The Tracy Family History
We go back to Albemarle County and that enchanting book of drawings. This mansion was built by Francis Jerdone, the Tory. In 1779, under a law which confiscated the property of British sympathizers; 3,000 acres of Jerdone land, including the "Farmington" estate, were attached. Apparently, Mr. Jerdone, the Tory, regained possession of the land after the war.
The estate was long the home of the Warner Wood family (I don't know if that is one of ours), having been presented, with two hundred and fifty slaves, to Mrs. Joseph Harper (mother of Mr. Warner Wood) by her brother, Joseph Miller of England, who was a protege of (the famous) James Watt and a distinguished mechanical engineer. "Farmington" was opened as a Country Club in 1926.
Not all of the colonists rebelled against England. Many remained loyal to the king. Those who stayed loyal were called Tories, or Loyalists. John Adams (2nd President) is often quoted as saying that during the war, one-third of the country were Patriots, one-third were Tories, and one-third were neutral.
This was from his memory some thirty years after the war and has never been corroborated by any other source. This observation is from his viewpoint, as he saw things from where he lived in Massachusetts. The truth is that nobody knows how many were on which side and how many were neutral. It would appear that there were a lot in all three categories.
I do not think there were many Tories in Albemarle County. Of the 92 drawings in the Albemarle book, only one refers to the owner as "the Tory."
Many terms were used to describe those on both sides. On our side, the usual term was Patriot. On the other side was the term Loyalists. There were other terms used. To keep things simple I will call our people Americans and Patriots and the colonists loyal to the king, Loyalists or Tories. Keep in mind that the Tories were as much Americans as our Americans. It is just that they had a different way of looking at things.
From the beginning of the conflict, the Americans organized and took control of most of the colonies. They formed what they called “Committees of Correspondence.” These organizations took over control of most local governments. They grabbed all positions of power: mayor, sheriff, legislatures, militias, etc.
The one word to describe the actions of the Patriots was "organization.” The Tories did not organize or try to take over governmental power throughout the thirteen colonies. They retained power in those areas where they were predominant. However, they did not match the Patriots in action.
The Tories theory was quite simple. The rebellion was temporary. In a few months, the British government would put down the mutiny and things would be back to normal. They lay low, biding their time. Mostly, they tried to keep their heads and their property. This was hard to do when your neighbors were mad at you. Some were driven out, their property confiscated. Others were luckier with their neighbors merely boycotting and ignoring them. Games were played, with some members of the families swearing allegiance to the new government in hopes of retaining their property. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. If they were driven out and their property confiscated, that wasn't so bad. After the king made things right, they figured, they could return home and regain their possessions.
When living in those areas where they were oppressed, quite a few Tories (actually, about 80,000) temporarily abandoned their property and took refuge in British sanctuaries: Canada, the West Indies, behind the British lines in New York City. Some even went as far as England itself.
“Temporary,” was the Tory way of thinking... until the British lost an entire army to the Americans at Saratoga, in October of 1777. Then the thinking of the Tories and the English leaders started to change as to the outcome of the war. It was no longer a sure thing.
Some Tories kept everything, through it all, and some lost everything, including their lives.
It all depended on where you were born. If you were a Tory in a Patriot area, then the Patriots might try to kill you. On the other hand, if you were a Patriot in Tory country, then the Tories just might try to kill you. If you were neutral, both sides would kill you!
"The majority of the Loyalists lived quietly amongst them. To speak up openly for the British would have been foolhardy for them. The British controlled but little of the countryside; but wherever they went, they were met by many Loyalists. The vast majority of the country though never saw any British presence during the war. These folks mostly just accepted British defeat at the end of the war and continued on with their lives. They would have been happier had the British won…Many Loyalists had made their peace with the Americans and gone home, deserted, before the end of the war…they had to start the task of building a new life for themselves out of a wilderness…"
--Todd Braisted, Loyalist Institute
Todd Braisted says that the Loyalists were welcomed into the British army from the beginning of the war. They were treated equally and given all ranks. When the Loyalists did come into the British ranks they made up a considerable force: at least 40 battalions. (Another source says 70 regiments, as many as 50,000 Loyalists soldiers.)
However, the Loyalists volunteers did not come in the "flockable" numbers hoped for by the British High Command, but not enough to turn the tide. The famed British general, Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, tells discouragingly, “The great bulk of the country is undoubtedly with Congress.”
Our people in Virginia lived in strong Patriot country. I suspect that the Tory who lived at the Farmington plantation was the only Tory in Albemarle County. Going across the Blue Ridge to the land of our people in Augusta County, we find that there were considerably more Tories: In fact, there were two Tories, and they were encouraged to leave!
There are library books available that tell the story of the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.
The savage let loose, or The cruel fate of the Loyalists.
"The Whigs and Tories persecute each other with little less than Savage fury. There is nothing but murders and devastation in every quarter." -- Gen Nathanael Greene
A London cartoon of 1783, which shows the
English version of how the pitifully loyal Tories were treated by the ungrateful
colonists. Here we see three savages, fighting on the Patriot side, murdering
six Tories accordingly: Four are being hung from a tree; one is in the process
of being scalped; one is about to be axed to death. Unfortunately, it happened
The war in the North was most often fought in a civilized manner, by gentleman who had honor and obeyed the rules of war. Sometimes, there was even chivalry. This was not case in the South. Here it was a Civil War, brother against brother.
The British were fighting in the West Indies, India, the Mediterranean, now in America. They needed the Loyalists manpower to fight on their side in the South. Cornwallis orders an evaluation of the Loyalists availability in the South.
“...the Loyalists...are not so numerous as I expected.” – report to Cornwallis.
The British foraging parties ravished the countryside for supplies. Such were their depredations that when the day came that the British gave their command to sign an oath to the king, the neutrals went to the side of the patriots.
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