Winslow Papers

The Winslow Family's Hardship

As a result of their loyalist stance in the American Revolution, the Winslow family experienced major hardships. Edward's parents and two sisters lived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where they were harassed by Patriots. Although he sent money to his father, Edward was also beginning a family of his own and could ill afford to maintain two households. His "extreme distress" led Winslow to confide in a 1781 letter to friend and fellow Loyalist Oliver Delancey that,

I have in the province of Massachusetts an infirm father, upwards of seventy years old, to whom I am indebted for the best education this country could afford, and for innumerable other favors. He has a wife and two daughters with him (my mother and sisters.) This family habituated to affluence have now no possible resource from which the can obtain even the necessities of life without my assistance, and I have hitherto had it in my power, by secluding myself almost from society & practising a system of rigid economy, to save them from burthening government by adding to the number of distress'd supplicants.1

Eventually Winslow brought his parents and sisters to New York, where they joined other Loyalists who huddled behind British lines until the end of the war.

Life in New York was not always easy for the Winslows and it became worse as the war came to an end. With their estates in Plymouth confiscated by the Patriots and the Loyalists denied access to positions in the new administration, the Winslows faced destitution. Comments by Edward Winslow's sister Sarah in a 10 April 1783 letter to her cousin Benjamin Marston are revealing of the hard feelings that prevailed in Loyalist circles against their wartime enemies. In her words,

our fate seems now decreed, and we are left to mourn out our days in wretchedness. No other resource for millions but to submit to the tyranny of exulting enemys or settle a new country. I am one of the number that gladly would embark for Nova Scotia was it either prudent or proper, but I am told it will not do for me at present. What is to become of us, God only can tell. In all our former sufferings we had hope to support us - being deprived of that is too much.2

Edward Winslow moved to Nova Scotia early in 1783 but his father considered staying in the United States. By 20 June 1783, Edward Winslow Senior realized that the situation had become untenable and wrote to his son that the "violence and malice of the Rebel Government against the Loyalists render it impossible ever to think of joining them again."3 Realizing that reconciliation between the two sides was impossible, Edward Winslow senior moved the family to Nova Scotia in the fall of 1783.

Corey Slumkoski
University of New Brunswick


1. Letter from Edward Winslow to Major Oliver Delancey, 23 January 1781, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 2-24. Back

2. Letter from Sarah Winslow to Benjamin Marston, 10 April 1783, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 2-67. Back

3. Letter from Edward Winslow Sr. to Edward Winslow Jr., 20 June 1783, Winslow Family Papers, Volume 2-97. Back

Next - The Loyalist Flight to Nova Scotia