Soldier, Statesman and Freemason
Nelson King MPS
John Graves Simcoe
We Canadians are normally very reserved about our heroes, but we do have our Daniel Boones and our George Washingtons. We have our quiet heroes, who were Statesmen, Soldiers, and Freemasons. One such man Metropolitan Toronto, and several other Ontario Communities honour on the first Monday in August, by proclaiming that day a Civic Holiday, Simcoe Day.
John Graves Simcoe was born on the 25th of February 1752, at Cotterstock, Northamptonshire, the son of Captain John Simcoe, R.N., and Catherine Stamford. Captain Simcoe and his wife had moved to Cotterstock shortly after their marriage on the 8th of August, 1747. It was in Cotterstock that their four sons where born. The first two, Paulet William and John, died in infancy and the fourth, Percy William, was drowned in 1764. John Graves was the third son, was named after his father and his godfather, Admiral Sir Thomas Graves. In 1757 Captain Simcoe joined H.M.S. Pembroke, as Commander, with the famous explorer Captain James Cook as Master, and in 1759 sailed for Canada in the fleet under the command of Admiral Saunders. Captain Simcoe was not to reap the rewards of his years of service, for on the 15th of May 1759, while H.M.S. Pembroke was nearing the island of Anticosti, he died of pneumonia. Mrs. Catherine Simcoe then moved to Exeter, where she had many friends and where she would be better able to educate her two sons.
The future Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada received his primary education at the Free Grammar School in Exeter, and in 1766, his fifteenth year, he entered Eton. In 1769 he went to Merton College, Oxford, but does not appear to have graduated, for in the years 1770-1771 he was at his mother's home in Exeter under the guidance of a tutor. These years were spent in acquiring a general knowledge, and especially in studying military tactics, for he had been promised an ensign's commission from friends of his mother in the War Office.
The muster rolls of the 35th Foot show that Simcoe entered the army soon after his eighteenth birthday, for on the 27th of April 1770 he was gazetted an Ensign in Captain William Gaull's company and stationed at Plymouth. In 1773 while back in Exeter, Adjutant Simcoe was initiated into Union Lodge No. 307 E.R.[M]. The Lodge record reads as follows.
Towards the end of 1773, several fresh candidates were admitted. Amongst them was Peter Davis Foulks, Esq., Sir Wilmot Prideaux, Mr. Savery and Mr. John Graves Simcoe; also Henry Brown, Esq., 20th Regiment, was proposed, balloted for and accepted, and being a case of emergency was made E.A. and F.C. &c.
As a matter of interest this Lodge is the oldest Lodge in the Province of Devonshire, and has worked since 1732. The Lodge has had various names, Union Lodge, St. John Lodge, and its final and present name, which it has held since 1821, St. John the Baptist Lodge, No. 39. As a matter of fact, our Past Grand Master, M. W. Bro. John Ross Robertson secured the gavel that was used at Bro. Simcoe's initiation, and it was used by M. W. Bro. Augustus T. Freed, when he opened our Grand Lodge at Niagara in 1909.
Simcoe now progressed steadily through the ranks of the military until the 27th of December 1775, when he was promoted to the rank of Captain and permitted to purchase command of the Grenadier Company of the 40th Foot; with it he sailed for Halifax in March of 1776. Early in July 1776 he landed on Staten Island, New York, and with his Regiment took part in the military operations in Long Island and the Jerseys, winning many commendations for his services.
While in winter quarters at Brunswick, in 1776-1777, he went to New York to see Sir William Howe, to ask for the command of the Queen's Rangers, then vacant. Unfortunately his ship was driven off course by a severe storm and was delayed, and on his arrival in New York he found that the post had been filled. With his ambition for an independent command unsatisfied, he wrote to General Grant under whom he was serving, and asked if Grant would use his influence to secure for him a command similar to that of the Queen's Rangers, should such another corps be raised. Shortly afterward he led his company at the Battle of Brandywine and received a wound from which he never fully recovered, although he was able to resume his duties.
At last his ambitions were realized, for on the 15th of October 1777, Captain Simcoe was appointed Major-Commandant of the Queen's Rangers and on the 18th joined his new command, then encamped near Germantown, just to the north of Philadelphia. In June 1778, he was granted the provincial rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and on the 19th of December 1781, his rank was made permanent in the Army.
At about this time, an advertisement was printed in Rivington's Royal Gazette, which read:
All Aspiring Heroes.
Have now an opportunity of distinguishing themselves by joining The Queen's Rangers Huzzars, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe. Any spirited young man will receive every encouragement, be immediately mounted on an elegant horse, and furnished with clothing, accoutrements, &c., to the amount of Forty Guineas, by applying to Cornet Spencer at his quarters, 1033 Water Street, or his rendezvous Hewitts Tavern, near the Coffee House, and the depot at Brandywine on Golden Hill.
Whosoever brings a Recruit shall instantly receive Two Guineas.
Vivant Rex et Regina.
In December 1781, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe returned to England and on the 30th of December 1782 married Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim, then in her seventeenth year, at the church of St. Mary and Giles in the parish of Buckerall, Devon. On the 14th of January 1783, Simcoe was released from his parole which he had give to the United States when he was captured in 1781. The released was granted by Benjamin Franklin, the Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States, to the Court of France.
On the 18th of November 1790, Simcoe was granted the rank of Colonel in the Army, and during the same year was elected to Parliament as member for the borough of St. Mawes in Cornwall. During his brief political career, he was able to take an important part in the debates culminating in the passage of the Constitutional Act of 1791, which divided Canada into the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. In the same year he received a commission as Lieutenant-Governor of the new province of Upper Canada, and in accepting the post of Lieutenant-Governor, he asked that troops be allotted to the new province. He was then instructed to reorganize The Queen's Rangers. Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, accompanied by his wife and two of their children sailed for Quebec, on the 26th of September 1791 on board H.M.S. Triton. Before sailing he was offered by the War Office the rank of Brigadier-General, but for various reasons he declined; one reason was his disinclination to have seniority over the King's son, the Duke of Kent, then in command of the 7th Fusiliers at Quebec.
H.M.S. Triton arrived at Quebec on the 11th of November 1791, and on the following day Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe delivered the various commissions with which he had been entrusted, to the acting Governor-General, Major-General Alured Clarke. Major-General Clarke was acting as administrator during the absence of Lord Dorchester, who was in England. The official proclamation and the text of the Act dividing the old province of Canada, into the new provinces of Upper and Lower Canada was issued on the 18th of November 1791, and was published in the Quebec Gazette of December 1st.
In December of 1791 Simcoe had paid a short visit to Montreal but he went no farther west. On the 8th of June 1792, with his wife and children he left Quebec, Lower Canada, for Kingston, Upper Canada, in a bateau. They arrived in Montreal on the 17th, left on the 27th, and reached Kingston on 1st of July. On the 8th of July, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was sworn into office by Chief Justice William Osgoode.
From Kingston Governor Simcoe and his family sailed on the Government Schooner Onondaga for Newark [Niagara], where they arrived on the 26th of July. Pending completion of repairs to Navy Hall, the Governor and his party were housed in marquees pitched on the hill above the Hall.
In February of 1793 the Governor visited the western parts of his province. The party proceeded to a Mohawk village on the Grand River, [Brantford], then to the Moravian settlement of the Delaware Indians, [Moraviantown], and returned by the way of the present site of London Ontario, which at a later date Simcoe recommended as a proper place for the capital of the province. However, on the 2nd of May he visited the site of Toronto for the first time. He returned to Navy Hall on the 13th and spoke in praise of the harbour and "a fine spot near it covered with large oaks", which he intended as a site for a town. This fine spot was on the bay front, east of the present George Street extending as far as Berkeley Street.
The Upper Canada Gazette of the 1st of August, 1793, has the following.
"A few day ago, the first division of His Majesty's Corps of Queen's Rangers, left Queenston for Toronto [now York], and proceeded in a bateaux round the head of Lake Ontario, by Burlington Bay, and shortly afterwards another division of the same regiment sailed in the King's vessels, Onondaga and Caldwell for the same place. On Monday evening, His Excellency, the Lieut.-Governor left Navy Hall and embarked on board His Majesty's schooner, Mississauga, which sailed under a favorable gale for York with the remainder of the Queens Rangers on board. "
Mrs. Simcoe in her diary under the date of the 30th of July 1793, wrote:
"The Queen's Rangers are encamped opposite to the ship. After dinner we went on shore to fix a spot whereon to place the canvas houses, and we chose a rising ground divided by a creek from the camp, which is ordered to be cleared immediately. The soldiers have cut down a great deal of wood to enable them to pitch their tents. We went in the boat two miles to the bottom of the bay, and walked thro' a grove of fine oaks, where the town is intended to be built. A low spit of land, covered with wood, forms the bay, and breaks the horizon of the lake which greatly improves the view, which indeed is very pleasing. The water in the bay is beautifully clear and transparent."
Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe wrote on the 23rd of August 1793:
"I have determined to hut the Queen's Rangers, and probably to remain this Winter at this place. It possesses many eminent advantages, which I shall do myself the honor of expatiation on, by the 1st opportunity, and expatiating on such places as appear necessary to me for permanent barracks, and fortifications to be erected, adapted to present circumstances, but which may be increased, if it shall become necessary, and, at a less expense, be rendered more impregnable than any place I have seen in North America."
Later in the year, on the 20th of September 1793, he wrote:
"Upon the first news of the rupture with France I determined to withdraw the Queen's Rangers from the unhealthy vicinity of Niagara where they were encamped and to occupy York. I submitted to the Commander-in-Chief my intentions and desired his sanction to authorize me to construct a block house to defend the entrance to the Harbour."
William Jarvis, Substitute Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada E.R.[A], and the first Provincial Secretary of Upper Canada had previously granted a warrant [even though he was not authorized to do so] for Lodge No.3 The Queen's Rangers, 1st American Regiment and they had held meetings at Butler's Barracks, in Newark. This warrant was a traveling warrant, and was now transferred to York, with the Queen's Rangers.
In December of 1793, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, communicated the fact of the removal of the Rangers to York. The document, addressed to Lord Dorchester, the Governor-General, is as follows:
"Should I have the pleasure of seeing your Lordship at this place, I make no doubt but the arrangement of the log huts for the Queen's Rangers, and the public store I shall build the ensuing Spring on Pt. Gibraltar, will be such as, in your Lordship's estimation, with a due proportion of artillery and an equal garrison, will appear to be more defensible that Detroit, and scarcely less so than Niagara.
J. G. Simcoe."
The log huts for the Rangers were erected on the left side of the eastern entrance to the present fort at Toronto. It was in one of these log huts that the Queens Ranger's Lodge No. 3 met. It is said Simcoe did not look with unfriendly eyes on the meeting of Craftsmen which took place month after month in his regiment, even though he could not himself attend the meetings, as he was a member of the "Moderns" Grand Lodge, and Lodge No. 3, Queens Rangers was warranted under the "Ancients" Grand Lodge. It is interesting to note that this site is where the Toronto Historical Board has recently unearthed fragments of clay tobacco pipe bowls this is not in itself unusual, but these fragments are fragments of clay tobacco pipe bowls with Masonic designs. On the left side of the bowl there is the Square and Compasses, with a letter G in the center, five pointed stars, a pentagram, and laurel leaves or acacia leaves. On the other side of the bowl is a standing bird with either one or two wings outstretched.
The Governor-General, Lord Dorchester, and Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, where not the best of friends, and the friction between them did not cease until both of them left Canada in 1796. Indeed it looked as if Dorchester had determined to make Simcoe's life as uncomfortable as possible. Official correspondence shows that Dorchester seized every opportunity to clog the wheels of Simcoe's government, and often in a manner most mortifying to Simcoe. Simcoe had not forgotten "the unjust, humiliating and disgraceful" order, as he termed it, of Sir Guy Carleton, [as Dorchester was in 1783], concerning a charge made against the Queen's Rangers as being guilty of "plundering and marauding" on Long Island Sound during the War of Revolution, a charge, by the way, that was without foundation. The continued friction between the two led to the resignation of both in the usual form of "leave of absence". The Simcoes said farewell to Upper Canada on the 21st of July 1796, and on the 10th of September, they sailed from Quebec on H.M.S. Pearl for England.
At this time the British Government wanted an officer to take charge of the forces in San Domingo. Lord Simcoe who had been gazetted Major-General on the 2nd of October 1794, and was now offered the post if he would prefer it to retaining his appointment in Upper Canada. Simcoe accepted the new position and on the 3rd of December 1796, was appointed Civil Governor and thought he was to be Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in San Domingo. Simcoe was disappointed for he had expected to succeed Sir Ralph Abercrombie as Commander-in-Chief of all the forces in the Island, but now found that Abercrombie retained that office. In a letter to the Duke of Kent, he refers to this disappointment and also points out that his "services in Canada had been slighted in that as Lieutenant-Governor he had a fair claim to the command of the Royal Americans in preference to General Hunter." The same letter further shows that he had been promised the position of Governor-General of Canada and also a peerage.
In 1797 General Simcoe proceeded to his new post, with instructions to aid the French in restoring, if possible, order to the island. While the General did excellent work in his command, he became wearied of the kind of warfare in which he was engaged and after eight months he returned to England, either to procure an adequate force for the work or to abandon the effort altogether. From the 18th of January to the 18th of June 1798, he was Colonel of the 81st Regiment and on the latter date was appointed Colonel of the 22nd Foot, which appointment he held until his death in 1806. Lord Simcoe did not return to San Domingo, and on the 26th of February 1798, he was appointed Lieutenant of the County of Devon, and in the following October was gazetted Lieutenant-General.
Owing to the fear of invasion by Napoleon, the forces of England were strengthened in 1799, and on the 21st of November of that year Lieutenant-General Simcoe was appointed to the command of Plymouth. On the 1st of January 1801, he was appointed to serve on the Staff of the Army in Great Britain, and in the same month was commissioned to command the Western District, which included the Counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. On the 14th of May 1803, he was again appointed to the Army Staff in Great Britain.
In July, 1806 General Simcoe was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in India, and at once began preparations for departure to his distant command. While in the middle of packing, an entire change of plan came from the authorities in London. Information had been received that Napoleon was contemplating an invasion of Portugal. The fleet under Earl St. Vincent, then cruising off Brest, was ordered to the Tagus, while Lord Rosslyn and General Simcoe were ordered to join the Earl at Lisbon.
Simcoe had been in poor health for some time, and it was only by exercising the greatest care that he was able to cover the great amount of work assigned to him in the Western District. He was so confident of his physical strength that he did not hesitate to accept the command in India when it was offered. Indeed it was expected that after completing the negotiations he was to carry out in Lisbon, he would return to England and then sail for India.
He took ill on the voyage to Lisbon and had to return to England. After some delay he sailed on 26th of September, 1806, on H.M.S. Illustrious, and on the 21st of October, landed at Topsham. The next day he was carefully driven to the house of his friend, Archdeacon Moore in Exeter. He was too ill to make the journey to Wolford, and the following Sunday the 26th the General passed to the Grand Lodge above.
The body was embalmed and kept in Exeter until the 4th of November, in order that the funeral arrangements might be perfected. It was an imposing funeral and every mark of respect was paid by the civil and military authorities alike. Along the fourteen miles between Exeter and Wolford the cortege passed between lines of the militia of Devon. At the third mile a squadron of Dragoons was drawn up and escorted the remains to Wolford. At six o'clock in the evening the burial took place by torchlight in the presence of his widow and family and the leading men of the country. The remains were interred at the east end of the private chapel, erected by the General on his estate. The inscription on his monument reads:
"Sacred to the memory of John Graves Simcoe, Lt. Gen. in the Army and Col. of the 22nd Regt. of Foot, who died on the 26th day of October, 1806 aged 54.
In whose life and character the virtues of the Hero, the Patriot and the Christian were so eminently conspicuous, that it may be justly said he served his King, and his Country, with a zeal exceeded only by his piety towards his God."
I can find no record of Masonic Funeral Honours being paid to our Lieutenant-Governor.
Thus ended the life of this great man, hero of the Revolutionary War, the Founder of Ontario, Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, Statesman, Soldier and Freemason. We do well to recall his exploits in loving memory every August.
* * *
Having researched and written John Graves Simcoe, Soldier, Statesman and Freemason it seemed a natural progression to continue with a man who not only served under Simcoe in The Queen's Rangers [1st American Regiment] but who also served Governor Simcoe as Secretary and Registrar of the Records of the Province of Upper Canada, and was the first Provincial Grand Master of Masons of Upper Canada, William Jarvis.
Early in the seventeenth century, the Jarvis family immigrated to North America and settled in Norwalk, Connecticut. In 1760 Samuel Jarvis was appointed town clerk of Stamford, Connecticut [a position he held until 1775, when he was forced out of office due to his loyalty to the Crown]. Samuel Jarvis married Martha Seymour, and they had eleven children. William was their eighth child and was born September 11, 1756. Samuel Jarvis was affluent enough to send his son William to England to be educated, and here Jarvis was educated, both in civil and military matters. He returned to North America and at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War enlisted in The Queen's Rangers 1st American Regiment under the Command of Major-Commandant John Graves Simcoe. He was 19 years of age and commissioned an Ensign or Cornet. In October 1781 he was wounded at the Battle of Yorktown and the following year he was promoted to the rank of Colonel. When the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783 Jarvis resigned his commission in The Queen's Rangers and returned to his father's home in Stamford. As feelings against the Loyalists in Connecticut ran high, he left his home in Stamford and returned to England where he had been educated. Here he would make his new home.
Here on December 12, 1785 he married Hannah Owen Peters, the daughter of Reverend Samuel Peters D.D., of Hebron Connecticut. The ceremony took place in the fashionable St. George's Anglican Church, in Hanover Square, London. The bride was twenty-three years of age. William and Hannah were eventually blessed with seven children, three boys and four girls. The eldest son Samuel Peters, died at the age of five. A few weeks later, a second son was born who was also named Samuel Peters. It is interesting to note that their eldest daughter, Marie Lavinia, married John Hamilton, son of the Honourable Robert Hamilton, one of the first members of the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and whom the City of Hamilton was named.
William was commissioned in 1789 as a Lieutenant in the Western Regiment of Militia in Middlesex, England and on January 1, 1791 was promoted to the rank of Captain. It is at this period of his life that we first find the Masonic connection. He was made a Mason on February 7, 1792. The minutes of the Grand Masters Lodge held at London, gave the following record:
"William Jarvis, Esq. Captain in the West Middlesex Militia [late Cornet in the Queen's Rangers' Dragoons] was initiated in the Grand Master's Lodge on 7th February, 1792.
The Grand Officers present were:
His Grace, the Duke of Athol. Grand Master in the chair.
R.W. James Agar, Esq., D.G.M.
R.W. William Dickey, Esq., P.S.G.W. as S.W.
R.W. James Jones, Esq., P.G.G.W. as J.W.
R.W. Thomas Harper, Esq., P.S.G.W. as S.D.
R.W. Robert Leslie, Esq. G. Sec. as J.D.
R. W. John Bunn, Esq., S.G.W. and many other members."
William Jarvis was appointed the Provincial Grand Master of Masons in Upper Canada by the Duke of Athol, the M.W. Grand Master of the third Grand Lodge of England, on the 7th of March 1792, this was exactly one month after his Initiation into Masonry.
The following minutes of Grand Masters Lodge read:
"At the Grand Lodge, Crown and Anchor, in the Strand, the 7th day of March, 1792.
The Rt. W. James Agar, Deputy Grand Master,
The Rt. W. Thomas Harper, Past Senior Grand Warden,
The Rt. W. Mr. Robert Leslie, Grand Secretary,
The Rt. W. Mr. John Feakins, Grand Treasurer.
The W., The Masters, Past Masters and Wardens of Warranted Lodges."
"It was moved and seconded that our R. W. Brother Alexander Wilson, of Lower Canada be appointed, under the sanction of the Rt. W. Grand Lodge. Substitute Grand Master for the said Province of Lower Canada. Ordered upon like motion that our Rt. W. Brother William Jarvys, [sic] Esq. soon about to depart for Upper Canada be invested with a like appointment for the Province of Upper Canada."
One month later we find the following in the books of the Grand Chapter register of the Ancient Grand Chapter:
"1792, April 4th, Jarvis, William, G.M.L..-240 certified."
This shows that William Jarvis, a member of the Grand Master's Lodge, was admitted to the Royal Arch in the Lodge No. 240 and that he received a Royal Arch certificate.
On the 9th of July of the same year he was appointed as "Secretary and Registrar of the Records of the Province of Upper Canada." William, Hannah and their three children, sailed from Gravesend in May of 1792. Jarvis wrote the following to his brother Munson who resided in St. John, New Brunswick.
"March 28th, A.D. 1792
I am in possession of the sign manual from His Majesty, constituting me Secretary and Registrar of the Province of Upper Canada with the power of appointing my Deputies, and in every other respect a very full warrant. I am also very much flattered to be enabled to inform you that the Grand Lodge of England have within these very few days appointed Prince Edward, who is now in Canada, Grand Master of Ancient Masons in Lower Canada, and William Jarvis, Secretary and Registrar of Upper Canada, a Grand Master of Ancient Masons in that Province. However trivial it may appear to you, who are not a Mason, yet I assure you that it is one of the most honourable appointments that they could have conferred. The Duke of Athol is the Grand Master of Ancient Masons in England. I am ordered my passage on board the transport with the Regiment, and to do duty without pay for the passage only. This letter goes to Halifax by favour of an intimate friend of Mr. Peters, Governor Wentworth, who goes out to take possession of his government. The ship I am allotted to is the 'Henniker,' Captain Winter, a transport with Q'ns Rangers on board."
They arrived at Quebec on June 11, 1792, and R.W. Bro. Jarvis was officially presented to H.R.H. Prince Edward, the Provincial Grand Master of Lower Canada, as Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada. Jarvis and his family proceeded westward and briefly stopped in Montreal before going on to Kingston, where on the 8th of July, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe had been sworn into office by Chief Justice William Osgoode. Our new Provincial Secretary and the official staff left Kingston on September 11th, and proceed on to Newark [Niagara-on-the-Lake] where the first session of the Legislature was opened on September 17th. However Mrs. Jarvis and their three children remained in Kingston until a home could be prepared for them. They were not left behind for a long time because on October 17th Mrs. Jarvis wrote to her father the Reverend Samuel Peters, D.D. He had just recently moved to Vermont were he had been elected a bishop. She wrote:
"Mr. Jarvis was obliged to buy a house [as the Governor would not quit Niagara] and pay 140 for it, to which he has added three rooms of logs, that we shall be able to get into in the course of a fortnight or three weeks. He could hire but at the expense of 40 per year for three rooms and a cock-loft for which reason he thought it more advisable to what he has done. The 40 was in the edge of the woods two miles from any house and of course from any market and without any conveniences belonging to it."
In the same letter she writes.
"Labour is so immensely dear, a dollar and a half a day is the usual price for a man, or if you have him by the month eight dollars and find him with victuals. A woman servant the lowest is 2" dollars per month from that to 12 dollars. I have two girls to whom I give seven dollars a month."
The first record we have of Brother Jarvis as Provincial Grand Master is in a letter written January 13, 1793 again by Hannah Jarvis to her father. She wrote:
"The 27th December, the Grand Master was installed in great form, a procession of all the fraternity called with music playing etc., Mr. Addison, Grand Chaplain, a young brother, made that morning, read prayers and preached a sermon, after which there was a dinner."
Records of Niagara Lodge No. 2 G.R.C. would suggest that this affair took place at Freemason's Hall Niagara. It was not until four years later [April 6, 1796] that Bro. Jarvis warranted his own Lodge, called The Grand Master's Lodge No. 1. However he had previously granted warrants [although he was not authorized to do so] for Niagara Lodge No, 2 and Lodge No.3 The Queen's Rangers, 1st American Regiment. Lodge No. 3 held their meetings at Butler's Barracks, in Newark [Niagara]. This warrant was a travelling warrant, and was transferred to York, with the Queen's Rangers, where they held their meetings at what is now Fort York. It is said Lieutenant Governor Simcoe did not look with unfriendly eyes on the meeting of Craftsmen that took place month after month in his regiment, although he could not himself attend the meetings, as he was a member of the "Moderns" Grand Lodge, and Lodge No. 3, Queens Rangers was warranted by Jarvis as Provincial Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England [Ancients] and the two Grand Lodges were not in amity. The previous paper [John Graves Simcoe. Soldier, Statesman, Freemason] informed us that this is where the Toronto Historical Board has recently unearthed fragments of clay tobacco pipe bowls; this is not in itself unusual, but these fragments are fragments of clay tobacco pipe bowls with Masonic designs. On the left side of the bowl there are the Square and Compasses, with a letter G in the centre, five pointed stars, a pentagram, and laurel leaves or acacia leaves. On the other side of the bowl is a standing bird with either one or two wings outstretched.
We know that William Jarvis spent the winter of 1793 in Toronto but left his family in Niagara. He wrote to his father-in-law on November 22, 1793; in part of his letter he stated the following:
"I shall leave my family well provided for. I have a yoke of fatted oxen to come down, 12 small shoats to put into a barrel occasionally which I expect will weigh from 40 to 60 lbs., about 60 head of dung-hill fowl, 16 fine turkeys and a dozen ducks, 2 breeding cows, a milch cow which had a calf in August, which of course will be able to afford her mistress a good supply of milk through the winter. In the root house I have 400 good head of cabbage, and about 60 bushels of potatoes and a sufficiency of excellent turnips."
"My cellar is stored with three barrels of wine, 2 of cider, 2 of apples and a good stock of butter. My cock-loft contains some of the finest maple sugar I ever beheld. We have 150 lbs. of it. Also plenty of good flour, cheese, coffee, loaf sugar, etc. Thus you see, I shall have the best of companions abundantly supplied with every comfort in the wilderness."
While in Toronto, Secretary Jarvis selected and obtained the park lot at the southeast corner of Duke and Sherbourne Streets [between King and Queen Streets]. He was also granted one hundred acres at No. 2 first concession. The Upper Canada Land Book B, dated 19th August, 1796 to 7th April, 1797 registers the following:
"The petition of Wm. Jarvis, Esq., 4th October 1796, on a motion by the Administrator of the Province [Hon. Peter Russell] to extend His Majesty's bounty in lands to Mrs. Jarvis, the daughter of the Rev. Mr. Peters, a respectable and suffering loyalist, and her four children. Ordered that 1,200 acres of land be granted to Mrs. Hannah Jarvis, and 400 acres each to Maria Lavinia Jarvis, Augusta Holorina Jarvis, Wm. Monson [sic] Jarvis, and Samuel Peters Jarvis."
These lands were located a little farther to the north on what is now Yonge Street.
But it was at the corner of Duke and Sherbourne Streets he eventually had his house built, which as the Brethren of Toronto will know is not far from the present day Jarvis Street. The house was built of logs, cut and hewn from the property and finished with clapboard. It was two and a half storeys in height, and faced on to Sherbourne Street. A long extension ran east along Duke Street, but there was no entrance to the house from that side. Farther along was a fence with a high peaked gate that opened onto Duke Street. On this large lot, several barns were built as were outbuildings and a root house. At the time of its erection this house was probably the largest and best building in the town of York. Here Bro. Jarvis had his offices.
The Jarvis family were among the earliest supporters of St. James Anglican Church [St. James Cathedral, King and Church Streets]. The Archives of The Anglican Diocese of Toronto record that William Jarvis and four other settlers became pew holders, paying rent four times a year to the parish. One of the pew holders was Allan McNabb [sic] Esq. who had served with Simcoe and Jarvis in the Queen's Rangers and was the father of Sir Alan Napier MacNab a noted Canadian Statesman and Freemason.
You may be surprised to learn that William Jarvis was a slave holder. We know this because court records show that he complained that two of his slaves, a small Negro boy and girl had stolen gold and silver from his desk and escaped. The accused were eventually caught and the boy, named Henry, was sent to prison and girl was returned to her master.
It is certain that Bro. Jarvis did not assert his authority as Provincial Grand Master. He did not have a significant knowledge of the duties he was called on to perform. He therefore relied on others to guide him. One of these was Christopher Danby, who had delivered the official warrant to Jarvis and was a member of the Grand Master's Lodge of London. Brother Danby was clever, well read and an expert in Craft jurisprudence and would be eventually elected Grand Treasurer.
As Provincial Grand Master, William Jarvis waited three years before he formally organized the Provincial Grand Lodge. Notices of the first meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge were distributed in 1795. The notice addressed to Lodge No. 6 at Kingston read as follows:
"To the Worshipful Master and good brethren of Lodge No.6. It is the will and pleasure of the R.W.P.G. Master, William Jarvis, Esq., that I inform you that Wednesday, the 26th day of August, next, at Newark, is the time and place appointed on which the representatives of the several lodges in the province are to assemble and form a Committee for the purpose of electing the officers to compose the Provincial Grand Lodge, at which time and place you are desired to attend.
Fail not. By order of the R.W. Grand Master.
July Anno Domini, 1795, Anno Sap. 5795
[Signed] D. Phelps, G. Sec., Pro. Tem."
At this meeting, five Lodges were represented, and the following slate of Officers were elected, installed and invested:
- R. W. Bro. William Jarvis — Provincial Grand Master and Master
- W. Bro. Robert Hamilton — Provincial Deputy Grand Master
- Bro. John Butler — Senior Grand Warden
- Bro. William Mackey — Junior Grand Warden
- Bro. Davenport Phelps — Grand Secretary
- Bro. Christopher Danby — Grand Treasurer
- Bro. Robert Addison — Grand Chaplain
From 1794 to 1797 the provincial government slowly moved from Niagara to Toronto. And in 1797 the Jarvis family moved into their new home and all ties with Niagara area were severed. Bro. Jarvis even took the Warrant and Jewels of The Provincial Grand Lodge with him. However the Brethren of Niagara carried on the activities of Grand Lodge as best they could and for the next few years they continued to respect Jarvis as their Grand Master and all official papers were sent to him for his signature.
Early in 1801 the Brethren at Niagara and in other parts of Upper Canada became disenchanted with Jarvis as Provincial Grand Master. And on December 19, 1801 the following letter was sent to the Provincial Grand Master.
"Niagara, 19th Dec. 1801
R.Wor. W. Jarvis —
Sir and Brother. At a special meeting of Grand Lodge, held by adjournment on the 14th inst., I was ordered to acquaint you with the nomination of George Forsyth Esq., to the office of Grand Master in case of your non-attendance on the 28th inst.
Not all the Lodges in Upper Canada agreed with the actions of the Brethren at Niagara, and immediately a rift arose, as many of the Lodges in the eastern part of the province remained loyal to Jarvis. But the Niagara Brethren were determined to infuse new life into the Craft even if it meant forming a new Grand Lodge. Despite the letter of December 1801, no action was taken for a year. When Jarvis made no attempt to heal the rift, another meeting was called in January 1803, and George Forsyth was elected to replace him. Even Christopher Danby, who for years was Jarvis' adviser turned against, his former friend and led the revolt against him.
The Grand Lodge of England was dismayed with the lack of proper procedure because their records show that the Grand Secretary tried time and again to get proper reports from Upper Canada. In 1803 the following memorandum was sent by the Grand Secretary in England to the Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada.
"Memorandum of Notice. 1st June, 1803
We have not rec'd any return from you agreeable to the Tenor or purport of our Warrant entrusted to your Honour and granted in London some years since - the R.W. Grand Lodge in London hopes and trusts you will speedily comply in this request and cause the proper return to be made record according to regulation: in the Books of Grand Lodge in London."
The Provincial Grand Master at last took action. In a summons dated October 2, 1803 and sent over the signature of Jermyn Patrick of Kingston, the Lodges were requested to send delegates to a Grand Lodge session at Toronto on February 10, 1804. Most of the Lodges responded, but the Niagara Brethren did not. Soon the Grand Secretaries of both factions were sending letters to the Grand Lodge in London. Nothing however was resolved. The War of 1812 brought all Masonic matters to a virtual standstill. When William Jarvis died on August 13, 1817, the rift was still not healed. Jarvis was buried with full Masonic honours in the churchyard attached to St. James. It was a large funeral, with respects paid to Jarvis not only as Secretary and Registrar of the Records of the Province of Upper Canada, but as Provincial Grand Master of Masons of the Province of Upper Canada. The entire expense of the burial was paid by contributions from all the Lodges in the jurisdiction.
Thus ended the life of our First Provincial Grand Master, a Soldier. Statesman, and Freemason.
* * *
Alan Napier MacNab
Allan Napier MacNab, was by birth a Canadian, and was the first native born to hold the office of Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada [1845-1857], and Grand Master of the Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada . His Grandfather was Major Robert MacNab of the 42nd Regiment [Black Watch], and his father Allan served under John Graves Simcoe as a Lieutenant in The Queen's Rangers [1st American Regiment]. During the Revolutionary War, MacNab was wounded thirteen times. Later he accompanied Lieutenant Governor Simcoe to Newark [Niagara-On-The-Lake] as his Aide- de-camp. Here William Jarvis also served Simcoe as Secretary and Registrar of the Records of the Province of Upper Canada, and was the first Provincial Grand Master of Masons of Upper Canada. It was here on February 19, 1798, Allan Napier MacNab was born.
In August 1893 Lieutenant Governor Simcoe relocated The Queen's Rangers [1st American Regiment and the provincial government from Newark to muddy York [Toronto]. Seven years later the MacNab family, and their two year old son Allan Napier moved their homestead to York. Allan senior was employed as a clerk in the office of William Jarvis the Provincial Secretary, until he was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Assembly. The family lived peacefully and prospered until the morning of April 27, 1812, when a fleet of American ships, carrying approximately 2,000 troops, sailed through the approaches to the town of York's harbour, and opened fire on the fort. The British forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and almost all of the men of Grenadier Company of the British 8th Regiment were slaughtered on the beach. By nightfall the town had fallen, and Americans began looting, burning and pillaging. Not only were the parliament buildings set on fire, and the treasury seized, but also the town's only church, St. James' was looted. The MacNab family, other loyal citizens, and the balance of the troops were forced to retreat to Kingston Upper Canada, a forced march that took two weeks
While in Kingston, Allan junior secured a midshipman's berth on H.M.S. Wolfe. Shortly afterwards he left the naval branch of His Majesty's Service and joined the 100th Regiment. After the burning of Newark [Niagara-On-The-Lake], it was decided to capture the American Fort Niagara, and Allan Napier joined the storming party. For his gallantry was awarded an ensign's Rank in the 49th Regiment of Foot. Under the command of General Rail he took part in the attack on Buffalo, New York, and then joined his regiment at Montreal, Lower Canada. For the balance of the War of 1812 [which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Gent, December 24, 1814] he served with conspicuous gallantry.
After the war he was placed on half-pay, and returned to York, where he became an articled clerk in the law office of The Attorney General of the Province. In 1825 he married the daughter of Lieutenant Daniel Brooke of York. Allan was called to the bar in 1826 and moved to Hamilton, Upper Canada where he entered into practice and established his future home. In 1830 Allan was elected to the Legislative Assembly representing the County of Wentworth. In 1837 he was elected Speaker of the Assembly and held this position until the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841.
During the Rebellions of 1837 [which took place in both in Upper and Lower Canada], MacNab took a very active part in York, Hamilton and London in suppressing the uprising. He considered it not a"rebellion" but an "invasion" financed and abetted by the "Nation to the South." The fact that meetings were held in Buffalo at which well-known public figures were the speakers and the leaders, and also that volunteers known as "hunters" were permitted to drill at Detroit, proved his claim to be well founded. It was thought that these "hunters" had some Masonic connection. They were also known as "Hunter Lodges" or "Patriot Lodges." These lodges had degrees, modes of recognition and other ingredients, which some believe were Masonic. To date there has been no substantial proof of these claims.
The prompt action taken by MacNab nipped the uprising in the bud. The "men of Gore" under his leadership in the Toronto [York], Hamilton and London areas, prevented the enemy from getting organized and effectively dealt with those who dared to face them. The "Caroline" of Buffalo, loaded with men and arms, anchored at Navy Island in the Niagara River, awaiting an opportunity to cross to Canada, was "cut out" by Commander Drew on MacNab's orders and sent adrift over Niagara Falls. The invasion quickly subsided when it became evident that it was not to be a "get-rich" junket, as promised by William Lyon Mackenzie. Mackenzie had been elected mayor, of the newly incorporated City of Toronto [York] in 1834, and now tried to seize the city by force. After the Rebellions of 1837 Allan Napier MacNab, was knighted by his grateful Queen for his services to the crown.
Sir Allan Napier MacNab, was made a Mason in St. Andrew's Lodge No. 1 [now No. 16 G.R.C.] on December 14, 1941. The minutes of the Lodge for that date read:
"Sir Allan Napier MacNab was then admitted and initiated in the first degree."
He received his Fellow Craft Degree in Barton Lodge, Hamilton on January 12, 1842. The minutes of this meeting are very sparse. The date, names of officers, members and visitors are given, and a list of six Brethren, including two lines that read:
"Br. Sir A. N. MacNab, passed to the second degree.
Sir A. N. MacNab pd. 10/0."
On December 29, 1842 the Lodge Minute Book reads:
"Br. MacNab, was raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason."
In the summer of 1842 he visited Scotland, and in Edinburgh on August 1, 1842, while only a Fellow Craft he received a patent as Provincial Grand Master in Canada for the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Shortly after that he returned to Canada and gave no indication of the honour bestowed on him. In 1844 he returned to England where on August 28, 1844, he received the appointment of District Grand Master for England of the Provincial or District Grand Lodge of Canada West. Again he returned to Canada and this time gave indication of this honour bestowed on him. The reason given for his failure to reveal his new Masonic Grand Ranks is that the Brethren of Canada generally owed allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England, although they were generally displeased with Grand Lodge's treatment of them. In November he was elected Speaker of the House a position that he held until February 1848.
However, in May 1845, St. Andrew's Lodge, Toronto, resolved that it would communicate with the Lodges in Canada West and seek to secure their consent that their Worshipful Master Thomas Gibbs Ridout, should solicit the formation of another Provincial Grand Lodge. It was also St. Andrew's intention that Ridout be appointed Provincial Grand Master.
At an emergent meeting of Barton Lodge, in Hamilton on May 17, 1845, for the first time since he had been made a Master Mason, Sir Allan was present. The Lodge was opened in the Third Degree. The minutes read as follows.
"The Lodge was called by order of the W. M. to take into consideration a communication received from St. Andrew's Lodge, Toronto, soliciting our Lodge co-operate with them in petitioning the G. L. of England to appoint Br. T. G. Ridout, their W. M., Provincial Grand Master of a Grand Lodge in this Province. Our Right Worshipful Brother, Sir A. N. MacNab, having produced the Warrant empowering him to convene and hold a Provincial Grand Lodge, it was moved by Bro. H. R. O'Reilly, and seconded by Bro. R. O. Duggan, and unanimously carried":
"Resolved - that the Secretary be instructed to communicate to St. Andrew's Lodge, Toronto, that our worthy and R. Worshipful Bro. Sir A. N. MacNab, having been appointed by the Grand Lodge of England to the office of Provincial Grand Master of Canada West, and our said R. Wor. Brother, having in consultation with this Lodge accepted the said appointment, and the charter, bearing date the 28th August, A. L. 5884, conferring the said appointment, have been received by him, this Lodge, taking into consideration the respect in which way they hold the R. W. the Grand Lodge of England and their acts, as well as the fitness and capacity of our said R. Wor. Brother for the said office, cannot with propriety, if they felt so disposed, second the cause proposed by our Brethren of St. Andrew's Lodge. And that the W. M. of St. Andrew's Lodge be respectfully requested to communicate this information to all the Lodges in Canada West to whom his Lodge communicated the resolution sent to this Lodge, with the least possible delay, in order to prevent any misunderstanding among the Craft."
On August 9, 1845, the Third Provincial Grand Lodge [E. R.] was held in Hamilton, with Sir Allan in the Chair. This would be the only Provincial Grand Lodge Communication that he would attend until June 15, 1848. He only attended two other Communications, until September 1857 when the Third Provincial Grand Lodge [E. R.] was dissolved, and the Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada was formed, with him as its Grand Master. In 1854 he played and important role in the formation of the Liberal- Conservative alliance and became premier of Canada, a position which he held until April of 1856 when he resigned the premiership due to poor health, and in October 1857 gave up his seat in the House.
On June 14, 1858 the Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada was united with the Grand Lodge of Canada to form the present Grand Lodge Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada. After the amalgamation, Sir Allan never again entered a Masonic Lodge. On March 23, 1859 the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, acknowledged the jurisdiction of the new Grand Lodge of Canada under the direction of M. W. Bro. William Mercer Wilson, who had been the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada.
Later in 1859 Sir Allan left for England where he remained until the spring of 1860. when he returned to Canada. After his return he was again elected to office and received the Honourary rank of Colonel in the British Army, and Honourary Aide-de-camp to her Majesty Queen Victoria. In 1862 he was chosen as the first Speaker of the Legislative Council, but after the first session he returned to his home "Dundurn" in Hamilton where he died on August 8, 1862.
Sir Allan had been born and raised in the Anglican faith, his father, together with William Jarvis were some of the first pew holders of St. James' in Toronto. In the early days of Hamilton, before there was an Anglican Church, he was a constant attender and pew holder of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church [now St. Paul's] until Christ Church was erected, when he joined that church. However during his last illness and after he had become insensible, his brother's wife, who had taken charge of his household after the death of Mrs. MacNab in 1846, admitted a Roman Bishop, who administered baptism and confirmed Sir Allan in the Roman Catholic faith. The Reverend J. G. Geddes, Rector of Christ Church made this public the Sunday following Sir Allan's death. In a brief address he said that Sir Alan was dead, and that for twenty-seven years he had worshipped with that congregation, and that a few weeks before he had partaken of Communion with them and was present in Church with them the Sunday before his death. The Reverend then told the congregation that on Thursday he had made three trips to "Dundurn" to see his friend MacNab but had been turned away. He had repeated the trip on Friday morning and had been told that Sir Allan had become a pious Catholic and had been received into the "bosom of the Roman Catholic Church."
The following is from the Hamilton "Spectator" of August 12, 1862:
"All that was mortal of the late Sir Allan N. MacNab, Bart, Speaker of the Legislative Council, was consigned to its last resting place in the family burial ground yesterday afternoon. A very general desire had been manifested to show every possible mark of respect to the remains of Sir Allan, and it was fully expected there would be an immense gathering on the occasion. An interment with Masonic Honours was anticipated, in connection with a turnout of the Militia of the District, but, somehow, the object of an imposing ceremony was frustrated. Rumour stated that the Honourable Baronet had died a convert to the Catholic Faith. With this no one would have been displeased in case the conversion had occurred in the usual manner; but, under the circumstances, it was felt that deceit had been practised; or, in other words, Sir Allan have been made a convert at a moment when not answerable to himself, as he was in a state of unconsciousness. How far this may be correct, we leave others to say who had better opportunities of judging. This much we may venture to state, however, that we do not believe that Sir Allan MacNab died a pervert to the Protestant Faith; for knowing him as we did, we believe him to have been possessed of greater strength of mind that to yield, contrary to the convictions of his whole life, and become a Roman Catholic. Nay, more, we have the positive assertion of Rev. Mr. Geddes that Sir Allan declared that he died a Protestant. The day of the funeral came, and with it the greatest excitement in the public mind of this city that was ever witnessed. Strangers arriving here to attend the funeral were shocked beyond measure to learn that the Catholic prelates had taken charge of the deceased and intended to inter him with the rites of their Church. Among those who came from a distance were: - Chief Justice McLean; Chief Justice Draper; Chancellor Vankoughnet; Hon. J. H. Cameron; Hon. W. Caley; Hon. J. B. Robinson; John Crawford, M.P.P.; T. C. Street, M.P.P.; W. Ryerson, M.P.P.; Hon. D. Christie; John White; etc. A parley was held as to who was to officiate, and the Roman Catholics stated that they were taking charge, but the funeral was already one hour late. All the Protestants left the premises, and the hearse and procession were led to the grave by the priest.. The pall- bearers were: - Isaac Buchanan, Henry McKinstry, Dr. Hamilton, Col. Munro, Col. Jarvis, W. Dickson. T. C. Street, J. T. Gilkinson and Col. Webster."
Also from the "Spectator" on the same day.
"It was currently reported last evening that Sir Allen's will provided he should be buried according to Roman Catholic rites. To this Statement we have received the following contradiction, which we publish at the request of Hon. J. H. Cameron — who read the will — Hon. Chancellor Vankoughmet, and others:-"
"It is not true that there was any provision in the will of Sir Allan MacNab providing for his burial according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church. There was no provision about the burial except that his body should be buried between his two wives. Mrs. McNab [his sister-in-law] was appointed executrix of the will, and as such was entitled to the management of the interment; by her direction the body was interred with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, and the large number of persons who had come from long distances to attend the funeral, left "Dundurn" without following the body to the grave;- not because Sir A. N. MacNab was a Roman Catholic, but because by a species of fraud, he was buried as such, when he had died declaring himself a member of the Church of England."
Many years later the City of Hamilton purchased Dundurn Castle for a city park. The bodies buried in the MacNab plot were disinterred and reburied in city cemeteries. The Roman Catholic authorities claimed the body of Sir Allan MacNab, and were supposed to inter him in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. If this was done, the body lies in an unmarked grave, a pitiful end for an outstanding leader of his country. As a Masonic leader he left very much to be desired. His lack of knowledge of the Craft and its working did unmeasurable harm but he was one of the Soldiers, Statesmen and Freemasons, of early Canadian history.
Sources of Information
- The Queens Rangers in the Revolutionary War
- Colonel C. J. Ingles, D.S.O., V.D. [Published, Toronto Ontario, 1956]
- The Queens Rangers in Upper Canada
- Author Unknown, Toronto Historical Board Copy
- The History of Freemasonry in Canada
- J. Ross. Robertson [Published, Toronto, Ontario 1900]
- Canadian Masonic Research Association Papers
- John Graves Simcoe by R. V. Harris
- William Jarvis by J. Lawrence Runnalls
- Sir Allan Napier MacNab by William J. Shaw
- [Published by The Heritage Lodge G.R.C. 1986]
- A History of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. Of Canada in the Province of Ontario 1855-1955
- Walter S. Herrington and Roy S. Foley [Published by The Grand Lodge of Canada, Toronto, 1955]
- Masonic Halls of England [The South]
- The Revd N. B. Cryer [Published by Lewis Masonic, England, 1989]
- ARS Quatuor Coronatorum
- Vol. XL 1927 pages 251 and 260 [Published England, 1928]
- A Lodge of Friendship
- Colin K. Duquemin [Published by Niagara Lodge, No. 2 A.F. & A.M., G.R.C. 1991]
- Toronto Historical Board [Fort York]
- Timothy M. Seguin
- Queens York Rangers Museum
- Major Stewart H. Bull [Retired]
- Anglican Diocese of Toronto [Archives]
- Gabriel Kormendi [Assistant Archivist]