Lost Loyalists: Volume 1

There are many prominent loyalists who have been the subject of extensive research, such as Edward Winslow, John Saunders, and Johnathan Odell; however, there remains much to uncover about a myriad of loyalists that came to New Brunswick as refugees as a result of the American Revolution. We challenge you to engage in the recovery of these “Lost Loyalists.”

This blog post was inspired by a research project on York County loyalists that took place in the summer of 2016.  Lilian Taylor and I were the primary researchers tasked to build biographies for as many of them as we could.  Out of over a thousand loyalists, we have ten completed biographies.  Our next post will examine the research process.  For now, here are five loyalists that did not make the cut due to time constraints, but for whom we had compiled some interesting information.

In this volume, you will discover details about ships and steamboat businesses, stolen powder magazines, escaped death sentences, prisoners of war, Washington’s troops, harbouring of loyalists, and so much more!

1.  William Young served in the British Army’s Hospital Unit during the war, and he was also a Lieutenant of the militia company of Loyalist Refugees. He came to New Brunswick in the summer of 1783 aboard the ship “The Three Sisters.” In 1785, he became a freeman of Saint John, and was admitted as a shipwright. He died in 1804 at the age of 49 in Carleton.

death notice William Young
William Young's death notice in the Saint John City Gazette, 21 January, 1805.
(Microform Newspaper Collection, Harriet Irving Library, UNB Libraries)

2.  Francis Staples worked for Lord Jeffery Amherst, commanding general of British Forces in North America, until he was discharged in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years’ War. Staples then settled in Turtle Bay, Long Island. As the war broke out, he was responsible for the powder magazines, which the Patriots consequently stole from him. After this event, he fled to the British and served as a conductor of wagons until the end of the war. He arrived in New Brunswick in 1783, and settled in Burton, Sunbury County. He then lived in Keswick, York County, and died in Madamkeswick in 1814.

3.  Peter and Elias Snider/Snyder were brothers from Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Elias was married and renting a farm before the war in Pennsylvania where his brother also worked. In 1777, both brothers left to join the British, but they were taken and sentenced to be hanged. In order to save their lives, they enlisted in the Continental Army and paid fines to get out of their death sentences. To pay these fines, their father had to sell his land. Peter served with the Patriots for 30 days before escaping and later joined the New Jersey Brigade. Elias, on the other hand, was ill and was permitted to return home, but also eventually joined the British Army on Staten Island. In total, three brothers from this family ultimately served in the New Jersey Brigade. In 1783, the two brothers, Elias and Peter, settled in Fredericton, and by 1787 they settled on the Kennebecasis River, Sussex Parish, Kings County. Peter and Elias Snider were both illiterate. In 1796, Peter became a vestryman of Trinity Church, Sussex Vale. The brothers also operated a freighting business between Sussex and Saint John, and Peter later became a shoemaker at Sussex Vale.

Steamboat ad
Advertisement for a steam boat company in the New Brunswick Gazette, 29 April 1817.
(Microform Newspaper Collection, Harriet Irving Library, UNB Libraries)

4.  Mary Smith lived in New York City when the Revolution began where she had been living for twenty years. She is an interesting figure because, as a widow, she was using her home to shelter loyalists, and this really antagonized the Patriots. While sheltering the loyalists, Washington’s troops (the leader of the Patriots) were quartering on her property, which forced Mary to flee. She left the United States for England just before the evacuation of New York in 1783.

5.  Isaac Clark was a blacksmith until 1820. He then moved to Waterloo Row and became a grocer and baker for a Mr. Clark, until eventually branching out himself and building his own business. Clark was also the leader of the Methodist Society in Fredericton. He joined the society in 1800 and remained the leader until his death in 1851 at the age of 80 or 89 (conflicting data). Prior to the war he lived in Maine. His obituary in the New Brunswick Reporter and Fredericton Advertiser states that “his house for many years was the hospitable home of every Methodist minister who resided in or visited Fredericton.”

Here is the information that we have found (so far) on these individuals. Can you uncover more?

 

Annabelle Babineau is a student assistant at the Harriet Irving Library.  She is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in the English Honours Programme.

 

SUBJECTS:  prisoner of war, transportation, loyalists, refugee, New Brunswick, ferry

 

 

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Hi Annabelle,

Here is an article about the Snider brothers that I wrote for Loyalist Trails back in 2008. Get back to me if you want citations for any of the data that is new to you.

Stephen Davidson (loyalistsed@gmail.com)

"Loyalist Trails" July 6, 2008

 

Brothers Who Bore Arms Together

© Stephen Davidson

 

In the history of warfare it is not uncommon to read stories of brothers who decide to go off to battle together. The American Revolution was no different. Here are the stories of two sets of brothers who left their colonial homes and fought for a united empire.

The four Snider brothers were loyalists who lived near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1777, Peter and Elias Snider joined 160 others who were making their way to join the king's forces on Staten Island. On the journey through New Jersey, the loyalist volunteers were intercepted. The two Snider brothers were among the 60 who were taken prisoner.

The leaders of the loyalist party were singled out and executed. It seemed that many others would share their fate. Peter Snider was imprisoned for six months to await his hanging. Elias also faced execution, but for reasons unknown was kept in jail for 18 months.

While Elias Snider was in prison, his wife Mary did her best to maintain their rented farm in Pennsylvania. She was forced to sell their horses, cows and an ox along with three tons of hay to put food on the table. Elias and Peter's father sold 175 acres of land to pay the fees required to provide for his sons while they were incarcerated.

Elias was finally released on the condition that he would join the rebel army. His time in prison had taken a severe toll on Elias' health. Seeing that he was in no condition to fight, the patriots permitted Elias to go home "on furlough". He never quite made it. He evaded the patriots by hiding in the woods for a year, and eventually made his way to the British garrison on Staten Island.

Peter Snider was also offered a pardon if he would serve in the Continental Army and pay his jail fees; an offer he willingly accepted. After only three months in the rebel army, Peter deserted, hid for 30 days, and then fled to Philadelphia to join with other loyalists.

Elias and Peter along with two more of their brothers joined the New Jersey Brigade and served in the corps for the remainder of the war. Peter sailed from New York to New Brunswick with Col. Allen's Regiment in October 1783, settling his family along the St. John River near present day Fredericton. Within four years' time, he had settled near his brothers Elias and Baltus in Sussex along the Kennebecasis. River.

When Baltus Snider died in 1808, he willed his farm to his six children James, Mary, Betsey, Henry, Jacob and Kezia. Elias Snider died in 1811, leaving his estate to his sons Peter and Elias. The last of the Snider brothers, Peter, died in 1830. His homestead was divided among his children: Elizabeth (Byram), Magdalen (Dole), Charlotte, Jacob, Peter, Elias, George, and Leveritt.

Little else is known of the brothers who fought side by side during the revolution. When they made their claims for compensation in 1787, each of the Sniders mentioned the loss of a prized mare. More than houses and land, what these two loyalists may have missed the most in their first years in New Brunswick was a good horse.

Before Israel, Richard and Farrington Ferguson settled along the Bay of Quinte, they had lived on Cameron's Neck near Albany, New York. Their father Richard had already distinguished himself in the king's service by carrying "dispatches of consequence" that told of the rebel army's advance on Quebec.

Israel joined the British army in 1777 when he was 25. Two younger Fergusons wanted to fight against the rebels, but Richard Junior and Farrington were only boys when their older brother enlisted.

After Israel went off to war, his five sisters, one of his three brothers, and his mother Charlotte were all put in jail in Albany. As soon as they were released, Mrs. Ferguson took her children north to Canada. Her husband, either delayed by imprisonment or military service, did not join his family until 1778. The records of the day do not indicate if Nancy Singleton, Israel's wife of five years, fled with her in-laws or stayed in her home.

Richard Jr. Ferguson finally joined the British forces when he turned 16, and Farrington managed to enlist at the tender age of 14. All three brothers were with the King's Rangers until the end of the revolution. Israel was discharged as a lieutenant; Richard as an ensign.

The records of the loyalist compensation board note that the Fergusons were "good people" and a Lt. Walter Sutherland gave testimony that "the whole Family were Loyal" so it would seem that the suffering borne over six years of war received some form of recognition from the British crown.

Richard Ferguson Jr. married Frederica Grant after the revolution. Following her death, he married Clarissa Sherwood around 1800. The names of his children are not known.

Israel Ferguson was claimed by disease at the age of 39. He had settled in a community called Carrying Place where he had established a trading post. Whether he and Nancy had any children to survive them is not recorded.

Farrington Ferguson, the youngest loyalist soldier, married Elizabeth Cole in 1789. Over the next 29 years the couple had 16 children: Mary, Israel, Patience, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hulduh, Eleanor, Farrington, Barent, Daniel, Sarah, Arra, James, Charlotte, Esther, and Catherine.

The War of Independence was in fact the first American civil war, bitterly pitting brother against brother. It is heartening to see that in the case of the Snider and Ferguson families, these brothers who were loyal together, stayed together -- and helped to found a new nation despite hardship and tragedy.

 

The Story Behind the Story

 

As I was researching this piece about brothers who were loyalist soldiers, it suddenly dawned on me that I had a student in my grade three class whose last name was Snider. I couldn't resist asking her father if his family was from Sussex, New Brunswick. He chuckled and said that they were -- and that many local landmarks bore the Snider name. He was a descendant of one of the Snider brothers, either Elias, Peter, or Baltus! Unbeknownst to me when I started researching this article, I was actually piecing together the story of the loyalist ancestors of one of my own students. A story which began near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1770s was connecting people who lived just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 21st century.

 

 

 

Thanks so much for your response and this interesting information.  We will pass it along to Annabelle.

My grandmother was an Odell so I would be interested in working on this project - with guidance as to how to do it.  She married a Morden and I have 2 certificates as a UEL member though my grandmothers Morden lineage already.  

Hello and thank you for your inquiry!  We have a few blog entries on the Odells you might be interested in:  

“A Visit from St. Nicholas”: The New Brunswick Odells and the Authorship Controversy"

"Loyalist Lowdown:  The Jonathan Odell Edition"

For more information on the project, you can contact us at mic@unb.ca

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