The Continuity of York
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
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
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.