Monday, January 28, 2013

Military Monday ~ Loyalist Stephen Pyle and Son

When I shared my Pyle ancestry, I noted that there were a couple of Pyle ancestors who were Loyalists in the Revolutionary War.

It looks like my 4th great-grandfather, Stephen Pyle (born about 1730 and died before 1789) didn't get along with his family and disagreed with them about a variety of things. As noted previously, he was disowned by his Quaker family's Monthly Meeting for marrying outside the Society of Friends in 1752, and was not included in his mother's will in 1778. Stephen's mother, Susanna (Chamberlin) Pyle, wrote her will in April 1778 and died before May 1, 1779. An extract of her will is found at, Chester County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1713-1825:

Pyle, Susanna. Thornbury. April 6, 1778. May 1, 1779. To 3 sons Jacob, William and Israel Pyle 5 shillings each. To daughter Susanna, wife of Thomas Fryer, cow and calf and all other goods and chattels. Executors: Friends John Pierce and William Thatcher.

I found a transcription of Susannah's will at at Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994, where I first had to browse through the Chester County index, finding reference to Susannah Pyle in Will Book 6, page 417. I then looked at the Wills 1774-1783 vol 6-7, F-G. With a few clicks, I found page 417 and Susannah's will. I include just a piece of it below:

... I Give to my three sons Jacob William and Isreal Pyle the Sum of Five Shillings Each...
She specifies her three sons are Jacob, William, and Isreal. No mention of Stephen. By the time Susannah wrote her will, the Revolutionary War had started and Chester County, Pennsylvania was in the center of the action.

Stephen lived in the vicinity of Brandywine Creek during the Revolution and it is believe he and his son, Stephen (1762-1840) were witness to the battle fought near their home at Brandywine in September 1777. Father Stephen followed the British forces as a civilian member of the commissary departments. Son Stephen joined his father in aiding the Loyalist cause, eventually becoming a carpenter in the Wagon Masters Department of the British forces.

This division of loyalties divided the family, and possibly confirmed his mother's decision to exclude Stephen and his children from her will.

It is not clear as to whether the father, Stephen, survived the war to migrate to Nova Scotia, as the son Stephen did in about 1783.

Some of this above information comes from the privately published Pyle, Smith and Allied Family Histories (1951).

From Guysborough Sketches and Essays, by A.C. Jost, (revised edition published 2009) comes the following description of the Associated Departments of the Army and Navy:
Many of the persons making up this group were among the last to leave New York. There were many in it who had not been members of line Regiments ... The name implied, too, that naval personnel were included, as well as members of the land forces and the staffs, so that it was a heterogeneous grouping of persons who had little but their need in common. (page 327)
And on this list is Pyle, Steven, being allocated land in the Northeast Division of the Town of Guysborough.


  1. Wow! I have a loyalist great+ grandfather Jacob Comfort. He went to live in Ontario, Canada. I'm still working on the more closely related grandparents Jacob is my 4th great-grandfather. So, I can't wait to learn more about him and the Empire Loyalists in Canada

    I love your finds. So sad to see how deeply the war divided families.

    1. I've only done a bit of research on my Loyalist ancestors. I'm sure there must be lots of information to be found. The wife of the younger Stephen came from a family of Connecticut Loyalists and I'm sure those families were divided as well. Very sad.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. I would recommend Tories by Thos. Allen for those who want a good read on the complexities of Loyalists in Revolutionary America. Lizzy, I think an interesting topic for a future post would be the loyalties of the McAlpin(e) clan. Allen cites Tory Capt. John McAlpine from New York City who led raids and generally appears to be a fairly difficult character. This may give a clue as to why the family name was shortened from McAlpine to McAlpin. Just a thought.

    1. RTP, thank you for the book suggestion and I will see what I can find out about the McAlpin / McAlpine name and if there really is a reason for the different spelling of the name.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!