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The Loyalists of Gaspesia: 1784–1984 | Gaspesian Heritage WebMagazine
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The Loyalists of Gaspesia: 1784–1984

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Book cover (issuing of land grants)Foreword

In the summer of 1984 descendants of the United Empire Loyalists will have lived along the Gaspé Coast for two hundred years.The first arrivals – five hundred men, women, and children – overcame hunger, the harsh Gaspesian environment, and the bureaucratic nightmares of unsettled claims and unregistered land grants to leave a permanent record of their existence in villages from Gaspé to Matapedia. They effected many changes on what was, until then, a basically feudal fishing economy on the Gaspé Peninsula.These people constituted the first real influx of English-speaking settlers to the Gaspé, and it is largely due to their efforts that the foundations of many English-language institutions were laid.

The Committee for Anglophone Social Action (C.A.S.A.) began a long-term Loyalist project in the winter of 1981, with the objective of documenting the history of the Loyalist period and preparing celebrations to take place during the spring and summer of 1984.The aim of this brochure is to provide a very general overview of the Loyalist settlement of the area to the public in the hope that local communities and organizations will undertake celebrations in recognition of their ancestors’ efforts to tame the Gaspesian wilderness.No English-speaking village along the Coast can deny their influence, and there are very few, if any, Gaspesians who do not have the blood of some Loyalist ancestor coursing through their veins.C.A.S.A. would be anxious to help with any plans for a Loyalist Bicentennial Celebration in your locality.And we are always looking for historical material to further document the Loyalist era.If you can help us, or if we can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

A Brief look at the Loyalist Settlement of Gaspesia
Many persons, when they first visit the Gaspé, are very surprised to see English-speaking people living in villages with English names such as Douglastown, Hopetown, New Carlisle, and Mann Settlement.At first, visitors assume that the Anglophones in this area are recent arrivals who came to work as managers and technicians in the various paper mills and mines.Nothing could be further from the truth.These English-speaking settlements along the Gaspé Coast are among the oldest in Canada.

British involvement in the Gaspé began immediately after the Conquest (1763). Frederick Haldimand purchased La seigneurie de Grand Pabos in 1765 and attempted to establish settlers there. The Jersey firm of Charles Robin established a base in Paspébiac in 1766 and still has its head office there.Other British firms in the Gaspé during this period were Smith’s at Bonaventure, Shollbred’s at Nouvelle and Carleton, and O’Hara’s in Gaspé.These firms and others were involved in the fishing industry and sometimes traded with the Amerindians.The only actual centres of population at that time were the Acadian settlements at Carleton and Bonaventure and the Micmac villages at Maria and Restigouche.This social order was to undergo vast changes in 1784 when about five hundred Loyalists arrived to settle in the area.

These United Empire Loyalists, unlike most of Canada’s immigrants, did not come from Europe, but from the United States of America.To understand the important influence these Americans had on Gaspesian history, one must comprehend the forces that compelled them to flee ‘the land of hope and opportunity’.

During the period 1763 to 1775, the British residents of the Thirteen Colonies (now part of the United States) began to demand a greater voice in the administration of their government.At first, this campaign for more rights was carried on at a political level but by 1775 the American Colonies were in open rebellion against Britain.In 1776, the famous American Declaration of Independence was signed and the war extended to all of the Thirteen Colonies. As in any rebellion, not everyone supported the rebels. It is estimated that one third of the people living in the Thirteen Colonies supported Britain during the war. These British supporters are generally referred to as United Empire Loyalists or simply, Loyalists.

By 1777, every ‘state’ except Georgia and South Carolina had passed laws declaring the Loyalists traitors.Loyalist property was seized and sold.Loyalists lost the right to vote, access to the courts, and the right to hold public office. For protection, some Loyalists moved to British strongholds such as New York City.Other Loyalists fled north, to Canada.In Canada, they found refuge in special refugee camps established by the British government such as Pointe aux Trembles on the Island of Montreal and Machiche, near Trois Rivières.In 1783, with the signing of the Peace of Versailles, the war was over; the Americans had won their independence.

One hundred barrels of flour were transported from Québec to New Carlisle aboard J. Caldwell’s Schooner to feed the Loyalists during their first winter; three were mistakenly unloaded at the Caldwell residence.The British government at Québec City then began the difficult task of finding new homes for the Loyalists.In 1783, Captain Justice Sherwood visited the Gaspé, Ile aux Noix, and Cataraqui (now called Kingston, Ontario) looking for possible locations for the new settlements.By 1784 the government had decided on two settlement sites; the Gaspé and Kingston.

Captain Sherwood was to lead one group to Kingston and Captain Pritchard was to lead the other to the Gaspé.In the ‘Québec Gazette’ of February 1784, the government informed the Loyalists of the two settlement sites available and invited them to choose.

Over 171 families chose to settle in the Gaspé. On June 9th, 1784 four ships and as many whaleboats left Québec City for the Gaspé.The brig ‘Polly’ carried 118 Loyalists under the supervision of Captain George Lawe, Official of the Commissary and Superintendent of Loyalist Affairs for the District of Gaspé.

The snau (sic) ‘Liberty’ carried Loyalists under the leadership of Captain Azariah Prtichard. The brig ‘St. Peter’ carried 86 Loyalists led by Thomas Pryce-Jones and Donald Munro. The ‘Hoy St. Johns’ carried only 10 Loyalists and the whaleboats, 21. Other Loyalists left Québec for the Gaspé on their own or at a later date. The small fleet arrived at Paspébiac on the 29th of June after a long and hard voyage. From Paspébiac they made their way to their intended place of settlement at Pétit Paspébiac, now called New Carlisle.

The Loyalists then began the difficult task of building their new homes and clearing the land for farming. Life in the new settlement of New Carlisle was not easy for the first few years even though the government had provided food and some tools.The new settlement had one major resource: its people.Some Loyalists were farmers and fishermen who could provide food for the town.Others were skilled tradesmen such as carpenters, weavers, shoemakers, coopers, and bricklayers, who could construct buildings, make clothes, and provide other services.

The Loyalist community in New Carlisle during the latter part of the eighteenth century was far from static.Loyalist farmers soon spread out from New Carlisle to Bonaventure, New Richmond, Carleton, and the Matapedia area in the West, and to Hopetown, Shigawake and Port Daniel to the East. Loyalist fishermen moved to Paspébiac, Percé, and Gaspé. A group of Loyalists, among them Baird, Sprung, Kennedy, and Cummings moved to the Douglastown-Haldimand area. The Mann family moved to Mann Settlement, while the Pritchard and Gilker families settled along Cascapedia Bay.The Cass family moved to Cape Cove.Other families, dissatisfied with life in the wilds of the Gaspé Peninsula, moved to Ontario and the Eastern Townships.

Among the Loyalists were two school teachers, Josiah Cass, Sr., and Benjamin Hobson. Josiah Cass, Sr., had a Bachelor’s degree (1758) and a Master’s degree (1761) from Yale College (now Yale University).Benjamin Hobson, established a school in New Carlisle in 1785 and in time became one of only four school teachers to be paid by the provincial government.Only two Loyalists stand out as being among the elite:Isaac Mann, Sr., and Azariah Pritchard.The former was a judge and a colonel in the New York militia during the Revolutionary war.Isaac’s son, Thomas was the first Sheriff of the District of Gaspé and another son, Isaac Jr. served as one of the early judges of the district together with Charles Robin and Felix O’Hara.Azariah Pritchard, apart from owning much land in the Cascapedia area, was also owner of the seigneurie at Bic, near Rimouski.

Apart from Thomas and Isaac Mann, other Loyalists played a prominent role in the administration of the District of Gaspé.John Jeffries, a Loyalist, was appointed ‘Coroner for the District of Gaspé’ in 1788.In 1789 Hugh Munro, a Loyalist, appears as a judge for the Court of Common Pleas.The 1806 records list Amasa Beebee, a Loyalist, as clerk of the Provincial Court.Many Loyalists such as Benjamin Hobson, Josiah Cass, Alexander Brotherton, etc., acted as Judges of the Peace.The importance of New Carlisle as an administrative centre for the District of Gaspé is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Nicholas Cox, Lieutenant-Governor of the Inferior District of Gaspé and Inspector of Trade and Fisheries for the Coast of Labrador, established his secondary residence there.In time New Carlisle became the County Seat for Bonaventure County.

Some Loyalist families became very active in the coastal trade between the Gaspé, the West Indies, and Québec City.They built their own schooners, mostly in New Carlisle, and manned their own ships. Some Loyalists who owned schooners during the early part of the nineteenth century were: Alexander Brotherton, John Caldwell, William Garrett, Daniel Starnes, and John Restell.

Quantities of molasses were bought at T.J. Caldwell’s store under the measurement ‘glups’.  As the barrel was tipped to pour, the spigot was turned off at the sound of ‘glup’, hence the term.  It was later discontinued for its inaccuracy.The Loyalists, even though they soon established a new life-style for themselves in the Gaspé, still had problems.Roads between the small villages were almost non-existent. They lived far from the centre of political power in Québec City.

Communications with the rest of the province were cut off completely during the winter months.Notaries were non-existent in the district, thus almost all legal transactions (wills, land purchases, etc.), were not officially registered by the government. Protestant missionaries were rare and many marriages had to be conducted by Justices of the Peace.But in spite of all the problems, life went on.

As of yet, no definitive list of Loyalists who settled in the Gaspé is available. Perhaps through the efforts of CASA and historians like Ken Annett and David and Doris McDougal, such a list will soon be published.One such list was prepared by three students (Gisèle Gallibois, Darlene Assels, and Kevin Renouf) while working on a summer project. Here is their list:

ALLEN, SamuelCORDUE, John
ANGLEHART, Jean-BaptistCONNOR, Patrick
ASTLES, James Sr.COULL, George
BALSTER, WilliamCOULTER, Andrew
BANNETT, William COULTER, William
BARTLY, JohnCUNNINGS, James
BECKER, JohannisDALEY, Henry
BEEBE, Mary SecordDALEY, Michael
BETTS, BenjaminDARCY, Captain Thomas
BILLINGSLEY, RichardDAVID, James
BRISTON, James DAVIS, Abel
BROOKOFF, George DOBSON, Charles
BROOKS, Thomas DORAN, Thomas
BROTHERTON, AlexanderDUNN, John
BROWN, AbramETHCELLE, Henry
BROWN, Alex FERRIS, William
BROWN, MatthewFITZGERALD, William
BRUNSON, James FLANAGAN, Lachlan
BURNS, James FLEETWOOD, Anthony
BUSTEED, WilliamFLOWERS, Robert
CALDWELL, WalterFOSTER, David
CAMPBELL, WilliamFRASER, Donald
CARROLL, WilliamFRASER, Jeremiah
CASS, ElihuFULHAM, Thomas
CASS, Josiah, Sr. FULHAM, Sigismund
CASS, PomeroyGARRETT, William
CHISHOLM, JohnGIBBENS, Dennis
CHATTERTON, SamuelGIBBS, Edward
CHURCHWARD, WidowGILKER, George
GLASS, Samuel McCARTHY, John
GOODWILLIE, JosephMcCRAE, Duncan
HARRIS, JohnMcCRAE, John
HARLOW, WilliamMcKILLIP, Alexander
HAWLEY, EliMcLELLAN, Duncan
HEAD, MichaelMcLEOD, John
HINDEMAN, SamuelMcMAHON, William
HOBSON, BenjaminMcNEAR, John
HUFFMAN, ConradMcNEVEN, James
HUBERT, PhilanderMcPHERSON, Daniel
HURLEY, JohnMONTROSS, Isaac
IMHAUGH, LewisMORGAN, Thomas
IVES, IsaacMORIN, Etienne
JARRED, JamesMORRIS, Thomas
JEFFRIES, JohnMUNRO, Donald
JONES, Thomas P. MUNRO, Hugh
KEMP, WilliamNAUGHTON, Andrew
KENNEDY, WilliamPATTERSON, William
KEYS, AlexanderPAMPHREY, John
KILLEY, WilliamPEARSON, Christopher
LANE, JohnPERRY, Samuel
LAWSON, JohnPRICE, Thomas
LAW, GeorgePRTICHARD, Azariah Sr.
LESTER, Thomas PURCELL, Edmund
LOUISON, LewisREID, Widow
MACKENZIE, LawrenceRESTLE, John
MANN, Edward IsaacRICHARD, Thomas
MASH, JosephRITCHIE, John
McADAM, WilliamROBERTSON, Duncan
STONE, James ROBINSON, John STAFFORD, Michael ROSE, John
STATT, JohnROSS, John
TEAGUE, Jacob RUSSELL, Edmond
THOMPSON, William SAMPSON, Aaron
TRAVERS, JohnSAMPSON, Theophilus
TRAYNOR, PatrickSATTERLEY, Joseph
TRIPP, Robert SCOTT, David
TUTTLE, StephenSCOTT, John
TYLER, Lt. WilliamSEDHOLM, Magnus
WARDER, ThomasSIMPSON, Robert
WARRING, TheodoreSHAREMAN, Simeon
WATTERS, AbelSHERAR, Thomas
WHITING, JohnSHAW, Edward
WILLETT, WilliamSPENCER, Edward
WIILIAMS, RobertSPRUNG, Walter
WILSON, Edward SPRINGFIELD, Michael
VON DEN VELDEN, WilliamSTARNES, Nathaniel

Acknowledgements
This brochure is just one small segment of a Loyalist project that has been in the works for over a year and which will hopefully culminate in celebrations all along the Gaspé Coast for the Bicentennial in 1984.Over the past year, many persons were of invaluable help to C.A.S.A. by supplying information, photographs, drawings, and stories of their Loyalist ancestors.We want to thank all these contributors for their efforts on our behalf.

This little booklet is totally ‘homegrown’.Much thanks to Raymond Garrett of Chandler for volunteering so much time and energy through the summer months, and for producing the short text for this brochure.The students who compiled the Loyalist list, Gisèle Gallibois, Darlene Assels, and Kevin Renouf deserve much praise for their research.

Local artist Normand Desjardins has painstakingly reproduced visions of the Loyalist period for us with pen and ink. His hours of research and experimentation have culminated in the detailed illustrations on the cover and accompanying the text, and he also volunteered much of his time to help with the lay-out and design of the brochure, for which we express our appreciation.