Letter by Ebenezer Dibblee, dated 1783

Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee
Rev. Frederick Dibblee
The Dibblees and the American War of Independence
Land Grants
Centenary of the Ordination of Rev. Frederick Dibblee

This comes from a transcript typed by a secretary in the 1980's. I haven't seen the original. It is obviously the origin of several accounts of Rev. Frederick Dibblee's early life, such as the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. I am not sure how reliable Ebenezer Dibblee's information is! He is asking for help, and trying to present a good case. The Centenary of the Ordination of Rev. Frederick Dibblee states firmly that Frederick did NOT get a degree!

Selections from a letter to Sir Guy Carleton written by Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee on October 31st, 1783

To his Excellency, Sir Guy Carleton, Knight of the most noble order of the Bath, General and Commander in Chief.

The memorial of the subscriber, Humbly sheweth:- That your memorialist having been long a missionary of the Venerable Society of the Propogation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to the Church of Stamford and Greenwich, two of the westermost towns in the late happy colony, now state of Connecticut, hath in an early period of the late unhappy times had two of his three sons, obliged to flee for safety under the Royal protection.

Your memorialist's elder son, Fyler Dibblee, about Christmas 1776, forseeing the storm and resigning his commission as Captain in the American militia, fled under the Royal banner to escape the violence threatened his person, leaving behind him a wife and five children who were soon turned out of doors and your memorialist obliged to take them under his care till the next spring when they were sent in a destitute condition to your memorialist's son at Long Island. Thank God they now, through the favour of the Government and your Excellency's pious and most charitable concern for the Loyalists, are settled at St. John's River to their unspeakable satisfaction.

Your memorialist's third son, Frederick Dibblee, in whose behalf your memorialist now begs leave to address your Excellency, was honoured with a degree in King's College, New York, in May 1776. The November following he was transported to Lebanon in the Eastermost part of Connecticut with about 18 or 20 more of your memorialist's parishioners (chiefly head of families) by reason of their suspected loyalty to their Sovereign and their refusing to take up arms in opposition to his government.

Your memorialist was obliged to maintain his soul there until March, when through the humanity of General Trumbull he was sent home. In April, 1777, when the King's tropps went to Danbury, Conn., his life was threatened for refusing to take an active part against his lawful sovereign and he was obliged to flee to his brother, Fyler, at Long Island.

Your Excellency will perceive the critical situation of your memorialist and his sons - he for being suspected of the atrocious crime of countenancing their loyalty and they, as knowing that they took an active part in the defence of the King's government that your aged memorialist and family must inevitably fall a sacrifice to unbridled popular rage. One bold attempt was made when going to attend the parish duties of his care and your memorialist's preservation can be ascribed only to the providential care of that God who lets loose and restrains the wrath of man according to His pleasure.

Your memorialist's son, Frederick, acting upon the same principles as his brother in regard to the safety of his parents, went into trade with one, Jackson, of Oyster Bay, Long Island, and married a sister refugee (Nancy Beech of Connecticut) whose parents are now gone to Nova Scotia (Kingston, N.B.). The rebel whale-boat men have plundered them five times to the amount of twelve or fourteen hundred pounds damage. In their visitation in November last they stripped them of their household goods and wearing apparel.

Upon your memorialist's elder son, Fyler, resolving to accept the kind offices of Government and go to Nova Scotia (in charge of a company of Loyalists), Frederick became a subscriber with him among those associated under the Rev.John Sayre's patronage, but could not settle his affairs in season to sail with his brother last April (1783) - After more than six years absence he came with his wife to Stamford in July last to take his final leave of your memorialist and his family. The intemperate zeal of the inhabitants being somewhat abated he was encouraged to stay till after his wife's confinement which happened the beginning of August, hoping that by the middle of September she might be in a suitable condition to remove. But before that time he was taken ill himself with a remitting fever, then very rife among us, of which he has not yet recovered, and it's judged he will be unfit for the voyage until Spring. He hath little or nothing left for his support, if permitted to stay with us, of which we are doubtful. But by advice from his brother Fyler, provision for his reception (at St. John) was made but Frederick was then unable to remove.

Your memorialist is ill able to assist and provide for him and his wife, having his Church, self, and family been almost shipwrecked in the late civil tempest, his people diminished by the great number fled for protection and such as remain overborne and oppressed with late fines, imprisonments and impositions retaliating acts and present exorbitant taxes.

You memorialist can do little for his son having little but the salary from the Venerable Society to support himself, Mrs. Dibblee and three daughters, one of which hath been disordered in her sense by fright received during an earlier period of our publick calamities.

May it please your Excellency, your memorialist requests no favour for himself, being now nearly seventy years old and having almost run his race, but help to recommend his son Frederick to your compassionate notice.

New York, October 31, 1783, (Signed) Ebenezer Dibblee.

My comments on the above:

Apparently Frederick Dibblee did not get a degree from King's College, New York! I don't know whether Ebenezer mis-understood or got confused, or whether he thought it would make the "memorial" look more impressive.

In 1783, Fyler Dibblee went with his wife, five children and two servants to St. John's, New Brunswick, when in 1784 he was granted two city lots. Regretably he committed suicide some years later. See The Dibblees and the American War of Independence.

The child that was born must have died. John Dibblee, Fredeick's oldest son was born in 1787 - see children of Frederick Dibblee.

Click here for information about land grants. Frederick Dibblee has an entry for 1785 in Parr Town, with a comment that it was re-registered from 1784. Parr Town later became part of the City of St John. Frederick later settled in Windsor, further up the St John River, and bought land there around 1793.

Ebenezer actually died in 1799, 16 years after this letter - Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee.

Apparently Sir Guy Carleton gave Ebenezer £50.
From Wikipedia: "Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester KB (1724-1808), known between 1776 and 1786 as Sir Guy Carleton, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and administrator. He twice served as Governor of the Province of Quebec, from 1768 to 1778, concurrently serving as Governor General of British North America in that time, and again from 1785 to 1795. He commanded British troops in the American War of Independence, first leading the defence of Quebec during the 1775 rebel invasion, and the 1776 counteroffensive that drove the rebels from the province. In 1782 and 1783, he led as the commander-in-chief of all British forces in North America. In this capacity he was notable for carrying out the Crown's promise of freedom to slaves who joined the British, and he oversaw the evacuation of British forces, Loyalists and more than 3,000 freedmen from New York City in 1783 to transport them to a British colony.