Andrew Westbrook was born in Massachusetts in 1771 but moved to his father’s land in Canada, located on the banks of the Grand River, some time after Ebenezer Allen established the Delaware settlement in 1794. By the time the War of 1812 had broken out, Westbrook had amassed a personal fortune of over 4000 acres, including one tract in Delaware that included a comfortable house, distillery, barn, storehouse, sawmill and grist-mill. (The Delaware Speedway now rests on that land.)
In spite of his land holdings and appointment as township constable in 1805, Westbrook’s life in Upper Canada was not without problems. He suffered from the commercial depression in 1810 and quarreled with Colonel Thomas Talbot. These frustrations may have helped lead Westbrook to aide the Americans during the War of 1812.
It is also said that when the local citizens raised a militia unit, a neighbour, Tawsby, was granted the rank of major, with Westbrook expected to serve under him as a captain, something Westbrook refused to do.
In July 1812, when the American Army under Brigadier-General William Hull invaded Upper Canada, Westbrook was suspected of circulating Hull’s proclamation, urging local citizens to surrender. Daniel Springer of Delaware, a magistrate appointed by Talbot, reported to Major General Isaac Brock that Westbrook, along with friends Ebenezer Allan and Simon Zelotes Watson, were actively supporting the American cause, with Westbrook going so far as to present to Hull a list of names of local citizens who would not resist the invaders in return for their property being spared.
By early August, Westbrook had met with General Hull in Detroit and then, returning to Delaware, began to spy for the Americans. Captured by local militia in October, Westbrook escaped and continued to spy, working for the American forces under Lt. Colonel George Croghan.
With the chaos that engulfed Upper Canada after the British defeat at the Battle of Moraviantown in October 1813, Westbrook guided American Rangers on a series of raids against vulnerable settlements along the ThamesRiver and Lake Erie. During these raids in late 1813 and 1814, Westbrook was able to capture key militia officers including Daniel Springer, Colonel Francois Baby and his old enemy, Tawsby, (who managed to wound Westbrook with a bayonet – either in the thigh or in the foot – during his capture) and nearly captured Colonel Talbot.
Westbrook even went so far as to burn his own home, buildings and corn before leading his family to American lines. Westbrook’s path of destruction was not limited to his own property and he burned mills in the area.
After the war, Westbrook purchased a farm in St. Clair County, Michigan where he was appointed the first supervisor of highways in 1817 and was one of the first three county commissioners in 1821. Grateful for his war-time services, the American government granted Westbrook two large tracts of land in 1828.
Back in Upper Canada, Westbrook was indicted for treason in May 1814 and was declared an outlaw by the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Niagara District in 1816. In 1823, his land in Delaware Township was sold to Daniel Springer.
Westbrook would become the hero of a post-war novel by Major John Richardson entitled Westbrook, the Outlaw or the Avenging Wolf. Married anywhere from four to seven times and the father of at least fourteen children, Westbrook died in St. Clair County, Michigan in 1835.