Skip to content

Nathaniel Pettit, John Smith, and Peter Gordon

Nathaniel Pettit was established in New Jersey at the time the Revolution broke out. He owned two mills and was a judge in the county Court of Common Pleas, eventually being elected to the provincial legislature. His success, at a time when British-appointees were distrusted, came to work against him.

Although initially sympathetic to the colonists’ complaints, by 1776 he was brought before the provincial committee of safety for not paying taxes to the revolutionary congress. This led to him being fined and losing his judgeship. Due to his age he was not able to join the active military but was active in raising troops. With several friends he fled to Canada, arriving in the Niagara area in 1787. He received a total of 2,000 acres in Saltfleet, Grimsby, Burford, Ancaster, and Aldborough.

Although he was active in civic and political affairs, a member of the land board and the first Legislature, he never regained his previous prominence and died in 1803 in Ancaster.

John Smith and his family came from Sussex County, New Jersey where he was a magistrate. Following the War they came to Upper Canada, crossing at the Niagara River and settling at the Forty where he became known as Little John to distinguish himself from another John Smith. In 1789 he moved to Ancaster where he lived until his death at the age of 99.

John Smith’s son Benjamin married Nancy Gordon who was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Pettit which is how those two families tie together. Nancy’s father Peter Gordon was a Loyalist in his own right, also from New Jersey who appears to have been an active recruiter for the Loyalist forces and finally settled in Ancaster.