Early Muster Rolls (1775-8), Young Highland Emigrants, 2nd Battalion, Young Royal Highland Regiment of Foot, later called the Royal Highland Emigrants, the 84th Regiment of Foot

I have made a transcription of the early muster rolls of the 84th that are in the Chipman Papers (or Fonds) at the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa – together with some information about an emigrant ship called the Glasgow on which an ancestor of mine, Alpin Grant, came to North America in October 1775.

The Glasgow left Fort William, Scotland, on the 3rd September 1775 intending to go to New York. (It is possible that the people on board had planned on going on to the Mohawk Valley to take up land owned by Sir William Johnson. A cousin of one of the men who organized the emigration, Alexander Chisholm, had already leased property from Sir William in the Kingsborough Patent and it is thought that his group of emigrants were probably going to do the same thing when they got there.)

When the Glasgow arrived off New York (on about 30 October) it was prevented from entering the harbour by HMS Asia, under orders from Admiral Graves, ‘because of civil disturbances then occurring on shore’. The Glasgow was eventually sent on to Boston and most of the men and boys of suitable age on board were enrolled (impressed?) in the 2nd Battalion of what was then the Young Highland Emigrants.

If you are familiar with a book called Scottish Highlanders and the American Revolution by G. Murray Logan, you will know that he identifies the Glasgow as the last emigrant ship to leave Scotland before the American Revolution and implied that there was a link between it and the 84th, but since there was no passenger list then available, he was unable to make a definitive connection between them. (And Logan appeared to have only the ‘discharge’ muster rolls of October 1783, not the ‘enlistment’ rolls of 1775 – 1778.)

Through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I was given a list from the log of HMS Asia which contained the names of 74 men on the Glasgow who might serve in His Majesty’s forces – and 66 of these men show up in the early muster rolls of the 84th, now part of the Chipman Papers, all of whom were enlisted on 27 November 1775 under the direction of the commanding officer, Major Small.

My ‘transcription’ sets out this story in greater detail (with the exception of the link to Sir William Johnson and the Kingsborough Patent, which has only recently been brought to my attention) and it includes all of the early muster rolls of the Young Highland Emigrants. Although these documents are now available in facsimile on-line at the Library and Archives Canada website, it may be easier for researchers to use this version first (and the index associated with it which includes all the various and quaint eighteenth century spellings in the documents) and then go to the originals for ‘the real thing’.

After the war, my ancestor Alpin Grant, took up land in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, but then sold it and bought land on the harbour of Pictou itself.

I hope other people may also find this useful in their research. I have been part of a group of people, mainly in Nova Scotia, with the name MacPhee, whose ancestor also came on the Glasgow. But I find that each group I run across is mainly interested in researching only their own family line. (No big surprise there.) I hope that the many names in the Chipman muster rolls, in addition to those who may have been on the Glasgow, will help other people in their individual searches.

Some history and context with the transcription of the early muster rolls can be viewed here (75-page PDF).

(Submitted by Alastair Grant.)


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