Monday, June 28, 2010

Peel Pirates: Their Fates and Histories

After William Anderson was acquitted for arson in the destruction of the Sir Robert Peel, the American authorities stopped searching for any missing Peel raiders, except Bill Johnston. The uncaptured raiders simply went home or to business as usual. Some of them joined Johnston in the Thousand Islands. A few continued to fight for the Patriots and Hunters against the British in Upper Canada.

Those arrested and charged were: William Anderson, Marshall W. Forward, William Nicholls, James Potts, Hugh Scanlon, William Smith, Chester and Seth Warner, Nathan Lee, Henry Hunter, Jesse Thayer, James Hunter, and William Lester. Rewards were posted for Samuel Frey, Donald McLeod, and Robert Smith. Other men identified as raiders, or who later admitted to their part, were William Reynolds (a.k.a. David Deal), William Coopernoll, William Robbins, John Farrow, and John Tarr. One of these names was an alias for Lyman Leach.

Most of them disappeared from the historical record. Donald McLeod's life is covered in an earlier post, as are David Deal's adventures with Linus Miller and other Patriots. Lyman Leach continued in the Patriot and Hunter service and ultimately died at the end of a rope. John Farrow and Robert Smith were jailed in 1839 for robbing the Royal Mail, but escaped prison and were never recaptured.

Here's what I found about three others.

Samuel Frey

Samuel Challott Frey (February 1799-February 24, 1877) lived in the village of Philadelphia, Jefferson County, in the 1820s. Two of his three children were born there. In the mid-1830s, he relocated his family to Brockville, Upper Canada, where he set up a wholesale and retail jewelry business. Being a vocal Reformer, he fled to America at the start of the Upper Canada Rebellion. He joined the Patriots and was a junior officer during the Hickory Island occupation.

Immediately after the Peel raid he fled. On June 14, he was jailed in Canton, Ohio, after being identified by another Canadian refugee who was likely after the $250 reward for Frey's capture. While being held, a mob of Patriots and sympathizers assembled in the streets and threatened to lynch any witnesses for the prosecution. When Frey's trial began, no witnesses came forth and the judge released him.

He brought his wife Susan (Calhoun) and three children (Mary, George, and Andrew) to Ohio and settled in Clark County. His eldest son, George, became a prominent businessman, newspaper publisher, an early investor in the telegraph, and eventually President of Board of County Commissioners. He married in 1851 and blessed his rebel father with 12 grandchildren. Samuel and Susan moved to Springfield, Ohio, and later to Decatur, Alabama where they lived out their lives.

Frey sent a letter to William Lyon Mackenzie (dated September 6, 1839) from Canton. The bulk of it described local politics, and he said that he and his family fared well. He added, "I wish Wm. Johnston would come this way. Tell him so, if you see him."

Hugh Scanlan

Hugh Scanlan's was born in Ireland in 1810.

In his book, Canada, As it Was, Is and May be, Sir Richard Bonnycastle wrote that Scanlan "fled from justice [for unpaid debts] at Kingston some time before the Rebellion."

At some point before the 1838 troubles, Scanlan drifted into Bill Johnston's world. Judging by the trust Johnston showed Scanlan after the Peel raid—he gave Scanlan $6000 in loot to hold for safekeeping—the two men were close companions. It is likely that Scanlan was one of Johnston's tea smuggling crew in the years before the Patriot War.

Besides the Peel raid, Scanlan accompanied Johnston during the occupation of Hickory Island in February 1838.

John Haddock in his 1895 history of Jefferson County 1793-1894, described Scanlan (Scanlon) as "an Irish-Canadian, a bright and shrewd fellow." He also provided an amusing account of the day Scanlan met the departing Upper Canada Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, as he traveled incognito through Watertown, NY.

After capturing 13 Peel raiders, the authorities released Scanlan on $350 bail. He promptly absconded. Historical records from New York City and census data (and email from a great-great-great grandchild) tell us that he became a licensed dealer in second-hand goods (mostly furniture) at 215 and later 480 Canal Street, then a rundown area of Manhattan. He married (Jane) and had three children (Elizabeth, Mary and John). He was still alive in the 1870 census.

Aside. Scanlan's old address, 215 Canal Street in the heart of Chinatown, today sells new and used jewelry. Click the address to see it in Google Street View.

Marshall Forward

Marshall W. Forward (1817-August 15, 1884) was born in Bath, Upper Canada. As the hometown of Bill Johnston, Forward likely heard many tales, true and exaggerated, about Johnston (by then living in America).

In 1837, he moved to Watertown, NY, a town that became a hotbed of Patriot and Hunter intrigues in 1838. Like many young men, he was stirred by the Patriot cause and fell in league with Bill Johnston.

Following the Peel raid, he was arrested and remained in jail until mid-December 1838 awaiting a trial that never happened. Following his release, he lived an honest life.

Forward married Maria Louisa Bickford in 1841. They had at least one child, Josephine, born in June 1852. By 1843, he was established in Oswego, NY, as a lumber merchant, a profession he kept for life. He died from injuries received in a fall.
Kelly Waterman said...

Hugh Scanlan-Scanlon can be found on 1860 Census & 1870 Census as a Furniture Dealer in second hand goods. New York Ward 5 District 8.
He is my 3rd Great Grandfather!
Contact me for more information
Wife is Jane, Daughter's Elizabeth & Mary Jane Scanlan-My 2nd Great Grandmother and a Son John.

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