Settlers to Prince Edward County

A historical examination of who they were and why they came [*]

Page 3 - United Empire Loyalists and Benjamin Hallowell

United Empire Loyalists

After the Iroquois left prince Edward County in search of better hunting grounds, the area remained largely unpopulated until the latter part of the 18th Century. The American Revolution of 1776-1783 is the main reason why Prince Edward County is populated today. Citizens of the Thirteen Colonies (now the U.S.A.) were annoyed with the heavy taxes that Britain was instituting on necessary goods shipped into the Colonies, specifically stamps and tea). Colonists were angry that this tax money was being sent to England and believed these taxes infringed on their liberty. Some took this as their duty to rebel against the unfair British Crown. But not everyone agreed to fight against the British. Many people were born and raised to stay loyal to the King of England. Those who chose to obey were called Loyalists, and were treated very badly by the Rebels because of their beliefs. Rebels often mistook Loyalists for being British spies and treated them accordingly. Loyalists had possessions stolen, were subject to public humiliation like tar and feathering, and usually chose to move away from their homes in order to avoid further harassment.

tarred and feathered loyalist

Figure 3 - A tarred and feathered Loyalist.

Benjamin Hallowell

One of those men was named Benjamin Hallowell. He was Commissioner of Customs in Boston at the time of the infamous Boston Tea Party (1773). Hallowell's profession and personal beliefs were contrary to the Rebel cause, so he was driven from his home not long after the Tea Party occurred. Benjamin Hallowell moved from Boston to England in 1776 and from England to Toronto in 1796 until his death in 1799 at age 75. As compensation "for the losses sustained by his devotion to the King's cause", he was given land in Manchester, England, two Nova Scotia towns and a township in Upper Canada bearing his name to account for his sustained losses of property. The township Benjamin was given was not the ward in Prince Edward County now known as Hallowell, but the township now known as Picton. Unfortunately, Benjamin Hallowell has little to do with Prince Edward County besides his name. His daughter married John Elmsley (Chief Justice of Upper Canada) and the couple moved to the Prince Edward County area but Benjamin Hallowell Sr. never set foot in the township that bore his name. However, there is speculation that Hallowell's son, Benjamin Hallowell Jr. did visit Prince Edward County to visit his sister. [More details on Benjamin Hallowell's early life available here.]

The bridge built over a creek emptying into Picton Bay was named Hallowell Bridge, and the community on the West Side of that bridge was called Hallowell. The community that was established later on the East Side of the creek was named Picton. The communities decided to unite for reasons of political convenience and the young lawyer Sir John A. Macdonald signed a petition to unite the two under the name 'Port William' after King William in 1834. But the name 'Port William' failed to stick. Important Prince Edward County figurehead Rev. William Macaulay (whose brother was in the House of Parliament and therefore had significant political influence at the time) decided to unite the two townships under 'Picton' in 1837 after Major General Thomas Picton, British Army Officer and friend of the Macaulay family.

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* [back] - This project was developed by Isabel Slone (one of the Society's 2007 "summer students") and was in part funded with a grant from Young Canada Works, in part with a grant from the Municipality of the County of Prince Edward, and in part with this Society's research funds.