George Nichols, born in Newport, Rhode Island, January 12 , 1776, was the son of widow Ruth Nichols. His father George, a sergeant with the British forces, had been killed in action at the battle of Bunker Hill, Boston, Mass. in June of 1775.
When George reached the age of twenty-one years he was eligible for a land grant, so in 1800 he and Benjamin Crawford travelled to Oxford in search of land. At York they each received and registered a grant of 100 acres, George’s portion was Lot 15, Conc 1, West Oxford Township. They cleared the land, planted crops and built cabins on their respective properties (from a diary kept by Benjamin Crawford).
They left the area and George returned to New Brunswick, returning to Oxford in 1805 with his bride Elizabeth Marks. On their return, George and Elizabeth planted three black walnut trees around their cabin, two were destroyed during MacArthur’s raid in November 1814. The third still stands and will be in the documentary A Desert between Us and Them.
George, a lieutenant in the Oxford Militia along with Jacob Wood rode to the Yeigh house, Burford to warn Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bostwick and the Oxford Militia of the approach of MacArthur and the Kentucky Mounted Militia to Oxford-on-the-Thames. This allowed Bostwick to move his troops to Malcolm’s Mill where they were able to make a stand. This battle is recorded and the last battle fought on Canadian Soil by a foreign country.
“Burford, 5th November, 1814.
“6 o’clock a.m.
“Dear Sir – A man left Oxford this morning at 3 o’clock. When he left there the enemy were in Oxford in force, the messenger says two thousand. I retire to Malcolm’s Mill with what force I have. Forward this information. Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Bostwick, Oxford Militia.
E. Cruikshank, Documentary History of the War of 1812-1814, part 9, p. 21
As a result of the warning the properties of Nichols and Wood were destroyed and George was forced to hide in the neighbouring countryside for several days, if discovered he would have been hung. His wife Elizabeth and children hid in a root cellar during the raid and the only thing she managed to save was her spinning wheel which is still in the family.
War Losses Claims, T.1124, # 30 and 33, E. Cruikshank. Locations are from the Oxford Gazetteer c1855.
The cabin, barns and millpond dam were rebuilt and George and his family continued to farm until his death December 4, 1851. George is buried in the West Oxford Church Cemetery. The original deed for the Crown Grant of Lot 15, Concession 1 is still in the possession of the family. The property remained in the family until it was sold in 1947.
The Nichols family was related to the Burdick family. The Burdick Mill, the only grist mill in the area at the time, was burned by Andrew Westbrook during a raid on Oxford-on-the-Thames in August of 1814. The mill was rebuilt only to be burned again during the Rebellion of 1837. The original millstones have been donated to the Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum where they will be on display later this year.
Veteran SummaryGeorge Nichols
Lieutenant, Oxford Militia
Place of Birth
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Place of Death
West Oxford Township, ON, CAN
Died on: 01 JAN 1851
Reason: Old Age
Location of Grave
West Oxford Church Cemetery, Church Line
South-West Oxford Township, ON, CAN
Latitude: 43.052295N Longitude: -80.845319