Charlotte Taylor Her Life and Times
Welcome! I am so appreciative that you have accessed this web site, to experience the times of Charlotte Taylor. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy your visit. You will be impressed by the tenacity and determination of Charlotte and her contemporaries. Please don't be overwhelmed by the scope of the material found here. This web site is like a private library, to be visited and enjoyed whenever busy schedules permit.
Charlotte Taylor lived almost a century in a most turbulent time - her story can best be explained through descriptions of events unfolding around her. Take your time, and read the many fascinating perspectives that describe her era. My hope is that you will be a repeat visitor! I've assembled a number of short stories that together make up the chapters of her life. In so doing I have tried to deliver an accurate and balanced account, with information and opinions from many sources on multiple topics. At the same time, I recognize that no project of this sort is ever completely finished. There is still much to learn, much to add, and inevitably, revisions will need to be made. I encourage web site guests to send along new information and/or insights to: [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]. Comments and constructive criticism will be appreciated and acknowledged. New original source information will gladly be included. My commitment is to regularly up-date and improve the site.
I must give thanks to the people who over the years collected the information that I accessed during my research. Dr. W. F. Ganong and other historians (both professional and non-professional) have left us an important legacy of early New Brunswick history that we can all learn from. Each of the many and varied local histories that I have read has contributed to improving my understanding of the times. These valuable contributions helped me to build a mental picture of those years long past.
The decision to share this information via the Internet came about because my husband and I felt that others might enjoy reading the material that I had gathered. For his work in creating this web site I would like to thank Ron. Without his technical expertise and patience this site would not exist. He gave up evenings and weekends for the cause, and to my amazement, shares my enthusiasm for the topic. His encouragement during phases of the project when I felt overwhelmed was deeply appreciated. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my children and to my little grandson. They have been patient and supportive while I have been consumed with this project, and for a time, not as attentive to them as I like to be. I also want to thank my parents and my siblings for prodding me, in a nice way. They suggested that I get on with the task, and not let everything that I'd discovered lie hidden away in cardboard boxes. This is for all of them - it is their story too!
This web site touches most aspects of Charlotte Taylor's life. At the same time, it must be understood that Charlotte is difficult to categorize. She is considered by Canadian historians to be a pre-Loyalist, an 'old and ancient' settler in a part of Nova Scotia that was destined to become New Brunswick. When she married a disbanded soldier after the American Revolution, she re-invented herself as a 'new settler'. The two groups were very much at odds with each other for a time and she probably felt hostility from both 'old' and 'new' camps. Irrespective of this, her focus and lifetime occupation was facilitating the survival and prosperity of her family. To this end she was chameleon-like, adapting quickly to her ever-changing environment. Without modern social safety nets she and her contemporaries acted impulsively and decisively in hopes of improving their situations. It would be inappropriate to judge their actions in terms of today's standards.
I cannot remember the exact moment when I first became truly aware of Charlotte Taylor. I believe that I read a paragraph or a footnote about her, buried within some historic publication. I was affected by the meagre yet intriguing facts of her life, and I wanted to know more. I had listened to stories about her as a child, for I am a descendant, and there was always a mythic air about her. It was not until years later that I began to seriously research her story, after completing an anthropology course. It altered my way of looking at life and I became concerned about my past. Most of my spare time was spent at archives, museums and libraries in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ottawa. I found letters, land petitions, maps, etc., but many questions went unanswered and the whole exercise, though hugely enjoyable, was a little frustrating. My queries to England and Scotland failed to shed light on Charlotte's origin. I filled a huge box with clippings, excerpts of published and unpublished material, histories, facts and figures. I read hundreds of books in order to try and build an interpretation of Charlotte's life that would be my own. I was, and continue to be, obsessed with discovering the missing pieces in the puzzle of her life.
Charlotte Taylor, it is believed, was born in London, England between 1752 and 1755. She died in Tabusintac, a small village in northeastern New Brunswick, Canada, in 1841. Her obituary stated her age as 89 but many believe she lived 85 years. She was married two to four times. Two of her marriages are documented and two are not. Four men, the fathers of her children, were significant figures in her life, or should I say, she in theirs. As I looked at their backgrounds, her image became better focused. Sadly, the historic record for women in those days, with very few exceptions, is almost non-existent. I realized, however, that I had been overly concerned with tiny facts and genealogical details. The big picture of her life was all there. In uncovering the history of her partners, and in researching the everyday life of her fellow settlers, I knew that I could tell her story in its rich historic context. It was a daunting task, for the history of the period in which she lived was almost too rich and too eventful! Her times included the days of the great sailing ships plying the trade and slave routes between Great Britain, Africa, North America, and the West Indies. Her history spanned the Seven Years' War, which included the following significant actions: the Acadian Expulsion, the fall of Louisbourg, the destruction of French settlements around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and finally the British defeat of the French at Quebec in 1759. It also encompassed the American Revolution, and the War of 1812-1814. The interesting cast of characters included: Pre-Loyalists; Loyalists and disbanded soldiers; pirates and privateers; Micmac Indians; dislocated Acadians; fishermen; shipbuilders; lumber barons; and emigrants from England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Americas. A complex tapestry emerged.
I discovered many obscure and largely forgotten stories about life during Charlotte Taylor's time on the north shore of New Brunswick. The court proceedings, land grant battles, and business ventures in shipbuilding, fishing, and lumbering, all provided descriptive insights into the daily lives of the early settlers. Vignettes of everyday activities brought the little settlements back to life. Through the historic dramas the story of Charlotte Taylor emerges: stark, fascinating, ribald, romantic, dramatic, and never dull. The struggles for food and shelter, and from enemies and disease, were constant and unrelenting, as were the efforts to improve personal situations and fortunes. Many, like Charlotte, had left settled and civilized environments only to face hard and lonely lives in a primitive wilderness. The great wonder is their perseverance. Again and again they rebuilt what had been torn or burned down, and started over. Perhaps years of wars had hardened them to the point where they simply accepted political realities over which they had no control. Perhaps even the harshness of early life along the Miramichi River, with its frontier freedoms, was preferable to the over-governed places they had left behind. They had strong, unbreakable spirits.
During the Seven Years' War the people of Acadia were dispersed and expelled throughout the colonies and their settlements destroyed by the British. Years later the American Revolution gave the British settlers some of the same medicine, as their settlements were burned and plundered by American privateers. Many were forced to flee the northeastern coastal areas until the end of the War. The aboriginal Micmac, reluctant to adopt an unfamiliar, restrictive European lifestyle, were pushed aside. Their numbers were reduced, almost to extinction, during the ensuing development of their former lands. Too often, histories of 'peoples' are written in isolation: British history, French history, Acadian history, Micmac history, American history, and so on, and so forth. To fully comprehend the world of Charlotte Taylor, determining how these histories inter-connect is critical. What went around, came around. And to this day each 'people' have much to forgive and to be forgiven for.
My great grandmother, Mrs. Janet J. Wishart (Janet Hierlihy), was an amateur historian in her own right. Her prolific and wonderfully descriptive letters were preserved in our family as treasured heirlooms. She was a great granddaughter of Charlotte Taylor, and she wrote some lovely sentiments on August 9, 1936, in an article commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Andrew's Church in Tabusintac, New Brunswick. I would like to quote her words here, as they express much of why I undertook this project:
I would also like to quote from an article entitled, The Original Siblings, written by Nicholas Wade and published in the National Post on May 3, 2000:
When I read the excerpts quoted above, I became convinced that an understanding of our past would enable us to walk more confidently and tolerantly into our future. We come from a genetic Adam and Eve, and we are all connected. We are the sons and daughters of those who preceded us from the beginning of humankind. It is important to remember the sacrifices and achievements of our ancestors. We are all the beneficiaries of their labours. The story of Charlotte Taylor is similar, outside of the personal details, to the history of many people. By understanding and remembering, we pay homage to those who walked across the landscape before us.
There is a Memorial/Historic Plaque in Miramichi, New Brunswick that was erected to commemorate and honour the Founders of that area. The ultimate decision about who would be included on the Memorial was made by Lord Beaverbrook. Letters were written back and forth between Louise Manny, a respected librarian, and Lord Beaverbrook in the years 1949 and 1950. Naturally, although it has been strenuously denied, politics and religion were factors in the final decision. Lists were compiled and edited. Louise Manny, in her letter dated November 25, 1949, sent in her list of choices, all male, but she added the following comment:
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