First Regiment of Durham Militia

The following is based on an article, written by the late Jim Cutting, which appeared in the 08 May 1978 issue of the Evening Guide.

Previously the colony of Canada was administered as a single province, but in 1791 Canada was divided into Upper and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), with Upper Canada's population in the 25,000 range. The two provinces each controlled its own militia until 1841.

The Militia Act of 31 March 1793 decreed mandatory service for all men aged 16-50. The force raised was divided into Regiments and Companies, which had to be mustered by their Captains at least once a year. There was no provision for pay and the men had to provide their own arms. This act was amended in 1794 to include men up to the age of 60. In 1808 an Act was passed to provide more thorough organization in the raising and training of the militia.

During the War of 1812, a number of Acts was passed affecting the organization and administration of the militia, but once the dispute was settled, the militia was maintained theoretically, men eligible for service being required to muster yearly, but with no other military duties.

John Tucker Williams was the commanding officer of the Durham Militia from 13 June 1827 until 01 January 1838, and was succeeded at that time by Colonel William Kingsmill.

The First Ballalion was commanded by Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel David Smart, and the Second Battalion by Major Commandant W.H. Draper. Captain Erasmus Fowke of Port Hope was appointed 20 September 1826 and Captain Myndert Harris of Hope Township 20 November 1827.

Colonel Robert Baldwin was in charge of the First Regiment of the Durham Militia in the War of 1812 and Lieutenant-Colonel William Warren Baldwin joined the Regiment 26 June 1812.

The Flank Company consisted of Captain John Burn, who joined 11 July 1812; Lieutenant John Carr, 25 October 1812; and Ensign John Taylor, who became a lieutenant 13 Oct 1813.

Captains of Battalion Companies included Alexander Fletcher (13 April 1812), John D. Smith (30 July 1812) and John Hartwell (31 July 1812).

The Captains in 1812 also included Samuel Sherman, Thomas Ward and James Bates as a lieutenant. The Ensigns who had enlisted were Josiah Haskill (10 August 1812) and Thomas Harris (25 October 1812).

Arnot Craick, in his Historical Sketches of Port Hope describes the town's contribution to the McKenzie Rebellion.

The annual musters were held on George IV's birthday (June 4th) and all the men capable of bearing arms were required to be present at the drill ground, to the east of the present cemetery.

Until the prospect of a rebellion became serious, this was the extent of the military training of the people. Then in the summer of 1837, John Tucker Williams organized a Town company, which drilled regularly on the 'Flats' and became somewhat proficient.

The first news of the actual outbreak of the rebellion arrived on December 4th, 1837. A special messenger dashed through the Town late at night, bearing orders to all Colonels of militia to muster their forces immediately and march to Toronto, as a body of rebels was rapidly advancing on that place. Two days later over one thousand men had assembled at Port Hope under Colonel J.T. William and had made a start for Toronto. But twenty-four men, fit to mount guard, were left behind and these were supplied with only four muskets, not in firing condition. Soon after a horde of about one thousand half-armed men passed through from Cavan and Peterboro and for many months after the Town was constantly filled with troops coming and going. Of these the 93rd Highlanders were the only regulars and for one night they were quartered on the residents of the Town.

During the second week the majority of the Hope volunteers returned without having discharged their guns, their only feat being the capture of some prisoners whilst on the road up.

From the 05 May 1899 issue of the Weekly Guide.

The following were called upon to serve their country and Queen on 06 December 1837 and were discharged and paid off on 15 December of the same month, having had nine days' experience of war. The officers' pay ran from 20s 3d to 2s 11d. The whole pay sheet for the officers was 40 pounds 11s, Halifax currency. The payment of the officers and men of Capt. Fowke's company amounted to 37 pounds 10s 6d.

Pay List of the Staff and Regimental Officers of the first Regiment of Durham Militia (including Capt. Erasmus Fowke's Company), from the time of its entry upon actual service to the date of the return of the officers to their homes.
By order of his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor.
Dec. 6 until Dec. 15, 1837.

ColonelWilliams, John Tucker
Lieutenant ColonelKingsmill, William
MajorSmart, David
CaptainFowke, Erasmus
SurgeonGilchrist, Samuel
Assistant SurgeonBrent, Charles
LieutenantBarrett, Richard
EnsignHatton, Samuel
Quartermaster SergeantMcDonald, Angus
QuartermasterBigelow, Levi
SergeantsBarron, Thomas
Leith, Malcolm
McDonald, Murdock

Anderson, Samuel
Barrett, William
Caldwell, Samuel
Cann, John
Chambers, George
Clarke, William
Cook, John
Copeland, James
Cornett, Joseph
Couch, John
Elliott, James
Ellis, William
Fogarty, John
Forbes, Alexander
Green, Robert
Halliday, James
Harcourt, Joseph
Hastings, Hugh
Henderson, John
Henry, John
Hern, William
Hillis, Isaac
Hillis, William
Hooey, Robert
Howell, James
Howell, Richard
Irwin, Thomas
Jameson, George
Jameson, Samuel
Jennings, Richard
Johnson, Robert
Lattimore, Samuel
Matthews, William
McBurney, Alexander
McElroy, James
McKee, Alexander
Miller, James
Mills, Lee
Murphy, Michael
Phelp, Thomas
Quay, James
Thompson, John
Thompson, Tobias
Trenouth, William
Tysdale, George
Whittaker, William
Willcock, Thomas

On Jan 7th, 1838 a second muster was held and 125 men were despatched to the seat of war. It is difficult to gather from these data just what share Port Hope took in these events but it is known that many of her sons served for some time both at Toronto and in the Niagara District.

Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario