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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2012-27: July 7, 2012


The Martha's Loyalist Castaways: Part 3 of 3 – by Stephen Davidson

Only sixty-eight loyalists survived the shipwreck of the Martha. One of them was Joseph Carroll. His name and his story would have been completely lost had it not been for the fact that his son, the Rev. John Carroll, wrote My Boy Life in 1882. As he described his childhood, the Methodist minister included the adventures of his loyalist father. Thanks to this autobiography, the memories of a loyalist castaway have been preserved for posterity.

At the outset of the American Revolution, Joseph Carroll made harnesses and saddles. It was a craft that demanded strength. Carroll was close to six feet tall and at least 180 pounds, larger than most men of his generation. His son remembered him as being "big-boned and muscular" with "great weight of arm and hand" -- a "very hale and powerful man."

A native of Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland, Carroll immigrated to Pennsylvania with his parents when he was just a boy. His father established a farm in Reading, but Joseph went to Philadelphia where he learned the saddler trade.

The American Revolution divided the Carroll family. James, Carroll's oldest brother, sided with the patriot cause, while Joseph remained loyal to Great Britain. The latter took up arms for his king in 1776 after moving to Annapolis, Maryland, serving with the Maryland Loyalists till 1783.

The Maryland Loyalists did garrison duty in Pensacola to defend West Florida against the Spanish. After smallpox ravaged the troops, Carroll watched more of his comrades die during the siege of 1781. Forty-five soldiers with the Maryland Loyalists were instantly killed when a Spanish shell hit their ammunition magazine. This was the greatest death toll ever suffered by loyalist troops in any of the Revolution's battles.

Carroll served as one of his regiment's bombardiers, a position within the artillery. He carried a sword which had a standard blade on one edge and a saw on the other. After storming an enemy stockade, Carroll was stabbed with the point of a pike. It wounded his hand, leaving a scar that ran the length of one of his fingers.

Following their surrender to the Spanish, the Maryland Loyalists sailed for New York City in May of 1781. For the next two years, they manned garrisons on Long Island for the next two years. With the announcement that negotiations to end the Revolution were underway, both loyalist soldiers and civilians faced an uncertain future.

Fearing a hostile reception from rebel neighbours, Joseph Carroll decided not to return to Philadelphia. James, his patriot brother, was willing to "intercede with Congress on his behalf", but Joseph declined. He told James that he would rather "see him and Congress damned before he would make any intercessions for him." For the rest of his life, Carroll always used the word "rebels" whenever he spoke of Americans. He referred to himself as a "Britisher", rather than a "loyalist."

By the fall of 1783, most loyalist evacuation ships had already left New York City for England, the West Indies, Canada, and Nova Scotia. In September, a fleet of 12 ships carrying soldiers of the Maryland Loyalists and the third battalion of Delancey's Brigade set sail for the mouth of the St. John River. Joseph Carroll was among the 181 passengers who boarded the Martha.

Carroll's son estimated that his father was about 34 years old as he prepared to leave the United States. Most men his age had a wife and family, but as the records do not reveal Carroll's marital status at the time of his departure, we cannot know for sure if the Pennsylvanian saddler travelled alone or not. What is known with certainty is that Carroll was one of just 68 passengers who lived to tell the tale of the Martha's final voyage.

Carroll remembered that the Martha was an East Indiaman. This type of ship was the largest class of merchant ship built in the late 18th century, measuring between 1100 and 1400 tons with hulls as long as 175 feet. It was used extensively by the East India Company and was ideal for carrying both passengers and goods. The ship could also defend itself against pirates. An early example of the use of camouflage at sea, East Indiamen vessels often had gun ports painted on them so that at a distance their enemies would think that they were bristling with cannon.

Decades later after its sinking, Carroll told his family that the Martha was "an unseaworthy old hulk." It had been repainted, but whether this was to hide flaws in the ship's exterior or to fool would-be attackers was not made clear. What is clear is Carroll's interpretation of the events of September 23, 1783. He is the only one from among the surviving passengers who claimed that the ship was "intentionally run upon the rocks in the Bay of Fundy." According to Carroll, the Martha was "insured for a fabulous sum." After running the ship onto the rocky shoals off Cape Sable, Carroll maintained that the captain and crew "in collusion with the fraudulent underwriters, escaped in their boats."

But whether an accident or a scheme to make money from the loyalist evacuation, the results were the same. Men, women, slaves, and children were left to fend for themselves, desperately clinging to portions of the shattered ship.

Carroll and some other passengers cobbled together a raft from the Martha's broken timbers – but only after he had spent 48 hours hanging on to the ship's spar. The men tied floating timbers from the Martha together with old cable. This was cut with the only tool they had at hand, a dull razor. Others, impatient with the cutting, "tore out the strands with their teeth." A fishing ship eventually rescued those on Carroll's raft and brought them to dry land. Two survivors "wafted ashore on two puncheons lashed together."

Along with other castaways from the Martha, Carroll settled near present day Fredericton, New Brunswick. Before his life was over, the loyalist saddler would marry, father 12 children, and fight in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Niagara. But this is a story for a future edition of Loyalist Trails.

(A big thank-you goes out to Joanne Doucette who brought John Carroll's My Boy Life to my attention. Read it in its entirety online.

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

John Davis Beardsley (1771 - 1852) © George McNeillie

The Beardsley and Dibblee families were closely related through intermarriage. Hannah Beardsley (oldest daughter of the Rev. John) married Walter Dibblee, who was born in Stamford on February 7, 1764. The marriage took place in New Brunswick, April 28, 1784, her father no doubt being the officiating clergyman. Her brother, John D. Beardsley, married the sister of Walter Dibblee, Sarah Munday Dibblee who was born in Stamford just before the war.

This wedding took place in Woodstock in 1793. These two Beardsleys, a brother and a sister married a brother and a sister of the Dibblee family. And subsequently Walter Dibblee’s son Edwin married John D. Beardsley’s daughter Clara, who was his cousin. But the inter-marrying between the Beardsleys and the Curries was much more remarkable. The brothers John D. Beardsley, Jr., Ralph D. and Charles Alfred Beardsley married the sisters Jane, Ellen, and Agnes Currie; and Hannah Beardsley married Andrew Currie. Four Beardsleys marrying four Curries. The following data regarding the family is of interest:

1. Polly Sylvia, the oldest was named after her two grandmothers Polly Jarvis and Sylvia Punderson. She was born March 17th, 1794. She married Grandfather Charles Raymond and lived beside her parents. She had one son (my Father) and three daughters.

2. Peggy Clarissa, born in 1796, married Edwin Dibblee of Northampton, and had four sons and five daughters.

3. John Davis, Jr., born December, 1798, married Jane Currie, and had three sons and seven daughters.

4. Charles John Alfred, born in 1800, married Agnes Currie and had two sons and four daughters.

5. Ralph Dibblee, born April 8, 1802, married Ellen Currie and had four sons and seven daughters.

6. William Henry, born April 3, 1804, disappeared mysteriously in early manhood and was never again heard of.

7. Mary, born about 1806, married a Ray, and had children, William, James, Ellen, and perhaps others.

8. Hannah Jarvis, born April 24, 1808, married Andrew Currie, the first man to cross “the Big Swamp” in 1823 and settled in North Richmond. Had seven sons and six daughters.

9. Lavinia Matilda, born June 4, 1810. Married Andrew McRae of Grand Falls, and had two sons and one daughter.

10. Paul Fyler, born June 28, 1812. Married Elizabeth McRae and lived some years at Grand Falls. They had no children.

11. Punderson Herbert, born Dec. 24, 1814. Married Florinda Hamilton and lived at Grand Falls. Had six sons and one daughter.

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

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at Rideau Hall

As His Excellency, David Johnston said, “Rideau Hall is the home of the people of Canada but it is also a testament to the Crown of Canada of the great tradition and history that we all share as Canadians.” Thus this occasion highlighted the installation of the new portrait of her Majesty in the Ballroom.

A number of UELAC members attended a reception to note the installation of this portrait at Rideau Hall. Read about the portrait and event here (PDF).

...Robert McBride UE, President UELAC

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal – Ed Kipp

On Saturday June 23, 2012 two OGS members were honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. OGS Members Donald Hinchley and Edward Kipp were nominated for the award by fellow OGS members. The nominations were presented by our Past Patron, Senator Vivienne Poy, and then accepted by the nominating committee.

Congratulations to Ed Kipp UE, member of and significant contributor to the Sir Guy Carleton Branch, and other UELAC-related projects.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Reverend James William Files, UE

The Rev. James William Files - October 20, 1920 - June 19, 2012 - passed away at the Brantford General Hospital on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 in his 92nd year. Beloved husband of Angela Ella Magdelena Daechsel for 54 years. Father of James Files UE (Deanna), Robert Files UE (Valerie) and Angela Brock UE (Lawrence). Grandfather of Carly, Katie, Elyse, Robert, Jennie and Emma UE. James was predeceased by his siblings – Hugh, Robert, Frank, Catherine and Margaret. His Loyalist ancestor was John Melchoir File.

James was a graduate of Tyndale University, Concordia University and the Presbyterian College of McGill University. He was the first permanent Chaplain hired by the Ontario Government, serving at the Simcoe Boys Training School and the Burtch Correctional Centre near Brantford. James and Angela shared an interest in genealogy and as the result all of their children and grandchildren have received their United Empire Loyalist certificates.

James served as the President of the Grand River Branch UELAC and was serving as Chaplain at the time of his death. He was also president of the Brant County Genealogical Society. He was the recipient of the Province of Ontario Award for Community Service.

James appreciated the friendship bonds he formed with those in groups and organizations to which he belonged. A Funeral Service was held on Monday, June 25 and Interment at the Dresden Cemetery. Donations to the Canadian Bible Society or to the charity of your choice would be appreciated. ”I Know That My Redeemer Liveth”

...Ellen Tree UE, Grand River Branch


Descendants of Philip Huffman

I am a descendant of Philip Huffman (1754-1838). I would like to get in touch with any any descendants of Philip. I am descended down through Philip's son son Michael Huffman (b. 1810) of the Napanee area.

...Kerry Best

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