Loyalist Women in New Brunswick, 1783-1827: Sarah Frost (1754-1817)

Sarah Schofield Frost

Born in 1754 in Stamford, Connecticut; married William Frost in 1773; mother of ten children; died in Kingston, New Brunswick, 1817.

Sarah Frost was a young wife and mother in Stamford, Connecticut, when the American Revolutionary War disrupted kinship ties and forced the Frost family into exile. In 1775 Sarah’s father, Josiah Schofield, was a sergeant in the Revolutionary army that tried to defend New York against British capture. Her brother Gershom Schofield also served the Partiot cause throughout the war. Meanwhile, townsmen in Stamford denounced Sarah’s husband, William Frost, for his Loyalist leanings.

Forced to flee for protection to the British lines, the Frosts lived in a Loyalist encampment on Lloyd’s Neck, Long Island, during much of the war. From there, William participated in raids on Patriot strongholds, including one against his hometown of Stamford on 22 July 1781. There, Loyalist raiders captured the Reverend Moses Mather and 48 men at worship at the Congregational meeting house, stripped men and women of their valuables, took any horses they could round up, and carried their captives and booty back to Lloyd’s Neck. Such counter-revolutionary activity sealed the fate of the Frost family when the Patriots won the war.

On 25 May 1783, Sarah and her family left Lloyd’s Neck on the Two Sisters, the ship that would take them and nearly 250 other Loyalists to what would soon be the colony of New Brunswick. That day Sarah began to keep a diary, which covered the five-week journey to her new home. Seven months pregnant, and with two small children in tow, she offers one of the most intimate and immediate reflections on what it was like to be torn from loved ones (her father boarded the ship while it was docked in New York harbour to say goodbye), to be stuck on a crowded vessel waiting for winds and tides to turn in their favour, and to see for the first time the rock-strewn shores at the mouth of the St. John River. “It is, I think, the roughest land I ever saw,” she wrote in her last diary entry, dated 29 June 1783. Sarah nevertheless plucked up her courage, gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and helped the family to put down roots upriver from the city of Saint John.

Although several versions of Sarah Frost’s diary exist, the original is yet to be located. There is little doubt about the authenticity of the diary, but some passages in the transcriptions suggest deletions or modifications by editors with Victorian sensibilities and strict notions of English grammar and style. This resource thus serves not only as a window on the experience of a pregnant woman arriving on the rocky shores of New Brunswick in 1784, but also as a point of departure for a discussion of how historians evaluate the primary sources that they use to construct a narrative about the past.

Additional Resources

Walter Bates and W.O. Raymond, eds. Kingston and the Loyalists of the "Spring Fleet" of 1783: With reminiscences of early days in Connecticut by Walter Bates; to which is appended a diary written by Sarah Frost on her voyage to Saint John, New Brunswick, with the loyalists of 1783 (Woodstock, N.B.: Non-Entity Press, 1980).

Gwen Davies, "The Diary of Sarah Frost, 1783: The Sounds and Silences of a Woman's Exile." In Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada vol. 42, no. 2 (2004).

For further reading see the bibliography of print and online resources.

Read Sarah's Diary

Sarah's 1783 diary describes her five-week voyage from Long Island to the mouth of the St. John River.

Read more primary documents relating to the lives of Loyalist women in colonial New Brunswick.