Connect with us online:

Ontario Loyalist Licence Plates
Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2018 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

“Loyalist Trails” 2018-09: March 4, 2018


UELAC Conference 2018: Registration Form is Available


June 7-10, 2018; Temple Garden Hotel and Spa, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

The registration form for the conference has now been posted. A more comprehensive description of the programme, sessions and events will be added in the next short while.

Continue to watch for new information which will added to the conference pages on the the UELAC website and published in Loyalist Trails.

New Brunswick Newspapers and the Black Loyalists

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The Book of Negroes, a ledger compiled by the British authorities in New York City in 1783, is a great starting point for those interested in the stories and genealogy of the Black Loyalists. Containing the age, physical description, former masters, and evacuation ship names of thousands of free and enslaved blacks, the ledger provides a wealth of data on a special group of refugees as they sought sanctuary outside of the new United States of America.

However, there are other sources of information that researchers would do well to keep in mind as they bring the stories of the Black Loyalists to light. One such resource is the newspaper collection found in the Public Archives of New Brunswick.

As they reported the events of the day, the editors of New Brunswick's newspapers did not forget the province's past and its loyalist heritage. In addition to publishing obituaries of those who had come to the province as refugees, they also reprinted bills of sale of enslaved Africans and reported on historical society lectures. Here are some examples of the genealogical and historical nuggets of Black Loyalist lore that one can find with a diligent word search.

The October 16, 1841 issue of the New Brunswick Courier contained the news of the death of 88 year-old Mrs. Dinah Kingsley, an "old inhabitant of St. John City". Using the language of the era, the notice describes her as a "coloured woman". Dinah would have been born in 1753, and thus would have been 30 years old when she came to the province as a loyalist refugee.

Three years later, the same newspaper noted the death of the 60 year-old Sarah Pitt. The black woman was "known in this city as a sorceress". While this may raise the eyebrows of 21st century readers, we would do well to remember that the white settlers of Kingston, New Brunswick put a fellow loyalist on trial for witchcraft in 1818.

In February of 1846, the Courier reported the death of another Black Loyalist woman who lived to the remarkable age of 99 and six months. Born in 1745, Lydia Johnson would have endured almost four decades of slavery before settling in Saint John. She clearly had the constitution to weather the cruelties of slavery, the uprooting to New Brunswick, and the difficult years of settlement.

In 1846, the Courier noted the passing of Amelia Smith at the age of seventy (making her birth year 1776). What is interesting about this black woman is that she was described as a member of the city's First Baptist Church. Despite much racial discrimination, blacks and whites worshiped side by side in mid-century Saint John.

Longevity seemed to be a genetic trait for Black Loyalist women. In the last days of 1851, Eleanor/Ellen Charles died at 89 years of age. She was remembered as having come "here with the loyalists in 1783" and as having been a servant in Chief Justice Ward Chipman's family for 50 years. Before the end of January 1852, Mrs. Mary Campbell died at age 85. This would put her birth year as near 1767, so she would not yet have been 20 years old when she sought refuge with other loyalists in 1783. Mary's death notice is the only one for a Black Loyalist that notes the time and place of her funeral.

Obituaries for elderly Black Loyalist men begin to appear in the newspapers after 1860. Moses Hodges' death at over 100 years of age was noted in the Carleton Sentinel on August 30, 1862. His obituary said "He came to the Province with one of the Loyalist families in 1776 having been a slave previous to that on a southern plantation."

In December 1868, the Saint John Morning Telegraph reported the death of Robert McKenzie who died on Boxing Day morning at the age of 107. He was found "dead in his hut near the round tower" (the city's Martello Tower). Those who knew McKenzie said that he had been one of the blacks who had escaped from the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia, fled to New York and then evacuated north to New Brunswick. The elderly man died of cold and starvation, "his family having left him, and his wife having died a few years ago at the age of 100". McKenzie was buried in what was described as an "alms house coffin". Tragic as many of these details are, they provide tantalizing clues for a genealogist to pursue.

New Brunswick's Victorian newspapers also reprinted documents that spoke of slavery in the loyalist era. In 1893, lawyers discovered a deed of sale dating back to 1788. John Johnson of Brooklyn, New York sold to Samuel Duffy, an innkeeper, a fourteen year-old girl named Nancy. Duffy joined the loyalist evacuations of 1783 and had his deed for Nancy recorded in Saint John in 1791.

An August 1890 Daily Sun reported that Fredericton's citizens could see a photograph of a slave transfer in the window of Burkhard's photo shop. Major George Harding, a loyalist, sold a black named Sippeo to his son John Harding in 1797 for fifteen pounds. To insure that his son would have the benefits of Sippeo's service, Harding had an indenture witnessed by Col. Elijah Miles, a local justice of the peace.

For those wishing to research the history of the Black Pioneers, a corps of Black Loyalists that served with the British army during the American Revolution, a May 28, 1884 article in the Saint John Globe would be a good starting point. That day's newspaper reported on a lecture given to the New Brunswick Historical Society by Jonas Howe. His topic was "the part the Negro took on the British side of the American Revolution".

In his talk, Howe listed the early commanders of the Black Pioneers. Captain George Martin, the first commander, was commissioned on April 2, 1776. Captain Allan Stewart was next to assume the command, but he disappeared in 1780. Lieutenants in the Black Pioneers were Robert Campbell, Thomas Oldfield (last known to be a prisoner of the rebels in 1781), Charles Plundell, and John Stevenson. Ensign Edward Stevenson entered the corps in 1781 and served until the end of the war. All of these men would have been white as the British did not permit blacks to hold officers' commissions. However, the noncommissioned officers and regular soldiers were men of African descent who had escaped slavery. Those who were alive when the Black Pioneers disbanded in 1783 settled in Shelburne, Digby, and Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Many of their names can be found in the Book of Negroes.

While the newspapers of 19th century New Brunswick may not provide the full stories of the Black Loyalists who settled in the province, they at least offer up the first clues to enable historians and genealogists to begin the arduous task of restoring this lost chapter in the annals of loyalist heritage.

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

17 'UE' Loyalists of Ireland & Northern Ireland

By Brian McConnell, UE. The United Empire 'UE' Loyalists who made new lives in Canada after the American Revolution included people originally from many different countries including Ireland. Their final resting places can be found across Eastern Canada, Quebec, and Ontario. In time for St. Patrick's day on 17 March, read an overview about the experiences of 17 of these native sons and daughters of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Does Your Loyalist Lineage Touch Kings County in Nova Scotia?

The list is growing, but there are most certainly many many more people.

Can you add another name to the list of all of the loyalist refugees who settled in what is now Nova Scotia's Kings County. The list will include:

1. those who settled in Kings County after arriving at Annapolis Royal,

2. those who initially settled in Kings County but moved elsewhere, and

3. those who moved to Kings County after initially settling elsewhere (Shelburne, Halifax, Port Mouton, etc.).

If you know the name of a loyalist and (if married) his/her immediate family members who fit these parameters, please forward the information on to Stephen Davidson ( and Carol Harding ( This list, when completed, will be shared.

Washington's Quill: Janet Livingston Montgomery

by Kim Curtis, Research Editor; March 2, 2018

Earlier this year, as I was annotating documents for The Washington Papers' upcoming Martha Washington volume, I came across a name that was unfamiliar to me: Janet Livingston Montgomery. I had heard of the wealthy and politically elite Livingston family of New York's Hudson River Valley but not this particular Livingston. That's what's so great about annotating and research: you can learn about historical figures who are "new to you." By working on the Martha Washington volume, I've stumbled upon the underrepresented voices of some fascinating 18th-century women. So, I'd like to now introduce (or re-introduce) you to Janet Livingston Montgomery.

Janet Livingston, born in 1743 (the same year as Thomas Jefferson) was the eldest child of Robert R. Livingston, Sr. and Margaret Beekman. Janet's ten siblings included Robert R. Livingston, Jr., who served as delegate of the Continental Congress, secretary of foreign affairs, and chancellor of the state of New York. As chancellor, Livingston administered the presidential oath of office to George Washington in 1789.

In 1773, Janet married the Irish-born Richard Montgomery, who became a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Montgomery left the British military for New York in 1772 when he was passed over for a promotion in rank. Janet first met Montgomery "many years before" the couple was married, when the ship carrying his regiment ran aground near the Livingston family's estate, Clermont. Robert Sr. invited the officers to dinner, and the regiment sailed for Canada the following day.

Read more.

(Richard died 31 December in Quebec City)

JAR: Gone Bad?: American Patriot Andrew Gilman

by Charles H. Lagerbom 26 February, 2018

When war came to down east Maine in the spring of 1775, a rough frontiersman named Andrew Gilman joined the patriot cause. He served with distinction as an Indian interpreter, a courier, and as a lieutenant in command of a group of Penobscot Indians and local settlers in an American ranger force that protected the Penobscot River Valley. Gilman saw combat at the Battle of Machias as well as at Castine during the disastrous 1779 Penobscot Expedition. By the end of his time in the Penobscot region, however, he was wanted by local authorities, despised by the Native Americans he had worked and fought alongside, and considered by many an accomplice in a cold-blooded murder.

Not much is known about the early life of Andrew Gilman. He may have originally hailed from the York area. One source indicates he was in his fifties at the time of the American Revolution; another referred to him in 1775 as a young man. One source states that he never married but may have fathered a son by a native woman. In 1778, he published intentions to wed Nabby Kow in Boston but nothing appears to have come of it. Yet another source suggests he married into the Penobscot tribe, with whom he lived and traded. In fact, it is his connection with the Penobscot Indians where Andrew Gilman made his name.

Read more.

JAR: Women on Trial: British Soldiers' Wives Tried by Court Martial

by Don N. Hagist 1 March 2018

Wives of British soldiers were allowed to accompany their husbands overseas, much like spouses of military personnel often do today. Unlike modern militaries, however, wives of soldiers often lived in the barracks and encampments, and accompanied their husbands on campaigns. Although not under the contractual obligations of an enlistment, wives were fed by the army and subject to some of the same regulations as the soldiers. They could be put on trial for violations of military law, and a number of British army wives were tried by general court martial in America for an assortment of crimes.

In the National Archives of Great Britain are the proceedings of hundreds of general court martial trials, including several at which army wives were prosecuted. Five examples appear below, revealing a few vignettes in the lives of women whose lives would otherwise be almost completely unknown.

Read more.

Ben Franklin's World: House Divided: The Revolution in Ben Franklin's House

Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin's House, guides us as we explore what the revolution meant for Benjamin Franklin and his family and how the Revolution caused a major rift between Franklin and his beloved son, William.

As we take a look inside Ben Franklin's family life, Daniel reveals details about the lives of Benjamin and William Franklin; the close relationship father and son shared before the American Revolution; and details about how the Revolution shattered the close ties once enjoyed between the Franklin men.

Listen to the podcast.

Irish Family History Lecture Tour, March 3-20 (March 10 in Ottawa)

Want to discover your Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors?

Many people believe that researching Irish ancestors is impossible because of the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922. While many records were destroyed, others survived and large collections have come online in recent years.

Join Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation during their annual North American lecture tour to learn how to get the most out of Irish resources and records, gain strategies for breaking down brick walls, and grasp important historical context that may help fill in gaps in your research.

Whether you are just beginning your Irish research or have been at it for years, you won't want to miss these workshops!

Fourteen Cities in USA

Fuller contact details with additional information can be found at:

Date: Saturday, 10 March, Ottawa ON (8:30am--4:30pm)

Location: The Chamber, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Nepean, Ontario

Program Title: Tracing your Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors

Hosts: British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO)


Telephone: 613-234-2520

Main contact: Andrea Harding (

Cost: $20 members; $30 non-members

Optional box lunch

Where in the World?

Where is Sir Guy Carleton Branch member Sylvia Powers?

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.

  • Atalanta -- the name chosen by the Digby NS-area hospice society -- was the name of the ship captained by Rear Admiral Robert Digby that led a flotilla of United Empire Loyalists to Conway in the early 1780s. The name seemed fitting, Cvet said, given that people who are nearing the end of their life sometimes will speak in terms of going on a journey. The objective is a hospice in Digby.
  • Last week's Heritage Fair in Cornwall ON generated great interest. St. Lawrence Branch UELAC participated.
  • Trustees of the historic Old Hay Bay Church south of Napanee are appealing to the community to help them raise $300,000 to restore the building. The three-year fundraising campaign was announced at an event at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives last Wednesday. Same coverage in the Belleville Intelligencer and the Kingston Whig-Standard More information, go to

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Here's a newspaper item from the Boston Gazette, 26 Feb 1770 touting the industry shown by a number of Patriot ladies at the spinning wheel, while putting down the tea-drinking Tory ladies - long before the war began.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 3 Mar 1776 Silas Dean departs to negotiate in secret for French contributions of arms and military materiel.
    • 2 Mar 1770  A huge brawl between Boston ropemakers and occupying redcoats on this day in 1770 fanned resentments on both sides and helped lead to the Massacre a few days later.
    • 2 Mar 1776 Patriot bombardment of occupied Boston begins, eventually leading to British evacuation
    • 1 Mar 1781 The Articles of Confederation ratified, forming first national gov't for new United States of America.
    • 28 Feb 1778 RI Assembly authorizes enlistment of black and Indian slaves willing to serve and frees them on enlistment. 1st RI Regiment is born.
    • 28 Feb 1776 Washington prepares to take heights above Boston, writing that it will "bring on a rumpus" with British.
    • 27 Feb 1782 British House of Commons votes against continuing war in America.
    •  Feb 26 1770- The funeral procession of Christopher Seider took place. Arranged by Samuel Adams for maximum political effect, it was perhaps the largest in Colonial American history.
    • 26 Feb 1776 Spain orders West Indies fleet to observe and detain British merchant shipping to gather intelligence.
    • 25 Feb 1778 George Rogers Clark heads to Ft Sackville in present-day Indiana, ending British hold on Western frontier.
  • From the Massachusetts Historical Society - Fashioning the New England Family
    • Henry Bromfield wore this wig. Henry Bromfield Rogers wrote of his grandfather: "I can see him now in his large powdered wig, his square brown coat and vest with broad pockets and lapels, small black clothes, nice silk stockings, silver buckle and gold headed cane---as he walked up the Ave. to church under the Shade of its old stately elms."
    • This christening cap is said to have been worn by Mather Byles at his baptism in 1706. The skull cap with v-shaped edge over the forehead is constructed in three sections of cotton plain weave lining under finer cotton plain weave outer fabric.
    • This dimity pocket was worn by Abigail Adams in the late 18th or early 19th century. An accompanying note by Abigail's granddaughter, Elizabeth Coombs Adams, reads: "All old ladies wore these under pockets & carried their keys in them."
    • Loyalist Rev. Mather Byles purchased this pair of white kid gloves imported from England from fellow Loyalist Ralph Inman. 
  • Townsends: Trading Goods on the Frontier
  • How to keep warm in the snow!? A fantastic example of 16th century clothing in the form of this @V_and_A 1560-69 cloak. Unbelievable! Velvet cloaks like this, worn by men, were a symbol of social status, who wore cloaks 'over the right shoulder,' allowing a 'dramatic flourish.'
  • False Rumps! On March 1, 2018 By Sarah Murden in Fashion & Cosmetics. Fashions are continually changing but briefly, during the 1770s and early 1780s, women wore the most amazing items known as false rumps. They were large pieces of cork worn in 'pockets' under the straps of their stays, which enhanced the lady's posterior and made her waist look smaller and more delicate. Read more...
  • Here's the latest delightful short video in a new series featuring 18th century clothing. This one shows the somewhat mystifying (to 21stc people) pockets worn at the time by women of every class in Europe and America. Tied around the waist beneath petticoats, pockets were the carry-alls for a woman's little necessities of everyday life.
  • Robe à la Française, 1740s, British. This hand-painted silk dress displays the opulence, Orientalism, and insatiable baroque excess of the time. Layers build on layers, and the silhouette is perfect for the era w/its deep décolletage.
  • 18th Century man's suit, pink silk, silver brocade with rich embroidery in gold, 1780 via Swiss National Museum
  • Detail of 18th Century dress bodice, 1750-70
  • 18th Century men's waistcoat, embroidered with an array of insects & florals c. 1790
  • Rear view of an 18th Century dress, robe a l'anglaise ca. 1780's via National Museums of Northern Ireland
  • I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about what happened to women in the eighteenth century. It was often harrowing and miserable. I cannot change what happened to them. I can, however, share their stories with students and with you:  How harassed women had their #MeToo moments in the 18th century
  • Fort Ticonderoga's Collections Speed Dating: Dog Collar (very short video)
  • A straight razor of steel, bone, and silver with box of wood
  • Good to see discussion in and around our universities on controversies on topics such as free speech, discrimination, thought police (references UE Loyalists); we do need them to be thought leaders around our overall approach to true democracy, even when the pendulum swings back and forth on many issues.

Last Post: Donald Thompson, UE

Has finally gone fishing on Sunday, February 25th, 2018. Beloved husband of the late Catherine (nee Hughes). Cherished father of Lori (Rob) Linton, Jennifer Thompson- Neill and Chris Blum (Brad Cullen). Cherished Grandpa of Andrew, A.J., and Scott Mackie, Grayson and Sterling Neill, Daniel and Shelby Blum, Megan and Sadie Cullen. Brother of Doreen Cosby, Lillian Mannen (late Ross),Clayton (Arlene) Thompson and Margaret Welch (late Len). Predeceased by his parents Stanley and Ellen and brother in laws Wray, Maurice and Allan Hughes, fondly remembered by their families and many nieces and nephews. He will be deeply missed by many extended family and friends.

He spent his long career as an Optician with Imperial Optical Company Ltd. and spent much of his free time outdoors hunting, fishing and boating. Friends will be received at BECKETT-GLAVES FAMILY FUNERAL CENTRE, 88 Brant Avenue, Brantford, on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm and Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm. A Funeral Service will follow in the chapel on Wednesday at 2:00 pm.. Cremation to follow. Donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated.

After his wife, Catherine, died in 2016 he moved to the Oxford Gardens Retirement Community in Woodstock and has enjoyed his time there but he was always missing Cathy. He & Cathy were both raised in Brantford but they moved to Woodstock after they were married where they lived and worked until they were ready to retire. They built their last house in Port Rowan which was their retirement home until Cathy passed away so suddenly. As Don could not stay alone he then moved to Oxford Gardens in Woodstock where he had friends. One of his table mates was Bill Ellis, husband of the late Ruth Ellis UE who passed away very suddenly in April 2017. He would have been 86 in June.

Don attended the meetings with Cathy for many years and supported her in all of her different activities both for the Grand River Branch UELAC as well as the other things that she was involved in. He helped with the digging of holes for the plaques that were placed in the Loyalist Cemeteries and other behind the scenes things that someone has to do it but he liked helping in these different ways.

In 2008, Donald received a Loyalist Certificate as a descendant of John Smith Sr.

...Ellen Tree UE, Grant River Branch

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now