GENERATED GENEALOGY QUOTES:
Reuben Hankinson, United Empire Loyalist (1758 - 1819), his descendants, and their stories
1. Captain Reuben HANKINSON was born 28 February 1758 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. (Hornor, William S.; "This Old Monmouth of Ours"; New Jersey: Morris Genealogical Library, 1974; page 107; originally printed in 1932) He was the youngest child of Robert and Sarah (TAYLOR) HANKINSON. He died sometime during late May 1819 in Sissiboo, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia[i]; aged 61 years.[ii] His burial location is unknown although likely to be in either Nova Scotia or Ontario, the former being more probable. Unfortunately, if his burial took place in Sissiboo, no grave marker remains today.
He married a young girl of Dutch descent by the name of Gertrude ("Gitty") LeROY 18 December 1785, i>(ibid.) most likely in Sissiboo. She was the daughter of Lieutenant Francis Peter, U.E.L. and Sarah (HEGEMAN) LeROY. She was born circa 1767 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York and died in Malahide Township, Elgin County, Ontario sometime during July 1856. (Haggan, Ida Louise; "The Haggan Papers (part 3)"; St. Thomas, Elgin County Library, 1978; page 45; originally printed in 1978) Her burial site is unknown but is probably located in either Nova Scotia or Ontario, the latter being more probable.[iii] She's believed to have an unmarked grave in a small family cemetery in Elgin County. (ibid.)
Reuben was born 28 February 1758 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He was the sixth and youngest child of Robert and Sarah (TAYLOR) HANKINSON. He had four brothers and one sister: Thomas (born circa 1736), Kenneth (born circa 1737), Daniel (born circa 1739), Richard (born circa 1740), and Sarah (born circa 1751).
The first account of Reuben comes shortly after his eighteenth birthday. It would appear that he enlisted into Captain Henry WADDELL's company, First Regiment, Monmouth County Militia (hereinafter referred to as MCM) as a Private.[iv] (Stryker, William S.; "Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War"; Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967; pages 417 & 617; originally printed in 1872)
On 01 July 1776, the British Naval Fleet sailed into New York Harbour. (Braisted, Todd and Nan Cole; "A History of the 1st Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers"; http://www.royalprovincial.com/military/rhist/njv/1njvhist.htm, updated 02 January 2001; Accessed 15 January 2002) Their arrival encouraged people (who believed that total independence from their beloved King and country was unwarranted) to join the English contingency, and to help quell the American rebellion. One such example, their arrival encouraged a small group of men from the MCM (who had little else but their personal arms, a stand of colours, and a desire to apostatize to the Crown of England) to set sail from Monmouth County and to join the British forces on Staten Island. (ibid.) His cousin, John TAYLOR, was one of the passengers. (Jones, E. Alfred; "The Loyalists of New Jersey in the Revolution"; New Jersey: New Jersey Historical Society, 1927; pages 213-214; originally printed in 1927) These loyal men would soon after: form the core of the first commissioned loyalist regiment (commissioned 01 July 1776); would be distinguished by the name "the First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers" (hereinafter referred to as NJV)[v] (ibid.); and would forever after be considered enemies and traitors in their own country. During the course of the American Revolution, these men, had all their assets confiscated and auctioned off to help pay for the American war efforts.[vi] Some of these men were among the wealthiest of the Province of New Jersey and were extremely under-compensated by the Crown after the war.
Reuben wasn't onboard the vessel which departed for Staten Island the day the British Fleet arrived. He was successful in escaping the MCM by 01 September 1776 when he enlisted with the NJV.[vii] Interestingly, he was fortunate enough to be recruited into Major Thomas LEONARD's company with the rank of Sergeant; as John TAYLOR (who was now made Lieutenant) was also part of LEONARD's company. (Muster Roll of Major Thomas Leonard's company in the First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers dated January 1777. Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS) MFM# 12349, Halifax, Nova Scotia) As Sergeant, his primary duties would involve enforcing discipline and encouraging a sense of duty among his troops, maintaining the duty roster, and keeping the company descriptive book which listed the name, age, height, place of birth, and prior occupation of every enlisted man in the unit.
Many of the soldiers within the NJV had little to no soldiering experience. As a result, they spent most of their first year training and garrisoning their base on Staten Island and thus never partook in much action. Even with having few confrontations, casualties unfortunately still occurred. A comrade of Reuben's, Sergeant Lewis BARBER, was shot and killed while in a guard boat on the kills between Staten Island and New Jersey. (Braisted, Todd and Nan Cole; "A History of the 1st Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers"; http://www.royalprovincial.com/military/rhist/njv/1njvhist.htm; updated 02 January 2001; Accessed 15 January 2002) This was their first casualty and sadly not their last. The battalion suffered their most profound loss on the morning of 22 August 1777 when two thousand Continental troops, commanded by Major General John SULLIVAN, lead a surprise attack onto Staten Island. They managed to capture Reuben, several officers, about eighty other ranks from the unit, and to kill his cousin, John HANKINSON.[viii] They were all brought to Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey where they were incarcerated. Fortunately, Reuben was promptly exchanged for a Whig prisoner. (Stryker, William S.; "The New Jersey Volunteers (Loyalists)"; Trenton, NJ, Naar, Day & Naar, Book and Job Printers, 1887; page 63; originally printed in 1887)
The NJV never fully recuperated from Major General SULLIVAN's devastating surprise attack. Since most of the NJV officers were now prisoners, this left the battalion without any commanding officers. As a consequence, Reuben was transferred into Captain-Lieutenant James NEALON's company. (Muster Roll of the First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, dated 24 June 1778; Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS), MFM #12349; Halifax, NS) Ultimately, by July 1778 Lieutenant Colonel Joseph BARTON (formerly of the Fifth Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers) was exchanged, and was commissioned to lead the NJV. (Braisted, Todd and Nan Cole; "A History of the 1st Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers"; http://www.royalprovincial.com/military/rhist/njv/1njvhist.htm; updated 02 January 2001; Accessed 15 January 2002) Other losses the battalion endured where in October 1780 when about 20 men were captured (ibid.) and in 1781 when Brigadier General Cortland SKINNER had Lieutenant Colonel BARTON arrested for ten counts of misconduct and disobedience of orders. Consequently, he merged his and BARTON's regiments together and interestingly promoted Reuben to the rank of Ensign.[ix] (ibid.) In mid 1782, Reuben was transferred to Captain John TAYLOR's company and would remain in his company until the close of the war. (Muster Roll of the First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, dated 17 September 1782; Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS), MFM #12349; Halifax, NS) The NJV officially disbanded 10 October 1783. (ibid.) Reuben served a total of seven years, one month and eight days[x] and was said to be a great man having considerable influence in the military circles of his day. (Ester Clark Wright, Loyalists of New Brunswick)
After the war, Reuben went to Sainte Anne's Point, Nova Scotia (now Fredericton, New Brunswick) with thousands of other United Empire Loyalists.[xi] Keep in mind, for many Loyalists, this would have been their first winter in Canada and that current resources were not capable of supporting such a rapid influx of so many people. Together, created a difficult living condition that, in turn, was one more additional challenge the already beaten Loyalists had to endure. As such, many men either returned to the United States or died.
The following spring, after surviving a particularly harsh winter on the St. John River, he and a number of comrades sailed across the Bay of Fundy to settle around the Sissiboo River.[xii] For their services during the American Revolution, the Loyalists were entitled to receive land grants from the Crown. In 1794, the Bostford Grant saw many petitioners receive land grants throughout Annapolis County. Despite him knowing that his entitlements would be honoured, he, his neighbour (James COSMAN), and possibly others, were in their words: "unwilling to become pensioners on their beloved Sovereign when able to subsist without Royal Bestowments". (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, NS: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 81; originally printed in 1900) In other words, he didn't accept any land from the Bostford Grant. Nevertheless, he was able to obtain three tracts of land adjacent to John Taylor's lot #10 (north side of the Sissiboo River), where he would make his residence.
Over two hundred years ago, when the Loyalists settled along the Sissiboo River, it was heavily forested and uninhabited except for several small Mi'kmaq tribes and a re-establishing French Acadian population further down the coast. Earlier attempts to colonize the area by New England Planters failed; nevertheless a few families remained. Land in Sissiboo was barren and inodadeted with swamps. Yet another heartbreaking sacrifice made in honour of loyalty. As many Loyalists were experienced farmers and had fertile lands in their native United States of America. Despite their conditions, their aspirations and desires to make Canada their new home were insurmountable and overcame the impossible. Their hard work and dedication to create a future for their descendants was not in vain as Sissiboo (Weymouth) became "the lumber centre of the county", an industrious and prosperous village from the mid 1800's to mid 1900's.
On 18 December 1785, he married Gertrude "Gitty" LeROY, the daughter of Lieutenant Francis Peter, U.E.L. and Sarah (HEGEMAN) LeROY, probably in Sissiboo. (Hornor, William S.; "This Old Monmouth of Ours"; New Jersey: Morris Genealogical Library, 1974; page 107; originally printed in 1932) She gave birth to and raised 14 children (8 males, and 6 females) all of Sissiboo.
He continued his involvement with the local military regiments. In 1794, he was Captain of the Nova Scotia Legion (under command of Colonel Thomas BARCLAY) and was Captain of the Acadian Militia (under command Colonel Thomas MILLEDGE).[xiii] (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; pages 123-124; originally printed in 1900) He was also a founding member and secretary of The Charity of Freemasons, Union Lodge No. 20 (which was created on 07 October 1790 at Sissiboo). (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 182; originally printed in 1900)
In 1797 (when only the Church of England reigned in Sissiboo) Enoch TOWNER came to Annapolis County with the goal to establish a Baptist congregation. Considering that previous Baptist ministers were either run out or jailed, it was quite an ambitious goal. ("The Life and Times of Enoch Towner. Found in the 200th Anniversary Celebrations for Riverside (Formerly Sissiboo) United Baptist Church" handout, Sunday October 17, 1999. Pages 3-9) That year, he was successful in achieving his goal and formed the first Baptist congregation in Annapolis County in Sissiboo. His converts claimed it was a new beginning for a new era. One of his converts, Gitty Hankinson, (Shenstone, Susan Burgess; "So Obstinately Loyal"; Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2000; pages 275-276; originally printed in 2000) held Sunday worships in her house before any Baptist church was constructed.[xiv] (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 91; originally printed in 1900) Although his wife converted to the Baptist faith, Reuben remained faithful to the Church of England and had already contributed twelve days for the construction of the St. Peter's Anglican Church in 1790 (the land was donated by his good friend and neighbour, Lieutenant James MOODY). (Shenstone, Susan Burgess; "So Obstinately Loyal"; Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2000; pages 275-276; originally printed in 2000)
Once settled and beginning to raise his young family, he knew too well that his lands wouldn't adequately support his family. Therefore, on 29 January 1801, he received 976 acres of land in the North, Middle, and South Ranges, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia when the Hatfield Grant was issued. The Hatfield Grant was introduced to supersede the previous Botsford Grant because many settlers had either left or never completed their settlement duties and vacant lands were being claimed by illegitimate people.
He also became involved in local political and social activities. In 1800, he served on the Grand Jury for the Inferior Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions of the Peace in the County of Annapolis. (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 108; originally printed in 1900) In 1801, he was commissioner for the first bridge over the Sissiboo River, which was constructed for 300. (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 110; originally printed in 1900) He also succeeded Colonel Samuel GOLDSBURY as Collector of Taxes for Sissiboo and was also made Keeper of the Lighthouse. (Wilson, Isaiah W.; "A Geography and History of the County of Digby"; Halifax, N.S.: Holloway Bros. Printers, 1900; page 423; originally printed in 1900)
He died towards the end of May 1819. He's believed to have died in Sissiboo and to have an unmarked grave in the St. Peter's Anglican Church. Of his 14 children, four remained in and raised their family in Sissiboo, three removed to the United States, and four moved to Ontario. Gitty remained in Sissiboo until sometime during 1835 when she moved to Ontario with her sons. A total of 91 grandchildren were descended from this union and are responsible for spreading the HANKINSON surname throughout the World.
Children of Reuben and Gertrude (LeROY) HANKINSON:
[i] Sissiboo was renamed Weymouth in 1823, supposedly chosen for the origins of the Strickland family of Weymouth, Massachusetts. In 1836 a fire destroyed the only courthouse in Annapolis County (at Annapolis Royal) providing the residents of western Annapolis County with an opportunity to demand creation of a new municipality with their own courthouse and registrar office. So, in January 1837 Annapolis County was divided into two separate counties: Digby and Annapolis. In 1841 Weymouth formed its own township.
[ii] "The Loyalist of New Jersey in the Revolution" by Alfred E. Jones (originally printed in 1927) records Reuben's death taking place 20 May 1819 in Sissiboo. "This Old Monmouth of Ours" by William S. Hornor (originally printed in 1932) records his death 29 May 1819. They both seem to correlate with the dates mentioned in his Last Will and Testament, which was published (by him) 6 May 1819 and recorded 15 June 1819. "History of the County of Digby" by Isaiah W. Wilson records his death to have taken place sometime during 1833.
[iii] "This Old Monmouth of Ours" by William S. Hornor mentions that Reuben was thought to have a second wife named Caroline whose surname was forgotten over time. Also, a land deed dated 27 September 1795 between Reuben Hankinson, the Honourable Lawrence Hartshorn, and Lieutenant James Moody, mentions his wife's name as Charity. The Dutch pronunciation of the name Gertrude (spelt Geertruy) resembles the English name Charity. Evidence of either wife has yet to be found.
[iv] The legal age to enter the service in New Jersey at the time was 18. There is no mention of the exact date when Reuben enlisted into the county's militia. Nevertheless, from "Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War", by William Stryker (which records him enlisted in Captain Henry WADDELL's company and records the Captain resigning 02 July 1776 due to a disability), and the fact that he had to be greater than 18, this would place him enlisting sometime between February and July 1776. He also had two cousins enlisted within the said regiment: Private John HANKINSON, and Private John TAYLOR.
[v] The NJV wouldn't receive any standard uniforms until April 1777. Their uniforms were a full length green regimental coat with white facings (illustrated above). However, in May 1778, their uniforms were replaced with red coats to match the British colours. The following year, there was a return to their green uniforms but was once again short lived. As by 1780, they were wearing red colours once again. (Braisted , Todd and Nan Cole. Clothing & Supplies: New Jersey Volunteers Uniforms & Accouterments, 1776-1783. http://www.royalprovincial.com/military/supp/supnjv.htm, updated 02 January 2001, Accessed 15 January 2002) Their battalion was also known as "Skinner's Greens". Please note that the illustration above is from a Loyalist regiment of New York and not of New Jersey, but they wore identical uniforms.
[vi] "The Loyalist of New Jersey in the Revolution", by Alfred E. Jones, (originally printed in 1927) records John TAYLOR having all his assets confiscated in 1779. He clamed 3,645 for the value of his estate but was only awarded 1,560.
[vii] "The Haggan Papers (part 3)" by Ida Haggan contains a transcribed certificate issued by Reuben's commanding officer and reads as follows: "Digby, 10th August, 1821 - I do hereby certify that Ensign Reuben Hankinson of His Majesty's late First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, joined the British Army the first day of September, 1776. Enlisted with me as a Sergeant and lived a considerable time in that capacity"
[viii] "The New Jersey Volunteers (Loyalists) in the Revolutionary War", by William S. Stryker, (originally printed in 1887) and "A Geography and History of the County of Digby", by Isaiah W. Wilson, (originally printed in 1900) records that Reuben was captured on Staten Island in 1777. However, according to the earliest NJV muster roll after 22 August 1777 (taken 24 February 1778), it shows Reuben on command at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, being recruited by Lieutenant John TAYLOR, and never being taken prisoner. If he was captured, and if the muster roll is accurate, he would have to have been released before 24 February 1778.
[ix] Reuben was promoted to Ensign on August 14th, 1781. The certificate bares the signature of Sir Henry Clinton (W.O. 42:H6).
[x] "The Haggan Papers (part 3)" by Ida Haggan contains a transcribed certificate issued by Reuben's commanding officer and reads as follows: "Digby, 10 August, 1821 - he served seven years, one month and eight days in said First Battalion New Jersey Volunteers and found that he was a good and faithful Sergeant and a faithful and attentive Sergeant Major and always behaved himself as a good officer till disbanded."
[xi] "The Loyalists of New Brunswick", by Esther Clark Wright, (originally printed in 1955) mentions that Reuben Hankinson signed a petition in Sainte Anne's Point to Major General CAMPBELL regarding the delivery of goods and supplies.
[xii] Reuben was present on a petition signed at Digby 30 September 1784. He was absent from a Muster Roll taken 06 June 1784 at Digby. So he probably came to Sissiboo sometime between those periods.
[xiii] Reuben was neither present on the Muster Roll of the Acadian Militia on June 1796 nor was he on any afterwards. If he was made Captain, it was before June 1796. The Nova Scotia Legion, also known as Barclay's Legion, was incorporated into and renamed to the Annapolis County Militia in 1801. The Acadian Militia was also known as the Clare Battalion and the 2nd West Annapolis Regiment; John Taylor was Lieutenant Colonel.
[xiv] "The Life and Times of Enoch TOWNER" tells that many of the homeowners who held services in their homes ended up with broken windows and were rudely criticized because of their efforts to worship as a Baptist.