Select Forsyth Miscellany

Here are some Forsyth stories and accounts over the years:

Forsyth and Forsythe

The table below shows the approximate numbers of Forsyths and Forsythes today.

Numbers (000's)

Forsyth outnumbered Forsythe among those arriving in America.  Some were Scots Irish Forsyths who had added the "e" in Ireland.  And many Forsyths, once in America, seem also to have added an "e."

Forsyths in Stirling

Osbert, the son of Robert de Forsyth, fought against the English at Bannockburn and he received from Robert the Bruce a grant of part of the lands of Sauchie in the sheriffdom of Stirling.  Osbert's son Robert was appointed the King's macer in 1364 and constable of Stirling castle in 1368.  He died in 1370.

In 1364 the accounts of the "customers" of Stirling were rendered by Fersith the Clerk, who was probably Robert's brother.  He was granted 100 per annum from the lands of the Polmaise Marischal by Robert II.

In 1418 Robert Forsyth rendered the accounts of the burgh of Stirling and in 1432 his son Robert became burgess of the city and a bailie in 1470.

Robert Forsyth's Curved Moorish Sword

A curved Moorish sword belonging to Robert Forsyth of Failzerton, an officer of King James, who in 1618 obtained land in Ireland where some of his family afterwards settled. 

It had an inscription on one side of the blade which read that he who possessed it should be fortunate in love and war; on the other side, the inscription read that he who lost it should experience calamities and the power of his posterity should be shaken. 

Ensign William Forsyth

The sword was worn first in America by Ensign William Forsyth of the Royal Provincials in the Indian wars in the vicinity of Chester, New Hampshire in 1765.  His father, a native of Ireland, was a descendant of Col. Robert, the original possessor. 

Ensign William was captured by the Indians about 1765 and carried to Canada.  He was ransomed by M. de Montmarte, a French officer, whose secretary he became. He was with de Montmarte for two or three years.  When the latter returned to France, he gave William his liberty and money with which to reach his friends. The sword, which had been lost in his struggle with the Indians, was discovered after his capture and sent to his eldest brother, Dr. Matthew Forsyth, then a physician in the Royal Navy. 

Major Robert Forsyth

A son of this Dr. Matthew, named Robert, came to Fredericksburg, Virginia about 1772.  Among his effects was this sword which he wore as captain and afterwards as major in Lee's Light Horse during the Revolution. 

Governor John Forsyth

The sword passed from him to his son John, together with his badge of the Society of the Cincinnati. John Forsyth was Governor and Senator of Georgia and Secretary of the United States from 1834 to 1841. 

And thus the fortune of the possessors of the sword increased until the burning of Columbus, Georgia by the Federal troops during the Civil War when the sword was destroyed with other effects of the late Governor Forsyth.

Matthew Forsyth's Escape

Matthew Forsyth's privateer the La Monette, which he had inherited from his father, sailed under the flag of France.  At the outbreak of the French Revolution his life as a royalist was in danger.  He put his effects into gold, packed the baggage aboard the La Monetts, and started to escape from the frenzied peasants who sought his life in France.

His ship was intercepted as he was leaving the harbor.  But he replied to demands to stop by defiantly raising the royal flag.  With his ship covered with the spray from the cannon shot of the harbor batteries past which he sailed, he turned to the sea and disappeared.

Doctor Matthew Forsyth went down against his foe in 1798.  He left his title of Vimcomte de Fronsac and one million francs in gold and his shipping to his nephew Thomas whom he had adopted.

William Forsyth the Innkeeper and Smuggler

William's father had been a Loyalist farmer who in 1783 had moved his wife and five children to the western side of the Niagara river.  The family made its home in Stamford township, which was where William was living in 1796 when he first petitioned for land.

He was described as "a small wiry man, weighing barely 150 pounds."  Rumor and innuendo hung over him like the ever-present mist over the falls.  The local historian Gordon Donaldson has suggested that Forsyth used his knowledge of the river to smuggle goods to and from the United States.

Some time after the War of 1812 Forsyth built an inn on his property.  The Niagara Falls were Upper Canada's greatest scenic attraction and Forsyth's inn was the place to stay.  The comments about him therefore became complimentary.  Dalhousie found "the tavern and accommodation were very good indeed, and the man himself, though a Yankee and reputed to be uncivil, was quite the reverse to us, obliging and attentive in every way;" Adam Fergusson pronounced Forsyth a "personage sufficiently shrewd and well informed;" and Samuel de Veaux found him "a man of enterprising character."

But the other side of him later came to the fore.   He was described as a "bane to the authorities, continually outwitting them and their deputies by his cunning and sheer daring."  By the time of his death from exposure in 1849 Forsyth had established himself as the district's king of smugglers, a reputation challenged only by Smugglin' Sam Johnston.

Rover Forsyth the Saskatchewan Road Runner

In 1905 distance running was a premier sport in Saskatchewan and none excelled at this sport as much as a young man from Caron did.

That youth was Rover Forsyth.  He had come to Caron from Ontario with his parents when he was nine years old.  When he was a youngster he would roam for miles around the coutnryside, looking for arrowheads and other Indian relics.  That was how he acquired the nickname of Rover.  Much of the time he preferred to run instead of walking and eventually he began to time himself.  Soon he was making his mark as a track star in Saskatchewan.

Forsyth's name was synonimous in Saskatchewan with winning road races.  He won the Regina standard 10 mile race in 1910, 1911, and 1912; the Moose Jaw News race three times; and the Winnipeg Telgram road race in 1910 and 1911.  As a result of the latter win Rover was selected to travel to Stockholm in Sweden to represent Canada in the 1912 Olympics.  He finished 15th in the marathon.

During the war Forsyth competed in numerous allied service meets.  And when the war was over he competed in track and field events in both the Canadian and Saskatchewan championships.  In addition to his running he won championships in the discus and pole vault.

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