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Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 1


Glengarry in Scotland. Result of the disarming, proscribing and other acts introduced into the Scottish law. Formation of Highland Regiments and Emigration. A large number leave Glengarry in Scotland in 1773 at the instigation of Sir William Johnson and settle in the Mohawk Valley in the Province of New York. Death of Sit William in 1774. His services, influence and character.

In much that has of recent years been written on the very interesting subject of the United Empire Loyalist settlement of this Province, the War of 1812, '13, '14, and the Rebellion of 1837-8, there is but little, if any, mention made of the part which the Highlanders of Glengarry took in the American Revolutionary War of 1776-83, and the early settlement of the country at the close of the War, its defence in 1812-14, and the suppression of the rebellion. Others, the York Volunteers in particular, come in for at least their fair share of credit. Their flags are paraded, and the ir deeds are made to speak again after a lapse of man} years, and the inference is given, with painful reiteration, that to them and theirs among the local forces of the country, is the credit chiefly due on these occasions ; while, in some instances, individuals who never left their provision shops except to take to the woods when York was a second time surrendered, and poor Dr. Strachan left to negotiate with the Americans, would appear to have become of late great military commanders of those days—the very saviours of their country, in fact, in the hour of its utmost need!

I venture the assertion that the County of Glengarry contained a.t least as many Loyalist settlers who had fought for the Crown during the first War as any other of the earliest settled counties, and contributed on both the latter occasions more fightug men foi the preservation of the country, its connection with the Mother Land, and the maintenance of our Institutions, than any other part of the Province, and this without wishing to detract in the least from the services of the good burghers of York, or of others, vaunted though they be.

I submit it to the judgment of my readers whether I cannot make that statement good. I shall speak by the record, and shall give my authorities.

It is of importance, first, Lo consider the circumstances under which the County of Glengarry was originally settled, as the settlers for the most part, previous to the War of 1812, came to Canada under circumstances which redound to their credit as loyal and faithful subjects of the British Crown.

We are now so far removed from the struggles made in Scotland on behalf of the House of Stuart, that we can recall them dispassionately. Practically, that race is extinct. If represented at all, it is in the person of our present gracious Sovereign, who, like her immediate predecessors, has no more loyal subjects than the descendants of the men who fought with such chivalry for those they recognized as Kings by the Right Divine. They were unsuccessful in their efforts, but the history of Great Britain does not contain a more glorious chapter than that which tells of the struggles of the Highland Jacobite Chiefs and Clans, and how they poured out their blood like water for those they called their Kings. The strongest Hanoverian, the staunchest Orangeman, cannot read what notably Sir Walter Scott, the Ettrick Shepherd, Edmonstoun Aytoun, as well as the Scottish ballads, have handed down to us, without admitting—without any abatement of principle—the devotion and heroism of those who risked and lost their all.

Conspicuous among the Jacobites were the people of Glengarry. With other Scottish Cavaliers, they had rallied around Montrose, and throughout his campaigns were one of the mainsprings which kept up the astonishing movements of the chivalrous enterprise they were foremost among the Highland forces under Jnhn Grahame of Claverhouse, the Viscount of Dundee, and bore the brunt at Killiecrankie, when that great Leader fell; in greater number than almost any other Highland Clan they joined the Earl of Mar in 1715.

On a later occasion their Chief was selected from amongst the Highland Chiefs and Noblemen to be the bearer of an address to Prince Charles Stuart signed with their blood (i) In 1745 their leaders were the most trusted adherents of Prince Charles and their men as brave as the bravest of his soldiers ; they paid the penalty like men of valour as they were, some in death, others in expatriation, and all, from the proud Chief to the humblest of the clansmen, in the devastation of their homes.

"They stood to the last, and when standing was o'er, All sullen and silent they dropped the claymore, And yielded, indignant, their necks to the blow, Their homes to the flame, and their lands to the foe. But the principle of Monarchy was an innate and cardinal article of their faith, and each succeeding generation has never since failed to prove't to the House of Guelph when there ceased to be any question as to the Dynasty.

The result of the Disarming and Proscribing Acts, the Jurisdiction Act, and other alterations adopted into the law of Scotland in consequence of the long series of conflicts which culminated in " the '45," together wi\h the introduction of the system of sheep-farmmg in the Highlands, for which its people were unfitted, and the abolition of the feudal system of Clanship, which gave way under the absence of many heads of Clans who were exempted from the Act of Indemnity of 1747, and the impoverishment of others, was to force a large number of the Highland people to emigrate, though many thousands, brought up to the trade of arms, availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by the genius of Mr. Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, who was then Prime Minister, and entered the military service of the Crown under the liberal plan devised in 1757, when Letters of Service were issued for raising the Highland Regiments. Mr. Fulhrton. in his "History of the Highland Clans and Regiments," quotes from an anonymous writer, who says :—

"This call to arms was responded to by the Clans, and Battaii in on Battalion were raised m the remotest parts of the Highlands among those who a few years before were devoted to, and too long had followed, the Race of Stuart: Frasers, Macdonalds, Camerons, Macleans, Macphersons and others of disaffected names and Clans were enrolled ; their Chiefs and connections obtained commissions, and the clansmen, always ready to follow with eagerness, endeavored who should be first listed."

With what glory to the Nation they acquitted themselves is matter of history, if To them, under the generalship of Wolfe, is largely due the fact that Canada is to-day a possession of the British Crown ; they battled under Hutchinson and Abercrombie, pushed the French at Aboukir, and bore the brunt of the Turkish cavaliers at Rosetta," says Colonel Coffin in his Chronicle of the War of 18x2. Indeed, wherever Great Britain had any fighting to do they were on hand to do it, and those were days when Britain needed her bravest and her best. In 1776 the Earl of Chatham was able to utter 111 Parliament his famous eulogy on the Highland Regiments :—

I sought for merit wherever it could be found. It is my boast that I was the first Minister who looked for it and found it in the Mountains of the North. I called it forth, and drew into your service a hardy and intrepid race of men ; men who left by your jealousy became a prey to the artifices of your enemies, and had gone nigh to have overturned the State n the War before last. These men in the last War were brought to combat on your side; they served with fidelity as they fought with valor, and conquered for you in every quarter of the world.'''

But at present we have to do with those who emigrated to the Colonies of the Crown in America. Oihers were left in Glengarry who, as w 11 be seen hereafter, did as other Highlanders, and enrolling themselves under their young Chief, fought as was to be expected when the opportunity was afforded them. The Emigrants had naturally looked for peace, and hoped in the new world to repair the disaster and retrieve the hard fortune of the old, but the *ime was not far distant when once more they were to fly to arms and across the Atlantic assert the principle of the Monarchy, and, regardless of the Dynasty, fight for George as they had fought for King James ; once more, " for Conscience sake, to leave all aside and still keep true whate'er betide "—even though for a second time they should have, as eventually they were obliged, to leave behind them their homes, which this time they had made for themselves.

It was not long after the last unsuccessful effort had been made in Scotland on behalf of the House of Stuart, that a number of the people of Glengarry and Knoydart, under the leadership of several gentlemen of the Clan, called after the properties of their fami.ies in Scotland: Macdonell of Aberchalder, Leek (or Licks, as I see the name is spelt in an old map of Scotland), Collachie and Scotas (or Stothouse)—emigrated to America, settling in what was then called Tryon County in the Mohawk Valley, in the Province of New York, about thirty miles from Albany. The name of the county wağ, during the Revolutionary War, in 1784, changed to Montgomery, after the American General, who was killed at the siege of Quebec in December, 1775, the former appellation having fallen into disfavor owing to the fact that William Try on, who had previously been Governor of the Province of New York, then of Carolina and afterwards of New York again, was one of the most prominent and devoted Loyalists. The County, as originally formed, embraced all that part of the present State of New York lying west of a line running north arc! south nearly through the centre of the present County of Schoharie. It was divided 'nto five districts, which were again subdivided into smaller districts or precincts ; the county buildings being at Johnstown, where was the residence of Sir William Johnson. The settlement of these Highlanders in that part took place at the instigation of Sir William. who had acquired a vast property in the vicinity, and who, having learned the Indian language, studied their methods and conciliated their regard by long and fair dealing with them, was possessed of an influence over the Indians, particularly those of the Six Nations such as no other man had ever enjoyed. In the war which terminated in the conquest of Canada from the French, Sir William had taken a most active part, being entrusted with the command of the provincial troops of New York, and at the same time being Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs of that Province. In 1759, he commanded the provincial troops under Brigadier-General Frideaux in the expedition against Niagara, and on the death of the latter, succeeded to the command, eventually taking Niagara, when about 600 men were made prisoners of war. This event broke off the communication which the French intended to establish between Canada and Louisiana. When Amherst embarked at Oswego in June, 1760, to proceed on the expedition to Canada, Johnson brought to him at that place 1,000 Indians of the Iroquois, or Six Nations, which, it is alleged, was the largest number of Indians ever seen in arms at one time in the cause of Britain. For his previous signal services in the cause of the King, His Majesty, on the 27th November, 1755, had been graciously pleased to create him a Baronet of the United Kingdom, and at the same time conferred upon Rim a large pension.

From the nature of the pursuits in which Sir William Johnson was engaged, the then unsettled state of the country, and the fact that these Highlanders were, like their countrymen of that and preceding generations, trained to arms from their very infancy, accustomed to hardships and as active as the Indians themselves, it can easily be conceived that they would prove the most desirable class of neighbours and allies to Sir William. He did not, however, long survive. The American historian, Stone, states in his life of Brant:—

"Sir William Johnson was too observing and sagacious a man not to note the signs of the times" (the reference, of course, being to the impending revolution). He saw the gathering tempest, and it is believed to have given him great uneasiness. His sympathies, according to the testimony of those who knew him, were undoubtedly with the people. He was from the body of the people himself, hiving been the architect of his own rank and fortunes; and those w 10 were acquainted with and yet (1832) survive him, represent the struggle in his bosom to have been great between those sympathies and his own straight principles of liberty on the one hand, and his duty to his Sovereign on the other—a Sovereign whom he had served lo lg and faithfully, and who in turn had loaded ' urn with princely benefactions. His domains-in the Valley of the Mohawk were extensive; and his influence through a large number of subordinate officers and a number of tenantry, was correspondingly great. To the Indians, not only of the Six Nations, but those fir in the West beyond, who had fallen within the circle of his influence after the conquest of Canada and the subjugation of Pontiac, he had been a father and they looked up to him with veneration. Long association with him and great respect for his character—which for its blunt honesty, frankness and generosity', not altogether void of that rough life incident to a border population, was well calculated to secure the attachment of such people--had also given to his opinions the force of Royal authority among the colonists. The population, aside from the Indians, was chiefly Dutch in the lower part of Mohawk Valley, while in the interesting Vale of the Schoharie and in the upper district of the Mohawk it was composed of the descendants of the German palitiriates who - had been planted there 50 years before. It was not at that time a very intelligent population; and the name of Sir William, who had been their friend and companion, in peace, and their leader in war, like that of the King," was a tower of strength. It was very natural, therefore, that their opinions upon the great political questions then agitating the country, should take their complexion for the most part from those entertained by him. Hence, when the storm of civil war commenced, the Loyalists in that Valley were probably more numerous in proportion to the whole number of the population than in almost any other section of the Northern Colonies.

"In connection with the troubles which every man of ordinary sagacity could not but perceive were fermenting, Sir William visited England for the last time in the autumn of 1773, returning in the succeeding spring. He probably came back with his loyal feelings somewhat strengthened. It was not his fortune, however, good will, to see the breaking out of the tempest, the near approaches of which he had been watching with an intentness of observation corresponding with the magnitude of his own personal interests, which must necessarily be involved. He died suddenly, at Johnson Hall, about the 24th June, 1774."

He was succeeded in his title and estates by his son, Sir John Johnson, 2nd Baronet, and in his office of Superintendent General of Indian Affairs by his son-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson, who had long been in office as Assistant Superintendent, he having for his deputy Colonel Daniel Claus, who had likewise married a daughter of Sir William. Sir John Johnson, on his father's death, became Commandant of the Militia of the Province of New York. They derived great aid in the subsequent administration of affairs, especially amongst the Indians, from the celebrated Joseph Brant who became Secretary to Colonel Guy Johnson, and who had been much in the service of Sir William during the latter years of his life ; as also from his sister, Mary Brant, who was a woman of singular talent and character, and who was the last wife of Sir William Johnson, though I believe their marriage had taken place-according to Indian custom only, and may or may not therefore have been legal. Be that as it may, it was largely instrumental in securing their powerful influence to the side of Britain in the long struggle which then ensued.


 


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