Loyalist Research Network Paper Abstracts For Loyalism And The Revolutionary Atlantic World Conference

Architecture and Furniture: Defining Identity in Loyalist New Brunswick

In 1783 over 14,000 Loyalists gathered in New York and were
transported by a series of fleets of ships to the St. John River Valley and
the Passamaquoddy Bay in a portion of British America that would become New
Brunswick. They were not a homogeneous group. They came from nearly every colony in the former Thirteen Colonies, colonies which had developed their own identities and traditions over nearly 150 years of settlement and expansion. In this wilderness, this
heterogeneous mix of people sought not only to reestablish their lives and
livelihood but also to define themselves to their communities and to the
world as distinctive to their victorious former compatriots.
Through the examination of the material culture legacy of the homes
that they built and the furniture that they furnished their homes, the
Loyalists struggled in the first two decades to regain what they felt they
had lost by their migration to a virtual wilderness. They were not
successful in defining their identity as Anglo-Americans until the second
and third decade of the 19th century when they were joined by immigrants
from the Lowland of Scotland who strongly influenced style and design in the
province for the first half of the 19th century.

Darrell Butler,
Manager, Heritage Resources,
Material Historian/Chief Curator,
Kings Landing Corporation

Loyalist Printers as Editors of Cultural Transfer

Throughout the American Revolution, printers on both sides of the political fence played a pivotal role in enabling pamphleteers, poets, satirists, essayists, broadsheet writers, and newspaper editors to circulate their passion and polemics about the issues at the heart of the conflict. At war’s end, when more than thirty thousand Loyalists moved to British North America to re-establish their lives, a number of highly skilled printers—many of them interrelated through apprenticeship or marriage—joined the exodus. Established printing names such as Mott, Howe, Sword, Hazard, and Sauer brought with them to Saint John, Shelburne, Halifax, and Charlottetown both a range of printing and publishing experience and an understanding of the literary and cultural expectations of their Loyalist readership. This paper will explore how through their establishment of local newspapers and journals (such as William Cochrane and John Howe’s The Nova Scotia Magazine, 1789-92), their selection of excerpted and local literature for publication, and their promotion of Loyalist educational institutions, theatrical performances, and book subscriptions, they played a major role in effecting the transfer of Loyalist cultural values to the Maritime Provinces in the post 1779 period.

Gwendolyn Davies
University of New Brunswick
Visiting Senior Resident, Massey College, and
Visiting Fellow, Book History /Print Culture Program
University of Toronto

Singing Schools and Tunebooks in the Maritimes: the Role of Loyalist Stephen Humbert

“On a shelf is laid the library, which consists but of the bible, a new almanac, and Humbert’s Union Harmony, the province manual of sacred music, of which they are most particularly fond.” So wrote Mrs. Francis Beavan in her Sketches and Tales Illustrative of Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick published in London in 1845. This presentation will look at the role of the Loyalists, and in particular, Stephen Humbert, in the cultural transfer of the tradition of singing schools and tunebooks from the American colonies to their new home. It will also examine the influence of similar instruction classes in Britain and demonstrate how Humbert was familiar with and combined aspects of both traditions.

Nancy F. Vogan
Pickard-Bell Professor of Music
Mount Allison University

"Shelburnian manners" or something more?: another look at the sociability patterns of the Loyalists in Port Roseway, Nova Scotia

Barely a month after landing in Port Roseway, Nova Scotia, a number of the Loyalist inhabitants decided to celebrate the King`s birthday by declaring June 4, 1783 as a holiday. They organized a fancy dress ball which lasted into the wee hours of the morning, and set numerous bonfires amongst the stumps, bushes and tents of the pioneer community. Throughout the early years of Port Roseway, “(t)here was…not a royal birthday or saint`s day that did not merit a party of one sort or another”. Surveyor Benjamin Marston was initially appalled by such revelry and refused to partake (although he eventually made exceptions in the right company). Similarly, James Fraser, the author of a seven-page manuscript entitled “A Sketch of Shelburnian Manners”, insisted that “The inhabitants of Shelburne from the highest to the lowest, have a pitiable passion for finery, reveling and dancing and every species of sensual gratification”. Indeed, contemporary commentators believed that Shelburne`s rapid decline was largely due to the idleness and hedonism of the inhabitants. Rather than using sociability as an explanation for Shelburne`s decline, my objective is to assess why Shelburnians felt the need for such festivities, often at the expense of material concerns. It is suggested that these celebrations were instruments of societal, cultural and communal (re)formation. They were a means by which a migrant refugee population could make sense of their sacrifices, reconstitute their political and social identities, and establish a new Loyalist order in the land of Nova Scarcity.

Bonnie Huskins
History Dept.
University of New Brunswick