Connect with us online:

Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2011 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

"Loyalist Trails" 2011-19: May 18, 2011

Articles

Samuel Curwen, A Loyal Tourist in Britain -- copyright Stephen Davidson

What were your loyalist ancestors doing between 1775 and 1784? Fleeing north to Canada after patriots destroyed their farms? Seeking employment in British-held New York City? Making the best of life in a refugee camp? If your ancestors were from the elite of colonial society, as was Samuel Curwen, they might have been spending those years as tourists in Britain.

Curwen fled Massachusetts in 1775, seeking refuge in England. He mistakenly assumed that the troubles in the Thirteen Colonies would be resolved in a matter of months. A former judge of the admiralty, Curwen had the means to go on a number of sight-seeing trips while he waited for the American Revolution to come to an end. Because he kept a diary, Curwen has left us with have an amazing record of how one New England loyalist spent his years as a refugee -- and a tourist -- in Britain.

As soon as he arrived in London, Curwen visited the British Parliament buildings. Over the next few months, he attended a performance of Handel's Messiah at Covent Gardens, visited a synagogue of note, enjoyed an art exhibit, toured the British Museum and viewed a wax statue at Westminster Abbey.

During his first summer, Curwen went to Sidmouth in Devonshire. "This watering place, the resort of much genteel company for sea bathing, is the most frugal place in England." A year later he returned to the area, staying in Thorncombe. It was "accommodated with a few bathing machines, a terrace facing the beach, and near adjoining for walking; a long room for tea and cards, of a southern aspect, and a neat assembly room."

After his tour of Salisbury in 1776, Curwen hired a carriage to see Stonehenge. The loyalist was able to walk up to the structure and admire its construction. "The outside row of stones is an imperfect oval, eighteen in number; those upright are about seventeen feet high and about four feet wide... fourteen small uprights stand within, in different directions or lines."

Although there were no souvenir shops at Stonehenge, there was a house nearby that supplied "the curious who visit there with punch, wine, and tea. The view under this long range of hills presents a most pleasing and variegated prospect." Curwen concluded his visit to the area by touring Salisbury cathedral before travelling on to Exeter to see its Roman amphitheatre, "spacious enough to hold two thousand spectators".

In 1777, a professor who knew a friend of Curwen's guided the loyalist around Oxford University. After viewing the library, printing press, theatre, dining hall, and observatory, Curwen and his guide encountered two old acquaintances that the loyalist had known from his years at Harvard. On the following day, Curwen concluded his tour of Oxford by visiting King's College Chapel, a picture gallery, and a museum that contained such treasures as a gorget (neck ornament) worn by Alfred the Great, and the skull of Oliver Cromwell. Upon completing a trip to Wales, Curwen returned to his lodgings in Exeter for the winter.

For a man in his sixties, Curwen had amazing stamina. Accompanied by his friend Jonathan Sewall, he made a 500-mile tour of northern England in the summer of 1780, travelling by coach and ship. The two loyalists completed their journey in just 18 days.

Coach travel was not without its dangers. When their tour was almost over, the two New England loyalists had their carriage stopped by a man who jumped out of a roadside hedge. The highway robber --known as a "foot-pad"-- grabbed the reins of the horses. After running to the carriage door, he demanded that Curwen and Sewall hand over all of their money. Sewall hit the foot-pad with his cane, and the robber fired his pistol at the man's head. Thinking he had murdered the loyalist passenger, the foot-pad ran off. However, Sewall only felt the "wind of the bullet as it passed". In the morning, a three-quarter inch slug was retrieved from the carriage's molding.

In December of that same year, Curwen went to the theatre to see a "performance in puppetry" with "speakers below the stage and invisible", "awkward" machinery and pretty scenery. Curwen considered the production a "bauble of a thing". Later he saw The Merchant of Venice at London's Covent Garden Theatre where he admired the skills of the 80 year-old actor who played Shylock. Curwen had hoped to see the famous actor David Garrick at the Drury Lane Theatre, but the crowds at the ticket office were such that after "suffering thumps, squeezes, and almost suffocation for two hours, I was obliged to retire without effecting it. "

A highlight of Curwen's 1782 touring was a visit to the kitchen of the Queen's "house" in Windsor. There he saw 18 male cooks and their assistants all decked out in white caps, jackets and aprons. All kitchen staff wore wigs. Later in 1782, Curwen met a man who owned a mug he claimed had once belonged to William Shakespeare.

On November 25, 1783, the most interesting sight in London was up in the sky. Along with 80, 000 spectators, Curwen watched the launch of a hot air balloon. In his journal that night he wrote "The sight was amusing; perhaps posterity may improve on this newly investigated subject, and make what is now only a pleasing show, a commodious, perhaps pernicious, aerial conveyance."

In August of 1784, Curwen boarded a ship for Philadelphia. A tourist to the very end, Curwen couldn't resist taking in the sights of the Isle of Wight when his ship docked there five days after leaving London. The last tourist attraction that the New England loyalist saw in Britain was the ruins of Carisbrook Castle. "After dinner we all set off for our ship". And with these words Curwen's journal ceased to be a record of his nine years of travel through the British isles. The loyalist was going home for good.


To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

John Moore (1730 - 1827): Fourth Generation in America © George McNeillie

The house built at Lower St. Marys in 1789, became in due course the "Old Carmanhomestead. " I remember the old place very well, having many a time slept under its roof as a boy when visiting at my grandfather's. By the way it was not always easy to sleep there the first night. There was usually a loud chorus from the frogs. The land near the house being marshy, there was an abundance of frogs, and also, in their season, an abundance of very venomous mosquitoes. In later years I often thought of the nights spent at Grandfather Carman's house in reading the Latin poet Horace's graphic account of the "Iter Brundisinum" in which he says "the noise of the frogs from the fens at the Inn", where he tarried for the night, "and the cursedgnats drive away sleep ." In addition, to the ills the old Romans had to encounter there was, moreover, in Grandfather Carman's old house an old-fashioned "eight-day clock", with a very loud and deliberate tick and a bell that struck the hours with much deliberation to the accompaniment of an indescribable wheezing and groaning in its internal anatomy. We boys actually slept much better after the first night.

In the haying-time, grandfather used to hire help -- usually a couple of newly-arrived Irish immigrants -- and mother would sometimes laugh till she cried while narrating the comical experiences of these immigrants. One story must suffice. One night grandfather was awakened by the sound of horses trampling around the house. He called to the men who slept at the head of the back stairs, "Pat and Mike are you asleep?" "Yes, sor." Came the answer in sleepy tones.

"Well, did you shut the gate at the road? I think I hear horses in the grain." The two men concluded that they "forgot" to shut the gate. Whereupon my grandfather said that they would have to turn the horses into the road again and shut the gate.

The back stair was without any railing, and at the foot of the stair was the old-time "swill barrel" filled with sour milk, dishwater, cold pancakes, potato peelings and so forth. Mike, who was leading the way, lost his bearings in the dark -- he was not yet quite wide awake. He walked off the landing and dropped into the swill barrel. There was a frightful splash, followed by a groan, then silence broken by the voice of Pat inquiring in an awe-struck voice, "where are ye, Mickey?"

Most of the family had been awakened by the racket and were listening for the answer and it came with another howl from Mike, "Where am I? I'm in the barrel -- or part of me is -- and I'm like to be splat." A little later and the road gate went too with a bang! But the giggling of the boys in their beds lasted for a good while that night, and they had a tale to tell all the boys the next day.

I think I could write quite a book of my mother's stories. She had a keen sense of the ludicrous.

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

...George McNeillie

Pacific Regional Mini-Conference & Spring Fleet "SAILabrations" at Chilliwack on Saturday May 7th, 2011

Carman United Church, Chilliwack, was the venue setting at which the UELAC Chilliwack and Vancouver Branch's hosted this year's Spring Fleet celebration. Members from the Chilliwack, Vancouver and Victoria branches were present for the Regional Mini-Conference. There was no representation from the Thompson-Okanagan branch.

Barbara Andrew UE, UELAC Prairie Regional Councillor was the Guest Speaker. Aided by a PowerPoint presentation, Barbara asked a number of thought provoking questions with reference to Membership which the audience became interactive participants. Some of the questions were: Why do people join; then either stay with or leave the Association? How often does your local branch hold meetings, and what subjects and programs are presented at meetings? How does the local branch conduct Outreach & Education events? Barb Andrew UE was suitably thanked by Pacific Regional Councillor, Mary Anne Bethune UE.

Shirley Dargatz UE then welcomed Her Honour, Sharon Gaetz, Mayor of Chilliwack. After Mayor Gaetz welcomed everyone warmly, she joined us for lunch before leaving for other city duties.

The afternoon program began with a skit "Flee to the Ship" (a.k.a. "Dressing a Loyalist"). The re-enactors were: Mary Anne Bethune UE -- wife of Loyalist, Rev. John Bethune, a military Chaplain; Gwen Dumfries - the Lady's servant, ‘Gwennie"; and Carl Stymiest UE - the Commander (Narrator and a further Cameo appearance!). See photo.

The situation: With Rebel forces attacking, and approaching the Bethune residence, Lady Bethune is awakened by her panicking servant, who then must assist her Mistress in dressing in her best outfit and making everything in readiness before fleeing to the nearby ship.

Nominations for Pacific Regional Vice President and for Pacific Regional Councillor were the next item on the Program. Nominations and elections were conducted by Carl Stymiest UE, President UELAC Vancouver Branch. As no new nominations came forth, Shirley Dargatz UE and Mary Anne Bethune UE were re-elected by acclamation as Pacific Regional Vice President and Pacific Regional Councillor, respectively.

UE Certificates Presented: Al Kennedy UE of Chilliwack Branch received his 4th certificate as a descendant of John Lutz and Phyllis Cosby UE of Vancouver Branch received her certificate as a descendant of Rebecca Haines and her first husband Jeremiah Johnson through their daughter Nancy Ann.

The UELAC Vancouver Branch Phillip E. M. Leith UE Memorial Award for 2011 was awarded. This year's recipients were: Audrey Viken UE of UELAC Vancouver Branch, and Judy Scholz UE of UELAC Chilliwack Branch. See photo.

Finally, before the retiring of the Colours, Shirley Dargatz UE invited Barbara Andrew UE to the podium to thank her for her visitation and great presentation!

...Marvin Millis, UE (Vancouver Branch Newsletter Committee)

Visit Rideau Hall, The Official Residence of the Governor General of Canada

OTTAWA -- Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston invite the public to discover Rideau Hall, the governor general's official residence, in Ottawa.

"It is a great pleasure for Sharon and me to open the doors of Rideau Hall to all Canadians and to visitors from abroad," said the Governor General. "We invite you to come and explore the majestic beauty that is Rideau Hall, where Canada comes together. Let our knowledgeable guides take you on a tour of the residence, and take in the beautiful splendour of the grounds."

For further information, click here.

...FHH

UELAC at OGS Conference

The Ontario Genealogical Society marked its Golden Anniversary with a highly successful conference at the Hamilton Conference Centre this past weekend. UELAC was well represented by the Hamilton Branch with its display in the Market Place. Toronto Branch President Karen Windover also assisted at the Hamilton table. It was good to meet UELAC members from the Col. John Butler, Grand River, London and Western Ontario, Col. Edward Jessup, Saskatchewan and Calgary Branches during the event. Global Genealogy, one of our advertisers in the Loyalist Gazette, also expressed appreciation for the many members who stopped by their display.

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, each OGS branch was asked to consider up to three members who had made an outstanding contribution over the past fifty years. A minimum of ten UELAC members were recognized among the "Top 50 in 50" listed in the programme including Bev Craig, Nancy Cutway, Myrtle and Lorna Johnston. They will also receive a special certificate with this honour. Congratulations! In the Houston Memorial address given by Brian Gilchrest, Audrey UE and Bob Kirk were mentioned second on his list of people having great influence on the establishment of the OGS. Audrey and Bob were very active UE members and supporters.

There was one further UELAC link. Next year, the OGS will stage its conference in Kingston. The logo for the 2012 event was designed by our Past President, Peter W. Johnson.

...FHH

Erratum: The Tech Side -- ePub Self Publishing, by Wayne Scott, UE

In last week's issue, the following should have read:

1. Save your file using the "save as Web page (filtered)" (PC)

2. If you are using Word on a Macintosh computer, use the save function "save as Web page (.htm)", and then select "save only display information into HTML". (Mac)

3. As a result of either of these actions, an HTML document will be produced. This document can be imported into Calibre ePub converter without any loss of formatting.

You can email Wayne Scott to get in touch with questions or comments.

Editor's Note

Early in the week of May 9, we spent a couple of days in Elgin, Scotland where Nancy did family research. Twice we drove around the general area of Keith, where one branch of Nancy's ancestors had worked on farms. The parish registers often record the name of the individual and the name of the farm on which they worked. The modern ordnance survey maps still show the same farm names, so we were able to find a number of farms where various of her ancestors had trodden the fields as long ago as 1709.

Our trip ended with a couple of days of research and site-seeing in Edinburgh before training south to London, and for me, home on Sunday. It has been struggle since then trying to cope with the time change and catching up - that is why this issue is a little late!

...Doug

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now