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Caleb Swayze

Little is known about Caleb Swayze Sr., except that he lived in Morris County, New Jersey and that he was a Loyalist. After the Revolutionary War, he came to Canada with his wife Elizabeth and his son Isaac and his family. He died in 1794 at the age of 72.

His eldest son, Caleb, Jr., also served as a Loyalist, working for the British in the Revolutionary War, and became a wanted man. The following account from September 1782 describes the events leading up to his death.

Last Thursday morning, a person in the neighbourhood of Battle Hill, near the Great Swamp, being early up, discovered two armed men pass by, one of which he supposed to be Caleb Sweezy jun, late an inhabitant of Black River, but who had joined the enemy, and having many connections in this country who harbored him, was enabled by their information and assistance to commit several atrocious robberies, which required the governor to offer $200 reward for apprehending him. The person who saw them pass gave information, when Captain Carter and his officers, with 10 of their men, took the necessary steps for the apprehending them, and knowing the propinquity between Isaac Badgley’s wife and Sweezy, sent a person to lay in ambush near said Badgley’s house to be a spy upon their conduct, and if possible find out their lurking place – when he saw Badgley’s wife carry victuals into the swamp twice. Being thus fully informed, the party entered the swamp some miles from Badgley’s house, to prevent the least alarm being given, and proceeded within a few rods of the house (placing sentinels as they passed, at the avenues it was supposed they would endeavour to make their escape through), when they suddenly came upon them: and being unprepared for defence, the flints being out of their pistols, they endeavoured to make their escape by flight, – when Sweezy received the fire of one of the sentinels, which put a period to his existence in a few minutes. The other one, John Parr, who was concerned in the robbery of Mt. Stewart’s house at Hackettstown, was slightly wounded, and taken, and is now confined in Morristown jail.

The three sons of Caleb Jr., Caleb, Richard and Samuel, went as refugees to Upper Canada where, being sons of a Loyalist, received a grant of land of up to 500 acres.

The second son of Caleb Sr., Isaac, served as a guide with the British army during the Revolutionary War. He fought through many of the battles from 1776 to 1780, and was greatly hated by the rebels. He was finally taken prisoner, and sentenced to be shot. On the eve of his execution his wife came on horseback to the prison and asked for permission to see him one more time: her wish was granted. She was a large woman and, during the private interview, she hastily dressed in her husband’s clothes and he in hers. Then, mounting her horse, Isaac made his escape. She was held prisoner, and he never saw her again. He was unable to find out what had happened to her, but believed she was killed either by the rebels or by the Indians. Isaac was one of the early settlers on the Niagara frontier. In 1794 he petitioned for land as a Loyalist and was granted 1,200 acres for his loyalty and his losses. He was also given land in Niagara Township, and later lived at Queenston where he was Inspector of Customs. He served as a member of the Legislature of Upper Canada for 20 years, from 1792 to 1796, 1801 to 1808 and 1813 to 1820. During the War of 1812 he was a captain in charge of a Troop of Provincial Royal Artillery Drivers. He died in 1828, aged 77 years.

Caleb Swazey Sr’s eldest daughter Susanna was born in December 13, 1760 in Roxbury Township, Morris County, New Jersey. On September 7, 1778 in Morris County, New Jersey, she married Anthony Sharp and they came to Upper Canada after the war.. On August 20, 1811 she was granted land by order‑in‑council as she was “the daughter of Caleb Swayze, a United Empire Loyalist”. She died on July 28, 1858 and is buried in the Garner Cemetery at the corner of Southcote Road and Garner Road. She is Adam’s fifth great grandmother.

Submitted by John A. Hammill UE