The story of Aeneas Shaw

Aeneas was born at Tordarroch House in Scotland in 1740, son of Angus Shaw, Chief of Clan Ay and Anne Dallas of Cantray. He immigrated to Staten Island, New York around 1770 soon after the outbreak of the American Revolution and joined Queen’s Rangers as an ensign. He ended the war as a captain and, from promotions from John Graves Simcoe, formed a Highland Company training light infantry and sharpshooters.

After the surrender of Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, he was evacuated to New York City and joined the Loyalist migration to Nova Scotia, settling the Nashwaak River. By the fall of 1791, he was an established farmer. He later accepted a commission as Captain-Lieutenant in Queen’s Rangers when they were raised as a provincial corps for Upper Canada.

Shaw married Ann Gosline (1766-1806) and with her had 12 children: John, Alexander, Charles, Isabella, Aeneas, Richard, Sophia, Ann, George, David, Charlotte and Mary. After Ann’s death in 1806, he married Margaret Hickman.

With his Rangers, he traveled to meet Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe at Quebec in March of 1792 and then led the troops to Kingston. By Simcoe’s recommendation, Shaw was to be appointed to the Executive Council. Shaw commanded the Ranger detachment that cleared the site of York in 1793 and was among the first officials to move his family there. In 1794, he was sworn in as Executive Councilor and took a seat on the Legislative Council. While in council, Shaw attempted to have his Rangers moved from Kingston but this was overturned by his loss of power to John McGill. The Queen’s Rangers were disbanded in 1802 and Shaw retired from his military career.

Shaw’s career did not end here for fear of war with the United States. At the start of the War of 1812, Shaw was promoted to Major General and put in charge of recruiting and training militia. He led them in a failed defence of York and fell ill and later passed away on February 6, 1814 in York.

For his services, both in government and military, Shaw was granted a total of 6,000 acres, as well as an additional 1,200 acres per child. To raise money for his family, he sold much of the land he was granted throughout West Flamborough and North Dorchester Townships. Shaw kept the most valuable of his 500 acres in York, which remained in the family until 1862.

Adam Elsebroek, Flamborough Archives Intern

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 12 September 2013.


Your Cart