Category Archives: Canada

Loyalist Jonathan Parker of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada

I decided it was time to take a fresh look at Jonathan Parker, another of my Loyalist ancestors. A lot seems to be known about him, but there is much that is not.

Before we jump into a morass of details, Jonathan Parker arrived at St. John, New Brunswick in 1783. Most of the Loyalist passengers went on to Beaver Harbour. The Parkers then removed to Campobello Island. Here is the area off the coast of Maine where they lived. As you can see, travel by land would have been a lot more cumbersome, but by sea, these three places were not far apart.


Source: Google Maps

Let’s begin with one of the only facts that document his life. Jonathan appears on an 1811 militia list of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.


Portion of 1811 Militia List

There are many, many Parker descendants on Campobello Island today, but back in 1811, there were only five men aged 16 or older who were on the militia rolls. Jonathan was the first listed, aged 47 years. That puts his year of birth as approximately 1764.

Next, I believe the last serious research into Jonathan’s life was done way back in the 1960s and early 1970s. At that time, his sons were identified as Richard, John, Benjamin, Thomas, James M. and William. It was said that his sons Richard and John leased land on Campobello Island in 1792.

Someone didn’t do the math because there is no way that Jonathan, born c1764, had sons old enough to lease land in 1792. Notice on this list the name of Richard Parker, aged 38. He is probably the man who leased the land, but he is only nine years younger than Jonathan Parker.

Campobello Island is a small place and, assuming these two men were related, it is a lot more likely that they were brothers.

Online family information indicates that Jonathan Parker arrived in New Brunswick in September 1783 on the Camel. He may well have, but if he was born c1764, he was only 19 years old at that time and probably not the head of household. (Note: I think he likely did arrive on the Camel, as the captain was William Tinker, whose son or grandson, also named William Tinker,  eventually married Jonathan’s daughter, Rebecca.)

Further, there is an unpublished manuscript of Mary Gallagher in the Campobello Library, which has been abstracted by Patricia McCurdy Townsend. Ms. Gallagher’s notes include the information that Jonathan Parker was of the Beaver Harbour group of Loyalists who arrived on the Camel. I don’t know the source of Ms. Gallagher’s information or when it was compiled, but the United Empire Loyalist Association has a list of Parkers, most of whom are affiliated with Beaver Harbour:


UEL Parkers

Some names are duplicated and I don’t know if the double listings, as for Jonathan, Robert and others, refer to one or more than one man. However, the only Parker to receive one of the original land grants in Beaver Harbour was Joseph Parker.

Could Joseph Parker be the father of some/all of these other Parkers?

Jonathan Parker is said to be from (1) Staten Island (2) Long Island or (3) New Jersey. It is also said that many of the passengers on the Camel either Quakers or Anabaptists, who believed that infant baptism was invalid. Jonathan Parker, it is said, belonged to the Anabaptist contingent. I don’t know if that was because he wasn’t found in Quaker records or if there is an actual source for that statement. I don’t disbelieve it, I just don’t know its origin.

There are numerous historical references to the Camel passengers, with some giving more detailed information than others. One such list has five Parker heads of household on it, but no Joseph:

Elisha Parker, one male and one female, from Jersey

Another page:
Benjamin Parker, one male, one female, three children over 10, 2 under 10, Jersey
John Parker, 1 male, Jersey
Samuel Parker, 1 male, Jersey
Jonathan Parker, 1 male, Jersey

Then, 14 lines down the list:
Jonathan Parker, 1 male, Jersey

Yet another source listed Benjamin, John, Samuel and Jonathan Parker on an adult list and then included names of children over 10 – Anna and Richard – and children under 10 – Ephraim, Joseph and Nathaniel.

A third source had Benjamin, John, Jonathan, Jonathan Jr., Joseph, Robert and Samuel Parker all at Beaver Harbour.

Each of these lists referenced passengers on the Camel who arrived in Canada in August/September of 1783 in the convoy from New York.

From the scattered bits of data, it is easy to see why some have said Jonathan was from New Jersey and others say from Staten Island or Long Island.

In looking at the family group with Benjamin Parker and kids, plus John, Samuel and then Jonathan Parker and the second Jonathan further down the list, I think this might be the family group that ended up on Campobello Island. I am even thinking that Jonathan Parker Jr., father of my Benjamin, might well be the son of Benjamin on this list. The elder Jonathan Parker doesn’t seem to have a wife or children with him so I wonder if he might be the father of the Benjamin on the list. That would create four generations: Jonathan Sr., Benjamin, Jonathan Jr. and then, later on, my Benjamin.

I also tend to believe that this group is probably from somewhere in New Jersey, but that they removed to New York during or at the end of the American Revolution. I wonder if I would have any luck finding land deeds or Tory accounts of a Benjamin and Jonathan Parker during the war? Something to investigate.

Tomorrow’s post will look at an updated reconstruction of Jonathan Parker (Junior)’s family.