The Loyalists


The first group of settlers consisted of three families, all of whom were American loyalists. The Sencebaugh’s, Hugh’s (now Hughes), and Foster’s were the only inhabitants listed on lot 64 in the 1798 census11.; there were 13 of them all together. They were joined by the Irving family (not loyalists, but included in this section) shortly after the census was taken, and it seems that these few families were the only permanent residents of the area until 1806. Cambridge had a residence in Beach Point as well, but at this point, it seems he and his family spent most of their time in Charlottetown, where they had another residence and a store.

William Sencabaugh took the long way to Murray Harbour. He was born in New York in 1761, and came to Canada as a loyalist. He served as a soldier in the 17th Light Dragoons, after which he spent some time in Shelburne, NS.12. He moved to PEI, and in 1788 he was granted 300 acres of land in lot 19 and married Ruhamah Hughes.14. He resided in lot 19 for a few years (at least since 1792, as his first son was baptized there), then moved to Three Rivers for a time.13. By 1798, he was living in the Murray Harbour area with his family; it’s not clear what brought them here, although his wife’s family origins are unclear, and  she may have had some family ties with another settler in the area, Nicholas Hugh (or Hughes). The couple had 10 children.14. In 1807, he purchased his land from John Cambridge, paying 58 pounds, 6 shillings, and 8 pence for 100 acres.15.     

Nicolas Hugh (Hughes in the census) was born in Philadelphia in 1741 and died in November of 1831. He had one child named David, born in 1784 in the USA15., and likely had a wife (the census indicates that there was a woman in the household),but her identity is a mystery (although maybe one of David’s five daughters was named after her?). He joined the British army when he was about fourteen, and apparently did fairly well, leaving behind a furnished home, 50 acres of land, a barn, and as much as £1000 when he left Philadelphia to go to New York with the army. He continued his service in Long Island, and was discharged at 42 due to his health; he lived there until the end of the war and then joined the mass exodus of Loyalists, first going to New Brunswick and then to PEI in 1786.15.

Mrs. Foster (Forster in the census) and her four boys have long been a bit of a mystery, but the Foster family descendants may have the answers. All of the boys are listed as under the age of 16, and while there has been some speculation that she was a widow, it seems likely that there is another explanation. A Foster family from Nova Scotia found an 1881 census record listing a relative, George Foster as 85 years old and born in Prince Edward Island. George and his family lived in Pictou, across the Strait from lot 64, and had four brothers; the family believes that they are likely the lot 64 Foster family, and that the oldest brother and father were away when the census was done. The timeline certainly seems to fit, as the Foster’s left the area between 1798 and 1806, and the Foster family of Nova Scotia reappears around that time.16.

In the latter years of the 1700’s, the Young family (about whom little is known) came and went, and James Irving took up the homestead they had left behind. James came to PEI with his parents and his brother William from Dumfieshire, Scotland in 1775.17. He became a ships captain, and married Elizabeth Creed in 1801; they had four boys (two of whom died young).18. The Irvings were known locally for hosting religious services in their home, and Reverend James McGregor called James a “Dumfriesshire Presbyterian”.10. James Irving eventually came to a sad end when he was robbed and murdered in Halifax in 1829. One of their surviving sons was a sea captain (Captain George), and one of his three children went on to become a captain as well.19.   They have many descendants (some still on the water)in both Murray Harbour and Murray Harbour North.

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