Bill of treason from Upper Canada Rebellion found
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, June 30, 2009 1:37PM EDT
HAMILTON - A historical glimpse of Canadiana -- a bill of treason connected to the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 -- has been found among the archives at McMaster University.
Written on parchment and dated March 1838, the bill was filed against William Rogers, a yeoman living in or near Albion, York Township, Upper Canada.
The 1837 uprising was led by William Lyon Mackenzie, a Scottish-Canadian journalist, reformer and politician.
He rallied 400 rebels, including many farmers from the Toronto area, to fight against the allocation of land to wealthy owners in the government as Crown reserves or in support of the Anglican Church.
Rogers was arrested for treason on December 13, 1837, for plotting an insurrection against the Queen, persuading others to join him, and assembling with about 50 other people.
In the indictment, Rogers is described as "not having the fear of God in his heart but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil."
He was tried April 18, 1838, and ultimately acquitted.
"The bill has great research potential for scholars of Canadian history and specifically of Canadian politics in the pre-Confederation period," said archivist Renu Barrett.
This is the second discovery of an ancient artifact at an Ontario university this year.
An archivist at Brock University found a nearly 800-year-old document tucked away in a drawer at the school in St. Catharines, Ont.
Archivists at Brock believe the document, which details in Latin a land transfer in England between Robert de Clopton and his son William, was penned sometime between 1216 and 1271.
The document -- made of stretched lamb or calf skin -- was found in a sealed plastic bag with an accompanying seal and quill sharpener.