My friend and editor-extraordinaire Benjamin Smith over at Patriots of the American Revolution kindly informed me that my feature “American Gladiators: The Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr Duel” will be running in the upcoming July/August issue. My next piece promises to be a bit more challenging. Taking a page from blogger Robert Moore Jr. who has done some excellent work on the Southern Unionists Chronicles, I am interested in examining Virginia’s Loyalists of the Revolution, specifically those here in Fredericksburg.
My previous piece for PAR on the Black Loyalists of New Brunswick was quite broad. This study will take a different approach by examining an individual’s experience. The challenge is finding a good candidate and enough reference material to cover them. In doing some preliminary research, I came upon a Fredericksburg Loyalist whose experiences were particularly unpleasant.
Adam Allan was born in Great Britain in 1751 and originally settled in Williamsburg in 1772. According to an article titled The White Loyalists of Williamsburg by Kevin P. Kelly, “Allan, the proprietor of the Stocking Manufactory, moved to Fredericksburg in February 1776 after making himself very unpopular in Williamsburg by capturing and returning the colony’s seal to Dunmore. But Allan was even less popular in Fredericksburg. He reported that on June 6, 1776, he was ‘stript naked to the waist tarr’d & feather’d’ and in that situation, ‘carted through Fredericksburg upwards of two hours.’ He fled to New Brunswick in 1786.
That certainly has the makings of an interesting story. What makes it extremely significant (to me) is the fact that Allan was at one time, a highly-respected businessman in his community, yet he was not exempt from the chastisements that were carried out on Loyalists. This speaks to how quickly residents turned on their fellow citizens who were in support of the Crown. I was able to locate 17 tradesmen newspaper advertisements placed by Allan in 1776.
In the January 20th issue of Dixon and Hunter, a Williamsburg publication, Allan advertises the sale of equipment and journeymen for hire. He closes his ad by stating N.B. I intend to leave the Colony soon.
In the February 2nd, 9th, and 16th issues of Purdie, a Fredericksburg publication, Allan announces his arrival:
Williamsburg, Feb 2, 1776.
The subscriber intends moving up to Fre-
dericksburg, where he will carry on
the stocking making business to a greater ex-
tent than formerly. He will be much
obliged to those who please to favour him
with their work, and makes no doubt but
what work he does will meet with the ap-
probation of the publick, for which he will
expect ready money. ADAM ALLAN
Obviously, Mr. Allan was not hiding from the public. I am therefore extremely curious as to what transpired to cause him to leave Williamsburg, why he selected Fredericksburg as a new home, and what events led up to him being tarred and feathered. I will post updates as this project unfolds.