2020.09.13 – Openers From a Son of Pirates


​In the course of my correspondence with a retired Catholic priest in New Brunswick, Canada with whom I had common Acadien ancestry, he expressed delight at learning that I was a “descendant of pirates”. It seems he translated the word “privatier” as pirate instead of privateer, which is a seaman authorized to plunder enemy shipping, in this case British shipping during the mid-1700s. The priest saw the events from a Canadian point of view.

I started taking interest in my ancestry in 1960, but delayed engaging in any serious research until 1968. When I finally did get interested in researching my genealogy and traveled down to New Brunswick, Canada in search for my ancestors, I learned that a few years earlier one of the family homesteads had burned to the ground and the family bible containing valuable genealogical information had been consumed in the fire. This unfortunately happens at times, and is the reason to do your research before it is too late.

When a few years ago I learned of an organization called “The Sons of the American Revolution” I thought they might enjoy my acquaintance and in learning of the participation of some of my ancestors among the Dutch settlers of the Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown area of lower New York State in the American War for Independence, and the loss of one of them at the battle of Kings Mountain. But alas, when I mentioned that they were Loyalists, I was given the brush off. Some Family History truths are inconvenient.

My only ancestors who lived in the United States prior to the 1890s were Dutch-English settlers of lower New York State, in the Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown area. During the American War for Independence they supported the Crown, and some even fought on the side of the British. After the war in 1783 they were stripped of their homes and farms and deported to New Brunswick, Canada, where they were given land grants by the British government. One of my father’s aunts who had immigrated to the United States from New Brunswick, Canada was occasionally given to bragging about her family having been loyalists during the American War for Independence.
The important thing in Family History is to find and report the truth. They were your ancestors and deserve respect, even if you don’t agree with their point of view. There is always more than one side of the story, and often it is fascinating to discover the other side.

Ralph Hughes

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