An American Family History

Seeley and Selee Families in Leeds, Ontario


Brockville, Ontario was called Elizabethtown. The area was first settled by English speakers in 1785, when Americans who had remained loyal to the crown fled to Canada after the American Revolution.

  also spelled Cely, Scellie, Seley, Seeley, Seelye, Zieley  

The French and Indian War lasted from 1754 to 1763 and was the North American phase of the Seven Years' War.

Augustus Seeley was born about 1739 in Massachusetts.

He married MaryBrisbin. Mary was born in 1740 in Ireland.

Margaret Seeley (1761, married Philip Lebbeus Wickware and Benjamin Salts).
Carrie Seeley (1763)
James Seeley (1765, married Elizabeth Manhard)
Ruth Seeley (1768, married Samuel Judson),
Jane Seeley (1771, married John Elliot),
Mary Seeley (1774, married Joseph Falkner),
Elizabeth Seeley (1776, married Samuel Nichol),
Annie Seeley (1779, married David Lakin),
Sarah Seeley (1780, married Hazard Wilcox), and
Joseph Seeley (1781).

They lived in Albany County, New York,

Augustus joined the New York provincial troops in Queen's County during the French and Indian War.

In 1772 was listed as a loyalist living in Saratoga.

In 1775 he was listed among the first men to join the Loyalist leader, Sir John Johnson.

September 14, 1777 James and Augustus were hired to herd General Burgoyne's cattle during the Battle of Saratoga.

On October 14, 1777, Burgoyne realized that the loyalist troops were surrounded and advised them to escape to Canada. Augustus and James did not escape and were confined for several weeks until they escaped.

He was in Captain James Campbell's unit during the American Revolution.

He was on the United Empire Loyalist list.

1797 Elizabethtown census: Augustus, Mary, Eliza, Ann, Sarah and J. (male)

Augustus died in 1811 in Elizabethtown.

Leeds County, Ontario, Canada was first surveyed in 1792 in preparation for the United Empire Loyalists settlers. In 1850, Leeds County merged with Grenville to create the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.


James Seeley was born in 1765 in Albany County, York.

He married Elizabeth Manhard.

David Seeley (1793),
Mary Seeley
Elizabeth Seeley
James Seeley, Jr.
Jane Seeley
Lewis Seeley

His second wife was named Mary Polly

Margaret Seeley
Joseph Seeley,
Philip Seeley
Augustus Seeley
Anna Seeley
Peet Seeley

In 1801 he was listed in the Elizabethtown census with Elizabeth.

James served with his father during the American Revolution.

He received land in Lancaster with his father.

They later settled in Elizabethtown.

During the War of 1812 he was in the militia and on July 25, 1814 was taken prisoner at the Battle of Lundy's Lane (also called the Battle of Niagra Falls.


The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

Peet Seeley was born on June 4, 1766.

He married Rebecca Peet.

Truman Selee
Sarah Seeley (married Thomas Thompson)
Polly Seeley (married Benjamin Thompson)
Peet Seeley (married Lydia Graves)

1797 census of Elizabethtown: Peet, Rebekah, Truman, Sarah, and an infant girl

Peet Seeley was in the 1805 assessment of Yonge Township.

1812, Aug. 2nd. Thomas Thompson and Sarah Selee, banns, both of Yonge, wit. Peet Selee, John Kincaid.
Aug. 2nd. Benjamin Thompson and Polly Selee, banns, both of Yonge, wit. Peet Selee, John Kincaid.

1828, Dec. 18th. Peet Selee and Lydia Graves, both of Elizabeth Town, lie. wit. Tho's. C. Thorne, Benj'n Thompson.

1833 Jan. 22nd. Peet Selee and Hannah Whooley, both of Elizabeth Town, lie. wit. Trueman Selee, E. Clow

Peet died in 1844 in Elizabethtown.


Justus Seeley was born about 1766 in New Milford Township, Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Justus was a drummer Sherwood's Company.

Justus married Matilda Read. Her parents were Moses Read and Rebecca Pratt.

John Seeley (1790, married Mary Lamb),
Olive Seeley (1791, married Edmund G Rawson)
Orilla Seeley (1792, married John G Borden),
Peter Seeley (1800)
Betsey Seeley, (1802, married Enos Beach, Jr.)
Charlotte Seeley (1802, married Matthew Beebe)

Justus's second wife was Annie.

1797 Elizabethtown census: Justus, Matthew, John, Orilla, Peter, Kesiah, Olive, Charlotte, and Matthew

During the War of 1812, John Selee served in the Leeds County Militia.

Justus died in 1831.

Seeley's Bay was named in honour of Ann Seeley, the widow of Loyalist Justus Seeley, who operated a trading post at that site after his death in 1831. It was Justus Seeley's son John who was granted lot four in the eighth concession of Leeds on 20 March 1825 after losing an arm at the battle of Lundy's Lane during the War of 1812. He appears to have traded the lot to his father Justus for his large stone inn on lot 23 in the fifth concession of Elizabethtown. (Rear of Leeds and Landsdowne)

Justus Seeley who was an innkeeper on lot 23 in the fifth concession of Elizabethtown. Justus's son John lost an arm in the battle of Lundy's Lane during the War of 1812, and obtained title to lot four in the eighth concession of Leeds on 20 March 1825 as the heir of his mother, Matilda Read, to whom it was originally granted.

The Seeleys recognised the potential of the lot once plans for the Rideau Canal were confirmed, but rather than have John face clearing a wilderness lot with only one arm, father and son appear to have traded property, with John running the inn in Elizabethtown [now Brockville], while Justus, Ann and their remaining children moved onto the lot in Leeds in 1824. After Justus died in 1830, Ann Seeley remained on the lot with her children, and it eventually passed into the hands of her daughter Charlotte and her husband Matthew Bebee.

Local legend asserts on the one hand that the Seeleys built a temporary structure or shack resembling a Native tepee on the steamboat landing in which they ran a store, trading with local Natives and white settlers by turn, and on the other that Ann Seeley (or Granny Seeley as she was more commonly known) operated a store on the actual later village site.


In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.




from Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Selee (Seeley), Peet (Peer, Peter), artisan, businessman, and militiaman; b. 4 June 1766 in the American colonies, probably in Connecticut; m. first Rebecca Peet, and they had at least nine children; m. secondly 22 Jan. 1833 Hannah Whooley (Woolley), a widow, and they had no children; d. 25 Nov. 1844 in Elizabethtown Township, Upper Canada.

A trained blacksmith, Peet Selee reputedly emigrated from Connecticut “with a company bound for the Bay of Quinte.” All that is certain about his movements, however, is that he settled in Yonge Township in 1789. Possibly he had been attracted there by a number of Connecticut Selees in the Johnstown District. He farmed and, as one of the area’s earliest blacksmiths, he utilized the surrounding woods for charcoal, probably producing the simple iron implements needed by settlers. He apparently prospered and, according to an 1879 account, he participated in at least two partnerships: one with Caleb Seaman, another blacksmith; the other with Daniel Jones, an early Brockville mill proprietor. About 1805 Selee and others erected a sawmill on a creek near by in Elizabethtown Township. He then moved to the site, where he resumed forging and engaged apprentices.

During the War of 1812 Selee was in various local militia detachments. In 1821, however, his wartime loyalty – he had taken the oath of allegiance in 1801 – was questioned; it was alleged that he had conducted a clandestine ferry operation across the St Lawrence River and speculated in American land. One magistrate claimed in his defence that Selee had served during the war “without suspicion of aiding or assisting the enemy.” The issue, however, did not die and four years later a legal suit was brought against him, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for the utterance of "seditious words."

Following the war Selee had expanded his enterprises, adding by 1818 a tavern, inn, and mercantile store to his milling and forging operations. To a limited extent he also speculated in unsettled lands in nearby townships. Although Selee worked as a blacksmith and miller until his death, after 1819 he gradually reduced his local landholdings. In 1825 he sold a major portion of them to his son Truman. By 1832 the tavern and store were closed but Selee continued to operate the sawmill, the site of which became the hamlet of Selee’s Corners. Following his death his wife Hannah inherited most of his estate, including his prized blacksmith’s tools.

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©Roberta Tuller 2019
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