Gorrie, Samuel

Samuel Gorrie

Sergeant Samuel Gorrie was born the 5th of June 1836 to Joseph Gorrie (1809-1890) and Jean Small (1807-1885) in the parish of Redgorton, Perthshire, Scotland.

In 1853, when Samuel was only seventeen years old, he left his native Scotland with his parents and siblings and emigrated across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada where the family settled on a farm located on King Street East, Toronto. It was while living in Toronto that Samuel came into contact and eventually joined the volunteer militia unit, the 4th Company (Highland), 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Rifles.

As the British withdrew soldiers from British North America in the decades following the War of 1812, pressure fell on the Parliament of the Province of Canada to provide for its own defence. The Militia Act of 1855 was passed after a commission on militia reform suggested the sedentary force be supplanted with uniformed volunteer regiments. The resulting act led to the creating of the Active Militia, in an effort to bolster the colony’s defences.

The Active Militia later split into the Permanent Active Militia, the forces’ standing army, and the Non-Permanent Active Militia, a force that acted as the military re- serve force for the Canadian Militia. Members of the Active Militia would be mobilized during the Fenian raids of 1866.

No. 4 Company (Highland), 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Own Rifles was originally raised on the 18th of September 1856. Those instrumental in its organization were: A.M. Smith, (once part of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders); A. T. Fulton (merchant); John Gardner (once part of the 71st Highland Light Infantry); Robert Sutherland and R. H. Ramsay. The first officers of the company were: A. M. Smith (Captain); A. T. Fulton (Lieutenant); John Gardner (Ensign) and Francis McMannus Russell (Surgeon). In 1856 the company was then known as the No. 3 Independent Volunteer Rifle Company of Toronto.

On 26 April 1860, the independent companies were formed into No. 2 Battalion Queen’s Own Rifles and the Highland Company was designated No. 4. At that time Captain A. M. Smith was appointed Major in the QOR and the captaincy of the Highland Company was then appointed to Lieutenant Fulton. Ensign Gardner became the Lieutenant and John Sheddon the Ensign.

It is unknown when Samuel actually enlisted with the 4th Highland Company. Even though the unit was formed in 1856, the first existing or documented “Nominal Rolls and Paylists” dates from the 8th of September 1860. The nominal rolls of all companies were kept for the Annual Muster parade held each year. Captain Fulton recorded on the 8th the receipt of $303.00 to be divided amongst the company“ for their 6 days drill for the year 1860.” On that paylist is the twenty-four-year-old:

Name: Samuel Gorrie
Rank: Private
Number of days actually and bona fide personally present at each day’s drill: 6
Rate per diem: $1.00
Total Amount due: $6

Only fifty-eight days prior to this document, the young Samuel Gorrie married Isabella Riddell (1842-1920), the daughter of William Riddell (1809-1889) and Janet Telfer (1816-1891). They were wed on the 12th of July 1860. The two witnesses at the ceremony were fellow “Highlanders” and enlisted with the Queen’s Own Rifles, Thomas McIntosh, and Henry Scott.

The newly married couple did not remain in Toronto that long and followed Samuel’s parents to the Kingston area, where Samuel’s father worked and lived on a farm owned by Samuel’s uncle, William Murdock Gorrie (1807-1881). Samuel would have been a great help as a farm labourer for his father as they worked together farming the plot of land located near the eastern tip of Lake Ontario and the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Cataraqui, Ontario.

However, the rural life was not for Samuel. By 1862, both Samuel and Isabella moved back to Toronto. It appears as though Samuel’s uncle and owner of “W. M. Gorrie & Company” located at the “Yonge-street wharf, Front-street” either offered him a job as a “wharfinger” or was influential at securing employment for Samuel at one of the many wharfs located on the city’s harbourfront. This would be his lifelong profession. While Samuel worked, he also re-enlisted with the militia and was re-united with his good friends of the Highland company. The paylist dated the 31st of December 1862 for the Toronto Highland Corps of Volunteer Militia records:

Name: Samuel Gorrie
Rank: Private
Number of days drill of 3 hours duration actually and bona fide performed: 12
Amount: $6

In 1863 Captain Fulton retired and on the 21st of August, Lieutenant John Gardner was appointed to the command of the company, with R. H. Ramsey as Lieutenant and David Gibson as Ensign. Unfortunately, none of the Nominal Rolls and Paylists from 1863 to 1864 have survived the passage of time. Captain John Gardner continued to command the Company through these years.

Also, during 1863 to 1864, Samuel and Isabella started their family. The eldest child on record was a daughter they named Jessie Elizabeth Gorrie. born 28 October 1863. She was followed by the birth of a son named William Gorrie, born: 22 July 1864.

Although the Queen’s Own Rifles Highland Company was initially designated as No. 4 Company, being dressed in kilts always placed them on the left of the line on parade. For this reason, the number of the company was changed from No. 4 to No. 10.

By early 1866, Samuel was promoted from a Private to a Lance Corporal. From the first Regimental Orders issued on the 26th of April 1860 until 1866, there was no mention of a Lance rank in any form. There were, however, appointments made as Acting Corporals. R.O. May 19th, 1865 states “The proper regulation chevrons for NCO’s of the QOR are as follows and will be worn on both arms: For Corporals – 2 black stripes on a red ground.” There is no mention of Lance Corporals, or the chevrons that they wear. In R.O. January 22, 1866, the promotion of a private to the rank of Lance Corporal appears for the first time.

Lance Corporal was an appointment granted to soldiers holding the rank of Private. The insignia of a Lance Corporal was a 1-bar chevron worn pointed down. The lance corporal was considered a junior Non-Commissioned Officer. In an Infantry Section, a private soldier acting as second-in-command of the section was usually appointed Lance Corporal in order to have authority over the other privates in the section. The Lance Corporal also had a duty of care toward their welfare. Samuel must have impressed his commanding officers in order to have become one of the first Lance Corporals of No. 10 Company.

As March, April, May and June of 1866 unfolded, Lance Corporal Samuel Gorrie and the 10th Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles would become part of history, defending against “the invasion that tested a nations courage” when Fenian American’s crossed into Canada at Fort Erie- known as the Fenian Raids of 1866.

In 1866, after the Battle of Ridgeway, Captain Gardner retired from active command and was succeeded by Lieutenant Ramsay as Captain with Ensign Gibson as Lieutenant and Henry Scott as Ensign. These were the officers of the company at the time of its dissolution.

In 1867, Lance Corporal Samuel Gorrie was promoted to a Corporal. The promotion was recorded on the Nominal Roll and Paylist for June 1867:

Name: Saml Gorrie
Rank: Corporal
Period from March 8 to 31 1867
Number of days. 8
Rate per day: 50 cts.
Amount: $4

And by the year 1868, Corporal Samuel Gorrie was promoted once again to the rank of Sergeant. The following was recorded for the 1868 and the final 1869 drills.

Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for Volunteer Militia
Acquittance Roll of the No. 10 Captain Ramsay Company of the 2nd Battalion of Volunteer Militia for their Drill pay, for the year ended on the 30th June 1868:

We, the undersigned Volunteers, belonging to the above named Corps, hereby acknowledge to have received from the Militia Department, by the hands of Captain Robert H. Ramsay, the Officer Commanding our Company, the amount placed opposite our names respectively, being for Drill for the year ended 30th June 1868.
Name: Samuel Gorrie
Rank: Sergt
Number of Days Drill Performed: 16
Pay. Men: 50 cts.
Total: $8

Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for Volunteer Militia
Acquittance Roll of the No. 10 Company Queen’s Own Rifles of the 2nd Battalion of Volunteer Militia for their Drill pay, for the year ended on the 30th June 1869:

Name: Samuel Gorrie
Rank: Sergt
Number of Days Drill Performed: 6
Pay. Men: $1
Total: $6

On the 1st of October 1869, the company was disbanded because the government insisted upon the company adopting the same uniform worn by the other companies of the regiment, therefore, the Highlanders were not permitted to wear the kilt. Rather than make the change for the sake of uniformity, they declined re-enrollment under the Militia Act of 1868 and so became extinct.

The history of the Battle of Ridgeway was muted in Canadian military heritage. The Canadian government was reluctant to acknowledge the veterans of the battle for nearly 25 years. In 1890, the Veterans of ’66 Association held a protest at the Canadian Volunteers Monument at Queen’s Park, Toronto. They laid flowers at the foot of the monument on the 2nd of June, the 24th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway. In 1889-90, after a 10-year campaign of protests and lobbying, the Canadian government sanctioned a Fenian Raid medal and land grants to surviving veterans. The following applications were completed by Samuel for the Fenian Raid Service Medal and for the Grant.

Canada General Service Medal Register
Fenian Raids, Red River (1866-1870)
2nd Battalion Queens Own Rifles

Name of Applicant: Samuel Gorrie
Rank at time of Service: No. 10 Coy Sergt
Nature of Service, where performed, detail in full: 17 March 1866 to 24 May 1866 at Toronto & 1 to 18 June 1866 at Port Colbourne, Ridgeway, Fort Erie & Stratford – attack expected & occurred resulting in fight at Ridgeway.
Date: 1866
Officer Commanding Corps: Lt. Col. Gillmor
Present P.O. address or to whom medal sent: 63 Duke St. Toronto, Ontario
Entitled to Medal: 3837
Sent: Dec. 17, 1900

Fenian Raid Service
The Fenian Raid Volunteer Bounty Act
Application for Grant

This application and the declaration of a comrade in support of the claim, should be sent to The Secretary, Militia Council, Ottawa.

I, Samuel Gorrie of Toronto, 63 Duke Street in the Province of Ontario do hereby apply for a grant under the provisions of The Fenian Raid Volunteer Bounty Act.

The grounds of my application are as follows:-
I was enrolled in the Queens Own Rifles No. 10 Coy and served with it at Ridgeway, Stratford in the Province of Ontario from 1st June to 1st July in the year 1866.

I was awarded and am now in possession of the Canada General service Medal for said service. I have not previously made any application for a grant under the Bounty Act.

Applicant’s Declaration

I, Samuel Gorrie of the City of Toronto in the Province of Ontario do solemnly declare that I am the person mentioned in the foregoing application for Volunteer bounty.

That all the statements made by me in said application are true.
And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.

Accompanying the Application was the Comrade’s Declaration which was signed by Samuel’s fellow QOR, Henry Swan. The document read:

The Fenian Raid Volunteer Bounty Act
Comrade’s Declaration

I, Henry Swan of the City of Toronto in the Province of Ontario do solemnly declare that I personally know Samuel Gorrie of Toronto in the Province of Ontario who has applied to the Militia department for a grant under the terms of The Fenian Raid Volunteer Bounty Act, on account of service performed by him with the Queen’s Own Rifles No. 10 Coy and I identify him as Samuel Gorrie who served as a Seargent (sp.) in and with the said Queen’s Own Rifles on active service at Ridgeway, Stratford in the Province of Ontario in the month of June in the year 1866.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.
Declared before me at the City of Toronto in the Province of Ontario this 23rd day of April 1912. A Commissioner, &c.

The information sent to the Militia Department was insufficient, so a further letter was sent to Samuel requesting further details. The correspondence read:

Sir, – With reference to your application for the Fenian Raid Volunteer Bounty, will you please notify this department as to the name of your Commanding Officer at the time you claim to have been on Active Service. The exact dates upon which you were so employed should, as nearly as possible, also be stated. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
Secretary, Militia Department

In response to the Militia Department’s request, a neatly hand written letter was forwarded from Samuel’s wife, Isabella on the 24th of June 1912. She wrote:

Sergeant Samuel Gorrie in old age.

My husband Samuel Gorrie is away from home and won’t be back for some time. He was for years in No. 10 Coy (Highland Coy) Queen’s Own Rifles before 1866. On 1st June 1866 he left Toronto for St. Catherine (sp.) with his Regiment and on 2nd June they went from Port Colborne to Ridgeway where he was in the fight there. On 3rd June he, with his Regiment marched from Port Colborne to Fort Erie. After that they went to Stratford where they stayed till return to Toronto.

His Captain was Capt. Robt H. Ramsay who succeeded Cap. Gardner & Colonel the late Col. Gilmore.

The Soldiers of No. 10 Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles, 2nd Battalion of the Volunteer Militia listed at the battle on the 2nd of June 1866:

Captain John Gardner
Lieutenant Robert Hamilton Ramsay
Ensign Donald Gibson
Serjeant Forbes McHardy
Colour Serjeant Robert Bain
Serjeant William Wallace
Corporal Allan Gibson
Corporal Robert Brydon
Corporal Andrew Knox Lauder
Corporal Peter Randall McDonald
Lance Corporal William Horseman Coo
Lance Corporal Samuel Gorrie
Lance Corporal Robert Malcolm
Lance Corporal Henry Scott
Private Andrew Black
Private Thomas Black
Private James Boyd
Private Stephen Fraser Brydon
Private William Christie
Private Thomas Clarkson
Private Pryce Alexander Forbes
Private Colin Forsythe
Private William Jack
Private George Henty Leslie
Private Thomas Eman Lockie
Private Robert McBride
Private Alexander Muir
Private A.M. Oliphant
Private David Rogers
Private Malcolm Samuel Ross
Private Donald Sinclair
Private Christopher Sparling
Private Henry Swan
Private William Wallace
Private John White
Private William George Wright

After the Battle of Ridgeway, Lance Corporal Samuel Gorrie and Company 10 (Highlanders), of the Queen’s Own Rifles lay at Stratford, Ontario for some weeks, and there a photograph was taken of them, with its officers in front.

Samuel Gorrie passed away on the 24th of March 1916 at the age of 79 years from “heart failure following a fractured femur” and was laid to rest on the 27th of March at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Plot O, Section 7, Lot 7.

Corrie’s grave marker, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"

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