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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2006 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2006-48 December 17, 2006


New Book: Polly, by Murray Killman, UE

Persona-non-grata: a Latin term that could describe the status of thousands of New York born American citizens in 1775. The Biography of Mary "Polly" Johnson (grand daughter of one of the most powerful men in America) covers the incredible adventure of one such person.

This is a true story that tells it like it was during the birth of the United States of America. The metamorphosis from thirteen violently revolting colonies to a refined, cultured, carefully structured benevolent Nation did not happen over night. Like a new born child, America came kicking and screaming into existence; weak, in need of nourishment and lacking in direction. The fledgling Nation was so weak that it could not even occupy Fort Niagara until twelve years after the Revolution had ended. France and the new United States were bankrupt along with England, and revolt was everywhere.

This is a story that needs to be told and who better to do that than "Polly," a sophisticated eleven-year-old child who lost her birthright through no fault of her own.

From the era of Jane Austen, a carefully researched 215 p biography of an 18th, century woman, including the private letters of her sister, Julia Johnson.

This carefully-researched book, titled Polly, is available free of charge on the UELAC website; acquaint yourself with an example of real human tragedy in the American Revolution.

Women in the 18th century were apolitical and Polly’s story is not an attempt to distort the truth with historical revisionism. It is however an example of just how far the women’s movement has gone in America, by illustrating how little power women of Polly’s time enjoyed.

The author, Murray Killman, UE, is a seventh generation non-partisan Canadian with native Indian, Patriot American and United Empire Loyalist roots.

...Murray Killman, UE, author, artist and historian

Books from the Loyalist Bus Tours

I have four copies of the following tour booklet available: "A Tour of Historic Sites in the Mohawk Valley; from Schenectady to Rome, NY." Also, one copy of the book Forts and Battlefields: Chambly to Saratoga (2003).

The cost is $15.00 per copy including shipping. Please contact me at if you would like a copy.

...Ed Kipp

[Editor's note: These books were provided to those who participated. They include many pages of historic sites and markers, usually with a small picture and description. The sites visited or seen are included, as are many more in the area that were not on the itinerary.]

Loyalist Hymn Sing, by Stephen Davidson

I have to confess that I let my mind wander as I sing hymns on Sunday morning. I find myself wondering what my loyalist ancestors (whether they were Anglican,Baptists, Methodists, or Congregationalists) sang in their worship services. My eye wanders over to the writer's vital statistics just above the words and music in the hymnal, and I try to figure out if within that life time the writer could have created hymns that would have been sung in the American colonial period.

When I raised the question of loyalist hymns with a cousin, she passed along this postscript from a letter George Washington wrote on December 10, 1782: "P.S. If you will send Mrs Washington, Watts' Psalms and Hymns with the price, the Money will be remitted to you." It was a clue! Washington, like many loyalists, was an Anglican. His favourite hymns may have been sung by the king's loyal subjects, too.

Finally, I decided to do a "Google" search to see what Christians were singing in America in the 1760s and 70s. I found that there were two very prominent hymn writers for the period -- both of whom were English -- and that their hymns are still being sung today.

The writers were Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. Their hymns were part of the Great Revivals in England and crossed the ocean with Methodists and Anglicans. I've listed (below) some of their more familiar hymns which can be still be found in the hymnals of many denominations. Now that I have discovered these songs I won't be so distracted by daydreams of loyalists -- I'll be able to sing along in spirit with my ancestors as we sing "their" hymns. There'll also be the new understanding of the strength and comfort these hymns would have given the loyalist refugees.

Here are the Christmas hymns that loyalist refugees would have been singing during the revolution and in their first years in Canada: Isaac Watts's "Joy to the world! The Lord is come"; Charles Wesley's "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus"; and "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing."

As you sing these familiar carols this Christmas, try to imagine that you are singing along with your loyalist ancestors. It can be quite a moving experience.

...Stephen Davidson

Novels about the American Revolution

Some time back a member asked about novels pertaining to the American Revolution. I have just found a new author, Roger F. Duncan, who has just published "The Reluctant Patriot - A Novel of the American Revolution" Duncan has written several books, the best known is his "Cruising Guide to the New England Coast". This was his first novel. While a bit uneven, this book does present a different aspect in that it tells of the first naval battle of the American Revolution. Most novels have concentrated on the land battles - Evacuation of Boston, Battle of Trenton, Yorktown, etc.

...John G. Charters, UE

Last Post: Prentice, Bryan Reginald, U.E.

Passed away on Monday, December 4, 2006 in his 79th year. Beloved husband of Kathleen (Nee Brown). In Bryan's memory, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or to the charity of choice.

[From the Haliburton Echo, submitted by Lynne Cook]

Response re America-born members of British Regiments: Henry Davis

Responding to Gavin Watt's query about American-born men serving in British regiments, I note that 22 persons on the Old UE List were members of the 29th Regiment, including Henry Davis. None of them submitted claims for losses to the Commissioners. Davis's origin is uncertain. His name was expunged in 1802, by which time he had settled in Adolphustown on the lot (II-16) assigned to his wife, Mary Huffnail, D.U.E. His story is given in my book THE FOUNDERS. I have not investigated what happened to the other 21 soldiers of the regiment.

...Bill Lamb

Responses re American-born soldiers serving in British Regiments: William Current

I have a similar question. While doing a search on the internet, to locate some of my lost CURRENT family members from the 1800 in Canada, I found on British North American Boundary Commission, Nominal Role, 43 William Current Sapper.

Now, everyone tells me this would have to be a British person, but since there were so many Currents, especially Williams, who descended from my husband's ancestor, William Current UE, from Sussex Co., NJ who moved to the Niagara Falls, Canada area, whose descendants spread across the US and Canada in the 1800's, I can't help but wonder if this might have been one of them., working on the commission crew. Any ideas on this?

...Marilyn Current {MarilynRuth51 AT aol DOT com}

I can't really say. Current is certainly an uncommon surname. There's no reason why your man could not have been born in America and lived in America, but joined the British Army as an engineer/Sapper. Sure, he could have stayed in the service after the war - there were so many engineering projects to be completed in the Maritimes and Canada and he may have decided to pursue the army as a career.

But, you're right on top of the problem that I started with - just how does one track a Regular soldier down to earth to prove his origin one way or the other? Perhaps the engineers kept records at their main depot in Woolich, England, but oh would that take a lot of work.


Names of 35 New Jersey Volunteers, and William Current

Can anyone tell me where I can get a list of names of the 35 New Jersey Volunteers who were captured in the incident described below, about 1777 or 1778?

From, the On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies:

The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies

A History of the 5th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers

Disaster also struck when a contingent of over 100 recruits for the NJV, primarily the 5th battalion, were ambushed after a lengthy march. These Loyalists, led by James MOODY and primarily from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and Hunterdon and Sussex Counties of New Jersey, were dispersed after a brief fight, with 35 of them captured and sentenced to death. James ILIFF and William MEE, who had warrants as officers to recruit men, were indeed hanged, but the others were pardoned on condition of serving in the New Jersey Continental Line. They agreed and promptly deserted to the NJV as soon as opportunity presented.

I have reason to believe my William Current may have been one of the men mentioned, as can be seen from the following document:

This Certifies that we the Subscribers were well acquainted with the bearer of this WILLIAM CURRENT before and during the late Rebellion and that he behaved himself as an honest man and a good Neighbor and a good British Subject and that he Joined a Core Mustered by ROBT. ELLISON Esq. about 1780[?] in Consequence of which he was taken Prisoner and fined in Seventy Pound CY [currency]

Newark 22th Septr 1796




Also, I was sent the following information about my William Current some time ago, but the person who sent it to me is now no longer pursuing genealogy, and does not respond to my e-mails about his sources:

6/20/1778 - Inquisitions filed against following persons acused of having joined & aided & assisted the army of the King of Great Britain in the present war against the American States (Many named including) MICHAEL LEMON of Oxford, WILLIAM CURRENT, and JAMES MOODY --- which inquisitions were returned at the last session held in Sussex County via proclamation made in open court according to law. Now therefore if the persons against whom inquisitions have been so found, or some person in their behalf, will not appear at the next court in the said county to traverse the inquisitions, final judgement will thereupon be enterd in favor of the State.

8/26/1778 - Council of Safety meeting in Morristown: Agreed to pay JOHN SMITH for services rendered in the provisions for a group of Tories captured in and around Sussex County. Said group included a man named WILLIAM CURRENT who was being held in the jail in Newton.

1778 - From NJ Archives: Notice is given to all persons who have any claim, interest, or demand to, in or against the estate of (amomg others) JAMES MOODY ( Lt. In the American Volunteers regiment of British Empire Loyalists who led many raids against Rebel sympathizers in Sussex Co. area of NJ) & Wm CURRENT. The fact that JAMES MOODY & Wm CURRENT were captured and indicted at approximately same time leads to assumption that Wm. CURRENT served under command of JAMES MOODY. It appears Wm. CURRENT was pardoned under certain specified terms. It should also be noted that some individuals held in this instance were sentenced to be hanged in the square at Morristown.

If anyone can help me to identify the incident that William Current was captured in, and whose command he was serving under at the time, I would greatly appreciate it.

...Marilyn Current {MarilynRuth51 AT aol DOT com}

Meaning of J.F. in "Old U.E.L. List"

In the book "The Old United Empire Loyalists List" as Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc. in 1976, 1984 and 1993, ISBN 0-8063-0331-X, in Appendix B, Supplementary of the United Empire List, p. 318, there is a listing which reads "Nathan Putman, Emigrant from the United States, J. F."

I have asked a number of historians and librarians for an opinion as what the abbreviation"J. F." might be, but no one seems to have an answer.

The standard abbreviations in the book shed no light on the matter either.

Can any one of your readers help me?

[Editor's note: there are a few other entries with the same notation, just above is Richard Prosser, and two pages on, both James and Alexander Row, to list only a few.]

...Robert T. Putnam {rtputnam AT golden DOT net}

Book on Loyalist Immigration to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

At the moment I am reading a very interesting book "1776" by David McCullough. I am finding it fascinating but feel it is slanted more towards the American struggle than the British. I would like to read more about the British in the Revolutionary War, the United Empire Loyalist, the exodus that brought them to Canada, and life here after they arrived. I am particularly interested in the UEL's who settled in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I think Loyalist Trails will be able to answer many of my questions.

...Bette Perrin {bperrin AT magma DOT ca}

Benjamin Knapp, in Loyalist Directory

Last week we had posted information about Benjamin to our Loyalist Directory. In Loyalist Trails we noted,

"Benjamin Knapp served as a private in Lieut. Colonel Butler's Company 'N' ,The Corps of Rangers, in the Revolutionary War. He and his family later settled on Lot #66, in the New Settlement - Western District."

One of our Honorary VP's, Gavin Watt, questioned "Company 'N'". This information was taken from a transcription, Early Ontario Settlers: A Source Book where it states:

Page 21 Niagara Return, November 30, 1783 Return of persons under Description of Loyalists, Specifying the Number, Ages and Sexes of each family in Lt. Col. Butler's Company N, the Corps of Rangers at Niagara, A 632 Benj Knap age 23 A 633 Mrs. Knapp age 22 A 634 Daniel Knap age 3 months A 635 Rachel Knap age 2.

If anyone ha a copy of the book, could they check the transcription for us - should it have read "Colonel Butler's Company in The Corps of Rangers". Also, if someone has access to the military records, perhaps that would yield more information too.

...Kimberly Hurst {Gypsygirl2002 AT aol DOT com}

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