Col. Edward Jessup

 

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Robin Morris in Jessup Ranger Costume

Photo Courtesy of Sandra Shouldice

Robin Morris in Jessup Ranger costume at Crysler Park Loyalist Re-enactment, July 2005

   

Edward Jessup, son of Joseph Jessup. was born in Stamford Parish, Fairfield, Connecticut, in December of 1735. Joseph was the son of Edward Jessup, an English emigrant who settled in New York before 1700.  He died in Montreal in 1799. As a boy, Col. Jessup moved with his family to central New York State.  He later became a justice of the peace for both the town and county of Albany, New York.  He and his brother, Ebenezer, became prominent businessmen in the Albany area and had extensive land holdings, 500,000 acres under a Crown grant, in the Adirondack Mountains.

   When the American Revolution broke out, Edward and Ebenezer remained loyal to King George III and raised a corps of Loyalists in the central New York Region.  Jessup's Corps fought during the General Burgoyne campaign in 1777 and surrendered with the remainder of that army at Saratoga.  Jessup marched his Corps across country to reach refuge in Canada.

   Although he lost all of his land during the war, Jessup was able to rebuild part of his fortune.  In recognition of his service to the Crown, the British government gave him a large grant of land in the southwest corner of Edwardsburgh Township.  Here he built a home and founded the town of Prescott in 1810.

His commission as Major Commandant of the Royal Rangers bears the date November 12th, 1781.  On June 20th,1788, he became Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the Militia in Edwardsburgh, Augusta, and Elizabethtown, signed by Guy, Lord Dorchester, Captain and Governor of the Colonies of Quebec, etc.

   Jessup died in February of 1816.  For his contributions to this region, the local group of Loyalist descendants named their organization after him when it was formed in 1968.  The Col. Edward Jessup Branch is one of 29 branches across Canada that forms the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.  Founded on 1914, the association , which now has 2,000 members, recognizes the contributions of the Loyalists to the transformation of a wilderness into the nation of Canada.

 

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Col. Jessup's Cartridge Box

Jessup's Land Document

 

Jessup's Corps

Jessup's Corps was organized by Ebenezer Jessup between 1776 and 1777, to fight on behalf of King George 111 in the American Revolution.  Jessup and his brothers, Edward and Joseph, moved their regiment from the Lake George area of New York towards Montreal, recruiting and fighting as they went.  By 1783, the war was over and Jessup's Corps, formally called, The King's Loyal Americans, was disbanded.  The officers and men were given land in Canada, mainly along the Upper St. Lawrence River.  Edward Jessup founded the town of Prescott.

In 1770, Jessup's men were issued uniform costs of "cheap red stuff" with dark green facings and cuffs, a white waistcoat, white breeches or gaitered  trousers and a black tricorn hat.  Their musicians would wear the reverse colors, dark green with red trim.  They also are covered with wool twill tape.  The uniforms are very striking and stand out on the battle field.  This is very important because the officer of the field gives his orders to the musicians and they relay it in music to the troops, in the carrying notes of the fife, playing their regimental song and the drums, telling them to advance or retreat.

References: 

Prescott Journal - July 11th, Wednesday, 1984

Recorder and Times - Friday, March 9th, 1984

 

How Jessup's Rangers Affected Canada

Our local UEL branch is named after a famous and capable military leader, Major Edward Jessup.    The men of Jessup’s Rangers for the most part settled after the American Revolutionary War in the year 1784 in what are now the townships of Edwardsburg, Augusta and Elizabethtown along the shores of the St. Lawrence River.  Some of Jessup’s Corps also settled above Kingston in what is now known as Loyalist Township.

 Edward Jessup was an early Country Lieutenant in the Johnstown District and was therefore the Col. of the District Militia.   From very early records on, Edward Jessup is referred to by his peers as Col. Jessup.   Our branch, therefore, is called the Col. Edward Jessup Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada.

 Besides the founding of Prescott and naming several local streets after members of his family, Edward Jessup and many of his men had a much more significant impact on today’s landscape of Canada.

 METHOD OF LAND HOLDING

 The 9 mile by 12 mile standard township was developed by Edward Jessup as was the standard 200 acre lot system where the lots were ¼ mile wide and 1 ¼ miles deep.    Every deed and land description stems from this early system.  If you own property in any original township in Ontario, it is located using Jessup’s system.

 Jessup’s land system also determined where roads would be built.  If you drove on a town line or concession road today, that very route was determined by Jessup’s plan.

 SIZE OF LAND GRANTS

 The original amount of land that was to be granted to Loyalists for their service to the Crown, was much less than the standard 200 acre farm lot as such grants turned out to be.   This more generous allotment came directly from the intervention of Edward Jessup.

 This additional land, in effect, gave Loyalist families wealth. This was not only from the added production capacity of the land, but also as an asset that was often sold off in later years and thus making some Loyalist families relatively wealthy as is evidenced by some of the heritage homes in Leeds and Grenville Counties.

 The effect of these large land grants still ripples up from our history to touch the descendants of Loyalists today.

  ARCHITECTURAL STYLES

 The common “Ontario Farm House” of one and a half stories, evolved in Edwardsburg, Augusta and Elizabethtown where Jessup’s disbanded soldiers first built small 15’ X 20” log homes that evolved into a unique architectural design influenced by local materials, tax avoidance and utility. By about the late 1820’s this house style had matured and eventually found its way to every corner of Ontario and beyond.

 The dormer window of these homes, known as “The Eye of Ontario”, keeps its constant watch over the rich countryside of its Province.

 One cannot drive any distance without having one of these well proportioned, well balanced, eye pleasing homes in view.  This architectural style has withstood the test of time and remains among the most elegant of dwelling places.

 CONSTITUTIONAL FOUNDATION

 A 1786 letter signed by a number of ex-officers of Jessup’s Corp began a process which ended as the Canada Act also known as the Constitutional Act of 1791.  This document is the very foundation of Constitutional Canada.

 While many other Loyalist units also contributed generously to the growth of the new nation, no other unit made contributions as significant as those of Jessup’s Rangers!

By Don Galna

    

  Click on the thumbnail prints to see the red and green uniforms of Jessup's Corps.

Photos by Florence Rowsome

 

 

Photo by Fraser Carr

Jessup Ranger Re-enactor at Saratoga

 

 

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