Sunday, February 16, 2014

Francis Boole, Farrier, 17th Light Dragoons

The British army sent only two cavalry regiments to America, the 16th and 17th, both Light Dragoon regiments. The composition of these regiments was somewhat different than that of infantry regiments; instead of being organized into companies, cavalry regiments were composed of troops. In one of the troops of the 17th Light Dragoons was a private soldier named Francis Boole.

Boole's background isn't known. He first appears on the muster rolls of the regiment prepared in early 1777, suggesting that he was one of the many reinforcements the regiment received in October 1776, but the rolls do not explicily indicate when or how he joined the regiment. There are indications that he had joined the army in 1772, meaning that he may have been one of many drafts from another cavalry regiment that joined the 17th; Light Dragoons; his name, however, has not been found on any other regiment's muster rolls to support that assumption. About 31 years old in 1776, Boole was a "smith and farrier," an essential artificer in a cavalry regiment. Each troop of the 17th Light Dragoons was supposed to have at least one such man, but they are not listed separately on the muster rolls; instead they are included among the other private soldiers. We only know about Boole's specialty because he wrote a petition years after the war.

Besides that he served "on the expedition to the Southward" in 1780, we nothing specific about Boole's service during the American Revolution. At the close of hostilities he was one of the soldiers who was discharged and accepted a land grant in Nova Scotia. He obtained 200 acres of land on the Sable River about 15 miles outside of Shelburne. He settled there with his wife Catherine (it is not known when they met or married; possibly it was after arriving in Nova Scotia); over the next dozen years they had seven children. 

With great effort he worked the land and supported his young family. By 1795 this hard-working veteran had formulated a plan to build a saw mill, but recognized that with no meadow land on his acreage he could not feed the draft animals needed to work the mill. He saw a way out of this dilemma. He discerned that another parcel of land was not allocated because it was marshy and not tenable for farming. The enterprising veteran wrote a petition to the government explaining that he could obtain fodder from the marsh land, enabling him to build and work his saw mill, making good use of land that had no other value.

Francis Boole was granted permission to survey and make use of 400 additional acres. He and his family thrived; he lived until 1835, and his wife survived him by five years.

Learn more about British soldiers in America!

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