The 1783 diary of Sarah Frost (1754-1817) offers an intimate account of what it was like for the Loyalists sailing from New York to what, in 1784, would become the British colony of New Brunswick.
While the original diary appears to have been lost, several transcriptions have been made over the years. Literary scholar Gwen Davies has painstakingly traced and compared transcriptions, which have a number of substantial differences. For example, “Billy” in the one version of the diary is replaced by the more formal term “my husband” in another, while the mention of drinking rum punch, included in this version, is omitted by earlier editors with temperance leanings.
The first published version of the diary, edited by W.O. Raymond, appeared in Kingston and the Loyalists of the "Spring Fleet" of 1783 by Walter Bates (1889). The version produced here, by R. Wallace Hale, was transcribed from W.O. Raymond’s papers, housed in the New Brunswick Museum. Mr. Hale notes that a comparison of the transcript with the version published in 1889 reveals that Dr. Raymond edited each version to a greater or lesser degree. Mr. Hale’s editorial comments are enclosed in square brackets, Raymond’s in round brackets.
We are grateful to Mr. Hale, a diligent researcher on matters relating to the Loyalists, and the New Brunswick Museum for permission to make this version of Sarah Frost’s dairy accessible to the public.
“Extracts from the Diary kept by Sarah Frost on the Voyage from New York to St. John, N.B. in one of the Loyalist Fleets of 1783,” William Odber Raymond Collection, Notebook #1 (F 17-1), 120, New Brunswick Museum.
Walter Bates, 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, edited with notes by W.O. Raymond (Woodstock NB: Non-Entity Press, 1980/1999).
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).