Lieutenant James Clement, UE (1764-1813)
James Clement was born the 15 Jul 1764 in the Mohawk Valley, New York. He was the son of Ludovicus (Lewis) Cobes (1725-1781) and Catlyntje (Catherine Eliza) Poutnam (1726-1807). He was a United Empire Loyalist and served as an ensign in the Indian Department towards the latter part of the Revolutionary War. He received a 2,000 acre land grant in Niagara Township after the war, as well as a town lot in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Upper Canada Land Petitions, National Archives of Canada, microfilm No. C-1647);
“Many of the early settlers in the Niagara District were officers who had taken part in the Rangers’ raids throughout the war. Among them were Captain Andrew Brant, Captain B. Fry, Captain P. Hare, Captain Thomas Butler, Captain Aaron Brant, Captain P. Paulding, Captain John Ball, Captain P. Ball, Captain P. Ten Brock, Lt. R. Clench, Lt. William Brant, Lt. William Tweeny, Lt. Jocal Swoos, Lt. James Clement and Lt. D. Swoos; there was also Captain James Brant, Indian Department; Captain H. Nelles, Captain James Young, Captain Robert Nelles, Captain Joseph Dockater, Captain C. Ryman, Lt. J. Clement, Lt. W.B. Shuhm, Lt. A. Crysler, Lt. S. Secord, Lt. F. Stevens, Surgeon R. Kerr, and Commodore T. Merritt, father of Honourable W. H. Merritt.”
United Empire Loyalists, Pioneers of Upper Canada, Bellevile, Ontario, Mika Publishing, 1976, p. 190
These were the friends and neighbours of the Clement family and together with them, were the early pioneers who carved homes and towns out of the Niagara wilderness. There are many books and records which contain references to the Clement brothers and their military exploits. One of the most informative is History of that Branch of the Crysler Family Who Settled in the District of Niagara by John M. Crysler, written in 1936. It contains much information on the Clement Family due to three generations of intermarriage with the Cryslers. Many of the documents quoted in the book were supplied by Joseph Clement, a grandson of James and Catherine, including a copy of a Commission in the Militia granted to James Clement in 1794 quoted below:
“By John Butler, Esquire, Constituted and appointed by Commission from His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, Lieutenant of the County of Lincoln. To James Clement, Gentleman. By Virtue and in pursuance of an Act of the Legislature of Upper Canada, entitled an Act for the better Regulation of the Militia of the Province, I, John Butler, Esquire, etc. etc. etc. have nominated, constituted, appointed and give commission and these presents do nominate, constitute, appoint and give commission to you the said James Clement to be Lieutenant of the Militia Forces raised, or to be raised, for and within the said County of Lincoln your name having been by me certified to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, and He not having signified His Disapprobation of you, within two months after such Certificate, so laid before his Excellency, and you are hereby required to Train and Discipline the Persons to be armed and arrayed, by Virtue of the said Act, and in all things conform yourself to the Duty of Lieutenant in the Militia Forces, raised or to be raised, for and within the said County. According to the Rules, Articles and Direction of the said Act. Given under my Hand and Seal, at Newark this thirteenth day of June and Thirty fourth (word thirty uncertain) year of the Reign of Our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and in the year of Our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Four. John Butler, Lieut. Col., County of Lincoln, R. Clench, Secretary to the Lieut. (Written on back of Commission) James Clement, Lieut. 14th June 1794 Given to the Lieut. of the County in disgust as not being made a Captain. May 25, –97(?).”
In his memoirs Colonel John Clarke provides an insight into what life was like in those early days in Upper Canada (Niagara Historical Resource Centre, Col. John Clark – Memoirs 1783-1860, microfilm no. NHRC.321):
“When our family first came to the New World they found an immense forest, with a few Indian trails through the bush; here and there a log hut, an endless number of canoes, and around Quebec and Montreal a few small vessels and batteaux to carry merchandise. From Quebec to Niagara was a fearful journey, almost impossible by land. No towns, no villages, here and there a Fort with a few fur traders around. No steamers, no railroads, no nothing. The only accommodation for travellers was confined to the old French settlements around Quebec. Those who wished to penetrate the country to the Upper Province, had to supply themselves with a month’s provisions, a tent, a camp kettle, fishing apparatus and a gun. And either hire an Indian with his canoe or have recourse to rough built batteaux. It was sort of Robinson Crusoe life, providing daily for their sustenance from the woods and waters, which furnished an abundant supply. There were several old French Forts on the route, one at the Bay of Quinte.”
It is hard to believe, but as far back as 1793, these hardy pioneers had organized themselves into a town, setting up a Town Council, Town Clerk, Tax Assessors, Tax Collectors, Town & Church Wardens, Pound Keepers, Fence Viewers and Keepers of Highways. Members of the community were required to do their share and volunteer a given number of days of labour per year. They enacted by-laws similar to our own. In 1797, for example, fences could not be more than five feet high and hogs were allowed to run free. In the same year, James Clement and his brother, Joseph were Keepers of the Highways along with several of their neighbours. Each person was allocated a certain portion of the highway and he was responsible for road repairs and improvements as well as snow removal in the winter months. In 1800, 1805 & 1806, James was again appointed a Keeper of the Highway. In 1808 he was appointed a Tax Collector and in 1810 as one of the Pound Keepers. In 1810 it was decided that when carriages met they should give half the road, keeping to the right hand side.
James was once again called into service with the start of the War of 1812-14 and served as a dispatch carrier, holding the rank of Lieutenant (History of Niagara, Janet Carnochan, Toronto, William Briggs, 1914, Roster No. 20, p.48). The Clements owned some valuable horses, noted for their endurance. One particularly valuable horse came into their possession as follows (History of that Branch of the Crysler Family Who Settled in the District of Niagara, John M. Crysler, 1936, pp 167, 175):
“Apparently, a number of thoroughbreds were brought over from England. During the voyage a heavy sea arose and it became necessary to cast the horses overboard for the safety of the ship. This was done during the night and at daybreak one horse, a stallion, was found still alive, hugging the boat. The horse was taken on board again and after landing in America became the property of the Clements, who were excellent horsemen. From this horse many colts were raised, possessed of speed and great endurance. Offspring of the same stock are still in existence.”
Lieutenant in the Militia, during the War of 1812-1814 James Clement was a dispatch carrier between Niagara Falls and Fort Erie (Upper Canada Provincial Secretary’s Office, Calendar Finding Aid, 1766-1826, Vol. 19, C4553, p, 8602).
“James Clement, as a despatch carrier, probably had one of the best mounts in th Army. He was wounded in the hand and died of blood poisoning at the age of 49, leaving behind a family of 10 children, the eldest son, Joseph, being 23 years of age. To add more sorrow to the home, July 13th of the same year his wife Catherine died when giving birth to her eleventh child. The baby also died. The father, mother and child were buried on Lot 103, not far from the Creek and close to the road on the north side of the lot. These were the first burials in what has since been called the Clement Burying Ground. The markers stand in fairly good state of preservation [that was in 1936]. The age of James is given as 49 years, 7 months and 19 days, and Catherine as being in her 44th year. According to the Schoharie Records, Catherine was born Sept. 26th, 1770. This would make her 42 years, 9 months and 17 days.” (History of that Branch of the Crysler Family Who Settled in the District of Niagara, John M. Crysler, 1936, pp 167, 175)
The home of James and Catherine Clement, built in 1805, was located on the Four Mile Creek very near the line between Lots 79 and 106. At the end of the war, many of the homes in the Niagara region were burned to the ground by retreating American Soldiers. Legend has it that the Clement home was spared, because Catherine, by this time widowed and pregnant with her 11th child was living alone in the home with her children. Whatever the reason, the home stands today, a glorious representative of an earlier and fascinating period in Canadian History.
The Clements’ home was purchased by Ginny and Ken Douglas – a lawyer in St. Catharines, and lovingly restored to the way it was when the Clement family lived in it. The home was featured in the April 1993 edition of Century Homes. Ginny and Ken purchased the property in 1980 and began a long process of restoration. According to the magazine article even with sagging eaves and badly in need of paint, the house displayed consummate lines typical of the Georgian period. Solid and simple in its symmetry, it had a dignified air that couldn’t fail to impress. The house is located on about 2 acres of land beside the Four Mile Creek in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It took Ginny and Ken eight long years to complete the restoration and to find furnishings from the 1800-1840s era, which included a lamp table made for Laura Secord’s daughter. During restoration they removed the old paint and wall paper down to the original wall paper, which they were able to have reproduced, the plank flooring and the fireplace are original except for the mantle which had been badly burned. The replacement mantle is nevertheless from the same period, having been purchased from another heritage home which was being dismantled in the Niagara area.
James Clement married Catherine Crysler in 1786 and they had eleven (11) children together:
- John Putnam
- Samuel Thompson
- Lewis James
- Adam Crysler
- George Miller
- Robert Addison
James Clement is buried with his wife, Catherine Crysler, at what is known as the Sterling Cemetery located in Lot 103, Niagara Township now Niagara-on-the-Lake. A few tombstones from this cemetery were transcribed by Miss Janet Carnochan and the information published by the Niagara Historical Society, (No. 19), Inscriptions and Graves in the Niagara Peninsula:
“Sacred to the Memory of James Clement, Born 15th July, 1764, Died 8th March, 1813, Aged 49;”
“in memory of Sarah Clement, Daughter of John C. Pettit, and Consort of Joseph Clement, who Departed This Life 9th June 1824, Aged 34;”
“Elizabeth Matilda Ball, Daughter of Jacob H. and Katharine Ball, Died 1823, Aged 11;”
“Sacred to the Memory of Martha Pettit, Consort of John Clement, Who Departed This Life 10th Dec., 1828, Aged 59;”
“Sacred to the Memory of Martha Pettit, Consort of John Pettit Who Departed This Life 10th Dec. 1831, Aged 59 yrs 7 months 18 days;”
“Sacred to the Memory of Caroline Clement Who Was Born 2 Sept 1801 (or 1804) Departed… 17th June 181-.”
James Clement’s gravestone was also recorded in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Cemetery Recordings, No. 5724 – Clement Family.
Adapted from Clement Family History with the permission of its author, Mrs. Lenore J. Harris.
Veteran SummaryJames Clement
Lieutenant, Lincoln County Militia
Place of Death
Niagara Township , Lincoln County, CAN
Died on: 08 MAR 1813
Reason: Wounded to the hand in action
Location of Grave
Sterling Cemetery, Near 773 Line 6
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, CAN
Latitude: 43.187982N Longitude: -79.111853