Jacob Ellegood was a native of Virginia. He owned a plantation called Rose Hall on the Lyn Haven River in Princess Anne County, and another plantation called Chapel Hill. He served as a justice of the peace, parish vestryman, and colonel of the local militia. At the start of the American Revolution he actively supported Governor Lord Dunmore, and in November 1775 six hundred militia men accompanied him to serve in support of the Governor. Lord Dumnore proposed that Jacob Ellegood raise and command a corps of Loyalists for the defence of Norfolk, and issued a commission for him to form the Queen's Own Loyal Virginia Regiment. The officers and men of this regiment were later incorporated into the Queen's Rangers. Ellegood commanded the first regiment at the Battle of the Great Bridge where the British were defeated, and later while escorting women and children to the Eastern Shore of Virginia he was captured. For the next five years he was held prisoner in various locations in Virginia, but in 1781 came into the British lines where he remained on parole for the rest of the war while all efforts made by the British to exchange him failed.
Jacob Ellegood was the central figure in a group of affluent Loyalist planters and businessmen from the Norfolk area who were linked through marriage and other family relationships. His wife was Mary Saunders, the sister of John Saunders, another Virginia planter from Princess Anne County and Captain in the Queen's Rangers. The family connections included Jacob Ellegood's three sisters who had married prosperous Virginians and whose choice of loyalty to Britain resulted in great personal loss. Margaret Ellegood was the wife of James Parker who joined Dunmore in 1775 as Captain and Engineer. Rebecca Ellegood had married William Aitcheson, James Parker's business partner, and Anne Ellegood was the wife of Alexander Elmsley who went to England. When Jacob Ellegood was captured all his personal property was seized, but after an appeal by his wife, the Assembly passed an act in 1778 sequestering the estates of departed Loyalists but allowing for the plantation to revert to the owner's wife and children as if the owner were dead. The family was allowed to live on the plantation and received a small allowance from the estate, but the husband was prohibited from ever returning to Virginia. With Jacob Ellegood in prison and only a small allowance on which to survive, the family suffered many hardships. In addition, two of the five Ellegood children died during the war and the estate was plundered several times. At the end of the war Jacob Ellegood and his family settled on the banks of the St. John River in New Brunswick, then part of Nova Scotia, where he acquired lands by grant and purchase in the Parishes of Prince William and Dumfries. He was active in the life of the new colony serving as a magistrate, and in supervising the construction of the first roads and bridges in the two parishes. In 1791, he purchased Benedict Arnold's property in Fredericton when Arnold left the colony. He was one of two
members elected to the House of Assembly for York County in 1795. Jacob Ellegood died at his homestead beside the St. John River.
The Jacob Ellegood Papers have been arranged in six files with each one representing a specific period of time.
File 1, is comprised of documents dated 1785-1798, and contains family and business correspondence, statements of account, receipts, and other records.
File 2, contains documents dated 1800-1809, and the contents are similar to those in File 1 with the addition of a summons issued by Jacob Ellegood for the arrest of several men for failure to perform highway labour.File 3, is almost entirely comprised of legal documents and statements of account dated 1812-1819. File 4, is similar to the previous file but also includes several summons, complaints, warrants, a fragment of a poem and another of a copybook, and a baptismal certificate, all dated between 1820-1918. File 5, is Jacob S. Ellegood's Journal,
1 May 1800-25 March 1801. File 6, contains miscellaneous fragmentary material including a portion of a New Brunswick Almanac for 1818.
Surnames of Loyalists, in addition to Ellegood, are found throughout the Papers and include: Saunders, Elmsley, Segee, Pagan, Leonard, Sproule, Millidge, Jarvis, Winslow, Carleton, Payne, Allan, Joslin, Lockwood, Fox, Parker, Bell, Lee, Disbow, Lane, Ruckle, Atherton, Mowat, Hanford, Campbell, Eccles, Black, McKay, Taylor, James, Peters, Lawrence, Sloot, Wilkins, Parent, Morehouse, Bates, Hoyt, Emerson, Atchison, Lint, Wilmot, and others.