The Loyalists: Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial.

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The Loyalists: Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial.
J. W. Lawrence
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THE LOYALISTS. Facts Bearing on the Approaching Centennial. Letters of J. W. Lawrence, Esq. No. 1. To the Hon. Robert Duncan Wilmot, Lieutenant Governor: SIR, -- On the 18th of May, instant, the 99th anniversary of the landing of the Loyalists, the New Brunswick Historical Society purpose having a musical and literary entertainment at the Mechanics’ Institute, the prelude to the centennial of 1883. The province will be represented by His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, patron of the society, in the chair. The Justiciary and Bar, the Senate and Commons, the pulpit and press, civic and municipal, with representative manufacturers, will take part. The music will be under the direction of Professor Peiler. In 1875 the late Egerton Ryerson, D. D., LL. D., wrote: -- I had long been impressed with the injustice done to the character and acts of our Canadian forefathers by American historians. I had, in accordance with my own strong convictions, and in compliance with many solicitations, determined to attempt an act of justice and gratitude to that noble generation of men and women. I have not been able to complete my task, but, if my life and strength be spared, and if I can be released from official labors which weigh so heavy upon my time and strength, I shall be able to complete what I have undertaken and long prosecuted, namely, contribute something to settle many unsettled and disputed facts of American and Canadian history, and to do at least a modicum of justice to a Canadian ancestry, whose heroic deeds and unswerving Christian patriotism form a patent of nobility more to be valued by their descendants than the coronets of many modern noblemen. In 1880 Dr. Ryerson published “The Loyalists of America and Their Times.” In the preface was the following: -- I have entirely sympathized with the colonists in their remonstrances, and even use of arms, in defence of British constitutional rights, from 1763 to 1776; but I have been compelled to view the proceedings of the Revolutionists and their treatment of the Loyalists in a very different light. LAST OF THE OLD LOYALISTS. Died. – At his residence, near Vittoria, County of Norfolk, Upper Canada, on the 9th of August, 1854, after a short illness of three days, Colonel Joseph Ryerson, in the 94th year of his age. At the close of the war in 1783, Mr. Ryerson, with his brother Samuel and many other Loyalists and discharged half-pay officers and soldiers, went to New Brunswick, where he married in 1784, and settled at Maugerville, on the River St. John, near Fredericton, residing there till 1799, when he removed to Upper Canada, having drawn land with his brother from the Government for their service. Colonel Ryerson was probably the last of the old United Empire Loyalists in Canada who joined the British army in 1776 – a race of men remarkable for longevity and energy, and a noble enthusiasm for British institutions. Dr. Egerton Ryerson, a son of Colonel Ryerson, died last January at Toronto. His friends have resolved to perpetuate his memory by the late endowment of a professor’s chair in Victoria College by raising $35,000. FIFTHIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LANDING OF THE LOYALISTS. At St. John, on the 18th of May, 1833, the day was ushered in by the firing of cannon. In the evening a dinner was given by the Corporation; among the guests were many old Loyalists. The chair was taken by his worship the Mayor, John M. Wilmot, with the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Archibald Campbell, on his right, and the father of the city, the venerable John Ward, on his left. The speakers were Judge Bliss, Judge Chipman, Attorney General Peters, Solicitor General Robert Parker, Colonel Turner, Major Greaves, Hon. John Simcoe Saunders, Stephen Humbert, Thomas Harding and Gregory Van Horne. When the toast of “The day we celebrate” was given, a salute of 50 guns was fired from King Square by the city artillery. To the toast “The Chief Justice, their Honors the Judges of the Supreme Court, and the professional gentlemen of the Bar; May they ever maintain and support the principles of Justice and Honor,” the Solicitor General responded: “Mr. Mayor as a descendant of an American Loyalist and a member of the Legal Profession, I trust I may be excused in making a few remarks, while returning thanks for the honor done to the Bar of the Province. “Never on any occasion have I felt more proud of my connexion with the city than the present, and much did I rejoice when I heard at a distance the determination of the Corporation that the fiftieth anniversary of the first landing of the Loyalists on these shores, was to be celebrated in a manner belonging an event so highly interesting to the survivors of that faithful band. “Sir, when we remember with what ceremonials and solemnities the citizens of the United States, hailed the jubilee of their independence, we should be deficient in proper feeling had we suffered this day to pass unnoticed here; unless indeed after half a century’s reflection we are ashamed of the conduct of our Fathers, in that memorable period; but sir this is not the case; we still glory in their Loyalty on that occasion, in despite of the scornful jests of radicals and the cold blooded speculations of discontented theorists, we stand forth to avow that we do not hold our allegiance so light a thing, that it may be thrown aside or changed as a cloak, when we are tired of the cut or color of it. “Sir, we have no cause to regret this sentiment, fifty years have passed and the place where we now assemble, has been changed from a desolate wilderness to a flourishing city. “We live in a country where under the dominion of the British Crown, laws are regularly and impartially administered to the poor and the rich – where the spirit of the British Constitution, pervading our government and institutions, insures protection to every man’s person and property. “The celebration of this day will stand as a memorial, that we take the same side as our fathers have taken; that we adopt their opinions, we approve their principles, and sir, it is a pledge if need be, we are ready to imitate their example.” TOAST OF THE DAY. “The land our ancestors left and the land we live in; both inhabited from one common parent, and enjoying though under different governments, the blessings of Freedom; May old animosities be forgotten, and the present good understanding continued.” His Worship the Mayor provided at his own charge, roast beef and plum pudding for the poor. OLD LOYALISTS. When the Loyalists came to St. John River in 1783, with them was Lemuel Wilmot, Captain in the Regiment raised by Col. Beverly Robinson. His son John, was then seven years of age. Captain Wilmot purchased land in the County of Sunbury, and resided there to his death. The son went to Fredericton and engaged in commercial pursuits as a partner with Mr. Robert Duncan, a nephew of Peter Frazer, many years one of the representatives of York. After the death of Mr. Duncan, Mr. Wilmot in 1814 removed to St. John, and engaged in commerce. He was one of the owners of the river steamers, St. George, John Ward, and Fredericton. Mr. Wilmot was an Alderman for King’s Ward, and three times represented the County of St. John. At his first return in 1820, the poll at the end of the fifteen days stood: Ward Chipman, Jun. ………………………………………………………………456 Andrew S. Ritchie…………………………………………………………………430 John M. Wilmot…………………………………………………………………. 423 Charles Simonds…………………………………………………………………. 309 Zalmon Wheeler…………………………………………………………………..302 The four first were elected members all new. In 1833, the semi-centennial of the landing of the Loyalists, Mr. Wilmot was appointed by the Government, Mayor of St. John. For fifteen years he was President of the New Brunswick Bible Society, holding the office to his removal to the old homestead, Sunbury, in 1839. There he died in his 72nd year, 1847. Mrs. Wilmot was a daughter of Samuel Wiggins, a merchant of St. John. Mr. Wilmot was the father of the Lieut. Governor, who was named Robert Duncan after his old partner at Fredericton. JOHN WARD, SEN. For many years Mr. Ward was known as the father of the city; honored at the semi-centennial of the landing of the Loyalists with a seat to the left of His Worship the Mayor. Major Ward arrived at Parr Town late in the fall of 1783. The regiment was the last that left New York. The transports were laden with provisions and clothing. The landing was at the Lower Cove. They tented under canvas for the winter, on the old barrack square. Snow was on the ground, the tents were covered with spruce cut on Partridge Island, and brought up in boats of the transports. The winter was one of great severity; many died, especially women and children. As Major Ward could not get a house, he lived in his army tent, and there, on the 18th of December, 1783, his son John was born. Major Ward removed to Sussex, Kings Co., where he drew land. Ward’s Creek was named after him. He shortly after returned to St. John and commenced business as a merchant, residing at the corner of King and Germain streets. In the General Smyth, the first steamboat on the River St. John, he had an interest; also in the St. George, John Ward and Fredericton; the St. George had a copper boiler. In 1809, 1816 and 1819, Mr. Ward was elected one of the members for the County of St. John. On the 18th of May, 1843, the 60th anniversary of the Landing of the Loyalists, the corporation of the city waited on him at his residence and presented an address. He died in 1846, in the 93rd year of his age. His presence was commanding and dignified. Major Ward had four sons and two daughters. William was captain of a vessel of his father’s, and died in the West Indies, January, 1814, aged 35 years. Caleb for a time followed the sea. He afterwards was a merchant. He died August 31st, 1821, in his 42nd year, leaving three sons and two daughters. John died in 1875, aged 91 years. Charles, the last of the second generation, died in his 92nd year, January 30th, 1882, in consequence of a fall. For many years Mr. Ward spent the summer at his country house, St. Martins. In the Centennial year, had Mr. Ward lived, he would have been the recipient of many congratulations. At his death he was St. John’s oldest citizen, and senior magistrate. As he walked its streets he often must have realized, although in the city of his birth that “he was a stranger and sojourner, as all his fathers were.” “Alone, I walk the peopled city, Where each seems happy with his own; Oh! friends, I ask not for your pity – I walk alone.” ROBERT PARKER, SEN. The father of Solicitor-General Parker was a Massachusetts Loyalist. In 1785 he was appointed to the offices of Comptroller of Customs, and Ordnance Store Keeper, St. John. The winter of 1789 Mr. Parker spent in the United States for his health, and was present at the inauguration of Washington. In 1792 he was in London. The following from General Benedict Arnold to Ward Chipman refers to him. “I intended writing to you by our friend Parker but his attention was so taken up with the ladies when in Devonshire, that he did not let any friend know when or where he embarked. I hear that he is married to a very pretty and agreeable lady, and that they embarked in the August Packet for Halifax: you will probably have the pleasure of seeing them before this reaches you.” Mr. Parker retained his offices to his death in 1823, in his 75th year. Mrs. Parker died in 1852, in her 89th year. Their old house on Prince William street, opposite the Custom House, disappeared in the great fire of 1877. Their sons Robert and Neville, studied law in the office of Ward Chipman, Jun. Married – January 25th, 1820, at Trinity Church by Rev. Robert Willis, Rector, Robert Parker, Jun., Esquire, eldest son of Robert Parker, Esquire, Comptroller of His Majesty’s Customs for St. John, to Susan, third daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Morris Robinson, Assistant Barrack Master General at Gibraltar, and brother to the Hon. John Robinson, Province Treasurer and Mayor of St. John. In 1825, Robert Parker was elected to the seat vacant in Legislature by the elevation of Ward Chipman to the Bench, and again in 1827. In 1828 he was appointed Solicitor-General. For six years, to 1830, Mr. Parker was Recorder of St. John. In 1834, consequent on the death of Judge Bliss, he was appointed to the Bench. In the fall of 1865, Sir James Charter having resigned the Chief Justiceship, Judge Parker was appointed; he only held it one month. His death took place the 24th of November, 1865, in his 70th year. Mrs. Parker died 21st May, 1881, in her 85th year. Of no one at the Bar or on the Bench, could it be more truthfully said he was “one of nature’s noblemen” than of Chief Justice Parker. STEPHEN HUMBERT. Of the speakers at the dinner, in 1833, none was more representative than Stephen Humbert. In 1783, when he arrived at Parr Town, he was only 16 years of age. At the trial, 1790, Benedict Arnold vs Hayt for slander, before Judge Allen, Mr. Humbert was one of the jury. Of the planting of the Methodist Church at St. John, the Rev. T. Watson Smith, in his History of Methodism, wrote: “Several of the loyalists who had settled at St. John, had previously to their expatriation been members of the Methodist Societies in the old colonies. The leading man among these was Stephen Humbert, whose pen has preserved some information respecting the early Methodism of that city. He was a native of New Jersey. During the Revolutionary war he was in New York. At the close he went to St. John. For a number of years he occupied a prominent position as an alderman, captain of militia and a representative in the House of Assembly; and at a period when Methodism was under a social ban, did not shrink from using the influence, which official position gave him, for the advancement of the interests of the church of his choice. He with others had applied to influential Methodists in New York, asking their aid in securing the appointment of a preacher for St. John.” Mr. Humbert commenced life as a baker of ships’ bread, followed by mercantile pursuits; store and residence on the South Marker wharf. In 1814 he owned a brig the War Hater. In 1809 and 1816 Mr. Humbert was elected one of the members for the City of St. John. EXPELLED FROM THE HOUSE In 1818 an editorial in the City Gazette reflected on the members of the House. The sergeant-at-arms was ordered to bring the editor, William Durant, to its bar. On appearing, he said the editorial was written by Stephen Humbert, a member of the House. After a reprimand, Mr. Durant was discharged. Mr. Humbert, consequent on the illness of his wife (followed by her death), was not in his seat. He wrote the Speaker. The explanation not being satisfactory he was expelled. A new writ was issued and the following card appeared: -- To the Free and Independent Electors of the City of St. John. Gentlemen: At the request of my numerous friends, Free Electors for the City of St. John, I beg leave to announce my intention to offer as a candidate to represent the city at the approaching election for a member to serve in the room and stead of Stephen Humbert, Esq., whose seat has been declared vacated! If my former services have entitled me to a share in your approbation, and you should judge me still worthy of your confidence by electing me as one of your representatives, you may rely upon unremitting attention to my duty, as the representative of a people who are, and of right ought to be, free, and to the interests of the city of St. John in particular. I am, gentlemen, (greatly sensible of former favors,) Your still devoted and Very humble servant, STEPHEN HUMBERT. St. John, 2nd May, 1818. Mr. Humbert was sent back, and also at the general election the year following, at the head of the poll. Married – At Boston, on the 25th of October, 1818, by the Rev. Mr. Mudge, Stephen Humbert, Esq., merchant, of St. John, to Mrs. Mary Adams, daughter of Mr. John Myer, of Boston. In 1820, consequent on the death of George III., a dissolution took place. At this election he was defeated by Hugh Johnston, Jr., consequent on his vote on the plaster bill. In 1827, Mr. Humbert offered for the county, and was defeated by Robert Parker. In 1830, he again offered, with the poll at its close: -- Stephen Humbert……………………………………………………………566 Charles Simonds…………………………………………………………….544 John R. Partelow…………………………………………………………….452 John Ward, Jr. …………………………………………………………… 428 John Robertson…………………………………………………………… 359 Robert Payne………………………………………………………………..330 The first four were returned. In the latter years of a long life, remarkably active and useful, the only recognition was a minor position in the treasury department of the Province. These were the days when family influence was paramount in the Councils of the Province. Yet, not a few who largely enjoyed the good things of life, and rode on the high places of the land, will be forgotten, while the name of Stephen Humbert will live in New Brunswick history. At the semi-centennial, 1833, of the landing of the Loyalists, John H. Wilmot, John Ward, Sr., Robert Parker, and Stephen Humbert were central figures. Mr. Humbert died at his residence, Germain street, on the lot where now stands the Masonic Hall, in 1849, in his 83rd year. NATIONAL SOCIETIES. At the end of the first fifty years, the following were the national societies of St. John, and their officers: -- ST. ANDREW’S SOCIETY, FORMED 1798. President, Robt. W. Crookshank, Esq.; Vice-President, John Boyd, M. D., Esq.; Treasurer, Mr. James Robertson; Secretary, Mr. John Robertson. ST. GEORGE’S SOCIETY, REORGANIZED 1816. President, James Hendricks, Esq., Vice-President, Thomas Barlow, Esq., Treasurer, Thomas Sandall, Esq., Secretary, John J. Roberts, Esq. ST. PATRICK’S SOCIETY, FORMED 1816. President, Richd. E. Armstrong, Esq., Vice-President, Samuel G. Hamilton, M. D., Esq., Treasurer, Wm Hutchison, Esq., Secretary, Mr. James McCleery, Assistant Secretary, Mr. James Stewart. ALBION SOCIETY, FORMED 1828. President, Mr. George Bragg, Vice-President, Mr. William Scammell, Mr. G. Ball, Treasurer, Mr. Anthony R. Truro, Secretary, Mr. Thomas L. Taylor, Assistant Secretary, Mr. J. Thomas. BRITISH AMERICAN SOCIETY, FORMED 1830. President – John Ward, Sen., Esquire; Vice-President – Nehemiah Merritt, Esquire; Vice-President – Stephen Humbert, Esquire; Treasurer – Daniel Levitt, Esquire; Secretary – George D. Robinson, Esquire. FRIENDLY SONS OF ERIN SOCIETY. President – William Mullin, Esquire; Vice-President – Mr. Joseph McPherson; Treasurer – Mr. Bernard Reynolds; Secretary – Mr. John Dunne; CIVIC OFFICERS, 1833. John M. Wilmot, Esquire, Mayor; William B. Kinnear, Esquire, Recorder. ALDERMEN. Benjamin Stanton, Esquire, Kings Ward; Daniel Ansley, Esquire, Queens Ward; Thomas Harding, Esquire, Dukes Ward; Gregory Van Horn, Esquire, Sydney Ward; William Olive, Esquire, Guys Ward; George Bond, Esquire, Brooks Ward. ASSISTANT ALDERMEN. John Knollin, Kings Ward; George A. Lockhart, Queens Ward; John Hooper, Dukes Ward; Ewen Cameron, Sydney Ward; William Wetmore, Guys Ward; Edward Toole, Brooks Ward. John R. Partelow, Esq., Chamberlain, James Peters Jr., Esq., Common Clerk, James William Boyd, Esq., Deputy Common Clerk CITY OF ST. JOHN REPRESENTATIVES. Thomas Barlow, Esq., William B Kinnear, Esq. The re-organization of St. George’s Society in 1816, and formation of St. Patrick’s, was consequent on arrival of emigrants from the mother country. The close of the continental wars and failure of crops the cause. “Ship Gilbert Henderson, Bell master, from Liverpool, last from Cork, with fifty settlers from England and Ireland.” Of the officers and representative men of half a century ago, one only, the Secretary of Albion Society is living, and of the national societies, only St. Andrews. The second letter will take up the Centennial Celebration and a “Memorial Hall” to the founders of New Brunswick. J. W. LAWRENCE.