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Chapter 1: Ancestry.—1764-1805.

Daniel Palmer removes from Rowley, Mass., to the river St. John, N. B., where his daughter Mary marries Joseph Garrison. Their son Abijah marries Fanny Lloyd of Deer Island, N. B. From Nova Scotia this couple remove in 1805 to Newburyport, Mass., where William Lloyd Garrison is born to them.


The scenic glories of the River St. John, New Brunswick, are well past on the ascent when, on the right, the obscure outlet of the Jemseg is reached. The hills on either shore have both diminished and receded; and thenceforward the voyager sees only the fringe of alder bushes, or willows, which hide on the one hand the level intervale, on the other the level islands, until Burton heights loom up on the south, and, on the opposite bank, the spires of Sheffield and of Maugerville.1 Along this lowland margin a feeble line of French Acadian settlers stretched, in the middle of the last century, from the Jemseg to the Nashwaak. A couple of hundred souls were still clustered at the trading station of St. Ann's (now Fredericton) when, in the summer of 1761, Israel Perley, of Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts, and a handful of companions, triumphing over the wilderness between Machias and the St. John, looked from the mouth of the Oromoeto down over the gleaming waters and woody plains of this romantic region. [2]

Perley had been sent out by the Governor of Massachusetts (Bernard) on an exploring expedition. His report to his neighbors in praise of these alluvial prairies —free of stone for the ploughshare, washed by waters dense with fish, and skirted by timber abounding in large game—must have produced a sort of ‘Western fever’ among them. Many of his listeners had no doubt served in the Nova Scotia campaigns against the French which culminated in the capture of Louisburg in 1758, followed by that of Quebec in 1759, and the British occupation of the St. John as far as the Nashwaak; and were already aware of the natural advantages of the territory.

The first Essex County migration to Nova Scotia (as New Brunswick was then called) took place in the spring of 1763 in a packet sloop of forty tons burthen, 2 commanded by Captain Newman. The following spring brought a reinforcement of colonists in the sloop commanded by Captain Howe, which ‘became an annual3 trader to the River, and the only means of communication between the Pilgrims and their native land.’ The arrival was most timely, for an early frost had blighted4 the crop of the previous year, and reduced the firstcomers almost to actual want. The settlement now embraced families, more or less connected with each other, from Rowley, Boxford, Byfield, Ipswich, 5 Marblehead, and adjacent towns, among whom the Perleys, Stickneys, Palmers, Burpees, Barkers, Esteys, Hartts, and Peabodys were prominent in numbers or in influence.

On October 31, 1765, the district having been officially6 surveyed by Charles Morris, sixty-five heads of families, resident or represented, were granted Tract No. 109, in Sunbury County. This tract, in the parish of Maugerville and Sheffield, known as the Maugerville Grant, and twelve miles square, extended from the head of Oromocto Island to the foot of Mauger's Island, and had been partially cleared by the Acadians. The twenty-second [3] name on the list of grantees, for five hundred acres, was that of Joseph Garrison;7 the twenty-fourth, that of his father-in-law, Daniel Palmer. The latter's portion consisted of two lots forty rods long upon the river, and8 some six miles (five hundred and fifty chains) in depth across the intervale towards Grand Lake. The western boundary of its frontage was just opposite the lower end of Middle Island; the river here being from one-third to half a mile in width.

Daniel Palmer was great-grandson of Sergeant John Palmer (who, as a youth of seventeen, is reported to have come to Rowley in 1639) by a second wife, Margaret Northend. On the side of his mother, Mary Stickney, he was great-grandson of William Stickney, the founder of that family in this country, and of Captain Samuel Brocklebank, who was slain, with nearly all his 9 command, by the Indians at Sudbury, in King Philip's War. Born at Rowley, in 1712, Daniel Palmer married in 1736 Elizabeth Wheeler, of Chebacco (a part of Ipswich, called Essex since 1819), with whom, eight years later, he was dismissed from the First Church in Rowley to that of Gloucester; but of his stay in the latter place, if, indeed, he removed thither, we have no record. He is yet remembered by close tradition as ‘a powerful man, of great10 muscular strength. Before he left for the East the Indians were troublesome, and there were three secreted in a house in Old Town, and no one dared pursue them. But he was fearless, and entered the house, where he opened a chamber window, and one by one he threw them out, regardless of life or limb, as though they were so many straws.’ Six children survived to him, and the two oldest girls, Elizabeth and Ruth, were married, when removal to the St. John was determined on. Leaving these behind, he took with him his third daughter, Mary (born January 19, 1741, in Byfield), and his three sons, [4] Daniel, Nathan, and Abijah, and joined the company of townsfolk and kinsmen who were to plant a Puritan settlement on the banks of the St. John.

There is no evidence that Joseph Garrison was of this number. All that can now be learned about him warrants the belief that he was an Englishman, who was found upon the spot by the second, if not already by the first, immigrants from Rowley. We know positively that on his thirtieth birthday, August 14, 1764, he was married to Daniel Palmer's daughter Mary, perhaps in that church which ‘Richard Eastiek [Estey] and Ruth11 his wife, Jonathan Smith and Hannah his wife,’ were dismissed from, the First Church in Rowley, to form ‘upon or near St. John's River, Nova Scotia,’ May 20, 1764. Sabine, who, with doubtful propriety, includes Joseph Garrison in his Loyalists of the American Revolution, (1.464) styles him ‘of Massachusetts’; but the name has not been met with in that State before the present century by the most diligent searchers of her archives. His comparatively early death will account for the 12 diversity of traditions in regard to him among his own descendants, the most trustworthy of which is, that he was not a native of the colonies but of the mother country. The location of his grant is unrecorded, but traditionally was higher up the river than his fatherin-law's. Sabine, again, says he was remembered in New Brunswick ‘as a skilful miner, and as the discoverer of the “Grand Lake coal Mines,” which of late years have been extensively worked.’ Grand Lake is the lowest part of the broad basin extending from Fredericton to the hills beyond the Jemseg, which at every spring freshet is covered by the swollen waters of the St. John. It is not unlikely that its shores were curiously visited by Joseph Garrison, and that he was the first to notice its very obvious superficial bituminous coal13 deposits. But the mining there, as late as 1850, was carried on ‘in a small and rude manner,’ and as late as 1830 only ‘by strippings or open diggings’; so that [5] skill could hardly be ascribed to him where so little was required.

Joseph Garrison's occupation was that of a farmer, which then, as now, must have been one of comparative ease, because of the exceptional facility for growing hay14 and raising stock, and not conducive to progressive agriculture. Life was fairly amphibious: fences had (as they still have) to be taken down and corralled in the fall, to prevent their being floated off in the spring; and when at last the gentle flood covered the intervale as far as the eye (even looking from Burton heights) could reach, the farmer turned navigator over his own domain. Lucky if the main river-road emerged, and his house and barn were uninvaded by the tide, he was yet tranquil in the assurance that where he now drew up his herring, he15 should by and by view with satisfaction his crops of grain and potatoes. Daniel Palmer, we know, had pitched his log cabin too near the brink, and was made aware of the fact, in an extraordinary rise, by a huge cake of ice sailing through from door to door, and carrying off not only half the house, but the day's dinner of boiling meat in the pot, and the table gear, happily recovered after drifting against a stump.16

One other incident of these early days of the settlement has a more immediate interest. Five children had been born to Joseph and Mary Garrison, the youngest, Abijah, being an infant in arms—say, in the spring of 1774. The mother had started in a boat down the river to pay her father a visit, taking her babe with her, and a lad who lived with the family:

‘The river was clear of ice when she started, and she 17 apprehended no danger. Long before she got to her journey's end the ice broke further up the river, and came down with such force against her boat as to break it badly, and compel her to exchange it for an ice-cake, which was driven ashore by a larger piece of ice. Like a mother, she wrapped her babe in all the clothes she could spare, and threw him into the snow on [6] the shore. By the aid of a willow limb which overhung the river, she and the lad saved themselves. She took up her babe unharmed. As she was wandering in the woods, without guide or path, she saw the smoke from an Indian hut, and on going to it found there an Indian18 who knew her father. He entertained her with his best words and deeds, and the next morning conducted her safely to her father's.’

This babe was the father of William Lloyd Garrison. It was not quite three years old when the progress of revolt in the colonies had infected the New England settlers on the St. John, and impelled them to a manifesto antedating the Declaration of Independence, imbued with the same spirit, ‘and, considering their insulated locality, and the vicinity to the old and 19 wellfortified towns in possession of an English army and navy, . . . remarkably old.’

Action of the people on the St. John river.20

Whereas the inhabitants on the River St. Johns in the County of Sunbury and province of Nova Scotia being regularly assembled at Maugerville in said County on the 14th Day of May 1776 did then and there make Choice of us, Jacob Barker, Phin's Nevers, Israel Perley, Daniel Palmer, Moses Pickard, Edward Coye, Tho's Hartt, Israel Kinney, Asa Kimball, Asa Perley and Hugh Quinton a Committee in behalf of the Inhabitants of said County, to make Immediate application to the Congress or Gen'll Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay for Relief under their present Distressed Circumstances.

Now Know ye that we the Committee above named have by these presents Constituted and appointed two of said Committee (viz) Messrs. Asa Perley and Asa Kimball to act as agents for the body of said Committee to go personally to the said Congress or Gen'll Assembly and there present our Petition, also to act and transact, Determine accomplish and finish all Matters touching the premises as effectually as the body of said Committee might do, and we in behalf of the inhabitants of [7] said county ratify and confirm whatsoever our said agents shall cause to be done in this matter.

Names signed, May 20, 1776.

All officers, civil or military, in the united provinces, and all others are desired not to molest or hinder the within Asa Perley and Asa Kimball in their progress, on the Contrary to Encourage and Assist them, as they would merit the Esteem of all Lovers of their Country's Liberty and the thanks of this Committee.

The Inhabitants of the County of Sunbury in the province of Nova Scotia being regularly assembled at the Meeting house in Maugervile in said County on Tuesday the 14 day of May 1776 to Consult on some measures necessary to be taken for the safety of the Inhabitants.

1. Chose Jacob Barker Esq'r Chairman.

2. Chose Jacob Barker, Israel Perley, Phin's Nevers, Esq'rs and Messrs. Daniel Palmer, Moses Pickard, Edward Coye, Tho's Hartt, Israel Kenney, Asa Kimball, Asa Perley, Oliver Perley, and Hugh Quinton a Committee to prepare a Draught proper for the Proceedings of the Assembly. The meeting then adjourned till three of the clock in the afternoon.

Being again met the Committee Reported the following Resolves, which were read and after a second Reading the Resolves were passed in the affirmative, unanimously.

1. Resolved. That we can see no shadow of Justice in that Extensive Claim of the British Parliament (viz) the Right of Enacting Laws binding on the Colonies in all Cases whatsoever. This System if once Established (we Conceive) hath a Direct tendency to Sap the foundation, not only of Liberty that Dearest of names, but of property that best of subjects.

2. Resolved. That as tyranny ought to be Resisted in its first appearance we are Convinced that the united Provinces are just in their proceeding in this Regard.

3. Resolved. That it is our Minds and Desire to submit ourselves to the government of the Massachusetts Bay and that we are Ready with our Lives and fortunes to Share with them the Event of the present Struggle for Liberty, however God in his Providence may order it.

4. Resolved. That a Committee be Chosen to Consist of twelve Men who shall Immediately make application to the Massachusetts Congress or general assembly for Relief, and that said Committee or the Major part of them shall Conduct [8] all Matter Civill or Military in this County till further Regulations be made.

5. Resolved. That we and Each of us will most strictly adhere to all such measures as our said Committee or the Major Part of them shall from time to time prescribe for our Conduct and that we will support and Defend them in this Matter at the Expence of our Lives and fortunes if Called thereto.

6.Resolved. That we will Immediately put ourselves in the best posture of Defence in our power, that to this End we will prevent all unnecessary use of gun Powder or other ammunition in our Custody.

7. Resolved. That if any of us shall hereafter, Know of any person or persons that shall by any ways or means Endeavour to prevent or Counteract this our Design, we will Immediately give notice thereof to the Committee that proper Measures may be taken for our Safety.

8. Resolved. That we and Each of us will Pay our proportion of all such sums of Money as may be Necessary for Carrying these matters into Execution, and finally, that we will share in and submit to the Event of this undertaking however it may terminate, to the true performance of all which we bind and obligate ourselves firmly each to other on penalty of being Esteemed Enemies and traitors to our Country and Submitting ourselves to popular Resentment.

The whole assembly subscribed to the foregoing Resolves.

The Body then Voted.

1. That the above named Committee shall be a standing Committee to make application to the Massachusetts Congress.

Also to Conduct all Matters Civil or Military in the County till further Regulations be made.

Voted that we will have no Dealings or Connections with any Person or Persons for the future that shall Refuse to Enter into the foregoing or similar Resolutions.

A true Copy from the Minutes.

Israel Perley Clerk. Dated at Maugervile on the River St. Johns May the 21, 1776.

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Memorandum—by desire of the Committee.

Represent the Conduct of the Indians that Gen'll Washington's Letter21 set them on fire, and they are Plundering all People they think are torys and perhaps when that is Done, the others may share the same fate. We think it necessary that some person of Consequence be sent among them.

If it be asked what Lands are granted on the River, it may be answered—there is four towns and a half granted to 68 gentlemen mostly officers in the armys. The towns are a hundred thousand acres each.

There is several other Large tracts of Land granted to particular gentlemen.

These townships and other Lands have but few settlers on them.

If it be asked what proportion of the People signed the Resolutions it may be answered, There is 125 signed and about 12 or 13 that have not, 9 of whom are at the Rivers Mouth.


The names of the Loyalists ‘at the River's mouth’ are well known, but the record is silent as to the three or four residents of Maugerville who refused to subscribe to the resolves and the appeal for relief. It may be conjectured, however, that Joseph Garrison was one of these, having as his first motive his English birth, and the want of those New England connections which might else have made liberty to him also ‘that dearest of names’; and perhaps as his second, his better sense of the hopelessness of such an unsupported outpost maintaining itself against the authority of the mother country. Mr. Sabine found Joseph's descendants admitting his loyalty, and we may suppose him to have been temporarily ostracized, according to the terms of the vote, on account of his standing aloof from the almost unanimous action of his neighbors. At all events, it required no little independence of character to incur the ‘popular resentment’; and this trait may as well have been inherited by his [10] grandson as the spirit of the declaration of resistance to tyranny which Daniel Palmer subscribed.

His isolation, however, except in public sentiment, lasted hardly more than a year. Despite the good-will and assistance of Massachusetts, before a project of fortifying the month of the St. John could be carried out, in May, 1777, the British sloop Vulture, fourteen guns, from Halifax (a vessel afterward famous for having been the refuge of Benedict Arnold on the discovery of his treason), sailed up the river with troops, and, as was22 reported in Machias on the 29th, compelled the settlers to take the oath of allegiance to his British Majesty. Many were robbed of their all; some were carried away. A vain attempt to reverse this was made by a Massachusetts expedition in the following month. Boston was too far away, Halifax was too near. Submission was unavoidable; but time never reconciled all of the inhabitants to the separation from their kindred in the old Massachusetts home, and their regrets have been handed down to their posterity. Shut off from further increase by immigration from the original hive, they could only perpetuate their numbers by intermarriage; and the tourist on the St. John to-day finds in Sunbury County not only familiar New England names, but perhaps as unmixed a Puritan stock as exists on the continent.

Of Joseph Garrison, except that he died at Jemseg in February, 1783, we know nothing more that is eventful. He passed for a disappointed man. His physical characteristics, as determinable from his posterity, may be set down as follows: a long chin and a large bump of firmness (phrenologically speaking), with a great length between; black hair, with early baldness. Probably to him, too, rather than to the Palmers is to be attributed an hereditary tendency to congenital lameness, which has shown itself in three generations,—though never in a straight line, and always (it is believed) in the male children,—and two instances of a prominent facial birthmark in a son and grandson of Joseph and Mary Palmer [11] Garrison. Mentally, besides the strong-mindedness already indicated, there is no salient feature to distinguish the founder of the line. His children, in a settlement deprived of every literary and social advantage, proved exceptionally intelligent. They educated themselves with the slenderest facilities; learned the art of navigation; became teachers. ‘They did not accumulate much,’ says the local tradition, ‘but they always left friends behind them.’ A fondness for music, and natural aptitude for giving instruction in it, have also been manifested in Joseph's posterity, among whom it has been handed down that he used to play the fiddle. Domestically, it may be inferred that Joseph Garrison was uxorious, since at least five of his children were named for his wife's relatives.

The Palmer type was also well supplied with firmness; had high cheek-bones, fair skin and hair; was of a quizzical and jocose temperament.23 Religiously, the Palmers were affiliated with the Baptists, and Mary Palmer Garrison is said to have been the only person of that denomination on the Jemseg when she came there. (She joined the church in Byfield before the removal, October 10, 1762.) She long survived her husband, dying on February 14, 1822. On the 30th of January, 1787, she was granted eighty acres of land (Lot No. 6, Second Division) on the River St. John, opposite the Jemseg, in Queen's County. Later, her home was on the Jemseg with her son Silas, who cultivated the farm now shown as the Garrison homestead. At the time of her death [12] she had been for many years the widow of Robert Angus.24 She is remembered late in life as a jolly sort of person—portly, with round face and fair hair, of a sanguine temperament, and a great favorite with children, whom she amused with quaint stories.25 From her there ran in the veins of her offspring the emigrant Puritan blood of Palmer, Northend, Hunt, Redding, Stickney, Brocklebank, Wheeler, and other (unnamable) stirpes.

By her, Joseph Garrison became the father of nine children, viz., Hannah (1765-1843),26, Elizabeth (1767– 1815), Joseph (1769-1819), Daniel (1771-1803), Abijah (born 1773), Sarah (born 1776), Nathan (1778-1817), Silas (1780-1849), William (a posthumous child, 1783– 1837). The fifth in order, Abijah, must occupy our attention, to the exclusion of his brothers and sisters. The exact date of his birth was June 18, 1773, and the place Jemseg. He was named for his uncle Palmer. Except the romantic incident of his babyhood, already related, his early history is a blank. He alone of the family followed the sea. He became eventually a captain, and made many voyages, with his cousin Abijah Palmer as mate. His hour-glass, sole personal souvenir, is still preserved, with his rudely-cut initials. He was tall, but well-proportioned, of fine and even handsome appearance, in spite of an extraordinary birth-mark (‘like raw beef,’ ‘sometimes as red as blood’) extending from ear to ear and under the chin, like a muffler. He had the light hair and fair skin of the Palmers. He [13] is remembered by one of his contemporaries as a ‘smart man, bright at most everything,’ and as an excellent penman. Moreover, he possessed a keen sense of the ludicrous, which often displayed itself—with the freedom of the time—in his versifying.27 His son, William Lloyd, who had no personal recollection of him, thus summed up the traditions in regard to Abijah Garrison:

‘I was probably not more than three years old when he28 took his final leave of my mother. I remember vaguely to have been told that he had a fine physical development, a sanguine temperament, a bald head, and a reddish beard, with a very noticeable scar on his face, a birth-mark; that he was very genial and social in his manners, kind and affectionate in his disposition, and ever ready to assist the suffering and needy; that he had a good theoretical and practical knowledge of navigation, and as a master of a vessel made many voyages coastwise and to the West Indies; and that he had a strong taste for reading, and evinced some literary talent. There is no doubt that his love for my mother was almost romantic; and it is questionable, when he deserted her, if he meant the separation to be final.’

Romantic love had a romantic beginning. By some chance of coast navigation Abijah found himself on Deer Island, N. B., in Passamaquoddy Bay (waters called Quoddy, for short). Here, at a religious evening meeting, his eye fell upon a strikingly beautiful young woman, dressed in a blue habit; or, more than likely, the previous sight of her was the cause of that evening's piety. At the close of the services he followed her to the door, and boldly asked leave to accompany her home, accosting her, for want of her real name, as ‘Miss Blue Jacket.’ Her reply was a rebuff. Nevertheless, Abijah lost no time in sending her a letter, which, it is safe to say, surpassed in literary graces any she had ever received, [14] and her reply confirmed an acquaintance which ended infallibly in matrimony.

Frances Maria Lloyd was the daughter—one of a large family of children—of Andrew Lloyd, a native of Kinsale, County Munster, Ireland (about 1752). He came out to the province of Nova Scotia in 1771, as a 'prentice, bound to the captain (Plato Dana) of the ship which also brought over John Lawless, an Englishman, who had been a sergeant under Wolfe at Quebec; his wife, Catharine, said to have been a native of Limerick, Ireland; and their only daughter Mary, who was certainly born there. The 'prentice is believed to have improved his time so well on the voyage that, young as they both were, he married Mary Lawless on March 30, 1771, the day after they had landed on the island of Campobello. Andrew became a so-called branch (i.e., commissioned) pilot, at Quoddy, and died suddenly in the service in the year 1813. His wife, whom he survived, though not long, was reputed the first person buried on Deer Island; and on this unfertile but picturesque and fascinating spot Fanny Lloyd was born in 1776, and became the belle of the family.

She was of a tall, majestic figure, singularly graceful in29 deportment and carriage; her features were fine, and expressive of a high intellectual character; and her hair so luxuriant and rich that, when she unbound it, like that of Godiva of old, it fell around her like a veil. The outward being, however, was but a faint image of the angelic nature within; she was one of those who inspire at once love and reverence; she took high views of life and its duties; and, consequently, when adversity came upon her as an armed man, she was not overcome. Life had lost its sunshine, but not its worth; and, for her own and her children's sake, she combated nobly with poverty and sorrow. Her influence on her children, more especially on her son William, was very great: he venerated her while yet a child; not a word or a precept of hers was ever lost—his young heart treasured up all, unknowing that these in after life should become his great principles of action.

To illustrate the conscious [conscientious?] and firm character of this admirable woman, we must be permitted to [15] give an anecdote of her whilst yet young. Her parents were of the Episcopal Church, and among the most bigoted of that body. In those days the Baptists were a despised people, and it was reckoned vulgar to be of their community. One day, however, it was made known through the neighborhood where she lived that one of these despised sectaries30 would preach in a barn, and a party of gay young people, one of whom was the lovely and gay Fanny Lloyd, agreed for a frolic to go and hear him. Of those who went to scoff one remained to pray; this was Fanny Lloyd. Her soul was deeply touched by the meek and holy spirit of the preacher; she wept much during the sermon, and when it was over, the preacher spake kindly to her. From that day a change came over her mind; she would no longer despise and ridicule the Baptists; and before long announced to her astonished and indignant parents that she found it necessary for the peace of her soul to become publicly one of that despised body. Nothing could equal the exasperation which followed this avowal. They threatened that if she allowed herself to be baptized, they would turn her out of doors. It was not a matter of choice, but of stern duty with her; she meekly expostulated—she besought them with tears to hear her reasons, but in vain. She could not, however, resist that which she believed to be her duty to God; she was baptized, and had no longer a home under her parents' roof. She then took refuge with an uncle, with whom she resided several years. This early persecution only strengthened her religious opinions; and she remained through life a zealous advocate of those peculiar views for which she had suffered so much.31

The date of Abijah Garrison's marriage is uncertain, except that it was nearly at the close of the last century, and on the 12th day of December. The place of the ceremony is equally unknown; neither has it been ascertained where was the first home of the young couple. Not improbably, from what follows, it may have been [16] among the husband's relatives on the Jemseg, and here perhaps was born Mary Ann, who died in infaney. In 1801 they were settled in Duke Street, St. John, where a son, James Holley, was born to them on July 10, and possibly also a second daughter, Caroline Eliza (1803). Subsequently they removed to Granville, Nova Scotia, in the neighborhood of Fanny's sister Nancy (Mrs. Thomas Delap). To this period belongs the following fragment of a letter from the sailor to his wife:

Abijah to Fanny Lloyd Garrison.

Nicholas Harbour, April 24, 1804.
32 Dear Frances: I am now at a Place they Call Nicholas Harbour about 14 Leagues to the Eastward of Hallifax. The Wind Came ahead on Sunday about 12 o'clock and Terminated33 into a most Violent Gale: however by Gods Providence we got into a safe and Commodious harbour, and screen'd from the inclemency of Weather. I write this as it were at a Venture not knowing Whether it will ever come to hand, but I feel it a Duty incumbent on me to sooth as much as Possible that anxiety of mind you must Consquently [constantly] feel in my Absence: and as writing to a Bosom friend is attended with more Pleasure than Pain I cou'd write whole Volumes if I thought it wou'd Redound to your happiness, but the Distance we are apart and the Uncertainty of Conveyance Confines [me to] very Narrow limits. I know of nothing in this life that wou'd [aug]ment my happiness more than to be at Home with my Family and Free'd from a Tempestuous Sky and Enraged Ocean, with Just Enough (Good God) to Supply our Real Wants and Necessities and Cou'd I once more enjoy a Ray of Divine Light from the Throne of God and Lamb I shou'd be the happiest of Sinners. We shall sail for Newfoundland the first fair wind and hope we Shall not stay over four Weeks there but it is a difficult Season of the year and if we are gone two months . . .


A year later, Abijah announces to his mother and stepfather his intention to return to the old home of the Puritan settlers on the St. John—to Essex County, Masschusetts. His wife appends a brief postscript, and the letter, precious for its incidental family history and [17] character glimpses, and for the union on one page of a still loving pair, is despatched to Mr. Robert Angus, Waterborough,34 River St. John, New Brunswick, to the care of Mr. Geo. Harden, City of St. John. Thus it reads:

Abijah Garrison to his parents.

Granville, April 4th, 1805.
35 Much Respected Parents: This perhaps is the last you may Expect from me dated at Granville as I am about to remove to Newbury Port in the united states, Where I Expect to Spend the remainder of my days. I have been following the Rule of false Position, or rather permutation, these Seven Last years,36 and have never been able to Solve the Question to my Satisfaction till now. Not that I am disaffected towards Government but the barreness of these Eastern Climates rather Obliges me to seek the welfare of my family in a more hospitable Climate, where I shall be less expos'd to the Ravages of war37 and stagnation of business, which is severely felt in Nova Scotia. The Prohibition of the American trade may in time help this Country38 but from want of Circulating Cash this Country will long lay bound in Extreme difficulties and Perpetual Lawsuits. [The] last winter was attended with distress among a great number of Poor people in this Place. The scarcity of bread and all kind of vegetables was too well known in this Part of Nova Scotia, the Great Drouth Last summer Cut off all [18] the farmers Expectations and People in general Experienc'd the want of hay Equal to that of Bread; the smiling spring has at last return'd but brings nothing with it as yet substantial for the present support of Man. I speak not this of myself, but of many of my Neighbours; I thank God I have a Competency at present, but the times forbode greater distress ahead. I have in the Conclusion settled my Business here and am now about to remove.

I lately rec'd a kind letter from Sally Clark39 which merits my thanks and well wishes towards her. I shall Endeavour to write to her before I leave this Place if Possible. Silas40I'm afraid has forgot me. William41 has wrote very kindly whom I shall answer the first opp'ty. It wou'd give me infinite Satisfaction when you write if you wou'd Cast off the formal method of arranging your letters and write more of the Particular Circumstances attending your welfare; how you get along thro this troublesom World, what diffculties you meet with how times and seasons are with you what alterations their is in the neighbourhood since I left Jemsagg—the smallest Circumstances will awake my memory and Present to my view the seasons when I left my native home. Fanny and the little ones are well, Little Jemmy says I must tell Granny Angus he has got a little fife and trumpet and a penknife and he Can Sing a Great many tunes. Fanny intended to write by this Conveyance but we are so much hurried to get things in order for moving that she scarcely has time tho Earnestly desires to be remembered to you and all the family.

I believe now the Enchantment is broke for I find that some of my letters have lately Reach'd you. I once thought that you never meant to write to me again after writing so many and not receiving any answer but without doubt they went thro a firey tryal. The Policy and Craft of Jealous minded People is beyond Description. I have enclos'd letter I had lately (and the only one I ever had) from Rebekah Nathan42 which you are at liberty to read. I think myself Greatly injur'd by that Person: in the first Place when I left St. Johns I was in [19] Nathan's debt according to his accompt £ 4: 5: 4. After I returned from the West Indies I Paid him Eight dollars which left a balance in his favour of £ 2: 5: 4. Some time after this I sent over to Nathan for my things which fanny left in his Care and was deny'd them on Accompt of what I Owed him. At the same time Got a Great deal of Abuse from Rebecca. The Report Came here and Rung thro all Granville at my Expence. Since that I Consign'd to Nathan in behalf of Mr. Delap nine Barrels of Cider which it seem by the letter they are About to make a Grabb at part of that and Leave my things at the mercy of fortune. If things run in this Channel and I shou'd send over a bank note for Exchange its Probable the Cider wou'd be set aside and a part of the Exchange secured as B——43 it seem is an Excellent hand to take Care of Other Peoples money.—In all this Job sinned not with his lips; I dont blame Nathan for wanting his own and had he sent my things when I sent for them I shou'd have Paid him long Ago —but for want thereof take the Body.

I shou'd be happy to write to all my Relations but have scarcely time. May Kind Providence protect you thro all your difficulties and receive you at Last where the Wicked Cease from troubling Where Sorrow and Sighing shall flee away is the Sincere wish of your affectionate Son

Give my love to Silas and William, Sally and all the Rest of our family.


Dear Parents: I steal a Moments time to Insert a few Lines at the Bottom of this Letter to bid you a Farewell and once More to thank you for your Care and Attention to me in times Back which shall ever be Gratefully Remembered by her who is now Addressing you. I do not know what to write but my affection is not Lesened towards you. My heart overwhelms with Gratitude and Love, and a tenderness awakes in my Breast of filial Joy while writing to you. May God bless you in all things temporal and spiritual.


The chance which preserved this document could hardly have been improved upon by choice, if it had been designed to exhibit on the one hand Abijah's [20] native gift of literary expression, his liveliness as a correspondent—so different from the ‘formalism’ of the period, of which he complains—his love of home and kindred, his pleasant and even his grim humor; on the other, the deeply emotional nature of Fanny Lloyd, thrilling not only with the thought of separation from past benefactors, but also with the new life just then beginning to stir under her bosom.

The same Providence by which slavers made their impious voyages in safety, attended the ship hearing its passengers, visible and invisible, from Nova Scotia to Newburyport, in the spring-time of 1805; whose arrival was the unsuspected event of the year in the third city of Massachusetts44—for the six or seven thousand inhabitants were celebrating rather the building of the new Court House on the Mall, the founding of the Social Library, and the opening of Plum Island turnpike and bridge, or making careful note of the thirty days drought in July and August. On the 10th of December,45 in a little frame house, still standing on School Street, between the First Presbyterian Church, in which Whitefield's remains are interred, and the house in which the great preacher died,—and so in the very bosom of orthodoxy,—a man-child was born to Abijah and Fanny46 Garrison, and called, after an uncle who subsequently lost his life in Boston harbor, William Lloyd Garrison.

1 Pronounce ‘Majorville;’ and Jemseg ‘Jimsag.’

2 Hatheway's Hist. New Brunswick, p. 7.

3 Ibid., p. 8.

4 Ibid., p. 10.

5 Stickney Genealogy, p. 166.

6 Secretary's book, Land Office, Fredericton, Vol. A., p. 122.

7 The twenty-ninth name on a list compiled by Hatheway, in 1846 ( “History of New Brunswick,” p. 8), is ‘Galishan,——’ which clearly stands for Joseph Garrison. (Compare this writer's spelling of Marasheet. ‘Melicete,’ on p.5.)

8 Hatheway's Hist. New Brunswick, pp. 10, 11.

9 April 21, 1676.

10 Ms. Lydia Silloway, great-granddaughter of D. Palmer.

11 Essex Institute Hist. Collections, 14.152.

12 February, 1783.

13 Johnston's Report on Agr. Capabilities of New Brunswick, p. 41.

14 Johnston's Report on Agr. Capabilities of New Brunswick, p. 8.

15 Gesner's Hist. New Brunswick, p. 82.

16 This is thought to have occurred in the spring of 1778.

17 Ms. Eliza Adams (Mrs. Ebenezer Little), gr-grand-daughter of D. Palmer.

18 The St. John tribe was known as the Marasheets. These Indians had proved troublesome neighbors in the early days of the settlement. (Hatheway's Hist. New Brunswick, p. 11.)

19 Kidder's Maine and Nova Scotia, p. 62.

20 Ibid., p. 62; Mass. Archives, 144.153, 158.

21 Of February, 1776. See the reference to it in Washington's subsequent letter, Dec. 24, on p. 59 of Kidder's “Maine and Nova Scotia.” See, also, for the state of mind of the Indians, ibid., pp. 165-179, seq., 310, etc.

22 Kidder's Maine and Nova Scotia, p. 86.

23 From this side of the house were probably derived the characteristics of the Garrison-Palmer offspring indicated in the following extract of a letter from William Garrison (the son of Joseph) to his nephew Andrew (Jan. 31, 1831): ‘I think it a family trait that we are apt to be too sanguine and enthusiastic in many of our pursuits, which may cast a mist prejudicial to our true interests. . . . That would-be witty Devil has more than once proved injurious to our family.’ It should be further noted that the Palmers were full-lived. Sergeant John lived to be 72; his son Francis to be 76; his son John to be 74; his son Daniel to be 65 at least. William Lloyd Garrison died in his 74th year, far surpassing his father and paternal grandfather.

24 He died in the latter half of the year 1805.

25 As a means of supporting herself and family after Joseph Garrison's death, she appears to have practised the art of a midwife for more than thirty years—‘by night and by day, for they will have her out’ (Ms. Sept. 16, 1815, Sarah Perley).

26 In the church records of the parish of Byfield, Newbury, Mass., this entry is found among the baptisms: ‘Hannah. Daut'r of Joseph Garrison of St. John's River in Nova Scotia but his wife a member of ye Chh here with her Child June 15, 1766.’ The last sentence, if punctuated thus, as it doubtless should be—‘but his wife, a member of the church, here with her child’—is evidence of a visit of Mary Garrison to her old home at the date mentioned.

27 Mary Howitt, in her ‘Memoir of William Lloyd Garrison,’ in the people's Journal of Sept. 12, 1846, says the father was a ‘fine poet.’ which is certainly going beyond the record, as there are no remains whatever of his muse. See hereafter (p.24) the last letter before his disappearance, in which the ‘sentimental piece’ he promises to write is doubtless to be interpreted as verse.

28 Ms.

29 People's Journal. (Eng.) Sept. 12, 1846, p. 141; Penn. Freeman, Mar. 25, 1847.

30 Perhaps ‘Elder J. Murphy, a licentiate from a Baptist church in Nova Scotia.’ who in 1794 commenced preaching on the adjacent Moose Island. on which Eastport, Me., is situated. (See Millet's “Hist. Baptists in Maine,” p. 338.) The church at Eastport, which ultimately grew out of this beginning, had members on Deer Island.

31 As Mr. Garrison, on his visit to England in 1846, must have furnished Mrs. Howitt with these facts in regard to his mother, they are reproduced here as more authentic than any later recollections could have been.

32 Ms.

33 April 22, 1804.

34 Jemseg was in the parish of Waterborough.

35 Ms.

36 This gives 1798 as the date of the last sojourn on the Jemseg, or even of the marriage of Abijah and Fanny.

37 With Napoleon, namely.

38 This refers to the short-sighted policy adopted by Great Britain after the American Revolution. Inasmuch as the United States had ‘become the rivals of England in trade and manufactures, it was thought necessary to confine the imports [of the colonies] to Tobacco, Naval Stores, and such articles as the British Colonies did not produce in sufficient quantities for their own use and consumption, and which could not be obtained elsewhere,’ and likewise to limit the exports, ‘such articles and goods being imported and exported by British subjects and in British ships’ (Haliburton's “Historical and Statistical account of Nova Scotia,” 2.384). The act regulating this trade in force in 1805 was that of 28 George III.; and even as Abijah Garrison was writing, Sir John Wentworth, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, was about to sign a proclamation (April 5, 1805) indicating certain articles which, under the discretion allowed him, might be imported for the space of three months, still in British bottoms only (Nova Scotia Royal Gazette, June 13, 1805).

39 That is, his younger sister Sarah, who married Joseph Clark.

40 His younger brother. ‘Slow as Uncle Silas’ was a proverb at Jemseg. and doubtless applied to correspondence as well as to other things.

41 His youngest brother, a cripple from birth, but a very intelligent schoolmaster.

42 Apparently, Nathan's Rebecca is meant. Nathan Garrison, the next younger brother of Abijah, married Rebecca Ansley. There was a ‘Rebekah Joseph’ also in the family.

43 Perhaps ‘Becky.’

44 The seal of the province of New Brunswick is a ship nearing port under full sail, with the legend. Spem redurit.

45 The town records say the 12th.

46 Lib. 4.15.

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