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Anthony Westbrook

The original Anthony Westbrook was born Anthony Jansen in 1640 in the small village of Westbroeck, Utrecht in the Netherlands. He appeared in New Amsterdam in 1658, and owned a tavern on Long Island. Upon the English assuming control of the colony, he was required to distinguish himself from the many Anthony Jansens residing in the area. He was the only Anthony Jansen to adopt Westbroeck as his surname, the name of his birthplace.

My loyalist ancestor is the great-grandson of the original bearer of that name. He was born on the 19th of May 1736 in Minisink, Orange Co. New York. He was a fourth generation farmer in the Americas and was married to Sarah Dekker in 1762. He was a firm supporter of the Crown during the American War of Independence and served as a volunteer under Captain Joseph Brant in the Indian Department.

Rebel forces captured Anthony during a raid in 1781. He claimed he was shackled and tortured in his Upper Canada land petition to Lt.Governor Simcoe. In 1783 he was released as stipulated in the Treaty of Paris, and later appeared in Niagara in 1793 to petition Simcoe for land and saw a dire need for fast tracking his claim as he was getting old. He was given land in Ancaster east of the present day Wal-Mart. He sold this lot to James Wilson and bought a tract from Chief Joseph Brant, his former military commander and personal friend. In fact his sons, John and Alexander, were kidnapped during the war by renegade Iroquois Indians and taken to modern Brant County, which the brothers loved and opted to return. Anthony died that same year, poor and broken. His descendants would work hard to restore the family’s earlier status. His son John served as a captain in the War of 1812 with the Fifth Lincoln regiment, later becoming a major. John also married Elizabeth Gage, daughter of loyalist soldier John Gage and his wife Mary Jones, the matriarch of Battlefield House in Stoney Creek.

His burial place is still unknown to us, but many of his descendants still reside in Brant County, Ancaster and in proximity to those areas. In 1909 Gage and Westbrook descendants gathered at Battlefield house to hold a reunion and to reflect on their rich history. The museum is contemplating a reunion for 2009 to mark the centennial of that previous gathering.

Submitted by Bradley James Aitchison UE