Finding Loyalists in Parish Records

" At Trinity Church Jeffery Jenkins, coloured, originally a slave, liberated since he came to Nova Scotia with the Loyalists of 1783.  He was one hundred years of age. "

This fascinating extract dated November 4, 1857, is from the burial records of the Anglican Church for the Parish of Wilmot, Nova Scotia.  I discovered it on a recent trip to the Nova Scotia Archives at Halifax and viewed on microfilm.  (Wilmot Parish, Anglican, Records 1789 – 1973, Public Archives, Halifax, NS, Microfilm Reel 12000) While there to research the records for this Parish I came upon several references to Loyalists.

The Trinity Church referred to in the burial record was constructed in 1789 at Middleton in the Parish of Wilmot following the settlement of a large number of Loyalist refugees in the area.    It is now known as Old Holy Trinity Church. The first service was held on August 14, 1791, the same year it was consecrated by Bishop Charles Inglis.

Trinity Church
Old Holy Trinity Church, Middleton, Nova Scotia.  (photo by Brian McConnell)

The church bell in Old Holy Trinity was made in 1792 at Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, England where the original Liberty Bell of Philadelphia, U.S.A. was manufactured.  It was sent from England by William Bayard to Wilmot as a gift to Old Holy Trinity Church where his son Major Samuel Vetch Bayard, formerly of the King's Orange Rangers, was one of the first Wardens.  The surrounding church cemetery includes the graves of Loyalists and many of their descendants.The extract from 1857 of the burial of Jeffery Jenkins, a Black Loyalist, at one hunred years of age means he would have been 36 when he arrived in Nova Scotia.  Looking further in the Parish records, the following reference to him was found in baptisms:

"1852: June 24  -  Jeffery Jenkins  - An Adult Coloured – Residence  Wilmot – By Whom Baptized – The Lord Bishop"

This means that five years before he was buried he was baptized by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, the Right Reverend Hibbert Binney. He was the fourth Bishop of the Anglican Church to be appointed in Nova Scotia, following upon Right Reverend John Inglis, who was the son of Bishop Charles Inglis, a Loyalist and the first appointed.  Binney himself was the grandson of Hibbert Newton Binney, a soldier with the Royal Nova Scotia Volunteer Regiment during the American Revolution.

A related Jenkins family member was found in the registry of baptisms, only a few months later.  The entry appears as:

"1852: August 15 – Jenny Jenkins – A coloured Adult – Residence Wilmot – By Whom Baptized – Henry Stormer"

This baptism was not performed by the Lord Bishop, but by Henry Stormer who was acting in the capacity of minister to the members of the Parish.

Another explicit reference to a Loyalist found in the burial records for the Anglican Parish of Wilmot was:

"1864: June 11th - George Nichols, one of the Loyalist immigrants was buried in Trinity church yard - aged 96 years."

George Nichols was a native of Connecticut where his parents George and Sarah had resided.   He was one of nine children, the oldest being a son William.   George and his brother David came to Wilmot after the American Revolution where they both settled.   They later served as members of the Vestry or church council of Old Holy Trinity Church.

One of the earliest burial records in the Parish records is for acclaimed Loyalist Brigadier General Timothy Ruggles, a native of Massachusetts, who after he settled in Wilmot became one of the first Wardens of Old Holy Trinity Church along with such other Loyalists Thomas Barclay and Samuel Vetch Bayard

Ruggles memorial stone
Ruggles memorial stone, Old Holy Trinity Church. (photo by Brian McConnell)

The entry for him reads simply:

"1795 – July – Brig. General Ruggles – rupture"

It refers to the fact that Ruggles died from a ruptured hernia.  His grave is remembered along with his son John, daughter – in – law Hannah, and children by a memorial placed at the rear of the old Church by his grand – daughter, Eliza Bayard West, a resident of Minnesota in the United States.   The memorial is inscribed: 

                                                                In Memory of

                                                 Timothy Ruggles, Bgdr General

                                                           John Ruggles, Esq.

                                                             Hannah Ruggles

                                                   Also their son and daughters

                                                              Capt. Timothy


                                                                Eliza Bayard

                                                               Fannie Marie


                                                                  Erected by

                                                               Eliza B. West

                                                            of Caledonia, Minn.

                                                           Daughter of Fannie M


Brian McConnell is a retired lawyer, historian, genealogist and author.  He is also the President of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.

Look for Brian McConnell’s next post, “Wilmot, Nova Scotia & Black Loyalists.”


Secondary Sources

A Brief History of the Parish of Wilmot,

Old Holy Trinity Church & the Loyalists,


SUBJECTS: loyalist, Nova Scotia, church, cemetery, burial, Black Loyalist, religion



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For those who can't make it out to the Archives of Nova Scotia to review their microfilm of that parish register, Library and Archives Canada in partnership with the Canadian Research Knowledge Network has made a digitized copy available of LAC's microfilm C-3026 on Heritage. The "Registers of the parishes of Wilmot, Aylesford and Bridgetown, Anglican" (M.G. 9, B 8, volume 29-1) start at image 665 of the reel ( Although the baptisms only go from 1789-1832 and marriages from 1790-1830, the burials cover the period from 1790-1900 and there you can see on image 693 the handwritten entry for Jeffery Jenkin's burial in 1857. Transcription of the registers from 1789-1909 (M.G. 9, B 8, volume 29-2) start at image 714 on that same digitized reel.

Thanks for this tip for researchers!

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