New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

“May living worms his corpse devour”

leave a comment »

From the blog at

May living worms his corpse devour

Excerpts From the Royal St. John’s Gazette and Nova Scotia Intelligencer, Winter 1783-84

 Fort Howe

 Fort Howe from

Built in 1777, and almost the only structure to greet the Loyalists in 1783

Following are excerpts from the January and February, 1784, editions of the Royal St. John’s Gazette and Nova Scotia Intelligencer, which was the city’s first newspaper. These are only some of the articles and were chosen for general interest. They are arranged by date and page, not by theme.

There is only one author that I rely upon to describe the social and political turmoil in Saint John in the early Loyalist years, and he is D.G. Bell. Commentaries are therefore limited here. Two of D.G. Bell’s books are recommended: Early Loyalist Saint John (New Ireland Press, 1983) and especially Loyalist Rebellion in New Brunswick (Formac Publishing, 2013).

From the January 29, 1784 edition of the Royal St. John’s Gazette and Nova Scotia Intelligencer, page 2: The refugees have not received their land and are extremely angry. Rumours abound that the elite will get the best of everything while the rest of the people suffer. They complain about the detested Fifty-Five, who sought 5,000-acre grants for themselves while everyone else went without; and particularly about one of them, the Rev. John Sayer.


Gentlemen, Please to insert the following lines in your useful paper and oblige your humble servant.


With frozen ink and fretful fire,   The rebel’s friend the public’s hate.
To contemplate I did retire;   Our constitution, nation’s pride,
By various scenes of fortune [toss’d?],   Some gentlemen would lay aside,
Lock’d up by one eternal frost;   And in the room a partial police,
An iron shore, ordain’d by fate,   Where they might vent their spite and malice,
For Loyalists their last escape;   A second Spanish inquisition,
Pinn’d by a scanty meal of meat,   Where you’ll receive the last decision,
Donations promised, all a cheat,   Nor can you from their clutches budge,
Wrong’d by a lot of ravilacs,   Where prosecutor fits as judge,
Of all but gun and spade and axe,   The main design that […] upon,
Our Agents too [do very true?],   To keep us […] at St. John,
I wish the L—d had his due,   ’Till we have eat our bread and pork,
A seven years war, a shameful peace,   And then the D—l goes to work,
Brings us no nearer a release;   To them we’ll go instead of Pharow,
Our prime and youth is quite decay’d,   But we shall soon behold a Nero,
Old age and poverty’s display’d,   To them we’ll make our cries and moan,
Friends and relations far from here,   Instead of bread they’ll give us stone,
And many things we hold so dear,   Except you’ll give them all your living,
No recompence for service past,   And every thing that’s worth a giving;
The future too an airy blast;   Like slaves, you cannot then resist,
A piece of barren ground that’s burnt,   Your lands likewise, except the Priests,
Where one may labour, toil and grunt,   Then now’s the time for you to try,
The choicest tracts for some reserv’d,   To save your lives and liberty,
Whilst their betters must be starv’d,   The British Lion soon will thunder,
May he the author of our woes,   His voice will chace each evil spirit,
Far fiercer than our rebel foes,   To that vile place where he doth merit,
Have his due portion near a lake,   And give relief unto the loyal,
Which is ordained for such a fate,   He never yet gave a [denial?].
May living worms his corpse devour,    
Him and his comrades fifty-four,   York-Point, Carleton,
A scandal to both church and state,   January, 1784


From the same edition, page 3: For general interest.

CARLETON, January 29.

Last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we had a most tremendous gale of wind from the S.E. attended by snow, hail, and rain, which did considerable damage to the shipping in the harbour, almost all of which were drove on shore, but most of them were got off again after the storm abated, several boats were sunk or otherways destroyed, two frames in King Street were blown down, but we have not heard of any lives being lost.

From the same edition, also page 3: For general interest.

Fort Howe, St. John’s River, 23d January, 1784.

DESERTED his Majesty’s garrison this morning, James Johnston, private soldier in the 57th regt. of foot, 25 years of age, five feet nine inches high, fresh complexion short brown hair, grey eyes, stout and well made, wants one of the front teeth in the upper jaw, born in the county of West Meath, kingdom of Ireland.

The above DESERTER had on a brown watch coat, foraging cap, and one of the 60th regimental coats, with blue facings. – Whoever will apprehend the above Deserter and bring him to his Majesty’s garrison of Fort Howe, shall receive TWO GUINEAS reward.


Captain 57th Regiment, Commanding Fort Howe

From the February 26, 1784 edition of the Royal St. John’s Gazette and Nova Scotia Intelligencer, page 2: Again, the complaint is about land, and under what authority the powerful reigned. For example, Messrs Peters and Holland exercised a right of refusal of people wanting lots in St. John.



Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.


A number of pieces both of prose and v-e-r-s-e, having appeared in your paper, upon the subject of agents, grants, escheats, &c. I hope you will admit my essay as well as others.

[Further extracts follow:]

Why the Board of Refugees at New-York has no more power to appoint an Agent, for me, than does the Great Mogul… Nor the Commander-in-Chief neither… Bless you! It is a power which the Crown itself cannot assume.

[Speaking of Mr. Peters] I never was one of his constituents, nor shall he, or any man be my Agent, in spite of my teeth.

I am sorry I cannot tell you; but the refusal of Major Studholm, to take in the returns of Loyalists for drawing lands [lest?] they are certified by Mr. Peters and Holland (men with whom they are totally unacquainted) has an odd look, to say no worse of it.

I certainly expected the lands surveyed and laid out, previous to my arrival here last July… They ought to have brought surveyors and instruments with them… By no means, they could not expect them to be found growing upon the trees or produced, as they wanted them, by magic. They might as reasonably expect to have found the lands laid out, cleared, houses built, and every convenience prepared to their hands by some friendly demon.

Certainly: 5000 acres does not look a little but very suspicious… I have not the least objection; but let us suffering Loyalists be first served.

Undoubtedly, it was expected by all of us, that the Lands would be drawn as they came in Course, and that no part would be reserved, for any purpose whatsoever.

If I am not much deceived there is a great quantity of land, either not granted or escheatable, in this vicinity… I cannot tell but I am told that what is called Caribou Plains, to the eastward, is very good land… I believe it is only 10,000 acres, and they I am informed, have not complied with the terms of settlement.

The clothing about which the Agents and the Ante-Agents have made such a fuss, is of no moment, compared with the lands. Unless we have provisions, until we can raise produce, to maintain ourselves, we must absolutely perish.

The Rev. Mr. John Sayer was highly to blame, in that case, by not giving us ‘fullest assistance from him’ (viz, the Commander in Chief) ‘that provisions will be allowed us by Government until we were settled on our lands and have it in our power to raise it for ourselves.’

From the same edition, page 3: Celia and her muse Harmony, from Carleton, regretted the atmosphere on both sides of the harbour.

Messrs. Lewis and Ryan.

Gentlemen, By inserting the following in your next paper, you will oblige a constant Reader.

Tho’ jarring pieces our newspapers fill,   Neglected harmony is now no more.
Tho’ giddy faction cannot here be still,   View well these cheeks how furrow’s with my tears,
Suspend your fury for a while and see,   Weeping incessantly these seven long years,
If I can find an inch of room for me.   But still a dawn of hope my soul reviv’d,
A constant reader of your paper o’er,   Expecting peace. I kept my hopes alive;
I read with wonder your new poet’s lore;   At length my reverend sire appear’d in view,
Say, can the poets nothing find to say,   And reciprocally did our love renew.
To chase dissention’s horrid thought away.   By our perswasions to this place did come,
Can they not find one beauty in these wilds,   Many to fly from a forever doom;
To aid their muse and mankind’s cares beguiles   I hop’d once more to live in love with man,
Nought but rude malice their muse can sing,   But even here they scorn my very name.
Envy and discord found in every line.   I am banish’d from the Muse in this new world,
Their country’s shame. Say, has St. John’s rude blasts,   Which till of late would blush to have it told,
With fierce resentment peaceful thoughts laid waste?   That e’er a verse was wrote without my aid,
But hark! what sound is that methink I hear,   And half the honours to my name was paid.
Some notes celestial tingle in my ear.   O! could I find some way their love to gain,
‘You’r not obscured fair Maid,’ a Form replies,   To see my lovers at my feet again,
A beauteous form that fill me with surprise,   Experience sad would keep them to me true,
‘My name is Harmony, I once have been,   And my sad tales no more would trouble you.
The favourite goddess of the sons of men:    
Blest with my friendship, they reposed in ease,   Celia
Each one enjoyed tranquility and peace.   Carleton, February 23d, 1784.
But soon alas! those golden days are o’er,    


From the same edition, page 3: For general interest.

Fort Howe, 18th February, 1784.

This is to give Notice, to the Public in general, that if any person or persons is detected or found out in buying any thing whatever of a soldier, belonging to the garrison, they will be prosecuted as the law directs.


Captain 57th Regiment. Commanding Fort Howe


Written by johnwood1946

April 16, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: