Friend of Government or Friend of Country: The Revolutionary War Journey of Thomas Banister from Rhode Island to Long Island

Marian Desrosiers

Abstract: When the American Revolution began, Thomas Banister’s life was one of privilege, wealth, and inherited lands in Rhode Island. Concerned about violence inflicted against Loyalists and their property, the young man joined Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers, a Loyalist troop on Long Island. As a soldier he captured Connecticut whale boat men attacking families on Long Island and joined Loyalist sea raiders attacking communities along the coast of New England. At war’s end his nine properties in Rhode Island were confiscated. Banister sailed with other defeated Loyalists to another island, Nova Scotia, to start a new life on land given by the British government. After a few years of lonely isolation, he returned to Rhode Island, hoping for a return of property or compensation by the state. When hope of acceptance by his former Rhode Island community proved futile, Banister returned to live on Long Island, raise a family, and live as an American who understood the effects of his choices. The experiences of Banister shed light on how loyalty confounds liberty during war and peace. Banister felt compelled to take the side of the crown and the government of Britain during the War for American Independence. For the Patriots, their promotion of liberty excluded Banister’s liberty to support the crown. Banister’s post-war attempts to reintegrate, gain remuneration for loss of property by the British, restoration of his land from Rhode Island, and reinstate his civil rights, reveal a larger historical debate about the politics of allegiance and property rights in the decade after the war.[1]

Keywords: American Revolution, Banister family, confiscated property, Long Island, Loyalist, Nova Scotia, Patriots, reintegration, remuneration, Rhode Island, sea raiders, War for Independence, Wentworth’s Volunteers, whale boat men.

Articles VOL 27-1

By Marian Desrosiers

Mid-eighteenth-century colonial seaports generated a vibrant exchange of goods, services, and ideas. Newport, Rhode Island, for example, experienced a growth in population because the community provided jobs, schools, and religious toleration. However, Acts of the British Parliament during the 1760s interfered and restricted colonial trade. This changed the relationship between England and America, affecting a generation of Americans coming of age. The Revolutionary era called on citizens to choose whether they viewed themselves as “Friends to Government,” specifically the heritage of “English law,” or “Friends to Country,” the land in which they were born and lived.[2] Over time it was clear, neutrality was not an option. Consequently, the younger of two brothers, Thomas Banister (1750-1826) made a crucial choice, journeying to Long Island on a path that forever affected his destiny.

The experiences of Banister shed light on the issues around liberty and the considerations of loyalty that compelled young men to take the side of the crown and government of Britain during the War for American Independence. Banister’s post-war attempts to reintegrate, gain remuneration for loss of property by the British, restoration of his land from Rhode Island, and his civil rights, reveal a larger historical debate about the politics of allegiance and property rights in the decade after the war.

Fig. 1. Detail from “A Map of the Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, Divided into Counties and Townships,” Thomas Kitchin (London: R. Baldwin, 1778). The map shows the location of the town of Newport on the island of Rhode Island, as well as coastal New London, Connecticut and Montauk Point, Long Island, less than forty nautical miles from Brenton Point, Rhode Island Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library, Boston.


Family Life and Education in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Thomas Banister’s father, colonial Newport merchant John Banister (1707-1767), became one of Rhode Island’s wealthiest merchants through sheer determination. Banister’s drive involved three decades of his life in the port city and can be summed up in a statement he wrote: “The clock goes five A. M. and I have been at my desk near an hour notwithstanding I find the day will be open before I am prepared for it.”[3] In every business venture, whether networking with merchants from other colonies and Europe, building rental shops and homes, or developing farms, the father’s initiative and discipline was evident and the two sons benefited.[4]

Fig. 2. The John Banister House, built in 1751, located at 56 Pelham Street, Newport, RI. Photograph by the author August 2011. Craftsmen worked on the interior, exterior and grounds of this Georgian mansion house for three years from 1748 to 1751, according to merchant Banister’s account books. Situated on the hill, the Banisters had an unobstructed view of Newport harbor to the west and the Old Stone Mill to the east, as well as surrounding meadows and orchards covering nearly ten acres. In this house Thomas Banister spent his youthful years, until departing for Long Island to join a Loyalist troop during the American Revolution.

For the boys, who were six years apart, that meant horseback riding and fishing or hunting with friends, as well as spending time at their father’s wharf in the bustling coastal town of Newport. Although their father no longer owned ships by 1760, captains paid to dock at Banister’s Wharf and store trade goods in his warehouses on the wharf. First hand, the sons learned about life on the ocean and wide-ranging places of the world from men on the waterfront. From numerous entries in the many account books of merchant Banister, it is evident that the boys also attended dancing classes. There they learned the manners expected of men and women of their class. The extended family gathered at the Banister’s Newport mansion house, situated on a hillside on Pelham Street up from the Wharf, a home furnished with Goddard and Townshend furniture and oil paintings. Gardens and orchards adjoined the property. There were Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of “turtle, turkie, watermellons and figgs.” Present were grandmother Arabella Pelham Holman, nine first cousins, aunts and uncles.[5]

The boys received their primary education in Newport from clergy with Yale and Harvard College degrees and attended grammar school in Boston. Young John (1744-1807) studied at Boston Latin School, followed by a privileged undergraduate education at Harvard College, graduating in 1764 and a Master of Arts degree in 1767. Although young Thomas Banister commenced schooling in Boston, he finished at Governor Dummer Academy, Byfield, Massachusetts under Reverend Samuel Moody (1726-1795).[6]

Unfortunately, the death of their mother, Hermione Pelham Banister (1718-1765), followed within two years by the passing of their wealthy merchant father.[7] John was twenty-three and Thomas only seventeen. While John received the Banister town house, the boys each inherited the nine acres of the “old stone-bilt mill” lot, and each received a 150-acre farm in Middletown. Father Banister divided the many house lots and shops on Thames Street and in the lower mill field between the boys. They could make money from livestock, warehouses on Banister’s Wharf, and rental properties in Newport, in addition to real estate in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and North Carolina. Accordingly, the oldest son, John Banister, took on the guardianship of his teenage brother Thomas.[8]

Thomas decided not to complete his last year of college preparation at Dummer Academy. His decision ruled out an assured place in the class entering Harvard College in 1768 or 1769, as Master Moody’s students represented one-sixth of each year’s Harvard class. College also offered an opportunity for long-term social relationships and networking, which often opened doors to power and wealth for future lawyers, doctors, and leaders of provincial society.[9]

Instead, teenager Thomas resided in Newport with his brother, forming his intellect and character as a young “gentleman.” The account book for Thomas holds records from 1767 through 1775 and demonstrates how he managed his inheritance. He collected rent from houses and shop and spent money on wharf building, repair of shop buildings, and work on his house at the farm. In 1769, Thomas Banister was only nineteen when he purchased a pair of sorrel horses and a chair, or small carriage; a year later, he bought a black mare and a white-faced bay mare. Listed under family expenses were clothing items, such as studs in gold setting, gold basket buttons, white silk ribbed hose, and black silk breeches.[10]

Both Banister sons enjoyed a lifestyle in keeping with Newport’s elite society. They inherited slaves, who worked on their country estates, engaged in dairying, apple cider making, harvesting vegetables and fruit, and tended sheep, horses, pigs, and cattle.[11] Before his death their father sold his ships, so the Banister brothers were not directly impacted by British revenue ships, which were harassing colonial merchants in Narragansett Bay.

Fig. 3. Interior of the Banister House, Southeast Front Drawing Room or Parlor. Photo by the author June 2016. This is the home of Thomas Banister from his birth through his twenties when he joined Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers on Long Island. From the eight-foot wide wainscoted hallway, there is access to the two drawing rooms (designated thus in Banister’s 1808 Probate), the northeast dining room, and northwest kitchen. The long hallway ends in an elaborately carved stairway to four second-floor bedrooms; servants resided on the top floor. In 1775, when the British occupied this house, there were four family portraits by Robert Feke and two by Gilbert Stuart. In the Library of Congress drawings from 1898, the front parlor walls displayed floor to ceiling ornamental woodworking. Photos of that period show that all the Mystic and Delft tiles Banister installed in 1749 were missing from around the fireplaces. Today, the kitchen room still has the intact oven, brick fireplace, and wide hearthstones. To the left of the hearth is a servant’s door to the second floor. There is also a door to the six-foot high basement, where there is another oven and hearth, brick floor, and well.

However, the Banisters decried the violence of the Sons of Liberty. As Loyalist Supreme Court Judge Peter Oliver, wrote “Respect for others, for family, for peace, for government ended.” The Boston Weekly News-Letter from 1774-1775, was filled with horrific attacks by rebels against citizens who tried to uphold a connection to Britain and a well-ordered society. At Taunton a mob “fired bullets into the House of a Justice of the Peace” and “in Freetown a Loyalist about 20 Miles from his Home, was attacked by a Mob of 100 Men at Midnight…& they painted him all over.” In Middleborough “A Mob of 300 Men dragged a Loyalist down to the River to drown him” and “in Connecticut, an Episcopal Clergyman was stripped &… driven from his parish.” In December, a Drover who sold an ox to a British Councilor was punished by a mob who killed the ox and “put him into the Belly… threw the innards in his Face…” A man from Halifax who kept a British flag was “fixed upon a Rail, & held on it by his Legs &Arms, beat & abused for two Hours.”[12]


The Revolution Begins

When the American Revolution commenced in April 1775, it was a defining moment for the young Banister men. By that time, John Banister, aged thirty-one, was married with a young son, and bachelor Thomas Banister was twenty-five. After a decade of protests and demonstrations in the colony, Rhode Island leaders were calling for separation from royal control. In 1775, although required by law to join the militia, the Banisters did not. Rhode Island law allowed freemen to pay a fine or hire a replacement.[13]

After the Declaration of Independence, Rhode Island passed a series of laws to control dissidents. All males above the age of sixteen were to declare their willingness to aid the colony in defense against the British or lose their right to bear arms. All men over twenty-one were to take the oath of “allegiance to the United Colonies” or suffer the loss of the franchise, the right to serve on juries, and their right to sue in court.[14] Although John Banister took the oath, there is no record of Thomas Banister swearing allegiance to the state of Rhode Island in 1776.[15] Thomas voiced his fears that he felt “persecuted by the rebellious inhabitants [in Newport] until that place was taken possession by the King’s Troops.”[16]


Who has Liberty and Who is Loyal?

When 7000 British occupied Newport in December 1776, Thomas Banister considered his next move. Thomas knew that he lived a life of privilege, as a result of his lineage.[17] Both Banister men believed in English law and wanted property rights upheld. They hoped to retain their social privileges and economic inheritance. That position conflicted with the republican ideas promoted by the Whigs, who deplored “aristocratic Americans.”

Thomas Banister struggled to resolve his dilemma. In principle he wanted to continue a beneficial relationship between America and Britain. He saw the benefit of compromise to end the anarchy.[18] He did not want to sit in Newport confined to collecting rents while the only world he knew headed into insufferable turmoil. He had no prospects for marriage; he had no child as did his brother. He was also young and desired to prove himself in some way.[19]

Loyalist exiles from Massachusetts poured into Newport, as their colony prepared to banish them.[20] These young men, some of whom had tasted battle, influenced Thomas Banister, as they evoked personal independence, control over their lives, and manliness.[21] They were determined to defend their fortunes and honor. Indeed, the use by Gen. Richard Prescott of the Banister home as his daytime headquarters from May through July 1777, gave Thomas Banister a chance to hear additional British perspectives.

Fig. 4. John Banister’s Wharf, Newport. Detail from “A Plan of the Town of Newport in Rhode Island,” Charles Blaskowitz (London: William Faden, 1777). The father of Thomas Banister owned the land from 1737 and built the wharf, along with its two warehouses, numerous shops and houses. The wharf as an income producing property remained in the Banister family until nearly the mid of the nineteenth century. Courtesy of the Richard H. Brown Revolutionary Map Collection, Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library, Boston.

As a provincial volunteer, Banister would have to provide his own clothing (breeches, leggings, and shirt, hat and shoes, coat, waistcoat, and neck stock), and cartridge pouch. He needed a haversack for his food, spare clothing rolled inside a blanket, utensils, canteen, and food.[22] Thomas Banister took the view that the British forces in Newport might exit at any time; he had to act if he was to resolve what to do regarding country and king.

Another motivation was a proclamation of Sir William Howe on 21 April 1777, which encouraged young men to join a provincial troop (British name for Loyalist American volunteers) “to restore peace and order.”[23] In addition, Howe promised the recruits land in the colonies, rank and pay comparable to the regular army, uniforms, and weapons.[24]


Thomas Banister Joins the Loyalist Troops

Banister joined a Loyalist troop organized by Governor John Wentworth (1737-1820) of New Hampshire, called Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers.[25] Before serving as governor, Wentworth (Harvard Class of 1755; AM in 1758) spent a decade as a merchant in London, patronized by a politically-connected cousin, Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham.[26] Governor Wentworth’s plan was to attract a group of men who could afford to join the force without expecting pay.

Three able and dedicated Massachusetts Loyalists directed Wentworth’s Volunteers, namely Col. Edward Winslow, Maj. George Leonard, and Capt. Daniel Murray. Edward Winslow (1747-1815), great-grandson of the Mayflower immigrant, served at Lexington in 1775 and received a commission to serve as the Muster Master General of Provincial Troops.[27] Winslow, who graduated from Harvard in 1765, knew John Banister, who was at Harvard from 1761 to 1764; Banister was a cousin of Winslow.[28]

George Leonard (1742-1826) son of a wealthy Boston merchant Nathaniel Leonard, served with Edward Winslow under Lord Hugh Percy at Lexington in April 1775. He arrived in Newport during the British occupation with two dozen volunteers to fight “the rebels.”[29] Daniel Murray (1751-1832) of Worcester, Harvard class of 1771, also came to Newport, and later kept the muster records of Wentworth’s Volunteers from 1777-1781. Captain Murray provided a muster list to General Clinton of the young men “once possessed of considerable Property and some of them ample fortunes…[who] are now depriv’d of any Benefit therefrom.”[30] Many men borrowed money for their subsistence that first year.[31]


Banister on Long Island

Wentworth’s Volunteers mustered at “Flushing [Long Island] on the Sound Sixteen Miles from Brooklyn Ferry” on 16 October 1777, with “twenty-eight men from reputable families…who personally suffered a variety of Persecutions, and … are determined to suppress the Rebellion in America.” Thomas Banister was the only Rhode Island man.[32] In their first weeks, the volunteers experienced “a violent storm while encamped…in huts of their own forming, roofed with poles and covered with earth.”[33] For winter they would find rooms in the homes of Queens County residents.

After British success at the Battle of Brooklyn (Aug. 1776), Loyalist troops protected residences and families. It was a tall order as Long Island with its prosperous farms was one hundred eighteen miles in length and twenty-three miles in width. In Queens County, particularly in Hempstead and Oyster Bay, several volunteer units formed because of the substantial number of Loyalist families.[34] The towns of Flushing, North Hempstead, and Jamaica, had largely Patriot supporters. Nevertheless, British officers and Loyalists occupied their homes.[35]

Fig. 5. Detail from “A Map and Plan to Illustrate the Battle of Long Island Aug. 27th 1776,” compiled by Henry Onderdunk, Jr. (1804-1886) for the inside cover of his Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties with an Account of the Battle of Long Island (New York: Leavitt & Co., 1849). Note the location of Flatbush, where Thomas Banister first mustered with Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers in October 1777 and New Utrecht, where several of the Loyalist soldiers, including Winslow and Banister, were nearly captured in March 1778. Courtesy of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Regardless of whether a family was loyal or rebel, when the weather turned bad, soldiers “took possession of the best rooms in resident houses and obliged owners to provide for and support the men and horses…Soldiers took over the kitchens.”[36] Early in 1776, under Washington’s orders, Col. Ezekiel Cornell of Rhode Island established his quarters at Hempstead. To retaliate against “the King’s Men,” Cornell “converted St. George’s Episcopal Church into a storehouse…making use of the communion table to eat pork and molasses upon.”[37]

With defeat of the Americans in New York in August 1776, British soldiers occupied non-Anglican churches, using them for storage of guns and munitions, or as barracks and prisons.[38] In the case of one Presbyterian church, “the floor was ripped up, the sills taken out, and the building turned into a riding school for drilling the light-horse.” Camped soldiers used gravestones “for fire-backs, hearths and oven-bottoms, so that the impress of the letters was left on the loaves.” At Setauket, the British mounted cannons inside a church and used the first floor for stables.[39]

Fig. 6. “St. George’s Episcopal Church, Hempstead, Long Island, New York, opened for divine worship 23 April 1735,” in Henry Onderdonk, Antiquities of the Parish Church, Hempstead, including Oysterbay and the Churches in Suffolk County (Hempstead, NY: L. Van de Water, 1880). The Martin and Banister families worshipped at this church ten miles from their home at Rock Hall, Long Island.

Although some volunteers were local boys doing their best for kin and king, others like young Thomas Banister were from off island. They were strangers in this locale, who not only had to learn about the land and folks who lived there, but to comply with military protocols regarding eating, sleeping, and work. Also, many of the young men based on Long Island like Thomas Banister had no previous training as soldiers. However, as historian Don Hagist points out, they did have the commonality as gentlemen of “the sporting culture,” riding, hunting, and shooting in their leisure time. The hardships of “roughing it,” camping in the woods, sleeping on the ground, not changing one’s clothing, come to mind as foreign and not too enticing experiences. These young men were used to life without central heating or plumbing.[40]

The men of Wentworth’s Volunteers shared the values of their upbringing and their beliefs in God, country, king, and government (Britain). Committing to serve for the duration of the war, they developed an esprit de corps with men who became comrades-in-arms. We also know that as gentlemen, the volunteers initially brought money with them.[41] However, as with other provincial soldiers, the British government agreed to feed, arm, clothe, and pay them eight pence per day.[42] It is less clear how often the volunteers were resupplied and how needs of their healthcare were met.[43]

On two occasions, the leadership of Wentworth’s Volunteers expressed appreciation of young Thomas Banister. Ward Chipman (1754-1824) corresponded with Edward Winslow in February 1778, “Banister is our fast Friend, he loses no opportunity to render us every service; he first got your Letters by Cummings & came thro mountains of snow, late at night to deliver them. His attention to you demands every acknowledgment.”[44] Chipman (Harvard Class of 1770 and AM in 1773) was a lawyer of modest means, who assisted on muster rolls in New York City with Edward Winslow.[45] On another occasion, Banister’s presence was noted by Winslow himself. The event occurred when the Volunteers were near Flat Bush, Long Island in March 1778 and Edward Winslow commented:

When I removed from my quarters to my house in New Utrecht, one night a party of rebels landed directly below my house and Marched up the street. As their principal object was Flat Bush they marched on. They had no time to take a group of Loyalists to Connecticut. About me Daniel Murray, Mr. Upham, Parson Barton, Mr. Chipman sitting around my table with the windows open. The rebels did not stop, and it was a good thing, because I had not a single charge of powder or ball in the house. I have this week had the pleasure of putting my men in possession of very comfortable quarters lately occupied by Rebels. They are now all around me. Banister in the house with me.[46]

Although all in his house were safe, Major James Moncrieff (1741-1793), an officer with the British Royal Engineers, who lived nearby was taken prisoner.[47] Mr. Upham referred to Joshua Upham (1741–1808) of Brookfield, Massachusetts, graduate of Harvard (1763).[48]

The next recorded muster of Wentworth’s Volunteers was at Hempstead, Long Island in April 1778, and twenty-six young men presented, including Thomas Banister.[49] Their constant challenge was the “whale boatmen,” who landed from the Connecticut shore. “Many of the men being refugees [Patriots] from Long Island… they received pay from the Governor of Connecticut [Jonathan Trumbull] to cruise in the Sound… and to go on land [Long Island] and plunder. Hiding themselves and their boats in the bushes…their goal was to take livestock, wine, salt, sugar, money, silver plate, and furniture…Their boats were lightweight and up to thirty-two feet, maneuverable by four to ten men rowing.” If the whale boat crews did not capture goods or local boats, they attempted to take Loyalist prisoners. One night the Connecticut men took several captives, namely John Hewlett and Richard Townsend of Oyster Bay, Judge Ludlow of Jamaica, and Thomas Jones (later Judge Jones), who became prisoners of war in Connecticut.[50]

On the last Sunday in July of 1778, Wentworth’s Volunteers engaged again with mainlanders. “A large flat schooner from D’Estaing’s fleet lay off the Hook…30 or 40 men attempted to land at Rockaway beach, with an intention, as is conjectured, to take some cattle. A party of Gov. Wentworth’s volunteers observed their approach and advanced directly towards them…they turned tail and run away.”[51] Whale boat attacks terrorized Long Islanders, as the invaders plundered houses, pilfered hay and corn stores, and cut down vacant woods. In retaliation, former New York Governor Tryon, who commanded British forces on Long Island, encouraged the burning of fields and forests, hundreds of houses and barns, and thirty warehouses owned by rebels.[52]


Banister Joins Loyalist Troops in Rhode Island

Along with the King’s American Regiment, Prince of Wales Regiment, and Loyal New Englanders, Wentworth’s Volunteers joined the British in defending the town of Newport against the Patriot siege in August 1778.[53] In 1779, spurred by a desire to retaliate for General Sullivan’s attempt to defeat the garrison at Newport,
General Richard Prescott and General John Vaughan (1731-1795) ordered Loyalist volunteers, who were still in Newport after the Battle of Rhode Island, to attack major New England coastal towns.This was a change in the original intent for Provincial troops, which was to provide security, i.e. “to defend their province… and not be called on to leave” for duty elsewhere during their enlistment. From the view of General Prescott and Colonel Winslow, “if properly employed,” Provincial Troops could contribute more “toward suppressing the rebellion.”[54]

General Prescott ordered clandestine raids to attack New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Martha’s Vineyard. The Loyal Associated Refugees under the command of Col. Edward Winslow, coordinated the spring, summer, and fall attacks using Maj. George Leonard’s armed vessels.[55] As such, the irregular units contributed to a hybrid approach to the war. The irregulars complemented the conventional army by attacking rebel militias; in some cases, they terrorized civilian communities.[56]

The “sea-borne raiders” attacked New Bedford, Point Judith, Quidnessett Point (Quonset Point), Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Falmouth. Their first objective was to procure food supplies, specifically horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs. The second objective was to arouse alarm and fear among the rebels, by the capture or burning of vessels and buildings. Those Americans who resisted would have their homes and possessions subject to the torch. Third, “rebels of importance are to be brought off.”[57]

Fig. 7. “An Accurate Map of Rhode Island, Part of Connecticut and Massachusets, Shewing Admiral Arbuthnot’s Station in Blocking up Admiral Ternay,” John Lodge and John Bew, London Magazine, 1778. From Newport, Loyalist sea raiders, including Thomas Banister, attacked coastal communities from 1778-1779. These included Point Judith in South Kingston, Rhode Island, Clark Cove, Bedford, as well as Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island on Cape Cod. Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, Boston Public Library, Boston.

For example, the fleet of George Leonard attacked the Elizabeth Islands, where local Cape Cod residents grazed their sheep and cattle. When the Associated Refugee soldiers tried to seize livestock at Woods Hole in early April 1779, they were attacked by local men. Two of George Leonard’s schooners and eight sloops cannonaded Falmouth on Cape Cod. The King’s American Regiment (KAR) and Wentworth’s Volunteers (Thomas Banister included) were part of the attack. On 3 April, 220 Loyalist soldiers prepared to land and set fire to the town, when a hundred Patriots in trenches near the Stone Dock (present Surf Drive) successfully defended the town against the attack.[58] Nevertheless the provincial fleet sailed away intact and on to their next target.

The British decision to evacuate Newport in October 1779 allowed Wentworth’s Volunteers safe passage to Long Island. During some of the time between his arrival in 1778 and departure in 1779, Thomas Banister may well have stayed with his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, John, at the Pelham Street house. He would have observed how war affected his former neighbors and friends. For residents, supplies for daily life were more difficult to secure. Town meetings no longer existed and households often quartered soldiers. Without a pass signed by the Commander of the Garrison, no one could travel across the Bay or even to Middletown. Coupled with attacks from the mainland by rebels, there were the sounds and sights of burning ships and houses during the days preceding the Battle of Rhode Island. For many Newport residents, fear of the Hessians added to the dread of acquiring small pox from prison ships in the harbor. Military drums sounded the hours of the day.[59]

Thomas Banister may also have reflected that life on Long Island was none too different. Families suffered greatly from the constant fear of raids and indiscriminate pillaging. For many who once lived in secluded Long Island hamlets, looting and attacks by both sides occurred for years. War was unraveling family and community bonds. As a Provincial volunteer he experienced first-hand the hostility of fighting and living in a war zone. Further, Thomas Banister saw how this civil war allowed each side to threaten the liberty of person and estates.


Return to Long Island

Wentworth’s Volunteers mustered on Long Island near Huntington on 24 May 1780 with forty-one men and Thomas was among their number. Their role was to defend Loyalist residents from constant attacks by men rowing whale boats across Long Island Sound from Connecticut, raiding properties for cash, jewelry, food, clothes, tools, guns, boats and prisoners to exchange.[60] One such event occurred in August 1780. “They [Wentworth’s Volunteers] went after some Rebels at six o’clock in the evening” when they received word that “a party of rebels landed on Hog Island beach.” They marched to Pine’s Landing, proceeding in boats with the local militia and “arrived at 9 that evening.” Once they had forty men gathered, at daybreak they proceeded to the beach to fight the rebels. “The rebels then sent a flag and submitted themselves as prisoners of war; and were… safely conducted to Rockaway.” During “the whaleboat wars,” rebels and Tories traversed Long Island Sound for booty.[61]

In late fall 1780, Thomas Banister with thirty-eight of Wentworth’s Volunteers joined other Loyalists to defend Fort Franklin on Lloyd’s Neck in north central Long Island.[62] Colonel Wightman and William Franklin, former New Jersey Governor arrived to defend the fort.[63] Ten months later, 10 July 1781, 450 Franco-American troops attacked. British provincial regiments and associators defended with Colonel Upham leading a successful defense.[64] The record does not show Banister at Fort Franklin’s defense in July 1781, although he was present at their last muster in March of 1781 and “untill it [Wentworth’s Volunteers] was disbanded in the year 1781.”[65]


Thomas Banister Marries a Loyalist

Thomas Banister relinquished his role as a Loyalist fighter to marry a Long Island girl, Rachel Martin of Rockaway. While serving on Long Island in April 1778, Thomas Banister was befriended by the wealthy Loyalist Martin family. Josiah Martin, a former Antiguan planter was the owner of the 600-acre estate, Rock Hall, and father of Rachel. It is conceivable that Josiah or his brother Samuel, who ran family plantations on the island of Antigua, may have known Banister’s father, who traded for three decades with Antigua planters.[66] In 1767, Josiah Martin, who had moved from the Caribbean to Long Island, built Rock Hall, a Georgian mansion house for his large family, three children by a first wife and nine by his second wife, Mary Yeamans.

Their unmarried son, Samuel Martin (1740-1806), who was a physician and Loyalist, found a kindred bond with Thomas Banister, ten years his junior. For his views, Dr. Martin was taken prisoner to Philadelphia and released to the Provincial Congress in New York after posting £500 bond. Along with thirty-seven others from his county in December of 1775, he was placed on a list of “disaffected persons… who carry themselves in a military manner to oppose the measures taken by the United Colonies for the defence of their just rights.”[67] Dr. Martin, believed in a peaceful settlement of differences between England and America, which was not the popular will, so he retreated to live quietly at his estate. In 1778, Dr. Martin introduced Thomas Banister, the handsome young soldier from a respectable Newport family, to his kind and generous younger sister, Rachel Martin (1750-1817), who was caring for her father in his last illness.

Rock Hall was home to a large family. Rachel Martin’s older sister Elizabeth (1736-1778) lived there with her husband and first cousin, the last Royal Governor of North Carolina, Josiah Martin (1737-1786). Governor Martin lived at the plantation off and on in the years from his marriage to his cousin Elizabeth Martin in 1761 to the end of the war in 1781. Thomas Banister met the governor in 1778, when Governor Martin was at Rock Hall tending to his wife who died in October.[68] Governor Martin continued to stay at Rock Hall since he was appointed by General Clinton to a council, organizing the restoration of New York civil government. Others serving with him were Gen. Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) and New York Gov. James Robertson, former New Jersey Gov. William Franklin, New York Chief Justice William Smith, New Jersey Chief Justice Frederick Smyth, and New York Attorney General John Kempe.[69] Governor Martin left to fight in the southern campaign with General Cornwallis and sailed for England after the Yorktown defeat (1781).

During his Loyalist service in Governor Wentworth’s Volunteers from 1777-1781, Thomas had the opportunity to enjoy the company of and learn from Governor Martin and Doctor Martin. Rachel’s wealthy family was active and interesting, inviting his participation in their community. It was a family life resembling his earlier years in Newport. The time spent with Rachel and her extended family at Rock Hall manor may have influenced Banister’s decision to end military service March 1781 and marry her two months later, while many of his compatriots on Long Island, including Fanning, Wightman, and Murray, continued to serve in the military.[70]

The Banister couple lived in the 1767 Martin home with its view of the bay, marshes, and beaches. It was a Georgian style home with a fourteen-foot-wide central hall accompanied by four large rooms on each of the two floors. Although the Martin home was substantially larger than the Banister Newport home, the architectural style and use of space were nearly identical. As a physician, Dr. Samuel Martin, had an extensive library of medical, natural history, and architectural books. Besides the estate house, there were separate “slave quarters, a freestanding kitchen, a carriage house, barns, a smokehouse, a dairy, and an ice house.”[71]

During the first years at Rock Hall, two sons were born, Josiah Martin Banister (24 June 1781) and Samuel Banister (8 August 1782). Banister’s cousin and wartime friend, Col. Edward Winslow, was a sponsor for Josiah’s baptism, and Edward Winslow’s sister Sarah, was a sponsor for Samuel. The children were baptized at St. George’s Episcopal Church, Hempstead, ten miles from the family home. Josiah Banister, named for Rachel’s father, was baptized on 26 July 1781. They baptized Samuel, named for Rachel’s brother and the uncle of Thomas, on 26 September 1782.[72] From 1781-1783, Thomas Banister enjoyed the benefits of a large household of family without the worries of struggling for income.[73]


Thomas Banister, Refugee in Nova Scotia

When General Sir Guy Carleton, (1724-1808) replaced General Henry Clinton (1730-1795) as commander-in-chief of British forces in America in February 1782, his orders were to withdraw all British forces and citizens.[74] While the Loyalists decried that the British had deserted them, the British government offered land in the British Northern Provinces [at this time Canada referred to Quebec] to compensate for Loyalist sacrifices and lost wealth. Since General Carleton controlled the exit of British citizens to other British colonies, many Loyalists called upon him for help. This included soldiers who bore arms for the King, former political leaders inclined to the Crown, and ordinary citizens.[75]

Thomas Banister joined a group of “respectable gentlemen loyalists in New York,” addressing a petition to the General as “The Fifty-Five.” They asked General Carleton to reimburse them for the losses of their valuable lands in America and to provide compensation with 5,000 acres apiece in Nova Scotia. The petitioners stated they were refugees, “obliged to leave their homes and seek asylum,” because they had “no way of continuing to live with income from their former estates, having been banished by the states of their birth.” Most of the signers were gentlemen whose families had lengthy experience in colonial trade or government and had lost sizable landed estates.[76] The “Petition of Fifty-Five” Loyalists wanted to create a society where they would be a ruling elite, owning 275,000 acres.[77] On 22 July 1783, their petition went to General Carleton and to Governor Parr of Nova Scotia; they agreed to 1000 acres per settler in “New Edinburgh on the Sissiboo River.”[78]

None of the military men Banister knew from their common efforts in the war—namely Winslow, Leonard, Murray, or Fanning—signed the petition.[79] They were already guaranteed large tracts of land as they attained officer rank during their military service and received permission from General Carleton to settle at St. Johns.[80] Field officers were guaranteed 5,000 acres, 3,000 acres for captains, and 200 acres to non-commissioned officers, and 50 acres to privates.[81] Parliament also granted half-pay to all Provincial officers in July 1783.[82] Half-pay for a lieutenant colonel at 17 shillings per day would be £155.10 per year; half pay for majors and captains was £136.7 per year.[83] Thomas did not qualify as he did not have officer status and did not stay in service to the end of the war.

General Carleton made it clear that there would be a distribution of 500 acres to civilian heads of households, 50 acres to each family member, and 300 acres to single men.[84] To compensate for additional hardships of the refugees leaving for the British North American Provinces, the British government paid the costs for resettlement. This included twenty-one days of supplies for boat passage, a full year of support in provisions (for example, beef, pork, and flour) to survive the winter, and allowances for construction materials for homes and farming tools. The British government extended rations for survival for an additional three years of their residency.[85]

Over the spring, summer, and autumn of 1783, 40,000 Loyalists left New York for Nova Scotia.[86] Those like Thomas Banister who sailed did not do so lightly, but rather after thoughtful consideration of alternatives. First, the British promoters were persuasive, toting the good soil and drinking water, spacious harbor and a climate conducive to health. Secondly, the level of violence in the states against Loyalists escalated in 1783 rather than moderated and many individuals continued to suffer physical abuse and denial of political rights. The newspapers described Loyalists who were beaten, had their hair cut off, or were stripped of their clothes publicly.[87] Third, the average Loyalist felt betrayed by the British and humiliated by the American leadership when they learned of the preliminary articles of the peace treaty in March 1783 and the actual wording of September 1783. There was no punishment for the continued confiscations or prosecutions by states. Finally, many Loyalist volunteers “burned too many houses and barns and the traditions of military civility did not extend to them.”[88]

In the case of Thomas Banister there may have been other considerations. The New York legislature was in the process of passing laws to punish former Loyalists. Since Banister bore arms for the king, the Martin family might avoid retribution if he departed. The New York Voting Act of 12 May 1784 threatened to disenfranchise forever Loyalists bearing arms for the Crown, those who did work for the British military, who lived behind British lines after 9 July 1776, or who served on the New York Board of Refugees.[89] For some Americans, a Loyalist soldier was “untrustworthy of being a true American.”[90] However, the law did allow individuals to travel to Albany and appear before the Supreme Court to ask for reinstatement as citizens. An individual needed other residents to testify to his character and if there was no one opposed, the individual could be reinstated.[91] As a wash-ashore from Rhode Island and a soldier for the king there was little chance of a character reference from outside his family.

The actual time of Banister’s arrival at Sissiboo, Nova Scotia is unknown as the records are lost.[92] However, the muster roll for June 1784 shows Thomas Banister and a male servant listed as settled in Sissiboo. His wife and children are not on the list. Of the nearly 100 individuals and a few widows who assembled to be counted, twenty-five men brought their wives and children. Of the twenty-five listed as living at Sissiboo, there were seven volunteer fighters from the disbanded King’s American Regiment and the King’s American Dragoons, who Banister may have known.[93]

At his arrival, the location of upper St. Marys peninsula with its pleasant slopes and refreshing sea breezes may have given Banister hope for his future. Streams from the hills watered the valley making it prime growing country for apples, cherries, pears, and plums and raising cattle. His land grant was near New Edinburgh, where the Sissiboo River empties into St. Marys Bay, three miles northwest of Weymouth. The area on both sides of the Sissiboo River was forests with a small number of Mi’kmaq tribespeople living there.[94]

With so many Americans arriving in Nova Scotia, starting anew on free land, it would seem far from a lonely, desolate, or disheartening beginning. As with other immigrants to a new land, Thomas Banister faced his path with both hope and uncertainty. He was after all a displaced person, “uprooted in an alien world.”[95] As with any major undertaking some difficulties needed to be overcome. The settlers arrived too late in the year to plant crops, but the officials of the British government were committed to helping each family with needed provisions of food and tools. In addition, he had a firearm and knew how to hunt wild birds. That first winter some folks lived in tents or huts, cellars or ship’s holds, as not enough houses were completed.[96] It was a winter of snow and deep fog.

Even his friend Edward Winslow had a rough start in Annapolis, an established town. Although he had a house for his family, in May 1783 when he arrived he lacked a steady income. Winslow wrote to Ward Chipman, “We are monstrous poor. I have not a spade, hoe, or axe… A wagon would be of immense consequence… Blankets are so dear that I can’t think of purchasing…” Winslow did not move his family to the capital Fredericton, New Brunswick until their home was completely built and ready for them.[97]

Nova Scotia life was rugged and lonely. When Thomas left his wife and two small boys behind on Long Island, it was a difficult decision. Banister hoped to spare his wife the hardships, such as living in a canvas tent surrounded by banks of snow or trying to care for small children with lack of a kitchen. The land was isolated in winter. People travelled through the forest from hamlet to settlement guided by marked trees before a post road was built from Sissiboo to Digby.[98]

During the time that Thomas was in the north country, there is no evidence he enjoyed the balls, feasts or frivolity in which his friends in Halifax participated; nor were there visits from his New York family. In New Edinburgh, he faced the task of finding a way to homestead his acreage and secure income. Fish and timber were the most extensive natural resources, but as was the case for many men of his class, Banister had little experience in harnessing the resources of the land or ocean.[99] If Banister had a trade as a carpenter, sailmaker, or artisan, this would have been a useful. Capital to invest would have been beneficial as he needed to stay five years for the homestead to be deeded to him and not taken back for “non-performance.”[100]

While in Nova Scotia, Banister held an appointment as a magistrate, or judicial officer, handling civil cases for the Weymouth court. From April 1785, Thomas served as a commissioned Justice of the Peace for the County of Annapolis.[101] In New Edinburgh he served as Postmaster, at a time when mail arrived by packet ship.[102] Banister’s work, though useful to the settlements, provided little remuneration.


Filing as an American Sufferer

During his stay in Nova Scotia, there seemed to be hope for compensation from Britain for the loss of his valuable properties confiscated by Rhode Island, and with that monetary award Banister hoped for better times. John Eardley Wilmot (1750-1815) and Daniel Parker Coke (1745-1825) in London received an appointment with three others to sit on a Commission to Enquire into the Losses of American Loyalists.[103] Banister filed with the Commission, knowing that he fit one of six categories, specifically, “one who bore arms for his king.”[104] However, the process required compiling a dossier or memorial with a statement of claims, a description of his properties confiscated, evaluation of the worth of the properties, and witnesses in behalf of the claim.[105] Thomas filed before 25 March 1784, hoping for compensation for his Newport property or yearly support from the English government, even if it was only £100 per year.[106]

Initially, the requirements of the Commission were three: the individual had to appear in the room with the commissioners; relate his losses of the various properties; and answer their questions in the hearing. When the Loyalist could not appear for a personal interview before the commission, s/he could appear before an accredited agent of the commission in Halifax or have an attorney act as representative.[107] Banister hired Ward Chipman who was in London to submit the initial filing to the Commission.[108] Chipman stated, “Thomas Banister was in Nova Scotia and did not have requisite proofs of his property that has been confiscated” and requested that he may be “permitted to furnish such proofs.” Thomas “traveled to Newport in 1785 to collect proofs of state confiscations and certificates from Superior Court on the value of his property,” documents he received from his brother.[109] His attorney Sampson Salter Blowers in Halifax received the supporting evidence from Banister after his visit to Rhode Island.[110]

Once the British occupiers left Newport, in June 1780, Attorney General William Channing (1751-1793) had issued a judgement for confiscation of Loyalist properties through the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery. His brother, Walter Channing (1757-1827), who was Clerk of the Supreme Court, signed the confiscation orders.[111] There was an enormous amount of Thomas Banister property listed: a 150-acre farm in Middletown, Rhode Island; four and a half acres of land surrounding the Governor Benedict Arnold Old Stone Mill; four house lots on Pelham, Mill and Spring Streets; and three waterfront lots near Banister’s Wharf.[112] Thomas Banister had the right to reclaim his property but the criteria for restoration was determined by the state. Four appraisers from Newport viewed “the several Estates of Lots of Land,” Thomas Robinson and John Robinson, as well as John Andrews and John Malbone.[113] The appraisers estimated the losses at £7,202. Banister’s lawyers asked the Commission for half the sum, £3,384.29.[114]

Rhode Island used a logical system to process confiscated estates to preclude vandalism, dilapidation, or squatters. In 1780, the Rhode Island General Assembly of legislators “leased to the highest bidder for one year from the 28th of March” with rental to be “paid in gold or silver at the end of the lease. Taxes on the property to be paid.”[115] With over one hundred lots listed, the nine Banister’s properties represented ten percent of those listings.[116] There was some hesitation on the part of Rhode Island legislators about selling lands of American-born Loyalists, who at war’s end might return to the state and under articles of a peace treaty try to reclaim their estates. Yet properties were listed for sale as early as 1781.[117] However, nearly all sales of Banister properties took place after August 1784, after the final approval of the Treaty of Peace by Congress and Parliament.[118] As historian David Maas in his work on Massachusetts Loyalists points out, there was systematic action by politicians, creditors, and court officers to prevent the return of property to Loyalists like Thomas Banister.[119]

The largest parcel of land that Thomas Banister owned in Newport was co-owned with his brother and sister-in-law. The Old Stone Mill Meadows of nine and one-quarter acres and thirty rods was in the family for four generations of Arnolds, Pelhams, and Banisters.[120] The state took four and a half acres and put the land in trust in June 1784 with sales to “benefit of those Serving the State in the Revolution.” The land surveyed “for [thirty-two] House-Lots” was to be sold “at public Vendue.”[121]

Fifteen years later (1799), merchant George Gibbs purchased the lot for $3500.[122] His uncles were William Channing, former Attorney General of the state and Walter Channing, former Clerk of the Supreme Court who signed the confiscations for the state. The Gibbs/Channing family preserved the Stone Mill and two acres of the land, perhaps because the open space was across the street from their family home at 142 Mill Street. The other two and one-half acres of Gibbs sold for house lots or hotels, income which did not go to the state.[123]

The four house lots and three waterfront lots in downtown Newport were either given to war veterans or leased then sold. In each case the state made little money on the properties while speculators did. The state legislature made the decision as to who and how the property would be used but did not either compensate Banister or allow him a piece of property, so he could return to live in Rhode Island. One example of property transfer is representative and instructive. The General Assembly considered a petition from a former Hessian soldier, John Kerber [Koerber] who joined the American cause. According to German records, Johannes Koerber of Darmstadt, a gunsmith, was in Newport, having enlisted in July 1777.[124] An advertisement in the local British newspaper, the Newport Gazette, on 17 March 1779 accused, “John Kerber, deserter… about 36 Years of Age [took] Tools belonging to de Huyn’s Regiment.”

In seeking a house lot, Kerber’s Petition to the General Assembly of Rhode Island of May 1784 stated he was “employed as an Armourer under Generals Sullivan and Gates…and afterwards under the Colonels Bowen and Bourn.”[125] Colonel Ephraim Bowen, Deputy Quarter Master General submitted this certificate to support Kerber’s petition.[126] “There is due to him from the United States, Ten Thousand Seven Hundred and Seven Dollars and Fifty-One Seventy seconds of a Dollar, Continental Money, due in August and September 1780, which is equal to One Hundred and Fifty-Four Silver Dollars.” Colonel Bowen continued, “The said Kerber deserves to be paid, as he is in a disagreeable Situation without any Shop to work in.”[127] It helped that Kerber was married to a Newport resident Amey Cranston (1763-1842), great granddaughter of Rhode Island Governor Samuel Cranston.[128] Equally important is the reward was for abandoning the British and joining the right side, the Patriots.

The committee found a suitable property, formerly belonging to Thomas Banister, No. 13 of the Banister Lower Mill Field Lots. Located at present day 199 Spring Street, the state determined it would accommodate Kerber’s request and all that gunsmith Kerber had to pay for his twenty-year lease from 25 Mar. 1785-25 Mar. 1805 was “an ear of green Indian corn [young sweet corn suitable for eating] on the Third Monday of August yearly, if demanded.”[130] Kerber lived at the former Thomas Banister property for about two years and then moved.

There is a gap in the Land Evidence Records as to who owned the lot until John Faxon, Justice of the Peace and land developer in Newport had possession in 1796. He sold the property to Benjamin Gardiner (1750- 1819) for $1200.[131] Gardiner acted as trustee for his niece, Mary Taylor Champlin, who was Faxon’s step daughter. The Gardiner and Champlin families were among the wealthiest in post-war Newport, fortunes made in part from continuing their slave trading.[132]

When the state announced the property would be sold at auction in 1801, it sold for $475 to Providence physician John Preston Mann. This action was a conflict of interest in that Dr. Mann’s wife, Mehetable Clark, was the daughter of former Treasurer of Rhode Island, Joseph Clark. Within two years physician Mann’s wife died and he sold the Banister property for $550.[133]

As with other confiscated properties, many hands turned a profit in the chain of sales with little connection to the original purpose of benefitting the soldiers who fought in behalf of American independence. In the case of Banister’s nine properties, the state received $1,123 for four houses and lots, and eighty-one dollars a year on leases of other properties, and $3500 for the Old Stone Mill lot. The $10,000 that benefactor Judah Truro and others paid for the Old Stone Mill lot never went to the soldiers who served in the American Revolution.


Restoration of Confiscated Lands or Remuneration?

Rhode Island gave Thomas Banister no compensation or return of property. The American Revolution centered on the ideology of liberty, democracy, and equality, but these ideals did not extend to former landowning merchant class of American colonial society.[134] Furthermore, most former Rebels asked why land should be restored to those who chose to support a European imperialist power and who fought against America?[135]

The chief officers of the state took and sold Banister’s properties in 1784, depriving him of any reimbursement for his losses. Banister understood his most grievous fault was to fight for the wrong cause, based on his view of liberty. Joseph Warren of Boston said in 1772 that every man has a right to his property and that no man shall be governed by any law except one to which he consents.[136] What Thomas Banister learned is that liberty was controlled by those in power.

Rhode Island did accept Loyalists for reintegration.[137] Of course, if Banister decided to return, the General Assembly still required “a trial on the merits” with the statement of repentance and request for redemption before restoring the rights of citizenship. In addition, the petitioner had to have testimony of current inhabitants as to his honest and peaceful nature as a future citizen.[138] Based on Banister’s role in the Revolution, which was active and anything but neutral, chances of reintegration in Rhode Island were unlikely.

Thomas Banister still hoped for British government’s financial support. On 4 May 1786, the Coke and Wilmot Commission on cases of American Loyalists as Sufferers rendered their determination: “Thomas Banister was a Loyalist and bore Arms” and the “Confiscation of his property is proved.” They sent a letter to Banister at St. Marys, Nova Scotia, with what they considered the estate’s value of £1,020 (when his lawyers requested £3,384.29). They affirmed the British army’s destruction of Banister’s farm and agreed that Rhode Island confiscated his income-producing lands. But they gave him neither a yearly stipend nor monetary compensation to support his family.[139] The Commission decided that they would not grant money to American Sufferers for losses of developed land, uncultivated land, ships captured, suffering they experienced in prison, or loss of runaway slaves during the war. Instead, the Commissioners pointed to their generous offer of free land. In exchange, the Commissioners believed that settlers like Thomas Banister would help build the United Empire of Loyalists.[140]

In the five years after the war, Banister lost every piece of land, houses, shops, and a farm. For the British commissioners, economics not emotions entered into their calculations. No compensation was forthcoming. For Loyalists soldiers who hoped for their suffering to end, the outlook was ominous.


Long Island Bound

In contrast to Rhode Island’s treatment of Thomas Banister, New York took no land from Loyalist Samuel Martin. The New York Forfeiture Act of 1779 came into force with grand juries indicting fifty-five individuals for whom property was to be confiscated in Queens County where the Martins lived. Only twelve properties were taken by the state by 1783.[141] Despite the laws passed by the New York legislature to punish former Tories by confiscation of property, former Long Island Loyalists were large in number. It was impossible to enforce the laws.[142] By 1786, numerous New York laws enacted to deny the rights to former Loyalists were repealed.[143] Reestablishment of civil rights in Queens was a relatively peaceful transitioning.

With the assistance of Alexander Hamilton, numerous wealthy landowners regained their real estate in New York and were able to participate in society and politics. In Hamilton’s view these families and their capital were critical for rebuilding the state; revenge against former Loyalists would not help New York.[144] Hamilton stated that the rule of England was over, and individuals were no longer treasonous; they were not levying war against the state nor comforting an enemy (England). Furthermore, depriving rights and privileges of citizenship to those who remained in a British occupied city or land area (Long Island) during the war, “converted misfortune into guilt.” In Hamilton’s view many people were simply protecting their property and trying to survive. Benjamin Rush, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee also proposed acceptance of requests by former Loyalists to have a day in court to prove themselves as citizens.[145] New York legislators passed a general amnesty and approved the new national government with a vote of 30-27 in favor of the US Constitution in 1788.[146]

So, it came to pass that Banister decided Long Island, not the maritime provinces or Rhode Island, would be his home. The Martin estate was extensive and productive, one of the largest in Queens County. There his children could grow up as part of the Martin household, surrounded by an uncle, aunts, grandmother, and cousin, who would help the couple to raise the children. Banister returned to his Long Island home in February 1786. Birth records show a daughter, Alice Hermione Pelham Banister, was born at Rock Hall in 28 March 1787. Another daughter Frances Banister was born 24 April 1790.[147] Thomas and Rachel Banister had two sons and two daughters. In January of 1791, Thomas Banister, “formerly of Rhode Island but now living on the island of Nassau in the state of New York,” gave his “loving brother John Banister” a power of attorney to “grant, sell, assign, and convey” any remaining estate in Rhode Island, stating that Rock Hall was now his home.[148]

Banister’s family thrived at Rock Hall. The home dimensions of fifty-six feet by thirty-seven feet, meant the family had over two thousand square feet of living space on each floor. The interior walls were wood paneled from floor to ceiling and painted a creamy white. The floors were laid with one-foot wide pine and the home boasted a fourteen-foot-wide hall.[149] Situated on twenty-five acres were the main house and outbuildings, such as kitchen, smokehouse, barn, and coach house.[150]

Dr. Samuel Martin had Banister assist him in managing the complex estate’s 380 acres. Seventy-five acres were wood land and thirty acres salt meadow. The remaining 250 acres was arable.[151] Laborers produced vegetables, linen, soap, candles, and building materials to sell in Long Island markets. There were sheep, hogs, fowl and cattle for butchering and cows for dairy products. Thomas and Rachel Martin Banister and their children enjoyed the wealth of the Martins, who owned carriages and horses, sleighs, and boats. While Thomas Banister worked with Samuel Martin to ensure income from the estate, the two friends enjoyed boating, riding, hunting and fishing activities as country gentlemen.[152] Banister experienced a return to “a refined life style, social order, and personal liberty.”[153]

The American Revolution uprooted Thomas Banister and his Rhode Island and Long Island family. As a Loyalist during the American Revolution, Banister was neither a fervent monarchist nor a civilian interested in overthrowing local government.[154] His interest was in retaining his economic status. The historical significance of this Loyalist’s wartime allegiance is reflected in the redistribution of Banister lands to emerging economic and political leadership in Rhode Island.

Loyalists, particularly those who fought as soldiers, but who wanted to be reintegrated into American society, struggled for years to rebuild their lives. For two decades after the Revolutionary War, Thomas Banister watched his four children grow to adulthood, marry and raise their own families. He never wrote his story as it would have caused problems for his descendants. Banister was an American again, accepted mostly by the close-knit group of former Loyalist leaning citizens on Long Island.


[1]I would like to thank Bertram Lippincott of the Newport Historical Society, Cherry Fletcher Bamberg of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, and Katherine Ludwig of the David Library for their assistance in directing me to sources for this article.

[2]Fleet Green Diary, Newport, 1776-1779, 63, Newport Historical Society [hereafter NHS]. Fleet Green to Captain John Cahoon 1822, a letter in the diary, used these terms as well as “Royalist” (Tory) and “Provincial” (Patriot).

[3]John Banister to Rev. Samuel Johnson (1696-1772), 26 Dec. 1748. Banister Letter Book No. 66, NHS. This Anglican theologian opened King’s College [Columbia] in 1754 with the assistance of merchant families, including Josiah Martin, future father-in-law of Thomas Banister. Rev. Johnson served as college president in the last decade of his life.

[4]Marian Mathison Desrosiers, John Banister of Newport: The Life and Accounts of a Colonial Merchant (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2017).

[5]Banister Day Book No. 366. Banister Cash Book No. 362. NHS.

[6]John Ragle, Governor Dummer Academy History 1763-1963 (South Byfield, MA: Governor Dummer Academy, 1963). Banister Cash Book No. 362. From the fall of 1762 through Jul. 1766 payments were made to Boston schoolmasters, Holbrook and Pateshall. Thomas boarded with Stephen Minot. From Jul. 1766 to Jul. 1767, tuition was paid to Dummer Academy.

[7]Marian Mathison Desrosiers, “The Last Days of Hermione Pelham and John Banister of Newport, Rhode Island,” Rhode Island Roots Vol. 42: no. 2 (Jun. 2016): 101-107.

[8]Will of John Banister, Nov. 1767, Probate and Wills Middletown, RI, vol. 2 (1759-1792). Middletown Town Hall.

[9]Conrad Edick Wright, ed. Pedagogues and Protesters: The Harvard College Student Diary of Stephen Peabody 1768 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017), 6, 12, 13-14.

[10]Thomas Banister Account Book, Nov. 1767-Jul. 1775, NHS.

[11]Banister Memorandum Book, 22 Feb. 1766, No. 92: 316, NHS.

[12]Peter Oliver, Origin and Progress of the American Revolution, a Tory View (1781), ed. Douglass Adair and John A. Schutz (San Marino: CA: Huntington Library, 1961), 32, 93-113.

[13]John K. Robertson, “The Organization of the Rhode Island Militia 1774-1783,” Journal of the American Revolution, 13 Jan. 2016. (accessed 5 Feb. 2017).

[14]John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in New England, [hereafter Rec. of RI] (Providence: Knowles, Anthony & Co. 1860), 7: 566-568, 585, 611.

[15]General Assembly Papers, Revolutionary War Suspected Persons 1775-1783, 17, Rhode Island State Archives [hereafter RISA]. In all 80 men saw their names on a list of suspected persons; 22 men signed the oath on 11 July 1776 in front of Judge Metcalf Bowler along with John Banister.

[16]Memorial of Thomas Banister, The National Archives of the United Kingdom: Public Record Office, Audit Office Class 13, vol. 59: Folio 24. [hereafter TNA: PRO, AO13/59:24], accessed digitally by arrangement with the David Library of the American Revolution [hereafter DLAR], Washington Crossing, PA.

[17]Nathaniel Lane Taylor and Michael Andrews-Reading, “The Banisters of Oxfordshire, Boston, and Newport, with a Royal Descent for Frances Walker, Wife of Thomas Banister,” in New England Historical Genealogical Register 165 (Apr. 2011): 85-99. Meredith B. Colkert Jr., “The Pelhams of England and New England,” in The American Genealogist, 16 [1939-40]: 129-32, 201-5, 18 [1941-42]: 137-45, 211-18, 19 [1942-43]: 197-202. Prime Ministers Henry Pelham and Thomas Pelham-Holles were distant relatives. Herbert Pelham sailed with the Puritan immigrants of 1638 and served as Treasurer of Harvard. Edward Pelham was husband to Freelove Arnold, daughter of Governor Benedict Arnold of Newport. Thomas Banister helped to found Brattle Street Church and widen the neck from Boston to Cambridge to increase trade. Grandfather Banister’s ancestry four generations earlier included Lord de la Warr and through William Carey and Mary Boleyn, Thomas Banister claimed descent from King Edward I.

[18]Robert M. Calhoon, Tory Insurgents: The Loyalist Perception and Other Essays (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), 4-14.

[19]Claude Halstead Van Tyne, The Loyalists in the American Revolution (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1959), 194. There is no diary nor are there letters to explain the thinking of Thomas Banister. Van Tyne’s research on young provincial recruits was helpful.

[20]Chaim M. Rosenberg, The Loyalist Conscience: Principled Opposition to the American Revolution (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018), 79. Massachusetts was the first state to confiscate estates and put them up for sale in April 1779. David E. Maas, “The Massachusetts Loyalists and the Problem of Amnesty 1775-1790,” 66-67 in Robert M. Calhoon, Timothy M. Barnes, George A. Rawlyk, Loyalists and Community in North America (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994). MA passed the Test Act (Feb. 1778), which did not allow the return of any absentee who had joined the British as of Apr. 1775. The Banishment Act (Oct. 1778) forbade the return of 308 former MA residents. If they did return, they could be sentenced to death. James Stark, The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution (Boston: W. B. Clarke Co., 1910), 137-140.

[21]John A. Ruddiman, Becoming Men of Some Consequence: Youth and Military Service in the Revolutionary War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014), 4-14.

[22]Paul H. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats: A Study in British Revolutionary Policy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964), 62. The British government sent clothing and camp equipment for 7,000 volunteers in NY by the end of 1776. Historian Don N. Hagist notes that reenactors carry cup and plate; soldiers drank from their canteen and ate from the cooking kettle.

[23]There is no record of when Thomas Banister left Newport with Wentworth’s Volunteers, but one hypothesis is after April 1777. Charges made to his tailor, Brenton Perkins, end in April 1777. Perkins’ account was given to the General Assembly investigating debts against Thomas Banister, which were paid by income from lease/ sale of Banister’s confiscated real estate. The Tailor’s Account with Thomas Banister, 11 Dec. 1773 to 13 Apr. 1777, showed debts of £31.1.5 ½ and £43.10.11. Manuscript in Confiscated Estates Box #1259, RISA. See also Acts & Resolves of the General Assembly, Feb. Session 1783, 37.

[24]Van Tyne, Loyalists of the American Revolution, 168. Oscar Theodore Barck, New York City During the War for Independence (Port Washington, New York: Ira J. Friedman, 1966), 195. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 47, 63-64.

[25]Edward Alfred Jones, The Loyalists of Massachusetts: Their Memorials, Petitions and Claims (London: St. Catherine Press, 1930), 313. Originally a troop of Light Dragoons, a cavalry used for reconnaissance, Jones states they disbanded in 1778. Military records indicate 1781.

[26]Paul W. Wilderson, Governor Wentworth and the American Revolution: The English Connection (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1994), 268.

[27]Ann Gorman Condon, “Winslow, Edward,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5. In 1780, Winslow married on Long Island to Mary Symonds, eventually having fourteen children. In 1783, he moved to Nova Scotia and then New Brunswick. At his funeral, two pall bearers were Sir John Wentworth and General Edmund Fanning.

[28]R.S. Thomas, “A List of Graduates of Harvard Who Were Tories in the American Revolution Residing in Massachusetts,” No. 2 (Oct. 1898) William and Mary Quarterly, 7: 76-81. The author states there were 140 Tories. Banister was a cousin of Winslow, as Thomas Banister’s great-grandfather Edward Pelham (1652-1730) was the younger step-brother of Penelope Pelham (1633-1703), who married Edward Winslow’s grandfather Josiah Winslow (1629-1680), sixteenth governor of Plymouth. See Rebecca Fraser, The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017), 162-175, 190-192, 203-205, 232-233, 310-312. Susan Hardman Moore, Abandoning America: Life-Stories from Early New England (London: Boydell Press, 2011), 235-239.

[29]Ann Gorman Condon, “Leonard, George,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6. When the British fleet left Newport, Leonard sold his ships, which Loyalist volunteers used to attack coastal cities in 1779. Leonard traveled to London in 1780, filing there for compensation and receiving a pension of £200. Impressing Lord George Germain with his proposal to organize Loyalists, Leonard returned to New York. The Wilmot and Coke Commission awarded him £5000 for wartime losses. Later he served as Lt. Governor of New Brunswick.

[30]Frances G. Halpenny, “Murray, Daniel,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1983), vol. 5: 354. Lorenzo Sabine, The American Loyalists, or Biographical Sketches of Adherents to the British Crown in the War of the Revolution (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979), vol. 2: 117. Murray served with Col. Benjamin Thompson in the King’s American Dragoons on Long Island 1782-1783, then joined Winslow and Leonard in New Brunswick as part of the “United Loyalist Empire,” serving in the House of Assembly from 1792 to 1796.

[31]Jones, The Loyalists of Massachusetts. He references Murray’s Memorials to the Commission on American Sufferers.

[32]John Wentworth to the Commissioners, Witness in Behalf of Thomas Banister of Rhode Island, Nova Scotia, 1 May 1786. TNA, PRO, AO13/59: 56-57, DLAR. Communication with Don N. Hagist 12 Jul. 2016. “Musters occurred to determine how many in the unit needed to be paid every two months. Those soldiers on routine duty on Long Island might be paid more often than those on a campaign. Each enlistee was guaranteed a signing bonus, about one-month advance pay as a bounty.” (£1.11.6).

[33]Winslow to Lt. Col. Innes, Long Island 31 Oct 1777. Winslow Papers 1776-1826, ed. William Odber Raymond (St. John, New Brunswick: Sun Printing Co., 1901), 18.

[34]Judith L. Van Buskirk, Generous Enemies: Patriots and Loyalists in Revolutionary New York (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 8.

[35]Joanne S. Grasso, The American Revolution on Long Island (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2016), 18, 41.

[36]Henry Onderdonk, Revolutionary Incidents in Queens County in Olden Times: Being a Supplement to the Several Histories Thereof (Jamaica, NY: Charles Welling, 1865), 64.

[37]Benjamin Franklin Thompson, The History of Long Island from its Discovery to the Present Time (New York: Gould Banks & Co., 1843), 1: 282-290.

[38]Ibid., 1: 307.

[39]Idem. See Joseph S. Tiedemann, “Patriots, Loyalists, and Conflict Resolution in New York 1783-1787,” 75-88 in Loyalists and Community in North America. Henry Onderdonk, Documents and Letters Intended to Illustrate the Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County (New York: Leavitt, Trow & Co., 1846), 189.

[40]Communication with Don N. Hagist 15 Jan. 2019 provided young officers’ accounts of army life.

[41]Sylvia R. Frey, Social History of Military Life in the Revolutionary Period (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981) 22-25, 112-119. Banister wrote no personal account; Frey provides a model of volunteer life. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 73. Until Jan. 1779, maimed or wounded provincial recruits were not eligible for hospital or nursing care.

[42]Don N. Hagist, British Soldiers American War: Voices in the American Revolution (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2012), 217, 321-322. Company officers withheld money from the soldier’s pay for food, clothing, washing, and other services. Soldiers, with skills of shoe making or tailoring, could earn additional money, as could soldiers who built barracks, forts, or roads.

[43]Communication with Don N. Hagist 9 Jul. 2018. “The British pay schedule for Provincials was commensurate with the regular army. The Provincials received similar provisions, salted beef, pork, or fish; bread, peas/beans, rice or corn; beer or cider, candles and soap.”

[44]Ward Chipman to Edward Winslow 15 Feb 1778, vol. 1: 81, The Winslow Papers, University of New Brunswick Archives [hereafter UNB]. (accessed 17 Feb. 2017).

[45]Phillip Buckner, “Chipman, Ward,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6. At war’s end, Chipman served as lawyer for many Loyalists, preparing claims, and speaking in their behalf to the commissioners. Later, he was Solicitor General, Chief Justice, and President of New Brunswick. Patricia A. Ryder, Ward Chipman, United Empire Loyalist, MA Thesis, University of New Brunswick, 1958.

[46]Edward Winslow to Sir John Wentworth 22 Jun. 1778, Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 28-29.

[47]“Moncrieff, James,” Dictionary of National Biography, eds. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee (New York: Macmillan co., 1908), 38:170-171. In 1780, Capt. Moncrieff worked on the defenses at Savannah and Charleston as commander of the Black Pioneers. Douglas R. Egerton, Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

[48]Charles R. McKirdy, “Massachusetts Lawyers on the Eve of the American Revolution,” 313- 358 in Law in Colonial Massachusetts 1630-1800, vol. 62. (accessed on 28 Jan. 2018). Appointed to the Admiralty Court in Rhode Island in 1779, Upham joined the Loyalist Volunteers as the British exited Newport. He spent the last years of the Revolution serving with Lt. Col. Benjamin Thompson and his post-war years as a political leader in New Brunswick.

[49]Wilbur H. Siebert, The Loyalist Refugees of New Hampshire (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1916), 10.

[50]Judge Thomas Jones (1731-1792), History of New York During the Revolutionary War and of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period (New York: New York Historical Society, 1879), 1: 267-268.

[51] Ibid., 270. Onderdonk, Documents and Letters Intended to Illustrate the Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County (1846), 192-193.

[52]Carl Leopold Bauermeister, Confidential Letters and Journals 1776-1784 of Adjutant General Major Bauermeister of the Hessian Forces (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1957), 197, 296.

[53]The siege of the town took place for 12 days, 17-29 August 1778. Thomas Banister was not part of the British army fight of the Battle of Rhode Island 29 August.

[54]Edward Winslow to Dr. John Jeffries 1779, Winslow Papers 1776-1826 ed. W. O. Raymond (St. John, New Brunswick, 1901), 40-44.

[55]Walter T. Dornfest, Military Loyalists of the American Revolution: Officers and Regiments 1775-1783 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011), 378, 380, 384, 430-431. Irregulars, or associators, were not royal provincial units.

[56]Jackie R. East, Lessons from the British Defeat Combating Colonial Hybrid Warfare in the 1781 Southern Theater of Operations. Fort Leavenworth, KN: School of Advance Military Studies, US Army, 2014, 9. The author argues that Gen. Nathanael Greene in the South helped to defeat General Cornwallis with a combination of conventional, irregular, and terrorist approaches (a hybrid threat).

[57]Idem. See also, “Fanning, Edmund,” in Sabine, The American Loyalists, vol. 1: 415-418.

[58]Edward Winslow to General Prescott, 6 Apr. 1779, vol. 1: 123, Winslow Papers, UNB. Jack Sheedy and Jim Coogan, Cape Cod Companion (East Dennis, MA: Harvest Home Books, 1999), 151-152. M. Smith, The Book of Falmouth (Falmouth, MA: Falmouth Historical Society, 1986).

[59]Newport Gazette, 1777-1779.

[60]Ruma Chopra, Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City During the Revolution (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011), 162-164.

[61]Onderdonk, Documents and Letters Intended to Illustrate the Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County (1846), 196-197.

[62]Mark V. Kwasny, Washington’s Partisan War (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996), 298. Siebert, “Loyalist Troops of New England,” New England Quarterly (1931): 131-133. David M. Griffin, Lost British Forts of Long Island (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2017), for Patriot attacks on Long Island at Ft. Setauket, St. George, and Golgotha.

[63]In May 1780, Gov. Franklin received an appointment to lead the Associated Loyalist Board with the purpose of giving Loyalists a voice in negotiating their rights. New York Gazette, 2 Jul. 1781. On the Board were Josiah Martin of NY, Joseph Wanton Jr. of RI and George Leonard of MA, 1779 “sea raider.” Edward H. Tebbenhoff, “The Associated Loyalists,” 115-144 in Peter S. Onuf ed. Patriots, Redcoats, and Loyalists (New York: Garland Publishing, 1981). The Board approved attacks on Long Island and Connecticut Patriots. For example, they burned houses and a store in Guilford, CT, on 17 Jun. 1781.

[64]Lt. Col. Joshua Upham to Gov. William Franklin, Ft. Franklin, 13 Jul. 1781, New York Gazette, 16 Jul. 1781. Richard F. Welch, “Fort Franklin: The Bastion on Long Island,” Journal of the American Revolution (Mar. 2015).

[65]Memorial of Thomas Banister of Rhode Island to the Commissioners appointed by an Act of Parliament for Inquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists, 24 Mar. 1784, by Ward Chipman, Banister’s Attorney. PRO, AO13/59/ 24-62, DLAR.

[66]Col. Samuel Martin (1695–1776), An Essay on Plantership, 7th ed. (Antigua: Robert Mearns, 1785), 11–18.

[67]Onderdonk, Queens County in Olden Times, Being a Supplement to the Several Histories (1865), 49. Alexander Clarence Flick, Loyalism in New York During the American Revolution (Port Washington, NY: I. J. Friedman, 1962), 52-66. In Mar. 1776, the NY legislature disarmed those who refused to accept non-importation. One hundred were jailed, then tried by a committee not by a jury trial. Some were put on prison ships and other sent to a Connecticut mine for prison. (accessed 9 Jul. 2018).

[68]Vernon O. Stumpf, The Last Royal Governor of North Carolina (Durham: Carolina Academic Press for the Kellenberger Historical Foundation, 1986). Shirley G. Hibbard, Rock Hall: A Narrative History (New York: Dover Publications, 1997), 5-15. Lt. Col. Josiah Martin served in the 22nd Regiment from 1756 until 1769, NC royal governor from 1771-1775, and served from 1779-1781 with Cornwallis in the South. During these years he, his wife, and those of their eight children who survived childhood illnesses, stayed at Rock Hall.

[69]Barck, New York City During the War, 66. James Robertson served as NY Royal Governor from 1779-1783.

[70]Hibbard, Rock Hall, 13. Rachel was thirty-one and pregnant. Sanborn C. Brown, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1979), 52-53, 68, 85-88. Thompson’s scientific discoveries led to his election to many learned societies in Europe and the title Count Rumford. With a significant sum of money from his innovations and inventions, he bequeathed to Harvard College the funds for a professorship in science.


[72]“St. George’s Episcopal Church, Hempstead, New York, Baptisms 1730-1791 Children A-L,” (accessed on 17 Feb. 2017).

[73]Governor Martin’s daughter, Elizabeth (1762-1820), stayed with the New York family of her grandmother Mary Yeamans Martin (DOD 1805), Aunt Alice Martin (DOD 1815) and Aunt Rachel Banister (DOD 1817).

[74]G. P. Browne, “Carleton, Guy,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5.

[75]Barck, New York City during the War, 211-212.

[76]Names and Residences of Fifty-Five Petitioners transcribed by Wallace Hale for Fort Havoc Archives. (accessed 7 Jul. 2018). Signatures on the petition included Newport Loyalists, Walter Chaloner, James Clarke, John Mawdsley, William Wanton, and John Watson.

[77]Ibid., 213-214. Christopher Moore, The Loyalists: Revolution, Exile, Settlement (Toronto: Macmillan, 1984), 189-190.

[78]Isiah W. Wilson, A Geography and History of the County of Digby, Nova Scotia (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Holloway Bros, 1900), 64. Although written about in Halliburton’s Provincial History, no copy presently exists of the Edinburgh survey in the Halifax Archives. Barck, New York City During War, 214.

[79]Ward Chipman to Edward Winslow, London, 3 Aug. 1783, Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 131. Ward Chipman originally signed the Petition of Fifty-Five, but “disassociated himself despite our friend Thomas Banister signed. My ideas for business do not comport with others.” Chip hoped for a government job.

[80]Letters of Edward Winslow and Ward Chipman, Jul. 1783-Apr. 1784, Winslow Papers, vol.1 and 2. Ann Gorman Condon quotes the arguments in The Envy of the American States: The Loyalist Dream for New Brunswick (Fredericton, New Brunswick: New Ireland Press, 1984). General Carleton gave permission to Loyalists led by Col. Edward Winslow and Maj. Daniel Murray to claim and explore a block of land on the west side of the Bay of Fundy along the St. Johns River. In 1784, Winslow and others pushed for a separate province, New Brunswick, for Loyalist troops and for political/legal positions for his associates.

[81]Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 63-64.

[82]Col. Benjamin Thompson to Edward Winslow, 8 Pall Mall Court, London, Jul. 1783 in Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 103-106.

[83]Communication with Don N. Hagist. Loyalist officers were paid at the same rates as regular officers. Half-pay is a reserve status where the officer had no duty but received half of the normal pay, on the condition that he could be brought back onto full pay if he was needed again. It was very common at the end of a war. A chart giving the daily rates can be found at: (accessed 9 Jul. 2018).

[84]Barck, New York City During War, 209. Paul H. Smith, “The American Loyalists: Notes on Their Organization and Numerical Strength,” William and Mary Quarterly 25 (1968): 259-277. The estimate is 19,000 men served in Loyalist units; only 9,700 still served at the end of 1780.

[85]Chopra, Unnatural Rebellion: Loyalists in New York City, 212 fn 113. Rivington, Gazette, 9 Apr. 1783. Ann Gorman Condon, “The Loyalist Community in New Brunswick,” Loyalists and Community in North America, 166.

[86]Onderdonk, Documents and Letters Intended to Illustrate the Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County (1846), 254. “Loyalist Ships,” (accessed 9 Jul. 2018).

[87]Philip, Ranlet, The New York Loyalists (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986), 164-167. Alexander Hamilton, Robert Livingston, and John Jay decried actions of these mobs.

[88]Van Buskirk, Generous Enemies, 178-179.

[89]Alexander C. Flick, “The Loyalists,” in The History of the State of New York: Whig and Tory, ed. Alexander Flick (Port Washington: NY: Ira J. Friedman, 1962), 3: 357. The act of 12 May 1784 to disenfranchise forever all Loyalists bearing arms for the Crown was repealed in 1786.

[90]Aaron N. Coleman, Loyalists in War, Americans in Peace: The Reintegration of the Loyalists, 1775-1800. Diss. (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2008), 271.

[91]Ibid., 257. Joseph S. Tidemann, “Queens County,” 43-62 in The Other New York: The American Revolution Beyond New York City, 1763-1767 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005), 55. From 1783, the New York Council, which listened to requests for reinstatement of citizenship, did not deny people political rights just for living behind British lines.

[92] Tidemann, The Other New York, 54.

[93]Muster Roll of the Disbanded Officers, Discharged Soldiers and Loyalists at Gulliver’s Hole [cove and harbor on Digby Neck], St. Mary Bay [comprising Plymton, Barton, Brighton and Digby County] and Sissiboo [Weymouth] 1st and 6th of June 1784, submitted by John Robinson, Annapolis, Nova Scotia [Secretary for Major-General Campbell]. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record (New York: New York Genealogical Society, 1903), 34: 261,;view=1up;seq=7(accessed on 9 Jul. 2018). See also Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 21-33.

[94]Wilson, A Geography and History of the County of Digby, 4-13, 70.

[95]Neil Mackinnon, This Unfriendly Soil: The Loyalist Experience in Nova Scotia 1783-1791 (Montreal: Queen’s University Press, 1986), 181.

[96]Moore, The Loyalists, 207.

[97]Edward Winslow to Ward Chipman, May 1783, Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 83.

[98]Wilson, Geography and History of Digby, 57.

[99]Wallace Brown and Hereward Senior, Victorious in Defeat: The Loyalists in Canada. (Toronto: Methuen, 1984), 88-91. Journals of Anne Murray Powell and NY soldier Henry Nase reflect successful stories. Planting corn, squash, and beans provided initial food sources.

[100]Jones, History of New York During the Revolutionary War, 1: 18. Moore, Loyalists, 163.

[101]Winslow Papers 1776-1826, ed. Raymond, note 115 for 21 Apr. 1785.

[102]Wilson, Geography and History of Digby, 57.

[103]Barck, New York City During War, 217. The other three commissioners were Robert Kingston, Thomas Dundas, and John Marsh who examined the claimants and witnesses. Guide to American Loyalist Collection New York Public Library. (accessed 22 Aug. 2018). These commissioners heard cases in Nova Scotia.

[104]Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists 1783-1785 Being the Notes of Mr. Daniel Parke Coke, ed. Hugh Edward Egerton (Oxford: Printed for the Roxburghe Club, 1915). Wilmot and Coke were members of Parliament, who had voted against the war. They did not take any money for their work.

[105]“Newspapers of Canada,” Winslow Papers 1777-1826, ed. Raymond, 321. The act passed in Jul. 1783, but was not publicized in all regions, so a second act in 1785 renewed the Commission. Pemberton and Dundas heard claims in Halifax until Sept. 1790.

[106]A general, like Benedict Arnold, could receive £800 per year. (accessed 9 Jul. 2018).

[107]Van Tyne, The Loyalists in the American Revolution, 301-303. John Eardley Wilmot, Historical View of the Commission for Enquiring into the Losses, Services and Claims of the American Loyalists at the Close of the War Between Great Britain and her Colonies in 1783 (London: J. Nichols, 1815).

[108]Darrel Butler, “Ward Chipman, Senior, A Founding Father of New Brunswick,” in John N. Grant and Phyllis R. Blakeley, Eleven Exiles: Accounts of Loyalists of the American Revolution (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1982), 150. Winslow Papers, ed. Raymond, 89.

[109]Memorial of Thomas Banister, PRO, AO12/84/35, DLAR. In his letter to the Commission, brother John Banister commented that one of his brother’s houses “on the back of the main street was occupied by two families of Negroes.” Banister did not reclaim ownership to the home.

[110]Phyllis R. Blakeley, “Blowers, Sampson Salter,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7. Sampson Salter Blowers (1742-1842) lived in Halifax. A Harvard graduate (1763) with his AM (1765), Blowers along with John Adams and Josiah Quincy defended the British soldiers accused of the “Boston Massacre.” Blowers never received compensation for loss of his Massachusetts or Rhode Island real estate, which he claimed at £4,800. He moved to Halifax in 1783, served as attorney general, Speaker of the House, and from 1797-1833 as Chief Justice. He was immensely wealthy at his death at 100. Stark, The Loyalists of Massachusetts, 137, 431-433.

[111]Attorney General William Channing (1751-1793) A Judgement for Confiscations, Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery, 26 Jun. 1780. Banister Papers, Box 45 folder 14, NHS.

[112]Thomas Hornsby, Newport, Oct. 1819, Sworn Statement in support of a Petition of Christian Banister to the General Assembly, to obtain quit claim deed from the RI Treasurer, Oct. 1819, vol. 48: 65, RISA. Thomas Banister allowed Pero Banister to live in one of his houses. In the 1774 Newport census Pero is head of household. According to the censuses from 1782 through 1810, Pero Banister’s family lived there. The state never confiscated the house lot.

[113]Communication from NHS Librarian Bert Lippincott. John Andrews was a judge on the Vice-Admiralty Court and John Robinson was Customs Collector for the Crown; both chose to support RI. Thomas Robinson was a Quaker of vast wealth, who took a low profile during the war. He hosted Vicomte de Noailles when the French were in Newport. Col. John Malbone, a son of colonial merchant Godfrey Malbone, served in a RI Patriot militia and was life-long friends with the Banisters.

[114]PRO AO13/59/240027-28, DLAR. See also Peter Wilson Coldham, American Migrations 1765-1799: Lives and Times of Families of Colonial America, who Remained Loyal to the Crown (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000), 135.

[115]Box on Confiscated Estates, C#259, Leases Folder 4, RISA.

[116]Ibid., Inventory Folder 3, RISA. Banister owned Newport downtown lots, while others whose lands were confiscated, such as Jahleel Brenton and George Rome, owned hundreds of acres.

[117]Newport Mercury, 1 Dec. 1781. “General Treasurer to sell the Pelham-Banister Lot granted to John Kerber on the Back street leading to the neck between Cap. [Captain] John Langley and Mr. Henry Howland.”

[118]Article 5 of the treaty called for states to return confiscated property or make restitution and Article 6 stated no further prosecution of Loyalists.

[119]David E. Maas, “The Massachusetts Loyalists and the Problem of Amnesty 1775-1790,” 65-74 in Robert M. Calhoon, Timothy M. Barnes, George A. Rawlyk, Loyalists and Community in North America (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), 1994.

[120]Will of Governor Benedict Arnold, Genealogy of Rhode Island Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1903), I: 20-40. Gov. Arnold (1615-1678) references “my Stone-Bilt Windmill.”

[121]Newport Mercury, 7 Dec. 1782, 4. Rec. of RI, Dec. 1783, vol. 9: 665. A balance of £9,137.10.11 was due to the officers and privates of Col. Jeremiah Olney’s battalion. General Assembly Committee Reports, 1783 Confiscations, vol. 4: 76.

[122]Jeremiah Olney to George Gibbs, 18 Sept. 1799, recorded 30 Sept. 1799, Land Evidence Records [hereafter LER] Newport, vol. 7: 81, NCH. George Gibbs bought other Banister property, selling a large lot to the founders of the Congregational Church of the Patriots and one to hotel developers. The location of the LER is Newport City Hall [hereafter NCH].

[123]Herbert Olin Brigham, The Old Stone Mill (Newport: Franklin Press, 1948), 9. The original survey of this acreage showed thirty-two house lots. A Little History of Touro Park, Friends of Touro Park, 1992, NCH. In 1854, Judah Touro (1775-1854), a Jewish philanthropist who previously lived in Newport, amassed $10,000 with friends to purchase the two acres of the Old Stone Mill lot. They gave it to the city of Newport and became known as Touro Park.

[124]“Kerber, Johannes,” in Hessian Troops in America. (accessed 30 Mar. 2017). See also, The German Allied Troops in the North American War of Independence 1776-1783. (accessed on 26 Mar. 2017).

[125]Petitions to the General Assembly 6 May 1784, Vol. 21: 41, RISA.

[126]Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution (Reprinted in Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973), 112. Colonel Bowen (1753-1841) of the Second Rhode Island Regiment 1775-1783 was Quarter Master General, under Hitchcock and Cornell, then Angell and Olney. Bourn (1755-1808) was Quartermaster for the Babcock and Lippitt Regiments of the Rhode Island Militia. Patrick T. Conley, Liberty and Justice: A History of Law and Lawyers in Rhode Island 1636-1998 (East Providence: Rhode Island Publications, 1998), 163, 173, 217, 221. A staunch Federalist, Bourne pushed for ratification of the Constitution, was RI’s first Congressman and later a federal judge.

[127]Rec. of RI, Jun. 1784, vol. 10: 34.

[128]Frances Thurston, Memorandum of Marriages, copied from my father’s accounts, Rev. Gardiner Thurston (1721-1802), NHS. Rev. Thurston, minister from 1748 to 1802 at Second Baptist Church, Newport, recorded the marriage as 18 Dec. 1779; Amey Cranston was sixteen.

[129]Acts and Resolves of the General Assembly, Jan. Session 1779, 3. Early in the process, properties confiscated could be leased for payment of “corn, butter, cheese, rye, beef, pork, or wool at prices stated by the General Assembly and presented at the expiration of the lease in one year.” See the Report to the General Assembly of the Committee Setting off a Lot of Land to John Kerber by George Hazard, Henry Marchant, George Champlin, John Topham, Daniel Mason, General Assembly Committee Reports, 1783 Confiscations, 27 Aug. 1784, Rec. of RI, Vol. 4: 78, RISA.

[130]LER Newport, 20 Apr 1796, vol. 6: 557, NCH. No record has been discovered as to what happened to the former Banister house lot during 1786-1796.

[131]John Faxon to Benjamin Gardiner, 24 Jun. 1798, LER Newport, vol. 6: 669, NCH.

[132]Caroline Elizabeth Rodman Robinson, The Gardiners of Narragansett: Being a Genealogy of the Descendants of George Gardiner (Providence: Caroline R. Robinson, 1919), 29.

[133]Henry Sherburne, Treasurer of the State of RI to John Preston Mann, Newport 14 Apr. 1802, LER vol. 8: 406. Mann to John Boit, 14 Aug. 1804, LER, Vol. 9: 235. After selling the former Banister property, Dr. Mann remarried and invested in properties in Newport and Providence. He died in Newport in 1837.

[134]Jones, History of New York During the Revolutionary War, 267.

[135]Rec. of RI, vol. 9: 728-731, vol. 10: 420-421.

[136]Joseph Warren, An Oration; Delivered March 6, 1775: At the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston; to Commemorate the Bloody Tragedy of the Fifth of March 1770 (Boston: Edes and Gill, Joseph Greenleaf, 1775).

[137]Bartlett, Recs. of RI, 9: 728-731. Twelve of the twenty-one American-born Loyalists, who left Newport before 1779, returned to receive back one house, among them were Mawdsley, Freebody, and Stoddard. Although John Mawdsley lived in Newport until his death in 1795, he was unable to raise the money to pay off mortgages on his spermaceti works or his large mansion. After his death, Mary Bardin Mawdsley and children lived at her mother’s house on School Street.

[138]Ibid., 9: 714-715, 729. Testimony in the record was that Mawdsley helped the British food supplies in 1779 by using some of his vessels to supply the British garrison at Newport with necessaries from New York. Town residents also bought those food items. Cherry Fletcher Bamberg, “Captain Charles Bardin of London, Providence, and Newport, Part Two, Loyalist Daughters,” Rhode Island Roots, 42: No. 4 (Dec. 2016), 189-190.

[139]Case of Thomas Banister, Loyalist, Determination of the Commissioners, 4 May 1786, AO12/ 67/5, DLAR. Jones, The Loyalists of Massachusetts. Americans of title or influence, who lost political office or professional income and went to live in England, did receive stipends from Britain, usually for life. Some were Banister friends, Elisha Hutchinson, Richard Harrison, Dr. John Jeffries, Joshua Upham, and Daniel Murray.

[140]Wallace Brown, The King’s Friends, The Composition and Motives of the American Loyalist Claimants (Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1965). From Rhode Island 54 filed. Banister was one of the: 44 from Newport, 21 American-born, 13 who claimed over £2000 in losses, and 17 serving in a Loyalist troop.

[141] “List of loyalists against whom judgments were given under the Confiscation Act,” Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library Digital Collections. (accessed 5 Oct. 2018).

[142]Joseph S. Tiedemann, “Patriots, Loyalists, and Conflict Resolution in New York 1783-1787,” ed. Calhoon, Barnes, and Rawlyk, Loyalists and Community in North America, 75-88.

[143]Flick, “The Loyalists,” in The History of the State of New York. Vol. 3 (Port Washington, NY: Ira J. Friedman, 1962), 357. Tiedemann, “Patriots, Loyalists, and Conflict Resolution in New York, 1783-1787.” Before the war in Queens County, 66 per cent of residents considered themselves neutral, 11 per cent Patriots, and 22 per cent Loyalists. By 1787, 24 per cent of former loyalists in Queens County were voting.

[144]Mark Boonshoft, “Dispossessing Loyalists and Redistributing Property in Revolutionary New York,” 19 Sept. 2016. (accessed 20 Oct. 2018).

[145]Coleman, Loyalists in War, Americans in Peace, 213-215, 253, 256-257, 259-262. Most state legislatures opposed a return of citizenship to those who were paid any money by the British government as politicians, customs collectors, army or navy officers, or those who received annual living stipends.

[146]David E. Maas, Divided Hearts: Massachusetts Loyalists, 1765-1790: A Biographical Directory ( Boston: The Society of Colonial Wars and The New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, MA, 1980), xxi. NY issued a general amnesty in Feb. then ratified in June 1788. Forrest McDonald, We the People: The Economic Origins of the Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 287, 301-303. NY and MA Federalists received money from Loyalist debts and paid debts they owed Loyalists. Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History 1750-1804 (New York: Norton, 2016), 392.Virginia accepted the Constitution 89 to 79 and New Hampshire 57 to 47. NYC threatened to secede from the state if the Constitution was not ratified.

[147]Hibbard, Rock Hall, 13.

[148]Power of Attorney Thomas Banister of Nassau, New York to John Banister of Newport, 25 Jul. 1791, LER Newport Vol. 4: 413-414, NCH.

[149]“Rock Hall for Sale,” New York Gazette 7 Jul. 1807. “Drawings of the First Floor Plan of Rock Hall, Plate 2,” Creator Gerhardus Clowes and Josiah Martin, Historic American Building Survey, Rock Hall, Broadway, Lawrence, Nassau County, New York, 1933. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. (accessed 21 Oct. 2018).

[150]Hibbard, Rock Hall, 13.

[151] New York Gazette, 7 Jul. 1807.

[152]Hibbard, Rock Hall, 18.

[153]Calhoon, Tory Insurgents, chap. 1, n 13 reference to ideas of Ann Gorman Condon.

[154]Idem., 370.

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