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History of the York Rangers
Chapter XI


The Continuity of York Battalions

THIS new-old York Battalion as it. settled down in the Militia List of 1867, was a nine company aggregation with the following officers:— 12th Y ork Battalion of Infantry, Headquarters, Newmarket; Lieut.-Col. W. D. Jarvis.

No. 1 Company Scarboro:
Capt. Taber, Lieut. Stobo, Ensign John Huxtable.

No. 2 Company Aurora:
Capt. Nathl. Pearson.

No. 3 Company Lloydtown:
Capt. Armstrong, Lieut W. T. Armstrong, Ensign John Thompson.

No. 4 Company, King:
Capt. Garden, Lieut. Norman, Ensign L. A Crosby.

No. 5 Company, Newmarket:
Capt. A. Boultbee, Lieut. Chas. McFayden.

No. 6 Company, Keswick:
Capt. Alfred Wyndliam, Lieut. W M. Boucher, Ensign J. R. Stevenson.

No. 7 Company, Markham:
Capt. Thos. A. Milne, Lieut. Jas. Robinson, Ensign Sami. Carney.

No. 8 Company, Sharon:
Capt. Wm. Selby, Lieut. John AA. Selby, Ensign Jas. AVayling.

No. 9 Company. Unionville:
Capt. Hugh P. Crosby, Lieut. Salem Eckhart, Ensign Wm. Esken,

Paymaster Joseph Cawthra.

Adjutant A. J. L. Peebles.

Quarter Master Wm. Trent.

Surgeon Jas. Boveil, M.D.

The persistence of certain names in the above list gives one the impression that our military authorities sought to weave into the newly assembled battalion all the old traditional threads of military service that led back to the days of ’37 and 1812.

Thus the name of Jarvis,1 was reminiscent of every ancient fight in which any soldiers from York had ever participated. Accordingly it was appropriate that in selecting a first commanding officer the authorities should pitch upon the son of the Sheriff William Botsford Jarvis, against whose picket on Yonge Street, as we have seen, the flood tide of the Mackenzie Rebellion broke and receded.

Independently of his paternity and of his cousinship to Col. Samuel Peters Jarvis, William D. Jarvis, first lieutenant-colonel of the 12th, had earned his appointment by previous service. In December of 1804, he volunteered and was given a commission to complete the establishment of Capt. Gilmor’s Company which was one of the two service companies of the Queen’s Own, that were sent during that month to patrol the Niagara Frontier, ostensibly to prevent raids into the United States by Southern sympathizers. These service companies put in four dreary months at Niagara and in April, 1865, returned home.

Jarvis’ next service was in November, 1805, when an alarm of intended Fenian attacks caused the authorities to place a picket of thirty men under his command to protect the Drill Shed in Toronto.

1. The prevalence of the Jarvis family when any form of strife was being conducted is one of the bewildering features of Upper Canadian History. The following genealogical tree may assist the student:

This led to his becoming Capt. Jarvis by being put in command of the service company of the Queen’s Own that was called out for the protection of the frontier and on November 20th stationed at Sarnia.

This service company returned from Sarnia, April 4th, leaving behind twenty-six men who had been transferred to a provisional battalion under Jarvis, who thus now became provisional lieutenant-colonel. His transfer to the newly organized 12th York Battalion only confirmed him in a rank and duties already exercised to the satisfaction of the authorities.

The Jarvis family having been taken, it would only have been in accord with the fitness of things to have at once added to the word “York" the name of “Rangers" which is reminiscent of another Jan is battalion, the Queen’s Rangers of Samuel Peters Jarvis which in its turn took its designation as an heirloom from the famous regiment of General Simcoe. This historic honor, however, was not accorded to the regiment until May 10th, 1872, when Militia General Orders announced “This Battalion will be designated in future 12th Battalion of Infantry or York Rangers’ and it is hereby permitted to adopt and use the following motto: ‘Celer et Audax."’

Capt. Arthur Armstrong, of the Lloydtown Company was the son of Lieut.-Col. Arthur Armstrong, who had some exciting experiences in the Rebellion of 1837. On one occasion he was taken prisoner by the Rebels who endeavoured by threats to coerce him into joining their ranks. But baring his bosom he gave them to understand that his life was at their disposal if they wished to take it, but his loyalty to the Crown should never be questioned. He gave valuable assistance to the Government during these troublous times and being authorized to raise a militia company did so within four days. Alien the headquarters of the Lloydtown company was removed to Aurora, (’apt. Armstrong resigned and was “permitted as a special case in consideration of his long service in the Active Militia to retire with the rank of Honorary Major.”

The name of Capt. Nathaniel Pearson, who succeeded Armstrong in the command of the company on its removal to Aurora, appears rather to point to a peaceful that a martial lineage. For when the Quakers residing on Yonge Street, presented a characteristic address to Sir Francis Gore on September 30th, 1806, the address was signed by order of the Quaker meeting by “Nathaniel Pearson, clerk."

Capt. Thomas Selby, of the Flank Company of Detroit and Queenston fame and Capt. William Selby of the 6th North Yorks of 1838, were well represented by John W. Selby and William Selby of the Sharon Company. John W. Selby rose to become lieutenant-colonel of the battalion in 1875.

Capt. Crosby, of No. 9 Company (afterwards No. 8 when re-numbered in 1872) represents a family of which at least one member fought in the Yorks of 1812, namely James Crosby.

The first paymaster Joseph Cawthra represented a family with an honorable war record. “In 1812, Mr. John Cawthra,4 and his brother Jonathan were among the volunteers who offered themselves for the defence of the country. At Detroit, John assisted in conveying across the river in scows the heavy guns which were expected to be wanted in the attack on the Fort. On the slopes of Queenston, Jonathan had a hairbreadth escape. At the direction of his officer, he moved from the rear to the front of his company giving place to a comrade, who the following instant had a portion of his leg carried away by a shot from Fort Gray, on the opposite side of the river. Also at Queenston, John after personally cautioning Col. Macdonell, against rashly exposing himself, as he seemed to be doing, was called on a few minutes afterwards to aid in carrying that officer to the rear, mortally wounded.” In 1838, another of the family, William Cawthra, was gazetted a lieutenant in the 1st East York Regiment.

Space will not permit our minutely investigating also the rank and file, but the more we study the personnel of the first battalion officers the more clearly appears the chain of connection with the older organizations of the county.


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