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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-07: February 17, 2013


Thank you Stephen for 300 Articles

Ages ago Stephen Davidson's first article appeared in Loyalist Trails. The contribution for this issue is his 300th. I have learned a great deal, easily, in a fascinating way, about the Loyalist era from his many perspectives and subjects. Learn a little more about Stephen in this written version (not a transcript) of the interview that I did with Stephen, or listen to it on Youtube (13 minutes). The audio recording has been embellished by a series of slides - a few photos of Stephen included. Thanks to Bonnie, Fred, Albert, and of course Stephen for this special thanks to Stephen.


Reconstructing the Life of a Loyalist's Servant – by Stephen Davidson

For over 200 years, his name and circumstances were lost to history. Was he a slave or a paid servant? Did he manage to survive his first year as a refugee? Reconstructing the life of the first servant to arrive in New Brunswick with the loyalists would require data from three different sources. Only after they were cross-referenced in the early years of the 21st century did the story of a forgotten man emerge, the story of a loyalist's servant.

On April 11, 1783, loyalists who had sought refuge on Long Island gathered up their belongings and prepared to board an evacuation ship bound for Nova Scotia. The Union took on 209 refugee passengers over the next five days. Its manifest duly noted that two of the passengers were servants of Fyler and Polly Dibblee.

The term "servant" might lead one to think that the two unidentified passengers were employees of the Dibblees, but the term was also used as a euphemism for "slaves". Since loyalists left the United States of America with 15,000 of their slaves, Dibblee's servants could easily have been enslaved Africans.

As evacuation ships gathered in New York harbour in the spring of 1783, the British were busy with more than preparing transportation for their loyal colonial subjects. They also had to deal with American patriot claims that they were taking African slaves away with them. The rebels did not want the ships that were carrying loyalists to England, Quebec, the West Indies, and Nova Scotia to be sailing off with Africans that they regarded as American property.

The treaty ending the revolution had guaranteed that slaves would be returned to their patriot owners. However, Sir Guy Carleton felt honour-bound to keep British promises of freedom made to any slaves who had sided with the crown. The commander-in-chief ordered that a ledger should be compiled listing the names and circumstances of all of the African passengers taken aboard loyalist evacuation ships. Then, he reasoned, any patriot who thought that his slaves had been illegally removed from the country could refer to the ledger and seek redress. The Book of Negroes, as the ledger was titled, also recorded the names of Africans who had served the British and who had a Birch certificate (an official document granting emancipation). The ledger of names thus also became a record of Black Loyalists who need never worry about being returned to American slave owners.

Officials made two copies of The Book of Negroes; one was stored in the United States and one kept in archives in Britain. It wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that Canadian scholars were able to access the ledger's data through microfilmed copies. For the first time, if one knew the ship upon which a slave or Black Loyalist had departed New York City, the names of its African passengers could be discovered.

And so the mystery of the Dibblees' servants was revealed.

In the first volume of The Book of Negroes, the names of the two servants listed on the manifest of the Union were waiting to be found: Tom Hyde and Sukey, a young girl. Hyde (misspelled as HIDE in the ledger) was a 27 year-old man from Fairfield, Connecticut. He had been enslaved by John Hyde, but escaped within British lines where he served the crown. Since Long Island was held by the British and is a short trip by sea from Fairfield, it seems reasonable to assume that Hyde found freedom after crossing Long Island Sound. The Dibblee family had earlier sought refuge on Long Island, and this no doubt provided the opportunity for Hyde to meet (and be hired by) Fyler Dibblee.

The Book of Negroes contains one very brief sentence describing Hyde's fellow servant. Sukey was only 9 years-old when she boarded the Union with the Dibblees and their six children. She is described as being freeborn, of mixed parentage, and an indentured servant. In exchange for service to the Dibblees for a set period of time (typically seven years), Sukey would be given food, clothing and shelter. Since the youngest Dibblee child was only four years old, Sukey was probably responsible for babysitting, waiting on Polly Dibblee, and doing housework.

When the Union docked in New York City, the British gave Hyde a Birch certificate in recognition of his five years of loyal service. He was a free man who took advantage of the Dibblees' offer of employment, not a slave they had purchased.

The Dibblees settled in Parrtown, Nova Scotia (Saint John, New Brunswick). At first, Fyler's legal skills were in high demand, but by the winter of 1783-84, the loyalist lawyer was deep in debt. On May 6, 1784, overcome by despair, Fyler committed suicide. He had not been buried a month when fire devastated Parrtown and burned the Dibblee home to the ground. By the time Fyler's widow was granted land upriver near Kingston, there are no further references to their hired man, Tom Hyde, or their indentured servant, Sukey. Given Polly Dibblee's poverty, Hyde was no doubt let go. Sukey disappears from historical records at this point, but the reconstruction of Tom Hyde's life would continue, thanks to land petitions held in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. (These have only just become available online in the last few years.)

In 1785, twelve free Africans petitioned the newly minted government of New Brunswick for land near the loyalist town of Kingston. Among those names was that of Tom Hyde. Forbidden by Saint John's charter to work or live within the city limits, these Black Loyalists were desperate to earn their living by farming. In the petition, Hyde and his companions pointed to the fact that "we have the most of us got large families and {are} destitute of the necessaries of life almost and soon like to be worse without immediate assistance as we are able and willing and desire nothing else but to get our bread by the sweat of our brow".

From the documents of the era, it seems that Tom Hyde and his eleven companions were granted their land. African settlements along this stretch of the St. John River are noted in a number of sources.

Hyde and the others had been on their land for only five years when they learned of a remarkable opportunity. The British government announced that it was creating a colony for emancipated slaves in Sierra Leone. News spread throughout black settlements in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Given the poor treatment they received at the hands of colonial officials, Black Loyalists quickly signed on for the promise of better lives in Sierra Leone.

Unfortunately, there is no record that contains all of the names of the Black Loyalists who sailed for west Africa in January 1792. A search of the names that were recorded does not contain Tom Hyde or any of his companions. A New Brunswick baptismal record for 1793 does, however, contain the name of the daughter of one of Hyde's fellow petitioners. Did the group of twelve Black Loyalists remain together or did some of them leave New Brunswick? At present, available records do not answer these questions.

The reconstruction of Tom Hyde's life, though brief, is far more extensive than what can be done for any of the 3,000 free blacks who came to the Maritimes or the 15,000 enslaved Africans who were part of the loyalist evacuation. Because of what was contained in a ship's manifest, The Book of Negroes, and New Brunswick land petitions, Tom Hyde emerges as a young man fleeing 22 years of slavery in Connecticut, a British supporter for 5 years, and an employee of a loyalist refugee. He endured the first harsh winter in Parrtown, survived a fire that devastated most of the settlement, and eventually allied with other Black Loyalists to acquire land. He either ended his days in New Brunswick or Sierra Leone.

There is one final fact about Tom Hyde that is worthy of note.

Given that the Union was the flagship of the first fleet to bring loyalists to New Brunswick in 1783, it was not merely transporting a lawyer's servant. By virture of being on this particular evacuation vessel, Tom Hyde became the very first Black Loyalist to arrive in New Brunswick -- a distinction that was only recognized in the 21st century.

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

Brock's Monument: More

Thanks for the interesting Loyalist Trails article by Jean Rae Baxter on the Brock Monument and the Laura Secord House. The symbolic significance of the monument was indeed the reason for its 1840 destruction by Benjamin Lett. Lett was born in Ireland in 1818 – his parents were Irish (loyalists, not rebels) – and the family immigrated to Upper Canada in 1819. Lett was not, however, "a Fenian sympathize" - there were no Fenians until 1857. Instead he was a sympathizer, indeed a friend, of William Lyon Mackenzie. The damaging of the Brock Monument should be seen as the last act of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion. Readers who may wish to know more about Lett are referred to my article "Benjamin Lett Rebel Terrorist" in The Beaver (now Canada's History) October-November 2002.

...Chris Raible

The Hungry Year Experiences

Two items referencing The Hungry Year: Janet Kellough's Blog Post

There is a very interesting petition from the Grimsby settlers - in 1789 - to John Graves Simcoe - they apparently prevously petitioned for help in the or "a" Year of Great Want. and then found out in 1789, that they were unable to repay and pleaded to be able to respond to claims for re-payment "by paid for in the same kind as borrowed or in wheat, flour or other produce"

It reads:–

"To His Excellency John Graves Simcoe, Esq.. Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over His Majesty's Province of Upper Canada.

The Petition of some of the inhabitants of Townships 5, 6, 7, 8, in the County of Lincoln and Home District.

Humbly sheweth:– That in the year 1789 your petitioners were in the greatest distress for provisions for themselves and family, and that by the great benevolence and charity of the Hon. Col. Hunter, the Commandant in the Garrison at Niagara, a loan of a quantity of pork, peas and rice was obtained and as yet stands unpaid, and stands charged to your Petitioners at an advanced price and the money demanded and hard to be obtained.

Therefore your Petitioners most humbly pray that the said provisions may be paid for in the same kind as borrowed or in flour, wheat or other produce and that at a more moderate price than was charged when lent, and yours in duty boundwill ever pray.

Signed by–

John Smith.Cooper           Charles Pettit, Saltfleet

John Beamer           John Biggar

Levi Lewis, Jr           John Moore

Benjamin Wilcox           Alan Nixon

John Lewis           David Palmer

Andrew Pettit           Joseph Wilcox

Jacob Glover           Levi Lewis Sr.

John Pettit           Silas Smith, Saltfleet

John C. Pettit, Saltfleet           Joseph Chambers

Jonathan Moore           Isaac Chambers

Lawrence Lawrason           Samuel Hammill

Gershom Carpenter, Saltfleet           John Smith

I wonder if there were more than one "Year of Great Hunger" or whether this referred to the same year as was mentioned in the February 10, 2013 edition of Loyalist Trails - and the settlers were having such a devastating time over a 3 year period that they could not re-pay, as Col. Hunter required the to do ?

...Judy Nuttall, UE

[Source is from Annals of the Forty, Volume 1, p.12, and previously accessed by the from (Public Archives of Canada, Series C. Column 619). Compiled by R. Janet Powell.]

Referring to the Year of Great Want in 1787, Dennis Moore wrote in a letter to the Hamilton Times in 1850:

"When my Grandfather came to Canada he brought with him a slave and when he died they buried him at the foot of the Mountain, opposite tyhe Grimsby Campground. In those early days of the settlers of Upper Canada land was of little value. One of my Uncles sold his U.E.L. Rights for a pine cupboard and an aunt sold hers for a cotton dress.

Soon after the settlers came to this country they ahd a year of great want and many of them nearly starved to death for want of food. My Grandfather brought with him several horses , some of which died from hardshipand part of their carcasses were hung up and dried and used for food.

Individuals went through the woods and gathered the bones of beasts which had died and made soup of them, while others made broth from hickory chips. These are the facts which I often heard my father tell. I give you the foregoing statement as a list of history that many may not have ever known before. I remain, dear Sir, yours truly,

...Dennis Moore"

Dennis Moore's Grandfather was John Moore, U.E.L. and his father was Peirce Moore, who was born in 1781 and died in 1831 having fought in the War of 1812 and had become Capt. Peirce Moore. His grave is at St. Andrews Churchyard in Grimsby. The grave of Dennis Moore is to be located at Hamilton Cemetery beside that of the family of his (Dennis Moore's) benefactor, Edward Jackson.

The letter is quoted in an article with the title "The History of the Moore Family of Grimsby" by Langsford Robinson, a son of Dennis Moore's daughter, Lydia Ann Emeline (Moore) Robinson.

...Judy (Robinson) Nuttall, U.E.

The Red Jacket

The Red Jacket of Loyalist Andres Ten Eyck: It is a national treasure and should be held in the National Archives in Ottawa, or at least in UELAC archives somewhere." I would respectfully point out that the jacket is an artifact and not a document, so if deposited it should be to a museum, not an archives. The Canadian War Museum is a potential home for it. General Brock's War of 1812 scarlet tunic is in their collection already.

...Colin MacGregor Stevens, CD, Richmond, BC

Special Sale of Loyalist Reference Books: Loyalist Lineages II

Toronto Branch is pleased to offer to UEL Branches and Members (and readers of Loyalist Trails) the two volume sets of Loyalists' Lineages II at a truly phenomenal price.

These sets are well made, hard-bound, durable, and printed on acid-free paper. They are an excellent gift of quality, and a valuable research tool. More details can be viewed on the Toronto Branch website under publications.

This is your opportunity to obtain sets at a most exceptional price. The terms of the special offer:

- set orders only

- taxes as applicable and shipping charges are extra and not included

- price: one set = $62.50 (3 or more sets $31.25/set)

- to order, contact Toronto Branch (Tel: 416-489-1783; Fax: 416-489-3664; Email:

...F. E. Cass, UE; Chair, Publications Committee, Toronto Branch, UELAC

Where in the World?

Where is Kawartha Branch member Grietje McBride?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

Government Marker Programme to Honour War of 1812 Veterans, Part 2

The response to this article in the 3 February edition was amazing. We heard from interested descendants of the War of 1812 veterans from as far away as Saskatchewan and Florida. All were interested in the outcome of the programme but none were ready to provide the leadership that was requested at the outset.

However, John Bell of the 1812 Commemoration Fund, Department of Canadian Heritage did provide some great news this week. The Historic Military Establishment Of Upper Canada has agreed to undertake the graveside recognition project. According to the Department of Canadian Heritage, the project description is as follows:

To honour the graves of War of 1812 veterans, HMEUC will establish a national programme whereby communities can apply to receive a replica of the Upper Canada Preserved medal to affix on the grave marker as well as a plaque to put in the cemetery. The medals are replicas of ones that were produced after the War but never presented to veterans. A website will be developed that will identify the gravesites across Canada and feature biographies of the veterans. The HMEUC is applying for support to purchase the medals and plaques as well as to establish and maintain the website. The goal of the HMEUC is to distribute 1000 medals and 100 plaques across Canada.

Lyn Downer, a member of Bulger's Company of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment has passed on more immediate information. The HMEUC is presently preparing the website so that it will be a one stop shop in effect. It will hold all the information regarding how to apply for a plaque, and also the database of the biographies of the veterans of the war. Once the website is up and running it will not only allow people to see the project in terms of what is required, but they will also be able to access the forms and information necessary to submit the veteran's biography and apply for a plaque. HMEUC has registered the name, and hopefully will be ready to go within the next month or so.

Mr. Downer is very pleased that the project is making good progress. He feels that "the veterans of the War of 1812, their service and their post war efforts to build the nation have been close to 'my' heart 'my' whole life. Finally, after 200 years, we will be taking the first step on a long overdue journey to thank the founders of the nation."

Mr. Downer reports that he himself has died valiantly at Stoney Creek many times over the years. Perhaps you will see him die once more at the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Stoney Creek during the UELAC Conference.

What can the readers of Loyalist Trails do until the HMEUC website is up and running? They can develop the biography of the 1812 veteran, including where the veteran is buried, and submit it to the UELAC Webmaster . If the veteran is to be honoured by this programme, it is imperative to know the burial site. More information will be released when it is provided.

...Fred H Hayward

A Loyalist Connection to the War of 1812 Vet Grave Marker WebSites

A number of volunteers are working on at least two websites in support of this Gravemarker program for the War of 1812 veterans. One of those people is a son of our Dominion Genealogist, Libby Hancocks. He notes: "we're all volunteers and don't work 24/7... although it seems like it these days." The two websites are still under construction – more information when they are available.

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added new entries for the Shavers of Ancaster, thanks to Peter Allan Shaver, UE, of Smithville, Ontario.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

The War of 1812: February 1813 Actions


From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Charles Moore, grandson of Bartholomew London, UE

Charles Moore of Saltfleet, Ontario, b. abt. 1781 in New Jersey (grandson of Bartholomew London, UE), participated in the War of 1812 in some positive but mysterious capacity. In his petition of 3 Dec 1817 he stated:

"...your petitioner has taken the oath of allegiance, and refers to the annexed certificate for his conduct during the late War, therefore your petitioner for himself and on the behalf of his Sister humbly prays Your Honor in Council may be pleased to grant them respectively such portion of the lands located in the name of his Father the Said Enoch Moore, as to Your Honor may seem fit, on the payment of the usual fees."

(Upper Canada Land Petitions, bundle M11, no. 241; National Archives of Canada microfilm C-2199)

Unfortunately, the 'annexed certificate' is too faint to read, and my query to Library and Archives Canada has not yielded an original (or better) copy.

If anyone can shed more light on Charles Moore, your help would be most appreciated.

...Taylor Roberts

John Spear (Spiers)

John Spears (Spiers, Speers) is listed in the Loyalist Directory: John Spear (Spiers). John was born in Georgia, resettled in St John , NB, died there in 1820 aged 73

He is also listed in Loyalists of the 3rd Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers aboard the ship "Esther" River Saint John, Fall 1783 as SPEAR(S) John Cpl.

The reference book Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution by Lorenzo Sabine in 1864 contains: “324 Spiers, John. Went to St. John, New Brunswick, at the peace, and was a grantee of that city. He died there in 1820, aged seventy-three. There was a Loyalist of this name in Georgia who was attainted, and whose estate was confiscated.”

I believe his wife's name may have been Maria, who died in St John New Brunswick in 1823. His daughter Mary Rebecca Spears (born c 1774 USA died Petersville New Brunswick 1861) married John Golder (also a Loyalist).

Any information on the Spears or Golder familys and theire descendants would be gratefully appreciated.

...Susan Hill

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