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.
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
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.
Also their son and daughters
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.”
A Brief History of the Parish of Wilmot, http://parishofwilmot.ca/wp/our-history
Old Holy Trinity Church & the Loyalists, https://uelac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Old-Holy-Trinity-Church-by-B...
SUBJECTS: loyalist, Nova Scotia, church, cemetery, burial, Black Loyalist, religion