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|Captain John W. Meyers
It is amazing that an account book, dated 1790-1796, of a merchant living in Sidney and then Thurlow Township, has survived. The merchant is not identified.
Given the evidence below, I have concluded that the account book belonged to Capt. John W. Meyers. It has been quite a thrill to make this discovery and I hope the conclusion will stand up to further scrutiny.
See the transcription of this account book on this web page on this site. The Account Book is held in the Dr William Canniff Papers, Archives of Ontario, F1390, MU490, E2
© Randy Saylor, 3 May 2014
I am not a handwriting expert - far from it. Most of the petitions of John W. Meyers appear to be written by a clerk or Justice of the Peace. However in many cases a consistent signature of John W. Meyers is present on these petitions. This was normal practice at the time. Settlers wishing to make a petition would pay a clerk familiar with the expected wording to write the petition and then sign it if they were able. Go here to see transcriptions of petitions of Capt John W. Meyers.
Peter Johnson, well known loyalist expert, suggested to me that a single page in a 1796 petition was probably written by the hand of John W. Meyers. This page is an affidavit asking that his relations be "confirmed in their certificates for 200 acres each." There are many quirks in the handwriting that match well with the account book. This petition is UCLP, RG1 L3, LAC, 1795-6, V328, M 2 / 128, C-2191, and the page in question can be seen on line at image 676. Various words from the petition have been extracted and placed in the left column of the table below.
A second petition in the same handwriting was found after the above analysis. This petition uses the T style found in the above petition that was used in the comparison.
UCLP, RG1 L3, LAC, 1795-6, V328, M 2 / 67, C-2191, starts at image 498.
A third item surfaced later, a letter included in a petition bundle, may also be in the hand of John W Meyers. Note that on the 4th line, the words "Township of Thurlow" use the T style found in the account book. See the last example in the chart below.
UCLP, RG1 L3, LAC on line, 1792, V377, M2 Misc 1788-1798 / 202a, C-2192, starts at image 312.
A fourth petition may also be in his hand. This petition is written in a careful hand and note there are two capital T's showing both variations seen in these petitions and the account book. The signature is unusual and very stylized.
UCLP, RG1 L3, LAC on line, 1797, V329, M3/80, C-2192, starts at image 436.
There is a fifth petition that may also be in his hand. This petition is about establishing a mill at Consecon and it is transcribed on this web site.
UCLP, RG1 L3, LAC on line, 1800, V376, M1 Misc 1789-1803 / 55, C-2233, starts at image 1262
1790 Account Book
The 30 page account book is in a folder in the William Canniff Papers at the Archives of Ontario. The account book has not been microfilmed. I have photographed the pages and my transcription is on this web page. For copyright reasons these images cannot be reproduced here although one page is shown above as an example. Selected words have been extracted from the account book and are placed in the middle column below.
The capital T is the one letter that did not compare well between the one page carefully analyzed and the account book. However the later pages that surfaced have shown that Meyers used both variations of the capital T. The T is not a problem. I would be delighted to share the images with a trained handwriting expert. Having seen the whole account book, and examined it very carefully, it is my conclusion that the penmanship of the five above petitions and the 1790 account book are by the same person - Capt John W. Meyers.
At this point, you are free to judge and send me your comments. The account book gives a wonderful insight into the goods that a merchant successfully sold or traded.
Lastly, if we ignore that handwriting, we have to ask these questions. Given that John Bleecker, William Bell and John Ferguson are all customers in the book and known traders. Who then is left to be the trader? The owner of the book carried an inventory of considerable value, including fancy lace, and this would not be possible for the average settler. The trader lived in Sidney till early 1792 and then moved to Thurlow. Capt John W Meyers fits this description completely and on this basis alone it is pretty solid ground to conclude that he was the trader who maintained this account book.