This plan to create in New Brunswick a strict hierarchy of owners and tenants did not go unchallenged. Soon after the petition of the fifty-five became public, six hundred loyalists presented a counter-petition. Denouncing not so much the social hierarchy proposed as the pretensions of those who had appointed themselves to lead the new society, the counter-petitioners refused “to be tenants to those, most of whom they consider as their superiors in nothing but deeper art and keener policy.” The intention of Winslow and the fifty-five petitioners to provide leadership for the thousands of loyalist refugees had always depended on the consent of those who would be led, and the counter-petition revealed the extent of resistance to such dependence. In effect, there were many loyalists who felt entitled to be landlords, and very few who were ready to be tenants.
The counter-petitioners’ aims were sustained by British policy. Even before the separation of New Brunswick from Nova Scotia, orders were given entitling every loyalist household to one hundred acres of land, with extra acres for each family member and as rewards for military service. The vision of an ordered hierarchical society based on landed estates faded… Though Edward Winslow had acquired both land and the titles of public leadership, his plan for a powerful, prosperous New Brunswick, humbling the Americans by its successes in industry, commerce, and trade, would be pursued by a society of small, independent proprietors rather than by an organized hierarchy of leaders and those they led.
- Christopher Moore, The Loyalists: Revolution, Exile, Settlement. Toronto: Macmillan, 1984. pp. 144-145