Thursday, June 08, 2017

Return of Disbanded Troops and Loyalists Plaque

On the northeast corner of County Road 16 and County Road 2 in the northeast corner of Millennium Park in Johnstown, Ontario a larg rock lies in a framed area. On it there is a plaque that has the heading, Return of Disbanded Troops and Loyalists settled in Township No. 6 Mustered this 13th Day of October 1784. Beneath that there are 68 names. The plaque has nothing else in the way of an explanation. The people living in the area probably don't need one.

But I do. I did some research and will provide something in the way of explanation. It won't be anywhere near the whole story. That goes far beyond the scope of this blog site.

The story related to this plaque that follows draws mainly from four internet resources:
1. Grand River Branch United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, Selected Reprints from the Grand River Branch Newsletter Branches, 2. Township History on the Edwardsburgh Cardinal Township web site, 3. THE ROYAL TOWNSHIPS (EASTERN ONTARIO) section of a pdf file titled, LOYALIST SETTLEMENT IN PRESENT DAY ONTARIO, and 4. Canadian Encyclopedia article, Loyalists.

The American Revolutionary War that took place from Apr 19, 1775 to Sep 3, 1783 resulted in the United States of America achieving independence from Great Britain. It also produced refugees who fled from their homes there because they remained loyal to Great Britain. The refugees included troops from disbanded British regiments and civilians, persecuted for their loyalty to Great Britain. Many of those refugees, some 50,000 people, fled to Canada.

Sir Frederick Haldimand, who served from 1778 to 1784 as Governor of the Province of Quebec, purchased a tract of land between Gananoque and the Trent River from the Mississaugas and appointed Royal Engineer Samuel Holland to supervise the survey along the north side of the St. Lawrence River in preparation for the arrival and settlement of the loyalist emigrants.

Their duties included surveying townships of about ten miles square. One range of those townships, which started out numbered from 1 to 8, from east to west, occupied the north shore of the St. Lawrence River from Lancaster to Brockville. Later on they were named for King George III's children and family members.

Disbanded troops from the King's Royal Regiment of New York made up the majority of loyalists who settled those townships. In 1784 the first 166 loyalists to arrive in Township Number 6, later named Edwardsburgh, settled at Johnstown, named for Anglo-Irish colonial official, Sir William Johnson (1717-1774).

 In a book titled, Report on Canadian Archives by Douglas Brymner, Archivist, 1891, (Being an Appendix to Report of the minister of Agriculture), there is a reference to the title of this plaque, Return of Disbanded Troops and Loyalists settled in Township No. 6 Mustered this 13th Day of October 1784. Beneath that title are the names of the individuals listed on the plaque with the following addition: "The number of souls: Men, 68; women, 29; children, 58; servants, 11. Total, 166. Acres cleared, 122."