Military and Black Interments
The Lower Burial Ground was probably used for interring those who were serving (or had served) in the army or the navy, especially in its early years. The burial register lists a number of unnamed military: six sailors (1791); two sailors (1792); two soldiers, Queen’s York Rangers (1793); two soldiers “or Hollingsworth” (1793); two soldiers, 5th Regiment (1794); two soldiers, 60th Regiment (1794) and one soldier, 60th Regiment (1795). It is assumed that these men were buried in the Lower Burial Ground.
During the War of 1812 (1812-1814) the Garrison Burial Ground was established in the area now occupied by McBurney Park. It is assumed that soldiers and sailors who died during the War of 1812 and are listed in the burial register were buried in what was initially the Garrison Burial Ground but which became the Upper Burial Ground in 1819.
There are a number of naval personnel listed in the burial register during the period from 1812 to 1814, for example: Berg Aspey, sailor (1813); Baptist Cago, sailor (1812); Peter Clifford, sailor (1813); Dedrick Markland, sailor (1812); and Edward Roach, sailor (1813). There were also a number of soldiers buried during this period, for example: Joseph Andrews, Royal Newfoundland Fencibles (1812); William Barnham, Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles (1813); James Buchanan, 10th Royal Veterans Battalion (1813) and Joseph Edwards, 49th Regiment of Foot (1812). In addition, there were a number of dependents (wives and children) and others noted as “Veterans” noted in the burial register. W.J. Patterson, in his analysis of the St. George’s burial register, has concluded that during the War of 1812, these people were buried in the Garrison Burial Ground and provides a list of the 60 named individuals. [provide link to W.J. Patterson’s paper – Military Cemetery].
There were a number of other burials both before and after the War of 1812 for which the burial register notes a military affiliation, for example: Corporal Askey (1794); George Blaine, sailor (1810); Sir Richard Bonnycastle (1847); A. Cameron, Lieutenant Marines (1810); William Dale, 41st Regiment (1803); Corporal Forbes, King’s Royal Regiment of New York (1783); Green, 60th Regiment (1795) and John McQuin, 100th Regiment (1809). All of these and others, whose burial dates fall outside the War of 1812, are assumed to have been buried in the Lower Burial Ground.
The burial register for the Lower Burial Ground lists a few slaves and children of blacks: black boy (1794); Sophia, black woman belonging to Mr. Robins (1800); black child (1801); and Catherine, slave (1811). This gives a glimpse of the situation in Kingston in terms of Loyalists who fled the United States following the American Revolution, bringing their slaves with them to British territory, and possibly some free blacks who had escaped. There are a few whose names are listed along with other information: Gin, black woman (1804); Inde, Negro woman (1795); and Prince, black man (1806). Whether these are surnames is difficult to know. There may have been others who are listed in the burial register in the more conventional manner with their first and last names without further reference that would indicate colour or status.
The status of slaves remained unresolved until 1793 when anti-slavery legislation was passed – the Upper Canada Abolition Act – which curtailed slaves being imported and provided for children born of slaves to be free once they became 25 years old. Upper Canada was the first of the British colonies to enact anti-slavery legislation which made the colony an attractive destination for fugitive slaves.
The Stones Project on Black History contains more information on the history of blacks in Kingston.