Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Fort Havoc (Wallace Hale)

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Something More About DeLancey's Men


Resuming our consideration of the Woodstock settlers who served in DeLancey's brigade, we shall say a few words next about

Lieutenant Benjamin P. Griffith

He was born at New York, July 4th, 1754 and was therefore a young officer when first gazetted as lieutenant of Lt. Col. Stephen DeLancey's company. During the war he had rather a chequered experience being taken prisoner by the Americans on August 22, 1777 at the time of their attack on King's Bridge, then released and taking part in the Carolina campaign in which he was again made a prisoner. At the close of the war he returned with his company to Long Island. Shortly before his evacuation of New York by the British he married Mary Carson, who was born in Philadelphia, much to the disapproval of the young lady's parents who cherished a violent antipathy to all Loyalists.

As already mentioned Lieut. Griffith served in three companies of DeLancey's brigade, but was for the greater part of the time in Lt. Col. Stephen DeLancey's company in which were also enrolled Dan. McSheffrey, Peter Clark, James Craig, John McLaughlin and others of the Woodstock settlers.

The Griffith family was connected by marriage with that of Governor Cadwallader Colden of New York and Lieut. Griffith's first child was named Christiana Colden. She is said to have been the first child of English parentage born at Woodstock, although that honor is also claimed for the late Mrs. James Upham and in the absence of any actual data the point cannot be decided. Rev. John Beardsley baptized Christiana Colden and Eliza Leaming Griffith on the 20th day of August 1789 at the time of his first missionary visit to the upper St. John. Lieut. Griffith was active in the first settlement of Woodstock. He was one of the first magistrates of the County of York and occasionally attended the court of general sessions held in the month of January at Fredericton in the court room of the Province Hall. His name appears amongst the attending Justices of the Peace at the session of January 1791 and on other subsequent occasions. It was under his direction as Commissioner of highways that the first roads at Woodstock were laid out. His interest in military affairs continued to the last. He commanded the Woodstock company of the York County Light Infantry in which were enrolled many old veterans of the revolutionary war. On the 9th March 1799 he was gazetted Major and afterwards advanced to the rank of brevet Lieut. Colonel.

In this connection we may note an incident which displays the patriotism of the founders of our province.

In the year 1798 England was engaged in a life and death struggle against the united powers of France and Spain. Bonaparte contemplated the invasion of Britain; the resources of government were at a low ebb and the national existence was at stake. An appeal was made to the English people and the response was hearty and immediate; contributions flowed in from all quarters from thousands of pounds down to sixpence, even the mite of the infant and widow helping to swell the amount. Soldiers, sailors, clerks, servants, young lads and superannuated old men all cheerfully gave to the fund for national defence. In a very short time a sum equivalent to fifteen millions of dollars ($15,000,000) was placed at the disposal of the British government and Bonaparte was speedily convinced of the futility of his project of invading England. The British colonies loyally contributed to the defence of the empire. The infant province of New Brunswick, with a population of perhaps 15,000 inhabitants, contributed $12,000. to the national defence. Nearly all the subscriptions were to be renewed annually till the close of the war but a second contribution fortunately was not required. In New Brunswick, Governor Carleton headed the list with $2,000; Chief Justice Ludlow gave $500, Judge Saunders (then living at the "Barony" in Prince William) gave $250, Lieut. Col. Ellegood $90, and Captain John Davidson for himself and his company of militia $200. Captain Griffith's company of the York Light Infantry subscribed $120 which Captain Griffith supplemented with $40 as his own personal contribution. The other half pay officers were many of them equally generous. Captains James Hallet, James French, Gerhardus Clowes, Peter Clements, Joseph Cunliffe and others pledged 10 pounds (or $40) each payable annually during the war.

Colonel Griffith took quite an active part in all that tended to promote the welfare of Woodstock in its early days. He died when comparatively a young man.

The Rev. Frederick Dibblee has the following record in his diary:—

April 15, 1809. Visited and gave the sacrament to Col. Griffith who is in the last stage of his existence.

April 17, Visited Col. Griffith who is almost in his last struggle for life.

April 19, Col. Griffith died last night between the hours of nine and ten o'clock.

This was the first death of a person of note in the little settlement. The interment took place at the old grave yard on the knoll between the old rectory and the Hodgson road, where also the frame of the first church was erected. The removal of the church frame and the completion of the buildings on the present church lot caused a corresponding change in the location of the grave yard. Col. Griffith's remains were removed from the family vault (built of cedar) to their present resting place by his children. A simple headstone marks the grave of Col. Griffith and his wife, but there are at least three errors in the dates recorded in the inscription which is to be regretted.

The first home built by Col. Griffith stood about fifty yards north of where the old homestead now stands surrounded by its venerable willows. Mr. John Davidson, the owner, is a grandson of Capt. John Davidson mentioned above.

Col. Griffith's sword and sash at the time of the St. John fire in 1877, were in possession of his grandson, Dr. J. E. Griffith of Woodstock, and like many other relics of revolutionary times were consumed in the great conflagration.


Sergeant Daniel M'Sheffrey

This hardy old veteran entered Lt.-Col. Stephen DeLancey's company at the beginning of the war and served through all its campaigns. He was a grantee of St. John and one of the pioneer settlers at Woodstock. He lived at first on his property below Bull's Creek, and for several years kept a tavern there for the entertainment of travellers, the place being a very good stand, being near the "old ferry landing." While there he filled positions as parish officer, such as overseer of the poor, etc. About the year 1806 he appears to have sold out to Aaron Putnam and removed to Northampton where he kept tavern for some years. He died January 4, 1823, at the age of 93 years. His descendants still live in the parish of Northampton.


Patrick Birmingham

This old soldier saw hard service under Col. Cruger in South Carolina. He lived for some years in Lower Woodstock, and was probably married when he came to New Brunswick. An Edward Birmingham, son of Patrick and Catherine Birmingham, was baptized by Rev. John Beardsley, August 3rd, 1789. Other children of the family were, Thomas, born Oct. 22, 1789, and Patrick, born June 18, 1792. There are a large number of this family now in Carleton Co., who reside in the parish of Simonds, and at Waterville and Victoria Corner.


Sergeant David Newman

He served throughout the war and was a good and faithful man. He drew lot 1276 at St. John, adjoining that of Capt. Jacob Smith. He sold his lot at Lower Woodstock to Judge Saunders and moved to Northampton, near the old ferry, where he was much respected and filled several important parish officers. He was a communicant member of the Church of England, died Oct. 20, 1824 at the age of 78 years.


Sergeant Wm. Jackson

was in all the campaigns during the revolution. He drew land about two miles above Eel River, but removed thence to Upper Woodstock, where some of his descendants have continued to live ever since. He died May 27, 1830, aged 73 years.


George McGee

This rough and ready old soldier served through the entire war, and on coming to Woodstock drew land now forming the upper part of the farm where Mr. C. H. L. Perkins lives. He removed thence to the mouth of the Becaguimec where he kept a tavern in 1804. On Jan. 12, 1797, Geo. McGee was indicted before the York County Court of Sessions, charged with challenging Capt. Jacob Smith to fight a duel. Samuel Denny Street was the Crown lawyer and his old antagonist Jonathan Bliss appeared for the defendant. Captain Smith and Darius Dickenson were the only witnesses examined and the jury found McGee "not guilty."


Peter Clark

Served through the war, most of the time in Lieut. Griffith's Company. He was also a rough and ready old soldier. He settled on his lot and bought out the co-owners. His house stood very near the spot now occupied by the house of Mr. Stephen Peabody.

On the 10th June 1802, Peter Clark was indicted before the York Court of Sessions for assaulting and beating Margaret Bedell, Robert Geo. Roberts and John Bedell; was found guilty, fined 40 pounds, and bound to keep the peace for two years in the sum of 100 pounds with two sureties in the sum of 50 pounds each. Evidently the old soldier was not always an agreeable neighbour. He sold his property to Oliver Peabody and his sons who came to Woodstock from Maugerville about the year 1814, and removed to Northampton.


Corporal Richard Rogers

Served through the war. Was a grantee at St. John and one of the original settlers at Woodstock. He lived and died at his farm, now owned by Mr. Franklin Bull. He was one of the olden time constables. During the war of 1812 the 104th regiment made a famous over land mid winter march to Canada. The season was of the stormiest and the men suffered greatly. One of the few that succumbed to fatigue and exposure was a soldier named Lana who was cared for by Mr. Rogers and his family and after his death buried in the old grave yard where until recently a painted pine board marked his grave.

The limits of this article will only admit of a few general remarks about the other men of De Lancey's corps who came to Woodstock.

Corporal Thos. Stanley moved from Woodstock to Northampton and settled opposite Col. Raymond's place. Sergeant Thomas Fowler lived about a mile below opposite the foot of Clowes Island. James Craig also lived in Northampton where he kept an Inn or tavern. Sergeant Henry Farmer lived for a time at Northampton.

Joseph Dixon lived on the Beardsley place. He was a man of fair education and at one time clerk of the parish. His death was caused by running a rusty nail in his foot.

John McLaughlin the last survivor of the old brigade died at his place in Lower Woodstock January 30th 1842 at the age of 91 years.


W. O. Raymond


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[Published 21 Aug. 1895]