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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2017 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2017-36: September 3, 2017


The First Loyalist Grand Jury

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In less than a year after Loyalist refugees settled in Parrtown, a woman killed her abusive husband by stabbing him in the head with a kitchen fork. Immediately, the wheels of justice began to turn. A grand jury of 19 members was selected in October of 1784 to examine the validity of the charges against the accused wife to determine if a trial was warranted. This was the first grand jury in Canada's legal history to be comprised of Loyalists. Deserving of a more detailed study, here is a very brief overview of the jurors who considered the evidence of Parrtown's first murder.

The grand jury was a mosaic of Loyalists from the rebelling colonies. Richard Lightfoot, a refugee from Pennsylvania, became a merchant after finding sanctuary in Parrtown. John Hazen was in his late twenties when he fled Massachusetts Bay, eventually settling in Burton. John Boggs had been a British immigrant who fled North Carolina for the safety of New York where he was a mason with the British forces. He became both a magistrate and a tailor in Queens County.

John Smith had been a New Jersey farmer who assisted the Hessian troops. After being freed from a rebel prison, Smith and his family found sanctuary in New York where he became an acquaintance of William Franklin, the loyalist governor of New Jersey, and Chief Justice George Ludlow.

Oliver Arnold, a Connecticut native and Yale alumnus, had been a member of the Volunteers of New England during the revolution. After serving on the grand jury, he became an Anglican minister to the Native people living in Sussex Vale.

Francis DeVeber was part of a refugee family who would one day have a silver mug bearing their coat-of-arms donated to the New Brunswick Museum. Caleb Howe had served the crown as a lieutenant in the Queen's Rangers. He died in Norton in 1810.

Henry Thomas and his wife Abigail were natives of New York. Henry had been in command of the 3rd Company of Royalists; he later became a magistrate in Queens County. John Ryan established a newspaper after arriving in Parrtown. He eventually moved to Newfoundland, becoming the printer of the Royal Gazette.

Captain William Harding had fought for the crown in New York's Ulster County. In addition to being wounded, this loyal Irish immigrant had suffered imprisonment in chains for three weeks. In September of 1781, Harding was the subject of a news item in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. While commanding 11 loyalist soldiers, Harding "made an excursion" into New Jersey where they "surprised and made prisoners" of six rebels, and seized 15 head of cattle. Despite being followed for twenty miles by rebels "three times their number", Harding's men safely returned to Fort DeLancey.

After serving as a leader of evacuees to Annapolis Royal in the fall of 1782, Harding resettled in Saint John where he eventually established a tannery. He and his wife Leah became charter members of the loyalist city's first Baptist church in 1810.

Thomas Mallard and his wife Ann became innkeepers after finding sanctuary in New Brunswick. Richard Bonsall was a Loyalist of Welsh descent who operated a tavern with his wife Mary in Parrtown.

Captain John Colville was one of the middle-aged jurors. He died at 71 in 1808; his wife Rachel died at 83 in 1823. James Ketchum had been a tax collector in Norwalk, Connecticut, declaring his loyalty in 1777. He cut wood on Long Island until sailing north in the first spring fleet. Isaac Bell was a trader from Stamford, Connecticut who later served the crown as a pilot. Rebels once tried him for his life for passing on intelligence to the British.

These all-too-brief sketches of Loyalist lives account for fifteen of the grand jury's members. John Camp, a Connecticut merchant who died in Saint John in 1795, was simply described as being "a gentleman". Of John Kirk, we only know that this New York farmer's wife died three years after the couple settled in the colony. For Daniel Melville and Luke D. Thornton, no further biographical information could be found.

Convened in early October of 1784, the 19 Loyalist jurors heard the evidence of three of the accused murderer's neighbours. They had to "answer to such questions which shall be then asked ... by the Supreme Court". Along with the findings of the coroner's jury, there was sufficient evidence for the grand jury to issue an indictment, charging Nancy Mosley with the murder of her husband. Having done their civic duty, the province's first grand jury returned to their everyday responsibilities.

In February of 1785, a "petit jury" of twelve men found Mrs. Mosley guilty of murder. However, instead of being hanged, the judge sentenced Mosley to be branded on the "brawn of the thumb" of her left hand in open court. After being branded with the letter M for manslayer, Mosley was discharged – her life spared.

Justice – according to the principles of the Loyalist era – had been served, thanks in no small part to the work of New Brunswick's first grand jury.

Editor's note: Curious about Saint John's first murder trial? Check out “CSI: Loyalist Edition” (March 27, 2011) and “Law and Order: Loyalist Edition” (April 3, 2011).

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

The Penobscot Expedition, Summer 1779

The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval task force mounted during the Revolutionary War by the Provincial Congress of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The flotilla of 19 warships and 25 smaller support vessels sailed from Boston on July 19, 1779 for the upper Penobscot Bay in the District of Maine carrying a ground expeditionary force of more than 1,000 colonial Marines and militiamen. Also included was a 100-man artillery detachment under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. The Expedition's goal was to reclaim control of what is now mid-coast Maine from the British who had seized it a month earlier and renamed it New Ireland. It was the largest American naval expedition of the war. The fighting took place both on land and at sea in and around the mouth of the Penobscot and Bagaduce Rivers at what is today Castine, Maine over a period of three weeks in July and August of 1779. One of its greatest victories of the war for the British, the Expedition was also the United States' worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later in 1941.

On June 17 of that year, British Army forces under the command of General Francis McLean landed and began to establish a series of fortifications centered on Fort George, on the Majabigwaduce Peninsula in the upper Penobscot Bay, with the goals of establishing a military presence on that part of the coast and establishing the colony of New Ireland. In response, the Province of Massachusetts, with some support from the Continental Congress, raised an expedition to drive the British out.

The Americans landed troops in late July and attempted to establish a siege of Fort George in a series of actions that were seriously hampered by disagreements over control of the expedition between land forces commander Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and the expedition's overall commander, Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, who was later dismissed from the Navy for ineptness and failure to effectively prosecute the mission. For almost three weeks General McLean held off the assault until a British relief fleet under the command of Sir George Collier arrived from New York on August 13, driving the American fleet to total self-destruction up the Penobscot River. The survivors of the American expedition were forced to make an overland journey back to more populated parts of Massachusetts with minimal food and armament.

Read more.

Dudley Saltonstall, American Naval Commander at Penobscot

Dudley Saltonstall (1738--1796) was an American naval commander during the American Revolutionary War. He is best known as the commander of the naval forces of the 1779 Penobscot Expedition.

Read more.

Francis McLean, British Army Commander at Penobscot

Francis McLean (c.1717 -- 4 May 1781) was a British army officer, one of two sons of Captain William Maclean and Anne Kinloch. He became famous for defending New Ireland (Maine) against the Penobscot Expedition during the American Revolution. The defeat of the Expedition was a noted British victory of the American Revolution. He was in command of the 74th Regiment of (Highland) Foot and 82nd Regiment of Foot (1778). He died 4 May 1781 at Halifax, Nova Scotia and is buried in the crypt of St. Paul's Church (Halifax). McLean never married.

Read more.

JAR: Did Benedict Arnold's fleet plunder an American settlement?

by Ennis Duling, August 29, 2017

As the sun set, Saturday, August 24, 1776, three American schooners, a sloop-of-war, and six gondolas sailed north from Crown Point toward the widest part of Lake Champlain. Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold aboard the schooner Royal Savage had been ordered by Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates to position his fleet at a narrows on the lake and to be defensive and cautious. But Gates wrote that if he was confronted by the enemy, "you will act with such cool determined Valour, as will give them Reason to repent their Temerity."

That evening the fleet sailed only four miles, drew together in line of battle, and dropped anchor in four fathoms of water. On Sunday morning, they were under sail soon after sunrise and by 10 o'clock were beyond Buttonmould Bay (today's Button Bay) on the eastern side of the lake, a dozen miles from Crown Point. Throughout the day, thirty-two-year-old Lt. Bayze Wells of the gondola Providence sounded the lake and recorded the fathoms. North of Split Rock, the three-quarter mile-wide gateway to the broad lake, he found no bottom after lowering all 240-feet of line.

On the night of August 25-26, the fleet anchored at the mouth of the Boquet River off Willsborough (today's Willsboro, New York) on the western side of the lake where it is three-and-a-half miles wide. During the Revolution, the area was most often referred to as "Gilliland's" after wealthy landowner William Gilliland. The settlement boasted twenty-eight houses, forty other building, two grist mills, and two saw mills, and prosperous farms and orchards.

In his early forties at the start of the war, Gilliland was the wealthiest and most influential man on northern Lake Champlain. Born in County Armagh in today's Northern Ireland, Gilliland made his fortune as a New York merchant and then became a pioneer and landed gentleman with tenants, slaves, and more than 50,000 acres in today's Clinton and Essex counties. He was man with a temper, given to flowery writing, wounded pride, and exaggeration, but he was generous and good company---and from the start of the war, he was a supporter of the American cause.

Read more.

Ben Franklin's World: George Goodwin: Benjamin Franklin in London

Over the course of his long life, Benjamin Franklin traveled to and lived in London on two different occasions. The first time he went as a teenager. The second, as a man and colonial agent. All told he spent nearly 18 years living in the heart of the British Empire.

How did Franklin's experiences in London shape his opportunities and view of the world?

George Goodwin, author of Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America's Founding Father, leads us on an exploration of Franklin's life in London.

During our investigation, George reveals the story behind how Benjamin Franklin became a printer; Details about Franklin's various stays in London; And how Franklin came to embrace the politics of the American Revolution.

Listen to the podcast.

James Forten, African-American Abolitionist and Businessman

James (September 2, 1766 -- March 4, 1842) was an African-American abolitionist and wealthy businessman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born free in the city, he became a sailmaker after the American Revolutionary War. Following an apprenticeship, he became the foreman and bought the sail loft when his boss retired. Based on equipment he himself had developed, he established a highly profitable business. It was located on the busy waterfront of the Delaware River, in an area now called Penn's Landing.

At the age of 14, during the Revolutionary War, Forten served on the privateer Royal Louis, commanded by Captain Stephen Decatur, Sr. The Royal Louis was captured by the British, and Forten was at risk of being made a slave. Royal Navy Captain John Beazley, who had captured the privateer, was impressed with Forten, and saw to it that he was treated as a prisoner of war.

The prisoners were all transported to the English prison ship HMS Jersey, then moored in Wallabout Bay, later the site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This was one of several ships used as prisons, where a total of about 11,000 persons died during the war. The British also held Continental Army soldiers on the ship, which had extremely harsh conditions. Thousands of men were crammed below decks where there was no natural light or fresh air, and few provisions for the sick and hungry. Prisoners were brutally treated, but most died due to poor sanitation and disease. As many as eight corpses a day were buried from the HMS Jersey, before the British surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

Forten was fortunate as he was exchanged after seven months' imprisonment, and released on parole and his promise not to fight in the war. He walked from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to return to his mother and sister. He signed up on a merchant ship, which sailed to England. He lived and worked there for more than a year in a London shipyard.

When James Forten returned to Philadelphia in 1786, he became apprenticed to sail-maker Robert Bridges, his father's former employer and a family friend. Forten learned quickly in the sail loft. This was where the large ship sails were cut and sewn. Before long, the young man was promoted to foreman.

Forten used his wealth and social standing to work for civil rights for African Americans in both the city and nationwide. Beginning in 1817, he opposed the colonization movements, particularly that of the American Colonization Society. He affirmed African Americans' claim to a stake in the United States, arguing instead for gaining civil rights in their country of birth. He persuaded William Lloyd Garrison to adopt an anti-colonization position and helped fund his newspaper The Liberator (1831--65), frequently publishing letters on public issues. He became vice-president of the biracial American Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1833, and worked for national abolition of slavery, and for black education and temperance. His large family was also devoted to these causes, and two daughters married the Purvis brothers, who used their wealth as leaders for abolition.

Read more.

Branching Out: Histories of Branches of UELAC Updated

The History of the UELAC Branches has been updated with the Branching Out reports from the Spring 2017 issue of the Loyalist Gazette.

Current branches have the option to submit a summary of their significant events to be included in each issue of the Loyalist Gazette. A number of branches do this. About one year after publication, each summary is appended to the archival record of submissions. This is a great source of information about each branch, its members and events.

Thanks to Fred Hayward for initiating this project, and for making the addition twice each year.

Digital Gazette: Help Save Costs; Sign up by October 9

The Loyalist Gazette is published twice each year by UELAC in a magazine format with about 52 pages of historical articles, branch news, UELAC activities, book reviews, lots of photos and more.

The periodical is distributed to members and those who purchase a subscription.

The publication is also available in digital format, which offers colour throughout and an earlier delivery. Many members have requested the digital copy, and a good portion of those are now receiving the journal only in digital format, although some prefer to also receive the paper copy. All of these digital subscribers were recently reminded of their digital preferences.

The digital version is made public about one year after its release date. You can see past issues online.

If you are a member – or paid Gazette subscriber – and haven't yet but would like to try out the e-zine version of the Fall 2017 Gazette, complete the request form.

The Fall issue is in design steps and will be headed to the printer in the coming weeks. Target date to be delivered to Canada Post is Nov. 1.

...Robert McBride, UE, Publications Committee

Government of Canada History Awards

The 2017 Government of Canada History Awards are now open with more ways to participate! High school students (grades 10-12 / secondaire 4/5 and CÉGEP 1 in Quebec) can submit an essay, historical fiction, or digital content answering 1 of 5 challenging questions. See the 2017 questions and get started today! Deadline to participate is December 15, 2017.

Of the five questions, one of which may be answered by a submission, Historic Sites: Propose one new national historic site that contributes to a diverse and inclusive history of Canada. Use research and evidence to support your answer would appear to be the one most readily applicable to the Loyalist experience.

The Government of Canada History Awards were officially announced in June 2013. Their goal is connect youth to their history by honouring outstanding students and teachers who show an interest in celebrating Canadian history. The awards are administered by Canada's History, an independent national charitable organization whose mission is to promote greater popular interest in Canadian history.

Discover the Oldest Building in Each Province

Perhaps there are no existing structures in Canada as old as Jerusalem's Temple of the Rock or England's Stonehenge. However, Canada's oldest buildings go back far enough to allow modern day explorers to experience history outside a textbook. Canada's history isn't just a dry record of discrete dates and events. To fully understand who we are as a nation, we need to experience history and understand how people adapted to their surroundings and circumstances. You can more easily imagine and relive Canada's history when you explore the oldest buildings in your province.

Read more.

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • Cornwall cemetery monument destroyed: CORNWALL -- The city discovered a piece of its history erased as a historical monument at the corner of Sixth Street East and Sydney Street has been levelled. Some residents were shocked this morning (Monday Aug 14) to see a backhoe and dump trucks move in on the property and level the pyramid of gravestones surrounded by a small metal fence. One neighbour told Cornwall Newswatch he was shocked to see what was happening while walking his dog and was even asked by a motorist passing by, "why are they doing this." Historian Sara Lauzon says there are still bodies on the site. "There are people with unmarked graves. If there isn't a tombstone to tell somebody that somebody is buried there, they're not getting that person (during exhumation). So I guarantee that there's still people buried on that property." Lauzon also highlighted the history on her website. "This monument pays tribute to this sites original use: the grounds was once a cemetery that may still be the final resting place to a handful of Cornwall pioneers," she wrote. The tombstones date back to the 1830s. After the creation of Woodlawn Cemetery, the Sixth and Sydney graveyard fell on hard times and the monument was created from salvageable tombstones. The bodies were exhumed and moved to other graveyards in Cornwall. Read more and subsequent articles: Church apologizes; Complaint files; Protocol not followed; Letters. Submitted by Stuart Manson UE, newsletter editor, St. Lawrence Branch UELAC, who confirms that there are at least three Loyalist buried in the cemetery.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Mary Lindley Murray is known in American Revolutionary folklore as the Quaker woman who held up British General William Howe after the British victory against American forces at Kips Bay. According to legend, Murray treated Howe and his generals to cake and wine and delayed them several hours as the American rebels got away safely and undetected. Though legend portrays her as tempting the British with her charms, David McCullough notes in his book 1776 that "she may have been extremely charming, but she was also a woman in her fifties and the mother of twelve children." Read more...
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 2 Sep 1769 Benjamin Franklin warns against the dangers of "law enforcement" antagonizing an already hostile people.
    • 1 Sep 1774 British General Gage raids powder magazine in Charles-Town, Massachusetts, triggering "Powder Alarm."
    • 31 Aug 1778 British officers Col. Simcoe & Lt. Col. Tarleton ambush party of Mohican Indians, killing 30-40.
    • 30 Aug 1776 Washington refuses to entertain General Howe's offer of reconciliation following defeat at New-York.
    • 29 Aug 1779 Sullivan defeats Iroquois and Loyalist forces at Chemung in upstate New-York.
    • 28 Aug 1775 First USS Enterprise, a captured British sloop, embarks on expedition into Canada; fails at Quebec City.
    • 27 Aug 1776 British are victorious at Battle of Brooklyn Heights, but fail to capture American military commanders.
  • FamilySearch Microfilm Lending Service Deadline Extension at FamilySearch recently updated some software which was used, among other things, to facilitate order processing for the Microfilm Lending Service which was to end on August 31st. As a result, people were unable to order the films they desired for a little less than one week. This timing of course was very unfortunate. The situation has been remedied in the software so orders have resumed, and because of this issue, the decision has been made to extend the film ordering deadline by one week to September 7th to make up for the week that the software was down. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused people and are anxious to ensure that they are able to order the films they desire. We now need everyone's assistance to get the word out to their friends that if they experienced this issue in trying to order they will be able to get their orders in now.
  • Take a walking tour through the history of Grafton, Ontario. The first settlers to come to the area in and around the Village of Grafton in Alnwick/Haldimand were from the United States, with some second-generation United Empire Loyalists.
  • Potential Ban of Photography in Kitchener/Waterloo Cemeteries Defused. The article has a loyalist connection.
  • He's been dead for more than two centuries but legendary Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh still stands, larger than life and defiant as always, between Windsor and a potential public art and political correctness controversy. But Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh, killed just a year apart while battling American invaders, have been joined at the hip, figuratively speaking, down through Canadian history and that, pardon any cynicism, ticks all the correct boxes. Read more...
  • Ending Nostalgia at the Heritage Museum. Nostalgic props---from period costumes to horse rides---create a false sense of the past at many museums. A curator, with artists, is aiming to subvert that. Hmmm, is it time to think differently? Interesting.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Benson, Matthew - submitted by Jo Ann Tuskin