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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part I: Chapter XXVII. The Family Compact Terror


VICTORY in their hands, the exultation of the Family Compact knew no bounds. The prisons were crowded with unoffending citizens, arrested "on suspicion." To have been a Reformer of the mildest and most constitutional kind was sufficient to cause the man of a family to be imprisoned for months. When released, as arbitrarily as they had been arrested, they would find house and furniture wrecked by the brutal militia-men sent to occupy it. Rewards, to large amounts, of blood-money were set on the heads of the leading chiefs of the late insurrection.

Meanwhile the western division of the insurgents had met at the village of Scotland, in the southern township of Brant County. They were about five hundred, generally armed with rifles. On the news of the defeat of Mackenzie reaching them, Colonel Sackrider, who, as has been stated, was a veteran officer of 1812, wished to occupy the pine woods south of Buiford, where they could have a friendly country as a base of supplies, and might make a stand against MacNab and the Loyalist militia. But Duncombe gave it as his opinion that they had better disperse, which was accordingly done. A full account of the interesting circumstances of Duncornbe's escape from the Loyalist prison, as gathered by myself from Dr. Duncornbe's daughter, and from the son of the gentleman who contrived the escape ; as also of the flight, under circumstances of great difficulty, of Mr. Hagel, one of Duncornbe's officers, will be given at full length ;n a future work. As yet these stories, so characteristic of that period of Canadian history, have never been laid before the public. It is hoped, also, that in the advanced work a fuller account maybe drawn from sources entirely original of Dr. Rolph's escape- from Toronto. His opponents were thirsting for his blood, and he knew it well. Calmly, on the morning of Wednesday, the 6tn of December, he sauntered along King Street, passing in and out of the houses of his patients, as if intent on his professional practice. In advance of him a favourite pupil of his, now one of Toronto's most eminent practitioners, had Rolph's best horse ready saddled. A little past the western city limits, however, they met a party of militia, commanded by an exceedingly zealous Loyalist. Most fortunate for a life yet destined to be most useful to Canada and science, he had just received a letter from a sister, who lived at some distance, and was dangerously ill. Rolph produced the letter, said he was about to rule to see the patient, and was allowed to go on his way. He easily made his escape into the United States, where he resumed the practice of his profession with much success, until a pardon enabled him to return to Toronto.

Of William Lyon Mackenzie's wonderful adventures during his flight a most graphic account is given by Mr. Lindsey. Less fortunate was the brave and generous-hearted Colonel Samuel Lount. For a short time he retreated along with Mackenzie, at the head of about ninety armed men. It was then thought most judicious that the party should separate. The Hon. James Young, in his amusing and useful book on Gait and Dumfries, states, on the authority of a militia officer still living, that Lount was secreted for some days near Gait. Mr. Young adds that Lount would certainly have been captured were it not that his arrest would have involved all who had sheltered him in the penalties of high treason. Lount was next secreted in an almost impenetrable swamp, near Glenmorris. Thence he was moved to the house of a political friend, near the village of Glenmorris ' a magistrate arrived at the front door of that house to arrest lnrn, ist as Lount left by the back-door. Samuel Latchaw, a well known South Dumfries farmer, conveyed him thence to Waterford, where he lay concealed in the hay-mow of Grover's hotel, while the Loyalist militia were scouring the country all round in search of him. At last, after many such adventures, he made his way to the Niagara river, where he was captured, as Mr. Young well puts it, "within sight of the United States and safety. He was next seen being led through Chippawa as a prisoner. His cap had blown off his head into the river, and a ragged old red night cap had been placed on his head by his "loyal" escort in mockery of the Republican Cap of liberty. Though given in heartless insult, no better head-gear could have befitted the brow of Samuel Lount. He was tried soon afterwards at Toronto, with Peter Matthews of Pickering. They were found guilty, and an eminent physician of this city who was present rn the court house (hiring the trial tells me that Chi^f Justice Sir John Beverley Robinson pronounced the cruel death sentence with evident satisfaction. It was as if lie was eating honey. Orders had been sent from England to delay the capital sentence, but the Chief Justice and the Rev. John Strachan used all their influence to bring Lount and Matthews to the scaffold. They died calmly, confident in the justice of the cause for which they gave their lives, on April 12th, 1838. Of a very different nature from Mackenzie's attempt to create a revolution by seizing the capital and overthrown g the Family Compact tyranny, and utterly unjustifiable on any patriotic ground, were the raids on Canadian territory by American sympathizers m 1838. The chief of these was made from the American side, whence a force of about a thousand Canadian and American sympathizers occupied Navy Island in the Niagara river above the Falls. They were, however, induced to disperse by the American General Scott. A steamer which they had used to convey supplies to the island was seized by MacNab, who set it on fire, and sent it to drift over the cataract. For this achievement MacNab was knighted.

In 1838 Head was recalled, and Sir George Arthur came to Upper Canada as Governor. The Family Compact had triumphed, and had filled the prisons with the "rebels." two of the leaders, Lount and Matthews, were executed ; rewards were offered for the capture of Mackenzie, Duncombe and others, dead or alive, and the frontier was haunted by prowling Iroquois from the Grand river, eager to take the scalp of the " rebel" 'chiefs and earn the Government blood-money. In October of this year a raid was made by a body of sympathizers under a Pole named Von- Schoultz, who occupied a stone wind-mill near Prescott. They were attacked by a large force of militia, and compelled to surrender. Von Schoultz was taken to Kingston and tried for high treason, being ably, but unsuccessfully, defended by a young lawyer named John A. Macdonald. Von Schoultz was executed. All attempt was also made by the insurgents to capture V ndsor and Amherstburg, but they were dispersed with a loss of twenty-one by Colonel Prince. Four prisoners were taken, who were shot in cold blood by the Colonel. In their triumph the insolence of the Family Compact knew no bounds. The Reign of Terror in France and the Bloody Assize in England seemed about to repeat themselves in Canada. But a great change had taken place in England. The Tory party, which had been supreme since Waterloo, had fallen from power, and their place was filled by the great Fiberal Administration of Lords Grey and Melbourne. By them Lord Durham was sent out as Imperial High Commissioner to adjust all questions and grievances m Canada. He stood between the political prisoners and the Family Compact party, who were made to see that their hour was past. Lord Durham, on his return to England, published his celebrated "Report," which must ever be regarded as one of the chief documents of Canadian freedom. In this lie recommended nearly all the reforms for which Mackenzie had for so many years asked in vain. Thus the insurrection, though as a military movement it failed, by arousing the ' attention of English Liberalism to the tyranny of the Family Compact, accomplished, in an indirect manner, all at which it aimed.


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