One of the characters in my latest Austenesque novel, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, is modeled upon that of John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen), who was a Mohawk Indian chief of Scottish birth. Norton attended school in Scotland and was a force with which to be reckoned during the War of 1812.
Norton was the son of a Cherokee Indian father and a Scottish mother. His father was taken prisoner as a boy by British soldiers when the British destroyed the Cherokee village of Kuwoki in South Carolina. Later, the youth was removed to England.
John Norton became a soldier in 1784, serving with the 65th Foot Regiment in Lower Canada. From 1787 to 1788, he served at Fort Niagara (Upper Canada). From 1791-1795, he found his “fortune” in the fur trade. During those years, he learned his skills in trade and negotiation from John Askin, an American trader who served as an interpreter for those in and around Fort Detroit. Norton and Askin also had dealings with the First Nations (Maumee, Wyandot, and Shawnee tribes), who resided south of the Great Lakes. When the Americans defeated the Maumee at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, Norton returned to Canada.
In Canada, Norton became an interpreter for the Indian Department at Niagara. During this time, he met Joseph Brant (Mohawk chief), who convinced Norton to become a fellow tribesman of the Grand River Mohawks. Brant even adopted Norton as his nephew, and Norton became chief when Brant died in 1807. As “Peace Chief,” Norton assisted the Mohawks in negotiating land settlements with the British government. Under Indian law, Norton was considered a full-blooded Indian for his father was an Indian.
The British and Foreign Bible Society saw John Norton as an asset to their cause. They asked him to translate the Gospel of St. John into the Mohawk language. The translation was published in 1806, a first for the First Nations’ language.
Over the next few years, Norton traveled extensively through the Grand River area, even establishing a relationship with Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, Norton served as a captain in the British army. He led several of the Indian tribes at Detroit and at the Battle of Queenston Heights. With the death of Sir Isaac Brock (the British leader in Canada), Norton led the Mohawk tribes against the American troops. He participated in the burning of Buffalo (NY) in 1813, as well as fighting in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. His efforts provided the British time to successfully defeat the Americans in the encounters.
Norton also was instrumental in the British defense of Fort Niagara, Fort George, the Battle of Stoney Creek, and the Battle of Beaver Dams. After the war, Norton and his wife, a Lenape (Delaware Indian) traveled to England, where he received the higher rank of major in the British army for his gallantry and meritorious conduct. It was a brevet commission and held no authority, precedence, or rank pay.
During his years in England, Norton finished his journal, which became an accurate account of the War of 1812 from the Indian point of view.
Norton return to the Canadian front in 1816. In 1823, he was found guilty of manslaughter after a duel involving his wife’s infidelity. We know little of Norton after this point. He reportedly passed in October 1831 in northern Mexico.
Resources for the post:
Davis, D. S. “Norton, John (Teyoninhokarawen).” War of 1812. © RCGS/HDI/Parks Canada 2011, All rights reserved. http://www.eighteentwelve.ca/?q=eng/Topic/106
“Chief John (Teyoninhokarawen) Norton,” The Casebook: The War of 1812. http://casebook.thewarof1812.info/People_files/Norton/people_summary.html
Carl F. Klinck and James J. Talman, eds. The Journal of Major John Norton. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970.
The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his marital bliss. His wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, presented him two sons and a world of contentment. All is well until “aggravation” rears its head when Darcy receives a note of urgency from his sister Georgiana. In truth, Darcy never fully approved of Georgiana’s joining with their cousin, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, for Darcy assumed the major general held Georgiana at arm’s length, dooming Darcy’s sister to a life of unhappiness.
Dutifully, Darcy and Elizabeth rush to Georgiana’s side when the major general leaves his wife and daughter behind, with no word of his whereabouts and no hopes of Edward’s return. Forced to seek his cousin in the slews of London’s underbelly, at length, Darcy discovers the major general and returns Fitzwilliam to his family.
Even so, the Darcys’ troubles are far from over. During the major general’s absence from home, witnesses note Fitzwilliam’s presence in the area of two horrific murders. When Edward Fitzwilliam is arrested for the crimes, Darcy must discover the real culprit before the authorities hanged his cousin and the Fitzwilliam name knew a lifetime of shame.
The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
“I expect you to reexamine your records, Belker,” Darcy said with his best “Master of Pemberley” voice.
He favored the harbormaster with a quelling glare.
“I want to know unequivocally that no one impressed my cousin into service upon one of the ships recently setting sail from the Thames. If you ignore my request, you will know the wrath of the Earl of Matlock, Viscount Lindale, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and even His Royal Highness Prince George, who favored the major general upon more than one occasion.”
Darcy took pleasure when his exaggeration caused Belker to flinch. The harbormaster was not happy to observe Cowan enter his office.
Without doubt, as a Bow Street Runner, Thomas Cowan hounded Belker’s existence, for the man held a reputation for the importation of illegal goods. When this investigation knew completion, Darcy would use his extensive influence to aid Cowan in replacing the man who used his position for personal benefit.
“As I said previously, Mr. Darcy,” Belker shot a furtive glance to a glaring Cowan, “the major general was here. Saturday last. But he never boarded any ship.”
“How can you be so certain?” Cowan growled.
Belker puffed out his chest in self-importance.
“Assisted the officer meself,” he declared. “Some men upon the Towson thought the major general an easy target for your cousin consumed more than his share of drink.”
Darcy did not like to think upon Edward imbibing so heavily. Whatever drove the major general from his home rested hard upon his cousin’s soul.
“Certainly, some can hold their drink better than others.”
Belker straightened some papers upon his desk while organizing his thoughts.
“Those from the Towson thought to claim the major general, but Lord Matlock’s son proved himself worthy of his position. With just his fists, the major general dispatched the four men from the Towson. More easily than what anyone might believe of a gentleman’s son, I might add.”
“Explain,” Cowan demanded.
Belker did not disguise his disgust, but he provided the information. The harbormaster would not cavil over a thing such as principle.
“Needless to say, none on the Towson realized the man they discovered passed out among the crates waiting to be loaded onboard was a gentleman. The major general’s clothes be finely cut, but they be filthy. On the night in question, my dockers escorted all five men to my office, and I summoned a surgeon. Your cousin had but a few bruises and cuts, Sir. Two from the Towson are still housed at the infirmary a few streets over.”
“Do you know the major general’s destination when he departed the docks?” Darcy asked.
“Said he meant to find himself an inn to wait for his next set of orders. I thought him a junior officer on one of the ships, for he wore no epaulets. Thought he expected to depart soon,” Belker disclosed.
Cowan stood to depart.
“Do you have a guess as to where the man took residence?”
Desiring their exit, Belker stood also.
“Can’t say for certain. Most sailors avoid the inns close to the river, preferring those inland for obvious reasons. I would image a King’s soldier would follow suit. If I wished to hide from those who would follow me, I would avoid the city inns.”
Weariness claimed Darcy’s stance.
“If you think of anything of import, please contact me at Darcy House. It would be well worth your time.”