Charlotte Taylor Her Life and Times
Pre Loyalists on the Miramichi
Excerpt from page 15
" By proclamation of 1763 the territory now known as New Brunswick was included within the province of Nova Scotia. The British conquest did not commence an immediate wave of settlement and development. Yet small groups of English-speaking people did find their way to fringes of province. For sake of convenience they are referred to as Pre-Loyalists because they entered the country before the Loyalist immigration of 1783 which formed the basis of the later population."
Excerpt from Pages 5 to 7
" Nova Scotia from 1749 to 1775 included the area north of the Bay of Fundy which, in 1784, was made into the province of New Brunswick. The settlers who came to New Brunswick are therefore part of the story of the preLoyalist settlement of Nova Scotia. For a brief period, from 1763 to 1769, St. John's Island was also nominally a part of Nova Scotia, but, at the request of the proprietors of the lots into which the Island had been divided, a separate government was set up in 1769. Since very few settlers came to the Island in the years when it was part of Nova Scotia, the preLoyalist settlement of Prince Edward Island is a separate, and, it may be noted, an obscure story I have found it necessary to separate the preLoyalist settlers from the Loyalists The settlers who came to Nova Scotia before the influx of Loyalists have been relatively ignored, and the importance of their contribution to Nova Scotia, to the Loyalists who followed them, to Canada as a whole, and to North America and beyond, has not been adequately known or emphasized 1749, the year of Cornwallis' arrival at Halifax, was taken as the beginning of the period, although there were a few earlier settlers at Annapolis, who became part of the Annapolis settlement of 1760, and a few at Canso whose capture by the French from Louisbourg in 1744 called attention to their existence. 1775 makes a convenient end to the period, because the outbreak of hostilities in the rebellious colonies put an end to immigration to Nova Scotia, although there were one or two families who moved up the coast from Maine to New Brunswick after 1775, and a few Scotsmen who arrived at the Miramichi."
Excerpt from Page 26
" In 1765, a grant of 1000,000 acres on the Miramichi was made out to William Davidson of Inverness and John Cort of Aberdeen, who were interested chiefly in fisheries. The New Englanders Davidson brought up apparently returned to New England, but settlers from Scotland brought out by the partners remained on the river. Other Scottish families came on their own and settled on the river below the Davidson and Cort grant. During the war, the Miramichi settlers were so often attacked and plundered by rebel vessels, that many left. William Davidson went to Maugerville, but returned after the end of the war, and made a valiant attempt to rebuild his shattered empire. Possibly there were about 200 of the old inhabitants when the Loyalists came, possibly more
When Nova Scotia had been divided into counties for election of representatives to the Legislature, Cumberland County, at the head of the Bay, and Sunbury County, the St. John River area, were divided by a line due north from a point twenty miles east of the St. John River. As nobody knew where that line went, the northern settlements on the Miramichi, and the Bay of Chaleur, were considered as part of Halifax County. That meant they were completely ignored. Even less is known about settlement on the Nepisiguit and on the Restigouche than about the Miramichi. A few settlers were brought in from Aberdeen to the Restigouche, two of whom were Duncan and Adams. There were fishing establishments, part of the Robins enterprise, and there were many Acadians in that area.."
Excerpt from Page 12
" An analysis of the pre-Loyalist period may be summarized in this brief, but potent observation:
'It was abundantly clear by the end of the pre-Loyalist
Excerpt from Pages 106 to 115
" The following information about Miramichi settlers before the Loyalists was obtained from the 'Memorials' in the Department of Lands and Mines in Fredericton. These Memorials are petitions and letters relating to Land Grants, and the Memorialists usually give information about themselves and their neighbours, which sheds a good deal of light on pioneer conditions. The Memorials of these Pre-Loyalist settlers were from persons who came to Miramichi between 1765 and the arrival of the Loyalists and disbanded soldiers after the Revolutionary War. Besides the ones who sent memorials to the Governor, there were probably many of whom we have no record."
Notes from Mary Lynn Smith:
"Here follow notes on more of the pre-Loyalist settlers. In March, 1785, a group of old settlers (as they called themselves) sent Mark Delesdernier to Fredericton to present their case. They said they were the 'only principal and old settlers on the Miramichi River who had licences from the Government at Halifax'. In 1777, Hon. Captain Boyle, who came to Miramichi in the ship Hunter, had called these 'old settlers' together, and had them properly qualified to be registered for Grants of Land. In consideration of the barrenness and obscurity of the Miramichi, they said, Captain Boyle allowed each settler to take up a grant with the extra large frontage of half a mile on the river. This, you can see, led to plenty of trouble later on, when the standard grant was 200 acres, with a 60 rod front. These 'Principal Old Settlers' were Alexander Henderson, with a wife, 8 children and 2 others; John Murdoch, wife and 7 children; Martin Lyons, wife, 4 children, and one other; Widdow Black (sic), with 4 children and one servant; John Toshen, John Fishgerral, and one servant; John Malcolm and family and two others. There were two other settlers counted in this petition, but their names were not given. A good deal of information is to be found about these people in the Memorials, and I will refer to them later on. Other settlers before the American Revolution include John Martin, settled in Miramichi in 1776. William Brown, who got his licence from Captain Boyle in 1777 - his grant seems to have been located in the present village of Nelson. Thomas Yeoman, John Farseau (or Parsons?), Wm. Drysdalle, Alexander Wishart and his brother.
The Wisharts had an interesting career. They came to Miramichi in 1775, built a house, a shed for curing salmon, and cleared some land. The house was on Lot No. 3, the present County Lot, in the Town of Newcastle, which extends from Henry to Hanover Streets. The Wisharts sold this lot to the County. In 1778, the Wisharts were plundered by the American privateers, and in 1779 by the Indians. They lost everything, went to Quebec in His Majesty's Ship Viper, Captain Lord Hervey, and both Wisharts obtained commissions on Lake Champlain. At the close of the War they formed a company with four others, Robert Reid, Andrew Cheap, John Schank, and 'one Hutchison', to carry on merchandizing, fishing and farming. However, when they arrived back in Miramichi in 1784, with a cargo from London, they found 'one William Ledden' in their house, who said he had a grant from Davidson, and declined to get out. This, the Wisharts said, was particularly annoying, as they had served the King in two wars, and William Ledden never was of service to King or Country.
Alexander Henderson referred to above, said he was the first settler on His Majesty' Land below the Grant of Davidson and Cort. He had lived at Morefield since 1776, been qualified by Captain Boyle in 1777. He said feelingly that he had lived there 'during the late commotions' (American Revolution), had undergone the greatest hardship and oppression, being often robbed and spoiled of all he had, and daily threatened being 'sacraficed by the Barbarous Ingeons' A later Memorial of 11 'Old Settlers' asked that there rights to Canadian Marsh be confirmed. The 11 included most of the above, as well as William Atkinson and John Mark Delesdernier. They said they had occupied these lands since 1777. Canadian Marsh, opposite the lower end of Newcastle, had been divided into 11 lots, so that each settler could have some marsh hay for his cattle - a serious matter in our heavily forested country.
One of the most interesting of our early pioneers was John Mark Delesdernier. Descendants of this family pronounce the name Dineer this Delesdernier was a Swiss Huguenot, related to the great French poet, Lamartine. His father, Gideon, settled near Windsor, Nova Scotia, as early as 1748, where Gideon's nephew Moses, had a grant. They built cottages in the Swiss style, and were apparently prosperous. John Mark Crank, and his brother Peter Francis Christian, were Loyalists, but Gideon and his other sons were Revolutionaries, it is said. However, at least three of John Mark Crank Delesdernier's brothers applied for land at Miramichi, and got it. In 1784, our man was appointed Collector of Import and Excise for the District of Miramichi, from the Bay of Vert to the Boundary of Canada. He acted on many occasions as Agent for the old settlers on the River, when they sent petitions about their Grants to the Governor in Fredericton. He was the second Sheriff of Northumberland County - the first was Benjamin Marston Patrick Campbell, in his 'Travels in North America in 1791 and 1792' describes John Mark Crank Delesdernier as a smart, lively, sensible little man, once Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who, having lived for seven years among the Indians, acquired their language, and spoke it with ease and fluency, a great sportsman and perfectly expert in the Indian manner of fishing, hunting, and calling in the game. Shortly after Campbell's visit, Delesdernier received an appointment at what is now Como, Quebec, on account of his knowledge of Indian languages. He is buried at Como, which he named himself after the lake of that name in Switzerland. Other pre-Loyalist settlers include:"
"Several Acadian families came up from Baie Verte in 1760 I think the Savoy family were among those early settlers. In 1788, William Davidson wrote a letter to Jonathan Odell, the Provincial Secretary, highly recommending Amon Savoy, whom he said he had known for twenty years. He said Savoy was one of the first settlers in this place, industrious and deserving, a good subject, and a good member of society. Davidson added that the ' Acadians settled on this river are in general industrious people, and Savoy the most of any. He has suffered his share and more than his share, of the calamaties of the Country'. Amon Savoy was one of the Grantees in the Grant to be made out for James Fraser and others at Oak Point. This James Fraser was the partner in the firm of Fraser and Thom, esablished at Beaubair's Island - he did considerable business with Otho Robichaud, a very prominent early Acadian settler. Robichaud and Fraser formed a partnership to build a saw mill on the Bay du Vin River, and in applying for a grant of the land for the saw mill, Robichaud declared that he carried on 'an extensive trade by exporting fish and other produce'. A group of Acadians settled at Neguac in 1769. By 1786 they were established in two villages, Upper and Lower Neguac. The group comprised ten families, among whom were 33 children and four single young men."
"A very interesting early settler was Charlotte Taylor - Blake - Wishart - Hierlihy. This was the 'Widdow Black' (previously mentioned in the Petition of March, 1785). Ganong thinks she was a sister of Alexander Taylor. Some of her descendants tell me she went to the West Indies to be married, but her fiancé died of yellow fever before she arrived. Then she came to Miramichi, and married Captain Blake. This Captain Blake was said to have visited Miramichi about 1758. He had one of the most extensive early grants of 1777, at Blake's Brook, which was later called in error, Black's Brook, and is now Loggieville. Captain Blake died before 1785. Ganong said that his widow then married William Wishart., by whom she had one son. William Wishart died, and in 1787 his widow married Philip Hierlihy and they settled at Tabusintac in 1798. Three sons of Charlote's former marriages, also settled in Tabusintac, Robert and John Blake and William Wishart. Charlotte is literally 'the mother of Tabusintac' - there are few in the settlement not descended from her. There are many stories of how Charlotte struggled to keep her grant after Captain Blake's death, and how she journeyed to Fredericton in the dead of winter, on snowshoes, to interview the Governor. She died in 1840 at Stymiest's Millstream, and is buried at Tabusintac."
Notes from Mary Lynn Smith:
"We find the name Robert Beck among those who described themselves as the 'Ancient and Original Inhabitants of Miramichi'. He had one of the hay lots on Canadian Marsh, and at intervals other settlers petitioned for his lot, saying, 'Beck has joined the Indians and leads a wandering life'. Beck was one of those qualified by Captain Boyle in 1777. Cooney tells a story of how he killed a powerful Micmac Indian, who had put up a tremendous fight against English marines who tried to capture him. The 'wandering life' did not pay dividends, and we find Robert Beck's name among the parish paupers in the 1830s. He died in great poverty a few years later. Others of the pre-Loyalist settlers were William Drysdale and John Parsons (Farseau) who both had licences from Sir Andrew Snape Hammond in 1782.
From Historical - Geographical Documents Relating to New Brunswick Edited by W. F. Ganong
Excerpt from Pages 340 to 343
" The original ( Survey Map of 1785 by Daniel Micheau of the Miramichi River below Beaubear's Island, down to the Bay ) is preserved in the Crown Land Office at Fredericton it was made in April, 1785, by a skilled surveyor, Daniel Micheau, and contains, in addition to the usual surveyor's return, a series of very valuable notes written around the margin, The settlements of the lower Miramichi were then forming and the information about the derivation of the settlers is most welcome. It will be noticed that while some of them were Loyalists, many were 'old settlers', who are known to have come from Scotland or England.
Remarks on the North Side of the River
Remarks on the South Side of the River
* Papers in possession of Dr. Raymond show that Lots 19, 20, 21, with a lot at the mouth of Black River desired for the hay it produced, were allotted March 14, 1786, to J. M. C. Des Les Derniers and Benjamin Marston for the erection of a mill. The mill was actually built but Marston had no part in its later management since he left the Miramichi in October of that year, and never returned."
From Loggieville - Child of Miramichi by James A. Fraser
Excerpt from Pages 1 to 20
" Mtaoegenatgoigtog. This name was given by the Micmacs to the stream now called Black Brook. Many centuries before Europeans came to Miramichi, the Micmac peoples made their home along the river. We should note that the Micmacs were a peaceful and generous people. Those with provisions shared with those who had none. Honesty was held in very high regard. Children were taught to respect others, not to complain and never to cry when hurt. The Indians were surprised to see Europeans strike their children. They led a semi-nomadic life moving with their food supply. One campsite of theirs has been identified near shore in the location of Murdoch's Point. A group of Micmacs lived there as late as mid-nineteenth century. When many became ill campsite was abandoned. Mrs. Alexander Murdoch, is reported by descendants to have left her own children to help nurse the Indians.
When Louisbourg fell in 1758 and New France in 1759 the French regime in Acadia was at an end. After the fall of Louisbourg, General Wolfe dispatched Lieut. Col. James Murray with several hundred men to destroy the settlements at Miramichi. Captain John Blake, an early resident of Loggieville, acting under orders from Murray, destroyed the chapel at what is now Burnt Church. The American Revolution made itself felt at Miramichi where the Indians were stirred up against settle rs and where American privateers interfered with importation and shipping of goods. In 1777 Davidson and many of the settlers he had brought out moved to the St. John River. They remained there to 1783 when the Revolution ended. Among those who did not leave Miramichi were John Murdoch and family.
John Murdoch was granted Lot A, 1, 2, and 4 on the south side of the Miramichi. His son George received Lot 3. Combined grant totaled 1,000 acres. Mr. Murdoch must have had some influence among government officials to have retained such a large grant despite complaints that arrived at Fredericton from his neighbours. A native of Banffshire, Scotland, he was 39 when he, his wife Janet Malcom, and oldest children arrived in Prince Edward Island in 1774. Murdoch and several others left Prince Edward Island in 1777 to make their homes at Miramichi. When they arrived they found William Davidson and other settlers moving to St. John River because of unsettled situations in the area. The Micmacs were stirred up by American agents to terrorize local settlers. An obituary notice for James Murdoch, relates following incident. 'Indians stole ox after ox from his clearing in broad daylight until all his cattle and sheep were slaughtered. They raided the house, stole the heavy clothes, opened bundles of linen, tied it to trees around house, set fire to it and danced a wardance as flames consumed it. They wanted them to quit the country within 24 hours but Captain Harvey arrived in the Viper, a British man-of-war.' Some Micmacs were taken prisoner on the ship. First homestead saw family through the first winter. Home burned in March, 1780 with all contents. Stable also destroyed. In 1783 there was a large influx of Loyalists to the River. The distinction between Old and New Settlers was an expression of the friction that existed between the two groups. The new settlers needed hay for support of their livestock. Naturally they looked to the marshes or some relief but many had been already claimed by old settlers. John Murdoch, Charlotte Blake, and Daniel Mitton made formal application for the marsh at Napan on January 13, 1786. Murdoch was suffering from cancer of the gums of two and a half years duration in 1794. He made trips to Prince Edward Island and to Quebec for medical assistance, but to no avail. He died January 11, 1797 at 62 years. His will is dated the day previous. John Murdoch was buried at Burnt Church, the nearest Catholic burial ground.
The populaton of the Miramichi River, including Neguac and Bay du Vin, in 1790 was only 233. The Black Brook area consisted of a string of families living near shore separated by a distance equal roughly to width of their lots. This was typical of the entire valley and there was no hint of a village emerging at this early date."
Excerpt from Pages 22 to 24
" In May, 1783, when peace was declared, Davidson, who chanced to be in Halifax, immediately purchased two vessels and loaded them with salt, provisions and other stores which he knew would be necessary to re-establish the fishery at Miramichi. ... John Murdoch, another of early settlers, who had brought out goods from Scotland and kept a store, had a license for 500 acres on south side of river; John Blake and John Pierson each had a license for 300 acres on south; John Malcolm and John Farseau Martin Lyon Thomas Yeoman There were other settlers, too, John Mark Crank Delesdernier and his brothers William Drysdale, William Brown, John Tushie who had been a pilot on the river since 1775, John Fitzgerald, an old man who fell out of his boat and was drowned in 1785, Alexander Taylor, William Atkinson, et al. These had remained on the Miramichi throughout the troubles They did not view with enthusiasm the return of William Davidson and the others who had left the river during the war, nor the arrival of Loyalist refugees and disbanded soldiers. Alexander Wishart, who with his brother had settled in 1775, built a house and 'shade for curing of salmon', cleared and occupied some land, now returned to find a newcomer in possession of property he had occupied. He had been plundered by privateers in 1778, and again by Indians in 1779, and after those two experiences had gone to Quebec in the Viper, the warship on duty in the northern waters, and served in a vessel on Lake Champlain. He and Andrew Cheap, and Robet Reid had come back to carry on the salmon fishery, and found affairs on the Miramichi in confusion. Nowhere throughout the province was there more bitterness and ill feeling between the old settlers and the new than on the Miramichi, and nowhere did the feeling break out more often into acts of violence. It was not to be wondered at, for the settlers on the Miramichi had had a difficult time; they had been left very much to themselves in midst of the wilderness with frequent attacks from the most warlike Indians of the province; they had been plundered by privateers; they were, moreover, engaged in a hazardous occupation which involved bouts of arduous toil interspersed with long periods of enforced idleness, with accompanying spells of high living or semi-starvation. It was not a situation in which gentle manners were likely to be found."
" William Ledden was a cooper in His Majesty's Navy during the Revolution but settled in Miramichi (Newcastle) in 1780 four years before the Loyalists came. The Ledden house was a large square wooden building of two stories which came through the Miramichi Fire of 1825 and was finally torn down in the 1930s. It had obviously from its style been built before 1800, and may have been built by the Alex. Wishart and his brother. The Wisharts claimed that in their absence during the Revolutionary War Ledden had taken violent possession of their home on lot No. 3. The Wisharts later sold their lot to the county, and the problem was then solved. In the minutes of the Sessions, we find that William Ledden rented the large room in his house to the Justices when Court was held."
" The square in Newcastle is another historic place. It was part of County Lot, which the officials bought from the Wisharts in the 1790s when it was decided to have the town there instead of at Beaubair's Point. There was a log house on it then, which was used for the jail, then a court house there."
Sketches of Early Settlers in the Miramichi Area
" Philip Hierlihy - in Memorial 121, August 1, 1787, he said he was late Sergeant of the Prince of Wales American Regiment. He asked for a lot of land below Mishau's survey on north side but this land had already been assigned. Hierlihy married Charlotte Blake, a widow, one of 'old settlers'.
John Humpheys - in Memorial 232, January 27, 1789, declared in Miramichi two years. Asked for lot 27 on north side of river which was complied with. John Humphreys - accused by Charlotte Blake in a letter to Jonathon Odell, Provincial Secretary, of trying to keep a lot after she had bought it from him in order to have it granted to himself. (I imagine this was the 'Humphries' that Marston (Sheriff of Northumberland County) says in his diary, worked at erecting the saw mill at French Fort Cove for himself and John Mark Crank Delesdernier in July, 1786.
Captain Schank - (Dr. J. C. Webster's note) John Schank entered the navy in 1758. In 1776 he was with General Burgoyne. He built first vessel for use on the Great Lakes. Died 1821. He was a mechanical genius and was first to build a vessel with a sliding keel or centre-board device which he invented. (He was the 'patron' of Wishart and Co.)
New Brunswick Settlement - Compilation of Letters Written and Questionnaires Completed
Letter from Dr. Nicholson
R. Nicholson, M.D., Newcastle, N.
April 29, 1891
'Commander Blake first English-speaking settler. This Blake was the commander of the vessel Viper which was conveying home the remains of Wolfe. Running short of water on his voyage he entered Miramichi to get a supply. After sailing up the river as far as Bartibogue a boat was sent ashore but the boat crew did not return and the pilots told the captain that he thought crew had been massacred by Indians. This so enraged Blake that he sailed up the river and destroyed a French fort on Wilson's Point then Beaubair's. He also destroyed a French settlement at a point opposite Newcastle giving origin to the name of the marsh there Canadian Marsh. Going down the river he destroyed a large church - place now known as Burnt Church. This church was set fire by red hot - cannon balls. After committing these depredations Blake afraid of court martial sailed only to Bermuda and leaving the vessel there married. He returned to Miramichi and settled at what is known as Black Brook, formerly Blake's Brook, the Blake being a final filial corruption of Blake - opposite side of river are large flats still bearing the name Blake's Flats. After a few years residence Blake died. His remains as it was winter time were first put out in the snow and in spring taken and buried at Wilson's Point. This is hardly history I suppose, but his wife was the daughter of a London merchant who made a run-away match with a West India merchant (a negro). Her daughter the issue of her marriage I understand with the negro came with them to Black Brook. On death of Blake the mother and daughter moved to Tabusintac and settled there. The mother married first a Robinson, then the Hierlihy and next a Wishart. The daughter married a McGrath. And I believe the country down there is filled with people of these names.
The name Murdoch is an old Parish of Chathem name I see the name of Wishart at Newcastle that reminds me of a story about a neighbour of ours a Mrs. Elliott. It appears that in Douglastown an old man Wishart had died who was supposed to have been very wealthy but on his death nothing of any value could be found. However a field connected with his house was rented by Mssrs. Elliot a Mssrs. Burr, and they ploughed it up and report says were rewarded by finding the old man's wealth, a box of money ? as the story goes. Whether true or not it is hard to say but this is known that before this which happened between 25 or 30 years both these men were hard pushed to make a living but since they have always lived if not in affluence at least in comfort.'
R. Nicholson, M.D. Newcastle, N. B.
Notes by Mary Lynn Smith:
Letter from Baxter to Dr. Ganong
'I have wished for a long time that I could have a talk with you about old times on this river. I have practiced here since 1871 and of course have gathered in some facts. I was acquainted with the descendants of the Blake both those of Tabusintac and Black Brook. Those of Black Brook were still settled on their lot when I came here but all are dead or moved away now. I have not met any of the Tabusintac ones for some years and therefore cannot say. They all claimed to be descended from the Capt. Blake pilot who brought that ship in that kidnapped the Indians and also to be related to Admiral Blake of Dutch Spanish fame and they say that the Pilot Blake had all the papers necessary to prove it and also to make good his claim to large property in England but he was lost at sea and his papers went down with him. Perhaps he was the husband of the Widow Blake you mention.'
Notes from Mary Lynn Smith:
As Blake was in the Miramichi area in 1777, it is very likely, given his previous involvement with the destruction of French settlements (Burnt Church 1758), that he was an active participant in the kidnapping incident. This account is better explained in the following two excerpts:
Excerpt from Pages 172 and 173
" (During the American Revolution) the Indians were holding a Grand Council at Bartibog Island, and had resolved upon the death of every individual belonging to the infant (New Brunswick) settlement. While the Council was sitting the Viper sloop-of-war, commanded by Captain Harvey, appeared in the Bay. She had captured the American Privateer Lafayette, and in order to decoy the savages, she was sent up the river under American colours. But the Indians were too chary to be deceived by this stratagem, and, by assuming the character of pirates, they resolved to make a prize of the vessel. Upwards of thirty of them were allowed to come on board. After a desperate struggle, they were overpowered; and such as were not killed in the affray were put in irons. Among these desperadoes was one Pierre Martin, whose strength and savage courage were truly characteristic of his tribe. Two marines were unable to bind him, and he nearly strangled two others with whom he was engaged. After he had received several severe wounds, he tore a bayonet from the hands of a sailor, and missing his thrust at one of his opponents, he drove the weapon through one of the stanchions of the vessel. Covered with wounds, the savage at last fell, as he was supposed to rise no more ; but even in his dying moments, when his flesh was quivering under deep sabre-cuts, and his body was bathed in blood, he sprang to his feet, and fastened himself upon the throat of one of his companions, upbraiding him with cowardice. He almost strangled the trembling Indian, when he was despatched by one of the crew. The wretches thus taken were sent to Quebec, and nine of them were afterwards put on board a vessel bound to Halifax. On her passage the vessel engaged an American privateer. Etienne Bamaly ? , one of the prisoners, requested leave to fight for King George. Permission was given him - his irons were removed, a musket put in his hands, and he killed the helmsmen of the American cruiser. The English gained the victory; and when the prize was brought to Halifax, Bamaly was liberated on account of his bravery. Of sixteen Indians carried away, only six ever returned to Miramichi."
Excerpt from Pages 57 to 59
" Early in summer of 1777, when the anxious inhabitants had about given up all hope of relief and were preparing to sell their lives dearly, the Viper, sloop-of-war appeared off Oak Point on lower reaches of river. She had for consort the Lafayette, and American privateer which Capt. Harvey of the Viper had captured while cruising the Gulf of St. Lawrence. One Ross, of Perce, a pilot in those waters, had been to the Miramichi in the prosecution of his business and while on his way home fell in with the Viper. He at once acquainted Capt. Harvey with the desperate condition of the Miramichi settlers, and volunteered to pilot him up the river. Capt. Harvey put him on board the Lafayette, and for the purpose of deceiving the Indians again floated the American flag on the captured vessel. The Viper then lay off the coast, awaiting the outcome of the expedition.
The Indian of the Miramichi, if were all to believe the ancient chroniclers, was a magnificent specimen of physical manhood. Cartier, Lescarbot and Jesuit missionaries extol him as a giant among men The Goneishes, the Julians, and other aboriginal families of the Miramichi produced scions of whom any race might well be proud.
When the Lafayette came up the river as far as Napan bay she was boarded by a number of Indians from north east bank. The crew at once made friends with the visitors. The savages were treated to a liberal ration of rum, and were then sent ashore with invitations to all the chiefs to come on board. The fighting force on the privateer was in the interim reinforced by the arrival of English settlers from south side of the river. They were John Murdoch, John Malcolm, Peter Brown, Alexander Henderson and his sons - James, Peter, John, Alexander and George. These nine men gave a good account of themselves in the affray of the next day.
On the morrow 30 - 35 chiefs, in full war paint, put off from land and were received on board Lafayette. They were conveyed to the hold, where refreshments suitable to their tastes were served. The sight of Ross, the pilot, excited their suspicions, however, so that before the hatches could be fully secured, a deadly struggle was precipitated. Ross was shot through the arm. Before the main hatchway could be closed, a gigantic Indian named Martin projected his body through the opening and reached the main deck, followed by one other savage. Two marines attempted to put Martin in irons, but so great was his strength that he strangled them to death. He was beset by a score of men with fixed bayonets, but he gallantly continued to struggle in the face of such odds, and succeeded in wrenching a bayonet from one of the muskets. Aiming a blow at the marine who he had thus disarmed he drove the point of the bayonet quivering into the mast. At length he fell overpowered, bleeding from numberless wounds, and apparently lifeless. A few moments of respite renewed the strong currents of his life, however, and with a bound he was again on his feet. Looking wildly around him his eye lighted on his companion, bound and shivering in deadly terror, with a strangle-hold he seized his tribesman, and desisted only when he received his own death blow at the hand of an Irish marine named Robert Beck. Meantime the Indians who had been entrapped in the twin decks of the privateer, raging like caged tigers, and blinded by darkness, sought in vain for a weak spot in walls of their prison. Finally, collecting together where the 'tween-deck space was lowest, they attempted to lift the quarter deck from its stanchions. So great was their united strength that they actually did lift the deck four inches, and it was found necessary, before they could be forced to desist to weight it down with anchor and chain.
The Lafayette, having thus effected her mission, rejoined her consort and sailed for Quebec with her cargo of caged Micmacs. There they were kept in durance until one by one they were suffered to return to their native hunting grounds. The remainder of the tribe, without leaders and fearing a repetition of the punishment inflicted on them in 1759, when their church was burned, were willing enough to retire to their encampments and leave the harassed settlers in peace. John Murdoch lost all his cattle; Mr. Cort, a large quantity of moose skins; and Isabella Henderson - daughter of Alexander Henderson, came near being carried into captivity."
Note from Mary Lynn Smith: