There are certain things you never imagine you’ll found in your family tree. I do have Minute Men present at the Battle of Lexington. I have someone who may have served in the Rhode Island militia. But the FIRST participant in the Revolutionary War that I found among my direct ancestors was James Anderson, Loyalist.
That was a complete surprise. My mother never knew that her grandmother, Bessie Blanche Martin who died at age 27, was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. As I uncovered Bessie Blanche Martin’s story (part one – two – three – four – five) I found that Bessie had a gg-grandfather, James Anderson, who arrived in the Loyalist settlement at Chester, Nova Scotia in the mid-1780’s, settled there with his wife and children, and never lived again in the United States. It was his great grandson, Marston Martin, that chose to move to Newton, Massachusetts around 1885, with some other relatives from his wife’ family. Bessie married in Massachusetts, had two sons, and died very young.
Chester, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia
Chester in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia lies a couple dozen miles east from Halifax, along the southern coast. It was sparsely settled by the English as early as 1760, and there were vacant properties given to Loyalists after the American Revolution in the 1780’s. James Anderson seems not to have been part of the initial group of Loyalists to receive land in the early 1780’s, so his arrival date is uncertain.
Thinking about Loyalists
I’ve had a couple of years to think about my ancestors’ roles in the Revolutionary War. The first concept I had to grasp was that it was really a civil war. The colonies were loyal to the king because England was (in many cases) their home country. They were English. As recently as the French and Indian War in 1759, the colonial militia and the Redcoats fought (hypothetically at least) side by side. It took 150 years of political turmoil in England, and a troubled relationship between the mother country and the colonies, to motivate the colonies to believe they might be better off fending for themselves. But it was like any political opinion, NOT EVERYONE SHARED IT.
As I began to research Loyalists and their experiences, a second surprise was in store for me. THERE ARE STILL LOYALISTS, in a way. There are still people who greatly admire those that fought NOT to divide the U.S. off from Great Britain. Some groups that help researchers learn more about Loyalists do so because they still admire the cause. For someone who grows up in the U.S., this comes as a shock. What a great lesson this has been in historical thought. The winner gets to write the story, and write out the people who don’t fit the new reality. It’s always important to think about all sides of a question and to NEVER assume that everyone feels the way we do, just because everyone we’ve met so far does.
What I know about James Anderson
The story of James Anderson must be a fascinating one, but I don’t really know it yet. There are interesting clues, and at least several descendants trying to figure out his story. I have learned a lot by consulting with my mom’s fourth cousin, Pat Hagan, who had left a lot of inquiries online. He has a cousin connection in Nova Scotia, and has shared information with me. Let me present the details that are known. Of course I approached this problem from the most recent events back to more distant events, but let me present a timeline here in chronological order.
First, a warning: there are clearly at least two other Loyalist James Andersons in the Chester area at that time: a father and son from the Boston area who had origins in Scotland (but I am not setting out to prove that today). The facts below are the ones that I believe belong to MY James Anderson. I present this here to allow others to add to or refute this information.
- 1748 James may have been born around 1748. Parents and place unknown to me. (8)
- 1772 James leases Lot #22 on Thames Street, Baltimore, from John Bond. Thames Street is in the Fell’s Point section. Following an index page pdf sent to me by Pat Hagan (good going, Pat!), I tracked down this page of land records on the Maryland State Archives. I registered for an account, and am waiting to gain access to the books, but here is the index entry (1):
- 1770’s? James married Mary, date and place unknown. There is a marriage recorded at the First Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, 03 Jan 1775 for James Anderson and Mary Clark (12). But this may or may not be them, and other than the birth of the first child in Baltimore in 1776 (recorded much later in Nova Scotia) there is no evidence of where the marriage took place. Some cousins think her name may be Brimmer, because of the name of the fourth child, Ann Brimmer Anderson. The source for the name Mary is the Chester Records of their “Heirs”. (6)
- 1774 John French, of Fell’s Point, has a probate record in Baltimore 12 Oct 1774 – 14 Nov 1774. Since many factors are leading me to think James was from the Fell’s Point area, I believe this may indeed be my James Anderson. Just like the Claim papers, the bequests here suggest a fairly affluent lifestyle. The gilt-framed picture suggests they may be of the same religion, but whether this is Catholic or Episcopal, or something else, I’m not sure. (3)
- “Bequeaths to James Anderson – friend”
- to have 1 pair of cast iron hand irons and 1 looking glass, and 1 gilt-framed picture (“of our Saviour on the Cross”), 1/2 dozen silver tea spoons, and tongs and strainer.
- named guardian to testator’s daughter and her estate and to keep it in his possession until she comes of age and should she die them to keep estate for the benefit of testator’s relations in Ireland until such time as they call on him.
- named executor of will.
- Others mentioned: daughter Ellinor French and witn. William Asquith, Thomas Elliott, Micajah James.
- “Bequeaths to James Anderson – friend”
- 1776 Daughter Mary born in Baltimore, Maryland, 19 Nov 1776. (6)
- 1770‘s/1780‘s During this period James acquired two properties: (7)
- A Farm containing 320 Acres, seventy of which cleared and well fenced and a Dwelling House and Barn thereon, the growth of Wood Black Walnut … Being situated on the North Branch of Potomack near Fort Cumberland
- Also a two Story Brick House well finished with five fire places in it, a two Story framed House on the back of the above well finished with Two Fire Rooms in it, A Stable and Kitchen both framed, Situated on Follys point on the East part of Baltimore Town in Maryland [note: I expect this is meant to be FELLS POINT on the east part of Baltimore …]
- 1776 James “was among the first that opposed the Association at the Beginning of the Rebellion and at many times was under the necessity of leaving his Estate and family at their Discretion, and Screen himself in the Woods.” (7)
- 1778 (April) James “joined His Majesty’s Forces at Philadelphia and had a [Permit?] from General Howe to procure Provisions for the Garrison which he did in a Vessel of his own; in consequence thereof the Rebels Confiscated his Estate, and every individual Article he was Possessed of.” (7) This shows that James owned a vessel. I assume the claim was denied (see full transcript, below) because there is only supplying going on here, no real military service. But I don’t know much about this subject.
- 1778 – 178? James “rendered every Essential Service in his power during the War, serving often as a Pilot” (7)
- 1781 James was admitted as a member of the New York Marine Society. (certificate, below, provided by Pat Hagan, from an original passed down in the family).
- 1782 Daughter Eunice born in New York. (6)
- 1785 Arrival in Chester by this date. In Chester birth record for his children, recorded 1785, James and Mary Anderson said to be “Late of Baltimore, in Mary Land.” (6)
- 1785 Grant of 150 acres in Chester, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia to James Anderson. (11)
- 1786 James “between the 15th of July, 1783, and the 25th of May, 1784, lived or resided at Halifax” (7)
- 1788 Grant of two Town Lots to James Anderson in Chester, Nova Scotia. (11)
- 1788 Robert Anderson, tanner, of Fell’s Point, Baltimore Town, has a probate record in Baltimore 8 Sep 1787 / 5 Sep 1789. He mentions a married daughter, Milley McDade, and a wife, Mary Anderson, and “testator desires that something be left for his relations in Pennsylvania.” He mentions his property near Bank and Bond streets, and Swan Alley. I have no idea if Robert is related to James Anderson. But if he is, this provides an interesting clue to other family members being in Pennsylvania. (2)
- 1790 (Feb 6) Son John Secomb Anderson born in Chester. He is likely named for the elderly Chester Congregational minister, John Seccombe, who passed away in 1793 (a graduate of Harvard University with a controversial career in the clergy, John Seccombe lived a long and fascinating life). Whether there is more to the connection, I do not know. Rev Seccombe has a diary online from a much earlier period in Chester. (6)
- 1791 (Jun 24) Lodge No. 9, Masons, certify that Brother James Anderson is a Regular Registered Master Mason on the Registry in Nova Scotia. Certificate, below, provided by Pat Hagan, from an original which has been passed down in the family.
- 1793 James Anderson listed on the 1793 Poll Tax record for Chester, as a “Seaman” with 1 cattle and 3 sheep. (5)
- 1796 (Sep 22) daughter Ann Brimmer Anderson is born in Halifax. (6)
- 1826 (Mar 9) James Anderson died in Chester, Nova Scotia. Source: Abstract of “Lunenburg County Birth, Marriages and Deaths” on Rootsweb. Note there are three James Andersons in Chester; the other two are a father and son from Scotland, I need to keep checking the vital records. (8) There is also evidence James Anderson may have died in 1796. More on that in the future.
The certificates for the Masons and the Maritime Society definitely belong to James Anderson since they were passed down in the family and the images reached me from my mother’s fourth cousin. They are probably the most certain information. I believe that the Chester Town Book record naming my 4x-great grandfather John Secomb Anderson as the son of James Anderson “late of Baltimore, in Mary Land” definitely refers to my ancestor James Anderson. From that I feel quite sure that the Loyalist claim entered here is also referring to my exact ancestor. I believe that the “Folly’s Point” in the Loyalist claim might easily be a poor recording of Fell’s Point. So I believe the John French bequest refers to my ancestor. Also, according to the Loyalist claim there was a farm near Fort Cumberland, Maryland. After that, any remaining details in Maryland and Chester seem unproven, and I will continue to try and sort them out.
- Find the full record for the lease on Thames Street, Baltimore from 1772, and any other Baltimore land records for James Anderson.
- Figure out whether the Poll Tax list of 1793 , refers to this James Anderson.
- The best prospect for further information may be the farm in or near Cumberland, Maryland which was evidently lost during the Revolutionary War. There could be records of the original purchase, or the surrender of it. The spot was in various counties over the 1700’s: Prince George’s, Frederick, Washington, and Allegany. One would have to disentangle that first, and allow for some confusion in the record holdings.
- See if the Audit Office records of these Loyalist Claims contain any other records for James Anderson – a more complete record of the decision, for instance.
- Completely document the facts for the OTHER James Andersons, Jr and Sr., so as to make clear whether any of these records belong to them.
- Explore more fully the footnotes for Chapter 5 “New England Moves North: the South Shore of Nova Scotia” in People of the Wachusett, p. 273-280. There are some manuscripts and journal articles mentioned in there.
- Investigate land/probate records in Chester, Nova Scotia.
Full text: The Loyalist Claim (A.O. 13 / 24, p. 7-9)
Here is the full text of the Loyalist Claim Files number 1453 and 1562. (7)
No. 1453 – an envelope or outside of folded paper, indecipherable except for “Rejected May 27″
[p. 7] To the Honorable the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament, for Enquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists —– The Memorial of James Anderson.
Sheweth That your Memorialist from Principle of Loyalty and attachment to the British Government was among the first that opposed the Association at the Beginning of the Rebellion and at many times was under the necessity of leaving his Estate and family at their Discretion, and Screen himself in the Woods.
That your Memorialist in April 1778 joined His Majesty’s Forces at Philadelphia and had a [Permit?] from General Howe to procure Provisions for the Garrison which he did in a Vessel of his own; in consequence thereof the Rebels Confiscated his Estate, and every individual Article he was Possessed of.
The your Memorialist rendered every Essential Service in his power during the War, serving often as a Pilot as is well known by Commissioner Duncan of His Majesty’s Dockyard, and John Quin now in the Honble [?] Commission as [?]. That your Memorialist from the heavy Losses he sustained and his indigent Circumstances, was thereby rendered uncapable of going to Great Britain when others did, to give in his claim.
Your Memorialist therefore prays and Hopes that his Case may be taken into Consideration in order that your Memorialist may receive such aid as his Losses and Services may be found to deserve.
And your Memorialist as in Duty Bound
Will Ever Pray
[p. 8] Estimate of the Losses sustained by James Anderson, Loyalist, for his Attachment and Loyalty to the British Government during the late War in America.
—————————– L. [?] D.
A Farm containing 320 Acres, seventy of which cleared and well fenced and a Dwelling House and Barn thereon, the growth of Wood Black Walnut ………………. 560 —
Being situated on the North Branch of Potomack near Fort Cumberland ———
Also a two Story Brick House well finished with five fire places in it, a two Story framed House on the back of the above well finished with Two Fire Rooms in it, A Stable and Kitchen both framed, Situated on Follys point on the East part of Baltimore Town in Maryland …………….200 —-
- Also two Horses ………. @ £10.each …….20 —-
- One fourteen day Clock Mohogany Cased ……. 10 —-
- Two cows @ £5.10.0 each …….. 11—-
- Two Beds and Bed Steads and Furn ……. 20 —-
- One New Mohogany Desk ——- 6 —-
- Seven New Mohogany Chairs ……………………. 7 —-
- Two Mohogany Tables ………….7 . 10 . 0
- Two Large Looking Glasses ………. 3 . 10 . 0
- One Chair and Harness …………… 5 —-
The above Acct in Maryland Currency £1452
Dollars at 7/6 each
[larger title or signature illegible at bottom]
[envelope or front of folded papers] No 1562
The Memorial of James Anderson
d’d 24 April 1786
Rejected 29th May 1786
[p.9] James Anderson late of Maryland but now of Chester, County of Lunenburg maketh oath and faith, that he resided at Halifax from the 15th of July 1783 and to the 25th of March, 1784, and this Deponent further saith, That he was utterly incapable of preserving or delivering to the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament, passed in the 23d Year of the Reign of his present Majesty, entitled, “An Act for appointing Commissioners, to enquire into Losses and Services of all such Persons who have Suffered in their Rights, Properties, and Professions, during the late unhappy Dissentions in America in Consequence of their Loyalty to his Majesty and Attachment to the British Government, or at their Office, any Memorial, Claim, or Request, for Aid or Relief, on Account of this Deponent’s Losses, during the late unhappy Dissentions in America, within the Time allowed by the said Act, or receiving such claims, by Reason that this Deponent, during all such time, viz, between the 15th of July, 1783, and the 25th of May, 1784, lived or resided at Halifax aforesaid And this Deponent further saith that by Reason of his Poverty he was unable to go to England in person, which at that time he thought was necessary if he desired a Claim
Sworn before the [?]claims at Halifax the 22 April 1786
- Baltimore County Court (Land Records, Grantee Index) [MSA CE 32-2] A-Z, p. 0011. Printed 08/19/2013. Online 06/16/2008.
- Baltimore County, Maryland, Wills. Liber 4, i. 1787-1789. Abstracted by Leslie & Neil Keddie, The Family Tree Bookshop. P. 63. Folio 372: Robert Anderson (abstract). I examined this book at the Allen County Public Library.
- Baltimore County, Maryland, Wills, 1774-1779. Abstracted by Leslie & Neil Keddie, The Family Tree Bookshop. p. 8. Folio 289: John French (abstract). I examined this book at the Allen County Public Library.
- Brumbaugh, Gaius Marcus. Maryland Records: Colonial, Revolutionary, County and Church from Original Sources. Vol. 1. Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1915. Frontispiece: Map Showing the Counties of Maryland 1773-1776 by Edward Bennett Mathews.
- Chester, Lunenburg County — 1793. Commissioner of Public Records Nova Scotia Archives RG 1 vol. no. 444 — Poll Tax 1791-1794 Sheet 062
- Chester Township Book (Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia). In particular:
- Births / Family Records, 1762-1820. “Heirs of James and Mary Anderson”
- Claims, American Loyalists, Series II, A. O. 13, number 24, New Claims, Nova Scotia. Public Records Office, London. FHL microfilm 366717 American Loyalist Claims, 1730-1835. Great Britain, Exchequer and Audit Department. A.O. 13 Nova Scotia Bundle, 24., p. 7 – 9, “James Anderson”.
- Deaths, Burials and Probate of Nova Scotians, 1800-1850, from Primary Sources. Vol. 1 (A-E) by Allan Everett Marble. Halifax: Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia, Pub. No. 22, 1999. Page 16, “James Anderson d. 29 Mar 1826 age 78″ cites MG4 Vol. 13(B) which is the Chester Township Records and various Chester church records.
- Henderson, T. Stephen and Wendy G. Robichaud. The Nova Scotia Planters in the Atlantic World 1759-1830. Fredericton, N.B.: Acadiensis Press, 2012.
- Jaffee, David. People of the Wachusett, Great New England in History and Memory 1630-1860. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. See in particular Chapter 5, New England Moves North: the South Shore of Nova Scotia.
- Loyalists and Land Settlement in Nova Scotia, A List compiled by Marion Gilroy, under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist. Halifax: Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Pub. no. 4, 1937. Reprinted for Clearfield, Baltimore, 1990, 1995. This book may be browsed at Ancestry.com. Page 67, “James Anderson”.
- “Maryland, Marriages, 1666-1970,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F4JQ-84V : accessed 29 Sep 2013), James Anderson and Mary Clark, 03 Jan 1775.
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