Tuesday, March 2, 2010

John Lloyd and James Nowland, recruits, 22nd Regiment

John Lloyd and James Nowland were British army recruits who joined the 22nd Regiment of Foot in America in 1779. Although they arrived in America together, their backgrounds were as different as can be. So were their fates.

John Lloyd was born in 1757 in Shrewsbury, Shrophsire, in the west midlands of England. His parents were somewhat wealthy, apparently owning farmland. John's father died when he was still a child, leaving his mother, Hannah Lloyd, a considerable fortune. In June 1775 she remarried. This opened the risk that her fortune would go to her new husband if anything happened to her. To protect her son against any risk of impoverishment, she set up a trust fund for him insuring that, regardless of what fortunes met the family, John would be paid the sum of £150. Rather than stay in Shropshire, however, John did what many young men of all classes did - he joined the army, probably some time in 1778. His place and date of enlistment are not known, but he was sent for training to the depot at Chatham Barracks outside London. From there he wrote to his mother on 22 March 1779 that he was in the 22nd Regiment and would soon be embarking either for America or the West Indies. Four days later he was on board a transport ship.

James Nowland was considerably older, having been born in 1743. An Irishman, is place of birth is not known, but he was among the many Irish Catholics who joined the army even though the letter of the law prohibited it; the exigencies of war took priority over the niceties of recruiting regulations, and although enlistment required a recruit to attest that he was a Protestant many men surely just paid lip service to the assertion. There is no information to suggest whether Nowland had any prior military service. The age of 35 was not typical for enlistment, but neither was it unprecedented; Nowland could have been a voluntary enlistee, a draft from another regiment, or a vagrant rounded up under the new and wildly unpopular army press act of 1778. It is not clear whether he boarded a troop transport in Ireland or was first sent to Chatham Barracks, but one way or the other he was in the same group of 63 recruits sent to the 22nd Regiment in 1779.

The fleet of transports escorted by British warships carried four complete regiments and a substantial number of recruits - almost 1300 for the British infantry regiments in America, and more for the Brigade of Guards, the Royal Artillery, and the German regiments. Their voyage went badly from the beginning. The men who embarked at Chatham on 26 March remained on board while the fleet picked up more transports at Plymouth. By late April the fleet was read to sail, but as they plied the waters off Torbay waiting for favorable winds news came that the French were making a descent on the British channel islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The admiral commanding the fleet took the warships and the troop transports, leaving other ships at Torbay, and made for the island on 2 May. Four days later they arrived to find that a French attack had been repulsed; the admiral left a small but sufficient force of ships to protect the islands and took the transports and troops back to Torbay. The delay had cost a week, and now weather conditions turned unfavorable. It was not until the end of the month that they were finally able to get underway into the Atlantic, the troops from Chatham having been on board ship for two months before even leaving British waters. The voyage from Torbay to New York took 13 weeks, and during this time illness in the form of scurvy set in. They did not reach New York until 25 August, by which time a quarter of the British recruits were sick and another 43 had died.

The first muster rolls to show these new men show that conditions grew worse after they landed in New York. Nearly all of the 63 recruits for the 22nd Regiment were sick. The regiment itself was still in Rhode Island, but when that place was evacuated at the end of October they joined the New York garrison. Although many of the recruits eventually recovered to serve with the regiment, a third of them died within their first year in America.

Among the dead was John Lloyd, the young man from Shropshire with a wealthy mother and a trust fund. He died in Jamaica, Long Island on 11 January 1780. His mother did not learn of his death until four years later when she engaged an attorney to track him down. By this time the regiment was back in England and the adjutant, responding to the lawyer's letter which had been conveyed through the regimental agent, examined the regimental books and confirmed that Lloyd had joined the regiment and died in America. The information was critical because Hannah Lloyd's new husband had gone bankrupt and the family lands were being sold off to pay his debts. With her only son gone for a soldier and now gone from the world, her fortune was lost.

James Nowland was also listed as sick on the first muster rolls in America, but he recovered. Just as nothing distinguished his life before joining the army nothing distinguished his career as a soldier; his name appears duly on the rolls until the end of the war. At that time, men who had enlisted after 1775 were entitled to be discharged and had the option of returning to Great Britain or taking a land grant in Canada. He chose the latter along with 85 other men from the 22nd, and landed at Shelburne, Nova Scotia (at that time called Port Roseway) in the closing months of 1783. He received his land. He farmed. In his late 50s, he married and then had a remarkable 11 children before his wife died in 1829. On 30 June 1840 he scrawled his mark on a deposition for relief under an act passed during the second year of the reign of Queen Victoria. He was living in the parish of Glenelg, New Brunswick, and at the age of 93 submitted that he was no longer able to support himself. He was granted relief of 10 pounds per year which he was still collecting in 1843 at the age of 100, but he is known to have passed away before one of his sons married five years later. Descendants of his, still carrying the Nowland name, live in Canada to this day.

Such were the disparate fates of two men who became soldiers, one who began with promise and the other who ended with a legacy.


  1. Do you find all of this information through the CDs you link to? Or do you also find information from other books, archives, and that sort of thing?
    It seems like you've got a lot of good primary sources here!

  2. My apologies for earlier & now seemingly unnecessary query re: Nowlan's & NB.
    Just read this through this post & James is the one I was looking for - thanks. By the way, in the 1851 New Brunswick Colonial Census you will find that all of his offspring (or virtually all) had dropped the "D" off their surnames. Most subsequently settled along the Miramichi River near Chatham N.B. By the late 1800s my particular line had established themselves as pilot's and Captains aboard various steamer's then working the Miramichi. This tradition carried on into the 1930s.

  3. Don,
    I recall a few years back corresponding with you regarding James Nowland, a soldier in the 22nd regiment.

    Recently I came across information about the attempted formation of a Regiment of Catholic Volunteers (p81 of "Catholic Loyalists of the Revolution") by General Howe of Philadelphia. In a letter dated March 1778, it is stated that this attempt was an "utter failure". Surely the "Catholic Tory" recruits were redirected to other regiments such as the 22nd. At the quoted reference (above) it does suggest that the British Authorities, anxious for recruits made it easy for the Catholics to join. In particular, the parish of St. Joseph's in Philadelphia is mentioned from whence came its Lt. Colonel a Mr. Arthur Clifton (one of initial three recruiters) and a Mr. John Nowland, its Quartermaster (which based upon other sources I believe was recruited from Newfoundland, initially as part of the Nova Scotia Volunteers).

    At the time even the then Pope, Pius VI, supported King George and was quoted as saying "Our brethren may now serve in the army".

    This brings me to how James Nowland may have come to join the British army. We know that he was Catholic, like John Nowland, the Quartermaster mentioned above and, given the rarity of a Catholic joining the army at the time it is surmised that James was apprised of the opportunity by John Nowland, a close relative, possibly a brother.

    Prior to joining each soldier had been promised "50 acres of land to which every gallant here may retire and enjoy his bottle and his lass".

    After the war, we know that James Nowland received land in New Brunswick (at the mouth of the Miramichi river) and John Nowland, Quartermaster, land in the area of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

    I have been unsuccessful in tracking down John Nowland in the Maritime provinces but believe that he may have settled in an area of Northern Maine which was diputed until the 1830s. In the 1790 census for Maine there is a John Nolan who could have been the former quartermaster. At the time, the British Government wanted soldiers to settle in the disputed area.
    The modern-day Nolans of Clair, NB (near Fort Kent, Maine) may be the descendants of John Nowland, the Quartermaster of the Catholic Volunteers.

    Bye for now,
    Roger Nowlan

    June 13, 2011 7:00 AM

  4. Thanks for writing this. I have long been fascinated by the Irish side of my family. My grandmother was a Mooney and her mother descended from James Nowlan.

    Paul Leger
    Hampton, NB

  5. I'm a descendant of Martin, son of James, who settled in ste-anne de kent, where a lot of generations of fisherman still lives...

    1. Hey Anon, just saw this...i am an ancestor to Martin as well and looking for info on his Father etc. I am stuck in the sense that I have not found the date of immigration of the Nowlan Clan from Ireland (who and when and where) to Canada...my ancestors hail fromSt Anne de Kent...do you have any insights from before Martin?
      Mike Nowlan