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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2008 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2008-05: February 3, 2008


How to Lose Friends and Dishearten Loyalists, by Stephen Davidson

When Thomas Jones, a former judge in the colony of New York, sat down to write his memoirs of the American Revolution, some of his bitterest memories were of how the British army treated the loyalists during the course of the rebellion. "So many thousands of these illegal and felonious acts were committed within the British lines during the war," wrote Jones, "that an enumeration of them would, of itself, fill a folio." The judge's sense of justice compelled him to "tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about how the British army's actions lost the support of many of their loyalist allies. Here are just some of these forgotten stories.

When General Clinton, the commander-in-chief of His Majesty's forces in America, went to review his troops who were stationed in eastern Long Island, he planned to rendezvous with his train of baggage wagons in the town of Islip. Unfortunately for all of the loyalist farmers who lived along the twenty-mile stretch leading to Islip, the advancing British forces stole all of their poultry and livestock. Some soldiers went so far as to break into houses, taking clothing and linens.

When the loyal farmers brought their grievances to Islip, they were refused an audience with Clinton. Loyalists within the British lines, it seems, were pillaged by the king's army on a daily basis and with no fear of recrimination. Jones was outraged that their complaints were not heard, compensation was never paid, "nor justice procured."

The retired judge wrote of seeing the head of a British foraging party put 50 horses into the orchard of a Long Island loyalist named Isaac Lefferts. The officer ignored the farmer's pleas to put the horses into a nearby field of hay with the result that his entire fall crop of apples --which had been put into piles for making into cider-- was totally consumed by the horses.

In another instance, 60 horses completed destroyed a field of corn belonging to a loyalist in Jamaica, Long Island. Israel Okely, a lieutenant in a loyalist militia, had his barn commandeered to house 100 horses. 300 bushels of his oats were taken to feed the British livestock and no payment was made.

The Quaker Parmenas Jackson was a loyalist who lived just outside of Jerusalem, Long Island. In 1781, he was murdered by three British privates stationed at Fort Franklin on Lloyd's Neck. Despite the fact that these men were serving at the largest of the colonial garrisons, were surrounded by loyalist refugees, and were members of DeLancey's Brigade they still broke into a loyalist's home, robbed Jackson of 1,200, and killed him.

A woman in the Quaker's home recognized one of the privates and reported the murder to the soldiers' commanding officer. He sent the three to New York where they were tried and sentenced to be hanged. However, after three months in prison, their "only punishment for a horrid, wicked and deliberate murder" was to pay a small fine.

The loyalists of Long Island must have shaken their heads in disbelief over this miscarriage of justice. But it was not the only local murder committed by British soldiers. Mr. Amberman was a miller in Hempstead, a community noted for being a safe haven for loyalists. When Major Stockton of Skinner's Brigade was slow to pay for some flour, Amberman sent him a bill. The next day Stockton angrily confronted the miller and began striking him with his horsewhip. Suddenly, Stockton drew his sword and stabbed Amberman; the miller died on the spot.

A court martial was held and Stockton was found guilty of murder. But he was never executed. General Clinton wrote to Amberman's widow asking that she pardon her husband's murderer, a request she flatly refused. Within a few weeks, Stockton was set free and discharged from the army, only to be later rehired. Jones was outraged that a man in His Majesty's service should be so lightly treated "for murdering one of his good, peaceable, and loyal subjects".

One instance of British cruelty to loyalists was a case that involved one of Thomas Jones' own clients. Mr. Hicks rented a house on Broadway in New York City which he used as a tavern. Hicks ran his public house for two years when suddenly the commandant of the city, General Pattison, had him evicted. Hicks, his family, "his furniture and effects" were tossed out into the street, and the tavern was given to a man Jones described as a "pimp". Hicks' attorney was unable to help him for at the time Jones was a prisoner in a rebel prison in Connecticut.

Hicks went to the British commanders to seek justice, but only received "fair words and ample promises". Eventually General Pattison left America for Britain. Not to be denied justice, Hicks followed after the man who had him evicted from his tavern, but he died while en route to England.

Being a loyalist was hard enough when one lived in fear of attack from rebel neighbours. However, as Thomas Jones so vividly described, having the king's forces nearby could be just as dangerous. "Such cruelties did his majesty's loyal subjects suffer, such insults were they obliged to bear, and to such hardships were they compelled to submit." It was certainly no way to win friends or promote loyalty in the American colonies.

Isaac Swayze [b.1751 - d.1828]

History records the crimes, follies and misfortunes of humanity. Isaac Swayze, a noted British secret agent during the American Revolution, was elected member for the 3rd Riding of Lincoln in the Assembly in Upper Canada's first Legislature. According to Lord Dorchester, Swayze also served as a scout for the British army in New York and was known as "the pilot to the New York army."

His services for the 'Tories' and the King made him a marked man in the rebellious colonies and he had many narrow escapes. On one occasion he was concealed in a cellar when Americans broke into the house. Failing to find him the frustrated rebels wounded his younger brother whose blood dripped down on Isaac secluded in the cellar below.

Called a "spy" by his enemies of whom he had many, Swayze was badly wounded and twice made prisoner during the war. On the first occasion he was sentenced to death. While awaiting execution was visited by his wife. Tradition has it that he exchanged clothes with her and so escaped. He eluded his captors by slipping out a side door silent as a ghost except for the faint jingle of his spurs and fled with a $5,000 reward on his head. Swayze led a troubled life and suspicions of criminality swirled about the man for most of his existence. Described as a spry man with a swarthy, sandy complexion, Swayze was 5 ft. 8 or 9 in. tall and had a bullet scar on one temple. Prior to coming to Niagara he had been arrested on a robbery charge and was released on condition that he leave town immediately.

Isaac Swayze's (Swasey, Sweezey) original ancestor, John Swasey, was born in Bridgport, Dorset County, England in 1619. John arrived in America on the ship Recovery from London in 1633 and eventually settled settled in Salem, Essex County, Massachussetts where he married Catherine Kinge. They had seven children one of whom was Joseph, Isaac's grandfather. Joseph married Mary Betts and the couple had eleven children one of whom was Caleb, Isaac's father. Caleb married Penelope Horton. They had ten children and settled in Roxbury, Morris county, New Jersey where Isaac was born in 1751. Isaac came to Niagara in 1784 and settled at St. Davids. He was married three times and fathered eight children. After his house was destroyed by fire in the war of 1812, Swayze is thought to have lived for a time in Thorold on land which is now part of Brock University. Fellow settlers doubted his loyalty, but he successfully proved his allegiance and was granted land as a Loyalist. He was married three times to Bethia Luce, Sarah Secord and Lena Ferris.

In the first Legislature Swayze had the reputation as something of a radical and was considered by the conservatives as a leader of the common people. He claimed to have the confidence of the "farmers and the general classes" because he had their interests at heart. When he was scorned and criticized by the Tories, he said it was because of his "integrity that shafts of malice were hurled at him by those who "ranked themselves high." Swayze led the popular fight against the wording of deeds which some people feared would prohibit the sale of their land.

Times were tense in the exposed little colony because of fears of republicanism from both France and the United States. For this reason anyone at all critical of the government for any reason was suspected of subversive activity. For his rebellious behaviour, Swayze was charged and tried as "an Exciter of Sedition." He was convicted and fined 10 pounds and forced to find sureties for good behaviour for two years. His light penalty was probably indicative of the fact that Swayze's criticism of the government was thought to be due more to personal disgruntlement than traitorous thinking. Despite his conviction Swayze later received a commission as justice of the peace.

[Isaac was quite a character, and larger than life. Click here for the source of the information above, as well as more of his life's exploits, including the War of 1812 and as a politician in Upper Canada.]

The following appeared in the "The New Jersey Revolutionary War Documents".

Five Thousand Dollars Reward

BROKE out of the goal of this county, on the night of Monday the 4th instant, a certain Isaac Sweezy, about thirty years of age, five feet eight or nine inches high, sandy complextion, and had a scar of a bullet or swan shot in one of his temples.--Also on the night of Tuesday the 12th instant, Caleb Sweezy, jun. John Swan, Thomas Douglass, and Nathan Horton, jun.--Caleb Sweezy, jun. is about six feet high, thirty-two or thirty-three years of age, has a clear skin, and black beard, and altogether a well made, good looking man.--John Swan is a small man, of a dark complexion, and about thirty-six years of age.--Thomas Douglass is about six feet high, has black hair and beard, is something ruddy in his cheeks, thick lips, is about twenty-eight years of age.--Nathan Horton, jun. is about twenty-two years of age, quite a small man, rather slender, and of a light complexion.--All of whom were confined on charges of felony for passing counterfeit money. Whoever takes up and secures the above described persons in any goal of this state, or delivers them to the subscriber, shall have the above reward; or one thousand dollars for either of them that shall be so apprehended or delivered to

RICHARD JOHNSON, Sheriff of Morris County.

Morris-Town, Sept. 19, 1780

This is an interesting bit of information on the Swayze family. There is some debate on the dates for this fellow's father and brother, both named Caleb Swayze. They were both proven Loyalist but this information is very interesting and sends us down a few more twists and turns in the research journey.

I am working on the Caleb Swayze Sr line. I descend through Susannah Swayze married to Anthony Sharp, both born in Morris County, New Jersey.

...Pat Kelderman, UE, Thompson-Okanagan Branch

SAR-DAR-UEL Discussion Continues

Doug, as you very correctly stated in your newsletter, it is better not to mention Patriot service to UEL without looking at date of last oath, or vice versa.

In SAR, we use the term "continuous and unbroken" as a requirement but do allow someone to join based on last service as a Patriot. For me, with my mother of Nova Scotia stock, I used her ancestor (several could have been used) for UEL and my father's ancestor (again several were available) for SAR but it was easier to keep the lines distinct. I am sure that a good case could be made either way. My mother's Loyalist ancestor had a brother and a father in the Continental Army but DAR would not let my mother join on the father.

With the amount of intermarriage, it is not a problem in the Maritimes or New England finding one line for each.

Perhaps on your side, there was also faulty record keeping in later years as people inflated or invented service to get money. I guess that proof of service is not as straightforward as it seems.

...David J. Gray

Notes re Heritage Month

Hi Doug: Hope that TO is having as sunny and mild a day as we in Cornwall are experiencing. The St. Lawrence Branch will be at the Cornwall Mall on Feb 16 as part of the "Heritage Fair".

It is a somewhat long day but a great deal of fun as I (and the others) get to meet the public as well as our friends in other associations. I only wish that the new holiday would have been called either Heritage Day or Flag Day (Feb 15) but as without the family you can't have heritage or a country that a flag represents, I guess I will have to concede this round to the politicians. Take care and have a great day.

...Carolyn Goddard, UE

The Colonel Edward Jessup Branch UELAC will have a display at the Brockville Museum for Heritage Week & take part in the Museum's Flag day on Friday Feb. 15th.

...Myrtle Johnston

Information about Sarah Buck

In the last issue of Loyalist Trails,Stephen Davidson wrote about five (really six) widows.One of these was Sarah Buck. I was interested in the reference to Sarah Buck, It was her three grandchildren that she brought to Canada - Benjamin Ruggles Munsell, Sarah (married Dr. Peter Howard) & Mary (married Jonathan Mills Church). I would love to find more information about Sarah Buck as I am descendant of Benjamin Ruggles Munsell.

...Myrtle Johnson UE, President, Col. Edward Jessup Branch, {myrtlejohnston AT hotmail DOT com} how do I email her?

Information on Bastedo Family of Princeton ON

Recently, we cleaned up and restored a home in Princeton, Ontario that we are quite sure was built by, or for, John G. Bastedo in the 1800's. His name is on the Land Registry many times, having bought and sold the property, and we think that by the time the first mortgage is listed, that he is the original owner and or builder of the house. The house is in wonderful shape, and entirely original except for the kitchen and bathroom, which were dreadfully neglected, and therefore had to be gutted and redone.

When we first started cleaning up, we realized that there was only one coat of paint on the plaster walls, and nothing else (other than dirt) had been on them ever. The moldings, trim, doors and floors are all original. We love this home with all of our hearts, and would love any information you may have on John G. Bastedo, just so we can pay homage to the people who at one time, like us revered this wonderful old home. We have plenty of pics, if anyone is interested. Hoping that you may have some info.

[Editor's Note: a Jacob Bastedo is listed in our Loyalist Directory - I wonder if there is a relationship between John and Jacob?]

...Alison Brown {coolhandfluke AT distributel DOT net} how do I email her?

Proofs for Sophia Shaw's Parentage

We are looking for a marriage record for Sophia Shaw and George Johnson. They were married sometime around 1840, probably in Peel county, but we are not certain of this. Sophia is the daughter of Aeneas Shaw Jr., and Ann Higgins Shaw of Chinq. Twp. Peel county. We have no information on George Johnson. We need to find written verification as to Sophia's parents. Sophia was born in 1822 in York. We have contacted St. James Cathedral for a birth/bapt. record for Sophia, and a possible marriage record for this couple, but no records available there. Sophia's death registration (Palmerston, Ont. 1897) does not list her parents. We contacted the Wellington county archives for a possible obit. and it seems that none was published in the local newspaper. We also viewed 2 reels of microfilm of Home District marriages of that time period with no results.

Any help or suggestions with this would be most appreciated. We need this link so decendents of Sophia Shaw Johnson may obtain their UE certificate.

...Colleen Martin {j DOT martin AT bmts DOT com} how do I email her?

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