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[b.1756 - d.1808]

[b. ? - d.1796]

History is experiencing at second hand all kinds of human behaviour.

PARSHALL TERRY [b.1756 - d.1808]

Parshall Terry was elected to the first Legislative Assembly for the riding of 4th Lincoln and Norfolk, and as a member he received a land grant of 1200 acres. Terry was born in Orange County, New Jersey, in 1756 and later moved to Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. He served throughout the American Revolution as a lieutenant in Butler's Rangers and came to Canada as a United Empire Loyalist. On the disbandment of the Rangers he retired on half pay. He lived for a period in Kingston and then moved to Niagara. When Governor Simcoe relocated to York, Terry also made the move and settled on the east bank of the Don River. In 1800 he constructed a sawmill some distance north of the Town of York which grew to be a large operation and was considered to be one of the most important in the province.

Terry's name is comes up in connection with several individuals who were also members of the Assembly. For the first, Isaac Swayze, Terry was one of two bondsmen who provided a surety to ensure the appearance in court of Isaac Swayze, a somewhat nefarious individual who was charged as an "exciter of sedition." Terry's name was in the news a second time, when a Thomas B. Gough publicly singled out and thanked "Parshall Terry, Esq., a respectable freeholder," for encouraging Gough to run for the Legislature in 1808. Gough later achieved some fleeting fame when he joined with other members of the Assembly to defeat President Isaac Brock's proposal to repeal the Habeas Corpus Act, which Brock wanted enacted because of the imminence of war with the United States.

Terry drowned on July 20th, 1808, while attempting to cross the Don River on a floating bridge.

WILLIAM MACOMB [b.? - d.1796]

"The more I know of Macomb the less I like him." This caustic comment seems to sum up history's opinion of this enigmatic individual. William Macomb of North Ireland descent was an influential merchant and powerful trader in Detroit, who along with his brother, Alexander had investments in 1780 worth 30,600 pounds. He parlayed his wartime profits into a very successful, post-war career.

Along with Francis Baby, William was elected to the first Legislative Assembly to represent the huge riding of Kent which in 1792 extended from Sarnia up into the Georgian Bay peninsula and along the north shore of Lake Huron. The two assemblymen could not have been more different. While little is known of Macomb's contribution to the work of the Assembly, information does exist which indicates that he was a rather reprehensible individual whose loyalties were often in question and who appeared to stop at nothing to achieve his ill-gotten gains and glory. Macomb's brother, Alexander, shares this shady side of the family having been imprisoned in New York for financial improprieties and for involvement in a land scam with among others, New York's Governor Clinton.

Counterbalancing these black sheep was William Macomb's nephew, Major General Alexander Macomb of the United States Army, who successfully defended Plattsburg against the British General, Sir George Prevost in 1814. From 1828 to 1841, Alexander was Commander-in-Chief of the United States' army. William's brother, Alexander, eventually became one of the republic's foremost merchants whose mansion later became the residence of the first president of the United States.

Macomb's nefarious scheming among the western Native peoples, particularly the Wyandots (Dwellers on a Peninsula), was thoroughly documented in a series of letters dispatched to John Graves Simcoe. These reports indicated that Macomb regularly supplied rum to the Aborigines and played off one tribe against another in an attempt to influence Aboriginal loyalties and liberalities. The source of these revelations was Father Edmund Burke, an active and zealous Roman Catholic priest, who was a loyal supporter of the Crown and a caring and conscientious worker on behalf of the Aborigines.
In His Own Words
"The Wyandots complain that Mr. Macomb has usurped an island on them, on some pretended title and they pray for relief. The more I know of Macomb the less I like him. He is a most troublesome man to the gentlemen of the (Indian) department and a staunch friend to Congress. Macomb is an absolute pest; he torments the Indians more than any other man."

In another letter to Simcoe, Burke attempts to explain McComb's behaviour.
In His Own Words
"Macomb, one of our legislators, has acted in a most unwarrantable manner. I think him one of the most dangerous subjects in the province. Wealth no matter how acquired gives him influence. A stock of self-sufficient pride, the necessary result of ignorance in affluence, emboldens him with a sort of cunning with which he rules the peasant and the native."

The duplicity of the Macombs is referred to also in one of Simcoe's letters to the Home Office in London. "Mr. Macomb, late of Detroit, is settled in New York and in all probability will convert his knowledge of this country to the commercial benefit of the United States."

Despite these critical comments regarding Macomb's behaviour and his alleged American allegiance, Macomb remained in the good graces of Simcoe who regularly rewarded him with various appointments. Inexplicably, one of these was serving on a commission which oversaw government purchases of Aboriginal lands. Given Macomb's double-dealings with various Native tribes, this appointment was analogous to putting the fox in charge of the chickens. It appears Macomb also served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the Detroit area.

The mystery surrounding Macomb is complicated further by the revelation that he may have served two masters. According to Colonel John Butler, Macomb is credited with keeping the British abreast of military events in New York.
In His Own Words
"Mr. William Macomb who left New York on the June 17th, 1794, says two English frigates were there and seven were on the coast and were hourly expected in that harbour, but that no word had arrived from Mr. Jay." The latter refers to John Jay, a leading American government official sent to London to negotiate a peace agreement with Britain. His return was expected any time. Jay's Treaty, was signed in 1794 by Great Britain and the United States and it preserved peace for a time between Canada and the United States. In light of Simcoe's earlier disparaging reference to what appeared to be Macomb's double dealings with the United States, it seems that Macomb, who died in 1796, might have been a double agent.

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