One of Canada`s greatest war heroes, Frederic Thornton “Fritz” Peters, was strongly influenced by his United Empire Loyalist roots.  Three of his four grandparents (Judge James Horsfield Peters, Mary Cunard and Col. John Hamilton Gray) were direct descendants of Loyalists who sided with King George against the colonial rebels in the American Revolutionary War.  The Loyalist ancestors were James Peters and his wife Margaret Lester of Hempstead, Long Island, New York; Col. Robert Gray of Norfolk, Virginia; and Abraham Cunard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Loyalist James Peters in 1816 (McBride collection)

Frederic Thornton Peters ancestry chart

The fourth grandparent, Susan Bartley Pennefather (wife of John Hamilton Gray) was the daughter of Lieut. William Bartley and Margaret Carr, both of Anglo-Irish stock.  Susan was just a baby when Bartley died while serving in Jamaica.  Bartley`s commanding officer, Major Sir John Lysaght Pennefather, married Margaret and she became Lady Pennefather.

According to A Peters Lineage, this branch of the Peters originated in France and migrated through Flanders to Devon and Cornwall.  A distant ancestor, the Rev. Hugh Peters, was a Puritan who arrived in America in 1636 and was a founding governor of Harvard College.  He later returned to England and was a right-hand man of Oliver Cromwell in the English Civil War.  The first Peters ancestor to permanently settle in North America was Dr. Charles Peters from London, who arrived in New York in 1703 and married Mary Hewlett, who was a third-generation New Yorker, as her Dutch ancestry went back to when the city was known as New Amsterdam.

The most famous ancestor was Abraham Cunard`s son Sir Samuel Cunard, who pioneered steam-driven passenger service across the North Atlantic and was a major factor in the economic development of Canada`s Maritime provinces.  Fritz Peters` father Frederick Peters (who served as Premier and Attorney General of Prince Edward Island from 1891-1897) was a grandson of Sir Samuel Cunard.  The Cunard ancestors –known at the time as Kunders — were among the first Germans to settle in North America, arriving in modern-day Pennsylvania in the 1680s.  A century later, Abraham and his brother Robert stayed loyal to King George in the American Revolution, but the rest of the Cunard family sided with the rebels.

Ancestry of the Cunards in Germany goes back to Duke John of Cleves (brother of Ann of Cleves, fourth wife of England`s King Henry the Eighth) in the 1500s.

ancestors of Fritz`s father, the Hon. Frederick Peters

Cunard ancestors going back from Loyalist Abraham Cunard of Pennsylvania

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