Reviewing My Loyalist Families: Robert Carlisle

It’s always good to go back and take new looks at old research. One of my Revolutionary War brick walls that I occasionally revisit is Robert Carlisle.

Source: Pixabay

I’ve long thought that Robert was one of those little guys who hopped out of the spaceship, took a look around, liked it and decided to stay. There has been nary a clue about his ancestral origins.

Although Robert Carlisle is a Loyalist, he’s not like my other Loyalist ancestors in that I have no evidence he lived in the thirteen colonies before his military service in the War for Independence.

The Royal Fencible Americans were organized in Halifax and Boston, Nova Scotia in 1775 and their main duty was to guard Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Fort Cumberland, Google Maps

The ruins of the fort are southeast of today’s city of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

The first record in which Robert Carlisle’s name is found is a muster roll dated December 1775 to October 1777:

The image is off a microfilm, so it isn’t the greatest, but having the beginning date of service as December 1775 and knowing that Robert Carlisle was a lance-corporal, a low ranking officer most likely not older than 25 years, allows me to estimate his birth year as around 1750 and perhaps a few years later.

Robert Carlisle died in 1834 in Charlotte, Washington, Maine as noted by his widow in her 1840 application for a pension.

Catherine (X) Carlile

Catherine stated that her age was 78 years, thus born about 1762. She was a fair amount younger than her husband. Catherine last appears in the pension file in 1843, which is probably close to the time that she died.

Although no marriage record has been found – Catherine’s maiden name is another of my brick walls – two Parrtown land deeds dated 1784 and 1785 show Robert Carlisle selling land. In the first, no wife releases dower rights, but in the second Catherine does just that. Given that their first child, son Robert, was born about 1785/86, it is likely that Robert and Catherine married in 1784 or early 1785.

While looking back at previous Carlisle posts, I realized that I’ve never written about the Carlisles as a family unit, so I will present them today. As I dug around online to see if any new clues had surfaced, I discovered a William Carlisle, also early in Nova Scotia. More about him in a bit.

There are no documents that link Robert Carlisle directly to his children. However, Carlisle was an almost unique name among the Loyalists and the fact that Robert and Elizabeth settled in the small town of Sussex Vale, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada allowed the assumption that other (younger) Carlisles in the same small town were most likely their children.


1. Robert, born c1785, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1831, possibly in Ontario, Canada; married Elizabeth Lambert, 12 March 1803, Sussex Vale, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada.
2. John, born c1787, New Brunswick, Canada; married Elizabeth Cashen, 21 January 1813, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada. He is identified as a resident of Sussexx, while Elizabeth lived in Newcastle.
3. James, born c1789, New Brunswick, Canada; died August 1859, Charlotte, Washington, Maine; married (1) Ann Steeves, c1811 (2) Martha Lord, c1839.
4. Tyson, born c1791, died 7 January 1816, Charlotte, Washington, Maine. He is buried at Boyden Cemetery.
5. Abigail, born 1793, New Brunswick, Canada; died 27 March 1871, Meddybemps, Washington, Maine; married Israel Hicks, 9 March 1819, Shediac, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada.
6. Daniel, born c1795, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 12 October 1816, when he and his wife filed a land deed; married Allison (MNU).
7. Catherine, born c1798, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1870; married John Stewart, 28 December 1814, Sussex, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada.
8. Mary, born 1799, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1871, probably Wellington, Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada; married Ira Hicks, 26 October 1819, Wellington, Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada.
9. ?Hannah, born c1800; died 1871, Rugged Island, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada; married James Crow, 23 August 1821, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada.
10. ?Ann, born c1804; married Martin Finsay, 20 April 1823, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada.

There are also some possible Robert Carlisle children:
11. ?George, born c1802; married Rachel Wier, 1823, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
12. ?Benjamin, born c1804; married Lydia Gourley, 23 January 1825, Newcastle, Northumberland, New Brunswick, Canada.

Hannah and Ann Carlisle each died as young married women, so their marriage records are just about the only paper trail for them. Because they married in Kings County, where Robert Carlisle lived, they are assumed to be his daughters.

George and Benjamin are bigger question marks with little known about them. In fact, for George, I just noted (years ago) that I had seen a George Carlisle mentioned in some Canadian record.

What is most exciting to me is that two new contemporary Carlisle names have popped up online.

First, a Benjamin Carlisle married Rebecca Moren on 28 November 1793 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I believe that the Benjamin Carlisle who married Lydia Gourley in 1825 in Newcastle might be related to this Benjamin, but no more has been discovered about either of them. There is a Benjamin Carlisle found in the 1851 census of Nova Scotia; he is the only Carlisle in Nova Scotia in that census.

Second, a William Carlisle married Rachel Wickwire (as her second husband) on 29 May 1780 in Cornwallis, Kings County, Nova Scotia. It has been estimated that William Carlisle was born about 1745-1750.

Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Nova Scotia isn’t a very big place anyway, but notice that Kings County, where Cornwallis is located, is just south of Cumberland County, the site of Fort Cumberland. The small bay separates the two counties.

The early records of Nova Scotia have been digitized and are available on FamilySearch.

William and Rachel (Wickwire) Carlisle had births of four children recorded in Cornwallis:

  1. William, born 20 June 1781; died after 1 January 1803
  2. James, born 30 September 1783; died 1 January 1803
  3. Peter, born 9 April 1785; died young
  4. Joseph, born 23 May 1788; died after 1 January 1803

Peter Wickwire, grandfather of the Carlisle children, is mentioned in a land deed dated 1 January 1803 (Kings County, Nova Scotia DB 4:338) in which he conveys land to his beloved grandchildren, William, James and Joseph Carlisle. A bonus is that one of the witnesses is William Carlisle, likely their father, so we know William was still living as of that date.

Added to this exciting discovery is the notation – unsourced, of course – that William Carlisle was a native of Norwich, New London, Connecticut. The downside to the frequent New England practice of recording government documents at the town level is that I have been unable to access any land or court records looking for Carlisles before the American Revolution.

If William Carlisle was from Connecticut, he left no family there by 1790, as there isn’t a single Carlisle or Carlile family enumerated in that census year.

The 1851 census of Hillsborough, Albert County, New Brunswick, Canada likely includes the son of William and Rachel, also William, as he is enumerated at the age of 71 years:

Source: LAC

Elizabeth, his wife, is aged 60, daughter Jane is also at home, aged 25 and a likely son, Theodore, aged 37, is living next door with his family. On other pages, but in the same town, are found William H. Carlisle, aged 39, with family, Milner Carlisle next door to William H., aged 32, with his wife, and Malcolm, aged 29, with his wife. These are all likely sons of William Carlisle, born c1780.

William and Elizabeth Carlisle are both buried at the First Hillsborough United Baptist Cemetery. He died 16 March 1861; she died 24 October 1863. A newspaper notice of Elizabeth’s death stated that she died at her residence in Halifax, Nova Scotia, so she apparently returned there after William died. Perhaps one or more children were living in Halifax. Also resting in Hillsborough is Mary, eldest daughter of William and Elizabeth, died 9 March 1841, aged 34 years.

I’ve seen online family trees that assign James, the son of this William, to wives Ann Steeves and Martha Lord, BUT I believe this is incorrect. James and Ann went back to Sussex Vale to live after their marriage AND James migrated to Charlotte, Maine with other members of his family by about 1820. James died in Charlotte, like his father Robert had in 1834, and is found in the 1860 mortality index.

The biggest question that has come from the discovery of William Carlisle and Rachel Wickwire is:

Could Robert Carlisle be a younger brother of William Carlisle?

Or, is it just coincidence that they are the only two men with the Carlisle surname that I have found in Nova Scotia before the Loyalist settlements in 1783?

It will take more digging into Nova Scotia early records to try to determine if they are two men with the same surname or if they are related. Nova Scotia land records on FamilySearch are locked, so I need to take a trip to a local family history center to read them.

This won’t be a quick found-the-answer search!


One thought on “Reviewing My Loyalist Families: Robert Carlisle”

  1. Hello there! I was very interested to come across your website today.I, too, am stalled out on my Carlisle ancestor – in my case it is William Carlisle!
    The line I have researched is as follows:
    William Carlisle & Rachel Wickwire > William Carlisle & Elizabeth Gross > Theodore Carlisle & Jane Russell > John Howe Carlisle & Laura Jane McRae > Frank Russell Carlisle & Ethel Sullivan > Sheila Jane Carlisle Jones (my mother)

    BUT nothing prior to William Carlisle

    I found William Carlisle’s marriage to Rachel Wickwire (and their children in this book – on page 88 –

    This William Carlisle is noted in census records as having entered the colony in 1810. I am waiting for land petition records I believe he and his son William, as well as other ancestors (Alexander McRae, Richard Gross) submitted in the early 1800s.

    It certainly is frustrating to find anything prior to William – as you are with Robert Carlisle!

    Good luck on your search. I’ll let you know if I come across anything that connects these two.

    Cynthia Jones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.