Get Me to the Church Before Noon, A Wedding, 1802

47 years ago today, I said I do. My sister was by my side as bridesmaid. My Great Grandmother Rebecca Miller Bush was witness to her brother’s wedding on August 3, 1802. Google tells me it was a Wednesday. I don’t know much about her life, except a google search also tells me she was the oldest person to be buried in the Loyalist cemetery at Switzerville, Ontario, so when I found her name on Volume 2 of the Reverend John Langhorn Registry here’s what I now know.

The Reverend Robert McDowall was sent by the Church of England as a Missionary to Upper Canada. He came to the Kingston area in 1788, and made his headquarters on the Bay of Quinte, at Ernestown which is now incorporated into the town of Bath, Ontario. His carefully recorded marriages and baptisms that are preserved in Kingston since January of 1899.

Uncle Peter and Rebecca were 10 months apart. They were the two oldest of Garret Sr. and Elizabeth Switzer Miller and were only 3 and 2 when their father marched off to join Burgoyne’s army to fight against the Americans in the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783. They made an escape after their farm was confiscated at Camden Valley, New York to Sorel, LeBas Richelieu, Quebec. Here the family lived in tents with rations provided by the British government. Their father Garrett was hospitalized, possibly because of his musket shot in his arm, wounded at the Battle of Bennington during the War. The farm they started at Trois-Rivers was lost in a court case and the family located to Ernestown, near Switzerville, where Elizabeth’s family had established farms, where the British relocated the Loyalists.

It is here that Gramma Rebecca Miller married another EU Loyalist, Charles Henry Bush and had six children: Julia Ann 1796, Mary Ann 1799, William 1802, Garrett 1803, Christopher 1809, and Agnes 1813, who died young.

Why if the family were Methodist, did Peter get married at St. John’s a Church of England church? The itinerant Methodist circuit riders were NOT authorized to perform marriages in Canada.

Weddings are always joyous occasions and I imagine Peter’s older half brother Michael (born in Ireland to Elizabeth’s cousin Catherine) and his older sister Rebecca married to Henry Bush getting their brother Peter to the St. John’s Church on time! These 3 were listed as the witnesses to the wedding. The good Reverend was labelled as an eccentric Welsh bachelor and Church of England clergyman. He was the only authorized celebrant to officiate at marriages, in the area. He insisted that all must come to one of his churches for that purpose before noon. Off the Methodists went to make it legal! Peter Miller was 22 years old when he said I do with Sarah Roys, 18, then back to their farms at Ernestown, where Garrett and Elizabeth would be close enough to watch these grandchildren grow. The Bush children and the Miller children would be first cousins who most lived long enough to see the Confederation of Canada.

The couple would have 6 children: Calvin Wooster, 1803, Harvey 1805, Maria 1807, Sarah 1811, William Ross 1813 and Charles Roys 1818.

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