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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-38: September 22, 2013


The Loyalist Place Names of Nova Scotia: Part Two, by Stephen Davidson

Everything from dangerous shoals to rural rivers received names from the loyalist refugees who found sanctuary in Nova Scotia during and following the American Revolution. Some namesakes were military leaders; others were loyalist homesteaders. As in every era, local politicians had their own ideas of what places should be named. Nova Scotia has its share of communities named in honour of influential men – either out of respect for them or in the hope of currying future favours from them. And some of these men would have been among the very last people whom the loyalist refugees would have honoured. Sydney and Shelburne both fall within this category.

Both Australia's Sydney in New South Wales and Cape Breton's Sydney have the origins of their names in the loyalist era. So many loyalists settled on Cape Breton Island that, like New Brunswick, it was partitioned from Nova Scotia as its own colony in 1784. The new governor, Joseph DesBarres, established his capital in what had once been called Spanish River by the French and Ulsebook by the Mi'kmaq tribes. Since it was Thomas Townshend, the 1st Viscount Sydney, who appointed DesBarres, it is no surprise that the capital was named Sydney.

The viscount held a number of positions within the British government, including home secretary and foreign secretary. Ironically, though Sydney did much to help the loyalist refugees in Cape Breton and Canada, he had opposed Britain's involvement in the American Revolution. The loyalist refugees of Cape Breton would hardly have shared his perspective. (Cornwall, Ontario's Sydney Street is also named in his honour.)

Once the largest city in British North America, Shelburne was also named for a government official. William Petty, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, was the British prime minister when the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the American Revolution in 1783. In fact, he only assumed the office on the condition that King George III would recognize the United States as an independent country. This would hardly make him a favourite among American loyalists. And it would only get worse. Later, when the loyalists saw the terms of the Treaty of Paris, they were horrified by the fact that the British government had done nothing to address their concerns (or their loss of property) in the treaty negotiations. Many would later feel bitterly betrayed by Shelburne and his government.

Naming the former Port Roseway (a corruption of the French "razoir") in honour of the British prime minister had not been suggested by any of the city's refugee population. It was Nova Scotia's Governor Parr who announced the renaming when he visited Shelburne on July 11, 1783. Tradition has it that the town's flag pole, flying the empire's colours, fell to the ground when Parr made his announcement. Perhaps it was an omen of the disappointments and decline yet to come. Sixteen years later, the loyalist settlement's county was named Shelburne as well.

Even offshore features could have their names bear witness to loyalist history – such as Yarmouth County's Blonde Rock. Rather than being the namesake of a local beauty or a mermaid, this rock recalls the shipwreck of the HMS Blonde on May 10, 1782. The British warship had just captured the Lyon, an American privateer, and was towing it back to Halifax; the Lyon's 65 crewmembers were in the Blonde's brig. While trying to navigate in the fog, the Blonde struck a rocky islet. The crew and prisoners escaped the wreck in rowboats and made it to Seal Island.

Days later, the Lively and the Scammell, two rebel privateers, anchored off the island in search of water and found the castaways. These rebels were so impressed by how well Captain Thornbrough had treated his prisoners that they agreed to put his crew ashore near Yarmouth in exchange for the Lyon's crew. Rather than keeping Thornbrough a prisoner of war, the privateer captains took him to New York and released him without conditions. In the years following this incident, many other ships foundered on Blonde Rock.

One loyalist town in Nova Scotia had the distinction of being named for a "lord of the bedchamber", a man who was an artist as well as a politician. Heneage Finch, the fourth Earl of Aylesford, assisted King George III with dressing, served him his meals, guarded the "water closet" and provided the monarch with companionship. Rather than being a menial job, the lord of the bedchamber was a title that members of the British nobility eagerly desired to have.

Finch filled this position from 1777 to 1783; he would have been privy to many a conversation about the course of the American Revolution. In his final year of service, the fourth Earl of Aylesford was appointed to the Privy Council, the king's inner circle of advisors. It may be because Finch held this important office that the loyalists who settled in Kings County decided to name their community Aylesford. Finch was also a famous landscape painter. Today Britain's Tate Gallery has 50 of Aylesford's prints, drawings and watercolours in its collection.

At least one man who was a royal appointment had suffered many of the same deprivations as the loyalist settlers of Nova Scotia. Despite his popularity, John Wentworth, the last royal governor of New Hampshire, could not withstand the animosity that the colonists felt toward British taxes. In 1775, the Wentworth family became refugees.

The former governor eventually secured a position as Nova Scotia's surveyor general; by 1792, he was appointed the colony's new governor. (Whether this can be attributed to his talents as an administrator or to his wife's talents as a mistress to Prince William remains a point of argument among scholars.)

As can be seen with places named for Governor Wentworth, the Scottish tradition of thrift prevailed during the loyalist settlement of Nova Scotia. Why waste a good name by only using it once when it could be used in so many ways?

Today, visitors to Nova Scotia can tour the Wentworth Valley in Cumberland County, drive through Wentworth Station, Wentworth Centre and Wentworth, travel to Wentworth Creek in Cape Breton or canoe in one of three Wentworth Lakes found in Clare, Shelburne and Queens County. Never let it me said that loyalists were unappreciative or anything but frugal!

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

Ten Fateful Hits and Misses: Leading From the Front

Military leaders since Alexander the Great have often preferred to command their battle formations from the most forward ranks. “Leading from the front,” as the practice is often known, puts officers in outstanding positions to observe the action and inspire their soldiers. It also puts them in excellent positions to end up dead. Many officers on both sides led from the front during the American Revolution and the act cost some of them their lives or at least gave them some very close shaves. Following, via the Journal of the American Revolution, are 10 instances when great Revolutionary War leaders put themselves in harm's way, and the results often affected the course of the war.

Comment About “Reconciliation”

George Hill contributed “Reconciliation: Salem Witches, Revolutionary War and More,” as reported in last week's issue. From a reader:

I read your article in Loyalist Trails this morning and thought you might be interested in the fruits of my research about the loyalists who served under Burgoyne. Here's an entry from my book, "The British Campaign of 1777, Volume Two: The Burgoyne Expedition – Burgoyne's Native and Loyalist Auxiliaries." (link to the publisher)

William Irish served in LCol John Peters's Queen's Loyal Rangers.

Pte William Irish. Personal: Carpenter/joiner.(S66) Property confiscated by VT, 1778.(S51) Resettled Tinmouth, VT.(S66) Particulars: On QLR list of men who served in 1777.(T56) French's Coy, entered 15Jul.(P35) Reported on 14Dec80 as having been captured while on scouting party.(T65) Imprisoned seven months; took family to Kinderhook.(S66) The VT Council allowed William Irish to pass to Tinmouth, 17Nov77 and on 11Apr78, he was allowed to take his family to Spencertown, but he was required to return home by a set time.(T100) [no further records found]

Some interpretation – William entered Captain Jeremiah French's Company on 15Jul77. He was very likely at the Battle of Bennington (Walloomscoick), but was one of the few who escaped from there only to be taken later while on a scout. That latter fact was reported on a QLR return dated Dec 14, 1780.

His place of resettlement was found in this source – S66 Palmer, Gregory. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Meckler Book, 1984.

The information about the Vermont Council from this source – T100 Records of the Council of Safety and Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, to which are prefixed the records of the General Conventions from July 1775 to December 1777. Walton, E.P., ed. Three Volumes (Montpelier: Steam Press of J. & J.M. Poland, 1873)

...Gavin K Watt, H/VP UELAC

Response from George Hill

Thank you ever so much for summarizing the information in your book about William Irish. It adds much to what I have already discovered, but it fills in many blank spots. I plan to order the CD. I hope to draw upon it for my next book, which includes biographical sketches of all of my father's ancestors.

It is amazing but sad that the previous accounts of the Irish family include much information, but only by chance, buried in a footnote, was there any indication that any of them were Loyalists. That comment about William's brother being shot by Isaac Clark "although his character was without reproach" puzzled me, and led to my discovery of the sad story of the Irish brothers and their father, and their divided loyalties during the War of 1775-1783. Some were patriots; some were loyalists. I studied the history of Kinderhook, N.Y., at that time and learned that it was fiercely divided. The cannons captured at Ticonderoga came through Kinderhook on the way to Boston in March 1776, under the protection of the rebels, but eventually the Loyalists were driven out and as you saw, William Irish later resettled in northern Vermont. History is written by the winners, and the story of the Irish family was lost. I appreciate your recovery of it.

...George Hill

Plattsburgh NY and the Canadian Connection

In 2008, when the President UELAC was unable to accept the invitation to participate in the Commemoration of the Battle of Plattsburgh, Okill Stuart, UELAC President 1994-96, agreed to represent the Association. Ever since, with additional support from Heritage Branch and Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch, Okill has continued to provide a respected presence, both Canadian and military, at the September festivities. This year, Okill and his wife, Sylvia, were honoured with the positions of Grand Marshalls. Their picture on the cover (PDF) of the event programme has visible Canadian content from the flags to the UELAC Past President Medal proudly worn by Okill. While the personal information in the biographies provided failed to mention the UELAC, readers can briefly see why their presence is so appreciated by the organizing committee. Next year Plattsburgh will celebrate the 200th anniversary of this War of 1812 battle. Okill is hopeful that many fellow members of UELAC will join him in showing "The Canadian Connection."


UELAC Annual Conferences

The annual UELAC conferences, held in late May or more often early June are noted on the conferences page. Toronto Branch is hosting the next one – a special celebration of the centennial of the incorporation of UELAC itself.

The subsequent conference in 2015 will be hosted by Victoria Branch. For those planning a little further ahead, the dates are May 28 - 31, 2015. They have now posted a preliminary itinerary (PDF) for the event.

Ontario Licence Plates with UELAC Members Badge Design

The production of the Ontario Licence Plates with UELAC Members Badge design moved forward on more step this week when Ben Thornton received a sample for confirmation. The distribution date is in November so there is still time to place your order if you have not done so. Click here for the order form and directions on where to send your order. Help celebrate the UELAC Centenary throughout Ontario and beyond.


Where in the World?

Where is Bob 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.

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 Johannes (John) Froats thanks to Jon M. Fox (his 3rd-great-grandson).

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.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Gordon Douglas Smithson, UE

(May 27, 1933 - September 11, 2013) Gord passed away peacefully surrounded by the love of his family, on September 11, 2013 at St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital. He was 80 years old and had a very active life. Husband of Mary Smithson (nee Forsythe) of 16 years, father of Karen Dundass, Kingston, Judith Markward (Chip), South Lake Tahoe, CA, Sandra Fioole (Ron), Gananoque, and Cynthia Hocking (Tom), North York; and step-father of Katherine Varty (Paul), Amherstview and Connie Godfrey (Earl), Bath; and Bruce Dundass.

Predeceased by his first wife E. Jean Findlay of 37 years; sisters, Lenore Wallace (Gordon, deceased) and Katherine Hogan (Robert); brothers, John (Marie), and Donald (Willie). Survived by sister Joan Woodger (Ted, deceased), Richmond Hill, and sister Yvonne Davis (Keith), Miller Lake, and many grandchildren.

Gordon Douglas Smithson was born in Simcoe, Ontario, third son of the late Cecil Smithson and Florence Dedrick whose Loyalist ancestor was Lucas Dedrick, a member of Roger's Rangers at Niagara. At 18, Gordon was employed by Canadian National Telegraphs in Toronto, then Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto, Hamilton, and finally a 1969 transfer to Kingston, prior to his 1988 retirement.

With a keen interest in local genealogy and history, Gordon joined OGS Kingston Chapter, Kingston Historical Society, and was founding President of the Pittsburgh Historical Society. He was an active member of the Kingston Area Antique Association's Inverary Homesteader Days, and Upper Canada Region ACCC car club. He authored and produced a number of local history books including - At The Bend in the Road - Kingston GTR-CNR; Cataraqui Village; Bath Road - Kingston West ; and co-authored, designed, and produced Williamsville Revisited . As a volunteer producer at Cablenet 13 (COGECO) Community Programming, 1992-1996, he received a special award for his 1995 production, Within View of Anglin Bay . JAMES REID FUNERAL HOME, Kingston. Service was Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm. Interment Cataraqui Cemetery. (Kingston Whig Standard)

Last Post: Rose DeVere Worrell (née Lovelace), UE

DeVere entered this world on the 18 September 1920 at her parent's farm on the 9th concession of Medonte and peacefully crossed over on the 15 September 2013 at her home in Coldwater. Wife of Henry Worrell Jr. (predeceased). Mother of Gayle Gunby (Ken), Leonard (Denise), David, and Kevin (Janice). Step mother of Diane Wilson (predeceased). Grandmother of many. Sister of Val Cruikshank, Patsy Coleshaw, Garry Lovelace, and John Lovelace, and Sylvia Lye (Ken) both predeceased. Sister-in-law of Minnie Lovelace, Fred Cruikshank, Bill Coleshaw, and Barbara Lovelace.

DeVere was very proud of her time with the C.W.A.C. during WWII and served overseas. She was an avid gardener, quilter, ham radio operator VE3 AJN, and homemaker.

A celebration of DeVere's life will be held at Coldwater Legion on Sat Sept 28th at 2pm. COLDWATER FUNERAL HOME condolences at (Orillia Packet & Times)

...Lynne Cook, UE


Response re Research in Bertie Township

In response to this query, I would like to express my thanks to those who responded. I was trying to prove that my ancestor Hannah Sypes Jr. was the daughter of Hannah Sypes Sr. UE (Mrs. Edward Stooks) and Jacob Sypes. I received the details of a 1792 Fort Erie Township land grant that explicitly states that Hannah Jr.'s father was Jacob Sypes. Another went through the Ridgeway Library to find the original Crown land grant document in a file at the Fort Erie Historical Museum. Above and beyond my basic request came other documents relating to siblings of Hannah Jr., which provided very helpful historical context.

...Will Mullins

Findley Murdock

m looking for information about my great, great, great grandfather Findley Murdock, born April 14, 1750. The challenge is I don't know where he was born or who his parents were. What I know thus far is that he came to Nova Scotia from North Carolina after the American Revolution, where he fought for the Loyalists as part of the 84th Regiment. This has become a quite interesting search since the North Carolina connection emerged, because my husband's Scottish ancestors also settled in North Carolina in a similar time frame. Small world, even centuries ago. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

...Judy Buchan

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