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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2020 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2020-25: June 21, 2020


The View from Here: Richard Yeomans, PhD Student, UNB

When I was awarded a UELAC Loyalist Scholarship in February of 2020 the world was a very different place. I was juggling research projects with professors at the University of New Brunswick, my ongoing reading/comprehensive fields, and working retail to cover the costs of living during grad school. It's a familiar story to most professional students, but with the impact of COVID-19 the financial support of the United Empire Loyalist's Association of Canada, and other granting agencies, has never been more vital for sustaining aspiring academics such as myself. Funding for the humanities continues to disappear in Canada, but the need for engaged and inquisitive scholars remains important to our shared future.

Support from UELAC, and their generous donors, has helped me focus on the various components of my doctoral studies, and continuing projects such as (promoting the use of digital research platforms). Loyalist Studies, as part of the discipline of history, is not just about the prominent refugees of the American Revolution and the defining of Canada's political present.

Moreover, investing in Loyalist Studies promotes historical perspective on how different peoples navigated uncertain times in the past. In understanding refugees of revolution, and how that experience was felt by white, Black, and Indigenous peoples, we can illuminate connections between our present and the past that expose the continued realities of colonialism for peoples of colour in Canada.

I am so very grateful for the financial aid from UELAC, and encourage its continued support for the next generation of Loyalist Studies scholars.

...Richard Yeomans, 2020 Loyalist Scholarship recipient

2020 Scholarship Challenge Update: Week 4

“You may delay but Time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

The goal for this challenge is $8000 by July 1

Four days left to the official end date of July 1, but boy do we have good news! This week we reached $5,835.00 and donations are still finding their way to us through Canada Post and CanadaHelps. This should put smiles on UE faces across the country. If you wish to give beyond the Canada Day deadline we are more than happy to include your donation in this year's challenge total.

See how to donate and follow our progress on the 2020 Scholarship Challenge page. If you choose to use Canada Helps, your donation will qualify for the Great Canadian Giving Challenge. Every $1 donated IN JUNE is an automatic entry for UELAC. Only donations made through Canada Helps will be entered for this prize draw. The grand prize draw is on Canada Day, July 1, 2020 – $20,000 will be donated to the winning charity. Imagine what UELAC scholarship could do with $20,000!

Decoding the Book of Negroes (Part 2 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The Book of Negroes is a 156-page ledger that contains the names of every free and enslaved Black man, woman, and child who left New York City as part of the Loyalist evacuation. Compiled between April and November of 1783, each ledger page contains nine columns of information on more than 2,000 people.

Once only accessible in archives, the Book of Negroes can now be accessed online at a variety of websites from anywhere in the world. The nine columns have been reduced to compact, easily ready paragraphs. Here is what a modern rendering of a typical entry looks like:

"23-27 April 1783, Ship Union bound for St. John's, Con Wilson

Tom Hide, 27, (Fyler Dibble). Formerly slave to John Hyde, Fairfield, Connecticut; left him 5 years ago. GBC."

Brief though it may appear, this entry provides a great deal of information, citing the dates when the ship was expected to leave New York, the name of its captain, the Black Loyalist's name and "history". "Five years ago" indicates that Hide escaped slavery in 1778. "GBC" means that Hide had received official recognition as a free man from the British authorities and held a General Birch Certificate. Further investigation of other historical documents brings to light the fact that the Union was the flag ship of the Spring Fleet that first brought Loyalists to what is now New Brunswick. Fyler Dibblee, a Connecticut lawyer, was the deputy agent for the ship and was responsible for creating the manifest of the Union's passengers. Tom Hide, the first Black Loyalist to arrive in New Brunswick, would have his name later appear on a petition asking for land along a New Brunswick river in 1785.

The brackets around Fyler Dibblee's name indicate that this information was recorded under the ledger heading which read "Names of the Persons in whose Possession they now are." Tom Hide was neither Dibblee's slave nor was he the lawyer's indented servant (the latter would have her name recorded in the second entry for the Union).

As his Birch certificate and five years of service to the British crown proved, Hide was a free man. Dibblee was the white Loyalist who was the designated escort for Hide while the two men sailed for New Brunswick. He did not "possess" Hide in the sense of owning him. Sir Guy Carleton, who oversaw the creation of the Book of Negroes, attached Black Loyalists to a fellow passenger to allay American fears that the British were losing track of the Blacks whom they perceived as their departing property. Consider a modern parallel: airlines provide a flight attendant to escort a child on the trip from one airport to another. Put in the language of the Book of Negroes, the flight attendant would "possess" the young passenger.

A quick survey of the first six evacuation ships recorded in the Book of Negroes sheds more light on the persons who were Black Loyalists' designated escorts – and also raises questions about how the ledger was compiled. When the spring fleet left New York City, it had as its Black passengers 382 men, 230 women and 48 children. How these people were linked up with their designated white Loyalist escorts is one of the many unknown aspects of the creation of the Book of Negroes. Each ship was checked over by a team of three American inspectors before it was allowed to leave New York City.

The Spring is the first evacuation ship entered in the Book of Negroes. It contained a Black Loyalist family of four who had been set free by Lawrence Hartshorne, a Loyalist Quaker (and hence an abolitionist) from New Jersey. Escorting the family of George Black was Lt. Col. Isaac Allen. The latter settled just above Fredericton, New Brunswick. Allen would later write "George Black, a free man, his wife, and two children came with me to this place; he has long been free and was one of the brave fellows who served under the gallant Colonel Tye. I think he deserves provision as well as other refugees." (This, by the way, is the only white Loyalist description of his role as an escort.)

The ledger's second ship was the Aurora. There are three names in a row that are fairly typical of entries and that show the diversity of Black passengers. Twenty year-old Rose Richard was escorted by Thomas Richard. She is immediately identified as being the white Loyalist's property. The next entry is for 70 year-old Daniel Barber, who was escorted by James Moore. Barber was "made free" twenty years earlier. Next is Sarah Farmer, "a healthy young woman" who was escorted by Mrs. Sharp. Farmer is described as a "free Negress indented to Mrs. Sharp for one year". As can be seen, a white Loyalist escort could have a number of different relationships to the person they "possessed".

The third evacuation ship in the Book of Negroes is the Ariel which carried 10 free Blacks. The ship's captain was made the escort for two of the Black Loyalists; one indentured servant was aboard. Thomas Harrison, one of five different escorts, was attached to Sam and Betsy Brothers and their two children. The Brothers family are the first Blacks noted in the Book of Negroes who carried Birch certificates. This would become the norm for most passengers that would follow. But the fact that other Blacks traveling without a GBC were recognized as being free by the American inspectors shows that such a certificate was not absolutely mandatory to grant Black Loyalists access to an evacuation ship.

When the Spencer was inspected, three of its passengers had a Birch certificate, whereas another had a document issued by her former master that said she had bought her own freedom. A family of three had been given their freedom by a Quaker. Typically, each member of a family had the same escort.

While the first four vessels recorded in the Book of Negroes were heading for the mouth of the St. John River, the Peggy was bound for Port Roseway (today's Shelburne, Nova Scotia). Most of the white Loyalist escorts were military officers. Col. Winslow accompanied four who had Birch certificates; Major Coffin travelled with three Blacks who were recorded as his property. It is interesting to note the diverse background of those who were with Winslow: New York's Long Island, Philadelphia, and the West Indies. What is puzzling is that six entries after the four Black Loyalists are listed with Winslow, he is shown to be the escort for Parthenia Stanly and her son, both of whom were set free by their former master.

Given Winslow's responsibility for seeing that six Black Loyalists made it to Port Roseway, why are the entries that include his name separated? This question raises more about how escorts and Blacks were linked up. It is tempting to imagine that white and Black Loyalists stood side by side as the ledger was being compiled, but the spacing of escorts' names suggests another scenario. Were they assigned to one another early in the registration process before the ledger was compiled? When Blacks were queried for information to write into the Book of Negroes, did they simply supply the name of their escort without that person being present?

The sixth ship listed in the ledger is the Camel. One escort was with an indentured servant, and one was with his slave. What makes this series of entries interesting is that the four Black Loyalists on board were recognized as free "on account of the proclamation of Sir William Howe" rather than because they held Birch certificates. (Howe's proclamaton of 1776 extended freedom and protection to Blacks who escaped their Patriot masters.) The family of three had one escort; the single man had another.

While a white Loyalist escort for every Black leaving New York City was the rule, there were exceptions. Next week's Loyalist Trails will continue this series on decoding the Book of Negroes by examining the Black Loyalists who travelled without an escort companion.

(Editor's note: See a transcription of the Book of Negroes.)

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

“Don't Fire Till You See The Whites Of Their Eyes.”

By J.L. Bell, 18 June 2020

Philip Johnson's recollection of the Battle of Bunker Hill is the source of the phrasing "Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes." But it looks like his account hasn't been published in full since it appeared in newspapers in 1825-26.

In late 1825 the historian Samuel Swett sent the Boston Daily Advertiser two accounts of the Battle of Bunker Hill sworn to before a Newburyport magistrate in 1818.

The second was undoubtedly published in the Boston Daily Advertiser sometime from 21 to 25 December, but those issues aren't included in the database I can access from home. The New-York Daily Advertiser for 26 December reprinted that second affidavit, crediting the Boston paper. So I'm taking this text from New York, quirky quotation marks and all. The source was Philip Johnson, a native of Newburyport.

Read more.

JAR: Reasons Against the Renewal of the Sugar Act (Part 2)

By Ken Shumate, 4 June 2020

The Essay "well deserves the candid Reader's attentive perusal":

The writings abridged below, all asserting reasons against the renewal of the Sugar Act, mark the end of the long period of the colonies being "led by a thread." They were the opening salvo to a decade of protest against British attempts to draw a revenue from the North American colonies.

In December 1763, the Society for Encouraging Trade and Commerce within the Province of Massachusetts Bay "drew up a memorial, containing a statement of reasons [against renewal], and presented it to the General Court." It was presented on December 27, "praying that his Excellency and Honors would take into Consideration the Act of Parliament known by the Name of the Sugar Act ... and make such Application for their Relief as they in their great Wisdom shall judge best."

As the Act, commonly called the Sugar Act, has been passed upwards of thirty years without any Benefit to the Crown, the Duties arising from it, having never been appropriated by Parliament to any particular Use; and as this Act will expire this Winter, the following Considerations are offered as Reasons why it should not be renewed.

Read more.

Addendum: Recent protests led us to reflect on the history of protest in our own NorthEnd Boston neighborhood- including the 1765 destruction of Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's home just up the street on Garden Court – read more in Nina Rodwin's latest Revere Express blog, "Horrid Scenes of Villainy: The Stamp Act Protest of August 1765."

JAR: Williamsburg Becomes an Armed Camp, 1775

By Michael Cecere, 16 June 2020

No one disputes that the fighting that erupted at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 ignited a war between Great Britain and her thirteen American colonies. As we all know, the bloodshed of that day in Massachusetts initiated an eight year war that culminated with American independence. It is important to remember, however, that the certainty of a full blown war between the colonies and Great Britain was much less apparent to the people living in Virginia and the other colonies in the spring of 1775 than it is to us today. For Virginians, it was not so much the news of the bloodshed in Massachusetts that led to conflict with royal authority but rather a series of events that occurred in the Old Dominion itself, the first occurring just two days after the fighting at Lexington.

The shocking discovery on April 21 that the royal governor of Virginia, John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore, had removed a supply of gunpowder from the powder magazine in the center of Williamsburg, sparked an outcry of protest in Williamsburg and throughout Virginia a full week before anyone in the Old Dominion heard of Lexington and Concord. After much hand wringing and threats of violence to compel the governor to return the powder, the crisis was briefly de-fused in early May when a compromise to pay for the powder was struck. Tensions re-ignited a month later, however, when intruders (this time young residents of Williamsburg) broke into the powder magazine and set off spring loaded muskets that had been set, per Dunmore's instructions, to prevent unauthorized entry into the powder magazine. Anger at the governor over the injuries caused by the booby trapped guns placed Dunmore in a precarious situation and it did not help that at about the same time this incident occurred, copies of Dunmore's correspondence with Lord Dartmouth (the British minister in charge of colonial affairs) in which Dunmore urged Dartmouth to use a strong hand against Virginia, reached the Virginia gazettes. Tipped off to the impending publication of his damning correspondence, Dunmore fled the capital with his family, taking refuge on a British warship in the York River.

Read more about the development of Virginia's military forces.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Radical German Loyalism in the American Revolution

By Ruth Savidge, 17 June 2020

It is terribly easy for scholars to 'miss the forest for the trees.' About a month ago, I emerged from my den of research to give a biographical presentation about Christopher Sauer III. At the end of my talk, I was caught off guard by an obvious, down-to-earth question. "Why," my sensible classmate asked me, "was a German so loyal to the British cause in the American Revolution?"

I was flummoxed. In the midst of my detailed research about Sauer's Loyalist activity, it had not occurred to me to question how his German heritage and British political sentiment fit together. What was the link between an 18th century German printer and Britain?

Christopher Sauer (also "Sower" or "Saur") III was undoubtedly German. True, he was a third-generation immigrant to America (preceded by Christopher Sauer I and II), but half a century in Pennsylvania had done nothing to weaken the family's national heritage. The Sauers were the editors of a highly successful printing press in Germantown which published the weekly newspaper, Die Germantowner Zeitung.

Read more.

June is National Indigenous History Month

This is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate Indigenous heritage, diversity and culture while acknowledging and reflecting on the achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

As a non-Indigenous person, I've been privileged to have worked with some amazing Indigenous leaders in protecting sacred places, taking actions that were respectful to the Ancestors and sharing stories of Indigenous history and heritage. I have had the opportunity to learn from knowledge-keepers and elders, opening my mind to different teachings and worldviews, opening my heart to understanding. I have come away from those discussions with a deeper commitment to learn more and to do my part in truth-telling and reconciliation.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for all of us to take action. We are all treaty people, so this might be a great time to learn more about the treaties. Hear directly from 10 Indigenous teachers and leaders as they share their knowledge about the importance of treaties, treaty relationships and rights in Ontario. And this Heritage Minute shares the story of the making of Treaty 9 from the perspective of historical witness George Spence, an 18-year-old Cree hunter from James Bay. Or you can learn something new about Indigenous culture. The oral narratives that preserve language and carry forward teachings and cultural traditions through storytelling are as important as ever. The National Film Board has a collection of films by Indigenous filmmakers. You can also listen to the music of Jeremy Dutcher, Nick Sherman or Bryden Gwiss Kiwenzie, or read a book by an Indigenous author – Thomas King, Richard Wagamese, Duncan McCue, Tanya Talaga, Lee Maracle or Eden Robinson to name a few of the many thought-provoking authors.

...Beth Hanna, CEO of the Ontario Heritage Trust

Yet We Are Men: African Americans Fight for Freedom and Equality After the Revolution

By Katherine Egner Gruber, 18 June 2020

In 1777 Prince Hall signed his name on a petition to free enslaved persons in Massachusetts. He was a free man, but that didn't stop him from dedicating his life to advocating for the end of slavery and for granting African Americans full rights under the law. Formerly enslaved, Hall obtained his freedom in 1770. While living in Boston, Hall adopted the revolutionary rhetoric of liberty and freedom in his activism. A leatherworker and active Patriot, Hall supplied drumheads to the Patriot army and may have even fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Born in Africa, Harry Washington was captured, sold into slavery and purchased by George Washington. When the British docked the HMS Savage near Mount Vernon, Harry was one of 17 who seized an opportunity for freedom, and served the British throughout the war as a "black pioneer." In 1781, Harry boarded the HMS Savage an enslaved man seeking refuge. In 1783, Harry boarded the HMS L'Abondance a free man, bound for a new life in Nova Scotia.

Months before the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, an enslaved man named Billy was brought before the court of Prince William County, Virginia. Billy had run away to join the British, but was caught, returned, and tried for treason for joining "the Enemy of the Commonwealth." The court sentenced Billy to a traitor's death. Members of Virginia's House of Delegates urged Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson to intercede, arguing that as an enslaved person and "not being admitted to the Priviledges of a Citizen," Billy "owes the state no allegiance."

Read more.

Access to Graveyards on Private Property; Solomon Kendall, a Black Loyalist

By Jordan Gill, CBC, 10 June 2020

Oromocto NB woman worries her family could lose access to old family plot on private land.

In Lower Queensbury, above the Mactaquac Dam, there is an unassuming piece of property with a gorgeous view of the St. John River but nothing that would indicate the historical significance of the site.

This was the family homestead of Solomon Kendall, a Black Loyalist who came to New Brunswick after fighting in the American Revolution, and whose family lived on the land for generations after.

While the property once had multiple homes, it now features a few outbuildings and a plain family cemetery, with only a few markers to indicate who is buried where.

Solomon Kendall's grave is in the cemetery, as is the grave of the last person buried there in 1949 – Mary Jane Kendall, great-grandmother of Jennifer Dow of Oromocto.

Dow said she gets a lot of comfort from a visit to the cemetery.

"For me it's a very spiritual place," she said.

Read more.

Good Ship Raleigh and New Hampshire

I saw the link to the model of the Frigate Raleigh in the "Twittersphere and Beyond" section of the June 14 issue of Loyalist Trails.

Did you know that "Raleigh" is depicted in the State Seal of New Hampshire? She was built in Portsmouth, NH, and the seal shows her in stocks as she was being finished.

The present state seal features the frigate Raleigh (built at Portsmouth in 1776 as one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress for a new American navy). The figure 1784 on the old seal was changed to 1776, and the old Latin phrase "Neo Hantoniensis 1784 Sigillum Republica" around the circular seal was replaced with "Seal of the state of New Hampshire 1776." The 1931 seal law spelled out that only a granite boulder could be shown in the foreground as a symbol of the granite state's rugged terrain and the character of its citizenry. The state seal is also featured on New Hampshire's state flag.

As an aside, and quite unrelated, Loyalist Captain Isaac Titus was my 3rd great grandfather.

...Howard Titus

Where in the World?

Where are Vancouver Branch members Donna & Kira Little and Carl Stymiest?

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 your submission to the editor at

Region and Branch Bits

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

Members of the Kawartha Branch

Members of the Kawartha Branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, some in period clothing, raised the Queen Anne Union flag during a ceremony Friday morning at Peterborough City Hall to mark United Empire Loyalist Day in Ontario.

Read more.

Other Loyalist Days in June

Nice video introduction to 'Loyalist Days' which is being held this week in Loyalist Township, Ontario

'United Empire Loyalists Day' has been Proclaimed as June 12th in the Province of Manitoba. This year due to Covid-19 pandemic it unfortunately did not occur.

June 12th has been proclaimed by Mayor of Kingston, Ontario as 'Loyalist Day' since 1996. This year due to Covid-19 pandemic no flag raising nor proclamation occurred.

June 19th is 'United Empire Loyalist Day' in Saskatchewan as recognized by the Province since 2000 when applied for by the Regina branch of UELAC

Proclamation by City of Regina, Saskatchewan recognizing June 19, 2020 as 'United Empire Loyalist Day'

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • James Durham - contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin
  • Adam Snyder - contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin
  • James Durham - contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin

Please help us build the directory by contributing information. Contact for guidance.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond