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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2009-40: October 4, 2009


William Wragg: Blackbeard's Captive -- © Stephen Davidson

William Wragg holds an interesting place in loyalist history. He is the only civilian participant in the American Revolution to be memorialized within London's Westminster Abbey. Within the same hallowed walls lie the bodies of General Burgoyne and the British spy John André, but a plantation owner from South Carolina is the lone American loyalist to have his name engraved in the abbey.

Wragg was born in 1714 in Charleston, South Carolina to the merchant Samuel Wragg and his Huguenot wife, Marie DuBose. Three years after his birth, William's father bought a 12,000-acre plantation, naming it Ashley Barony. Samuel Wragg was not always supervising his many slaves in the fields as he also had to oversee his transatlantic trading company. One such business journey threatened to be the end of both the plantation owner and his young son.

Four year-old William was no doubt thrilled to be sailing with his father on the Crowley in May, 1718. However, when when the ship was just off of Charleston, it was attacked by pirates who were blockading the city's harbour. And not just any buccaneers -- these men were led by Captain Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, the scourge of the seas. His ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, and three others had already plundered four colonial merchant ships when they boarded the Wraggs' ship.

Teach had all of the Crowley's 80 passengers thrown into the hold, including little William. Locked in the dark and cramped quarters, none of the hostages had any reason to believe they would live another day. Samuel Wragg tried to negotiate the release of Blackbeard's captives, finally convincing the pirate that they could be exchanged for ransom. Oddly enough, Captain Teach's only demand was for a chest of medicine. (Besides suffering from the wounds of battle, some of Blackbeard's crew had contracted malaria and syphilis.)

Samuel Wragg volunteered to go ashore and procure the chest. He offered to leave little William behind as a guarantee that he would return. (No doubt his four year-old son was still down in the hold when his father proposed such an alarming arrangement.) Blackbeard did not let Samuel leave his son; he recognized that the wealthy merchant was too strategic a passenger to release, and so he sent another hostage to secure the needed medicine.

After days went by and no drugs were delivered to his ship, Blackbeard threatened to have Wragg killed and then ransack Charleston. He ordered his small flotilla to sail for the undefended city. Men quickly took up muskets to ward off the pirates while women and children desperately sought out hiding places. In the end, a chest containing £300- 400's worth of medicine was sent out to the Queen Anne's Revenge. Satisfied, Blackbeard stripped the Crowley's passengers of most of their clothes and had them put ashore where they were forced to walk through the woods back to Charleston.

Miraculously, little four year-old William Wragg survived his imprisonment and the long walk to Charleston. Unabashed by his encounter with Blackbeard, he once again boarded a sailing ship a few years later, this time to receive an English education. He attended Westminster School, Middle Temple and then Oxford University. (Did he persuade any of his school mates that he had actually been held hostage by the pirate Blackbeard?) After a short time in the legal profession, Wragg returned to South Carolina. He married Mary Wood, and the couple had two daughters. The speaker of South Carolina's House of Assembly, John Matthews, made Miss Mary Wragg his wife in 1766; Judith Wragg would marry an English soldier in the Prince of Wales Regiment in 1781. At the death of his father in 1750, Wragg became one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina and the lord of the family's massive estate.

A later writer described the new master of Ashley Barony as "a man of lofty character, highly respected, and of abundant fortune". He was one "who dared to differ with his people and to sacrifice everything for the truest of all liberty, the liberty of his own conscience".

Had he not involved himself in the politics of South Carolina, the most exciting time in Wragg's life would have been his days as a child hostage of Blackbeard. However, the storm clouds of the American Revolution were beginning to gather on the horizon. Wragg was appointed to the colony's Royal Council, but by 1756 he had become involved in a power struggle over whether the council or the colony's assembly should control the tax office. The new governor of the colony suspended Wragg for being "the chief incendiary" in the dispute.

Over the succeeding years, his sense of duty led Wragg to defend British policies, creating many enemies within the rebel faction. He put his loyalist views into print in 1769 with the publishing of "Reasons for Not Concurring in the Non-Importation Resolution". In that same year, Wragg married for the second time. His new wife, Henrietta, was 23 years his junior and the daughter of his uncle Joseph Wragg. Over the next eight years they had four children: William, Henrietta, Elizabeth, and Charlotte.

In 1774, the rebels of South Carolina declared that the 60 year-old Wragg was "inimical to the liberties of the Colonies" and confined him to Ashley Barony. In July of 1777, the revolutionary council banished him for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the rebel cause.

Leaving Henrietta and his daughters behind, Wragg boarded the Commerce for England. His son Billy and African slave Tom were his only company. What was supposed to be a transatlantic journey to the safety of Europe would prove to be yet another tragic voyage for a travelling Wragg father and son.

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

"Thanksgiving: The Trees": A Native Loyalist's View

"The Trees.

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one."

Canada was built from the forests that stretched from one ocean to another and the lumber produced from this natural bounty built ships that sailed these same oceans. Indeed, trees are majestically inspirational in their presence and form the inspiration behind the Haudenosaunee Tree of Peace; a White Spruce, with the weapons of war buried beneath, grows as a sentinel warning of the futility of needless warring. Redwoods, oak, and the ubiquitous Maple all have meanings associated with their kind and Canada is indebted to its trees for their quality of environment and life.

...David Kanowakeron Hill Morrison UE

[Editor's Note: Read the full Thanksgiving Address. For details, visit Four Directions Youth Project - donations are needed, and appreciated.]

Prairie Region Event September 11 - 12, Edmonton, Alberta

Many thanks to the Edmonton Branch for their hospitality and organizing of the Prairie Regional. A special thanks to Earle Fladagar for stepping in and doing a commendable job as Branch President in a crunch and to Al Dodd for making all the arrangements for the region event and leading visitors around the city. It was a great time to make new acquaintances and renew old ones.

Barb Andrew UE, Prairie Regional Councillor and Manitoba Branch President, travelled with Pat and me to Edmonton for the Prairie Regional. We left at 4:30 AM on Friday morning in a light rain (it was wet all weekend at home; we did not lose any harvest time), and were ensconced in our Edmonton hotel by 3:30 in the afternoon, in plenty of time for the Friday evening meet and greet at our hotel. Over coffee and munchies we got to know many members of the Edmonton executive and one other couple from Regina as well as our Dominion President Fred Hayward UE and his wife, Margaret Hayward UE. Many meaningful conversations and discussions took place on Loyalist issues.

Fred made an exciting Education contact with a person who is starting to develop a new challenge for Girl Guides.

Saturday morning we gathered for breakfast and the presentations. President Fred Hayward UE presented Major Steven Grubb from the First Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry with copies of the Loyalist Gazette which honoured Jonathan Snyder UE who gave his life in Afghanistan. Following an enlightening presentation on the history of the Association. Fred encouraged branches to update their branch history on the Dominion website and to include a picture of their Branch Charter. This should also be sent to the Dominion Archivist, Elizabeth Richardson UE.

I presented an overview of the operation of the UELAC which led to a lively discussion about the working of the Association.

Barb Andrew presentation on membership was very informative and included some good pointers for gaining and retaining members.

In the afternoon at the Legislative Grounds, the new and improved plaque commemorating Loyalists in Alberta, complete with the UELAC Armorial Bearings was unveiled. The plaque, erected by the Edmonton and Calgary Branches, will be mounted near the Burr Oak tree planted a few years ago by the Edmonton Branch.

Saturday evening at the German Club, a number of Loyalists appeared in period dress to celebrate Edmonton's Palatine Night. Following a sumptuous German meal, Fred gave an excellent performance portraying his ancestor Philip Embury, the founder of Methodism in America. Three new members of the Edmonton Branch received their UE certificates and spoke about their ancestors and the evening ended with some lots of visiting.

Sunday morning Fred and Margaret left for the airport before the birds were up and the rest of the travellers made their way homeward.

...Gerald Adair UE, Prairie Region Vice President

Addendum to Loyalists of Gaspesia

In addition to the two articles referenced in the Sept 6 Loyalist Trails Loyalists of Gaspesia, three other items are good references for those interested in this area:

- The Loyalist Settlements on the Gaspe Peninsula, by Prof. Wilbur H. Siebert of The Ohio State University (See Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada March 1915)

- Loyalists of the Bay Chaleur, by A.D. Flowers M.A. published by Precise Instant Printing of Vancouver in 1972

- The Gaspe Loyalists, by David J. McDougall, Ph.D. Concordia University published in our own The Loyalist Gazette in the Autumn 1983 issue

...C.W. Dobson UE

The First Union Flag - Dramatic Licence

A key item in the branding of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada is the use of the First Union Flag on websites, newsletters and clothing. When this symbol is presented in the classroom, the students are challenged to discern the unique characteristic of our Loyalist Flag - the lack of the cross of Saint Patrick. It was not until 1801 that the official flag of Great Britain included the red diagonal cross in the Union Jack.

I was reminded of the difference a few years made in the appearance of the flag while attending a performance of The Devil's Disciple at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the Lake. The melodrama takes place in the fictitious Websterbridge, New Hampshire, at the time of the American Revolution. When it came time for the trial scene at the British headquarters in the Town Hall, the dominant image on stage was a gigantic Union Jack. I immediately reacted to the historical inaccuracy with thoughts that UELAC could have helped out with the stage design. The Education Committee UELAC still has a 4 ½ x 9 ft First Union Flag similar to the one flown at the Saskatchewan Legislature on June 19th. Grant it, that one is smaller than the 6 x 10 ft. one donated to the Oriskany Battlefield in 2007. (The Technical Director, Mark Callan, later reported the size of the stage flag as 8 ½ ft by 18 ft - gigantic indeed!) Following the play's conclusion I checked with the Customer Service in the lobby of the Festival Theatre. They were aware of the difference as other members of the audience had drawn it to their attention previously. Set designer, Peter Hartwell, had used the Union Jack as a subliminal reference to the native country of George Bernard Shaw - Ireland. Dramatic licence!

Further details on the flag of our Loyalist ancestors can be found in our Western Resource (PDF).

...Frederick H. Hayward UE, President UELAC.

Black Loyalist Heritage Society Newsletter

For those of you who are interested in Black Loyalist Heritage, or who were interested in (and maybe donated to) the Restoration of the Windows of St Paul's or who visited Birchtown in the summer of 2008 during the 225th celebrations at Shelburne NS, The Fall 2009 edition of the newsletter of BLHS has been posted here.

Oct 11 Commemoration of the Battle of Valcour

On Sunday, 11 October 2009, a special program commemorating the Battle of Valcour, that occurred in 1776 on Lake Champlain during the American Revolution, will be held at 1 p.m. at Clinton County Community College in Plattsburgh, New York. Both the Valcour Battle Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Saranac Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will be present along with several historians from the community.

The commemoration involves an engagement that took place on 11-13 October 1776 in which a fleet of the American colonies, commanded by Benedict Arnold, fought a superior British fleet to a standstill in the strait between Valcour Island and the shore of the colony of New York. Although the British won the three day battle, the long delay to build the fleets prevented them from moving south to divide the colonies in 1776. This enabled the Americans to gain enough strength to defeat them at Saratoga in 1777, bringing the French into the war, and eventual victory in the War of Independence.

...G. William Glidden, MAJOR ( R ) NYARNG, Historian, Valcour Battle Chapter, SAR

Ontario Genealogical Society Establishes Heritage Societies

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) has established a number of Heritage Societies to honour Ontarians whose ancestors were involved in certain historic events in this province. The War of 1812 Society and the Centenary Club are under way and two more are planned for early 2010. Visit this page.

War of 1812 Society: Membership in the War of 1812 Society is open to anyone who can prove descent from one of:

- British soldier based in what is now Canada during the War of 1812-14

- member of any Canadian militia unit that saw action during the War of 1812-14

- native who saw action on the British side during the War of 1812-14

Download an application form for the War of 1812 Society here.

...Doris Lemon UE and Michael Ball

Historica and Dominion Institute Merge

On September 1, the Historica Foundation of Canada and The Dominion Institute merged to create The Historica-Dominion Institute. This new charitable organization, will continue to celebrate our country's history, to deepen our understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and to promote a greater awareness of being Canadian. We will continue with our signature programmes, such as:

- Encounters With Canada - bringing thousands of high school students to the capital every year to expose them to our national institutions.

- The Memory Project - allowing 1,500 veterans to share their stories of service and sacrifice with almost one million young Canadians.

- The Canadian Encyclopedia - the authoritative word on all things Canadian.

- Passages to Canada - enabling 600 successful immigrants to share their own story of becoming Canada with the citizens of tomorrow.

The Historica-Dominion Institute will continue to create new and innovative projects to help Canadians better understand and appreciate our shared history and citizenship. We will bring our message to the classroom, the public square and beyond. We will be champions of a more aware Canada, which knows what it is and where it is going.

We hope you will join us on this exciting journey.

[Many Branches of UELAC participate in the annual schools Heritage Fairs across Canada]

...Andrew Cohen, President, and Marc Chalifoux, Executive Vice-President

Further Exploration of First Welland Canal, a Loyalist Dream

In a joint presentation to St. Catharines City Council on 24 August 2009, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario - St. Catharines Branch and the Canadian Canal Society emphasized the importance and uniqueness of the discovery of Lock 1 of the First Welland Canal and the need for further archaeological investigation. ACO-St. Catharines President Ken Mackenzie then offered to raise funds and make a significant donation to the City to fund the next stage of the exploration.

While it is difficult to quantify the amounts in advance, Mr. Mackenzie stated he expected over $10,000 may be donated. The bulk of these funds will be raised from the 3rd Annual Fitness and Heritage Run to be held in Port Dalhousie on Saturday, October 17, 2009. This year's run will again be a 5km. Walk/Run/Stroll starting and ending in Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie. Everyone is welcome to participate but, ACO-St. Catharines wishes to particularly encourage participation by schools and other community organizations and their members to help promote fitness and raise funds.

ACO is a 76-year old registered charity whose mandate is to help preserve buildings and structures of architectural merit and places of natural beauty in Ontario.

For more information on the event, see here.

To make the link between this Heritage Run and a "Loyalist Dream", see here.


Irish Palatines

For those of you of Irish Palatine extraction, follow this link to read about the wonderful experience of the Tercentenary Celebration held for the Irish Palatines this past month in Ireland.

...Bob Fizzell

Roots Television: Put Your Story on TV

Their website states: "We've been perplexed for a long time. These days, there's a horse channel, a wine channel, a sailing channel, a poker channel, a guitar channel, and even a shipwreck channel. So why, we wondered, isn't there a channel servicing the millions of people interested in genealogy and family history? After all, there are many that claim that tracing roots is the second most popular hobby out there.

Well, now there's a channel for us. Roots Television™ is by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes. Whether you're an archives hound, a scrapbooker, a cousin collector, a roots-travel enthusiast, a Civil War re-enactor, a DNA fan, a reunion instigator, a sepia-toned photos zealot, an Internet-junkie, a history buff, an old country traditions follower, a cemetery devotee, a story-teller, a multicultural food aficionado, a flea market and antiques fanatic, a family documentarian, a nostalgia nut, or a mystery-solver, Roots Television™ has something for you -- and that "something" is quality programming."

Roots Television offers free genealogy and family history videos. Topics include Conferences, How-to, DNA, African Roots, British research, Irish family history, Hispanic roots, Libraries, Archives, Reunions, Photo Restoration and more

To submit videos to Roots Television: If you're passionate about any aspect of genealogy, heritage or history -- from cemeteries to the Civil War to DNA -- we want to hear from you! Now you can submit your own video to RootsTube. Just follow the simple instructions on their site or upload a sample to Google Video or YouTube and email us with the link.

[Editor's Note: if anyone submits a Loyalist related video, let me know and we will pass that along to others in Loyalist Trails]

...Lorna Mackenzie, from the Graves Family Newsletter

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are:
- Green, William - from David Clark
- Traviss (Travis), Jeremiah - from Judith Mothersell


Likeness of John Crysler UEL

Would anyone have, or know where there is, a picture of John Crysler UEL. A local painter from Lunenburg Ontario is painting a picture of the Battle of Crysler's Farm and would like to work in a likeness of John.

...Carol Goddard UE, St. Lawrence Branch {carol DOT goddard AT sympatico DOT ca}

Loyalist Plate in Italy

I am an English artist, but live in Mutignano,Italy. I know absolutely nothing about the UELAC, but I have a plate, which belonged to my mother, which has a picture and inscription on it of the UELAC. I wonder if you can tell me anything about it. I'm sure she picked it up somewhere in a market, or the like, just because it looked interesting. I have tried to contact the company who made it, Wood & Sons, Burslem England, but it has recently closed down.

I was brought up in the North East of England, in Jarrow, with my parents, a long way from Burslem. My mother was a great one for visiting local markets and picking up bits and pieces, not particularly expensive items, or items of any worth, just things that took her fancy. I would presume that this was bought in South Shields, where there was a weekly market.

I don't remember when she bought this plate, but it must have been about 40 years ago at least as I left home in 1966. It was just kept in a cupboard, and when she died I kept it as an interesting item. When I moved to Italy it came along as a memoir of my mother. Recently I was tidying cupboards and came across it again and thought I must find out more about it.

...Pat Dennis in Abruzzo.

The photograph that you sent indicates that you have a United Empire Loyalist Monument plate produced for the Hamilton Branch UELAC back in the late sixties. We placed an article on the series of plates in our Monuments and Commemoratives folder. The images there include both the blue series and the brown series. I have yet to see a green plate to add to my collection of photographs. From time to time, members report plates found in antique stores where they are quickly snapped up.

To learn more about the monument itself, you will need to go to the Hamilton Branch website. Each June 19, the Hamilton Branch holds a Service of Commemoration and Honour as part of the observances for Ontario's United Empire Loyalist Day.


Laws and Policies Around the American Revolution Which Targeted Loyalists

I am a freelance journalist and author. I am currently working on an article comparing the Cuban Revolution with the American revolution.

I am looking for information (links, books, other references) which I could follow on the subject of American government policies specifically directed at encouraging Loyalists to leave America, leading up to or during the Rev War, and especially after the Treaty of Paris.

I would like to find out about laws, at either the state level, or the newly formed Congressional Congress, that targeted Loyalists to make it harder for them to stay in America. And if there were any evictions of Loyalists from their homes and business under the support (direct or indirect) of the state or national governments. How did the local and national governments handle the Loyalist presence and how they worked policy to encourage them, under whatever measures, to leave.

...Keith Bolender {bolodive AT gmail DOT com}

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