Loyalist History On the Ground in Kings County, New Brunswick, Part 1
I recently attended an event in the Hampton area of New Brunswick, and I decided to use the opportunity to locate some of the physical locations for loyalists I had been researching in Kings County over the past year: Gabriel Fowler, Alexander Fairchild, and Jonathan Ketchum. I was very interested to get a sense “on the ground” of both the geographic location and physical challenges they may have faced during their relocation to New Brunswick following the American Revolution. In preparation, I was able to use land grant maps (seen above) to match grant locations with their modern counterparts. Armed with both historical and Google maps, I was ready for an adventure.
For my first stop, I took advantage of a lunch break to follow the Hammond River from Smithtown to French Village, where I was easily able to find St. Andrew’s Anglican Church perched on a hill just above the river. The church is located on a plot that was first granted to Josiah Fowler, and adjoined by land owned by his son, Gabriel Fowler, originally of Harrison, Westchester County, New York.
I was able to get a clear impression of the landscape, and why Gabriel Fowler petitioned for additional land plots to supplement his original grant. The Fowlers’ grants were long and narrow starting at the river and extending back into wooded lots like many other colonial grants in the Maritimes. These particular lots were steep and rocky; indeed, the church and cemetery are on quite a slope. The valley land directly alongside the Hammond River still looks very pastoral and fertile.
I was staying in Quispamsis (a suburb of the City of Saint John) and made a pre-supper trip to Gondola Point on Matthews Cove, where a ferry service and dog park are now located. This was the site of land that switched back and forth between the hands of loyalist Alexander Fairchild; his aunt and uncle, Gershom and Abby Fairchild; and Jonas Carle. Alexander Fairchild was able to secure a farm plot on Long Reach on the Belleisle side of the Kingston Peninsula by exchanging this particular grant.
Alexander Fairchild was a carpenter by trade, and after being imprisoned for treason at the beginning of the American Revolution, he joined the loyalist regiment, the Prince of Wales’ Royal American Volunteers and served with them until the unit was disbanded in Parrtown (Saint John). After working on reconstructing Fairchild’s experience during the Revolution—from Connecticut to New York, Rhode Island, and South Carolina—it was satisfying to put my feet (potentially) where he had trodden.
Heading out the next morning, I made a quick stop at the Hammond River near Nauwigewauk, where I could appreciate why grants along the river were sought after by loyalists arriving at Parrtown.
Once in Hampton, I made sure to stop at St. Paul’s Lakeside Anglican Church, overlooking Darlings Lake. Gabriel Fowler (whose land I had located the previous day in French Village) was one of the first two wardens of the church when it was founded in 1812. He was buried here with his second wife, Jane, and son, Daniel. It was quite amazing to find his resting place, but also to think about how far he would have had to travel regularly for church duties and services from French Village to Hampton.
To continue with a a loyalist tour of Kings County, see our next post: Loyalist History On the Ground in Kings County, New Brunswick, Part 2
Leah Grandy holds a PhD in History and works as a Microforms Assistant at the Harriet Irving Library.
SUBJECTS: loyalist, New Brunswick, geography, religion, cemetery, Anglican, transportation, mapping, Gabriel Fowler, Alexander Fairchild