Annapolis Heritage Society | Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Origins of the Dondale and Dukeshire Names

Nothing would seem to appear any more English than the surnames Dukeshire and Dondale, represented by families long resident in Annapolis County. However, the appearance is misleading- the progenitors of these families were continental Europeans who, through the vagaries of history, ended up in Annapolis County with anglicized names.

Britain’s long march to empire over the 18th century was reinforced with the use of German mercenaries. Modern Germany would not be reunited until 1848 under the leadership of the Prussians, and until that time was a conglomeration of more than one hundred states, some of them kingdoms, but most were minor principalities, duchies, and the like. A number of these states were closely allied to the German Hanoverian dynasty ruling Great Britain, and provided soldiers for use in England’s overseas campaigns. The term “mercenary” is somewhat misleading in this context, as it implies an individual choice to serve a foreign power. In reality, these German men were conscripted into an army that was then “rented” as a unit by the ruler of the state, to the point that fighting men were the leading export of the German principalities in the 18th century.

One of those soldiers was Georg Josef Tuchscherer or Tuchscheer, born in Westernau, in the principality of Waldeck, and christened 18 Sept. 1758 at the Catholic Church in Elshoff, Waldeck. He was one of the more than 30,000 German troops who fought for the British during the American Revolution, known collectively as Hessians. (Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, had been instrumental in organizing the six states that had contracted with George III for the reinforcement of British armies in North America.) Tuchscheer was a private recruited in Apr. 1781 into the 3rd English-Waldeck Mercenary Regiment. He was released from the regiment at Flatbush, New York on 15 July 1783 and arrived at Annapolis that fall and settled in Clements Township, receiving lot #5 on what is still known as the Waldec Line. Shortly after the war, George Dukeshire married Mary Boyd, a young widow, b. 17 Aug. 1761, the daughter of Andrew and Sarah White, New England Planters from Sudbury MA to Granville NS in the 1760s. Although the family lived for a number of years in New Brunswick, they returned to Clements Township where George Dukeshire died in 1836 at the age of 80.

A generation later, in 1819, Dalhousie Township was created to settle veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. Those conflicts, in which England and her allies attempted to contain first, the revolutionary thought seeping out of republican France, and then the expansionist policies of the Consul- then Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, brought most of Europe into the fray. On this side of the Atlantic, the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States meant that increased numbers of English soldiers were shipped to Nova Scotia to garrison the province.

Most of the military settlers at Dalhousie Township listed in a return dated 16 Oct. 1820, hailed from the British Isles (i.e. they were English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish). But one among them, Jean Baptiste Dudale, had a somewhat different biography. He was born 25 Dec. 1793 to a Walloon (francophone Catholic) family in Brussels, the capital of modern-day Belgium, but then part of the Austrian Netherlands. In 1795, just over a year after his birth, France under the First Republic invaded and then annexed the Austrian Netherlands, and by the time he was eighteen, Jean Baptiste Dudale had been conscripted into Napoleon’s army. He served with French forces fighting in Spain, where he was eventually taken prisoner. Afterward finding refuge in England, he then enlisted and served in North America in H.M. 60th Regiment, 7th Battalion. He was discharged in Nova Scotia where he received land for his service. John Dondale married 22 March 1821 Elizabeth Ann Trimper, b. 19 Jan. 1793 daughter of Hessian soldier, John Trimper and his wife Else Milner (of Yorkshire descent). John Dondale died in West Dalhousie 9 Apr. 1843.

The stories of George Dukeshire and John Dondale are not unique, but they do demonstrate that the choices and movements of our ancestors were often in response to the events of the day.

By Ian Lawrence