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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-25: June 23, 2013


An Offer They Couldn't Refuse (Part I), by Stephen Davidson

When it comes to stories of the loyalist era, truth is stranger than fiction. The Second Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants is a prime example. This loyalist corps, which defended Nova Scotia from 1776 to 1783, was initially composed of Scottish emigrants. Leaving Fort William, Scotland in 1775, these settlers had planned on establishing homes in New York's Mohawk Valley. Instead, they were ordered to sail for Halifax where they were compelled to serve the crown for the balance of the war. It all began with a very large ship anchored off of Manhattan Island.

In the summer of 1775, the British made sure that the rebel colonists of New York City did not forget the power of the royal navy. They stationed the Asia, a 64-gun man-of-war, in the Hudson River. As well as blocking access to the colony's interior, the war ship could fire its cannon on New York at any time. It was a grim reminder of the power of the British Empire.

During the two years of its threatening presence, the Asia also provided sanctuary. Loyalists who were fleeing persecution in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York found refuge beneath its sails. Not everyone who boarded the ship was there to seek safety; some loyalists brought much needed intelligence on rebel troop movements.

By the fall of 1775, Captain George Vandeput, the Asia's commanding officer, received new orders. They had nothing to do with the treatment of loyalist allies or patriot enemies. Rather, Vandeput was now charged with stopping any and all vessels that were carrying emigrants to New York.

The British considered the recent skirmishes with rebels to be serious enough to start recruiting loyal colonists to fight for the crown, but not so serious as to stop the regular flow of emigrant ships bringing settlers to the British colonies. Colonel Allan MacLean, a veteran of the Seven Years War, proposed enlisting settlers from the Highlands to form a defensive regiment. In fact, he went so far as to suggest that emigrant ships should be stopped before delivering their passengers. With a little coercion, the male passengers would then be persuaded to "volunteer" to join MacLean's regiment. It sounded like a great plan on paper, and was approved by General Gage. However, the captain of the Asia had his doubts.

In early September of 1775, Vandeput boarded two emigrant ships that had just arrived in New York. The passengers were exhausted from their journey and their supplies had run out. They had no interest in colonial politics and only wanted to establish farms along New York's frontier. Much to the horror of the British recruiting officer, Vandeput let the emigrants go. It wasn't too long before Vice-Admiral Graves sent the Asia's captain a very firm letter.

Graves informed Vandeput that General Gage had ordered the raising of recruits "among the emigrants already arrived and from those expected from Great Britain and Ireland". The letter of September 24, 1775 continued. "You are also required to stop any ship which shall in future arrive." Vandeput was "to send such ship with as much despatch as possible to Boston without allowing any of the emigrants to land at New York".

Having his knuckles rapped; Vandeput would guarantee that the next emigrant ship that sailed into New York would be redirected to Boston where its passengers would be impressed into military service. In just over a week's time, 255 unsuspecting Highland passengers aboard the Glasgow were about to encounter the Asia.

Vandeput and his men boarded the emigrant ship and immediately "detained" the Glasgow and its passengers. James Fraser, one of the Highlanders aboard the emigrant ship described what happened next.

The emigrants were "impressed and taken as captives by His Majesty's Ship of War, Asia, then being in that harbour till such time as they would voluntarily engage themselves in one body, or otherwise be distributed into other corps".

One of the Asia's officers then compiled a list of the Glasgow's 74 men and boys who were eligible to serve the crown. After the ship was stocked with provisions, Vandeput sent it on to Boston on November 5, 1775.

Once they arrived at their new destination, Major John Small of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment (RHE) outlined the conditions of the emigrants' "volunteer" service. Individual men would be enlisted in the British army unless they decided to join as a group. If so, then they would all become part of the RHE --and their families would be provided with food until the regiment disbanded. "As soon as the present unnatural rebellion is suppressed," they would be given land in Nova Scotia – 200 acres per soldier and 50 acres for every family member. Failure to take the crown up on this offer would result in all of the emigrants being imprisoned to pay their debts. (Many of the Highlanders had borrowed money to pay for their sea voyage.) As the historian G. Murray Logan put it, "under these conditions, they volunteered to a man for the duration of the war".

After restocking the Glasgow with provisions, its captain set sail for Halifax, arriving on January 2, 1776. After a month-long transatlantic journey and three months of confinement on board the Glasgow, its 255 passengers could finally walk on solid ground again. As they awaited accommodations in barracks, the Scottish emigrants unloaded their worldly goods – enough, said Captain Alexander McDonald, to fill St. Paul's Anglican Church. After the families settled into their new quarters, the men and boys (eleven years and up) began their service in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Highland Emigrants Regiment. None knew at the time that it would take seven years to fulfil the promises of free land.

The story of the RHE will continue in next week's Loyalist Trails. (A tip of the hat to Cal Craig and Alastair Grant for their research into this regiment and for showing me that there was more to the story of the Asia.)

UEL Day 2013: Ceremony, Tradition and Gifts

The Gardiner Expressway in Toronto in all its crumbling state has taught us that even concrete needs maintenance. When UELAC President Bonnie Schepers quoted Carol Shields in her address at the United Empire Loyalist monument in Hamilton, she stated that "Ceremony is society's cement". It could also be stated that with the repetition of ceremony, tradition strengthens society and serves to bond our past, our present and builds a foundation for our future.

You will also read in the message from the Lt. Gov. of Ontario, David C. Onley (PDF), that we all have received a gift from the United Empire Loyalists "As UEL descendants, you should be proud of the formative role the Loyalists played in this province. But I would suggest that all Ontarians are actually heirs of the Loyalist legacy. The gifts the Loyalists gave us are still much valued today. People flock here from around the world, drawn by the civic structures the Loyalists helped to create. Rarely have the actions of so few contributed to the well being of so many."

This past week many UELAC branches across Canada faithfully maintained a tradition that began with the first Ontario UEL Day in 1998. Here are a few of the ceremonies that have been reported (PDF).


Granting of Lands to Loyalists: Fourth Document, by Ed Kipp

During my research, I have come across a number of files and documents relating to the granting of lands to Loyalists in the Province of Quebec (includes present day Quebec and Ontario).

The fourth one is titled “Rules and Regulations for the conduct of the Land Office Department – February 17, 1789”

Documents relating to the granting of lands to Loyalists in the Province of Quebec (includes present day Quebec and Ontario).

Transcriber: Edward Kipp, January 2011

Source: Library and Archives Canada

Rules and Regulations for the conduct of the Land Office Department. LAC mf C-14026. PP. 221A & B

Council Chambers, Quebec 17th February 1789

[These fifteen rules and regulations describe the makeup of the boards, the processing of petitions, preventing abuse, reporting, laying out and description of townships, surveying etc.]

...Ed Kipp

Book: James McMasters and Family, To Quinte and Beyond, by Brian Tackaberry

Published by GPSP, Burnstown, 1996. After a long absence from our shelves, a small stock of this fine history of the James McMasters family has been secured. Published in 1996, the book has been a treasure or those with an interest in this old and prominent Loyalist family and their descendants. Following the American Revolution, thousands of men, women and children abandoned their homes and families in the thirteen colonies and fled to territories still under the British flag. Brian Tackaberry has meticulously documented the lives of his extensive Loyalist family, tracing them from their ancestral home in Eastern Ontario, where many still live, to the far-flung corners of North America. Read more.

Green Thumb Promotes Loyalist Heritage

The Haywards recently hosted the Oakville Garden Tour. As Fred notes:

In the promotion piece and ticket that each paying guest had, I included the mention of the United Empire Loyalists.

Once an empty built up lot, the Hayward Gardens have grown and changed over 48 years reflecting the transitions of family life and the shared interests of its two gardeners, Fred and Margaret. While mixed perennial beds ensure visual interest year round, a concentration of daylilies and hosta flourish in areas of sun and shade. Combined with a variety of roses, both hybrid and shrub, the identity of many of the plants suggest a focus on Canadian heritage in general and the United Empire Loyalists in particular. A shaded flagstone path guides the visitor beyond the gate to a larger garden supplemented with more heuchera, iris, peonies, echinacea and of course more lilies and hosta. The elevated back deck overlooks a water feature partially shaded by cutleaf Japanese maple and yellow sumac. This area provides a vantage point from which to enjoy the garden view and a summer and a summer oasis for family and guests without leaving Oakville.

Dressed for the "heritage event", I wore my denim UELAC shirt, placed the Butler Branch miniature UEL flags in the two planters at the front and placed the car so the licence plate from the Little Forks Branch was visible to the visitors. Of course, flew the Union Flag. One of the volunteers who toured on Saturday said he knew he was on the right street when he saw the "early Jack" - he was from Cape Breton.

The one iris that attracted a lot of attention was the Loyalist iris which I had received from Catherine Tanser, Manitoba Branch and from the original nursery in British Columbia. The six Loyalist daylilies that I used for fund raising were also featured in the photo album that showed the garden through the seasons. We are still a couple of weeks away from the daylily blooming season. Several times I had the time to point out the differences between the Loyalist and the Patriot hosta.

Overall it was a good way to focus the sunlight on two strong interests that Margaret and I share -- our Loyalist heritage and our love of the garden.

Where in the World?

Where is Bicentennial Branch member Albert Schepers?

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 George Stephen Benjamin Jarvis – adapted from the book written by Ann Jarvis Boa – thanks to Bob Jarvis, UE.

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.

Battle of Plattsburg Commemoration: “Canadian Connections”

The Battle of Plattsburgh (War of 1812) Commemoration will be held 6-15 September 2013. Saturday 14 September will feature the mega-parade with over 100 units. The theme for 2013 is "Canadian Connections" and an invitation has been extended to Former Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Yesterday, 15 June, I had an opportunity to promote the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration at the annual meeting of the Sir John Johnson Branch of the United Empire Loyalists in Philipsburg, Quebec. Their Regional Vice President from the Col. Edward Jessup Branch in Brockville was the guest speaker. An interesting announcement was made. Due to regulation by the Canadian Government, membership requirements to organizatons has changed. No longer will there be associate or affiliate memberships. One general membership for any person who has an interest in the organization. The UELAC is an organization, similar to the Sons of the American Revolution, which has had a membership requirement to prove descent from an individual who participated in the Revolution. A request to promote membership was also announced.

I extended an invitation to attend the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration to the chapter and received a favorable response.

...Bill Glidden, Historian

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Aikens, Samuel – from Donna Little Barraclough of Vancouver Branch

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

Last Post

Last Post: Hereward Senior

Hereward Senior, Ph.D. passed away on June 21 at age 94 at the Montreal General Hospital after a brief stay. He was one of our UELAC Honorary Vice-Presidents and a longtime professor of history at McGill University.

After serving with distinction in the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders Regiment (part of the Third Canadian Division) and being twice wounded in World War II, Hereward went to McGill and ultimately received a doctoral degree in history, leading to a long career in university teaching, from which he retired only a few years ago. Even in retirement, he continued regular historical research and writing.

Dr. Senior was a celebrated historian, as was his late wife, Dr. Elinor Kyte Senior, and was a principal author of The Loyalists of Quebec. A Forgotten History. 1784-1825, (1984) and later of the teachers' resource book on the same subject. With Wallace Brown, he also co-authored Victorious in Defeat. The Loyalists in Canada (1984), as well as several works on British, Irish and Canadian history, notably regarding the Orange Order and the Fenians. Hereward (affectionately known as "Wake" to his many friends) participated frequently in the events of Heritage Branch and will be sorely missed. The nicknane "Wake" was probably a reference to Hereward the Wake, 1035-1072, a Saxon warrior who led resistance against William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

For more information, read Prof. Hereward Senior, UE (PDF).

Funeral arrangements are with Lahaie & Sullivan Funeral Homes, 20 Seventh Street West in Cornwall where friends and relatives will be welcomed Wednesday evening 26 June.

The funeral service will take place at 11:30 AM Thursday June 27 at Trinity Anglican Church, 105 Second Street West, Cornwall.

...Robert Wilkins, UE, Heritage Branch

Last Post: Ivan Earl Warner, UE, CD, Sgt (Ret.) RCD

Born 6 March 1932, passed away at the Embassy West Hospice on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at the age of 81 years. Husband of June (nee Ambler). Loving father of Bonnie Heather McConnell (Jim) and Regan Ivan (Sandy Irvin). Grandfather of Jordan and Michaela McConnell and Rowan and Isla Warner. Brother of Jack "John" (Christy) and Maurice (Bing). Predeceased by his parents Milton and Verna Warner and by his siblings Sterling, Hilton, Merritt, Leara, Florence, Clare and Marion. Special thanks to all the healthcare professionals who have lovingly cared and supported our family for the past 11 years.

Joined St. Lawrence Branch UELAC in 1982, with ancestor Benjamin Baker of Osnabruck. Brother Jack is a Past President of the St. Lawrence Branch

A Lion's Club service (Saturday at 6:30 p.m.), a Legion Service (Sunday at 1:30 p.m.) and a Masonic Service (Sunday at 6:30 p.m.) Funeral Service will be held in the Garden Chapel of Tubman Funeral Homes on Monday June 24 at 11 a.m. Interment Christ Church Anglican Cemetery, Ashton. In lieu of flowers donations to Christ Church, Ashton would be appreciated. Condolences, tributes or donations may be made at (The Ottawa Citizen, 22 June 2013)

...Lynne Cook UE, St. Lawrence Branch

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