In this issue:



Merry Christmas, Riedesel Style
December 1, 2018 at St. Lawrence Branch
The first Christmas tree in Canada takes its origins from the American Revolutionary War.
During that conflict, Major-General Friedrich Adolphus Riedesel commanded troops from the German state of Brunswick. Britain hired these troops to help quell the American rebellion, and Riedesel spent time in Canada. In December 1781, he and his wife Friederike introduced to the Canadian scene the German tradition of the Christmas tree.
That year marked a turning point for the Riedesels. They had arrived in Canada four years earlier, in the spring of 1777. At that time, the Major-General immediately joined a British offensive led by John Burgoyne. Its objective was to drive south from Canada to Albany, New York, in an attempt to cut the Thirteen Colonies in two. Friederike joined him on this campaign. After some initial success, Burgoyne’s army surrendered on October 17, 1777 after a series of battles near Saratoga, 40 kilometres short of Albany.
Riedesel and his wife became prisoners of war. Read more…

Three New Brunswick Whitesmiths
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
In trying to tell the stories of Loyalists who worked with tin (also known as “white metal”), one has to search the records of the era for the words “tin maker”, “tinsmith”, “tinker” or “whitesmith”.
And when references are discovered, often the details of these craftsmen’s lives are all too brief. For example, John Webster had been a British emigrant to Philadelphia, setting up “the trade of a Whitesmith” in 1773. When rebels tried to force him to take an oath of allegiance to their cause, he refused. After General Howe’s troops occupied Philadelphia, Webster took advantage of the situation and returned to England in 1778. Six years later the tinsmith was designated as a Loyalist who did not bear arms.
Fortunately, there is a bit more biographical information for three whitesmiths who eventually settled in New Brunswick.
John McDonald, his wife and two children left New York City in the later part of the summer of 1783, sailing on the Three Sisters as members of Thomas Huggeford’s Militia Company 14. As he sailed toward the mouth of the St. John River, the whitesmith no doubt had many occasions to remember all that Patriots had taken from the Loyalist family. Their losses included two cows, a horse, clothes, furniture, and McDonald’s tin making tools.
Whitesmiths had a wide array of tools. They used at least five types of hammers: ball peen, planishing, chasing, creasing, and setting-down hammers. Mallets made of animal horn or wood were also employed. There were large shears for cutting sheets of tin, “nippers”, and hand snips. As with blacksmiths, tin workers used an anvil to shape tin. Solder, a soldering iron, and a fire pot were used to join pieces of tin together
John McDonald had emigrated from Scotland to New York in the 1760s, establishing himself in the Nine Partners Patent. This Dutchess County grant extended from the Hudson River to the border with Connecticut. When the revolution broke out, rather than taking a commission with the Patriots, McDonald joined the king’s army. Rebels then imprisoned the tinsmith for his refusal to sign an oath of allegiance known as an “association”.
After nine months, he was able to escape from jail and rejoin the British. He served as both a courier and a spy. At some point during the revolution, McDonald took up residence in a schoolhouse and worked as a teacher.
When McDonald and his young family came to New Brunswick, they went up the St. John River and settled at Burton, situated between Upper Gagetown and Maugerville. Records do not indicate whether he ever returned to tinsmithing.
The other two whitesmiths who are known to have settled in New Brunswick each had ties to the colony’s Black Loyalists.
Forbes Newton brought his wife and only child to the colony on board the Ann in July of 1783. They were among the 103 members of Company 28 in Captain Robert Chillas’ Independent Company of Volunteers. Others known to have sailed on the Ann are David Beveridge, a hair dresser, and William Cameron, a carpenter. Robert Chillas, their leader, later gained a reputation as a noted cabinet-maker in Saint John.
Newton’s story would have come to an abrupt end with the sentence of data found in the muster rolls of Fort Howe if it hadn’t been for the fact that he became a minor character in New Brunswick’s legal history.
Early in 1785, the newly formed colony held its first murder trial. Nancy Mosley, a Black Loyalist, was accused of killing her husband by stabbing him in the temple with a dinner fork. She was arraigned, tried and found guilty of manslaughter all in a single day — February third. The twelve man jury that so speedily convicted Mosley were: Frederick Devoe, Casper Doherty, James Picket, Jesse Marchant, John Wiggins, Abel Flewelling, Samuel Tilley, John Cooke, George Wilson, James Souvenir, and Jeremiah Worden – as well as one whitesmith: Forbes Newton. How Newton came to be selected for jury duty –and the details of the remainder of his life– have been lost with the passage of time.
The only other whitesmith who is noted as such in the muster rolls of Fort Howe is Samuel Nicklin. He was one of the 34 members of Abiathar Camp’s Company 18 that sailed on the Duchess of Gordon in June of 1783. Nicklin came to New Brunswick as a single man from Pennsylvania. The muster roll also noted that Nicklin brought a servant with him, a 36 year-old Black Loyalist by the name of Caesar Closs. In a strange twist of fate, more is known of Nicklin’s servant than is known about the Loyalist tinsmith.
Closs had escaped from slavery in Burlington, New Jersey in 1781 and was recognized as a free man when he received a General Birch certificate two years later. While it is not known how long he worked for Samuel Nicklin, within 14 years of his arrival in New Brunswick, the Black Loyalist had amassed enough of an estate to have it processed in the colony’s probate court. His possessions and property were distributed on February 28, 1797, making Closs the first Black Loyalist to be listed in New Brunswick’s probate records.
Tinsmiths were among the first craftsmen to settle in what is now Canada following the American Revolution. Men who were skilled whitesmiths would be mentioned in the newspapers of New Brunswick over the next century — until at least 1896. By that time, many were employed with the railway companies of the day. What is interesting to note is that the term “whitesmith” had clearly fallen out of favour in the 19th century. It never appears as a descriptor of the province’s tin workers in any of New Brunswick’s newspapers.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

We have readers, from a University student in England to Stephen Davidson UE
“I am a finalist student reading History at Durham University, England, and I have chosen Loyalist Women of the American Revolution as my topic. I researched the life of Polly Dibblee and have access to her letter written to her brother in 1787, however I also read your article “An Epitaph in Ink” where you mention you found access to 13 of her letters.”

See An Epitaph in Ink. Part 1. Part 2.

The two Archibald Thomson UELs: Part One of Five
copyright Stephen Bowley UE
There are two Archibald Thomson UELs, one was a Brant Volunteer and the other was a Carpenter/Merchant. The biographies of these two different Loyalists were unfortunately merged when the life story of the Archibald Thomson UEL, who eventually settled in Scarborough Township Upper Canada, was compiled a number of years ago. It appears the mix-up arose by an erroneous assumption that there was only one man by this name filing land petitions at Niagara and by not following the land and other records beyond the text of a Loyalist Loss Claim and some Upper Canada petitions.
I had uncovered the error while researching the roster of Brant’s Volunteers. Unfortunately the fusion of the stories of the two Archibald Thomsons has been promulgated into many on-line sites as well as printed documents relating to the descendants of the Thomson families of Scarborough.
I delved into the primary sources in order to disentangle and document their respective stories. One, the Brant Volunteer, was a Highland Scot who could not sign his name. For the entire post-war period he remained on the farmstead in Stamford Township that he began clearing in 1782 alongside the Niagara River. This is in the region of the present-day Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Although he was illiterate, his petitions included attestations and involved co-applicants which greatly expanded the data and assisted in following the families and the later intermarriages amongst some of their children; one of those co-applicants was Daniel Rose UEL, my Loyalist Ancestor.
The second Archibald Thomson, a Carpenter/Merchant, was a Lowland Scot who in addition to signing his name had penned all of his many petitions and his will. For the post-war period he and his family had resided at four locations: about 15 years at Kingston, briefly at Newark, then at the Town of York, and finally at the Thomson Settlement in Scarborough Township (east side of present-day Toronto).
Beyond their Loyalty to the Crown, Scotch and being Presbyterian, the two men did have some other things in common. Both had only one wife (who lived to an advanced age), they had two brothers that emigrated and joined them in Canada (by1786 for the Brant Volunteer and in 1796 for the Carpenter/Merchant), and they both wrote wills. Other than this, their biographies are quite distinct.
A brief extract of their respective activities during the War of Independence and their subsequent resettlement in Upper Canada will begin in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
For those who have descended from the Brant Volunteer Archibald Thomson UEL and his wife Catherine Emerick (née Scharff) and for those who have descended from the Carpenter and Merchant Archibald Thomson UEL and his wife Elizabeth McKay DUE, this should rectify the story of their respective Loyalist Ancestor.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Hessian Soldiers Travelling to America: Entering Philadelpia Nov 1777
From a Hessian Diary of the American Revolution.
This excerpt from the diary of Johan Conrad Dohla (170 pages).

Entering Philadelphia (page 44)
27 November. Toward noon the entire corps, including the Artillery, was taken across the Delaware and landed on the Pennsylvania shore. The English Light Infantry formed the rear guard and was attacked by a rebel corps. They were covered by the fire from a frigate and a floating battery, which repulsed the enemy with losses. And so they crossed, fortunately without losing a man. Our two regiments were able to watch this entire affair from the Pennsylvania shore. After all were disembarked, the entire corps marched to Philadelphia, where it arrived during the night. Our two regiments marched through the city with dressed ranks, colors flying, and music playing, and were quartered in a very large barracks. The officers, however, were quartered in the city. During our entrance most houses were closed and few inhabitants were to be seen. Initially food was scarce and only available at a high price. This entrance into Philadelphia occurred on 27 November 1777.

8 December. Early, between nine and ten o’clock, General Howe returned from Germantown with the army. They brought many cattle and provisions that they had taken from the rebels, and also one hundred prisoners and two cannon. As the rebels did not make a stand, only two English regiments were engaged. At ten o’clock during the night, we returned to our barracks.

11 and 12 December. Our two regiments had to fall out on the barracks parade ground, both morning and evening, with full field gear, and remain dressed day and night and ready to move out, because five or six thousand men of the army had again marched against the rebels. This force returned the evening of the twelfth, however, having seized an entire magazine, as well as much livestock and provisions.

13 December. We marched into the city and were quartered in houses vacated by the inhabitants in Water and Franz streets.59
14 December. Both of our regiments went on church parade in Philadelphia for the first time.
15 December. Both of our regiments had to fall out early and were inspected by Lord Thomson, a minister from the Parliament, who had come from England.

22 December. In the morning our two regiments moved out and marched some miles forward to the region of Darby, or Terwell, and Frankford, with the English army and the Hessian troops. We camped there on an open place under the sky, where we had to put up with severe cold and also considerable duty and other fatigue details. The English and Hessians, which were somewhat ahead of us, took a rather large supply of hay, oats, and straw from the rebels, which was all taken back to Philadelphia. They also captured an enemy provisions depot containing rum and flour, and also cattle and many horses.

24 December. Today Ansbach Grenadier Dormann deserted and went over to the rebels. Between eleven and twelve o’clock at night a strong enemy corps moved toward Philadelphia and attacked three of the field fortifications; however, they were immediately chased back by a heavy cannon fire from the fortifications and had to flee, leaving many dead behind. At the same time, on the water side of Philadelphia, on the Delaware River, a fire ship risked crossing from the Jersey side in order to set fire to the English ships. However, it was seen in time by the English seamen and sunk.

27 December. As we were lying under the open sky during the night, it snowed us in rather well, because when we awoke, there was a foot of snow lying on us. Today Sergeant [Johann Simon] Lo€hrl, of the Major’s Company, died.

28 December. Lieutenant General Howe marched into winter quarters in Philadelphia with the entire army. Our two regiments again entered our houses in the city and went into winter quarters.
(to be continued)

Book: Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution
By Benjamin L. Carp
The cities of eighteenth-century America packed together tens of thousands of colonists, who met each other in back rooms and plotted political tactics, debated the issues of the day in taverns, and mingled together on the wharves or in the streets. In this fascinating work, historian Benjamin L. Carp shows how these various urban meeting places provided the tinder and spark for the American Revolution.
Carp focuses closely on political activity in colonial America’s five most populous cities–in particular, he examines Boston’s waterfront community, New York tavern-goers, Newport congregations, Charleston’s elite patriarchy, and the common people who gathered outside Philadelphia’s State House. He shows how–because of their tight concentrations of people and diverse mixture of inhabitants–the largest cities offered fertile ground for political consciousness, political persuasion, and political action.
The book traces how everyday interactions in taverns, wharves, and elsewhere slowly developed into more serious political activity. Ultimately, the residents of cities became the first to voice their discontent. Merchants began meeting to discuss the repercussions of new laws, printers fired up provocative pamphlets, and protesters took to the streets. Indeed, the cities became the flashpoints for legislative protests, committee meetings, massive outdoor gatherings, newspaper harangues, boycotts, customs evasion, violence and riots–all of which laid the groundwork for war.
Ranging from 1740 to 1780, this groundbreaking work contributes significantly to our understanding of the American Revolution. By focusing on some of the most pivotal events of the eighteenth century as they unfolded in the most dynamic places in America, this book illuminates how city dwellers joined in various forms of political activity that helped make the Revolution possible.

The Gaspee Affair (Podcast)
with Adrian Weimer at Ben Franklin’s World
In this episode, we are joined by historian Adrian Weimer. Adrian is a professor of history at Providence College. A historian of colonial America and early modern religion and politics, she’s written two books, Martyrs’ Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England, and A Constitutional Culture: New England and the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire. One of her research projects is about the Gaspee Affair.
‌During our exploration, Adrian reveals information about the founding of Rhode Island and how the colony governed itself; British Lieutenant William Duddingston and what led the Royal Navy to post Duddingston and his ship, the Gaspee, in Rhode Island waters; And a detailed account of the Gaspee Affair on June 9, 1772. Listen in…

Advertised on 5 December 1773: “Gentlemen’s natural wigs”
What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

“Gentlemen’s natural wigs … and all other fashioned wigs now worn in England.”
In December 1773, “MATHEWS, HAIR-DRESSER, FROM LONDON,” introduced himself to prospective clients in Philadelphia via advertisements in the Pennsylvania Gazette and the Pennsylvania Journal. He informed “LADIES and GENTLEMEN of this city, that he intends to carry on his business in all its various branches.” That included “dressing Ladies in the newest and most approved taste,” no doubt drawing on his connections to London to make sure they followed the latest trends, and “making Ladies new invented tupees, in the neatest manner.” He also made “natural wigs” for gentlemen, “so as not to be discerned from a real head of hair,” as well as “other fashioned wigs now worn in England.” His clients, Mathews suggested, could depend on looking as sophisticated as their cosmopolitan cousins in the capital of the empire. Read more…

John Adams Above the Fray: The Original Foreign Policy President
by Max Schreiber 12 Dec. 2023 Journal of the American Revolution
The “whole of [President John] Adams’s single term was absorbed, to a degree unequaled in any other American presidency, with a single problem”: a diplomatic crisis with France. Some Federalists must have been surprised that France, the United States’s greatest ally during the Revolution, became its greatest enemy within a generation. Not Adams: As a young congressman, he warned in 1775 that making a military treaty with the French to win the Revolution would make America “little better than puppets, danced on the wires of the cabinets of Europe.” Adams’ prediction metastasized—and he’d deal with the French alliance at its nadir as President.
When he was elected in 1796, Adams had just completed two terms as George Washington’s Vice President. The States were polarizing over America’s role in Europe after the French Revolution turned violent and caused a spillover war with the European monarchies. In his valedictory, Washington promoted the wisdom of a nationalist foreign policy, which meant staying neutral to the ongoing war between England and France. While the “Neutrality Proclamation” was Washington’s policy, President Adams implemented it. And as a loyal Federalist, President Adams was “the earnest advocate of every principle of foreign policy” that Washington initiated.
Adams was perfect for managing such a volatile American milieu. His entire political career was about “maintaining order and stability in American society.” Read more…

Don Diego de Gardoqui: Hero of the Revolution, Schemer Against the Republic
by Tyson Reeder 14 Dec 2023 Journal of the American Revolution
When Don Diego Gardoqui stepped onto Philadelphia’s docks in May 1785, he was a hero of the American Revolution. A merchant from Bilbao, Spain, Gardoqui, forty-nine, had early on in the war transformed his trade connections with Massachusetts into a pipeline for delivering the arms and supplies desperately needed by American troops. Following the war, Spanish King Carlos III named Gardoqui charges de affairs to the new nation. With diplomatic experience representing Spain to the Court of St. James, excellent English, and the esteem of US leaders, Gardoqui was the natural choice.
Learning that Congress had relocated to New York City, Gardoqui headed for the new capital with a mission to exploit weaknesses in the American union of states and advance his sovereign’s interests. By the time Gardoqui departed New York City four years later, Americans no longer thought of him as a savior of the Revolution. Thanks to his scheming, he had become a scoundrel of the early republic. Read more…
[Editor comment: Not being a deep student of history, I thought that the quagmire of geopolitics and politics that we face today was somewhat unprecedented. Both articles from Journal of the American Revolution – Adams and this one – would suggest that what goes around, comes around]

The price of sending your child to school in the early 1800s
By Sarah Murden 11 Dec 2023 at All Things Georgian
Having previously written about setting up Georgian schools, I thought I would take a look in the classified adverts of the early 1800s to find out more about school fees, as towards the end of the 1700s and into the early 1800s fee paying educational establishments were popping up all over the place for both boys and girls.
It is very difficult to establish exactly what regulations, if any, there were for setting up a school, but it appears that anyone who felt they could run a school and had suitable premises could simply do so.
Very much as today, education may well have been dependent upon your wealth. If you were in the lower ranks of society then there were a variety of charity schools such as Bluecoat, Greencoat and Greycoat, for free schools, for which no fees were paid. Read more…

UELAC Loyalist Directory: New Contributions

Entries which have been added, or revised, this week, with thanks:

  • to Stephen Bowley who contributed information about the two Loyalists named Archibald Thomson/Thompson (see also first of five articles above)
    • Lieutenant Archibald Thomson who settled at Stamford Township, Niagara (at top of mountain along Niagara River) and married Catherine Emerick (née Scharff), widow of David Emerick (Emrich, Emery)
    • Archibald Thompson who resettled at Home District: Carleton Island (in Lake Ontario), then Kingston, then Newark, then York, and finally Scarborough Township, Upper Canada and married Elizabeth McKay, daughter of Hugh & Mary McKay

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

Call for Nominations for 2024 UELAC Honorary Fellows
Deadline for Nominations is 28 February (midnight EST)
As per UELAC Policy 2017.002 Honorary Fellows

The UELAC Honorary Fellows Policy lays out the criteria for appointment of Honorary Fellows, describes their roles within the Association and establishes limits on their terms of office.

Authority: Paragraph 3.6 (Honorary Fellows) of the By-Law states, Honorary Fellowship may be conferred by the Corporation on a person for distinguished service to the Corporation by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of Members at an Annual Meeting, provided that notice of such intended action shall have been given in accordance with these By-Laws. While an Honorary Fellow may be a Member, the designation as an Honorary Fellow does not itself confer any membership rights.
Paragraph 5.1 (Powers) states, The Board shall manage or supervise the management of the activities and affairs of the Corporation.

Criteria for Appointment
Honorary Fellows of the Association are expected to demonstrate the following characteristics:

  1. Show a high degree of interest in supporting the goals and mandates of the Association;
  2. Have a solid base of professional and/or academic credentials that are relevant to the Association’s mission;
  3. Have contributed to and be likely to continue to contribute to the Association by way of their talent, profession, expertise or knowledge of Loyalist history or heritage;
  4. Have an exceptional desire and capacity to be involved with Association events during their term as an Honorary Fellow.

Please forward Nominations to Carol Childs UE, Chair, Honorary Fellows Committee
Carol Childs UE, Chair Honorary Fellows Committee
Carl Stymiest UE, UELAC Dominion President

Loyalist Quarterly Newsletter December 2023, by Paul J. Bunnell UE
Published since 2004, the December 2023 issue is now available. Sixteen pages, it features:

  • Desperately Seeking Indigenous Allies in the East
  • CURIOSITY BROUGHT HIM BACK: You Decide: Is It Benjamin?
  • Merry Loyalist Christmas Wishes

Vol. 20 Part 4 December 2023 Quarterly Issue “In Publication since 2004”
Editor: Paul J. Bunnell, UE, Author, Koasek Abenaki Chief;; 978-337-9085, 49 Pleasant St., #106, Alstead, NH 03602
The Only U.S. Newsletter Devoted to The study of The American Loyalists
Subscription Rate: $22 U.S. $24 Can. $5 each copy — (March, June, September, December issues)

In the News:

Hooked Mat
Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company
By Amelia Fay 30 November 2023 at Canada’s History
Colourful hooked mats were among the handicraft items that provided income in remote Newfoundland and Labrador communities.
There isn’t a lot of detail on where this mat came from, but it fits the look and style of a very robust early twentieth-century craft industry set up in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission. The mission provided the earliest medical care for remote communities on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula and up the coast of Labrador. Read more…

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • The Boston Tea Part – 250 years ago on 16 December 1773
    • December 10, 1773, the ship “William” ran aground off Cape Cod. It was carrying East India Company tea and the glass globes for Boston’s first street lamps. Boston merchant Jonathan Clarke raced out to salvage that tea. Read The Tea that Survived the Boston Tea Party
    • Read more about the preludde and what happened on 16 Dec, 1773 in Boston Tea Party especially sections “Standoff in Boston” and “Destruction of the tea.
  • Townsends – or Food
  • This week in History
  • Clothing and Related:
    • This 17th-century embroidered spectacle case is a rare survival from the early modern world. The case’s body is embroidered with flowers and an exotic bird typical of needlework from the end of the century. More flowers are present along the edges, stitched upon rich velvet
    • Winding down the day with an elegant, fashionable embroidered evening dress, c. 1790s, from the collection of the @DARMuseum, included in the 2019 exhibit “An Agreeable Tyrant” curated by @AldenBrien
    • This detail from a French Robe à la Française, c. 1770 reminds me of the striped ribbon candy my granny always put out in a depression era glass dish at the holidays. None of the kids would touch it but it sure was pretty to look at!
    • ‘Heels, Flats & Ankle Straps: Transitional Shoes In Jane Austen’s World.’ An excellent ex. of kid slippers c. 1790-1800.
    • Wonderful snippets of madder by Jacqui Symons. The dye takes differently on cellulose and protein fabrics (generally being richer on wool and silk) but it creates lovely chalky pinks and corals on linen and cotton too.
    • a rare 1790-95 cotton and silk gown. The design is ‘pencilled’ or hand painted. The wide train gives centre-stage to the beautiful floral pattern.
    • Today’s #ootd is this 1756 English gown made of silk satin and linen lining. The close-ups of the gown reveal some interesting facts, like how these gowns opened at the front by unpinning the stomacher. Old stitch marks also show that the fabric was reused from an earlier gown.
  • Miscellaneous


Published by the UELAC
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