Ancaster Bloody Assize of 1814

The Bloody Assize of Ancaster was a series of trials conducted during the War of 1812.  Although most of the inhabitants of Upper Canada either fought for the defence of their colony or remained neutral in the War of 1812, there were men in almost every part of the province who sympathized with the Americans. Some openly joined the invading American forces, while others crossed the border into the United States.

In November and December of 1813 Canadian militia surprised a group of marauders in a house near Chatham, Ontario. Among the prisoners were 15 residents of the province.

All these prisoners were sent to York to be tried in the court (assize is a historical term referring to courts that periodically administered civil and criminal law). The court opened proceedings in Ancaster on 23 May 1814. Nineteen men were officially charged with High Treason. In sentences handed down 7-21 June, Jacob Overholtzer, Aaron Stevens, Garrett Neill, John Johnston, Samuel and Stephen Hartwell, Dayton Lindsey, George Peacock Jr., Isaiah Brink, Benjamin Simmons, Adam Crysler, Isaac Petit, Cornelius Howey, John Dunham, and Noah Payne Hopkins were found guilty. Dayton Lindsey, Noah Payne Hopkins, John Dunham, Aaron Stevens, Benjamin Simmons, George Peacock Jr., Isaiah Brink and Adam Crysler were executed by hanging on 20 July 1814 at Burlington Heights.

Author: James Marsh

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