Walter Stewart is one of my seven Loyalist ancestors. Some of them left a myriad of written records, while others left very little. Walter Stewart is one of those who only left a few crumbs of a trail, at least in terms of what has been discovered so far.
Walter Stewart married Elizabeth Briggs on 3 March 1774 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York. He appears to have publicly stated his political stance early on in the Revolutionary War, based on this very short abstract found in American Loyalist Claims:
Walter enlisted in the Royal American Regiment, apparently serving as a sergeant until 1783, when he and his family sailed to New Brunswick to begin a new life.
On 7 April 1786, he filed a memorial, which is a statement of loyalty to the king during the American Revolution and is often also a petition for land or some type of settlement help. He was at “St. John’s” at that time, but I don’t have a copy of his memorial and am not sure if this is referring to St. John, New Brunswick or St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since the petition is filed in New Brunswick, I am assuming that he filed at St. John, New Brunswick.
Walter and Elizabeth Briggs Stewart are believed to be the parents of the following children:
1. John, born 1785, New Brunswick, Canada; died 28 November 1869, Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine; married Catherine Carlisle, daughter of Loyalist Robert Carlisle, on 28 December 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada
2. Walter, born about 1788; reportedly died 1868, Cardwell, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada; married Catherine Myers on 26 March 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada
3. William, born about 1790; died April 1870, Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine
4. Mary, born about 1792; died 26 July 1857, at Harwich, Kent, Ontario, Canada; married Elisha Stover on 16 August 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. In 1851, they lived in Howard Twp., Ontario, Canada. Elisha was 54, born c1797. George H. Stover, 16, lived with them. He was likely their son.
5. Ann, married John Preble, 30 June 1819, Sussex, Kings County, Canada
6. James, whose birth year and further information is unknown, but I suspect he is one of the older children.
As Walter and Elizabeth married in 1774, there are likely several more children born to them, possibly as many as five, assuming none were twins.
Undocumented details say that Walter “and his brothers” were successful farmers before the war. That may be true, but at the moment, I have no information at all about his life before he married Elizabeth. I am assuming that he lived in Dutchess County and perhaps Poughkeepsie since they married there.
I have a few clues to follow at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick:
The St. John newspaper published on 25 October 1845 a notice that Betsey Jane Stuart, no age given, died on 15 October at Poverty Hall. She was the daughter of Walter Stuart, formerly of Sussex Vale, Kings County. Betsey was apparently not married, but there is no way to know whether she was the daughter or granddaughter of Walter the Loyalist.
New Brunswick Land Petitions include four entries for a Walter Stewart:
Walter, with many others, petitioned for 200 acres on the Salmon River on 29 June 1786. This would be Walter the Loyalist. The Salmon river runs almost due south of Sussex down to the Bay of Fundy.
19 August 1816, petitions for 300 ac. in Sussex with 8 others
3 July 1819, petitions for 200 ac. in Sussex
2 August 1822, petitions for 200 ac. in Sussex
Whether any of these petitions were made by Walter the Loyalist is not known. They could be his or those of his son, Walter.
There are several other Stewarts who show up in the early land petitions:
Elizabeth Stewart, Kings County, 1786
James Stewart, Kings County, 1786
James could be a brother of Walter Stewart, but who is Elizabeth? If this is Elizabeth Briggs Stewart, then Walter died very young and the children purported to be his in the above list, would then more likely be grandchildren, with the exception of John Stewart, born 1785.
Further on I found:
Walter and William Stewart, Kings County, 1810
Walter and William Stewart, Kings County, 1812
Walter Stewart, Kings County, 1812
Walter Stewart and William McLeod, Kings County, 1817
Walter Stewart and William McLeod, Kings County, 1818
A search of the Loyal American Regiment records shows the regiment was formed in 1777 in lower Dutchess County and Westchester County, New York. A Corporal Walter Stewart served under Col. Robinson and appears on the 20 January 1783 muster roll in Flushing, New York, but there is no further mention of him in the regimental history. Just an aside, but interestingly, on the same muster roll are Jacob and Joseph Segee. One of my Adams collateral relatives married Jacob’s son and my 2x great grandfather, Calvin Segee Adams, was named for him. Eventually, Charles Adams married Annie Maude Stuart/Stewart, bringing these two lines together.
There are several other puzzles in this family, which I will cover in separate posts.