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Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE had a number of slaves who joined him in Nova Scotia following the revolution.

My wife Grietje and I wrote the article, A Family Divided by the American Revolution: Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE of the Guides and Pioneers and Colonel James Delancey's Regiment, published in The Loyalist Gazette, Volume XLV, No. 1, Spring 2007.

It explored the life of Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE, the third-great-grandfather of Grietje R. (nee Purdy) McBride UE, B.Sc., and second great-grandson of Francis Purdy (1587, England--1658, Fairfield, Connecticut), a Puritan who moved from England to Fairfield, Massachusetts, [later Connecticut] within the first few months of its founding in September 1639.

Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE was born on 18 May 1755, in Philip's Manor, West Chester County, Province of New York, the sixth and youngest child of Samuel Purdy and Winifred Griffin.

At the age of 21, Gabriel joined the British Army and fought in the Battle of White Plains on 28 October 1776 under Colonel Emerick and then Major Holland. He was made a Sergeant at the close of the battle and served as a non-commissioned officer during the War.

"From 16 November 1779 to 04 February 1780, he was a Sergeant in the Corps of West Chester Refugees and Light Infantry, commanded by Isaac Hatfield and, on 05 February 1780, he continued as a Sergeant in Captain Henry [his older brother] Purdy's Company of Light Infantry, commanded by James Delancey." (1)

"As a Loyalist, to escape soldiers, Gabriel hid in a barrel of tow. [tow = uncleaned flax or wool] A searching [Patriot] officer thrust a sword into the barrel, cutting a gash in Gabriel's head. He received medical attention later and had to wear a silver tube thereafter in the wound." (2)

28-year-old Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE and Esther Angevine, his second wife, left New York on 15 June 1783, bringing their coloured maid with them and settled in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, near the top of the Cobequid range of mountains that separate Cumberland and Colchester Counties, naming the place Westchester after their New York home. (3) In 1784 he received a grant of 400 acres in Clements Township, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, then, in 1785, he received grants of 1,000 acres and 200 acres on the Remsheg River in Cumberland County. In 1786, he received 334 acres in Clements Township and in 1787 another 334 acres in Clements Township. (4)

Carleton's Book of Negroes: A Ledger's Legacy, by Stephen Davidson UE, that was published in The Loyalist Gazette, Volume LIII, No. 2, Fall 2015 issue, states that there are lists about the details of 2,744 Africans who were evacuated in over a hundred ships from New York to the Maritimes between April and November 1783.

When I contacted Stephen about Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE, he found the following in Carleton's Book of Negroes:

Caron bound for Annapolis Royal, David Balmanno {captain} (22 September to 03 October 1783)

Belinda, 43, stout wench with a boy 3 years old, (Gabriel Purdy). Property of Gabriel Purdy.

Sue, 21, stout wench, (Gabriel Purdy). Property of Gabriel Purdy.

Ned Moore, 45, stout fellow, (Gabriel Purdy). Property of Gabriel Purdy.

Peter, 19, stout fellow, (Gabriel Purdy). Property of Gabriel Purdy.


The gravestone of "GABRIEL PURDY ESQ. AGED 92 YRS" located in Rose Cemetery, Westchester Township, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. This cemetery was located on land that Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE received as a Loyalist and cleared as his home farm. Photo by Grietje R. (Purdy) McBride UE, August 1998.

Stephen wrote: "As you can see, if one is willing to confront the skeletons in the closet of one's ancestors, one can find out the name of the ship on which the ancestors travelled, its captain, and its travel dates. The parentheses that say (Gabriel Purdy) indicate that he accompanied four slaves to Annapolis Royal. They were clearly his slaves, not his servants, because they are listed as property. While a number of free Black Loyalists left Annapolis Royal to sail for Sierra Leone in 1792, Purdy's slaves would not have that option." (5)

It is interesting to note that at the bottom end of the grave site of Esther (Angevine) Purdy one finds two granite fieldstones that were identified in August 1998 by the caretaker of Rose Cemetery as being the gravestones for two coloured slaves of Esther.


In 1777, Col. James DeLancey organized for patrol duty four troops of light dragoons, and seven companies of infantry to bring cattle to the British Army in New York City.

By Robert McBride UE


(1.) Clayton C. Purdy, Gabriel Purdy, his ancestors and descendents. born Westchester. N.Y.. 1754. died Westchester. Nova Scotia. Cumberland County, 1841. (Oracle Press Ltd., Baton Rouge, L.A., 1983), p. 44.

(2.) Purdy, Clavton C.. Gabriel Purdy, 1983. p. 45.

(3.) Purdy, Clayton C., Gabriel Purdy, 1983, p. 45.

(4.) Purdy. Clavton C.. Gabriel Purdy, 1983. d. 436.

(5.) E-mail to Bob McBride UE from Stephen Davidson UE, stephendavids "at", Thursday, October 15, 2015 4:25 p.m.
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Author:McBride, Robert
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Geographic Code:1CNOV
Date:Mar 22, 2016
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