FROM PROPER TO PAUPER

While it is considered a historical site from the American Revolution, most “Americans” would not have been too comfortable at King’s Chapel. By 1776, only about 40% of the congregation sympathized with the Revolutionaries.

Who were the other 60%?
First of all, King’s Chapel was an Anglican Church – the Church of England – in Puritan Boston. It was the place of worship not only for the royal governor, royal representatives, British military officers, but also for many Loyalists – American colonists who had political, religious, economic, or family ties to Britain.

Loyalists considered themselves Americans. They were wealthy landowners, prosperous merchants, and just ordinary townspeople, proud of their British heritage. For unique, personal reasons, and to varying degrees, they wanted the colonies to remain part of Britain. As revolution appeared inevitable, relationships among colonists became polarized as family, friends and neighbors took sides, often one against the another – Loyalist or Patriot?

Loyalist Exodus
On March 17, 1776, the fate of the loyalists was sealed. With General George Washington’s successful positioning of fortifications and canons on Dorchester Heights, British forces evacuated Boston, ending their 8-year occupation. Bostonians loyal to the crown were instructed to leave the city. Many escaped, seeking refuge in Nova Scotia and Canada. Most, however, did not meet nice ends.

The Sad Story of Jolly Allen
Boston merchant Jolly Allen lived in town with his wife. When instructed to leave, he hatched a plan. He chartered a ship to take him, his wife and all his personal belongings first to Nova Scotia, a stopping point before undertaking the long, often treacherous journey to England. The plan went awry. The captain was either unscrupulous or incompetent, because instead of going north to Canada, he took the ship south to Cape Cod, right into the hands of the waiting colonial army!

Allen and his wife were arrested and slammed jail. After the war, the Americans, preoccupied with trying to run their own country, had better things to do than torment Allen. They let him go. But his dreams of spending the rest of his life in the English countryside as a proper gentleman were dashed. Years in prison had left him bankrupt.

Jolly Allen did not spend his life as a proper man. He spent out his life as a pauper man, living on the kindness of strangers.

(From King’s Chapel Tory Stories series)