In this issue:
- Eight Loyalist Women of the Southern Colonies by Stephen Davidson UE
- The two Archibald Thomson UELs: Part Three by Stephen Bowley UE
- Scholarships! Help Get the Word Out
- Happy New Year 2024 UELAC Facebook Group members. We did it!
- Hessian Soldiers Travelling to America: Describing Philadelphia Nov 1777
- Gulf Coast Campaign: The Forgotten Theater of the American Revolution
- Advertised on 31 December 1773: “Clocks and Watches repaired”
- Lettuce & Labrador
- Upcoming events:
- From the Social Media and Beyond
- Editor’s note
Eight Loyalist Women of the Southern Colonies
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
By a strange twist of fate, historians are much more likely to know about Loyalist widows than the wives who found sanctuary with their husbands and children following the American Revolution. If married, a woman’s wartime experiences took second place to those of her husband who stood a better chance at receiving compensation from the British government. With no male relative to speak for them, Loyalist widows had the opportunity to recount what happened to them during the revolution. These are eight of those stories. Though brief, they provide a glimpse into women’s experiences during the revolution.
Although George and Elizabeth Barksdale had a plantation in Lampri, South Carolina, the escalating conflict compelled them to move to Charleston in 1780. While there, Elizabeth “did many acts of kindness and humanity to suffering Loyalists”. After George died in 1781, Hessian soldiers appropriated the large Barksdale home to use as a hospital and then as a barracks. This damaged Elizabeth’s home, leaving her with little property to sell for much needed cash.
She and her daughters sought sanctuary in England where she was “reduced to indigence in a strange country”. Both of her girls were deaf and dumb, but the records do not indicate if this was a result of their experiences during the revolution.
Margaret Mathews laid the blame for one of her children being deaf and dumb squarely on the terror he experienced when his father, William Mathews, was taken prisoner during the revolution. A prosperous woman before her marriage, Margaret had once owned a storehouse in Hampton, Virginia. The war would eventually reduce her to total destitution.
Following the conclusion of the revolution, the Mathews and their two children set sail for Jamaica. Based in Kingston, William carried on trade with his own ship, but he died when his vessel encountered a hurricane at sea. In a letter written in Kingston, Margaret revealed that she had no resources whatsoever and was being maintained by the port’s Anglican vestry.
Wartime trauma definitely had an impact on the mental health of loyal Americans. Ann Finlayson’s husband Henry had been a silversmith in Georgia, but he was forced to seek sanctuary in England due to his loyalist convictions. His mental health deteriorated to such a degree that he was admitted to the St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital. (The noise generated by this hospital’s patients eventually gave the English language the word “bedlam” to mean a scene of uproar and confusion.)
Henry was dismissed as being incurable after a stay of 15 months in the mental institution. Ann had to look after their family that was now forced to live in a small room in London. Even the parish workhouse would not accept Henry. Eventually he broke loose from a straitjacket and ended his life with a knife.
Pregnant with twins, Ann was left to care for Henry’s three orphans. In 1789, she appealed to the British government for funds to resettle her five children in the Bahamas.
The Armston family of Norfolk, Virginia was driven out of town in December of 1775 due to Freer Armston’s loyalist convictions. The tallow chandler and soap boiler eventually found sanctuary in Bermuda, but he was unable to make a living there. In August of 1777, the family sailed for England. But the family’s misfortunes had taken their toll on Armston’s wife. He reported that she had become insane because of their misfortunes.
Trouble dogged the heels of Elizabeth Derbage of Georgia. Her husband George had to leave their home for the safety of New York City in 1778, separating him from his wife and two children for an entire year. Following the revolution, he was made a customs officer in Jamaica, but he only filled the position until his death in 1789. Now a widow, Elizabeth tried to impress upon the British government how disruptive the revolution had been. She reported that she had crossed the Atlantic three times and had made four voyages off the coast of America, “meeting with uncommon hardships”. On one journey, she was at sea for ten days without a drop of water. On another occasion, she had “suffered a severe cannonade” while on a ship in the Delaware River.
Elizabeth had also taken part in three of the American Revolution’s most significant evacuations of Loyalists: the flight from Philadelphia in June of 1778, the evacuation of Savannah in July of 1782, and the final migration from New York City in 1783.
Judith Shivers was another Loyalist widow who had once enjoyed a comfortable life in Georgia. In 1776, her husband James was driven from the family’s indigo plantation. Left on her own, Judith could not persuade the local rebels to provide food for her and her three children.
She later recalled that “They would have died but for some humane but savage Indians who conducted them through their nation to St. Augustine” in East Florida. Judith’s husband James died in 1780. Her only male benefactor was her son Thomas who made a claim for compensation for his family in London in 1786.
Elizabeth Carson’s story is that of a Loyalist orphan. Her father, James Carson, had been a doctor in Charleston, South Carolina. He died in August of 1777, leaving his widow Ann and Elizabeth, his only child. Ann died of smallpox, a disease that accounted for more American deaths than all of those who perished on the revolution’s battlefields.
Despite being Loyalists, the Carsons had their estate “despoiled” by the British when they occupied Charleston. Robbed of both her parents and their worldly goods, Elizabeth was taken under the wing of her uncle William Carson, and sailed to Britain with him in 1782. Whether she ever returned to her former home is not known.
Joyce Dawson was the wife of James Dawson, a merchant based in Norfolk, Virginia. The owner of two vessels, Dawson had made his fortune by 1765. His loyalty to the crown brought down the wrath of local Patriots who imprisoned him in January of 1776. Joyce and her two children were then “turned out onto the street”. James managed to escape from jail and took his family to sanctuary in a small cottage in the backwoods.
The family eventually made their way to the British naval fleet and settled in Bermuda in the summer of 1776. However, James was “unable to exist” on the tiny chain of islands and took his family to Britain. There, they learned that rebels had burned their estate in Virginia to ashes. The Dawson family settled in Falmouth, but their fortunes were never restored. James wrote a letter asking for aid, describing himself as “a poor infirm man with a helpless family”.
Joyce Dawson became a widow when James died on January 27, 1780. By the summer, she realized that she could no longer support the cost of her two children’s education. She was “obliged to send one to sea”. Within a year’s time, she was almost incapable of writing her own name. She described herself as a “poor widow aged 60 with a ruined constitution”.
The records of the era do not indicate if Joyce’s loyalty was recognized and rewarded – a fate all too common for the widows and orphans of Loyalist men. Although they did not fight on the battlefields of the southern colonies, the Loyalist women of Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina nevertheless suffered trauma and loss that historians of the era are slowly beginning to appreciate and recognize as a sacrifice equal to that made by the men who gave military service.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at email@example.com.
The two Archibald Thomson UELs: Part Three of Five
copyright Stephen Bowley UE
Toward the end of the War of Independence, a number of the Brant Volunteers had assisted with food production for the Indigenous and Colonial refugees at Niagara. Much of this was corn grown at Buffalo Creek; in 1781 there was some excess corn which was purchased by Brig.-Gen. Powell for the King’s store at Fort Niagara and a further 2,000 bushels was acquired in 1782.
To further expand agricultural production at Niagara, a survey along the western bank to a one mile depth to lay out farm lots was conducted in spring 1783 by Allan McDonell. In contrast to the disbanded Butler’s Rangers that began their farms near the Ranger Barracks, the Brant Volunteers elected to establish their farms at the more defensible position at the top of the mountain.
Thomas McMicking and Daniel Rose already had farms in production in 1782. Later that year they were joined by Archibald Thomson and others who began clearing lots assigned to them by Brig.-Gen. Powell, Commander at Niagara.
Unfortunately, when the full survey of Township No. 2 (Stamford) was conducted in 1787 by Phillip Frey, there were major shifts with the lot lines which impacted the early settlers. Archibald Thompson was granted Lots 19 and 20 in the new survey which involved the lands where James Park and Ruloph Johnson had been clearing their farms. To compensate, James Park was granted the next parcel south (Lots 21 and 40). Ruloph Johnson was assigned Lots 4&5 Con 5 near Fort Erie in Bertie Twp. but he chose instead to settle at the Grand River on a 200 acre grant from the Six Nations.
By July 1784 Archibald Thomson had married Catherine Emerick (née Scharff), widow of David Emerick (Emrich, Emery). Catherine and her daughter Margaret had been captured in 1781 by Indigenous Warriors at the Emerick farm 10 miles west of Northumberland PA, and taken to a village near Niagara.
By 1786 two of Archibald Thomson’s brothers, James and John, had emigrated from Scotland and settled on the lots south of Archibald’s property. About 1790 Margaret Emerick, Catherine’s daughter, married Archibald’s brother James; he had previously served in the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers (80th Regiment of Foot).
After the war, Archibald, his wife Catherine, and step-daughter Margaret travelled to Pennsylvania in order to collect their share of David Emerick’s estate. “They came in grand style, on horseback, decorated with all the tinsel of Indian dress.” They were not successful at recovering the dower rights; David Thorburn did not have any better result in his follow-up attempt in 1821. Thorburn, a lawyer, had married Isobel Thomson, a daughter of James Thomson and Margaret Emerick (Archibald’s brother and step-daughter, respectively).
Archibald Thomson along with John Chisholm, James Park, and Daniel Rose, submitted a petition in 1795 for additional lands based on their Volunteer service with Brant. As part of the submission, Lt.-Col. John Butler and John McDonell attested to their service.
The land records that resulted from this petition confirmed that the Archibald Thomson that settled in Stamford Township was the Brant Volunteer. The Warrants for Thomson, Park, Rose and Chisholm were sequentially listed in the Register of Fiats and include the notation “Volunteer with Capt. Brant 1000 acres including former Grants & such family lands as he may appear entitled to.”
As the lot descriptions were issued, the last step prior to the issuance of a Patent, the description numbers were added to the Fiat Register. For Archibald Thomson they were numbers 2035, 4715, and 12235 and these description documents are contained in the Township Papers.
In addition to the 200 acre home farm (Lots 19 & 20 Stamford Township) Archibald Thomson was awarded 300 acres of family lands and a further 1000 acres for his Volunteer service: 600 were in Flamborough East Township; 400 in King Township; and 200 in Percy Township.
Once the Patents were issued for these properties, all subsequent transactions can be followed using the instruments filed in the Ontario Land Registry Offices; the Abstract Books for the specific township contain the index to the instruments. As a further cross-reference, the bequests made in his will also correspond to the instruments recorded for these properties.
In addition to these land grants from the Crown, he also received an offer from the Six Nations .To attract desirable Loyalists to settle near the Grand River community the Six Nations, through their representative Joseph Brant, offered land leases for 999 years to those Loyalists that had served with the Allied Nations. Archibald Thomson was offered 400 acres of land above the Westbrook Settlement near Fairchild’s Creek.
Archibald and Catherine had at least eight children. Their son John (2nd Lincoln Militia, Capt. James Cooper’s Company) was killed in action at the Battle of Chippewa which took place 5 Jul 1814.
Following the subsequent battle of Lundy’s Lane, most of the properties along the Niagara River north to Queenston were looted by the American troops commanded by Maj.-Gen. Jacob Brown. Archibald’s farm was no exception but there was more than just his possessions there. Archibald Jr. who had a shop at Niagara had moved his merchandise to his father’s house for safekeeping.
Archibald Sr.’s losses of livestock, feed, equipment, and household items amounted to £515 and his son’s £827. The Board of Claims later allowed £304 and £444 of their respective claims, and one third of this amount was eventually paid twenty years after the looting.
Archibald Thomson executed a will dated 18 Dec 1819 with a codicil dated 2 Oct 1821. Although he was illiterate, both documents are highly detailed as to his assets and their specific distribution to his wife Catherine and to each of his children. He even made provision for the lifetime support of Samuel Montgomery; Samuel was an Irish immigrant who had worked for the Thomson family since 1788.
Archibald Thomson Sr. died between the 2nd and 4th Oct 1821. His wife Catherine (née Scharff) died two years later on the 20th Aug 1823 and was buried the 22nd alongside her husband in Stamford Presbyterian Cemetery, Niagara.
A more extensive biography and the references to the primary sources have been appended to the entry for Archibald Thomson, the Brant Volunteer, in the UELAC Loyalist Directory.
The second Archibald Thomson UEL, the Carpenter/Merchant, will be featured in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scholarships ! Help Get the Word Out
The value of financial support for graduate students cannot be overstated. The difficulty in alerting qualified graduate student to apply for that financial aid is made somewhat easier with today’s social media options such as Twitter, Facebook. Regular publications such as Loyalist Trails, Loyalist Gazette and branch newsletters also help to get the word out. However, readers…. you can also help.
The UELAC Loyalist Scholarship is available to Masters and PhD students who are undertaking a program in relevant research. This topic should further Canada’s understanding of the Loyalists and our appreciation of their, or their immediate descendants, influence on Canada.
If you have a contact in an academic institution on either side of the border please think about forwarding the UELAC web address that contains the scholarship details – https://uelac.ca/scholarship/
The deadline for scholarship applications for 2024 is February 28, 2024. Sincere thanks to committee volunteers and to the UELAC members and financial supporters of the Loyalist Scholarship program
The scholarship committee is under the care and guidance of the following who are all UELAC members: Tom Compeau, Heather Smith, Jayne Leake and me.
Happy New Year, Christine Manzer UE, Chair: UELAC Scholarship Committee
Happy New Year 2024 UELAC Facebook Group members. We did it!
At the UELAC 2023 Conference & AGM, and being elected as UELAC Dominion President, one of my goals for the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada was to have growth within our UELAC community/branches.
In June, for the private UELAC Facebook Group, I set a goal of 3000 members by end of December and as of today 12/31/23 (or the numerology number 123123), we are there! As of tonight we are at 3002 active members.
Let our site be a friendly and helpful community site for all present and future members. Do you have a ‘brick wall’ finding a primary document for your UE certificate application?
Just ask online and you might be surprised…
Carl Stymiest UE, UELAC Dominion President
Hessian Soldiers Travelling to America: Describing Philadelpia Jan 1778
From a Hessian Diary of the American Revolution.
This excerpt from the diary of Johan Conrad Dohla (170 pages).
1778 – January description of Philadephia (Continued)
The heavy trade results in the Delaware River being constantly full of ships, of which those of medium size can sail up to the city. In this city, especially in times of peace, there is always a surplus of the items necessary to provide a comfortable life. The lowliest citizens, as well as their wives and daughters, go about dressed in the best and newest French styles, in the most costly silks, calicoes, and chintz, powdered and with their hair curled daily. Nevertheless, everything is clean, even the most humble inhabitant’s house. Although Philadelphia is a large city, it would be six to eight times larger if it could be built up to the proposed plan, which is in abeyance because of the present ruinous war, which causes quarters to be most expensive, so that the rent for a not very large or comfortable house amounts to one hundred pounds per year, or in German money, one hundred carolins. The inhabitants are courteous, polite, and obliging.
For a time, in winter, the weather is very cold, but the snow and cold do not last long. Already by Candlemas [February 2] beautiful and warm spring days set in, and in March all the trees and gardens are in bloom. The heat in summer is very great, and the inhabitants have to pour water on the roofs so that the heat of the sun does not cause the roofs, all of which are made of wood, to catch fire. The people also spread sailcloth at their doors and windows so that the heat of the sun cannot enter, and the tradespeople mostly go into the cellars and warehouses and work there. The heat would be much more unbearable if it were not mitigated by the cool breezes from the many rivers and lakes. The soil, however, around Philadelphia and in the entire province, is exceptionally fertile, and therefore it is not rare when, for a bushel of seed, a harvest results of forty to fifty bushels. The pastureland is also excellent, and there are cattle and pigs and all kinds of poultry. There are also all kinds of fruit.
There is no shortage of game and fish, because the Delaware is full of fish. Much turtle flesh is also to be had there, which has a taste like chicken, but much better. These come from the West Indies and are slaughtered here, sold by the quarter or by the pound, and we have seen turtles in Philadelphia that weigh from five to six hundred pounds. Much bear meat is also sold here, which, however, is lean and dry to eat. In short, the entire province of Pennsylvania is the most fertile and blessed land to be found, and Philadelphia would be in the most fortunate circumstances if not for the convulsions of war.
I must also note that in Philadelphia the King of Prussia has a house and therefore is a citizen and enjoys the rights of citizenship. This house is made of wood and supposedly was already assembled and built in East Friesland. Later it was brought to England, and from there on a ship to Philadelphia, where it is said to have been put up in a night. It is a „tavern,“ in their language; in German, a „Gasthaus“ or „Wirtshaus,“ as the King of Prussia indicates on the signboard.
Here in winter quarters at Philadelphia, we had no shortages because the then commander in chief, General Howe, had carefully seen to the acquisition of all provisions.
Although there was no lack of military activity in these winter quarters, because occasionally the rebels were seen, there was also no lack of pleasant winter-time activities and entertainments, because almost daily assemblies were held (gettogethers for pleasure); every Monday, comedy, and every Tuesday was a dance and card playing for the officers. Every week there were trips in groups to the nearby places, such as Germantown and Frankford, where pleasure was to be had in shooting and pitching hay.
(to be continued)
Gulf Coast Campaign: The Forgotten Theater of the American Revolution
By Allen Frazier 30 December 2022 in The Collector
While the Continental and French armies fought British forces in the east, Spanish soldiers began a drive along the Gulf Coast toward Pensacola.
By 1779, the American Revolution had turned perilously against the British Empire. The Continental Army had recently won several key battles in the North and signed a decisive alliance with France. With the war becoming a stalemate that continuously drained their economy and morale, the British shifted strategies to the Southern Colonies, where they felt support for their cause would be stronger. However, further South, a campaign along the Gulf Coast would be raged between the British and the Spanish Empire, an often-forgotten ally of the Continental Army. This campaign, though small in scale, would have disastrous results for the British and their Native allies, forcing them to fight a two-front war.
After the French and Indian War, the victorious British became North America’s most powerful colonial empire, removing virtually all French possessions on the continent. Spain was also on the defeated side of the conflict and was forced to trade Florida for the return of Havana, Cuba. Despite this, the peace treaty was quite generous as the Spanish were gifted much of the former French Empire, including the Louisiana Territory.
Unlike France, Spain managed to secure a massive empire that spanned South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and much of North America. However, Spain remained in a slow decline as a significant power in Europe and the New World. Read more…
Suggested by Kevin Wisener UE, Abegweit BRanch
Advertised on 31 December 1773: “Clocks and Watches repaired”
What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Clocks and Watches repaired … as well and cheap as in New-York or Boston.”
John Champlin, a goldsmith and jeweler, ran a shop in New London in the early 1770s. He occasionally placed advertisements in the Connecticut Gazette to promote the goods and services that he provided. For instance, as 1773 came to a close, he advised the public that he stocked a “good Assortment of cypher’d and brilliant Ear-ring & Button Stones, Locket Stones, Ring Stones of all Kinds,” “Wires of all Kinds, a neat Assortment of Files,” “Materials for repairing Clocks and Watches,” “best plated Shoe and Knee Buckles,” and “many other Articles.” Like others advertisers, he intended that a list demonstrating the many choices he offered would entice consumers to visit his shop. Read more…
Lettuce & Labrador
By Marianne P. Stopp 8 May 2016 at Canada’s History
The terrain is often forbidding and the climate harsh, but that hasn’t discouraged some resourceful souls over the centuries from coaxing life out of Labrador’s unyielding soil.
The old garden drills are still visible alongside long-abandoned homesteads in southern Labrador. Now grown over by grasses, these rows of raised soil lie nestled in dips and on southern facing slopes, valuable microclimates in an ecosystem determined by the Labrador current. Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century gardeners made good use of pockets of peat dotting an otherwise rocky coast, or they trekked inland to plant precious cabbages, potatoes, and turnips, where the coastal rock folds into peal hog and temperatures are somewhat higher. Their efforts came in the wake of even earlier gardeners who first tilled the soil and experimented with a variety of species in the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth century.
My Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada doesn’t include Labrador in its climatic zone map of plant hardiness. If I extend imaginary zonal lines northeastward from Sept-Îles and Chibougamau, a Labrador garden would find itself in Zones 1 or 2, typically characterized by short growing seasons and cool temperatures. Yet as early as 1770 the industrious and adventurous English gentleman-merchant George Cartwright had two men at the head of Lodge Bay, near present-day Mary’s Harbour, Labrador, “employed in bringing tree-roots out of the garden, and piling them up for fireing, in the time-honoured tradition of many a pioneer garden. Much further to the north, the Moravian missionaries at Nain also began gardens in the late eighteenth century, while the earliest record of gardening in interior Labrador comes from the Hudson’s Bay Company men stationed at the head of Groswater Bay, along the Churchill River, in the 1840s. Read more…
Jean Rae Baxter’s new historical novel, Battle on the Ice, focuses on the invasion of Pelee Island in 1838 by an illegal American army. This was a time when Upper Canada stood on the brink of civil war.
In the 1830s, very few in Upper Canada had any interest in Upper Canada becoming a republic like the United State. But many deplored the system that had developed, in which an entrenched group of privileged families—the Family Compact—enjoyed for themselves the province’s wealth and power.
South of the border, William Lyon Mackenzie, in exile after the failure of his attempt at revolution, convinced American sympathizers that most Canadians would welcome an invasion that would set them free.
In late February, 1838, an American armed force crossed the ice from Sandusky, Ohio, and invaded defenceless Pelee Is
Jean Rae Baxter is the descendant of settlers who arrived in New France in the 17th century, Loyalists who came here in the 1780s, and immigrants from Germany in the 19th century. There were many family stories to awaken her interest in Canada’s history. Her s historical fiction has won wide recognition.
For more details and to Register, go here
Editor’s Note: Happy New Year everyone.
As indicated last week, this is indeed an abbreviated – and late – issue of Loyalist Trails.
Almost our first dinner guests since BC (before Covid) to celebrate Christmas dinner, our first over-night guest in our new condo fifteen months ago, packing and organizing for our trip and travel since Thursday
Published by the UELAC
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