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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2012-47: November 25, 2012


Literacy after the Exodus: Loyalists and their Libraries (1 of 2) – by Stephen Davidson

Among the casualties of the American Revolution were the libraries belonging to the loyalists. Often leaving their homes with only what they could carry, loyalist refugees had to leave their books behind. Patriots plundered their enemies’ libraries for their own use, maliciously burned them, or sold them to buy arms for the revolution. But those loyalists who loved to read and collect books were often able to rebuild their libraries. Thanks to the probate records of early New Brunswick, we know who these loyalists were and what was in the libraries of their new homes.

Jonathan Odell, provincial secretary and clerk of the council of New Brunswick, had been an Anglican minister in Burlington, New Jersey. It comes as no surprise that he would have a room set aside as a library in his Fredericton home. Besides a clock, astronomical instruments, and a pair of globes, the Odell library also contained a piano that Governor Carleton had given Odell’s daughter Sarah Anne. He bequeathed to his two daughters and only son “such of my books as they may select for their own use.”

Rev. James Scovil, a loyalist from Connecticut and the first minister of Kingston’s Trinity Anglican Church, granted one of his sons “my library of books and manuscripts.” He willed his daughter Sarah half of his furniture and livestock, having already given land and furniture to his seven other children. The Connecticut clergymen granted his two enslaved Africans their freedom once they reached the age of 26.

Thomas Wetmore came to New Brunswick from New York as a single man. During his lifetime he was, among other positions, the registrar of will and deeds for Queens County and the provincial attorney general. His will notes that his law library and all of the furniture in his law office was to go to his son George.

The lawyer Elias Hardy came to New Brunswick from Virginia where he had been forced to leave “books and clothes” behind him. His most famous case was defending Munson Hoyt in a slander lawsuit filed by Benedict Arnold. Although he lost the case, Hardy went on to become a member of the House of Assembly. After his death in 1799, he bequeathed a mahogany desk and his library valued at £18.

George Leonard had been a lawyer all of his life. In addition to barns, stables, lands, and a grainary, he wanted his son to have his pictures, globe, thermometer, barometer and “all of his books.”

Sometimes loyalist wills give us clues about the level of education women received. Ward Chipman, a Boston loyalist, willed that all of his law books and “all other books” should go to his son, except whatever his wife wished to retain for her own use.

Bridget James was one of two women who had a will that included books. In addition to bequeathing a bed to her niece Mary Ann, she gave her books and “optic glasses” (reading spectacles) to another niece named Catharine. The early probate records of New Brunswick also note Mrs Frances Ludlow who granted her son-in-law “all of the books belonging to me” as well as her husband’s law books. Her husband George had held many government positions in New York before the revolution and became the first chief justice of New Brunswick’s supreme court.

The man who welcomed the loyalist refugees to New Brunswick and oversaw their settlement was Major Gilfred Studholme. Although he was an army officer who had come to the province before 1783 and was not a loyalist, the contents of his library are an interesting glimpse into what an educated man read in the years following the American Revolution. He had over 50 titles ranging from Virgil to a Latin Bible. Amongst a variety of volumes that included legal, scholarly and military topics was a volume on the “Art of Writing Short Hand.”

In the second part of this series, we will see how New Brunswick’s loyalist settlers prized their books, even if they only filled the space on a single shelf.

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

Charles William Raymond (1820-1901) © George McNeillie

Charles William Raymond, my father, was born in Woodstock soon after his father went there to live in 1820. As a boy he attended the school in the “Church lot”, opposite the old Parish Church, which was conducted by the old time S.P.G. Schoolmasters, the first of whom seemed to be Ralph Dibblee in 1792. He was followed by quite a number of masters. Among them there was a Mr. Gault, to whom my father expressed great obligations, particularly for instruction in penmanship. Father wrote a particularly neat clear hand and hardly ever made an error in spelling.

His command of language was unusual, both in writing and speaking. He was one of the readiest and most logical speakers I ever listened to, but modest and unassuming. In his younger days he always spoke effectively in meetings of the “Sons of Temperance”, in which Order he took considerable interest. He came to the fore as a speaker at Church Conventions in July, 1865, at the annual meeting of the Diocesan Church Society held in Fredericton. Bishop Medly was in the chair and the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon (afterwards Lord Stanmore), was on the platform. Father was then comparatively unknown, but at once captured his audience whom he repeatedly roused to a high degree of enthusiasm and at the close of his speech received a great ovation. Governor Gordon at the close of the meeting asked to be introduced to him and congratulated him on his splendid speech. I was old enough to catch the echoes of this meeting from the old Rector Street and others who were present. It is recorded of Byron after the publication of “Childe Harold”, that he said, “I awoke, and found myself famous!” Such was in a humble way my good father’s experience after his Fredericton speech. However, he never developed self-conceit and only spoke thereafter at rare intervals and usually by special request.

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

Presidential Peregrinations: London and Western Ontario Branch

A visit with Bernice Flett UE, a Past-President of UELAC in hospital where she is recovering nicely from hip surgery was followed by a warm welcome by a group of Branch Executives over dinner. We shared information about the Loyalists and Freemasonry, and thereby some ideas for additional information Loyalist ancestors. Read more, with photos.

...Robert McBride UE, President UELAC

Presidential Peregrinations: Victoria Branch

The warm hospitality we receive at every branch we visit was also displayed in Victoria where Al Huffman took us on a tour of local sites of Loyalist and other interests. The next day at the branch's luncheon meeting, members of other Pacific Region branches joined the group. One part of the event was the presentation of the Philip E.M. Leith Award to Immediate Past-President Robert Ferguson UE. As part of the meeting, we shared information about Loyalists and the War of 1812, starting from my story of ancestor John DeCou. Read more, with photos.

...Robert McBride UE, President UELAC

Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Update

Show off your Loyalist heritage on the road! We are now pre-selling Ontario licence plates with the UELAC badge. The cost per set is $100 plus $10 shipping for the first set (with free shipping on subsequent sets mailed to the same address). To proceed, we need to purchase 200 sets from the province - to date we have 64 orders. Our goal is to have the necessary funds in hand to meet a provincial deadline in late January. To that end we are offering an incentive - all paid pre-orders received by December 13, 2012 will qualify for a draw for a free set of plates (your choice of another set or a $100 refund) and the option to choose the very first Loyalist licence plate in the series, number 01UE01.

For complete information about this project visit the Dominion Projects page or to print an order form click here.

If you have any questions, please contact me at or 905-486-9777.

...Ben Thornton, Toronto Branch

Book Review: Bergen County Voices from the American Revolution: Soldiers and Residents in Their Own Words

This slim and meticulously researched book is what could be called ‘user friendly’. While undoubtedly the professional Historian could learn something here, the general public will find it both informative and easy to read.

Bergen Co NJ is located in the northeastern portion of that State and at its northern extremity shares a border with Orange Co and Rockland Co NY. During the Revolution it was in a constant state of turmoil, in part because of the large Loyalist population who wasn’t going to accept the new Republic without a fight. As someone with deep Bergen Co Loyalist roots I am always interested in any book on that locale, and given Todd’s reputation, one can safely assume it’s a winner.

If there is one succinct message in this book, especially for those less versed about the nature of the American Revolution it is how far that conflict was a Civil War. Perhaps the best example is the Ryerson-Ryerse name. In Canada we are very familiar with that surname and its Loyalist roots, so it may come as a surprise that Todd has selected a Ryerson on the Rebel side. Families were very much split during the Revolution, and nowhere more clearly than in NJ.

There are twenty-two chapters in the book and each one is devoted to a an individual or family involved in the War. Eleven chapters showcase Loyalists and the other eleven feature Rebels. Most of the names had representatives on both sides, but some examples include Blauvelt, Bogert, Demarest, Van Allen, Van Burkirk, Holmes and Banta. For each one Todd has provide the context and such information to help our understanding of the individual’s experiences. What follows is that individual speaking to us across the centuries via his or her War Losses Claims or Pension Applications. The formerr provide Loyalist info and are a familiar source to researchers of the Loyalists, and were generated soon after the War. The Pension applications apply to the Rebels, and date from the 1830s.

These NJ Loyalists by and large settled in the Maritimes, but occasionally there is a reference to Upper Canada, and as we know quite a number did move there too, slightly later.

In a biographical note, Todd is happy to state that he is an Honorary VP of the UELAC, and is clearly proud to be such, and he is the first American to be thus named. We’re happy too.

As for the book, of course I recommend it! For an expanded review, see next Spring’s Loyalist Gazette.

...Peter W. Johnson, UE

Asa Danforth, Jr.: Land Speculator or Pioneer Engineer

When we think today of the political issues and the corruption unfolding in the construction industry in Quebec at the moment, many of us yearn for the good old days when things were much better. Or were they?

At the same time that the loyalists had pretty much settled their original areas and were seeking new lands for the next generation, Simcoe sought a more rapidly growing population to hopefully prevent a future invasion and takeover by the Americans. In the midst of all this, infrastructure (roads for example) was poor at best, non-existent at worst.

Read about some of the trials and tribulations (PDF) that faced decision-makers as they tried to improve things in this article by Christine Smith, St Francis Xavier University student and employee at the UEL Heritage Centre in Adolphutown. Her father is Dave Smith UE, re-enactor in King's Royal Yorkers and Canadian Fencibles.

...Christine Smith

Loyalists and the War of 1812: Help Build A New UELAC List

A new list is underway and your help is needed to help populate it. A number of Loyalists who had participated in the American Revolution also took up arms again in the War of 1812. A greater number of sons, daughters and family members of Loyalists also joined the war effort. See the beginning of the collection at Loyalists and the War of 1812.

A few submissions have been received. If you have Loyalist ancestry, or know of other, that meets the criteria above, please contribute to this collection. Submissions of about 500 words would be great, but size within reason is not a big concern.

Thanks in advance for your help; submit articles to

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