Tories, or Loyalists, were Americans who sided with England during the Revolutionary War. They made up a significant minority in some parts of Western Virginia, including present southern West Virginia. The Loyalist movement became a special concern for inhabitants of the Monongahela Valley and the South Branch Valley, including Hampshire and present Grant and Hardy counties. Loyalist attempts to aid the British and Indians in the Upper Ohio Valley were a major threat early in the war. The Tories of that region included Alexander McKee and Simon Girty.
In early 1781, Loyalist citizens of Hampshire County, led by John Claypool, began to resist the imposition of taxes and a military draft and refused to collect beef and clothing for the Continental Army as required by the Virginia Assembly. Claypool and his Tories were confronted by the Patriot militia, led by Gen. Daniel Morgan, on Lost River, in what is now Hardy County. The militia from nearby counties pursued the Tories into the valley of the South Branch, where they finally surrendered and were brought to trial. In June 1781, in the mountainous region of present Pendleton County, another Tory insurgency was aborted and their leaders imprisoned in Staunton.
One group of the Tories fled Hampshire County and found a haven in the eastern part of what is now Randolph County, to escape the harassment of the Patriots. Uriah Gandy, the leader of the group, established a temporary refuge on two small streams that flow into the Dry Fork River and are now identified as Big Tory and Little Tory Camp runs. Gandy Creek, which flows into the Dry Fork River, was named for Uriah Gandy. Gandy later served as an early sheriff of Randolph County before migrating to Kentucky. His success in politics after the Revolution suggests that he managed to retain or reestablish a place of respect among his fellow citizens. Claypool’s followers likewise were mostly pardoned and some served later with the Patriot forces. Historian Otis Rice suggested that ‘‘war weariness’’ may have been more an issue with the Tories than a commitment to the British cause.
This Article was written by Donald L. Rice
Last Revised on November 05, 2010
Maxwell, Hu. History of Randolph County. Morgantown: Acme Pub., 1898.
Wilson, Howard M. Great Valley Patriots: Western Virginia in the Struggle for Liberty. Verona, VA: McClure Press, 1976.
Cite This Article
Rice, Donald L. "Tories." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 05 November 2010. Web. 26 April 2017.