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Organizing the Last Great Loyalist Exodus: Part Two of Three
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
When 28 year-old Lt. John Clarkson of the royal navy arrived in Halifax to oversee the migration of Black Loyalists to Sierra Leone in October of 1791, he hoped to have the evacuation fleet set sail for Africa within two months’ time. Thomas Peters, the Black Loyalist whose trip to London prompted the British government to fund an exodus to West Africa, was already recruiting Blacks in New Brunswick and in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Royal. It was Clarkson’s responsibility to spread the news of the exodus to Sierra Leone to the colony’s other Black communities.
Clarkson visited Shelburne on October 25th, eighteen days after first setting foot in Halifax. Once the fourth largest city in all of North America, Shelburne also had the largest community of free Blacks outside of Africa as a suburb – the settlement of Birchtown. As soon as he disembarked, Clarkson encountered David George, a Black Baptist minister, who was on his way to Halifax to learn more about what Clarkson referred to as “the Plan”. The 48 year-old pastor has confused by all of the negative reports that attended the news of the Sierra Leone Expedition. “They were at a loss to know how to act from the various reports circulated by interested people, some to induce them to stay, and others to persuade them to accept the Company’s offers -both parties had their interest in view.
On the following day, Clarkson rode off to Birchtown on horseback. Word of his arrival had prompted up to 400 Black Loyalists to fill the local Methodist Church to learn more about Sierra Leone. The response to the Plan was enthusiastic, and for the next three days Clarkson recorded the names of those who wanted to join the venture. He began to wonder if there would be enough vessels to transport everyone who wanted to leave the colony. And he had yet to learn the number of those from New Brunswick and Annapolis Royal who were signing on. Like Carleton in New York back in 1783, Clarkson was surprised by the number of people who sought a better life far away from their persecutors.
While still in Shelburne, Clarkson wrote a letter in which he expressed the hope that the fleet bound for Sierra Leone would leave Halifax on December 20th. He also began to realize that the evacuation ships should be carrying seeds and vegetables that could be planted in Sierra Leone upon the settlers’ arrival. The Black Loyalists were in need of farming implements, spinning wheels and fishing line. The list of required items continued to grow.
Clarkson realized that wine would have to be purchased, as it was “necessary for the sick”. And once the 28 year-old bachelor began to consider that passengers would require medical attention, he decided that pregnant women and those who “may be a little indisposed” should be put on the same migration ship as Dr. Taylor, the expedition’s medical officer. Recognizing that a number of Black Loyalists had dogs, he decided to allow one dog for every 6 families.
If the swelling numbers were not a reason to slow down recruitment, the threats of violence certainly were. The opposition of whites to the Plan was only increasing. Local resistance to the emigration of Black Loyalists and the restrictions on Clarkson’s time in Nova Scotia prevented him from visiting the African settlers in other parts of the colony. Thus, the Black Loyalists who had made their homes in the colony’s Guysborough County and Antigonish County were never told about the opportunity to move to Sierra Leone.
By the time Clarkson had boarded his ship for Halifax, he had registered 156 Black Loyalist families (amounting to “540 souls”) from Shelburne and Birchtown. There were already 250 people registered in Halifax. He estimated that by the time the ships bound for Sierra Leone would set sail, there would be somewhere between 800 and 1,000 passengers. Would he be able to find enough ships to transport so many people?
Clarkson advertised for vessels in Halifax’s newspaper, hoping that merchants would hire out their ships. Unlike Carleton in 1783, he did not have access to British naval or transport vessels. Clarkson made his first inspection of possible ships on November 16th. He favoured single-decked vessels, and rejected double-decked ships that had ceilings less than 5 feet high. Aware of the conditions of the ships that had brought kidnapped Africans to slavery in North America, Clarkson did his best to find dry, clean, commodious and well-ventilated quarters. By November 28, Clarkson had secured the services of just 8 vessels.
The effort required to implement the Plan was beginning to take its toll. Clarkson confided in a letter “I dare not refuse this arduous task though I hope had I known when I was employed that the business was upon such an extensive scale and surrounded by so many difficulties which require our unremitting attention, I should have had the diffidence to have rejected it, but as I have once embarked in it I am determined to persevere & do my best.”
By December, the Black Loyalists began to arrive by the hundreds and needed accommodations in Halifax until their ships departed. Provisions for the transatlantic journey required inspection, petty disputes needed settling, and there were daily letters to Clarkson that demanded replies. Throughout it all, fellow abolitionist Lawrence Hartshorne was an able assistant and friend. Within Clarkson’s journal are regular entries about meals in the Hartshorne home “to divert my thoughts and relax myself from the fatigues of the day.”
Over the next week, ships bearing Black Loyalists from New Brunswick and Shelburne began to disembark their passengers. Clarkson was impressed by the recruited settlers.
The people I shall carry with me are generally speaking sober, hardworking men, and extremely grateful & rather enthusiasts in religion which I hope to be able to moderate on the voyage, though I commend them for their intentions upon every occasion, and I firmly believe the majority practice what they preach. With respect to their industry their neighbours have declared to me their surprise at their being able to support themselves upon such a barren & stony land as they have done, which could never have been brought to the state their Lots are now in, but from unwearied industry-
A new problem suddenly emerged. Where should one house their passengers until the evacuation fleet was ready to set sail? Clarkson and Hartshorne were suddenly “running over to town to hire store houses for their reception“. Fortunately, they found a warehouse that could accommodate 300 people. Within 3 hours they “had everything taken out, the place properly swept, and two stoves fitted up.” Earlier arrivals were housed in military barracks in the city.
Another unexpected situation arose: many of the Black Loyalists were in desperate need of clothing to survive in a Nova Scotia December. His appeal to the government to provide the required garments was granted.
Despite this assistance, there were those within the government who continued to spread rumors to discredit the Plan. At times it was an uphill battle. The colony’s governor was not particularly pleased to let Nova Scotia’s Black Loyalists leave for Africa. In mid-December, Haligonians were told that “an epidemic disorder prevailed amongst the Blacks assembled here, and that they intended to set fire to the town.”
Despite this racist slander, Clarkson was able to write that despite cramped quarters, a lack of proper clothing, and the tedium of waiting for departure, the 1,100 Black Loyalists who had flooded into Halifax during December “have hitherto conducted themselves to the satisfaction of everyone in this town.”
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Celebrating the success of previous UELAC Scholarship winner
Christopher F, Minty PhD documentary editor and historian at the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia was our 2012 UELAC Loyalist Scholarship Award Recipient.
Originally from Edinburgh, Christopher completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Stirling between 2006 and 2014. His dissertation, submitted in August 2014 analyzed the political origins of Loyalism in New York between 1768 and 1778. It also contained a large-scale prosopographical* analysis of 9,338 Loyalists, all of whom signed a Loyalist declaration or took the oath of allegiance to King George III.
Christopher is (virtually) headed back to the University of Stirling on Wednesday, 7 December, to talk about his forthcoming book Unfriendly to Liberty: Loyalist Networks and the Coming of the American Revolution in New York City (Cornell Univ. Press) – see more…
Look forward to May 15, 2023 when Christopher’s new book will be available in bookstores. This title will be a welcome edition to your home library and most definitely to the UELAC Library at our new location in Cornwall, Ontario.
Please join the Scholarship Committee as we celebrate this good news from our 2012 Scholarship recipient. Thank you to all donors to the UELAC Scholarship Endowment funds for ensuring that students who research the Loyalists of the American Revolution are able to succeed in their studies and careers.
* Prosopographical is a study that identifies and relates a group of persons or characters within a particular historical context.
Christine Manzer UE, Chair: UELAC Scholarship Committee

2023 UELAC Hybrid Conference: An Extended Vacation
Have you ever thought of making British Columbia a destination holiday in 2023?
While attending the 2023 UELAC Conference,”Where the Sea Meets the Sky,” (01-04 June) why not extend your visit an extra few days (pre or post conference) and enjoy our Super, Natural British Columbia hospitality.
Remember your Conference Hotel Venue, the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel & Conference Centre where accommodations have been extended at the negotiated Conference prices.
….Carl Stymiest UE

John Joachim Zubly: PART 1, A Patriot Minister Whose Cause Was Lost
by James M. Smith 6 November 2022, Journal of the American Revolution
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), a French philosopher, once said that the definition of a traitor was “a patriot whose cause was lost.” In the time of the American Revolution, it could well be said of those who were considered Loyalists, that a “Loyalist was a patriot whose cause was lost.”
Born in Switzerland in 1724, Hans Joachim Zubly attended college in England where he obtained his divinity degree. While there, his father immigrated to South Carolina. After graduation he moved to South Carolina to live with his father; somewhere along the way he changed his first name to John. He then went to the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University, and obtained a Doctor of Divinity degree, and was always referred to thereafter as Dr. John J. Zubly. In 1760 he was invited to be the minister at the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia, which he accepted. He remained minister there until his death. By the time of the revolution he had purchased several pieces of property and had become rather wealthy.
When the British Parliament’s first attempt to tax American colonies, the Stamp Act, was repealed in 1766, there was an audible sigh of relief throughout America. There were church services in all the colonies, prayers of thanksgiving were said, not only for the relief from the tax, but also in the hopes that the chaos and turmoil would cease. Read more…
Editor’s note: I found this a very interesting explanation of what was transpiring between the stamp act and the beginning of the war. The following two parts carry that forward.

John Joachim Zubly: PART 2, A Patriot Congressman Whose Cause Was Lost. Read more…

John Joachim Zubly: PART 3, A Patriot Essayist Whose Cause Was Lost. Read more…

The Battle of Green Spring: A Footnote on the Road to Yorktown
by Conor Robison 10 November 2022 Journal of the American Revolution
Ensign Ebenezer Denny calculated that he went from a green officer to a combat veteran in all of four minutes. Yet in those harsh two hundred and forty seconds he felt like anything but a leader of men in battle. Adrenaline alone was no match against hard marching amidst the brutal Virginia heat with a battle at the end of it. Having fortified himself with a handful of blackberries, the twenty-year-old Denny felt faint, keeping his place in line only “with difficulty,” and admitted to more than once thinking of tossing his espontoon away. Anything to hasten his retreat would have been fine with Denny, for the vanguard of General Lafayette’s army was even then extracting itself from British encirclement. Three battalions of Pennsylvania Continentals had carried themselves forward under the sword of Gen. Anthony Wayne mistaken in the belief that only the British rearguard remained this side of the James River. Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis proved these notions false; as his redcoats even then pressed around the American flanks. Defeat in this the largest land battle of the war in Virginia was not the desired outcome, but at least Ensign Denny had not disgraced himself as he had feared, nor indeed had his comrades. In retreat the Americans had taken to their heels but could be satisfied in the knowledge that they had stared down the whole of Cornwallis’s army and come out of it ready to fight another day. The British, on the other hand, were left wondering if they had missed a golden opportunity of destroying their enemy in the battle of Green Spring. Read more…

Saving Soldiers: Medical Practice in the Revolutionary War
A short article and a description of about twenty items in an exhibition
American military doctors who joined the cause for independence faced formidable odds. Of the 1,400 medical practitioners who served in the Continental Army, only about ten percent had formal medical degrees. The majority of the rest had learned their practice through an apprenticeship with an established physician. Most were young men at the beginning of their careers. Few had prior experience of war. Their civilian practices had not prepared them for the grim realities of warfare in eighteenth-century America, where far more soldiers under their care would die from disease and infection than would be killed on the battlefield. Read more…

Book: Roger Lamb’s American Revolution: A British Soldier’s Story
Edited by Don N. Hagist
?Westholme Publishing (November 4, 2022)
Of all the British soldiers who served in North America during the American Revolution, none wrote more about his experiences than Roger Lamb. He certainly had a lot to say: his service in two of the most important campaigns—the 1777 Saratoga campaign and the 1781 campaign through the Carolinas to Virginia—put him in the thick of some of the war’s most famous battles. Moreover, he was twice captured and twice escaped, making his way through hostile territory to rejoin the British army. Later in his life he wrote two books chronicling these experiences in great detail. Hundreds of British soldiers went through similar ordeals, sharing in the campaigns, the battles, the captivities, the escapes, but none recounted any aspect of these activities in the level of detail that Lamb did.
The first edition of this book, published in 2004, combined all of Roger Lamb’s first-hand recollections from his two books, An Original and Authentic Journal of Occurrences during the late American War, from its Commencement to the Year 1783 (Dublin, 1809) and Memoir of his Own Life (Dublin, 1811). Since that publication, two more important documents written by Lamb have come to light—an intelligence report written in 1782 recounting details of one of his escapes, and a “commonplace book” kept later in his life to record a vast range of memories, thoughts, and observations. Roger Lamb’s American Revolution: A British Soldier’s Story combines all of the material from these four sources pertaining to Lamb’s career as a soldier, from the time he joined the army to his departure from it, plus his recollections of childhood and post-military life. The result is the most comprehensive first-hand account by a British soldier in the American Revolution, an essential record for understanding the war in its totality.

The Great Power of Small Native Nations
Ben Franklin’s World Podcast 8 November 2022
Elizabeth Ellis, an Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University and a citizen of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, joins us to investigate the uncovered and recovered histories of the more than 40 distinct and small Native nations who called the Gulf South region home during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Using details from her book, The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South, Liz reveals information about the Gulf South; The cultures and diplomacy of the Gulf South’s “Petite Nations” of Indians; And, details about how the Petite Nations interacted with French colonizers and shaped the terms of their colonization. Listen in…

Courtship and Marriage Superstitions in the 1700 and 1800s
By Geri Walton 16 October 2014
Eighteenth and nineteenth-century couples had to navigate through an extraordinary number of peculiar customs and fanciful superstitions when it came to courtship and marriage. Among these superstitions was the belief that “a piece of wedding-cake placed under the pillow [would] produce a dream of a future husband or wife.”[1] In the Irish Sea, on the Isle of Man, no groom or bride dared visit the wedding altar without a pinch of salt in their pocket. In England it was different. English bridegrooms were encouraged to carry a miniature horseshoe in their pocket to enjoy good luck forever. However, there were many other courtship and marriage superstitions. Some of these included superstitions about the bride herself, the wedding, and, of course, superstitions after a couple married. Read more…

Loyalist Gazette Fall 2022; Digital Version Now Available
The digital version of the Fall 2022 issue of the Loyalist Gazette is now available to members. Log in at and follow the link to Loyalist Gazetter. in the members’ section.
In this issue you will find articles such as:

  • Guest Editor Nathan Tidridge Brings his Love of History into the Present
  • Scholarship Challenge 2022
  • The Chapels Royal in Canada
  • Allies or Subjects? The Haudenosaunee and their place in Canadian History
  • Book: The Knotted Rope by Jean Rae Baxter UE
  • British-Indigenous relations during the War of 1812
  • The Queen is dead! God save the King!

For those who requested that a paper copy be mailed to them, it is expected that it will be printed and delivered to Canada Post sometime this week ie by about Friday 14 Nov. Allow then for the usual transit time to your part of the world.

Wolford Chapel & John Graves Simcoe – A Piece of Canadian History in Devon
The last thing you’d expect to stumble upon while driving through the remote English county of Devon, is a slice of Ontario, but that’s just what you’ll find at Wolford Chapel.
This small chapel and its grounds, tucked away off an unassuming British B road, is technically part of Canada, and flies the Canadian flag proudly to prove it.
That’s because Wolford Chapel is the burial place of John Graves Simcoe, the famed first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (now the Province of Ontario) and the founder of the city of Toronto.
After his time establishing the in Canada John Graves Simcoe died in Exeter, England in 1806 and is buried at Wolford Chapel. The chapel is also the final resting place of Simcoe’s wife Elizabeth, and six of their 11 children.
Wolford Chapel is the only Ontario Heritage Trust site to exist outside of Canada itself, such is the importance of John Graves Simcoe to the history of the province.
He entered the military in 1770 and by 1775 he was in North America, on a commission in Boston.
Here he successfully commanded the Queen’s Rangers (1st American Regiment) during the American Revolution but returned to the UK in 1781 after surviving 3 months as a prisoner during the war.
Legend has it that during his time in the US he saved the life of George Washington by ordering his troops not to fire, which if true means John Graves Simcoe changed the course of world events in more ways than one.
With his prior knowledge of North America John Graves Simcoe was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1791. He is credited with establishing basic infrastructure like government and law courts as well as towns and roads in what was then York, and later became Canada’s biggest city: Toronto. Read more…
More details: Ontario Heritage Trust; Wikipedia; Escape to Britain.
Submitted by Stephen Davidson, who notes that It was featured in an episode of the British TV show “Escape to the Country”.

UELAC Loyalist Directory: New Contributions
Entries which have been added, or revised, this week, with thanks:

  • Andrew Payzant has provided a lot of detailed information for a number of Nova Scotia Loyalists. For these he has provided additional information.
  • Kevin Wisener has a particular interest in Loyalists of Prince Edward Island, these recent additions:
    • Pvt. Alexander Lawson of the Kings Rangers settled in Princetown, PEI
    • Pvt. Edmund Meade of the Kings Rangers settled in Kings County, Prince Edward Island possibly Lot 40 or 47
    • Pvt. James Patten also King’s Rangers settled in Princetown PEI
    • William Day belonged to the Kings Rangers, and at the recording of his death in Charlottetown, he was listed as a member of the Nova Scotia Regiment. He was among a group of non-certified troops supposed to have settled on Prince Edward Island, but instead continued on to Perce, Quebec where he would participate in the fishery.

If you are willing to submit some information, send a note to
All help is appreciated. …doug

Upcoming Events

Kawartha Branch Sun 20 Nov 2:00 ET: “Birchtown: Its People and Their Stories”

Speaker: Stephen Davidson UE.
Based on his 2019 book Birchtown and the Black Loyalist Experience: From 1775 to the Present. Available in bookstores, richly illustrated with photos of Birchtown and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre,
this book recounts the saga of Canada’s first free Black founders.
Join a few minutes early at
Bob McBride UE

Toronto Branch Thurs 24 Nov.7:30 ET. “A Beginners look at DNA”

This seminar is meant for those who are considering having their DNA tested for family history research and those who have tested and aren’t sure what to do with the results. Beth has tested with several companies and worked with the results for about 8 years. She will go over what should be considered before testing, a brief comparison of the different companies and take attendees on a tour of the Ancestry and MyHeritages DNA sites.Beth is an active member of the Toronto Branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) and UELAC, as well as the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group in Pembroke.
To register, email Sally Gustin, Programme Coordinator at — she will return the link early in the week of the meeting.

Kingston and District Branch Sat 26 Nov 1:00 ET “The Treaty of Niagara (1764).”

Author Nathan Tidridge is the speaker.
This is a hybrid meeting. To attend in person: 137 Queen Street, St. Paul’s Anglican Church Hall, access off Montreal Street. Arrive after 12:30 pm, possibly with a bagged lunch. This will be our AGM.
To join by Zoom, visit after 12:45pm, Sat Nov 26, and click the link under EVENTS.
All are welcome for this free event.
Submitted by Nancy Cutway

In The News

Six Nations Warriors fought as loyalists in Rebellion as Family Compact stole Six Nations trust dollars
Two Row Times 9 Nov. 2022
One of the less talked about wars that Six Nations warriors at Grand River participated in was the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837-38. During that year of fighting, Six Nations sent some 750 warriors to defend Upper Canada against armed Reformers, led by William Lyon MacKenzie. They were protesting the Family Compact — a group of oligarchs that were doing favours for rich business owners through the government.
It’s sad to now read back into the history and note that at the same time that 750 Six Nations men were fighting to protect the property and government of those within and around the Family Compact — people within the Compact were robbing the Six Nations blind. Read more…

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • 11 Nov 1813, the Battle of Crysler’s Farm occurs when 8,000 American troops confront 900 British & Canadians. The battle was part of the American’s St. Lawrence Campaign to capture Montreal. The battle was a disaster for the Americans, essentially ending their campaign
  • During the Somme campaign of World War I ” The allies captured 120 square miles of land, and advanced six miles. They had suffered 419,654 casualties, forty men killed or wounded for every yard advanced.”. One of those was my Great Uncle from Co. Monaghan, Ireland. On my office wall is his war memorial death plaque (also known as dead man’s penny), medals, & memorial scroll. Killed in action July 1, 1916. My book “To Join the Ulster Division” dedicated to him. …Brian McConnell @brianm564
  • The First Will Admitted – A Reminder of the Days When #Slaves were Held – Probate granted 1796″ – published in British Weekly Whig newspaper at Kingston, Ontario Newspaper Dec. 25, 1919, p. 3. states “I give and bequeath to my affectionate wife, Mary McLean, all my household furniture, and cattle and my two negro servants, Sussex and Kate and all other movable property.” Will bears date Jan. 15, 1795.
  • In Revolutionary-era New Jersey, voters cast their ballots into armored ballot boxes like this one from 1811, courtesy of @GloucCoHistSoci. It bears the Latin motto “vox populi,” which translates to “voice of the people.”
  • This week in History
  • Clothing and Related:
    • For me, shoes that reveal a story — of the wearer, maker or process— are endlessly fascinating This is a favourite example. @MuseumofLondon. “These shoes from around 1720-50 have been made from re-used materials The embroidered sections from fabric dating to the 1620’s.
    • Silk Dress, c.1795-1810. At the end of the 18thc a new dye came onto the European market: extract from bark of the American black oak. This made it easier& cheaper to dye fabrics yellow becoming very fashionable in Paris.
    • Rear view of an 18th Century dress, this 1760s gown features a rose-red silk with trails of ivory flowers woven in a complex technique. The fabric, a type of silk known as gros de tours, dates from 1740s.
    • Detail of an 18th Century dress, Sacque gown a la Piedmontese, c.1780, possibly Italian, plain cream ribbed silk, metallic & silk embroidery.
    • Netherlands. Coat, 1775-1800. Silk satin & velvet. ‘The sleeve inset is high on the shoulder &the front panels were cut back from the chest down. The neckline was not deep in this period, &the standing collar was high.’
    • Detail showcasing embroidery from 18th Century men’s court suit, 1770-90
    • Collar detail of 18th Century man’s waistcoat, cream silk satin embroidered in small green & brown sprig pattern; collar, pockets & border embroidered floral vinework decorated with paste in assorted sizes, 1770-1790
  • Townsends:
  • Miscellaneous
    • Quebec House, from the ferry entering #Portsmouth Harbour, built 1750s as a bathing house by public subscription. Women on one side and men the other; baths refreshed through sea pipes as tide ebbed and flowed.
    • 9 Nov 1620, the Pilgrims spotted land at Cape Cod. But did you know that there was a direct connection between this and the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, which had been established 13 years earlier?
      That connection was a man named John Clark
      After five years as a prisoner in Havana, Seville, and Madrid, Clark was exchanged in 1616 and returned to England. He returned to Jamestown in 1619 as pilot on a ship hauling cattle. On his return to England, he signed on as pilot and master’s mate on a ship named Mayflower
      After leaving Plimoth, Clark returned to Jamestown in the spring of 1623, dying not long after his arrival. He is one of just a handful of people who lived in both Jamestown and Plimoth in the early 17th century.

Editor’s Note
Our move – update. We are almost “moved out”; as for the “move in”, the most common question now is “Where can I find ….” (Admittedly the language on occasion is a little more colourful.)

Published by the UELAC
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