The left hand of the grandfather clock crept slowly toward twelve and Margaret stared at the spinning wheel propped beside her knees. As the faint tick of the clock kept rhythm with William and Margaret's heartbeats; the couple waited in silence. And then, a sudden and thunderous knock vibrated the iron latch, dangling from the front door. William instantly stood, but before he could move forward, Margaret and the children ran screaming to his side. And the strong-jawed Scottish gentleman provided a comforting kiss to his family and opened the door, waiting for the heavy chain to be wrapped around his neck and wrists.

As the jailers forcefully pulled William down the street and toward the Morristown, New Jersey jail, villagers cursed and mocked the loyalist, taunting him with buckets of hot bubbling tar and sacks filled with goose feathers: "ye traitor, where is ye king now?" the townsmen jeered. But with an air of pride, William Templeton never turned his head to face his accusers, eyes pierced on the stoney road below his feet.

Approaching the darkened jail, a stench of sewage and death floated in the air. And as William stumbled down the steps, wrists bleeding from the weight of the chain, moans of the imprisoned men echoed against the icy walls. "Ye had ye change," the jailer laughed, as he shoved William inside the pitch-black cell.

The Scotsman lingered in the frigid cell, lying next to men dying from Typhoid fever and rats scurrying to steal crumbs from the plates shoved under the door. But William's loyalty to his British king never wavered; never faltered; feeling certain the frightening insurgence would soon end.

On his fortieth day of imprisonment, the clanging of the iron door startled William from his weakened state and the jailer bellowed out, motioning the Scotsman to come forward. Coaxing him through the cell and down the hallway, the jailer sneered: "times up."

William stumbled outside the jail, and onto the street, struggling to fight the sting of the sun piercing his eyes. But the jailer quickly directed him into the Morristown village hall, shoving him into a long line of bruised and filth covered men, waiting for their judgment of treachery.

The Scotsman, William Templeton, was released on bond, but he would face years of punishment for his loyalty to England, losing his property and all possessions to the Council of Safety of 1777 and 1778-the commission overseeing the fate of the loyalists.

A man that never took up arms against his neighbors; just steadfast in his loyalty to his mother country.

Previous mention of my loyalist ancestor had been the subject of this blog; but his story was still unfolding. With fervent dedication, I uncovered additional details and I will share my arduous trail:

With the discovery of my ancestor's name on a "loyalists" list of Morris County, New Jersey, I reviewed the sources of the published book. Contacting the genealogy department of the Morristown Library; I commissioned a search for the sources of the publication. The library staff, revealing that my loyalist ancestor was arrested and then released on bond in May 1778, released copies of the archived articles. Even more sources for further research were provided, ultimately directing me to the final disposition for William Templeton:
The New Jersey State Supreme Court.

Researching a trail of sources between publications may require digging, but the results can be staggering; bringing answers to open-ended questions and tying up loopholes. Which is why providing sources for any genealogical publication is a critical piece to your overall work. Your sources can provide leads for other researchers, such as yourself, in their trail of unrequited questions; perhaps resulting in a "supreme" genealogical finale for another researcher.

Keep searching for answers,

1)The Loyalist of New Jersey; Their Memorials, Petitions, Claims, Etc. From English Records; Jones, E. Alfred, MA, F.R. Historical Society; Newark, 1927.
2)Minutes of the Council of Safety of the State of New Jersey; printed by John H. Lyon; Jersey City; 1872)

The King's Man


William Templeton was a man of great skill. Meticulously selecting each thread spun from his 'spinster' wife, he would artfully place the colorful threads on his loom, weaving them into beautiful masterpieces. And soon the large shawls would be retrieved by the * 'cork' and sold in the weekly Paisley market.

The Scottish middle Lowland town of Paisley was a bustling village of weavers and craftsmen in 1774: Men with talent passed through generations of proud Scots and apprenticed by their fathers. The beautiful little town had become well known throughout Scotland as the 'weavers village'; producing the loveliest cloths in all of England. But with competition high in a village of over 1700 weavers, William Templeton began to entertain the thought of moving his craft to the new world: The American Colonies.

The weavers, printers and other Scottish craftsmen in Paisley were considered well read and intelligent and William was certainly among the best. With word of greater opportunities in the colonies for men of talent, he had grown more interested in the thought of venturing to America. A craftsman well thought of within the community, William and his wife Margaret were soon granted permission to embark on their Atlantic journey and make a new life in the colonies.

Disembarking from the port of New York, the Templetons traveled to the small community of Morristown, New Jersey: A quaint colonial village with some similarities to their homeland in Scotland. William and Margaret settled onto their land and began weaving and spinning their craft once more.

Quickly starting their family, the couple took roots in their community and William gained prominence as a freeholder. But the local politics began to infuse the villagers and growing tension with the British Monarchy seeped throughout the community. It was an unexpected and uneasy atmosphere for William: A Scotsman of strong loyalty and servitude to his British King.

It was May 1776 and the little village of Morristown was different than the town the Templetons first settled into just two years earlier; men taking up arms and joining the Rebel cause. Town meetings to discuss the tensions between the colonists and the British government brought an unsettling feeling for William Templeton. This was not the America he came to; the land of plenty, so well spoken of amongst the villagers in Paisley. And when the call was made for the town freeholders to gather in the village square to denounce the King of England thus signing an oath of allegiance to a new America, William Templeton would not place his pen to the paper. It was a pivotal moment for the proud and talented Scotsman; the loyalist from Morristown, New Jersey.

Taking a closer look into the research of my ancestors of Morris County, few records from the 1700's can be found. But feeling a nagging desire to search for possible evidence of Revolutionary War records for William Templeton, I dug deeper through every genealogical website and e-book found.

But with every New Jersey pension and militia list discovered, William Templeton's name was not there.

Until I happened upon a new list, a different kind of list: The Loyalists list.

And as I scrolled down the page, there he was; my proud, clannish, Scottish ancestor William Templeton.

The story of my ancestor can only be imagined as little records have been left but as I have delved deeper into the research of the Scottish colonists, I have discovered that many continued their loyalty to England before and during the Revolution. And as a result, many were tortured, tarred and feathered and others escaped to Canada. And although at first shocked with my discovery, looking at the events through my ancestor's eyes has provided a deeper appreciation of the gut-wrenching dilemma he must have felt.

Through the discovery of the numerous websites dedicated to Scottish genealogy, I am developing a new page: Links to Scottish records and indexes. Take a look through the sites and perhaps you, as I, will discover your Scottish ancestors: The often proud and sometimes very loyal 'Kings Men.'

Keep searching for answers,

(Source: Renfrewshire.gov.uk)

*A 'cork' was the middleman who picked up the weaver's scarves to be sold by the larger manufacturers.
*A 'spinster' is a word derived from the wives in Paisley who spun the thread for their husbands.