Journal and Correspondence : 1636-1812 (Predominant 1770-1792)

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .W5J6J6
Category: Family
Creator: Wiswall, John, 1731-1812.
Description: 1 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm

John Wiswall was born in Boston, the son of the schoolmaster, Peleg Wiswall. He graduated from Harvard College in 1749 and taught school in the Boston area before becoming a congregational minister and settling in Brunswick (Maine), then part of Massachusetts. After converting to Anglicanism, he was ordained a priest by the Bishop of London in 1765 and went to Falmouth (now Portland, Maine) to a new Anglican congregation. In 1775 he was arrested because of his loyalty to the crown, escaped to Boston, and spent the next few years as a navy chaplain (most of it in the West Indies). He ministered in England from 1781 to 1783, and in 1783 emigrated to Nova Scotia where he succeeded Jacob Bailey as the Anglican clergyman in Cornwallis. His mission also included Horton, Wilmot, and Aylesford, but after a few years he concentrated more of his energies in Wilmot and Aylesford. With the division of the parish in 1789, Wiswall removed to Wilmot and ministered it and Aylesford.

He married first Mercy Minot of Brunswick Maine, and second Margaret Hutchinson of New Jersey. His son Peleg Wiswall was elected to the House of Assembly and became a judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.


Online: A digital copy of this collection is available online through Acadia University's Digital Collection.

The collection of John Wiswall's documents is divided into 2 sections and predominantly covers the years 1770-1792: correspondence and journals. Section 1 is organized as follows: 1.1 Letters from Falmouth (1770-1774); 1.2 Letters from Boston (1775); 1.3 Letters from London and Oxford (1780-1782); and 1.4 Letters with the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (1783-1789). Section 2 contains: 2.1 Letters and Petitions from Boston and London (1775-1776); 2.2 Family Anecdotes and a Journal; and 2.3 Accounts - financial and personal/family history.

The material chronicles Wiswall's life as a clergyman in Falmouth, Massachusetts; his flight to Boston during the American Revolution; the journey to London and Oxford, England; the time spent as a navy chaplain in the West Indies; and his emigration to Nova Scotia, first to Cornwallis and then to Wilmot where he also served as minister to the communities of Aylesford, Horton, and Digby (in the early years).

The documents shed light on the hardships he encountered in Falmouth, and the distressed situation experienced thereafter due to his loyalty to Britain during the American Revolution. The state, progress, and challenges of his missions in Falmouth and Nova Scotia are recounted and described relating to religion, such as glebe lands; relationship with and attitude towards communities; baptisms, marriages, and burials; catechist/school teachers; churches and property finances; and dissenters. Also included are those records related to him personally, such as his lack of a sufficient salary, travel difficulties, and health problems.

One of the many incidences retold in the Journals are the years on naval ships, in particular, Boyne, in which he describes naval movements and intelligence in the Caribbean, such as at St. Lucia and Grenada. Herein he describes the men, and conditions on ship (which causes ill health) in entries for July and August of 1780.

Originals: The original records are held by Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and were loaned to the Nova Scotia Archives for microfilming.
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Finding Aids:

A table of contents is located at the beginning of the reel and available in print in the corresponding Loyalist Collection Inventory (red) binder.

Online: A document listing, which includes dates, correspondents, places and summaries of each, is available electronically; see Electronic Finding Aid section.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: Rev. John Wiswall Document Listing.pdf
Notes: The letters are not in strict chronological order.
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