Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada

 

 

 

 


Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches



 

"Tracing Hatfield Roots"

Claire Machan, November 2003, Vol.15 No.2, Page 3

 


 

    A few summers ago my husband, Glen, and I holidayed in Nova Scotia.  I was researching my roots.  My ancestor, Captain John Hatfield was granted 700 acres "Lot 51, situated on the Fox River on the shore of Minas Gut", part of which is still in the family.  Frank Hatfield, my cousin, died a few months before our visit but we were warmly welcomed by his wife Edith and their son Stuart.  Edith lives in Fraserville, a

 Fraserville Lighthouse

 hamlet between Parrsboro and Advocate Harbour on a beautiful patch of land right on the Minas basin.

 

    After a delicious and ample dinner at noon, Edith, Glen and I set out to find Capt. John's grave.  We travelled to the Fox River, drove along a rough path over a blueberry field.  In the distance we saw a small fenced graveyard.  Inside we found a few badly worn gravestones with printing completely obliterated.  Luckily, however, there was a stone monument with a brass plate erected at the time of a family reunion a few years ago stating that this was the Hatfield family plot where Captain John Hatfield and members of his family were buried.  Visiting another cemetery at Holy Trinity Church, Port Greville,

 we found a stone which read, "Mary, Wife of Captain John Hatfield".

 

    Before I continue with the story of Capt. John, I must say I was very interested in the immense fields of blueberries I saw.  The land seemed rocky and blueberries would be a suitable crop, hugging low to the topsoil.  I have seen wild blueberries growing in places where there had been a fire and indeed this was the secret of these fine blueberry crops.  the berries are scooped up by machine and then the fields burned.  When you walk on them your feet crunch upon a build-up of years of ashes.

 

  The Rest of the Story

 

 

  The following history is taken almost verbatim from a book on the genealogy of the descendants of "Captain John Hatfield, Loyalist, an officer of the British Army who came to this country before the American Revolution and fought, as a Captain, with the 3rd New Jersey Volunteers and later settled in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia", by Abraham Hatfield, F.G.B.S., 1943

 

   In "The Loyalists of New Jersey in the Revolution", page 91 is the following: "Capt. John Hatfield was appointed Captain in the 3rd New Jersey Volunteers on April 15th, 1777.  He was married on June 28, 1778 to Mary Lockerman in Trinity Church, New York, by the Loyalist Reverend Charles Inglis, Rector and Chaplain in the regiment and who later was made Bishop of Nova Scotia.  A Captain of this name, born in England about 1740, had served for 28 years in the British Army before and after the American Revolution and seven years in Provincial Regiments and was put on half pay of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Rogers' Kings Rangers in 1792.  This date suggests that he had served in the regular army between 1783 and 1792."  This would make him about 38 at the time of his marriage in 1778.  It has been stated as a family tradition that Capt. John eloped with his wife-to-be, Mary Lockerman, bringing her from Staten Island to New York in a small row boat.  The cause of the elopement was the bitter feeling against the English, and his wife was of an old Knickerbocker family, very probably strongly against the English and so-called Loyalists.

 

    A list of baptisms in St. George's Episcopal Church, Hempstead, Long Island, page 266 lists William son of John and Mary Hatfield on July 28, 1782.  There were two older children, John and Mary so that when they sailed for Canada in 1783, they had their hands full with three small children.  An account of one of the sailings from New York described a convoy of 14 'tall ships' with 2,000 Loyalists and accompanied by a Frigate of War which had followed another convoy that preceded it by a few weeks.  The ship described, which would be similar to the one the Hatfields sailed on or the same one, carried 250 passengers with seven families crowded into each cabin.  The Hatfields went first to Yarmouth but not being satisfied with that section, thy moved to Parrsboro.  They landed on the bar at the mouth of the Fox River to take possession of their land.  They camped on shore the first night.  They had with them a Black servant, a man of great strength who probably built the first log house.  Many of the settlers lived in tents during the summer but when winter came with deep snow, to which few of them were accustomed, there was much suffering.

 

 

 

    The Hatfields prospered, and purchased more land, some years before the present town, Parrsboro, (first called Mill Village) was named.  Later it was to attract many settlers from other places.  Family tradition has it that Capt. John was a trained musician and could play any band instrument.  It is told that once at a militia drill in Parrsboro he impatiently snatched the drum sticks from the hand of a bungling drummer and beat a perfect tattoo on the kettledrum.  He took an active part in the development of Parrsboro district.  He was appointed by the Court of Sessions in 1794 as Surveyor of Highways and he was again appointed in 1799.

 

    Family tradition tells of some sort of military honours at the burial of Capt. John in 1804 and that he was interred in his uniform in one of the graves in the Hatfield burying ground.  The grave yard occupies a very small portion of the 700 acres which had been granted to the Captain by the Crown.  It is a lonely spot within a short distance of the sea and the mouth of the Fox River and the 'bar' on which he and his wife, Mary, with their small children, landed about 20 years earlier to make a new home for themselves in the wilderness.

 

    The church was not built at Fox River until about 50 years later.  The parish is called Holy Trinity of Port Greville.  In the churchyard, Mary Lockerman Hatfield was buried in 1850.

 

  A Footnote

 

 

   My family always names Captain John Hatfield as our ancestor.  We should begin including Mary Lockerman as well since she shared the Loyalist hardships along with her husband and devoted her energies to bearing and caring for ten children.