A Tory Story


Here in the greater Philadelphia region, we love to celebrate the role our section of the country played in the American Revolution. The Continental Congress, the army at Valley Forge, and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, are all well remembered by modern American patriots.  But what about the people who didn’t want independence?

Known as Loyalists or Tories, their side of the story is told in a small collection of papers in the Historical Society’s collection. The Henry and Barbara Junken Papers came to the Historical Society through John F. Reed, who wrote an article on the papers in the Bulletin of Spring, 1965.

Henry Juncken, who was originally from Germany, lived in Springfield Township with his wife Barbara and kept a tavern in Philadelphia.  He seems to have been a prosperous man.


A “Henry Younkin” appears in the 1769 tax records for Springfield Township (from Ancestry Library Edition)

When the Revolution began, in 1775, Juncken was not silent about his feelings on independence, and in the spring of 1776, he was arrested and jailed.  In July, he was released on parole with a pass to allow him free movement in Philadelphia.


Henry Juncken’s parole pass

When the British left Philadelphia in 1778, the Junckens went with them to New York. They moved all the way to England after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, settling in London. From England, they corresponded with Barbara’s nephew, John Rees, who stayed in New York.  His letters show that even after Yorktown, the Loyalists were still hopeful.


Portion of a letter from the Juncken’s nephew, John Rees

In the end, of course, the treaty recognizing American independence was signed in 1783.  The Rebels (or Patriots) sold Juncken’s 116 acres at auction for the benefit of the state of Pennsylvania.  Juncken petitioned the British government for reimbursement of his lost property.  It’s possible that he received some kind of payment or allowance, but neither Reed nor I could find out what it was.  Several drafts of his petitions are with his papers.  I found the actual petitions addressed to Lord Shelburne on Ancestry.


A draft of Henry Juncken’s petition to the British government

firm friend

A note certifying that Henry Junkin [sic] is a “firm friend to his Majesty.” (from Ancestry Library Edition)

Eventually, the Junckens settled in Canada as so many Tories did. After Henry died in 1803 and Barbara  returned to Springfield Township where she lived among relatives until her death in 1812.