The theme of this blog is military involvement. It has commonly been said that one of the reasons for the Province of Lower Canada supporting the Irish settlements on rural lands between Quebec City and the U.S. border, was to provide a fringe of defense against potential invasions by the U.S. The U.S. had made several invasions into the Canadas during the War of 1812. Many veterans (on the British side) of this war were then entitled to land grants of "waste lands" in East Frampton. The Henderson brothers had served in the war. As part of their plans to develop the East Frampton settlements they purchased these entitlements from these veterans. Very few of the veterans would ever endeavor to settle on those lands as they wouldn’t be ready for settlement until around 1827. In the 15 years between the war of 1812 and 1827, most had found other places to settle and they were quick to accept the purchase offers from the Hendersons.
In order to be prepared for the unpredictable nature of the U.S., the Province of Lower Canada established militia units in the rural settlements. In 1815, a militia division was established for the County of Beauce. At first, those who were developing the settlements were appointed as militia officers. By October 1825, Edward Pyke was a Captain of the Militia and he conducted the 1825 census of Frampton Township as part of his duties. In February 1827, Gilbert Henderson became Captain of the Militia for East Frampton and in the following month settler William Wawne was appointed Lieutenant of the Militia for West Frampton. Andrew Murphy became Captain of the Militia for West Frampton in April 1831 replacing Wawne. In April 1834, Martin Murphy and John Hodgson became Captains of the Militia for West Frampton. In August 1834, Timothy Connell became Captain of the Militia for East Frampton and later that year John Dillon would be found as a Lieutenant of Militia in the same area. These persons had sworn their allegiance to the Province of Lower Canada.
But the threat of military action in the 1830s did not come from the U.S. It was in the "internal" Rebellion of 1837. Political unrest in the Canadas had arisen as a result of an economic depression. Declining agricultural prices as well as some crop failures created an agrarian crisis in Lower Canada. There were mass meetings, fiery speeches and a revolutionary spirit became visible in the fall of 1837. A riot of French and English extremists occurred in November. The insurgents were called "patriotes" perhaps due to the involvement of those of French descent. Most of the violence occurred in and around Montreal. While there was little, if any, involvement by the Frampton Irish, it didn’t mean they had no concerns about the potential effects of this rebellion.
A few months ago, a fellow researcher Jack Garneau (descendant of Edward Anderson and the George Smyth families) found a document at the National Archives of Canada that expressed the concern of the Frampton Irish. He sent me a copy of the document. Whenever I receive something significant on the history of the Frampton Irish at no cost, I try to share it as broadly as possible. So the following is a transcription of the document.
To His Excellency Lord Gosford, Governor in Chief of the Canadas
We the undersigned inhabitants residing in the Township of Frampton, District of Quebec beg leave most respectfully to approach your Lordship with feelings of loyalty and confidence.
From the present state of affairs in this province we conceive we have full reason to be alarmed for our personal safety, detached as we are from other settlements inhabited by persons of like origin of ourselves. We have every reason to apprehend that in case of any popular outbreak our isolated condition will mark us out as an easy prey to the French population by which we are surrounded, here we are ready and willing to defend ourselves, our Sovereign and our laws provided we have the means.
We therefore pray your Lordship will sanction the formation of a volunteer corps in this township that you will cause them to be supplied with arms & ammunition that should our services be required we may be able to oppose the rebellions in this portion of the district, or if unfortunately we should be obliged we might be in a condition to make a safe retreat to Quebec where we would gladly defend to the last the honour gained by the immortal Wolfe, and the blood of our countrymen.
We pray your Lordship will be pleased to select officers (in case you concede to our prayer) out of the names hereunto annexed.
George Smyth, Chairman
Received and answered on 13 December 1837 to G.S. Bagnall, Esq.
William Dickson, G. S. (George) Bagnall, George Smyth, John Thompson, James Wilson, Edward Wilson, William Wilson, John Foster, Sam Davison (Davidson), George Smyth, Jr., Joshua Smyth, Joseph Smyth, Charles Smyth, Thomas Smyth, William Smyth, James Wilson, John Darker, John Stanley, William Stanley, George Stanley, Jacob Brown, William Gibson, Charles Harper, Sr., Charles Harper, Jr., David Harper, John Harper, William Harper, John Sergeant, Jr., Owen Birds, Mic (Michael) Rooney, John Corrigan, James Corrigan, James Maclegun (McElgan), James Scott, John Watson, Sr., John Watson, Jr., Edward Anderson, James Hall, Robert Hall, Daniel Miles, Jack (John) Flack, John Bagley, Sr., William Bagley, Thomas Bagley, John Bagley, Jr., Jonathan Bagley, Robert Bagley, John Crawford, William Holms (Holmes), John Nicholson, Sr., Richard Nicholson, John Nicholson, Jr., Francis Hunter, Andrew Reazin, Isaac Holt, James Watson, Robert Morris, John Morris, John Lalley, Robert Kell, John Kell, George Kell, William Kell, Robert Fourd (Ford), John (Illegible), John Dillon, Thomas Hall, Robert McNeely, John McNeely, Robert McNeely, Jr., James McNeely, James McNeely,Jr., John McNeely, Jr., William McNeely, Joseph McNeely, John Sergen (Sargeant), Thomas Sergen (Sargeant), William Sergen (Sargeant), H. (Hugh) Dickson, Thomas Dickson, Michael Kenny, Anthony Comber, Hugh Rooney, and Michael Fitzgerald.
Although many of these names were probably members of the local militia unit, they seemed to wish to make their loyalties clear to the Provincial governor. Their notation to the honour gained by Wolfe, was in reference to British General James Wolfe who successfully invaded Quebec City in 1759 causing the surrender of the French forces. This list of names also serves as a "heads of household census" of East Frampton in 1837. Many of the names were Protestants, but there are also several Catholics named. I always try to point out that there was little, if any, conflict between the Irish Protestants and the Irish Catholic in Frampton. They seemed more inclined to identify with their common Irish heritage than to resort to any sectarian division.
I have also received several transcriptions of genealogical documents from another source. I intend to make those the theme of next month’s blog.