Stair B. Agnew and family


Agnew, Sophia Winifred 1768-1820

Agnew, Stair 1758-1821

Agnew, Elizabeth Louise 1809-1827

Agnew, Stair B. 1808-1848

Royal Gazette, Fredericton, NB, 26 December 1827:

Died on Tuesday last, Elizabeth Louise, youngest daughter of the late Stair B. Agnew, in the 18th year of her age.

New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, NB, 19 February 1848:

d. Eastport (Maine) 4th inst., Stair B. Agnew, native of Fredericton (York Co.) and descendant of Rev. John Agnew, an Episcopal clergyman of Virginia, age about 40..

Judging from the dates, Stair B. Agnew (born 1808) would be a son of Captain Stair B. Agnew (born 1758).

The Reverend John Agnew, who formerly had been rector of the established church, parish of Suffolk, Virginia, came to New Brunswick as chaplain of the Queen’s Rangers. He and his son Captain Stair Agnew, also of the Queen’s Rangers, moved up from Maugerville having acquired the thousand-acre Anderson Grant at the mouth of the Nashwaak River. They were half-pay officers.

Rev. John Agnew renovated Anderson’s trading post “Moncton” which stood on the site of old Fort Nashwaak, and Captain Stair Agnew built a home for himself on the opposite shore of the Nashwaak, later called the Barker House. This house was torn down in 1954 and a motel was built upon the site.

When Rev. John Agnew, who was elected a member for Sunbury County in the New Brunswick legislature and who otherwise had been a prominent member of the community, died at the age of eighty-five in 1812, Captain Stair Agnew moved across the Nashwaak to his father’s house and his daughter, Winifred, Mrs. Guy Jewett, then lived in the house he had built.

Sabine’s Loyalists of the American Revolution, Vol. I:

Agnew, Stair. Believed to have been a son of the Rev. John Agnew. He was certainly from Virginia, and a Captain in the Queen’s Rangers, and settled at Fredericton where he resided until his death, in 1821, at the age of sixty-three. He enjoyed half-pay. While attached to the Rangers he was taken prisoner and carried to France, and was not exchanged until near the close of the war. It seems that at the Battle of Brandywine he was severely wounded, and while on passage to Virginia, for recovery, was captured by the French squadron. Franklin, Minister to France, was appealed to, to effect his release and that of others made prisoners at the same time. Captain Agnew’s letter from the Castle of St. Maloes, February 26, 1782, details the circumstances of his captivity, and contains some tender allusions to his “aged and beloved mother.” He closes: “O, God! who knows, perhaps she at this moment, from an independent affluence, is reduced by the vicissitudes of the times to penury. My heart, afflicted with the misfortunes of our family, can no more —–.” He was a member of the House of Assembly of New Brunswick for thirty years, and a magistrate of York County for a considerable period. His wife, Sophia Winifred, died in that county in 1820, at the age of fifty-two.

Stair B. Agnew died at the age of 63, having been a distinguished officer, fearless and independent in political and public life, advocating reform in the administration of the province on many occasions. After a trial in 1800, the defendant Stair Agnew sent a challenge by his counsel, John Murray Bliss, to the presiding judge, the Honourable Isaac Allen. The challenge was refused, whereupon he challenged Samuel Denny Street, the counsel for the plaintiff, and a duel ensued. They and their seconds, John Murray Bliss and Captain Anderson, were indicted but never tried.

Stair Agnew was a friend of Edward Winslow and was a pallbearer at his funeral in 1815. He was of Scottish descent of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire. Stair Agnew and his wife very likely are buried near the Winslow graves, which are unmarked. The family income ceased with his death and possibly no tombstone was erected. His heir found it impossible to manage, and in a very few years the family fortunes in New Brunswick had failed utterly.

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