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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2015 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2015-47: November 22, 2015


The Quaker Connection: Prologue

© Stephen Davidson, UE

It was Friday, July 8, 1785. Zephaniah Kingsley waited outside the commissioners' chambers in London for a decision that would affect the rest of his life. A year and a half earlier, he had submitted a claim for compensation from the British government for the losses that he had sustained during the American Revolution. Five witnesses had spoken on his behalf. Kingsley had also presented the deeds for the property that had rebels had seized. How could the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists possibly refuse Kingsley's claim?

A few factors in the loyalist's case might work against him. He had not taken up arms against the rebels. Perhaps even more damning was Kingsley's refusal to take an oath as to the truthfulness of his testimony. Instead, he affirmed that what he said was true. All of these factors stemmed from the fact that Zephaniah Kingsley was a Quaker – a member of the Religious Society of Friends. Would the British government recognize a Quaker as a true loyalist?

It is a question that historians have argued over the centuries since the War of Independence. Gerald Dirks, who does not recognize any American loyalists as legitimate refugees, believes that Quakers, Mennonites and other religious nonconformists were the only American colonists whose flight to British North America was due to persecution.

Other historians see the Quakers as sanctuary-seekers along with the loyalist refugees, but they do not consider them to have had any particular loyalty to a united British Empire. Therefore, they were not truly "loyalist" in their political persuasions. The thinking behind this position is that since the Quakers were pacifists, they had not aligned themselves with either patriots or loyalists.

In the end, however, the final resolution to the question of whether Quakers were legitimate loyalists is to be found in the facts of history, not academic arguments. Let us consider the facts.

The Quakers were a dissenting Protestant denomination that came into being in England in the mid-1600s. With the Bible as their only guide, Quakers (or Friends) tried to live simply and purely. Among their beliefs were their opposition to slavery, abstinence from alcohol, refusal to fight in war, plain dress, and a refusal to swear oaths.

Persecuted in Europe and the New England colonies, the Quakers founded the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1681. Philadelphia – literally, "the city of brotherly love"—became the colonial capital and the home to a number of Quaker meetinghouses that for the next century would promote peace and justice for all.

But a belief in pacifism did not mean that one was politically neutral; it simply meant that one would not kill for one's country. Like any other Christian denomination, Quakers had varying opinions within their membership. Being an American member of the Church of England, for example, did not guarantee that one would remain loyal to the crown – even though one prayed for the king each Sunday morning. If one were Anglican, one would tend to be loyal. If one were a Quaker, one would tend to be a pacifist. The circumstances of the American Revolution and the temperaments of individual Quakers divided the Friends as much as those in the other denominations.

An obvious example is the group of Quakers in Philadelphia who rejected pacifism to support the rebel cause. Within the Religious Society of Free Quakers that formed in 1781 were such notable patriots as Betsy Ross (famous for her flag work) and Owen Biddle who raised a company of Quaker volunteers to fight for the patriots.

The rebels were quite happy to have Quakers join their cause. What about the British? How did the empire define a loyalist? Although one category included those "had borne arms against the revolution", the British government also had five other classifications that defined a loyalist. Those who had changed allegiance during the war, those who lived in the United Kingdom during the conflict, and those who "rendered services to Great Britain" were also considered loyalists. So even a pacifist Quaker could – according to the British parliament – be considered a loyalist.

It was possible for a Quaker to be granted status as a loyalist by the British parliament, but did it ever happen?

Zephaniah Kingsley thought it could. Hearing that other American colonists had received compensation for their loyalty to the crown, he went before the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists in February of 1784 to plead his case.

Affirming (not swearing) that all his testimony was true, the Quaker told the RCLSAL of how he had done "everything in his power to oppose the rebellion" after settling in Charleston, South Carolina fourteen years earlier. Rebels persecuted Kingsley and put him in jail three times despite the fact that they knew "the principles of his religion excluded him from bearing arms". Although rebels forced him to oversee the enslaved Africans of Charleston, Kingsley nevertheless showed his true colours as soon as the British took control of the city in 1780. When funds were collected to raise a "corps of horse" to support the British army, Kingsley donated over £100.

The men who testified on the Quaker merchant's behalf swore to the fact that he was "uniformly loyal" and how Kingsley had "been a very great sufferer by his loyalty". Dr Alexander Garden recalled how the Quaker had been "very kind to the loyalist prisoners {in Charleston}" and that "his conduct made him very obnoxious" to the South Carolina rebels. These testimonies to Kingsley's "services to Great Britain" are the same as were made for thousands of Americans who were granted compensation by the crown. Would his religious faith prevent him from being awarded money for his losses?

After waiting a year for the royal commissioners to make their decision, the Quaker finally received their decision. It read as follows "Decision: The board is of the opinion that Mr Zephaniah Kingsley is a Zealous Loyalist". A Quaker could, indeed, be a loyalist. – and verified as such by the crown.

Although Kingsley did not take up arms for the crown, there were other Quakers who defied their basic beliefs and fought as loyalists during the American Revolution. Loyalist Quaker women suffered attack and terror as did other female loyalists. Some Quakers, like their fellow colonists, came to the aid of Black Loyalists. Others spied for the British crown, providing data that could have changed the outcome of the revolution. The story of these Quaker connections will be told over the next four weeks in Loyalist Trails.

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

Loyalist Fires – A Nova Scotia Tale: Thomas Cutler

By Dorothy Meyerhoff, about an ancestor

Thomas Cutler, lawyer, loyalist and legislator, made a lasting impression on the Town of Guysborough, NS. Born 11 November 1752 in Lexington, MA, he was educated at Yale College, New Haven, CT and trained as a lawyer in Hatfield, MA. His family had deep roots in Massachusetts, having lived there for more than a century when the Revolutionary War broke out. He joined British forces at Boston, serving first as a Captain in the Volunteers of New England, then as Assistant Barracks Master in New York, and finally as an Ensign in the Orange Rangers. He had the distinction of being proscribed by the Massachusetts Banishment Act of 1778 for his support of the British. Along with his wife Elizabeth Goldsbury he was evacuated to Nova Scotia in late 1783 as part of the refugee group known as the Associated Departments of the Army and Navy. (1, 2)

As reward for his loyalty to the British Crown, he received more than 1000 acres of land in what was then Sydney County, NS in various grants (3, 4). Among these was 52 acres of land on the west side of Milford Haven, known as Smith's Point and later as The Belmont, where he resided in a log house for the rest of his life. Thomas Cutler received this land in several, separate transactions. In 1786 he petitioned for the 40 acres nearest the point and was granted a license to occupy the land that had been set aside as a government reserve, but was not granted title to it (5). In 1803 he was granted a narrow strip of land in the middle of the Belmont consisting of 12 acres (6). It was not until 1813 that he was finally granted full title to the first 40 acres (7).

Thomas Cutler's legal training stood him in good stead in his new home. He was at various times a farmer, merchant, customs officer, lawyer, Justice of the Peace, Post Master, Town Clerk, judge of probate for Sydney County, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Sydney County Militia, vice-president of the Guysborough and Manchester Farmer's Society and head of the "Cutler Family Compact". For many years he held a special license to conduct marriages. In 1793 he was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for Sydney County where he held a seat for two sessions. He was dubbed "King Cutler" by the local residents and it has been said of him, "if anything took place in [Guysborough] county in which King Cutler was not interested, and in some way involved, one may be sure it was of very minor importance." (8, 9)

Thomas Cutler's arrival in Guysborough was entirely due to fire. He had left New York with a mixed military group known as the Associated Departments of the Army and Navy under Captain Molleson. This group of refugees was first settled in Nova Scotia at a rocky, inhospitable place known as Port Mouton in September 1783. They managed to build themselves crude log cabins as shelter for their first winter, but a fire in the spring of 1784 destroyed their primitive homes and all of their belongings including, it is said, their money. Following the fire Capt. Molleson arranged for those who wished to be relocated to the present location of the Town of Guysborough (10, 11).


1. Judith Tulloch, "Cutler, Thomas", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online : accessed 01/ 2011).

2. Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: May 1763-July 1778, Vol. III (New Haven, CT: Henry Holt and Company, 1903), p. 411.

3. Nathan Hubbill et. al. crown grant, 1785, RG 20, Series "A", Vol. 12 - 14, microfilm 15690, NSARM.

4. Thomas Cutler, Robert M. Cutler and John Hyde crown grant, 4 October 1813, Book D, Page 47, Provincial Crown Lands Records Centre, Halifax, NS.

5. Thomas Cutler petition, 4 April 1786, RG 20, Series "A", Vol. 12 - 14, microfilm 15691, NSARM.

6. Titus Sudington et. al. crown grant, 4 July 1803, Book 20, p.113, Provincial Crown Lands Records Centre, Halifax, NS.

7. Thomas Cutler, Robert M. Cutler and John Hyde crown grant, 4 October 1813.

8. Judith Tulloch, "Cutler, Thomas", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

9. A. C. Jost, Guysborough Sketches and Essays, 1950 (Guysborough, NS: Guysborough Historical Society, 2000), p. 144.

10. A. C. Jost, Guysborough Sketches and Essays, p. 139.

11. Marie M. Woodworth, The Early History of Port Mouton, 1983, V/F, v. 241, #13, NSARM.

Regulations Concerning Fire in Adolphustown, Upper Canada 1792

At a Town Meeting held 6th of March, 1792, the following persons were chosen to officiate in their respective offices the ensuing year, and the regulations for the same:

Ruben Bedell, Town Clerk; Joseph Allison, Garrot Benson, Constables; Paul HUff, Philip Dorland, Overseers of the Poor; Willet Casey, Paul Huff, John Huyck, Pound Masters.

Dimentions of Hogs Yoaks, 18 inches by 24. Height of Fence, 4 ft. 8 in. Fence Viewers, Abraham Maybe and Peter Ruttan. Water voted to be no fence. No pigs to run till three months old, No stallion to run. Any person putting fire to any brush or stubble that does not endeavor to hinder it from doing damage, shall forfeit the sum of Forty Shillings.

Recorded by Phillip Dorland T.C.

Published in the Record of Town Meetings held in Adolphustown 1792 - 1849.

...Submitted by Carolyn Strong, in Oregon

Borealia: The Quebec Invasion as Religious Encounter, by Patrick Lacroix

Before Thomas Paine's Common Sense could inflame the spirit of American colonists, the Quebec Act marked a decisive turn in the coming of the Revolution. The restoration of the Roman Catholic Church in the Province of Quebec to its prior standing aroused fears that had dissipated following the surrender of New France. The willingness of Tory interests in London to accommodate "popish superstition" threatened, in the view of many eighteenth-century Americans, to lock the heavy arm of political "tyranny" with that of religious "despotism" in the Thirteen Colonies as much as in Quebec. What happened to this rhetoric of anti-Catholicism, however, when American soldiers actually encountered Canadians in their homes and at worship?

Read the post.

JAR: William Whitlow's Wife: Did he Love Her Too Much?

By Don N. Hagist, November 10, 2015 in Journal of the American Revolution

William Whitlow loved his wife, and she loved him. Others knew it too; fellow soldiers in the 44th Regiment of Foot, in which Whitlow was a private soldier, said that "there was not a happier Couple in the Regiment." By September of 1779 they had a child together, and all must have seemed right in their world even though they were far from their English home, engaged in a war against rebelling North American colonies.

Whitlow was well known in the regiment, having been a part of it for at least fourteen years. Some veterans in the 44th had known him since he was a child, over twenty years, suggesting that he was the son of another soldier. In addition to his duties as a musket-carrying private soldier, Whitlow played an instrument in the regiment's band of music. Many British regiments had bands during this era, in addition to the drummers and fifers that were part of every regiment. Read on.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • Opening Celebration of the Paul Holland Knowlton House. – Many Loyalists came to celebrate this opening on Sept 15 and to offer their support. Keynote speakers included Anne Redish, vice-president of the UELAC. The Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch of the UELAC donated a traditional Loyalist Flag as a gift to be flown forever on the museum grounds. It was ceremoniously raised by our President and Gerald Thomas while the audience applauded the gesture. We are doing our best to protect the artifacts related to the Loyalist families in our area and to promote understanding of their heritage. This building will allow the Brome County Historical Society to showcase the history of the remarkable Knowlton family as well as its many Loyalist artifacts donated by other families of our area. Our future visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy this house and learn about life as it was in the days of the United Empire Loyalists. Read in full.

Fall 2015 Issue of the Loyalist Gazette

The envelope for the mailing for the fall Gazette was approved on Thursday morning, Nov 19 and the copies of the Gazette were probably mailed the same day. If you are a member, or subscriber to it, you may receive it within the week, or so.

...The Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where is Calgary Branch member Suzanne Davidson?

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.

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:

  • Campbell, Alexander [3] - from Stephen Davidson
  • Doty, Rev. John - from Stephen Davidson

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

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