Seeing Canada in a Different Light During the American Revolution

I thought I knew quite a bit about the American Revolution, having studied the subject in school and having researched six American Patriots and 6 Loyalists who sailed to Canada in 1783 at the close of the war.

I was recently contacted by a lady about a possible connection between two of our ancestors and she included a link to a Canadian resource I had not come across before.

Until now, I hadn’t really given much thought to political stances of residents in Canada in the 1776-1783 time period. I guess I pretty much classified them as loyal to the king. That is, until I read the reports in the first journal published by the New Brunswick (Canada) Historical Society in 1894.

Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society. . . no. 1-3, 1894-1897 are found on HathiTrust.

It appears that the original journals were/are in the library collection of Cornell University and Google was allowed to digitize them. However, it seems that in order to save a PDF of the entire journal, an account with a HathiTrust partner is required. Otherwise, only a page or two at a time can be saved.

I wanted to share a page with you that I found because it absolutely fascinated me and I have never seen anything like this entry in all the years I’ve been doing family history research – 39 years, to be exact.

First, a bit of biographical background is necessary. Major Gilfred Studholme (1740-1792) enlisted with the Loyal Nova Scotia Volunteers when the American Revolution began. He later fought with the Royal Fencible Americans, who successfully defended Fort Cumberland in 1776. both military units were based in Nova Scotia.

The New Brunswick Historical Society PDF on HathiTrust includes several articles that are mainly lists of residents found living in the Amesbury Tract, New Brunswick, Canada after the war ended in 1783.

Major Studholme had ordered a survey of inhabitants and their familial and economic status on 15 June 1783:

In reply, the following list, in effect a very detailed census, was delivered just two weeks later. By itself, this list is a true treasure trove of genealogical information from a time period that is very difficult to research and document.

If you look carefully at the personal details of each family, not all of these people supported the King’s cause. Several are definitely identified as “rebels” or contributing to the success of the rebels.

Gilfred Studholme most definitely read this lengthy report with great care because look at what followed:

Studholme diligently appended his own personal knowledge about a number of the men on the list and, for active “rebels,” he sometimes even stated what their actions entailed.

What could possibly be better for learning about one’s ancestors and their lives and actions during and just after the Revolutionary war?

I looked and looked, but much to my chagrin, none of my families are in this report.

If you have ancestors in New Brunswick and/or on the islands of Campobello and Grand Manan in the 18th century, you should definitely take a look at these journals. Use the link above to HathiTrust.

Here are the Table of Contents for the three issues:

 

8 thoughts on “Seeing Canada in a Different Light During the American Revolution”

  1. This is quite the gold mine of genealogy! Timothy Robertson was a very great rebel and of general bad character? Too bad his name isn’t in my tree. Thanks for this excellent post, which should make the week’s finds, in my humble opinion (not kidding at all).

  2. Thank you so much for this! I always wondered where my Acadian paternal family were before they ended up in Quebec. I believe this gives me some leads.

  3. The fact is that most of the people who lived on the St John River in what is now New Brunswick during the American Revolution supported the Revolution. The Congregational Church at Maugerville, populated mainly with people who came there in 1761-62 from Rowley, MA, was almost entirely with the rebels and asked George Washington to invade what was the Nova Scotia. My 3 x gr grandfather, Rev Seth Noble, was the first settled Minister at Maugerville in 1774. He was forced to flee with a price on his head in 1777 along with two others. The British wisely offered an amnesty to most of the rebel supporters if they took the pledge of allegiance to the King. After the arrival of the Loyalists, New Brunswick history was written mainly through their eyes which downplayed the rebel disposition of pre-Loyalist New Brunswickers. The obituary for Benjamin Noble, son of Seth made no mention of the fact that his father had been Minister in Maugerville. The Studholme Report can be found at https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/FortHavoc/html/Sunbury-docs.aspx?culture=en-CA

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