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|Captain John Meyers
It is known that John W Meyers had his detractors and the 4 affadavits below make allegations of disloyal behaviour to His Majestys Services when called upon during the War of 1812. Guylaine Petrin, a researcher interested in the early history of Etobicoke Township, York County, sent me this record and was happy to have it shared with Meyers researchers. Thanks Guylaine.
The allegations below, made in 1816 regarding events in 1813, are very damning of the character of John W Meyers. It is reasonable to conclude that these charges of treasonous behaviour had some bearing on the name of Meyers Creek being changed to Belleville by the "pleasure" of Lt. Gov. Gore on 3 Aug 1816.
Gerry Boyce, highly regarded historian of Belleville, has written in some detail about the various theories as to why the name of the settlement was changed. He makes note of the fact that James McNabb was elected to the Assembly in May 1816 and was well positioned to influence Gore. Boyce comments on these charges and makes the guarded statement that "the result was to lessen the possibility of Meyers' name being permanently attached to the settlement."
McNabb is clear in his feelings when he writes below, "I consider it a duty impressed upon me as a subject and citizen to endeavor to prevent, as far as possible such undeserving characters from obtaining further marks of Royal Bounty." McNabb probably made good on this statement and through his influence saw to it that Meyers's name was no longer celebrated in the name of the settlement.
Mary Beacock Fryer, author and Meyers expert, also wrote about the charges brought forward by McNabb. She is sympathetic, allowing that Meyers at age 68 had reason to not want to "die ... from exposure on the open road in the dead of the Canadian winter" and thus abondoned his waggon. However the deposition regarding abondoning the waggon makes no mention of the time of year it occured. Regardless, Fryer adds a little hyperbole to the findings of Boyce and accuses McNabb of being "sneaky".
Jane Bennett Goddard, author of a well known book on Meyers makes no mention of these allegations of disloyalty.
Source 1: Historic Hastings, Gerald E Boyce, Hastings County Council, 1967, 42-45.
Source 2: Belleville: A Popular History, Gerry Boyce, Dundurn Press, 2008, 39-40.
Source 3: Loyalist Spy, Mary Beacock Fryer, 1974, 206-207 and Appendix D.
Source 4: Hans Waltimeyer, Jane Bennett Goddard, 1980, page 442.
Source: Upper Canada Sundries, Correspondence of the Civil and Provincial Secretaries, 1766 - 1841, LAC, RG 5 A1, Vol 27, C-4546, film also at AO, pages 12305 - 12312.
İTranscribed by Randy Saylor, July 2011
[12305 - 6]
[To] William Halton Esq
Thurlow, 20th March 1816
I cannot, As a Magistrate, refrain from representing to His Excellency the Lieutenat Governor, a Character who has long shared the bounty of a liberal Government, as a half pay officer, that in future all marks of favor he may solicit may be duly considered how he obtains them.
I mean Captain John W Meyers of the Township of Thurlow.
So much was I deceived and disappointed in this mans exertions in defence of the Province, during the late War, that it became necessary to report him to Sir George Prevost on his route past this port to Quebec on the 4th March 1813 and who although time would not then admit of his attention to it, was fully determined to notice it afterwards -
In taking myself this task I consider it a duty impressed upon me as a subject and citizen to endeavor to prevent, as far as possible such undeserving characters from obtaining further marks of Royal Bounty.
With the request that this letter may be laid before His Excellency.
I have the honor to be
Sir, Your very obedient and very Humble servant
[12307 - 8]
Personally came before us William Bell Esquire and James McNabb Esquire two of His majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Midland District – Ezekiel Lawrence of the Township of Sydney in the Midland District and Province of Upper Canada, Yeoman – and upon his oath deposeth and saith that during the late War with the United States of America at a particular time, he the deponent was impressed with wagon and Horses in order to transport Government Stores from Thurlow to York in Company with John W Meyers and others in one Brigade of Teams that on their arrival at John Drummond Smiths Inn at Murray – the said John W Meyers separated his Horses and Harness from his Waggon under pretence of moving the team aforesaid to the water to drink and from thence departed from and deserted His Majestys Services with the said Team of Horses and also the Harness thereunto belonging, leaving his Waggon as aforesaid standing on the Kings High Way loaded with Government Stores on the route to York and from thence returned to his place of abode at Thurlow to the discouragement of this deponet of the same Brigade – who unanimously testified that Captain John W Meyers had a good as a right to render his service in defence of the Province as either of them, then on the same duty – who all proceeded on such duty after the desertion of the aforesaid Capt John W Meyers untill they together with the deponent were lawfully relieved by other Teams Waggons.
[signed] Ezekiel Lawrence
Sworn before us at Thurlow in the Midland District, Upper Canada, 28th day of March 1816
William Bell J.P.
James McNabb J.P.
[handwritten aside] Flour was selling current at Eleven dollars pBlle then [initialled] JMcN
[Signed] James McNabb late a Commisst Agent
28th March 1816
Sworn before me at Thurlow 28th March 1816
Willim Bell J.P.
12310 - 12]
Charges proposed against Captain John W Meyers, a Half pay Officer in His Majestys ??
1st Refusing to furnish one of his Horses then by virtue of ??? Warrant during the ?? when ?? professing business on His Majestys Service and threatening to shoot the Constable if ?? one of his Horses for such purposes
2nd Refusing to furnish what flour he had on hand on the 23rd day of October 1813 for the support of His Majestys Troops unless an exorbitant price was paid him for it and at same time H.M. Provision magazine at Kingston were in a manner exhausted.
3rd Taking his pleasure sleigh to pieces and concealing it in his Garret in time of War in order to render it useless in His Majestys Service – when the aforesaid Service so much required the use of it.
4th Deserting with his Horses and Harness from John Drummond Smiths Tavern, in Murray, leaving his waggon standing on the Kings Highway loaded with Government Stores, ?? destined for York – after having been impressed for such purpose, to the great damage of His Majestys Service, and to the evil example of Teamsters then and there being present in the same Brigade of Waggons.
Personally came before me James McNabb one of His Majestys Justices of the Peace for this District – Walton Weaver, Constable, ?? oath deposeth and saith that soon after the late War commenced between Great Britain and the United States of America – as a Constable then in His Majestys Service he went to the House of John W Meyers of Thurlow and demanded ?? Horses, by virtue of an impress Warrant then ine the deponents possession, for His Majestys Service which the said John W Meyers utterly refused to furnish – threatening in the mean time the life of the Constable, or any other man that would take one of his Horses for His Majestys Service.
And the deponent further saith upon oath that during the late War he had more trouble and difficulty with the said John W Meyers and received more abuse from him – when on duty as a Constable than from any other person whatever especially when duty called this deponent to visit the premises of the aforesaid John W Meyers in Search of Horses and Sleighs for His Majestys Service.
[signed] Walton Weaver Constable
Sworn before me at Thurlow, Upper Canada the 20th March 1816
[signed] James McNabb J.P.
20 March 1816
respecting Capt Meyers
From James McNabb Esqr, J.P. Thurlow
Transmitting Sundry affadavits respecting the disloyal conduct evinced by Mr Meyers of that place during the late War.