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JONES, JOHN, surveyor; b. c. 1743; d. 16 Aug. 1823 in Augusta (Maine).

Prior to the signing of the Treaty of Paris between Great Britain and the United States in 1783, efforts were being made by the Penobscot Associated Loyalists in the District of Maine to move to a new home in Nova Scotia. Assisting their leaders in arranging the evacuation of several hundred settlers to a desirable site under British control was John Jones, an able land surveyor.

Jones is reported to have resided during his youth at Concord, Mass. He apparently acquired his skills as a surveyor with the Plymouth Company, an association of the proprietors of the Kennebec Purchase; by 1771 he had gone to the Kennebec region, where he conducted a number of surveys for the company. He made his residence at Hallowell. When the American revolution broke out, Jones chose to remain loyal to the British cause and subsequently he was imprisoned at Boston in 1778 or early 1779. Escaping in the spring of 1779, he made his way via Lake Champlain to Quebec and there was commissioned captain in a regiment commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Rogers*. Soon after, Jones was dispatched to Fort George (Castine, Maine), which elements of the 74th and 82nd regiments under Brigadier-General Francis McLean* had built as a preliminary to establishing a haven on the Penobscot River for loyalist refugees [see John Caleff*]. There he became notorious for leading small raiding parties against rebel settlements; at the head of his band of “Rangers,” he marauded up and down the coastal areas. He was also employed in carrying dispatches to Quebec and Halifax.

Jones’s talents as a surveyor must have been useful to Robert Pagan, who after May 1780 was the highest ranking civilian leader at Fort George in charge of settling refugees along the Penobscot River. With the signing of the peace treaty in 1783 and the establishment of the St Croix River as the boundary between the United States and Nova Scotia, Pagan enlisted Jones to assist in preparing a town site and land grants at Passamaquoddy Bay (N.B.), just to the east of the St Croix. By August 1783, in concert with the loyalist agent William Gallop* and the surveyor Charles Morris, Jones had begun to lay out the town plat of St Andrews and adjoining parcels of land along the bay and river system. During the fall of that year Colonel John Allan*, the American superintendent of eastern Indians, captured Jones while he was surveying. Contending that the St Croix River mentioned in the treaty was farther east, Allan was attempting to stall any efforts by the Penobscot loyalists to settle and fortify the Passamaquoddy region. Jones succeeded in escaping, however, and managed to complete his surveys. In his role as surveyor Jones also suffered at the hands of the new settlers. The influx of refugees outpaced the efforts to complete the necessary work of surveying farmlands, especially as lots along the coast were taken up and others had to be found inland. Jones was often accused of favouritism, neglect, and outright rudeness in dealing with both civilian and military refugees. In fairness, however, one must consider that during the period 1783–85 he was executing his duties virtually single-handed.

Jones was described as “small of stature, compactly built, and swarthy of complexion,” and because of his colouring was sometimes referred to as “Black” or “Mahogany” Jones. Not much is known of his personal life in Charlotte County. He acquired a town lot in St Andrews and a garden lot at Waweig near by, but it is not certain where he decided to live. He appears not to have developed a 500-acre mill privilege he obtained at Waweig. In late 1783, along with Moses Gerrish and others, he received a licence to occupy Grand Manan Island; he disposed of his interest in this property three years later.

According to the Reverend Jacob Bailey*, a fellow Maine loyalist who had praised “his active and enterprising genius” during the revolution, Jones had lost “an ample estate” because of his loyalty. Perhaps wounded by his persecution at the hands of the Passamaquoddy settlers and frustrated by his inability to find a more lucrative and permanent position in the community than that offered by his surveying duties, he returned to the Kennebec region. He may have resettled there as early as 1793, when he compiled a map for the Plymouth Company. By 1809 he was living in Augusta and there he died 14 years later. He was survived only by his wife, Ruth Lee, originally of Concord; there had been no children of the marriage.

Roger Nason

N.B., Dept. of Natural Resources, Lands Branch (Fredericton), Index to Nova Scotia grants, 1765–84; Land grant books. PANB, RG 2, RS6, B; RG 10, RS 107, C4/1–4; RG 18, RS 148, A1. PRO, AO 13, bundle 75. Winslow papers (Raymond). Vital records of Augusta, Maine, to the year 1892, ed. E. C. Conant (2v., [Auburn, Maine], 1933–34). J. H. Ahlin, Maine Rubicon: downeast settlers during the American revolution (Calais, Maine, 1966). W. S. Bartlet, The frontier missionary: a memoir of the life of the Rev. Jacob Bailey, A.M., missionary at Pownalborough, Maine; Cornwallis and Annapolis, N.S. (Boston, 1853). H. A. Davis, An international community on the St. Croix, 1604–1930 (Orono, Maine, 1950). Eastport and Passamaquoddy: a collection of historical and biographical sketches, comp. W. H. Kilby (Eastport, Maine, 1888). Guy Murchie, Saint Croix: the sentinel river (New York, 1947). R. P. Nason, “Meritorious but distressed individuals: the Penobscot Loyalist Association and the settlement of the township of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, 1783–1821 “(ma thesis, Univ. of N.B., Fredericton, 1982). Hunter Boyd, “Waweig,” Acadiensis (Saint John, N.B.), 7 (1907): 274–83. Robert Fellows, “The loyalists and land settlement in New Brunswick, 1783–1790: a study in colonial administration,” Canadian Archivist ([Calgary]), 2 (1970–74), no.2: 5–15. R. H. Gardiner, “Jones’s Eddy,” Maine Hist. Soc. Coll. (Portland), 1st ser., 4 (1856): 41–48. W. H. Siebert, “The exodus of the loyalists from Penobscot and the loyalist settlements at Passamaquoddy,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., 3 (1907–14), no.9: 485–529.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Roger Nason, “JONES, JOHN (d. 1823),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 10, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/jones_john_1823_6E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/jones_john_1823_6E.html
Author of Article:   Roger Nason
Title of Article:   JONES, JOHN (d. 1823)
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1987
Year of revision:   1987
Access Date:   June 10, 2023