is produced and edited by Robert B. Thomas. It contains weather forecasts, planting charts, astronomical data, recipes, and articles.
    • Died #OnThisDay 12 Oct 1845 Elizabeth Fry, often referred to as Betsy Fry. She was an English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist. She is often referred to as the “angel of prisons.”
    • A Curious Case of Criminal Conversation. In 1788 the Reverend Henry Bate Dudley, known as the ‘Fighting Parson’, found himself facing a charge of adultery, or ‘criminal conversation’. A clergyman, journalist, dramatist and duellist, Bate Dudley had been ordained in the Church of England, but had soon realised that his talents and temperament were better suited to the rough and tumble of the flourishing Georgian newspaper industry. He had been editor of the Morning Post from 1772 to 1780, when he had founded his own newspaper, the Morning Herald. Read more…
    • Mud Historian: Recovered from the river Thames yesterday: the distinctive profile of Queen Anne on this pewter cufflink dating 1702-14.
    • ‘Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here’ – the heartfelt message in the bezel of this gold mourning ring. The painted image of a tomb beneath a weeping willow also includes hair. Late 18th century.

Last Post: AMBROSE UE, Rosemary Willard
Passed away peacefully in Waterloo, Ontario on October 9, 2022, surrounded by her family.
Rosemary was born in Galt, Ontario (now Cambridge) on July 2, 1930. Beloved wife of Gordon Victor Ambrose with whom she had celebrated 67 years of marriage earlier this year.
Rosemary was equally adept at writing and editing. She contributed many articles to the Waterloo Historical Society, researched and authored a book on Churches of Waterloo County, and applied her editing skills to others’ work. Her love of family, and desire to know and learn, was reflected in all she did and in her passionate pursuit of genealogy. Her skills and dedication led to the discovery of her United Empire Loyalist ancestors.
A Memorial Service will be held for Rosemary, on Monday, October 24, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. at St. James’- Rosemount United Church, 171 Sherwood Avenue, Kitchener. Read more…
As a member of Grand River Branch, Rosemary proved her descent from Loyalist Lewis Clement.

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