The Zoar of American Loyalists

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The Zoar of American Loyalists
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St. John. The Zoar of American Loyalists. THE EARLY DAYS OF OUR CITY - DESCRIPTION OF THE CHIPMAN MANSION - A GLANCE AT JUDGE CHIPMAN'S CORRESPONDENCE: LETTERS FROM BENEDICT ARNOLD. JUDGE SEWALL AND REV. MATHER BYLES - THE OLD RECTORS OF TRINITY - OUR EARLY PRESS - SALMON FLIES - SOME OF THE EPITAPHS IN THE OLD BURIAL GROUND. BY LIZZIE W. CHAMPNEY. (Lippincott’s Magazine for April.) At the evacuation of the British army a drooping lion and a disconsolate unicorn left New York with 12,000 other loyalists for Nova Scotia. There were men of learning, position and wealth in the unhappy band of exiles who had given up home and estates for the love of old England, but none of them had occupied more exalted positions than these gilded supporters of royalty. They had presided at many a weighty council in the old State House at Boston, poised like genii above the head of Hutchinson, and been looked up to with as much reverence as the carven effigies of mediaeval saints. But a strange frenzy possessed the Bostonians, and they scoffed at the idols which they had formerly worshipped. The loyalists entrenched in New York gave the scorned emblems a place of honor in Trinity Church and there for a space they lent their silent sanction to the prayer "God Save our gracious sovereign King George the Third." New Scotland, however, had been painted in colder colors than it deserved. The climate was hardly worse than that of Northern New England. The tides of the Bay of Fundy which even in geographies of our own day appear to stand as a Red Sea wall similar to that which flanked the way of the advancing Israelites—were found to be not at all the thing of terror they had been described. "The King's gift," too, was quite worth the taking. Up to the 10th August, 1784, New Brunswick as a province had no existence. It was embraced in the Province of Nova Scotia, under the name of Sunbury County. But King George, in order to create offices and salaries for his faithful subjects who had been ruined financially by their adherence to the crown, created the new Province of New Brunswick, with a government of its own, whose numerous offices were filled by the exiles. St. John existed at this time only an insignificant trading post, inhabited by few poor descendants of the original French settlers. Five thousand of the American loyalists settled here, and at once it became a city. Large land grants were given them at Fredericton and at other points on the St John. Fifty-five gentlemen petitioned Sir Guy Carleton to grant them each 5,000 acres as indemnity for losses received. The refugees for a long time subsisted on rations issued to them by the Crown; many arrived in New Brunswick in extreme destitution and were obliged to spend the winter in huts of bark. But though nearly all in penury, many of them were men of education and talent. The colony was particularly rich in lawyers of ability. Webster says that while the great body of the legal profession sided with the young nation, the "giants of the bar" were Loyalists. Judge James Putnam, of the same lineage as Old Put., Judge of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick, was considered one of the ablest lawyers in America. John Adams was his student-at-law and boarded in his family. George D. Ludlow at the opening of the revolution, one of the judges of the Supreme Court of New York, administered the government of New Brunswick as senior member of the first Council, and was the first Chief Justice of its Supreme Court. Jonathan Sewall, Attorney General of Massachusetts, and brother-in-law of John Hancock, was appointed Judge of Admiralty for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Throughout his early career he was a warm friend of John Adams. They met in London in 1788 as cordially as ever, and had, says Adams, "two hours' conversation in a most delightful freedom upon a multitude of subjects." Judge Joshua Upham, Judge Allen, Judge Edward Winslow, Surrogate General, Judge Parker, Attorney General Jonathan Bliss, Daniel Bliss, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Judge Amos Botsford and Judge Ward Chipman, first Solicitor General, are names that glow in the legal galaxy of the new Province. THE CHIPMAN MANSION, ST. JOHN. By far the most interesting interior in St. John is that of the Chipman mansion. The house, whose grounds have a frontage of 200 feet with a depth of 300 feet, has but recently passed out of the Chipman name, and is kept up in the old style of furnishing, though the twelve chairs brought by Benedict Arnold and called the "traitor's chairs," which stood at one time in the drawing room have been sold. Lorenzo Sabine says that they were carried from England to St John by Arnold, and describes them as "of a French pattern, large, and covered with a blue figured damask, the wood work white, highly enamelled and striped with gold." Upon the wall, however, still hangs the convex mirror in its quaint old frame, which, with its mate, the concave mirror on the opposite wall, reflected the faces of the judge’s learned colleagues and the furbelows of the ladies, who gathered in formal little "drawing rooms" to discuss court news and fashions just arrived after a seventy-five days passage from England. Here the Duke of Kent held a levee June 24th, 1794, and here his grandson, the Prince of Wales, was entertained in 1860. The portrait of a red-coated Tory hangs over the sideboard, forming a spot of color as vivid as that of the flaming geraniums with which the fire-place is filled. There is a winding staircase, with several landings, in the broad hall. A window midway filters the sunlight through more flowers, and as we sit at the heavy mahogany table, turning over old ivory-tinted letters, we can almost hear the jingle of spurs and the frou-frou of satin gowns upon the polished steps, for the letters we are reading are from fair women and stately men who frequented these rooms nearly a century ago. The beautiful and unfortunate Mrs. Arnold was frequently here as a guest. One can fancy her gliding out of the stiff angular walks at the rear to gather a breast-knot of heartsease - she whose flowers in the days of her gay maidenhood at Philadelphia were always roses; who danced at the Meschianza with Major Andre and corresponded with him after the royal army retired from New York. We infer from a letter of her father's, quoted by Sabine, that she was extravagant, for he confesses "the style of life his fashionable daughters had introduced into his family and their dress" were arguments against his remaining in Philadelphia. But we can pardon her belief gaiety as "belle of Philadelphia" when we remember the sadness of her womanhood. Here is a letter of hers, written from London to Judge Chipman in a delicate womanly hand:— General Arnold is not yet returned to England, but I hope to see him in the course of a month. You have, no doubt, heard of the many wonderful escapes he has had, one of which could only have been effected by his uncommon exertions. "With respect to politics I am a miserable croaker, and ought not, perhaps, to touch upon them. The desertion and perfidity of our allies placed dear Old England, in my opinion, in a very critical situation, and the late unpopular measure of bringing the Prince of Wales' debts again before Parliament, added to the heavy taxes that must unavoidably be laid for the prosecution of the war, create great uneasiness at home. But at present we certainly could not make a peace upon honorable terms. "I hear much of the gaiety of your little city, but find the party-spirit, particularly among the ladies, still rages with violence. Although I can never wish to return there, I shall always regret my separation from so many valuable friends, among the first of which I shall ever rank you and Mrs. Chipman. Believe me, sir, with much esteem, yours, etc., M. Arnold, London, Queen Ann Street East, June 1st, 1795. Arnold himself writes to the Judge from the West Indies. Money-getting was a passion in which he indulged whenever there seemed nothing to be gained by extravagance and display. It will be seen that he turned even his exile in Martinique to advantage: "ST. PIERRE, MARTINICO, "January 18, 1795. "You will, I make no doubt, be glad to hear that, after the variety of scenes I have gone through this country (and some of them very hazardous), I preparing to return to England, and expect to embark in April rather better in fortune, and infinitely more so in health, than when I left England. More follows in reference to his business affairs at St John where he resided for two years, having purchased a lot and built a store on Main street in March 1786. The business was carried on for some time under the name of Arnold & Hoyt. He bought out his partner in 1788, and shortly after the store and its contents were burned to the ground. Hoyt did not scruple to assert that Arnold had set it on fire to secure a heavy English insurance. Arnold resented this and instituted a suit for defamation of character. He gained the case, but we may judge how highly his reputation valued when we read that the learned judges awarded him as damages two shillings and six pence! OTHER LETTERS Here are other letters addressed to Judge Chipman by many prominent loyalists. One is from Judge Sewall, written during his residence in England, where he went first, establishing himself in Brampton Row and meeting regularly with the Loyalist Club till in 1788,he decided to go to Nova Scotia to make some provision for his two children. Here he was appointed Judge of the Admiralty and it was in St John that he died and was buried. He writes to Judge Chipman with reference to his son, then in the States, "Several schemes are floating in my noddle in regard to the major. I don't like the thoughts of his being educated among those turbulent republicans and fanatics who have once subverted one of the best of governments. I fear he may be drawn to adopt their pernicious sentiments, or be exposed to that galling insult which must render him unhappy. Bitter words; but they are as the unsoured milk of human kindness compared with those of a letter from Benjamin Marston to General Buggies, which, strangely enough, we find here among Ward Chipman's papers. We can hardly blame him when we reflect that he was arrested on his return to the United States to look after his property and confined for two years, first in Plymouth jail and afterwards in Bristol County jail. The letter is full of gloomy foreboding. Did any shadow of his lonely death upon the African coast fall on him, we wonder, when, in 1793, he set out upon a voyage to that almost unknown land in the service of Great Britain. Colonel Edward Winslow, son of the Col. Winslow who commanded the removal of the Acadians from Grand Pre in 1753, writes from Halifax to Judge Chipman in 1791, with reference to the coat of arms to which we have referred at the opening of this article, and which he says had left New York "with the other Loyalists." Judge Chipman had it removed to St. John and placed in Trinity Church. The Church was burned on the 20th June, 1877, but the arms were rescued, and may now be seen on the wall of the school where the services of the church are at present held. Col. Winslow begins his letters with engaging familarity: "Dear old' Chip" and "Here’s to you, Chip." He seems to have had a talent for writing gossippy, entertaining letters — a talent not shared by the feminine portion of his family, if the reference to the Colonel's sister in the following letter from the Rev. Mather Byles, jr., is to be credited. It is a little singular that the merriest of all these old letter writers should have been a clergyman. He writes from Halifax:— "Dear Sir - We are quite a set of dead-and-alive animals at this place, gaping at the flagstaff every few hours in expectation of arrivals from Europe to waken us up. "The vast partiality for aprons which you discover to one of your fair correspondents has inspired your female friends with an idea of inviting you to town to give lectures for their benefit and see if it is possible to beat into the hearts of the young men of these degenerate days that fundamental maxim, of which you seem so well convinced, that it is not good for man to be alone. "Miss Winslow has several letters from you, and if you happen to be long-lived you may stand a chance for an answer, but if not, Lord help you! for her penoperations go on very slow. MATHER BYLES." Mr. Byles was at this time garrison chaplain at Halifax. He was a graduate of Harvard University, had preached first at New London, Connecticut, afterwards in Boston, and was subsequently the second pastor of Trinity Church, St. John. His father, the more celebrated Mr. Byles of Boston, although a rank Tory, did not choose to leave the city. During the revolution he was confined as a prisoner in his own house, with a sentry before his door. The first rector of St John was the Rev. George Bisset of Newport, R. I. He fled from Newport, leaving his wife, Penelope, in destitute circumstances. She followed him to New Brunswick. He preached the first sermon ever delivered in Trinity Church on Christmas Day, 1791. He remained its rector for 26 years, dying at the age of 81. The rectors of the Church of England in America were, with but two exceptions, faithful to the crown. But while the legal and ministerial professions were so numerously represented among the exiled loyalists there was a dearth of doctors. Records show, however, that no inconsiderable number of the medical profession were Tories and they probably found their practice too lucrative to leave voluntarily, and one writer hints that the influence of the ladies saved them from banishment. Sabine computes the number of Americans who took up arms on the British side as at least 25,000. Whole battalions were raised and maintained in New York by the great land owners. "The Rangers" (King's or Queen's) seemed to have been a favorite name; "The Royal Fencibles" (a Boston regiment) "The Loyal Foresters," "The British Legion," "The King's American Dragoons" and "Wentworth’s Volunteers." are some of the names. Governor Wentworth did not choose to form one of the new colony of New Brunswick. He retired to England on the breaking out of hostilities, but he writes to a friend in 1873, urging him to go to Nova Scotia rather than to England. "My destination is quite uncertain, like an old flapped hat thrown off the top of a house, I am tumbling over and over in the air, and God only knows where I shall finally alight and settle to rest." LOVE AFFAIRS, SALMON AND THE PRESS. The cold shores of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were the scenes of many love affairs. The meeting of so many families of kindred thought from widely different homes could not fail to furnish a fair field for Cupid. It was at Halifax that Sir Jahleel Brenton, Baronet, of a name so celebrated among the Loyalists of Rhode Island, first met and fell in love with Isabella Stewart, the daughter of a Maryland refugee; they were separated for eleven years, but at last met again in London and were married. The romantic history of the beautiful Sheaffe girls of Boston would make a very readable novel, as would that of Lady Frankland. Baronets seemed to have had a particular admiration for American girls, but they were not always successful — as witness the letters of Sir Nathaniel Dickinfield. The early newspapers of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia do not strike us as fairly up, even to the journalism of that time. There are few men who, like Izaak Walton and Thoreau can make wood-life and fishing consistent with literary pursuits. Transport a doctor of divinity or of laws, of the present day, to New Brunswick, and it is very possible that a salmon will be of more interest to him than any book in the library. We may be sure that one of the books to be found in the libraries of some of those old loyalists was Dame Juliana Berners's treatise on "Fysshe and Fysshynge." Salmon were very plenty on their arrival and sold for 15 cents each; but, perhaps, some of the grave men preferred the sport of angling for them to purchasing even so cheaply as this. Among the artificial flies which Dame Berners recommends are two:- "The yelowe flye; the body of yelowe wull, and the wynges of the redde cochehakyll and of the drake lyttyl yelowe; and the blacke louper, the body of blacke wull and lappyd abowte wyth the herte of ye pecock tayll ana the wynges of ye red capon, wt a blew heed." These are both very similar to the flies advised now by the best authorities. We heard, however, of an instance where a fly, much more simply made upon the instant, from a bit of an old felt hat and a tuft of gray wool from the head of a negro, proved a very killing bait. But little time could be spared from the stern necessities of life in those early days for any merely ornamental flourishes of the quill. Still, at an early day there were newspapers. One editor announces in a St. John sheet, " I shall resume the publication of Porcupines Gazette under the title of The Porcupine. Direct to me at No. 3 Southampton street, Strand. William Cobbett, Pall Mall, 6th September 1800." Under shipping notices we have "St. John, November, 4." This morning arrived the English mail for September, by which we have received European accounts to tenth of the same month. "Wednesday arrived the brig 'Bee,' captain Thomas, from London, after a passage of 75 days." The advertisements announce a variety of goods, among which are a number of stuffs and articles quite incomprehensible even to the most accomplished "shopper" of our own day. We have "baizes, duffils, strouds, rattinet, shallons, calimancoea, durants, tammies, camblets, moreens, taborets, modes, persiana, oanaburgs, drawboys and baggamontabtes." Will some Egyptologist please interpret? In rather amusing proximity we find "colored shay for waistcoats, sprigg’d and needle-worked clear lawns, an assortment of fashionable shoe-and knee-buckles and two anchors about eight hundred weight each." Also, "darning-threads and love-ribbons, splatter-dashes, ruffled shirts, summer-slops, taylors’ sheers." An undertaker advertises "mahogany and lead coffins and shrouds at the shortest notice. A pall gratis for the poor." THE TOMBS AND EPITAPHS. This brings us naturally to the cemetery. The tomb of James Putnam, surrounded by a railing, is the most conspicuous object. The inscriptions on some of these stones read like obituaries or even memoirs. An example of this is the monument to "Christopher Billop, a member of His Majesty’s council in the Province, whose uncompromising loyalty as a lieutenant-colonel in the royal cause during the American Rebellion obliged him at the termination of that contest to abandon without compensation his hereditary property on Staten Island, and retire with his family to this colony, where he has since resided universally respected. He died March 38, 1827, in the ninetieth year of his age. Even when the inscription is much shorter, we are rarely allowed to forget that a Loyalist is buried here, and there is an obvious making much of the offices held by the deceased. Observe the circumlocution in the following to avoid recognising the United States: Walter Chaloner, Formerly High Sheriff of Newport, the then British Colony at Rhode Island. The stone to little Elizabeth Toole is touching, in spite of its dislocated English: Elizabeth Toole, Aged 2 years. Babes and Sucklyngs all doth Meet And lays themselves at Christe's feat We seem almost to have known the daughter of the punning rector as we read: Elizabeth Sevvil, Daughter of the Reverend Mather Byles. D D. Born 9th May, 1767; Died 13th Nov., 1809. Modest and mild with Innocence of Life, Silent she shone, the Daughter, Sister, Wife, Jesus she loved, to him resigned her breath, She saw Heaven opened and she smiled at death. The following epitaph, which we read under the name of "Abell, son of Chapman and Mary Judson, who was drowned," might have been written by Dr. Byles himself: Tho' Boreas' blast and Neptune’s rage Have tossed me to and fro. Now I, escaped from all their rage, Am anchored here below. Safely I ride in triumph here With many of our fleet, Till signals call to weigh again Our Admiral Christ to meet. One very short epitaph speaks volumes:- "When they died, the poor lost friends." With this visit to the garden of the dead we close our sketch of a time at once more simple and more formal than our own — of men grave and stately or reckless and hot-blooded—of The parson ambling on his wall-eyed roan, Grave and erect, with white hair backward blown; The tough old boatman, half amphibious grown; The muttering witch-wife of the gossips tale. And the loud straggler levying his blackmail; Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears, All that lies buried neath the century, years Of hardships Puritanic that recall the story Of Mayflower ancestors of Whig and Tory.