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Benjamin Hallowell - township

Belden Atlas

From "Illustrated Atlas of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, Ontario" H. Belden and Co, Toronto 1878:

The following account of the origin of the township's name is gleaned from Sabine:- Benjamin Hallowell, of Boston, Commissioner of Customs, while passing through Cambridge in his chaise, in the year 1774, was pursued toward Boston by a detachment of one hundred and sixty Continental cavalry, at full gallop, but eluded them. To escape persecution at the hands of the Americans, he sailed to England on the evacuation of Boston by the British. He seems to have been an object of special animosity to the Americans, as he was proscribed and "banished" in 1778, if any one could be said to be banished who had already been two years in England. Prior to the Revolution he owned extensive landed estates on the Kennebec River, in Maine. These were confiscated by the "Conspiring Act" of 1779, in which Mr. Hallowell was included. He returned from England to America in 1796, with his daughter and son-in-law, Mrs. and Mr. Elmsley, the latter of whom had just been appointed Chief Justice of Upper Canada. His estates all being confiscated and himself proscribed, he could not remain there, but came to Canada, and took up his residence in Toronto, where he died in 1799, at the age of seventy years - the last surviving member of the Board of Commissioners. To compensate for the losses sustained by his devotion to the King's cause, "the British Government granted him lands in Manchester, and two other towns in Nova Scotia, and a township in Upper Canada which bears his name." It appears quite plain, however, that his land-grant near the head of Picton Bay, gave the name of "Hallowell Bridge," first to the bridge itself, which was built over the stream emptying into the head of the bay, and, as a natural consequence, to the village which subsequently sprang up there. This being the chief place within the limits of the new township, and the place where public business was transacted, the name "Hallowell" was adopted for it. Thus, although it appears pretty certain that Benjamin Hallowell owned land "in a township which bears his name," yet it is equally certain that the "township which bears his name" derived that name directly from the village (now Picton), and not the name of the village from the township, as is popularly supposed.

Heraldic/Genealogical Almanac (1988) O'Dempsey/Dempsey

Under the "The Peeck/Pake/Peck Family" is to be found:

In 1795 Jacobus Peeck Sr. with Jacobus Jr. and their families had moved from Tappan to 6th Town (Sophiasburgh), Prince Edward Co. where Jacobus Sr. purchased Lot 22, Con. 1, west of Green Point on the broken front of the Bay of Quinte side, from John Howell. On 10 V 1798 Jacobus Sr. "praying for land, having served in the Guides and Pioneers during the late American war" was on 16 VI 1798 "recommended for 200 acres as a U.E. Loyalist and 100 acres under new recommendations" by the Hon. John Elmsley, Esq., Chief Justice (son-in-law of Captain Benjamin Hallowell, after whom Hallowell Twp., Prince Edward Co. was named), Hon. James Baby, Hon. Alexander Grant, Hon. David William Smith, Council Chamber, York (Toronto).

N.B. The use of the title "Captain" for Benjamin Hallowell above has led to a number of misunderstandings over the years - not least of which was the poster commemorating the naming of HMCS Hallowell. The Hallowell referred to here did serve as captain of the King George from approximately 1759 to 1763. However, the more widely known Captain Benjamin Hallowell (later Admiral) was the former's second son - thus brother-in law to John Elmsley - who served under Nelson at the Battle of the Nile where he commanded HMS Swiftsure and was responsible for the devastating attack and destruction of the French flagship L'Orient.

Anecdotally, we note the following:

  • The modern Picton Bay was perhaps named "Tsiyodenhoewaladi" (Head of the Bay) by the Missassagas and "Newaweketonzank" (Sturgeon Cove) by the Mohawks.
  • The "Hallowell land-grant" may have been of 1,200 acres - but the paper-trail, if there ever was one, no longer exists locally
  • The first [?] building in the immediate vicinity of what became "Hallowell Bridge", "Hallowell Township", "Picton" was probably the Eyre House (Inn) of 1791, on McCauley land. [But the two Johnson houses, either side of the bridge, could possibly have been built as early as 1789?]. Another early inn, Hovenden House, was built by Lieutenant Wolvenade Hovenden, probably in the early 1790's - the site now is home to the Picton Harbour Inn.
  • There appears to be no evidence that Benjamin Hallowell (Sr, ex-Collector of Customs, Boston) ever resided in Prince Edward County. He came to Upper Canada in 1796, lived in Toronto (see Scadding) and died 1799. There is however strong evidence that the name Hallowell was used in the County by 1798, possibly a year earlier.
  • Hallowell's only connections to Prince Edward County may well be via his son-in-law, John Elmsley, Chief Justice.
  • It is highly improbable that this Hallowell's son (Benjamin, Vide-Adm.) ever came to Prince Edward County
  • "Hallowell" was separated out as a Township in 1799, when local residents complained that the existing townships (5th, etc - Marysburgh, Sophiasburgh and Ameliasburgh) were too extensive
  • After public controversy the northwest side (Hallowell) and the southeast side (Picton) of Hallowell Bridge were incorporated into the town of Picton in March 1837. [Maj.-General Sir Thomas Picton, 2 i/c to Wellington, died Waterloo 1815]

Revised: 31 March 2012