Connect with us online:

Ontario Loyalist Licence Plates
Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

"Loyalist Trails" 2009-41: October 11, 2009


William Wragg: Westminster Abbey's Loyalist -- © Stephen Davidson

In the summer of 1777, the rebel government of South Carolina banished William Wragg, the owner of a 12,000-acre plantation, for his intolerable loyalist convictions. Wragg left his young wife and three daughters in Charleston where Mrs. Wragg would oversee the family affairs in his absence. It seemed that Wragg planned to stay with his sister in England until the war should come to an end.

Travelling with Wragg were his seven year-old son Billy and his African slave, Tom Skene. Their ship for England (by way of Amsterdam) was delayed in its departure, and Wragg had the opportunity to exchange a number of letters with his "dearest Henny" as he awaited favourable sailing conditions. Regular longboat runs from ship to shore allowed the couple to correspond during the last days of June.

Miraculously, these letters of William Wragg have survived to this day. They overflow with affection -- "every thought and action of my life I dedicate to your welfare"-- as well as Wragg's concern for his young son. Billy requested his father include "his love and remembrance of every body, black and white, by name." The young Wragg must have had a special relationship with the family's enslaved blacks for in a later letter he had his father write of "Tom's love, regard and good wishes".

Attacks on the loyalist Wragg family did not stop with William's departure. In just the last few days a servant had left a candle burning in a front parlour window of the family's home, making the shutters too tempting a target for a passing rebel. Henrietta found insulting graffiti all over the shutters the next day. Upon hearing of the vandalism, Wragg confessed that he was tempted to have his wife paint a notice on the shutters saying that they were "monuments of the effects produced by the valor and heroism of the inhabitants of Charleston, against the defenceless women and children of this house".

Finally, on July first, Wragg's ship slipped out of view of Charleston. In his last letter, hastily handed to a black pilot, Wragg wrote "My dearest love, farewell! too long a farewell for me ! but God protect us, and make you happy. Poor Bill begins to be sick. Once more, farewell!"

Within two month's time, the Wraggs' ship was off the coast of Holland. The Commerce encountered a violent storm just 12 hours from port. The fury of the storm began to break the ship apart. While other passengers sought their own safety, Wragg went to help the ship's crew. A wave knocked him down, but grabbing a nearby rope saved him from being washed overboard. Seeing his slave, Tom Skene, Wragg urged him to rescue Billy. In the end, the repeated battering of the waves exhausted the loyalist. He let go of the rope and drowned.

Skene found Billy, put him on his back, and swam for shore. Grasping a plank (some accounts say a package), the African managed to keep Billy afloat until they were washed up onto the Dutch coast. William Wragg's body was never recovered.

Eventually the shipwrecked passengers were taken to England. William Wragg's nephew, Gabriel Manigualt Jr., an orphan himself, learned of the tragedy and offered to be Billy's guardian. The growing loyalist community in London was appalled by the tragedy. After considering having a memorial erected to her brother next to their mother's burial plot, William Wragg's sister arranged to have a marble slab commemorating her brother placed in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey.

The white and coloured marble contains an inscription that begins with these words: "Sacred to the memory of William Wragg Esqr. of South Carolina who when the American Colonies revolted from Great Britain inflexibly maintained his loyalty to the person and government of his Sovereign." Although the memorial honours a loyalist, its front contains a relief carving that depicts a sinking ship in its background while in the foreground are two figures --Wragg's son and slave-- clinging to wreckage. Intended or not, Wragg's Westminster Abbey memorial is, in fact, a tribute to the dedication and bravery of his African slave.

When Wragg's widow learned of how Tom Skene had rescued her son, she expressed her gratitude to the African by granting him his freedom and giving him a plot of land near Ashley Barony, a horse, a cow, and his own servant. Billy Wragg seems to have stayed in England for the duration of the war in America and returned to Charleston sometime after 1783. In the years following his return, Billy Wragg made a point of standing with the mourners at Tom Skene's funeral. The only son of William Wragg married, but died without children at 33 years of age in 1803.

The British heroes of the American Revolution that are memorialized at Westminster Abbey are General Burgoyne, the officer who surrendered at the Battle of Saratoga, and Major John André, a man hanged as a spy. The only American loyalist remembered within the abbey is William Wragg of South Carolina, a refugee who died while seeking sanctuary for himself and his son in 1777. He perished at sea, not knowing that the rebels who had forced him to leave South Carolina would one day be the victors in the revolution. Never could he have imagined that his wife, daughters and son would all be laid to their final rest in a republic known as the United States of America.

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

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

"The Birds.

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds - from the smallest to the largest - we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one."

Imagine a world without our winged friends. From the ducks and geese that grace our tables to the simple chirps of songbirds, Canadians have always sought the creatures of the skies for their messages and sustenance. The Haudenosaunee Tree of Peace has an eagle perched on its top, warning of impending threats and danger. Its wisdom as the most revered bird has been used as the most honoured feather any Native could be bestowed and other First Nations in Canada have a deep regard for the craftiness of the raven in their cultures. Birds, like other natural life forms, have messages for those who seek their ingrained knowledge.

...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.]

Silas Raymond (1748 - 1824) - Fifth Generation in America: Part VIII - © 2009 George McNeillie

[Part 1Part II,   Part IIIPart IVPart V, Part VI, Part VII]

According to Walter Bates' narrative the voyage from New York was not an uncomfortable one for those in the 'Union', which was a large vessel and not overcrowded, and which, after gallantly leading the fleet for fourteen days, arrived at Partridge Island before the other ships had come in sight. The fleet seems to have arrived at its destination on or about the 11th of May - a week before the actual "Landing of the Loyalists." The voyage was not a speedy one, and indeed seldom is so at that season. The second fleet arrived in the St. John Harbour on the 28th of June, after rather a shorter voyage, though delayed a little by the fog.

The place of anchorage was under the shelter of Fort Howe, opposite Navy Island. To the east lay the rocky peninsula (called by the Indians "Menahquesk") covered with shrubs, spruce and cedar bushes - now the site of a prosperous city of 50,000 people.

Captain Lovett's descendants preserved the names of most of the vessels of the "Spring Fleet" and of many of their captains. The names are given below:

1. The Camel Capt. Tinker
2. Union - Capt. Consett Wilson
3. Aurora - Capt. Jackson
4. Hope - Capt. Peacock
5. Otter - Capt. Burns
6. Spencer - Capt. ?
7. Emmett - Capt. Reed
8. Thames - Capt. ?
9. Spring - Capt. Cadish
10. Bridgewater - Capt. Adnet
11. Favorite - Capt. Ellis
12. Sun - Capt. Clark
13. Command - Capt. Strong
14. William - Capt. ?
15. Lord Townsend - Capt. Hogg
16. Sovereign - Capt. Wm. Stewart
17. Sally - Capt. Bell
18. Cyrus - Capt. James Turner
19. Britain - Capt. ?
20. King George - Capt. ?

The number of passengers brought to St. John by the various fleets - "Spring", "Summer", and "Fall", is discussed in my Saint John River History. The fleet which arrived in May brought more than 3,000 souls, including men, women, and children. The next fleet arrived about seven weeks later and more will be said of it hereafter.

Copy of the "Manifest" of the Transport Ship "Union".

The "Manifest" of the Transport Ship "Union" has been preserved in the family of the late William Fyler Dibblee of Woodstock, N.B. It has been several times printed and a copy is presented above. It will be noticed that there are 65 signers in the list, of whom 34 are heads of families. There are three widows, two are classed as "servants" (perhaps slaves) and one Massy (or Mercy) Harris was probably "a colored lady". It will be noticed that the names of relatives and close personal friends are associated in the list of signers. For instance the names of the Widow Mary Raymond, her daughter and daughter's husband (Israel Hoyt) and their family are grouped together, as are the names of Ephraim Lane and John Marvin who were afterwards very intimately associated - the one with the other - and came with the Raymonds to Kingston where John Marvin a few years later married Grace Raymond. Lane died unmarried but left all his property to Mrs. John Marvin as a token of the friendship that had for so many years existed with the Marvins. Examination of the list will show that many who sailed in the "Union" transport to St. John were young men , who were at this time unmarried.

Excerpt from Book of Family History written by The Ven. William Odber Raymond, LL.D, FRSC. © 2009 George McNeillie - all rights reserved [published here with permission; see footnote]

...George McNeillie {ggm3rd AT sympatico DOT ca} how do I email him?

Symposium: "Niagara's Military: Past and Present" Nov 6 - 7

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, The University of Waterloo, Brock University, and the Laurier Center for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies will host the Third Annual History Symposium at Lake Street Armoury on Friday, 6 November at 7:30 pm and Saturday, 7 November from 8:15 am to 3:15 pm.

Entitled "Niagara's Military: Past and Present", the topics will range from the War of 1812 to Afghanistan with additional guest speakers from the University of New Brunswick, University of Victoria and Comap Inc.

Admission is free and all are welcome. See this one-page poster for more details.

...Bill Smy UE

Correction to The First Union Flag - Dramatic Licence

As I pointed out in my article to the Loyalist Gazette (History of the Union Flag, 1606-1802, Vol XXV, No 2, Fall 1992), the First Union Flag (1606) is not the flag of the UELAC. This is quite clearly stated by Sir Conrad Swan in his description of the UELAC Armorial Bearings.

The UEL flag is the Second Union Flag (1707) -- that of Queen Anne.

Although the First and Second Union Flags appear to be identical at first glance, there are differences in the dimensions.

Of particular note, the width of the Cross of St Andrew is exactly the same as the width of the Cross of St George, reflecting the equal status of Scotland and England in Queen Anne's British realm.

...Bill Smy


Eleazer Youmans (Yeomans) Sr. - Son of a Loyalist, A Loyalist, or ... ?

I am descended from Eleazer Youmans (Yeomans) Sr. and Anna Smith. My research challenge is Eleazer. I think he was the eldest son of Arthur Youmans, but have been unable to locate a proof of that connection? If he was not Arthur's, was he otherwise related? Finally, was Eleazer a Loyalist in his own right? I am also seeking documentation that the Eleazer Youmans Jr was the son of Eleazer and Anna Smith. Here is some background.

The Youmans family in America began with Christopher Yeamans/Youmans sailing from England when he was about 20 years old. He maintained ties to the old country; he was named a beneficiary in the will of his brother, William Yeamans/Youmans, dated February 24, 1686.

In America Christopher was employed by Sergeant Jeffreys in New Haven, Connecticut, about Nov 1656 as a PRIVATE. He moved to Hempstead, Long Island, New York, sometime prior to 19 Oct 1659, when there is a record of sale of fifty acres of land by Christopher to Will Smith. In 1685, Christopher was among 160 taxable persons in the town of Hempstead; he was taxed on 150 acres of property. On 30 Jul 1693, Christopher deeded fifty acres of land to William Smith. In a combined deed and will dated 7 Apr 1711, Christopher named his son, Solomon, as grantee and beneficiary to his lands and house at Madman's Neck.

About 1719, Christopher, his children and some of his grandchildren removed from Hempstead and settled on the "White Plains" in the old town of Rye, Westchester County, New York. Christopher married a Hannah? And they had 7 children; Solomon being the 3rd son and the one who was named in his will.

Solomon married Susannah and they had 7 children, the 4th being the first Eleazer who was born in 1702.

Eleazer married Maritie Aaertse, daughter of Alert Williams and Mary Mott, on 30 Nov 1728. Maritie was born c. 1710 in Marroneck, Long Island, New York. Eleazer & Maritie had 7 children, the oldest being Arthur Youmans a Loyalist.

Arthur married Sarah Oakley (Orser) about 1764 in Westchester Co., New York. Sarah was born about 1731 in New York State. Arthur left New York and was found in Sorel, Quebec in 1783/4 in the Loyalist refugee camp with a son David.

Now here I have been unable to find any provable connection showing a relationship between Arthur and Eleazer Youmans Sr. who I believe was the first-born son of Arthur and Sarah Oakley (Orser). I also conjecture that Eleazer may have been a Loyalist in his own right. Any information around this family would be most appreciated.

Eleazer Youmans Sr.

Eleazer arrived Ontario after 1778. His name was sometimes spelled Yeomans, and is used as often as Youmans in his descendants. There was a strong Dutch influence both in the Yeomans family, and NY State where they came from.

Eleazer Sr. lived on Lot 16 con. 3. In Camden Twp. Eleazer Sr. also received the west half lot 7 con. 3 in Kingston twp., Frontenac Co., in a land board petition dated 1791 although there was no evidence of him being a Loyalists or the son of a Loyalist.

Eleazer married Anna Smith, daughter of Samuel Smith UEL, before 1795 and they together petitioned for land as a daughter and son-in-law of Samuel Smith loyalist in 1812. Eleazer Sr. Youmans & Anna Smith had 7 children, the 3rd son being Eleazer Youmans Jr my 5x great-grandfather. Anna Smith was the daughter of Samuel Smith UEL of Kingston. Eleazer Sr. and Anna petitioned for land in 1812 as a daughter of a loyalist. Anna died on 25 Dec 1851 and had lived with her son David J Youmans since her husband Eleazer Sr died in 1844. Anna appears on the 1851 census as a mother of David but alas I have not found a will, a family bible record or any reference of a marriage or death records connecting son Eleazer Jr and Anna.

My query then has two parts.

1. To obtain a certificate of a Loyalists descendant I need to prove a connection between Eleazer Youmans Jr and Anna Smith Youmans.

2. I am looking to connect Eleazer Sr to Arthur Youmans UEL

If anyone has more to offer to this family story, or can help me with any of the missing documentation, I would be most appreciative.

...Marlene Rodgers Kerr UE {marlene_Rodgers AT hotmail DOT com} how do I email her?

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now