Project Canterbury

The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory Clergy of the Revolution

By Arthur Wentworth Eaton

New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1891.

Chapter XIV. Distinguished Laymen

ON no part of the American continent, it is safe to say, has the Church, within corresponding limits, had so many remarkable people among her lay members as in the diocese of Nova Scotia. For many years after the Loyalist emigration, the judges of the courts, the members of the council, and of the assembly, and those who filled the chief provincial offices, were men whose ability would have given them a prominent place in any country where they might have lived. And there has always been a dignity and high-breeding about Nova Scotian society that the Church, herself, has, of course, done her part towards creating and sustaining. Besides the names which have been given in the chapters on the Loyalist clergy in Nova Scotia, and on King's College, the following are some of the most important names in the local history of the Church in this diocese:

WILLIAM JAMES ALMON was surgeon to the Ordnance and Artillery. He married, August 4, 1786, Rebecca Byles, daughter of Dr. Mather Byles, her sister Anna being married at St. John, March 22, 1799, to Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas DesBrisay, of the artillery. One of their sons was Dr. William Bruce Almon, who married, January 29, 1814, Laleah Peyton Johnston, youngest daughter of William Moreton Johnston and sister of Judge James William Johnston. The present Dr. William James Almon of Halifax, Dominion Senator, is a son of Dr. William Bruce Almon. The late Honorable Mather Byles Almon, whose family has been one of the most important in Halifax, was a son of Dr. William James Almon and his wife Rebecca Byles. Dr. Almon died at Bath, England, February 5, 1817, aged sixty-two.

JAMES AUCHMUTY, of New York, brother of Reverend Dr. Samuel Auchmuty, went to Nova Scotia, where he became a judge of the Supreme Court. He had a son in the British army who was killed in battle in the West Indies.

THOMAS BARCLAY, son of Rev. Henry Barclay, D.D., Rector of Trinity Church, New York, born October 12, 1753, was graduated at Columbia College and afterwards became a student of law in the office of John Jay. At the beginning of the Revolution he entered the British army under Sir William Howe, as a captain in the Loyal American Regiment, and was promoted to the rank of major by Sir Henry Clinton, in 1777. His estate being confiscated he went with his family to Nova Scotia, where he became speaker of the house of assembly and adjutant-general of the militia. He died in New York, April, 1830. He was the father of Colonel De Lancey Barclay, an aid-de-camp to George the Fourth, who died in 1826, having repeatedly distinguished himself in the imperial service, especially at Waterloo. In later life he had a pension from the government of twelve hundred pounds a year.

JOHN BEDLE, of Staten Island, New York, was born in 1757. In 1784 he went to St. John and was employed for a year or two in surveying that city. About 1794 he removed to Woodstock, where he was a magistrate for forty years. After the division of York county, he was a judge of the court of common pleas, and registrar of wills and deeds for the county of Carleton. His wife was Margaret Dibble, who bore him ten children. He died in 1838, aged eighty-three.

PETER BERTON, of Long Island, New York, went to New Brunswick in 1783, and became a judge of the court of common pleas.

CHRISTOPHER BILLOPP, of Staten Island, New York, in the Revolution commanded a corps of loyal militia, raised in the vicinity of New York City, and was taken prisoner by the Whigs, and confined in the jail at Burlington, New Jersey, his large property being confiscated under the act of New York. In 1783, he was one of the fifty-five petitioners for lands in Nova Scotia. He went to New Brunswick in 1784, and became a member of the house of assembly and of the council, and in 1823, was a competitor with the Honorable Ward Chipman for the presidency of the government. He died at St. John in 1827, aged ninety. His wife, Jane, died in that city, in 1802, aged forty-eight. His two sons were merchants in New York; his daughter Mary was the wife of the Reverend Archdeacon Willis of Nova Scotia; and his daughter Jane, of the Honorable William Black, of St. John.

JONATHAN BINNEY, ancestor of the fourth bishop of Nova Scotia, .was one of the members of the first assembly in 1758, and long a member of the council. His wife died on Friday, December 22, 1797, in her seventy-fifth year. His son, or grandson, Stephen Hall Binney, married at Preston, September 22, 1794, Susanna, daughter of Francis Green.

DANIEL BLISS of Concord, Massachusetts, a son of the Rev. Samuel Bliss, was born in 1740 and graduated at Harvard in 1760. He was one of the barristers and attorneys who addressed Hutchinson in 1774, and was proscribed under the act of 1778. He joined the British army, and after the Revolution, settled in New Brunswick, where he became a member of the council, and chief-justice of the court of common pleas.

JOHN MURRAY BLISS, son of Daniel Bliss, did not settle in New Brunswick until 1786. He was a lawyer, represented the county of York in the assembly, and in 1816 was elevated to the bench and to a seat in the council. In 1824, on the death of the Honorable Ward Chipman, President and Commander-in-Chief of the colony, he administered the government until the arrival of Sir Howard Douglas, a period of nearly a year. At his death in 1834, he was senior justice of the Supreme Court.

JONATHAN BLISS, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was born in 1742, and graduated at Harvard in 1763. He was a member of the General Court of Massachusetts in 1768, and one of the seventeen "Rescinders." Proscribed under the act of 1778, he went to New Brunswick, where he finally attained the rank of Chief-Justice, and also President of the Council.

SAMPSON SALTER BLOWERS, of Boston, graduated at Harvard in 1763, in a class celebrated for the number of Loyalists and judges it produced. He entered on the study of law with Hutchinson, then judge of probate and lieutenant-governor, and in 1770, was associated with Messrs. Adams and Quincy "in behalf of the British soldiers who were tried for their agency in the Boston massacre, so termed, in that year." Between 1774 and 1778, he was proscribed, and imprisoned, and on his release, went to Halifax where he became attorney-general, speaker of the house, a member of the council, and in 1797, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia. He retired from public life in 1833, and died in 1842. His wife was Sarah, daughter of Benjamin Kent, of Massachusetts.

ISAAC BONNELL, of New Jersey, was sheriff of Middlesex County, under Governor William Franklin, his intimate friend and correspondent. His property was confiscated and he went to Digby, Nova Scotia, where he became a merchant and a judge of the court of common pleas. He died in 1806, aged sixty-nine.

AMOS BOTSFORD, of Newton, Connecticut, a lawyer, was graduated at Yale in 1763. At the Revolution he went to New Brunswick, where he represented the county of Westmoreland for the remainder of his life. He was speaker of the house as early as 1792. He died at St. John in 1812, aged sixty-nine. His wife was Sarah, daughter of Joshua Chandler. His son, Honorable William Botsford, was appointed Judge of Vice-Admiralty in 1803, was a member of the council, and also a judge of the Supreme Court. His daughter, Sarah, was the wife of Stephen Millidge, Sheriff of Westmoreland, and his daughter, Ann, wife of the Reverend John Millidge.

JAMES BRENTON, of Rhode Island, went to Halifax, and was a notary public there as early as September, 1775. He was afterward a member of the council, and a judge of the Supreme Court. In 1800 he was appointed Judge of Vice-Admiralty. He married first, Rebecca Scott, secondly, Miss Russell, of Halifax. Edward, his only son by his first marriage, was, in 1835, a judge in Newfoundland. His son John, by his second marriage, was secretary to Admiral Provost on the East India station, and a captain in the British navy. His daughter Harriet became the wife of her cousin, Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Bart., Rear-Admiral of the Blue, K.C.B. and K.S.F., who, from 1787 to 1789, was an officer of the "Dido," Captain Sandys, employed in surveying the coast of Nova Scotia.

ELISHA BUDD, of New York, ensign in the King's American Regiment, was at the siege of Savannah, and in several engagements in the South. His property was confiscated and he went to Digby, Nova Scotia, where he became a merchant and a justice of the court of common pleas. He died at Liverpool, England, in 1813, aged fifty-one. His wife was a daughter of Isaac Bonnell.

GEORGE BRINLEY was commissary and storekeeper general in the garrison at Halifax in October, 1797. His wife was a sister of Lady Wentworth and of Benning Wentworth. William Birch Brinley, his son, married Joanna Allen, daughter of John Allen, Esq., of Preston, Nova Scotia, and their only daughter was the wife of William Lawson, of Halifax. One of George Brinley's daughters was Mrs. Moody, the mother of Mrs. Gore, the novelist, who, at the death of Sir Charles Mary Wentworth, inherited the "Prince's Lodge" estate at Halifax.

JOSHUA CHANDLER, of New Haven, barrister-at-law, was graduated at Yale in 1747. His property, which he valued at thirty thousand pounds, was confiscated, and in 1783 he went to Annapolis. In March, 1787, he crossed the Bay of Fundy to St. John to meet the commissioners on Loyalist claims, and in a violent snowstorm perished near the New Brunswick coast. His son William and his daughter Elizabeth also died at this time. His sons Samuel, Charles, William (graduated at Yale in 1773), and Thomas were all in New Brunswick.

WARD CHIPMAN, of Massachusetts, was born in 1754, and graduated at Harvard in 1770. In 1775, he was driven from his house to Boston, and was one of the eighteen country gentlemen who next year were addressers of Gage. At the evacuation of Boston, he left and went to Halifax. Later, he removed to New Brunswick, where he became a member of the assembly, Advocate-General, Solicitor-General, Justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the council, and President and Commander-in-Chief of the colony. He died at Fredericton in 1824, and was buried in St. John. His only son, Ward, graduated at Harvard in 1805, was finally Chief-Justice of New Brunswick, and died at St. John in 1851. In August, 1860, the Prince of Wales, visiting St. John, occupied the Chipman mansion.

ENOS COLLINS, a member of the legislative council, who married, June 28, 1825, at St. Paul's Church, Reverend Dr. Willis officiating, Margaret, eldest daughter of Judge, afterward Sir Brenton Halliburton, was long the richest man in Halifax. His family were prominent members of St. Paul's.

JOHN CREIGHTON, lieutenant-colonel in the militia, lived at Lunenburg. His daughter Sarah was married, August 13, 1799, to Lewis Martin Wilkins, sheriff of Halifax County. His daughter Lucy was married, August 2, 1792, by the Reverend Mr. Money, to Hibbert Newton Binney, collector of customs for Halifax County. Colonel Creighton died May 28, 1826.

ROBERT CUNARD, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was attainted of treason, and had his estate confiscated. He died at Portland, New Brunswick, in 1818, aged sixty-nine. His son Abraham, who became a prominent merchant in Halifax, and died in that city, was the father of Sir Samuel Cunard, the founder of the Cunard Steamship Line.

RICHARD CUNNINGHAM, of Windsor, probably a son of John Cunningham, appointed Indian Superintendent by Governor Parr, married "at the seat of Sir John Wentworth" in Halifax, August 22, 1809, Sarah Apthorp Morton, eldest daugther of the Honorable Perez Morton, of Boston, and niece of Lady Wentworth. The Reverend Dr. Gray officiated at this wedding. Richard Cunningham had one daughter, married to the Reverend John Storrs, long Rector of Cornwallis, and another to the Reverend Mr. Clinch. He had sons--John and Morton.

JAMES DE LANCEY, of Westchester, New York, son of Peter de Lancey and his wife, Elizabeth Golden, was sheriff of Westchester. At the time of the Revolution he was lieutenant-colonel commandant of a battalion in the regiment of his uncle, the senior Oliver de Lancey. At the peace he went to Nova Scotia and settled at Annapolis, where he died, in 1800, a member of the council. Martha, his widow, also died there in 1827, aged seventy-three.

MICHAEL FRANCKLIN, or Francklyn, a New England man, appears in Nova Scotia as early as 1752. In 1761 he was made a justice of the peace, and May 3, 1762, was appointed to the council. In 1766, shortly after the death of Governor Wilmot and before the arrival of Lord William Campbell, he was made lieutenant-governor, taking command of the province until the governor came. In 1768 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the Island of St. John (P. E. I.), but continued to hold the office of lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia until 1776, when Commodore Mariot Arbuthnot was appointed. Mr. Francklin rendered the province distinguished service. He administered the government several times, was agent for Indian affairs, and had a voice in all legislative concerns. His wife, born in 1740, was Susanna, daughter of Joseph Boutineau, of Boston, and granddaughter of Mr. Peter Faneuil of that city. He married her in Boston, January 21, 1762. They had ten children born between July, 1763, and December, 1780, of whom James Boutineau Francklin, Clerk of the House of Assembly for nearly forty-two years, was the eldest.

FRANCIS GREEN was born in Boston in 1742, and graduated at Harvard in 1760. He early took an ensign's commission in the 4oth Regiment and was present at the siege of Louis-burg. In 1776, he went to Halifax where he was appointed a magistrate. In 1777, he went back to New York, and the next year was proscribed and banished. For a time he was in England, but in June, 1784, he returned to Nova Scotia, and was appointed sheriff of the county of Halifax and senior judge of the court of common pleas. He was the second son of the Honorable Benjamin Green; his wife was Susanna, daughter of Joseph Green. His daughter, Susanna, who died in 1802, was the wife of Stephen Hall Binney.

THOMAS CHANDLER HALIBURTON ("Sam Slick"), a grandson of William Haliburton and his wife, Susanna Otis, who were married in King's Chapel, Boston, and afterward lived in Newport, Rhode Island, was perhaps the most eminent literary man Canada has ever produced. He was born at Windsor, December 17, 1796, entered King's College in 1810, was graduated in 1815, received from his alma mater the degree of M.A., in 1851, and was made a D.C.L. by Oxford University in 1858. Mr. Haliburton was early admitted to the bar of his native province, engaging in politics as well, and was made a judge of the Supreme Court in 1841. He resigned his judgeship in 1856 and went to England, where he entered Parliament as member for Lancaster, representing that county from 1859101865. His great political service in Nova Scotia was his championship of the act abolishing restriction on the Roman Catholic religion. His best-known books are his "History of Nova Scotia," "Bubbles of Canada," "The Letter Bag of the Great Western, or Life in a Steamer," "The Old Judge, or Life in a Colony," "The Clockmaker," "The Attache," "Wise Saws," and "Nature and Human Nature." These writings are the works of a master of satire, yet a man of large, genial spirit. Judge Haliburton married first, Louisa, daughter of Captain Neville, of the 19th Light Dragoons; secondly, Sarah Harriet, daughter of William M. Owen, of Woodhouse, Shropshire, England, and widow of E. H. Williams of Eaton-Mascott, Shrewsbury. He died at Gordon House, Islesworth-on-the-Thames, August 27, 1865.

SIR BRENTON HALLIBURTON, KT., was the son of Dr. John Halliburton who came from Scotland to Newport, Rhode Island, as surgeon in a British war ship, and married there, Miss Brenton, daughter of Jahleel Brenton, and aunt of Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton. He was baptized in Trinity Church, Newport, December 27,1774, and came with his parents to Nova Scotia during the progress of the Revolution. He was educated for the law in England, returned to Nova Scotia to practise, and from 1833 to 1860, was Chief-Justice of the province. His wife was Margaret, daughter of Bishop Charles Inglis.

JAMES WILLIAM JOHNSTON, born in Jamaica, West Indies, August 29, 1792, was a son of William Moreton Johnston, a Georgia Loyalist, who, after the Revolution settled in Jamaica, and grandson of Dr. Lewis Johnston, a Scotchman. His brother Lewis, a physician, like himself a graduate of Edinburgh University, married a Miss Pryor, and lived for many years in Nova Scotia. His brother John married Laura Stevenson, daughter of the Attorney-General of Jamaica, and practised medicine in Annapolis, Nova Scotia. His sister Eliza was the wife of Judge Thomas Ritchie of Annapolis, the mother of Judge John W. Ritchie, of Halifax, and of Sir William Johnston Ritchie, Chief Justice of the Dominion of Canada. His sister Laleah was the wife of Dr. William Bruce Almon. James William Johnston was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar in 1813, and began to practise in Kentville. From Kentville he removed to Halifax, where he rose rapidly in his profession, and entering political life, became solicitor-general, attorney-general, judge in equity and at last in 1873, governor. When he received the last appointment he was in the South of France. He never reached the province, but died in England on his way home. For years Judge Johnston was the great conservative leader in Nova Scotia, as the Honorable Joseph Howe was the liberal leader. As has elsewhere been stated, he was one of the most prominent of those who seceded from St. Paul's Church and joined the Baptists. Of this denomination some members of his family are still devoted adherents.

GEORGE DUNCAN LUDLOW, of New York, at the time of the Revolution was a judge of the Supreme Court, and one of the most influential men in the colony. In 1783, he went to New Brunswick, where he was a member of the first council, and later, became the first Chief-Justice of the province. He died at Frederic-ton, February 12, 1808. Frances, his widow, daughter of Thomas Duncan, died at St. John, in 1825, at the age of eighty-seven. His daughter Elizabeth was the wife of the Honorable John-Robinson of St. John.

JAMES MORDEN was a member of the old "Council of Twelve." He owned a fine estate in Aylesford, and it was he who induced Bishop Charles Inglis to settle there. Through his means the Aylesford Church was built in 1790.

JAMES PUTNAM, of Worcester, Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard of 1746, studied law with Judge Trowbridge, and settled in Worcester, where he became one of the ablest lawyers in America. At the time of the Revolution he entered the British service, and in 1776, embarked with the army for Halifax, two years later being proscribed and banished. In 1784 he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in New Brunswick, and a member of the council. He died at St. John in 1789. John Adams was a student of law in his office.

BEVERLY ROBINSON, JR., of New York, was a member of the council of New Brunswick, and an important person in the province. The Robinson family was of the highest social standing in New York, and its members, unlike the Morris family, seem all to have been Loyalists. Colonel Beverly Robinson, senior, a son of the Honorable John Robinson, of Virginia, came to New York and married Susanna Phillips, of Phillips Manor, on the Hudson. During the Revolution he took an active part on the side of the Crown, and at the peace, with part of his family, went to England. His name appears as a member of the first council of New Brunswick, but he never took his seat. His sons were, Beverly, junior, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Loyal American regiment, his brother-in-law Thomas Barclay having the rank of major; John, who was also a member of the New Brunswick council and treasurer of the province; Sir Frederick, G.C.B., who was an officer in the British army, and served under the Duke of Wellington; Sir William Henry, K.C.H., in the Commissariat of the British army; and Morris, also in the army. The younger Beverly Robinson married Nancy, daughter of Reverend Dr. Henry Barclay, John married Elizabeth, daughter of Chief-Justice Ludlow, of New Brunswick, and Sir William Henry married Catherine, daughter of Cortlandt Skinner, Attorney-General of New Jersey. Three of the brothers, Beverly, John, and Morris, have descendants in New Brunswick.

TIMOTHY RUGGLES, son of the Reverend Timothy Ruggles of Rochester, Massachusetts, was born in 1711, and graduated at Harvard in 1732. Before the Revolution he distinguished himself both at the bar and in politics, in 1757 being appointed associate justice of the court of common pleas, and in 1765, a delegate to the Congress of nine colonies at New York. As the Revolution progressed he became one of the most violent supporters of the Crown, and was accordingly fiercely hated by the Whigs. At the evacuation of Boston he accompanied the troops to Halifax, and some time after, became a proprietor of the town of Digby. He died at Wilmot, in 1795, aged eighty-five. One of his descendants is the Reverend John Owen Ruggles, of Halifax, and another Mr. Timothy Dwight Ruggles, an eminent lawyer and queen's counsel, of Bridgetown.

JONATHAN SEWALL, Attorney-General of Massachusetts, was graduated at Harvard in 1748. He was long an intimate friend of John Adams, and his friendship with that distinguished man was not interrupted even by the Revolution. In 1775 he went to England, and in 1788, having been appointed Judge of the Admiralty for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, came out to Halifax. He died at St. John in 1796, aged sixty-eight. His wife was Esther, fourth daughter of Edmund Quincy, and sister of the wife of John Hancock. His son, Jonathan Sewall, became Chief-Justice of Lower Canada, and died at Quebec in 1840. His son Stephen was solicitor-general of the same province, and died at Montreal in 1832.

GILBERT STUART of Newport, Rhode Island, was the father of Gilbert Stuart the painter. In the Revolution his property was confiscated and he went to Nova Scotia. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Captain John Anthony, and his only daughter, Anne, became the wife of Henry Newton, collector of customs. He died at Halifax in 1793, aged seventy-five.

NATHANIEL RAY THOMAS, of Massachusetts, was graduated at Harvard College in 1751, and in 1776, his property confiscated, went to Nova Scotia and settled at Windsor, where he was collector of customs. His wife was Sally Deering, of Boston, and his only daughter was the wife of Judge Lewis Morris Wilkins. It is probable that through the Deerings his family was connected with Lady Wentworth. In 1789, Mr. Thomas was fined in Windsor for failing to attend church for three months. He died, August 12, 1823, aged sixty-eight. August 17, 1797, Lieutenant Charles Thomas, H. M. 7th Regt., "a cousin of Sir John Wentworth," was accidentally shot and killed by a brother officer. Lieutenant Thomas was a great favorite with the Duke of Kent, who lamented his death and erected a monument over his grave. His funeral was from Government House.

PROVO WALLIS was an officer of the dockyard, and married, September 29, 1788, Elizabeth Lawlor, of Halifax. His son the venerable Rear-Admiral Sir Provo W. P. Wallis, G.C.B., born at Halifax, April 12, 1791, is still living. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Martha, was married June 31, 1813, to Lord James Townshend, Captain of H. M. Ship, "Aeolus," R.N.

Sir Provo W. P. Wallis, who is known as the "Father of the Fleet," was senior surviving lieutenant of the "Shannon "in her engagement with the "Chesapeake," and conducted the latter steamer into Halifax Harbor, in 1813. On board was the body of Captain James Lawrence, who distinguished himself in the American navy, and made immortal the words: "Don't give up the ship." Captain Lawrence's body was first buried in Halifax, but was afterwards removed to Trinity churchyard, New York, where an imposing monument was erected to his memory. Of Admiral Wallis, on the recent celebration of his one hundredth birthday, a newspaper said: "The world's history, it is believed, does not afford a parallel to his case, A man comparatively hale and hearty in 1891, who was a member of the fleet when mighty Nelson was yet winning his fame, when Trafalgar was yet in the future, who first smelt powder in 1805 and gained his first decoration in 1810, is a wonder indeed."

SIR JOHN WENTWORTH, BART., was governor of Nova Scotia from 1792 until 1808, and an ardent Churchman. Sir Charles Mary Wentworth, his son, the second and last baronet, who, however, spent little time in Nova Scotia, was made provincial secretary in 1808. Lady Wentworth's brother, Benning Wentworth, was made provincial treasurer in 1793, provincial secretary in 1796, and master of the rolls and register in chancery in 1800. He died in 1808, in the fifty-third year of his age.

A few other leading Church names in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are: Allison, Armstrong, Barlow, Barrington, Belcher, Betts, Boggs, Bonnett, Butler, Campbell, Carman, Chaloner, Coster, De Blois, Denison, De Peyster, Desbarres, De Wolf, Dodd, Fraser, George, Grassie, Gray, Griswold, Hamilton, Harris, Hartshorne, Hazen, Hill, Jones, Kaulbach, Leslie, Maynard, Merritt, Millidge, Muir, Newton, Owen, Palmer, Piper, Pryor, Ratchford, Ritchie, Roberts, Robie, Robinson, Ross. Slater, Starr, Thorne, Townsend, Tremaine, Twining, Van Buskirk, Vroom, Wallace, White, Wiggins, Williams, and Winniett.

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