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Loyalist Directory: Robert (Father of John and Richard) McGinnis

(For a short explanation of each row, click on the row title ex. "surname")

Surname : McGinnis
Given name : Robert (Father of John and Richard)
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Where Resettled :  
Status as Loyalist : Proven
Proof of Loyalty :  
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Date & Place of Birth :  
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Biography : The McGinnis / Eldridge Legacy: The Loyalist Connection

We each have our own view of history and our ancestor's role in it. The following is mine, about the power and influence of the British Crown in North America up to the United Empire Loyalist migration out of the Thirteen Colonies. From the early 1600's to the late 1700's, the Thirteen Colonies of the New World were governed, protected and financed by the King of England. During this time, there was continuous fighting with the French from the north and west. In the mid 1750's, George Washington, an officer under British command attacked and killed some French soldiers and their Indian allies in the Ohio Valley. This incident was one of the major starting points of the war between the English and the French colonies in North America.

Many of the men who fought for the British, to save the Thirteen colonies continued to fight with the British against the rebels during the American Revolution. The McGinnis family can be proud of it's heritage because Robert McGinnis was one of these Loyalist soldiers who fought with the British against the French under the leadership of Sir William Johnson during the French Indian War. The tradition continued into the American Revolution as Robert's two sons, Richard and John McGinnis fought with the British against the American rebels under Sir William Johnson's son, Sir John Johnson.

Robert's brother William was the Captain McGinnis of the well documented attack on a war party of over 200 French and Indians at Bloody Pond near Lake George in Upper New York State in 1755. By 1759, British soldiers with the Scottish Highlanders, their Indian allies and soldiers from the Thirteen colonies, had gradually taken the French forts on the western front up to Detroit and Niagara. In the east, the French fortification of Louisburg had been destroyed and the final 'coup de grāce' was the defeat of the French stronghold of Quebec City. With this conquest the supply line of all the inland possessions of New France was cut off. It has been said that, in effect, the French-Indian War created a nation, Canada. Sir William Johnson and his Mohawks were instrumental in stopping French control in North America.

I feel there were two main causes of the American Revolution (which could also be called the First American Civil War). Land speculators, could see the potential riches in westward expansion by pushing out the Indians and taking their land, but a proclamation in 1763 stated that Indian land could not be claimed without the approval of the Crown. The big land speculators of the Thirteen Colonies did not approve of this perceived interference. The price of waging and winning the French Indian War was very costly for the British. Who should bear the burden but those they had saved from French rule! The British started to levy taxes on the Colonists. This was provocation in their eyes and they rebelled.

There were many in the Thirteen colonies (30% to 50%) who were loyal to the British crown. Some joined the British forces. Some moved north to settle in British North America (1770's to 1790's) where they were rewarded for their loyalty with free land. Others, like the Eldridge (Eldred) family who had arrived in Boston from England in 1634, moved north in the late 1700s because of the mistrust they had for the new regime and it's leaders who had aligned themselves with the French during the rebellion. This alienated many colonists because the French had been their enemy during the French-Indian Wars. Those who had sympathies for British rule felt betrayed. This prompted Sir John Johnson to help in the establishment of many Loyalist settlements in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario.

My Loyalist ancestor, Robert McGinnis, (1709-1796) of Scottish/Irish descent, had his property confiscated during the Revolution and fled with his family to Canada. He is buried at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. The McGinnis papers in the public archives of Canada indicate that Robert and his son, John, are on the "Property Confiscation List of Tryon County" in New York State.

Robert's oldest son John (1741-1833) and his very military brother Richard (1745-1830) were on many campaigns as members of Butler's Rangers. Richard describes in great depth in his journal, his participation in a revenge attack on Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania (Wyoming Massacre, 1778).

John's son, William McGinnis Sr. (1795-1880), relocated to Christieville (later to become Iberville) in 1833 when he was appointed by Major W. Plenderleath Christie to manage his estate there. One of his sons twice served as mayor of Iberville. Another, my direct ancestor, William McGinnis Jr. (1830-1858) with his wife, Elizabeth Chillingworth, raised 9 children there.

According to family history, in 1901, Elizabeth Inez McGinnis, (1870-1957) the daughter of William McGinnis Jr. and her friends had left the 'fast' life of Iberville for a country farm vacation at Sunny Acres, the home of William and Azuba Eldridge on Tibbits Hill. Inez met their son Forest at that time. They married and eventually took over the home farm where they lived for the next 40 years until it was passed on to their son, Howard McGinnis Eldridge (1905-1976) and his wife Ruby Harden.

Howard was most interested in the family history and this interest was passed on to their children. His eldest son, Anthony, who makes his home in Calgary but retains strong ties to our area, has done much research on our family genealogy and the Brome County Historical Society has been the fortunate recipient of much of his research done on other Brome County families. Howard's lifelong quest was to find proof of the family's Loyalist roots. That pursuit was fulfilled, in part, by the diligence of his second son, the late Richard M. Eldridge (1939-2006), who succeeded in finding the 'missing link'. The Eldridge family's Loyalist status was acknowledged in January 2000 when the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada was provided with acceptable documentation proving direct descent from Robert McGinnis, and members of the family are now registered with this Association. Howard would have been proud.

Douglas Eldridge, U.E.
Proven Descendants : Sir John Johnson 2000.01.28;
Sir John Johnson 2000.05.24;
Douglas Owen Eldridge of Sir John Johnson Branch on 2001.02.23;
Sir John Johnson 2003.02.17
Military Info :  
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Family Genealogy :  
Sources : Information submitted by Douglas Eldridge.
Reserved :