The Spy Who Eluded Me, Part 3: What Might Have Been
Following the American Revolution, David Dobson relocated to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where he married the widow Hannah Richardson
on 2 August 1784.
Hannah is as much a mystery to us as David once was. She was
probably connected to James Richardson and his brother Alexander, who ran a
tavern near David’s. Many years later, Alexander acted as a land agent for
David, so he was not Hannah’s first husband. Too little is known of James to
hazard a guess as to whether or not he was married to Hannah. Further research
into the Richardsons of Charlottetown is clearly indicated.
Whatever David’s fortunes after his brief service in the
Royal Fencibles and subsequent imprisonment in Boston, he seemed to have accumulated a moderate measure of wealth (records
indicate that he sold both his inherited properties, in 1784 and 1789). Apparently
denied the land grant that the other Fencibles received in 1784, he was still
able to purchase two lots of Charlottetown land from Lt. Governor Walter
Patterson on November 28, 1786.
David’s reasons for relocating to
Charlottetown were not apparent, given his lack of a land grant. Perhaps his
Loyalist stance would not allow him to live so near his brothers-in-law,
William Wells and William Jones, who were both accused of supporting the Eddy
Rebellion. Maybe he simply felt the need to make his own mark or to remove
himself from the scene of his capture.
David spent his early years in Charlottetown as a tavern
keeper, but he switched to farming by 13 April 1790, when he sold one of his town
lots to Thomas DesBrisay. Around this time, David Dobson Jr. was born.
Shortly after this, the family moved back to the mainland,
settling at Hammonds Plains in Halifax Township. In 1793, David Sr. made a
living as a labourer, employed by the Blue Bell Inn and/or Farm (owned by John Clark of Charlottetown) on the Windsor
David Sr.’s status changed to yeoman
(farmer) by February 24, 1798, at which point he sold his second Charlottetown
lot to John Ross. The transaction was reversed on September 28th. In
both instances, Alexander Richardson, Postmaster and Island Attorney, acted as
David Sr.’s agent. Alexander’s relationship to Hannah (widow Richardson) Dobson
was not indicated. Nor was Hannah mentioned on the deeds, suggesting that she
had passed away by then.
Whether David and Hannah had children other than David Jr.
was not indicated in any extant records. What was recorded was David Jr.’s
marriage to Elizabeth Jones on 29 August 1808 in Westmorland County, New
Brunswick. He was said to be “late of Manchester, Co. of Sydney, NS.” Obviously,
his family had moved away from Halifax sometime prior. However long he stayed
in the area, he
doubtless had the opportunity to know his grandmother, Mary Forkinther, by then
known as Granny Forky. She may even have attended his wedding.
Elizabeth Jones was “of Westmorland” County and was apparently
a daughter of William Jones, a Welshman. His wife, Mary “Polly” Dobson, was
David Sr.’s younger sister. Thus, David Jr. and Elizabeth were first cousins.
TO BE CONTINUED