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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2009-07: February 15, 2009


Biographical Fragments from the Montreal Loyalist Compensation Hearings: Part Three: Displaced Scots and an Englishman -- © Stephen Davidson

The records of the loyalist compensation board that convened in Montreal during the fall and winter of 1787-88 were compiled to satisfy the British government that financial aid had been doled out to genuine refugees of the American Revolution and that they were appropriately reimbursed for their losses. There were strict guidelines about who could receive compensation; refugee colonists had to demonstrate that they had been loyal to the king in their conduct and convictions before the revolution ended in 1783. Witnesses who could verify the accuracy of the claimants' testimonies were crucial to the process.

Although they are one of the few sources for stories of the "average" loyalist, the transcripts hide whole volumes of genealogical and historical details with brief phrases such as "fought during the whole war", "forced to leave their land", or "made himself obnoxious to the rebels". We are only left to imagine all the suffering these loyal colonists endured, the harrowing escapes to Canada they made, and the battle conditions they survived.

However, here and there, some of the compensation claim transcripts give us some tantalizing biographical fragments. Here are the stories of three Scottish refugees and an Englishman's family.

Within three years of arriving in New York, the Scottish immigrant Duncan Murcheson had cleared 14 of the 50 acres on his homestead, built a house and stable, and had four cows, a heifer, a bull, two calves, a horse, a colt, four sheep, five lambs and ten hogs in his new barn -- along with stored grain. He would lose all of this to rebels after he joined the Royal Regiment of New York.

Murcheson's father was in North Carolina during the revolution. A loyalist like his son, he was taken prisoner and died there.

Duncan Murcheson was a sergeant in the Royal Regiment and then served as a "conductor" in the Indian Department. In 1783, he settled in Lachine, Quebec. Four years later he went to Montreal to appeal for compensation for the losses he suffered as a loyal American. Details such as how a Scot rose through the ranks and was recognized as having cross-cultural skills for dealing with tribes of the Mohawk Confederation are completely absent from the records.

Donald Grant was a weaver who, with his wife, emigrated from Scotland. They settled on Sir John Johnson's Land in 1775. Within a year, the Grants had cleared 10 acres of land, built a house and barn, and had livestock that included four cows, a mare, a colt, three sheep, a sow and four pigs. Grant gave up all of this to serve his king, enlisting as a soldier in the First Battalion. Rebel neighbours took all of Grants' possessions, including nine pounds that Mrs. Grant kept secured in their house. Grant fought with Johnson's regiment for the next seven years. At the end of the war, he settled in Raisin River (later known as Black River).

Duncan McIntyre's desire for a better life for his family took them across the Atlantic to New York in the summer of 1775. Within five years of arriving in the Thirteen Colonies, the Scottish farmer had acquired nine cattle, 16 hogs, 6 sheep and 3 horses. It would be many years before he would once more enjoy that level of prosperity. A revolution had destroyed his dreams before he fled north to safety. "He was afraid of staying any longer as he was a Tory". Mrs. MacIntyre must have followed her husband sometime after his departure for the records note that she was able to sell some of their livestock before leaving New York.

Two of MacIntyre's sons joined the British army, and they were followed by a third. One boy was killed at the battle at Fort Stanwix. What was left of the MacIntyre family settled along the Raisin River following the war. The compensation board records noted that the Scottish refugee was "a good man but O{ld}" and described the MacIntyres as "all very Loyal."

The Mordens were an English family who had become tenant farmers in New York's Mohawk Valley before the outbreak of the revolution. Joseph Morden left his wife, four sons and two daughters to fight with Sir John Johnson against the rebels. He was killed "in the service" in 1777. A man who had brought his family to the New World in the hope of better circumstances had his life cut short fighting others who also had come to America seeking prosperity.

Two years later his oldest son, James, followed his father's example, taking up arms for the rest of the war. His younger brother also fought for his king. The records note that James was under age (not yet 21) when the revolution ended in 1783. Given that he had fought for four years, James must have donned a uniform when he was only seventeen. James --along with his mother, brothers, and sisters-- settled in the Bay of Quinte area. The whole family agreed that whatever compensation was granted them ought to be given to James, a family head who was, in 1788, only twenty-five years old.

The details about these loyalist families are sparse, but tantalizing nevertheless. The important role of women is almost completely ignored, and yet there are indications that they did more than "just" look after their children. Some wives maintained their families' farms in their husbands' absence; others saw to the selling-off of the family assets. Many who had been made widows by the revolution also watched their oldest sons march off to war. While we must always be sure that we are dealing with facts and not family legends, a keen imagination is still an important asset as we try to flesh out the loyalist experiences revealed in the transcripts of the Montreal compensation board.

To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at {stephendavids AT gmail DOT com} how do I email him?

Celebrating the Centenary of Loyalist Settlement in Upper Canada, Part 4

Several weeks ago, when I started this review of the celebrations in 1884, I suggested the picture of a ribbon sent to me following my visit to the Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch in October as a stimulus for this series. Since then Gail Woodruff, a former president of that branch, has written an informative article to relate that ribbon to the final of three celebrations of the Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884. In keeping with the information previously selected for each venue, for the Niagara celebration I will refer to similar data from the source, the Rose Publishing Company 1885, but avoid the details provided by Gail.

Members of the General Committee were His Honour J.B. Robinson, Lieutenant Governor of Canada; The Warden, Reeves and Deputy-Reeves of the County of Lincoln; R. H. Smith, Mayor of St. Catharines; H.S. Garrett, Mayor of Niagara; Rt. Rev. T.B. Fuller, Bishop of Niagara; Hon. W.H. Dickson, ex-Senator; hon. J.B. Plumb, Senator; Hon. J.R. Benson, Senator; J.C. Rykert, M.P.; S. Neelon, M.P.P.; Dr. Ferguson M.P.; Colin Moran M.P.P.; L. McCallum M.P.; R. Harcourt M.P.P.; D. Thompson M.P.; J. Baxter M.P.P.; Ven. Archdeacon McMurray, Niagara; A. Hill, Chief of Mohawks, Bay of Quinte; S. Green, Chief of the Mohawks, Bay of Quinte. From the Niagara region were W. Kirby; J.G. Dickson; R. Dickson; Col. Clench; Dr. Anderson; H. Paffard; J.W. Ball; W.A. Thompson; J. Cooper; Joe Clement; J. Butler; R.N. Ball; Alex Servos; Peter Whitmore; John D. Servos, J.B. Secord; S. Secord; G. Whitmore. >From St. Catharines were T.R. Merritt; J. P. Merritt; Col. Macdonald; R. Lawrie; Thos. Keyes; Jas. Seymour; J.A. Woodruff; Richard Miller. The Toronto members were Dr. Canniff; C.E. Ryerson; Col. G.T. Denison; D.B. Reed; J. Playter; R.B. Miller; J.C. Kirby; Rev. Dr. Withrow; G.A. Clement; Rev. Dr. Scadding. Other members include on the General Committee were Dr. Ruttan; D.W. Allison; Rev. R.S. Forneri; Archdeacon Dixon; Rev. W.S. Ball; W.A. Campbell; Jas. Ingersoll ; Jas. Davis; E. Servos; T. Davis; Rev. J.A. Anderson; I.P. Willson; Rev. W. Walsh; P.H. Ball; F.L. Walsh and Rev. LeRoy Hooker.

About 2000 gathered around the platform at Niagara for the 1:00 p.m. ceremony. The Tuscarora Indian Band was also present and played some delightful selections during the afternoon. R.N. Ball* of Niagara served as master of ceremonies. The Right Reverend Thomas Brock Fuller*, Lord Bishop of Niagara opened the ceremony with prayer. He was succeeded by The Venerable Bishop of Niagara* and the Hon. J.B. Plumb*, Senator.

These were followed by Lt. Col. George T. Denison*, Wm. Kirby*, Chief Hill* and Chief A.G. Smith*. James Hiscott, Warden of the County of Lincoln, Wm. Hamilton Merritt. (* also made presentations) It is also recorded that Mayor Garrett of Niagara, I.P. Willson of Welland, Mr. Kilburn, reeve of Beamsville, Lieut.;-Col Denison, D.A.G. and other gentlemen delivered brief addresses.

Five aged and principal chiefs of the Cayuga and Onondaga tribes, dressed in the ancient costume of the Iroquois, representing the still pagan portion of the Six Nations, then came forward, led by the venerable Captain Buck, head chief of the Onondagas, and Fire keeper of the Confederacy, and performed a ceremonial war dance, semi-religious in its character, expressive of the gladness of the Six Nations in taking part in this U.E. Loyalist Centennial.

The proceedings then closed with three hearty cheers for the Queen.

Although it did not appear to be read at the ceremony, it is reported that “The U.E. Loyalists”, an extract from “The Hungry Years”, a poem by Wm. Kirby, was republished in connection with the Centennial.

I do encourage you to read the details of the speeches provided in “The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884”, published by Rose Publishing Company and available at Our Roots. There are some very interesting approaches to both the occasion and the history of our ancestors. What would you say if you were asked to speak at a similar celebration in 2009 when we celebrate the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in Upper Canada? How should we celebrate UELAC’s centenary in 2014? There is still time to plan.

...Frederick H. Hayward, President UELAC

Centennial Ribbon for the Niagara Centennial Celebration 1884

1884 was the occasion of Centennial celebrations of the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists. The first was held at Adolphuston covering three days of celebrations on June 16th, 17th and 18th. The second celebration was held at Toronto on July 3rd. On the 14th of August there gathered at Niagara-on-the-Lake descendants of U.E. Loyalists as well as many dignitaries of the Province.[1]

Among the many dignitaries and Loyalist families on the General Committee for Niagara were three descendants of Loyalist Lewis Cobes Clement: G. A. Clement of Toronto, Joseph Clement of Niagara, and Sheriff Joseph Augustus Woodruff of St. Catharines.[2]

At Niagara, on historic ground, in a glade of the Oak Grove, a short distance from the ruins of Fort George, on the scene of the first Parliament of Upper Canada, and in a neighbourhood watered by the blood of their forefathers, the descendants of the United Empire Loyalists assembled to hold the final centennial celebration. A large platform, thirty-six by twenty-four feet square, was erected for the committee and speakers. A tall flag-staff, in the center of the platform, displayed the Union Jack, and at each of the four corners rose tall flagstaffs supporting British ensigns.

In front was a large painting of the Royal arms, and around the platform were hung graceful festoons of oak and maple. Some tablets were on the sides and front containing the names of men and officers of the Lincoln Militia who fell during the war.[3]

Shortly after one o’clock there assembled representatives from all parts of the Province interested in the day’s proceedings. Among them were His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, the Lord Bishop of Niagara, The York Pioneers, and a delegation of 48 Chiefs and Warriors from the Grand River Reserve.[4]

Red Centennial Ribbons were issued for the occasion. They were inscribed: Niagara, U.E. Loyalists. 1784-1884. In his speech to the crowd William Kirby Esq. of Niagara made mention of them. He said, “I am proud, Mr. Chairman, to see so many of the U. E. Loyalist ladies of our district present, and wearing upon their breasts the honoured Loyal badges of the Centennial Celebration.” p.115 (see ribbon)

This ribbon now belongs to Gail Woodruff U.E. It was found in the family bible, in her possession, of George Clement (1838-1899) and his wife Elizabeth Margaret Caughill (1840-1936). George Clement descended from Loyalists James Clement (1764-1813), Lewis Cobes Clement (1725-1781), Adam Crysler (c1725-1781), George Reuben Caughill (1738-1784) and George Frederick Caughill (1771-1814). Elizabeth Caughill, first cousin to her husband, also descended from George Reuben Caughill and George Frederick Caughill.

Joseph Clement, brother to George Clement, was on the General Committee. His two wives, Frances and Catherine Butler, were granddaughters of Col. John Butler, Loyalist.

Picture of Joseph Clement (1827-1917)

Picture of George Clement and Elizabeth Caughill

[Submitted by Gail Woodruff U.E., Col. John Butler Branch]


1. The Centennial Committee, The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by The United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884. The Celebrations at Adolphustown, Toronto and Niagara, With An Appendix, Containing a Copy of the U.E. List, Preserved in the Crown Lands Department at Toronto (Toronto: Rose Publishing Company, 1885), Contents.

2. Ibid, General Committee.

3. Ibid, p. 81.

4. Ibid, p, 82.

Of note: Sheriff Joseph Augustus Woodruff, second cousin to George and Joseph Clement, married Julia Claus. She was the granddaughter of William Claus U.E.

The Battle For Fort York Continues

Recently I have noticed a flurry of advance preparations by our Ontario branches for the coming bicentennial of the War of 1812 . As we don't have a central source for information exchange, I will pass on items that may be of interest to our readers and planning committees for period of heritage celebration. Jeff Gray has provided an article on "Fort York's latest battle - for funding" in the February 14 issue of the Globe and Mail. You can find it here. A sidebar also recommends that you download a tour of the facility ( to your MP3. Participants of the Toronto UELAC conference of 2006 may enjoy listing to the audio tape on their computer to refresh their memories of their tour and Friday night social.


Award-winning author to publish a loyalist history book in 2010

Tom Allen, who has written articles for the National Geographic Magazine, award-winning young adult non-fiction books, and history books on a variety of topics, is just now completing a loyalist history for American readers. Describing his 12-chapter manuscript, Allen said "I am telling about Loyalists but not making it a book that is pro-Loyalist. I am trying simply to tell a story. So maybe it won't be Loyalist enough for partisans and too Loyalist for diehard rebs." The Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War will be published by Harper Collins/Smithsonian Books. A reader of Loyalist Trails, Allen anticipates that his book will be available on bookstands in 2010.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions are:

- Fulford, Abel, Jonathan Sr and Jonathan Jr. - from Pat Elkins



Combatants Who Served in Two 18th Century North American Wars

A reader is trying to develop an informal list of Americans and British who served side by side in the French and Indian War and later fought each other in the Revolution. It seems to him that the American Revolution had the qualities of a Greek tragedy at least for those Americans who fought together in the French and Indian War and later lost everything through their loyalty. He suggests that Cooper's novel Wyandotte touches on this and William L. Stone's History of the Border Wars and Life of Joseph Brant also provides information. Empires Collide, The French and Indian War 1754-63 gives a good overview of battles, rangers and uniforms, but lacks the names of the North American combatants. Major George Washington is just one of the many possibilities for this list. If you can be of assistance, send your information to {education AT uelac DOT org} how do I email them?. Name, location and involvement in both wars would be appreciated.


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