Annapolis Grained Campaign Box
A rare early piece of Nova Scotia military history -- a lap desk faux-painted to be an officer's box, complete with faux-painted brass corners and faux brass cartouche on lid. Original brass bail handles complete the campaign feel. The interior is fitted out as a lap desk and has a wonderful early 19th century penned note written on the wood which gives us a clue as to the box's origin and use. The inscription reads "William Harding, Bomer/Royal Artillery/Port Royal, 17th May 1809". The word "Bomer" is obviously a misspelling of "Bomber." There is record of a loyalist William Harding leaving Newburgh, New York for Annapolis Royal in the late 1783, then and eventually settling in St. John, New Brunswick. It is not known if this is the same William Harding who owned this box. An excerpt from the United Empire Loyalists of Canada website is included below...
"William Harding and Leah Gillies of Newburgh, New York. When he was just five years old, Harding's parents had emigrated from Derry, Ireland to New York in 1750. He entered the carpentry trade, married, and by February 1777 was the father of four children.
However, Harding was not home for the birth of Sarah, his fourth child, because he had been serving with the loyalist forces for the past year. As a pilot who knew the North River, he guided British ships; at other times he fought alongside fellow loyalists under Major Ward. In one such battle, rebels wounded Harding and took him prisoner near Trenton, New Jersey. He spent three weeks chained in irons, but managed to escape after bribing the prison's sentries.
Leah and the Harding children eventually joined William in New Jersey where he was made an agent for one of nine ships that would take 360 loyalist refugees north to Nova Scotia. In the fall of 1782, William Harding boarded the Amphitrite in the hope of rebuilding his life in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Little Sarah Harding was just five and a half years old as she walked over the ship's gangplank with her mother and siblings.
During the revolution, Sarah's Uncle George had served the British as a spy, going on missions that took him as far west as Niagara. George's family and their slaves sailed on the Amphitrite along with Sarah's family in the fall of 1782. Family legend has it that one of the Hardings jumped out of their boat as it neared land, swimming to the beach to be the first one to arrive in their new home.
After a chilly winter in Annapolis Royal, William Harding decided to take his family across the Bay of Fundy. At first the Hardings settled in Maugerville on the St. John River, then Belleisle Bay, and finally in Saint John."
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