Growing up in the middle of the twentieth century, when we were taught about the American Revolution, we were led to believe that those who remained loyal to the Crown were the traitorous enemies of the American Patriots who so bravely liberated our country from the tyranny of the British. Rather than refer to them as Loyalists in our textbooks – perhaps because Loyalist and Patriot could have been so easily confused as being exactly the same – they were almost always labeled as Tories. A word that every teacher I remember managed to say with a fair amount of disdain. I don’t recall the Patriots ever being referred to as being rebels, but perhaps that term was being saved for another war.

It never occurred to us as young students to question why those among the population of the American colonies who favored the status quo over an open rebellion by their fellow citizens should be forever labeled as traitors. Had the Patriots not prevailed, would it not have been members of their ranks and supporters who would have been deemed traitorous in our history books?

Perhaps history isn’t as well defined as we might wish it to be. Perhaps the complexities that faced our ancestors were more difficult than our textbooks portrayed them.

The Daniel Morehouse home in Kings Landing, Prince William, New Brunswick is an exact replica of his uncle Joseph’s home in Redding, Connecticut that still stands at 279 Poverty Hollow Road.

By the early 1770’s, Fairfield County’s population lived an uneasy existence as the prospect of the American revolution began to unfold. There were a larger number of people living here who felt loyal to the British Crown than in most other counties in the colony of Connecticut. The extended Morehouse family of Redding and the northern parishes of Fairfield that encompass today’s Easton and Weston were mostly staunch Anglicans and Loyalists. Many of the younger members of the family found themselves in difficult straits in the spring of 1775 after the General Assembly of Connecticut passed measures designed to support the growing number of inhabitants who were advocating rebellion against the British. In the wake of the clashes between British regulars and Massachusetts militia at Lexington and Concord, Connecticut’s legislature authorized the establishment of six new regiments in a prelude of what was about to erupt into an all-out conflagration between the colonies and the Crown.

As the war began, eighteen-year-old Redding resident Daniel Morehouse was a student at Yale College when the local militia attempted to draft him into their ranks. His uncle Joseph, with whom Daniel resided, paid a fine of £10 to avoid his conscription. But according to family legend, the rebels soon returned and confiscated a prized horse, a saddle, and a bridle as an additional punishment. When the news of that event reached young Daniel, he decided to leave Connecticut and travel to New York where he would volunteer to join the Queen’s Rangers of the British Army. He served first as a volunteer, and then as a sergeant. He was later promoted to the rank of sergeant-major and by the end of his service to the Crown he had risen to become his company’s quartermaster.

Like the majority of those Loyalists who had chosen to aid the British in their fight against the rebellious colonists, Daniel expected to return home to Connecticut after the war. By 1781, his side had lost the war and he was ready to accept the new government that replaced the one he grown up under. But perhaps it wouldn’t be that simple.

On the December 16, 1782, John Parr, the governor of Nova Scotia received a letter from General Carleton, the British officer who was charged with overseeing the resettlement of the American Loyalists from New York. It stated that many families, determined on maintaining their allegiance to the British Crown, would be transported during the upcoming months to Nova Scotia There they would settle on the ungranted lands that took up much of the colonial province. “If the revolted Colonists were proud of their declaration of independence, well may the loyal refugees exult with honest becoming pride in their declaration of fidelity, fidelity proved to the uttermost.” At the time, Carleton could have had no way of knowing the exact numbers of men and their families that would coming from the British held ports on New York’s Long Island to Canada. In the end there would be more than those who simply chose to leave the newly independent United States of America of their own free will.

While many former Loyalists who had stood and fought with the Crown were more than willing to abandon the newly formed United States, many more preferred to return to their former homes and resume their daily lives. Those who had simply remained loyal to the Crown were generally allowed to keep their lands and stay in the United States. But many of those who had chosen to take up arms in defense of the British wouldn’t be so fortunate.

On August 11, 1783, a meeting was held in Redding and those men who had fought with the British faced a town vote to be punished with banishment from the town forever. The minutes of that meeting read, “Be it put to vote: Whether it is the minds of this meeting that ye selectmen of this town be desired to remove out of this town all those persons that have been over to and joined the Enemy and returned into this town, and that they pursue the business as fast as they conveniently can according to Law. Passed in the affirmative.”

Daniel Morehouse was one of those men.

Ridgefield held a similar vote and also banished nearly two dozen of its men. Obviously, those men were not expected to leave their families behind, so each of the exiled men gathered up a few personal belongings and was allowed safe passage along with their wives and children to Long Island where the British had been allowed to maintain a holding area where their Loyalist supporters could await extradition to a safe harbor in Canada.

In a dispatch dated September 30, 1783, Governor Parr of Nova Scotia stated that the number of Loyalists who had arrived in the province up to that time amounted to 18,000. Only three weeks later, he reported the arrival of an additional 2,000 refugees.  Provincial accounts for furnishing lumber and building houses for the Loyalists, between the 1st day of June and the 31st day of December 1783, amounted to over £6,721, which amount was allowed and paid for by the British government.

On October 18, 1783, Daniel Morehouse and his wife Jane arrived by ship at Parrtown – what is today, Saint John, New Brunswick. The town was already overcrowded with Loyalist refugees looking for shelter. Morehouse’s group pressed on, moving inland up the Saint John River, some finding shelter in the houses of the old settlers, while others took possession of the abandoned French settlements at Grimross Island and St. Anne’s Point. This is where Morehouse’s group chose to pause for the winter and where they set about building huts and repairing the ruined dwellings of the Acadians to provide their families with shelter.  But winter was already on the doorstep that far north. Before they had made much progress, the snow was already on the ground and the winter ice beginning to cover the river. They would endure great hardships, their situation soon becoming desperate due to the slow delivery of essential supplies before navigation would cease entirely for the coming months due to the icing of the river. 

Conditions of the first winter at St. Anne’s Point taken from an article by W.O. Raymond found on

“The first winter in New Brunswick was long remembered by the Loyalists. Those who came early in the season were able to build log houses which, though rude structures in comparison with former dwellings, enabled them to pass the cold weather with relative comfort. But the later arrivals were not so fortunate. When they arrived, they found that scarcely any preparations had been made for their reception

“Frequently, the stout-hearted fathers and sons of the little colony at St. Anne’s had to journey from fifty to a hundred miles with toboggans through wild woods or on the ice to procure a precarious supply of food for their famishing families. Women, delicately reared, cared for their children beneath canvas tents rendered habitable only by the banks of snow which lay six feet deep in the open spaces of the forest, and as one said who had as a child passed through the terrible experience of that first winter: ‘There were times when strong proud men wept like children and lay down in their snow bound tents to die.’”

At the end of the war Daniel Morehouse had been awarded a half-pay pension of £40 annually and was promised a land grant in the Canadian provinces of some sixty acres for his service to the Crown.

During the summer of 1784, more Loyalist refugees came from the United States, while most of those who had arrived in 1783 moved up the river from the perilous low-lying lands of Grimross Island and St. Anne’s Point to the lands which had been allotted them where they would settle into a new life in a new country. The Morehouses remained at Grimross until the early summer of 1784 when they finally received title to the promised land in the Queen’s Rangers’ block in what would become Queensbury Parish, about 25 miles upriver from St Anne’s Point.

The wait at Grimross had been a miserable one for Daniel and Jane Morehouse. The constant fear of flooding wore on the refugees’ patience. Grimross Island’s highest point was only a few feet above the normal flow of the Saint John River. The lack of cut lumber meant some families had been forced to endure their first winter in canvass tents or makeshift shanties.  Many refugees died the first winter from smallpox, fever, and other diseases, induced and aggravated by the want of shelter and other essentials.

Daniel Morehouse would farm the land he had been awarded for his service. He slowly acquired surrounding parcels and eventually built both a grist mill and a sawmill that would supplement the income he managed from farming. He would answer the call to military service on several brief occasions prior to the War of 1812. Upon discharge from duty on one of those occasions, he was awarded the position of Justice of the Peace for York County. Each stint of service to Canada earned him a higher rank in the militia and more prestige. By the time Morehouse died in 1835, his land holdings would total almost twelve hundred acres.

Morehouse always remembered his uncle’s fine home back in Redding, and in 1812, he built a new home near the river that mirrored the Redding house. It had been thirty years since he last laid eyes on that house in Redding, but his memory certainly served him well when it so closely resembled the original.

The Daniel Morehouse homestead at Kings Landing in New Brunswick

From Morehouse’s biography on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: “On 11 March 1816 Morehouse was again pressed into service for his province. He was appointed one of three supervisors of ‘the Public Road leading from Fredericton to the Canada Line.’ Only he and Thomas Lee were active, it appears. They met in May and spent several weeks inspecting almost 60 miles of road, which they found to be in poor condition. They then supervised the building of eight bridges and the alteration of a considerable portion of the road. The total cost of construction was £3,055. This large undertaking created some resentment among local residents. Morehouse and Lee arbitrated minor disputes themselves but called juries for any important decisions.”

While Morehouse died a relatively wealthy man, it is painfully obvious from a passage in his last will and testament written and signed on the 15th of July 1830, that his success in his adopted land of Canada hadn’t been one he had achieved easily. Upon bequeathing his children his estate, he final advice to his six surviving children was “I recommend to my heirs that they sell and dispose of all the property I have left them as soon as they can dispose of it without making too great a sacrifice and remove to another Country where their labour may yield them a better return.”

Highlighted section of Daniel Morehouse’s probated will expresses his wishes that his children sell his estate and move on.

The frustration Morehouse expressed in his will was likely typical of the experiences of many of the displaced Loyalists. As a young man back in Connecticut, he had had a promising future, but his education at Yale was cut short by the Revolutionary War. Although he had been well compensated for his service with the Queen’s Rangers during the Revolution, including an annual pension and a substantial Canadian land grant, clearing that land had been an almost overwhelming challenge for just himself and his wife. His success came, not from his prominence as a farmer, but from the positions he had obtained and held in the local government and militia.

Daniel Morehouse had obviously served Canada well. He answered the call of duty whenever he was called upon to do so, and eventually his wealth likely approached what he could have earned had he sided with the rebellious colonists in his home country.

But in Connecticut too, Daniel Morehouse had shown his loyalty to his King. It had seemed like the correct and honorable thing to do in 1775. But in the end, the price he paid for that loyalty resulted in his permanent exile from the land where he had grown up and where most of his family still resided. A family he would never see again.

The Daniel Morehouse homestead in its present location at Kings Landing in New Brunswick

In 1966, that home that Daniel Morehouse built in New Brunswick was moved when the land it sat on was scheduled to be flooded after the construction of the Mactaquac Dam. It sits today in King’s Landing, a working heritage village, just a few miles north of where it originally stood in Queensbury. Having visited that village twice, I can attest that it is a wonderful testament to the tenacity and determination of those Loyalists who made the arduous journey to the north after the Revolution.

Acknowledgements: New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys produced by the University of New Brunswick Library. The Loyalists of New Brunswick by Esther Clark Wright. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. The King’s Landing, Prince William, New Brunswick. Daniel Morehouse’s last Will & Testament and various Morehouse family letters.

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By Bruce Nelson

Director of Research for the Historical Society of Easton Town Co-Historian for the Town of Redding, Connecticut Author/Publisher at Sport Hill Books