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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-21: May 26, 2013


The Black Loyalists of Brindley Town (2 of 2), by Stephen Davidson

In 1784 Brindley Town, Nova Scotia was the colony's second largest Black Loyalist settlement. Most of its 200 settlers had been members of the Black Pioneers, a company that served the British army throughout the American Revolution.

As these Black Loyalists prepared to be evacuated from New York City in 1783, their names and circumstances were recorded in a unque ledger known as the Book of Negroes. Mandated by Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander-in-chief, this ledger was created to note which Africans had been set free by the crown and which were considered the property of white loyalists. Because it listed peoples' ages, physical condition, and colonies of origin, the Book of Negroes has become an invaluable source of information about the Black Loyalists.

Fifteen different ships made 20 ocean voyages to bring Black Loyalists to the Annnapolis Basin of Nova Scotia. Some settlers found work near the ancient port of Annapolis Royal, others stayed in Digby, and at least 76 families founded the community of Brindley Town. The Book of Negroes, compiled as Black Loyalists boarded their evacuation ships, offers brief glimpses into the lives of those who settled in the communities around the Annapolis Basin.

Although those who had been in the Black Pioneers had not been allowed to fight as soldiers, its members had nevertheless been scarred by the revolution's violence. Forty year-old Molly, enslaved in Virginia, came to Nova Scotia "incurably lame of left arm". Thomas Tucker, a man of the same age, from Rhode Island was "blind of an eye". Two years older, Sarah was "stone blind". Thirty-year old Prince had a wooden leg when he fled slavery in Philadelphia. Phillister, a young man from James River, Virginia found a way to serve in the Black Pioneers even though he had been mute all of his life.

While one cannot help but admire the determination exhibited by these physically handicapped settlers; the faith in the future held by senior Black Loyalists is almost beyond imagining. Ben Elliot had run away from his master in Savannah, Georgia when he was 67 and served the crown for two years. George White, originally from the West Indies, was 63; six passengers were each 60 years old when they left the United States. Frances Herbert, a 65 year-old West Indian woman, also served with the Black Pioneers. Adam Way, the former slave of a rebel general, was eighty years old (!) when he sailed for Nova Scotia.

The majority of the Black Loyalists who settled in and around Brindley Town were young. A census taken in the summer of 1784 showed that there were 51 married couples and 51 children in the African population. This is more than the number of couples recorded in the Book of Negroes in 1783, indicating that love and courtship could blossom in even the most difficult days of founding a pioneer settlement.

Three couples give us a snapshot of this demographic. James (24) and Peggy Jackson (22) were married when they boarded the Clinton in 1783. The couple from Virginia had three children, ages 8, 5, and four months. John (30) and Jenny Francis (36) of Newark, New Jersey also travelled with three children, ages 5, 4, and 18 months. Henry and Phillis Mitchel had been enslaved by the same master in Charleston, South Carolina. They came to Nova Scotia with a six month-old baby.

There were also single mothers among the Black Loyalists. Tamar Stewart (26) had 3 children in her care as did Peggy Richards (33) and Nancy (28) of Norfolk, Virginia. Nancy Johnson brought 15 month-old Andrew with her, Phebe Randall had Thomas (3), Sarah Stephens nursed a 3 month-old son while Jane Halliday carried 18 month-old Peter on board the Clinton. Phillis Halstead had escaped her master in East Chester County three years before giving birth to her daughter Peggy "within the British lines". And this is just a sampling. One cannot help but wonder how these women and their children made ends meet while trying to survive in a wilderness community.

The youth of the Black Loyalist settlers of the Annapolis Basin is readily illustrated by the number of teenagers. Forty-five of the emancipated slaves heading for Nova Scotia were between the ages of 13 and 19; all of them were orphans. Betsey Holmes, one of the 18 year-olds was already the mother of a three year-old and a one year-old. Charles Ferrel, a 13 year-old, was described as "a fine boy" although he was blind in one eye. Nineteen year-old Kassey Aitken escaped from slavery when he was only 12 years old and had served the British ever since. While one cannot help but wonder how these teenagers fended for themselves, at least their fate was better than that of nine other adolescents. Five 15 year-olds, one 17 year-old, and three 19 year-olds who sailed for Nova Scotia were considered the property of white loyalists.

Some of those who settled in Brindley Town had been enslaved on the same plantation before the revolution. Their stories of escape, service to the crown, and their sailing to Nova Scotia would be amazing—but, sadly, they are unrecorded. Edward, Valentine, and Bristol Godfrey were all once considered the property of Matthew Godfrey of Norfolk, Virginia. They were just 3 of the 46 people who had once been enslaved in Norfolk County who later found themselves in Nova Scotia. Another sixteen Black Loyalists had been enslaved on various plantations in Nansemond, Virginia. This common background could have provided links of personal experience and connections, helping to create a community of free Africans.

The operative words are "could have". Poorly treated by the Nova Scotia government, the Black Loyalists of Brindley Town decided to join their leader, Thomas Peters, in an amazing second chance at a life of freedom. An abolitionist society in Britain wanted to create an African colony with free, Christian men and women who had once been slaves in the thirteen rebellious colonies. This society would pay for the passage and provisions of all suitable candidates. It was the opportunity for justice that the disbanded Black Pioneers and their friends had long awaited.

In the fall of 1791, three quarters of the Black Loyalists of Brindley Town left the Annapolis Basin, joining about 1,100 other free Africans in Halifax. In January of 1792, fifteen ships set sail for Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Brindley Town, once the second largest settlement of Black Loyalists, was reduced to a quarter of its former size. Now known as Acaciaville, it is one stop on the Destination Liberty trail, a series of historic travel destinations selected by the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Nova Scotia.

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

Granting of Lands to Loyalists: Second Instructions, by Ed Kipp

During my research, I have come across a number of files relating to the granting of lands to Loyalists in the Province of Quebec (includes present day Quebec and Ontario). I am in the process of transcribing these and posting to my blog. Readers of Loyalist Trails may be interested in these.

The second one: By the August 7, 1783 additional instruction, the granting of land was extended to Commissioned Officers willing to settle in the Province of Quebec and their family members.

Read Second instructions to governors for Quebec, Lower Canada and Upper Canada

MG40 B8: Instructions to governors for Quebec, Lower Canada and Upper Canada.

LAC mf H-2952. File 2 and File 4. PP 80-83.

...Ed Kipp

Walter Butler House Leads to Documents of Loyalists

During the investigation of a house out side of Fonda, NY, two articles were found that are loosely related. It was, at first, assumed that Lt. John Butler, a soldier in the British army and son of Walter Butler, owned the house in Fonda. Walter was a soldier in the British army in the 1740's and was stationed in the Mohawk valley region of New York State. He built the house, and previous research had mistakenly assigned subsequent ownership of the house to John after Walter's death in 1763. We now know based on Walter's will, that the house was left to the daughters of Walter's other son, Thomas. Thomas was killed by the Indians at Canada Creek in the general vicinity of this house.

With the knowledge that the house was owned by Walter, and then by Thomas's daughters, my neighbor (Marianne Miles) and myself began to explore the history of this house. During this search, two articles were uncovered that will explain why certain individuals with British loyalties were forced to flee to Canada.

The first document we uncovered (in the NYS archives, and whose source is cited in the article) was the Law of Attainder passed in October 1779. This law convicted in absentia, 59 individuals who were then declared enemies of the state. Among its provisions, was the confiscation of real and personal property, criminal penalties, and unlike European laws, added the corruption of blood to expand the penalties to family members and friends.

Also during our research into the house, we found that Christopher P. Yates was John Butler's Lawyer. Mr. Yates attempted through legal processes, to recover John Butler's property or receive payment for damages. Yates attempted this first through the state, and later with the British Government. During the search, Marianne Miles located and examined many documents held by Yates that were subsequently made part of the "Christopher P. Yates Collection" at Syracuse University. The citation for this source is noted in the article. Yates is credited with escorting approximately 70 British Loyalists to Isle Aux North, near Montreal. This was done in 1780, as the state encouraged those deemed dangerous to the cause to leave the colonies. They were given 21 days to put their affairs in order and to remove themselves to Canada or British controlled areas.

Mr. Yates hand copied the 'order of eviction', and listed those individuals he escorted out of the area.

It is believed that by reading the two articles mentioned, a deeper understanding of a little know part of the American Revolutionary War is possible. The list of names of those affected in 1779 and 1780 are documented, and an understanding of how some families migrated to Canada may be made clearer.

[The two articles have been combined into a single PDF document: read it here.]

As a side note, John Butler's family was held captive after the two acts were enforced. Around the same time, the Butler Rangers, with Indian allies, caused a massacre to be committed in Cherry Valley NY. Among those taken captive by this action, my Campbell ancestors were taken prisoner. The Campbell's were subsequently swapped under a negotiated truce. This truce exchanged the Campbell's for John Butler's family.

...Rick Porter, Finger Lakes House Histories

The March of the Scopholites: Southern Campaign

There is an interesting article for Loyalist descendants from South Carolina by Robert Scott Davis of Wallace State College, entitled “The March of the Scopholites” and subtitled “Failure and the King's Cause on the Southern Revolutionary War Frontier.”

It provides background, context, and information about the “Scopholites”; British East Florida; the Florida Scout; Loyalists March to East Florida (1778); Birth of the South Carolina Royalists Regiment; To Join the British at Augusta (1779); South Carolina Royal Volunteers and the North Carolina Royal Volunteers.

...Ray Blakeney

Presidential Peregrinations: Chilliwack and Thompson-Okanagan Branches

The Pacific Region Mini-Conference was hosted by the Chilliwack Branch on 4 May at the Aboriginal Gathering Place, University of the Fraser Valley. Shirley Dargatz and Marlene Dance organized a great event at which Carl Stymiest, Linda Nygard and Marlene dance helped present 27 UE certificates.

At the O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon, members of Thompson-Okanagan Branch participated in a meeting and shared stories.

Read many more details with photos (PDF) of this visit with branches and members of the Pacific Region.

...Bob McBride

Where in the World?

Where is Malcolm Newman?

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.

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 a new entry for Abraham Bowman, UE, Son of Jacob Bowman, UE thanks to John Haynes. We have also expanded the entry for Billy “The Scout” Green, thanks to Paul Bingle.

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 Obituary of Sarah Tolan

(From the Simcoe Reformer, Dec. 15, 1927:)

Another link with the pioneer days of Norfolk County was severed with the passing of the late Mrs. Sarah Tolan of St. William's, at Walsh, in her 95th year. Mrs. Tolan was a granddaughter of captain Jonathan Williams, a prominent U.E. Loyalist who was from Wales, but was living on Long Island in the New England States when the Revolutionary War broke out. Serving throughout that war on the side of the British, Captain Williams, as a U.E. Loyalist came to Norfolk about the year 1798. Among the important positions he filled in those early days was that of surety for Col. Joseph Ryerson, when the doughty warrior was appointed treasurer of the old London District in 1802. And in 1804 he was appointed coroner for the district.

During the War of 1812-14, after burning the village of Dover, the Americans proceeded westwards about two miles to the Williams homestead (which is now owned by Mr. Robert Whitside), where they burned Captain Williams fine, large two-story log house. Charles Williams, the father of the late Mrs. Tolan, was the sixth son in the Williams family and he narrowly escaped death during the burning of the house. Another son was the famous Lieut. Col. Titus Williams, who took such a prominent part under Brock in the War of 1812-14.

Mrs. Tolan's mother's maiden name was Ann Higgins, who emigrated from Fermanaugh, Ireland, to Norfolk, 110 years ago. Her passage over occupied no less than 3 months on a slow sailing vessel. After her arrival in this country she made he home with the once well known Anglican rector, th Rev. Francis Evans, until her marriage to Charles Williams, and here at the home a short distance west of Dover, the subject of this sketch was born. Mrs. Tolan was twice married. Her first husband was Lysander Teeple, a son of one of the member sof the first Court of the old London District. They had a family of four children, Chas. Raglan, Mobra Ann, Captola Margret, and Henry Lysander. By her second marriage to John Tolan, she had two children, Ingeretha Ann, and John A. MacDonald, the latter now long deceased.

Almost all of Mrs. Tolan's long life after her marriage was spent in St. Williams, where her cheerful smile, many acts of kindness and ready help, endeared her to all with whom she came in contact. She never seemed too tired or unwell to go and nurse the sick, and on many a dark and stormy night she was to be seen with her lantern and basket trudging off upon some errand pof mercy.

Although a great reader the deceased lady never wore glasses. "I never read silly novels", she once remarked to the writer, "but I do love to read and study history". And she certainly well versed in Canadian history, as well as that of other countries. Her uncle, Miles Higgins, was one of te engineers in charge of building the plank road between Hamilton and Port Dover, and Mrs. Tolan remembered quite clearly "the driving of the last spike in 1841", and of a drive in a lumber wagon over the new road to Hullsville and return, in celebration of the road "as level as concrete highways of today". One of Mrs. Tolan's prized possessions was a walnut and cherry sewing stand that her grandfather Williams brought from wales. This stand, which is now 160 years old, was one of the few articles saved from the burning home of Captain Williams.

War of 1812 Education – The Battle of Beaver Dams: Uncommon Courage on DVD

The Beaver Dams DVD and curriculum unit is ready to go! Initial copies are being distributed to schools in four different area school boards for use in classes in June. On June 22, the film will premiere at Thorold Ontario as part of the town's Commemorative weekend (June 22-24) of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Beaver Dams.

Visit Thorold on that weekend, see the final version of the film and take in the many excellent events planned. The DVD will be available to all interested parties, but there may be a nominal fee for the package, the money going to help establish a scholarship in the name of Alun Hughes a respected and inspirational member of the Thorold bicentennial Committee who passed away in May. Alun was a well known historian in the Niagara area and added immeasurably to the historical content of our film.

Copies of the DVD will also be available after the big weekend, free of charge. Coming soon will be a website where you can download a copy of the DVD/Curriculum/Research Notes.

A play, The Whirlwind, will premiere at Thorold June 22-23 as part of the festivities. It will be performed at the Hamilton Fringe Festival between July 19 and 27.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • What did soldiers eat during the Revolutionary War? Some details including an approved ration list for the rebel army, from the National Museum of American History.
  • A traitor amongst the ranks: a snapshot look at Joseph Willcocks, leader of the Canadian Volunteers, by Earl Plato
  • Today in 1813: Winfield Scott participates in capture of Fort George, Niagara, during the War of 1812.
  • Halifax on Sunday June 2, St. Paul's Church and The Old Burying Ground Foundation special parade and commemorative service to remember the action on June 1 1813 between HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake - details here

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Caldwell, William – additional information from Marvin Recker

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact for instructions and guidance.


Copy of Vols. 1-3 of Our Loyalist Ancestors

The Library of the Sir Guy Carleton Branch would like to acquire the first three volumes of Our Loyalist Ancestors, produced by the St. Lawrence Branch, UELAC, around 1985. We have volume 4 only. As these are no longer available for sale I am willing to pay copying and mailing costs if a Branch or UELAC member has the first 3 volumes and would copy them for us. Would anyone who is willing to do this please contact me.

...Dorothy Meyerhof, Librarian, Sir Guy Carleton Branch, UELAC

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