Tantramar Yorkshire Yorkshire

The Legacy: Plaques and Memorials

Articles on the 1939 dedication of the Chapman Memorial
from Don Chapman

Folks: I thought that people on the York2000 list might find the following information to be of some interest.

Indeed, in part, it was this earlier memorial activity which gave rise to the notion of a Gathering. At the end of the article, I raise some questions which are of personal interest to me, and upon which I would be more than happy to receive feedback.

A monument was erected to the original William and stands in the Point de Bute Cemetery. The committee responsible for this 1939 undertaking included:
     Miss Etta Chapman - Dorchester
     A.C. Chapman - Moncton
     Hon. C.W. Robinson - Moncton
     Sir Frederick Williams Taylor - London
     Dr. J.C. Webster - Shediac

The monument, which is located directly beyond the entrance gate, on the left-hand side of the road, reads:

This memorial in honor of William Chapman of Hawnby Yorkshire who came to Chignecto in 1774 has been erected by some of his descendants on land which he gave to the first Methodist Church in Canada in 1788. Erected 1939."

The Mount Allison University Archives has the following newspaper clippings related to the event (7001-25):

1. THE HEAD OF THE CHAPMAN CLAN -- Amherst Daily News, May 11, 1939

"To preserve the memory of their common ancestor, William Chapman, one of the original Yorkshire settlers who settled in the Chignecto area in 1772-5 a number of his descendants in Westmorland County have launched an effort to erect a suitable memorial to him in the Point de Bute Burying Ground which originally was his gift to the first Methodist church in Canada there.

'This proposal,' writes Dr. J. Clarence Webster, C.M.G., 'has met with the approval of the present trustees, and they have kindly offered an appropriate site. A committee has been organized to carry the project to a successful issue.'

Dr. Webster said that the opportunity would be given to descendants of William Chapman everywhere to contribute to the fund which is necessary for the erection of the memorial. All sums of any size would be acceptable, and should be sent to the Eastern Trust Company at Moncton.

The committee comprises Miss Etta Chapman, Dorchester; A. Cavour Chapman, Moncton; Sir Frederick Williams-Taylor, London, England, and Dr. Webster of Shediac, acting secretary.

Explaining the historical background of the Chapman family in Chignecto Dr. Webster writes:

The migration of Yorkshire people to Nova Scotia in 1772-5 gave to the province an asset of incalculable value. Nearly all the heads of the families were farmers, who had held rented properties, owned by great landlords. The Seven Years' War had been followed by severe economic depression in England, the cost of living and farm rentals had increased; and yeoman -- as well as tenant-farmers found themselves in bad plight. Consequently, when Michael Francklin and his agents became active in advertising throughout Yorkshire the unoccupied fertile lands near Cumberland Basin, which could be bought on easy terms, there was a ready response among the farming population, and large numbers gave up their holdings, in order to establish themselves in the province across the sea.

Thus it was that Chignecto and adjacent territories came to be settled by Yorkshire families, most of whom had means sufficient to enable them to buy their properties, stock them, and build houses and barns. They were a sober, industrious folk, skilled in agriculture, and the new land soon yielded rich returns.

One of the newcomers was William Chapman, whose family had long been of the yeoman class, owning their own farms, but who had latterly become tenants of farms belonging to Lord Cavendish. William was 42 years of age when, with his wife, five sons and four daughters, he sailed from Hull, on March 14th, 1774, in the vessel Albion. On reaching Chignecto the family settled near the Missaguash [river], buying a large property which included marsh and upland extending to Beausejour and Fort Lawrence ridges. Later, a house was built of bricks, made of marsh mud, situated on the western slope of Fort Lawrence ridge. This property, though diminished in extent, has remained in the family, having passed from father to son until the present day. (It is interesting to note that the bricks are, for the most part, as good now as when they were made).

When Fort Cumberland was threatened by those who sympathized with the American Revolution, William Chapman was one of those who helped the Commandant to strengthen the fort, and when the latter was actually besieged, was one of its defenders.

Some of his activities in these early days may be determined from his own note-book, which is now preserved with other Chapman documents in the Fort Beausejour Museum.

In the course of time the family multiplied and spread to Cumberland, Westmorland, Albert counties, and elsewhere. Now descendants are scattered through Canada and the United States. Many became farmers, but others entered the professions, business, the public services and other walks of life. A noticeable feature of the lives of the males during the 19th century was their enthusiasm for service in the Militia, as the many commissions now preserved in Fort Beausejour Museum indicate. One of them, Col. Benjamin, fought through the Crimean War; a beautiful sword brought back by him being now in the Museum.

For the most part, the records of this widely-spread family are untarnished by deeds of dishonour. There seems to have been a remarkable continuity of devotion to a high moral standard of life. This, I believe is the outstanding traditional characteristic of William Chapman's descendants, and the youngest of them who are now living, may well take pride in the fact that they are the inheritors of a good name if not of great riches.

Most of the Yorkshire settlers had fallen under the influence of John Wesley in England, though they had not actually left the Anglican Church at the time of their departure for Nova Scotia; but, in Chignecto, they gradually adopted the simpler form of worship, and established their own church on the ridge of Beausejour, south of the village of Point de Bute. It was William Chapman who gave the land on which it was built to John Wesley, the original deed, dated Sept. 13, 1788, being still preserved in the Museum of Beausejour. This church bears the distinction of having been the first Methodist church in all Canada [sic]. In later years William's grandson Joseph gave an additional piece of land, the whole now comprising the area of the present Point de Bute Burying Ground. Several members of early Chapman families were buried therein, but no trace of a stone bearing William Chapman's name can be found, though he was, undoubtedly, interred there.

It has recently occurred to several of his descendants, belonging to Westmorland County that something should be done to preserve the memory of our common ancestor and they deem it appropriate to erect a Memorial in the cemetery which was originally his gift to the Church. This proposal has met with the approval of the present Trustees and they have kindly offered an appropriate site. A Committee has been organized to carry the project to a successful issue. I am now writing in the name of this body in the expectation that, through the medium of the press, an opportunity may be given to descendants of William Chapman everywhere to contribute to the fund which is necessary for the erection of the Memorial. All sums of one dollar upwards will be acceptable and should be sent to the Easter Trust Company, Moncton, N.B.

     Miss Etta Chapman, Dorchester
     A. Cavour Chapman, Moncton
     Hon. C.W. Robinson, Moncton
     Sir Frederick Williams-Taylor, London, England
     Dr. J.C. Webster, Shediac, Acting Secretary"

Article also in:

2. INITIATED MEMORIAL -- Sackville Tribune, Oct. 16, 1939
3. THE WILLIAM CHAPMAN MEMORIAL -- Sackville Tribune, Thursday Oct. 10, 1939
4. SPREAD ELSEWHERE -- Saint John Telegraph Journal, Oct 16, 1939


Each of the above people apparently is connected to William Chapmam. A. Cavour Chapman is my great-grandfather and had been Mayor of Moncton years earlier. C.W. Robinson was a former New Brunswick Premier and Canadian Senator. Dr. Webster was from Shediac and was both a physician and noted historian, responsible for the establishment of Fort Beausejour, the New Brunswick Museum and played a key role in the establishment of Fort Louisbourg as an historical site.

I have several questions related to the above news story:

1. I know almost nothing of Miss Etta Chapman of Dorchester. I believe that she was the daughter of Richard Wesley Chapman and Sarah Jane Wells, but beyond that, I have no information. It is interesting to me that she was involved in this effort to memorialize the Yorkshire settlers.

2. Who is Sir Frederick Williams-Taylor and how is he connected with all this. One can assume that it is through the Taylor name, but how? Is he a descendant of an immigrant family, or is he a representative of those who stayed behind? How is it that he comes of the title?

3. I believe that folks with the name Carter now live in the Chapman house mentioned in the above article. They are apparently descendants of William Chapman, but I have not been able to determine the exact nature of the link. I wonder if anyone else knows?

Don Chapman, Mission, B.C.
18 April 1998

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