As you drive north and west from Toronto, you stumble upon a little crossroad with a statue on the corner. Long ago this little crossroad was the largest town north of York. And the man who created this town was a man of great passion. He loved dearly and he had opinions that were stronger than one man. I have the greatest pleasure to introduce this man to you. His name was Jesse David Lloyd.
Jesse David Lloyd was the third son born to William and Susannah Heacock Lloyd on January 11, 1786. He was born in Springfield Township in Pennsylvania. The family were Quakers. The family was also loyal to the King. This was the reason that the family would move to Youngstown, New York in 1788. Opportunity did not present itself to the young family. They would move back to Pennsylvania.
The young family became United Empire Loyalists. The family would try to emigrate again in 1808. This time they settled in King Township in Upper Canada. Son Jesse would settle in King as well as rent a clergy lot in Whitchurch. They began to clear their lots, building a simple home to live in. In total, Jesse had purchased 24 hectares of land in the King area. He would reside at Lot 31 on the 9th Concession West.
During the war of 1812, Jesse was adamant that he would not be involved. He was a Quaker. He held on stubbornly to his beliefs. Jesse was ordered by the militia to send a team of horses to participate in the war effort. Jesse flatly refused and did not send the horses. Lloyd was fined for refusing the request.
In 1813, Jesse would marry Pheobe Crossley. She was 14 at the time they married. They began having children right away. Their son Perry was born the following year. The couple would go on to have 14 children. The last child of the couple was born on September 10, 1835.
In 1814, Jesse would join the Yonge Street Quakers Monthly meeting. Although strong in his beliefs, he would never become an active member in the meeting.
Jesse and Pheobe would become a powerhouse of a couple. Pheobe worked just as hard to grow the little area that they lived. By 1824, Jesse had a new sawmill in nearby Tecumseh Township. For the next 5 years, Jesse would buy, or try to buy, several lots. The land was mostly clergy reserves in the northwest of King Township. He would build mills around the Holland River. Lloyd set aside 60 acres of his land for town lots. This created the village of Lloydtown.
In 1829, Jesse was elected to office in King as an overseer of highways. He would also become a pound keeper and a township commissioner. This is the time when Jesse became involved in provincial politics.
Lloyd’s monthly membership with the Yonge Street Quakers was cancelled for non-attendance in 1831. Jesse and Pheobe would remain simple folks, dressing modestly.
By 1831, the town now had two churches, a couple of cooperages, three blacksmiths, a tannery and a couple of stores. A new post office would open under the name of Lloydtown. The town now had three hotels. Lloydtown became the second biggest town, only after the city of York.
Jesse would build a large brick house near the village. During 1834, a servant by the name of Jennie had passed away. Jesse would donate a parcel of land for a family cemetery. Jennie is buried under a simple stone and was the first to be buried there.
In 1834, Jesse would be elected to attend the convention that would choose the next reform candidates for the next election. It is unknown when Jesse met William Lyon Mackenzie. It is most likely during the reform conventions that the pair would meet. The two would become allies with each other.
Lloyd was very busy making societies in the neighbouring townships. He was growing quite annoyed at the ruling government, called the Family Compact. He began to listen to what Mackenzie was saying. In his heart, he agreed to what he was hearing. Jesse was also against the Family Compact. The Family Compact was a group of wealthy and powerful men. And William Lyon Mackenzie was The Family Compact opponent.
In 1836 Jesse was in a dispute with a widow regarding a clergy lot. Lloyd lost money in the end when the Executive Council ruled in favour of the widow.
By midsummer 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie, David Gibson and Jesse Lloyd were instrumental in organizing the uprising of the locals against the Family Compact. In October, Lloyd is dispatched to Montreal. John Rolph, another local politician, had wanted to see if there was going to be a rebellion in Lower Canada. For his return, Jesse was given a letter to send back to Rolph and Mackenzie. The letter did not mention a rebellion, but Mackenzie read between the lines.
On August 13, 1837, Jesse’s 17 year old daughter and wife of Seymour Stogdill died. She is buried in the Lloydtown cemetery.
Mackenzie set the date for December 7 as the day of the rebellion. Jesse played an important role in recruiting the local farmers and turning them into the rebels. In November, The Family Compact had heard stirrings of a rebellion happening on December 7. On November 24th William Lyon Mackenzie and Jesse Lloyd would meet with members of the Home District. They were there to convince the members of uprising. Change was needed and Mackenzie was convinced it was through rebellion.
Lloydtown was now the hotbed of rebel activity. Jesse would aid in training farmers to become rebels. Meetings were held often. Jesse had managed to gather many men who were willing to fight if needed to. It is a consensus that the men from Lloydtown were the best trained.
Jesse would begin marching with 50 local rebels at 9 am on the morning on December 7. The Loyalist faction had much more in the way of troops and the rebels were quickly dispersing into the nearby woods. The defeat at Montgomery’s Tavern would lead to Jesse Lloyd having a $500 bounty on his head.
Jesse would hide in a large iron pot in the apple orchard. Having to leave the area, Jesse began his trek. He followed Mackenzie to the Niagara area. Lloyd did not become involved with the “Provisional Government” that happened on Navy Island. He also was not involved in the events that took place there.
Jesse Lloyd made it across the border and escaped to relatives in Ohio. From there he landed in Tippecanoe County in Indiana. Soon after, Jesse caught a fever from exhaustion. On September 27, 1838, Jesse died from the fever at the age of 52. Family tried to get his body back to Lloydtown so it may be buried in the family graveyard. The request was in vain. The Quakers had denied the burial of Jesse in their cemeteries.
Although Jesse was successful in developing Lloydtown, his estate was modest. He had much livestock and the farm was partially paid for. Pheobe Lloyd had to petition for the right to pay off the remainder owing. They granted her the right to do so and she was able to retain the farm.
After Jesse’s escape and death, the town of Lloydtown began to decline. The Railroads by-passed Lloydtown. Local shops began to close down. What was left was what it is today. A quaint community tucked in from the hustle of our modern day.
Jesse was against violence yet walked proud right into rebellion. He stood tall for everyone. Although he lost his battle, he eventually helped win the war. Even though his body may be elsewhere, his spirit never left the tiny town. It is hard to stand beneath the statue there and not think how Jesse Lloyd inspired his neighbours to make change.