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An Empire Divided: The Loyalist Experience by Bev & Ken Rees. Agenda. Some Definitions The Loyalist Experience Research Strategy Repositories Primary Sources Secondary Sources. Some Definitions. Pre-loyalists Early, First, United Empire Loyalists Late, Simcoe Loyalists

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An Empire Divided: The Loyalist Experience by Bev & Ken Rees

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An empire divided the loyalist experience by bev ken rees

An Empire Divided: The Loyalist Experience

by Bev & Ken Rees



  • Some Definitions

  • The Loyalist Experience

  • Research Strategy

  • Repositories

  • Primary Sources

  • Secondary Sources

Some definitions

Some Definitions


Early, First, United Empire Loyalists

Late, Simcoe Loyalists

Treasury Loyalists

Military Claimants

Pre loyalists


Those who came to Nova Scotia from one of the rebelling colonies before the war broke out.

Early first or united empire loyalists

Early, First or United Empire Loyalists

Those who adhered to the Unity of Empire. They lived in America before 1775, came to the Royal standard prior to the treaty of Separation (1783), and settled in areas remaining under the control of the Crown.

Late or simcoe loyalists

Late or Simcoe Loyalists

Those who came to Upper Canada following the invitation of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1791 to those who had not taken up arms against the Crown. This includes those living in what was then termed the United States of America, but also former military officers living in the Maritimes who were loyal to Britain.

Treasury loyalists

Treasury Loyalists

Those early loyalists who went to England, and were compensated there.

Military claimants

Military Claimants

Members of regular British army units (or hired mercenaries) who remained in British North America and claimed land on behalf of their services

A brief loyalist history

A Brief Loyalist History

1775 - Start of the Rebellion

19 Oct. 1781 - Surrender at Yorktown

4 May 1783 – Settlement in Nova Scotia Begins (~30,000)

3 Sept. 1783 - Treaty of Paris Signed

25 Nov. 1783 – New York Evacuated

22 May 1784 – Settlement in Quebec Begins (~10,000)

16 Aug. 1784 - Formation of New Brunswick

9 Nov. 1789 - Order in Council

19 June 1791 – Constitutional Act

Some arithmetic

Some Arithmetic

  • The population in 1775 was about 2.5 million people

  • About 1.0 million people opposed the rebellion

  • About 500,000 people were actively opposed to the war

  • About 100,000 were relocated after the end of the war

  • About 19,000 men served in some 50+ Loyalist units

  • About 4,000 claims were made for compensation

The loyalist experience

The Loyalist Experience


Property Confiscated

Military Service

Claims Made

Land Acquired



Research strategy

Research Strategy

  • Start late – work back

  • Document everything meticulously

  • Start with family and home sources

  • Remember to use printed and secondary sources as finding aids

  • Use primary sources to cement the case

  • Use a variety of sources

How should an index be used

How Should an Index Be Used?

  • Know the difference between an index, an abstract, and an extract.

  • Search all possible spellings.

  • Search for related individuals.

  • Search for known associates.

  • When an entry is found, consult the original record. (Always!)

  • When an entry is not found, search the original records. (Always!)

Finding aids

Finding Aids

  • Finding aids give access to one portion of a group of records.

  • Finding aids are similar to indexes, but they usually identify a larger area to search.

Finding aid use

Finding Aid Use

  • Know what information is absolutely required in order to use the finding aid.

  • Know what information might help in using the finding aid. (More is not always better!)

  • Identify a strategy to get the required information.



National Archives and Libraries

Provincial Archives

State Archives and Libraries

Other Libraries

Family History Library

National archives and libraries

National Archives and Libraries

  • Library and Archives Canada –

  • Public Record Office –


  • British Library –

  • National Archives and Records Administration –

Provincial archives

Provincial Archives

  • Nova Scotia –

  • New Brunswick –

  • Prince Edward Island –

  • Quebec -

  • Ontario -

State archives and libraries

State Archives and Libraries

  • New Hampshire -

  • Massachusetts -

  • Rhode Island -

  • Connecticut -

State archives and libraries1

State Archives and Libraries

  • New York -

  • New Jersey -

  • Pennsylvania -

  • Delaware -

State archives and libraries2

State Archives and Libraries

  • Maryland -

  • Virginia -

  • North Carolina -

  • South Carolina -

State archives and libraries3

State Archives and Libraries

  • Georgia -

Other libraries

Other Libraries

  • Buffalo Historical Society (Buffalo, New York)

  • Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

  • Detroit Public Library (Detroit, Michigan)

  • Herkimer County Historical Society

  • Huntington Library (San Marino, California)

  • New Jersey Historical Society (Newark, New Jersey)

Other libraries continued

Other Libraries continued. . . . . .

  • Buffalo Historical Society (Buffalo, New York)

  • Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

  • Detroit Public Library (Detroit, Michigan)

  • New York Public Library (New York City, New York)

  • New York State Library (Albany, New York)

  • William L. Clements Library (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Family history library

Family History Library

  • Go to any Family History Centre

  • Visit

Primary record sources

Primary Record Sources

  • Military Records

  • Claims for Compensation

  • Land Petitions and Grants

  • United Empire Loyalist Lists

  • Confiscation Records

Military record types

Military Record Types

  • Muster Rolls

  • Operations Records

Muster rolls

Muster Rolls

  • Types of Loyalist Units

  • List of some Loyalist Units

Types of loyalist units

Types of Loyalist Units

  • Provincials - mustered for pay

  • American Establishment - mustered for pay (higher status provincials (5 units 1st through 5th American Regiments))

  • Militia - not mustered for pay

  • Volunteer Local Corps – not mustered for pay

  • Refugees and Associators – not mustered for pay

Some loyalist units

Some Loyalist Units

  • Adams' Corps of Royalists

  • American Legion

  • Associated Loyalists

  • Brandt's Volunteers

  • British Legion

Some loyalist units continued

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Bucks County Light Dragoons

  • Bucks County Volunteers

  • Butler's Rangers

  • Carolina King's Rangers

  • Company of Select Marksmen

Some loyalist units continued1

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • De Lancey's Brigade

  • East Florida Rangers

  • Emmerick's Chasseurs

  • Georgia Light Dragoons

  • Governor Wentworth's Volunteers

Some loyalist units continued2

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Guides and Pioneers

  • Hazard's Corps

  • King's American Dragoons

  • King's American Regiment

  • King's Loyal Americans

Some loyalist units continued3

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • King's Militia Volunteers

  • King's Orange Rangers

  • King's Rangers

  • King's Royal Regiment of New York

  • Loyal American Association

Some loyalist units continued4

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Loyal American Regiment

  • Loyal Associated Refugees

  • Loyal Foresters

  • Loyal New Englanders

  • Loyal Refugee Volunteers

Some loyalist units continued5

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Maryland Loyalists

  • McAlpin's Corps of American Volunteers

  • New Hampshire Volunteers

  • New Jersey Volunteers

  • New York Volunteers

Some loyalist units continued6

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Newfoundland Regiment

  • North Carolina Independent Company

  • North Carolina Volunteers

  • Northern Indian Department

  • Nova Scotia Militia

Some loyalist units continued7

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Nova Scotia Volunteers

  • Pennsylvania Loyalists

  • Prince of Wales American Regiment

  • Provincial Light Infantry

  • Queen's American Rangers

Some loyalist units continued8

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Queen's Loyal Rangers

  • Queen's Own Loyal Virginia Regiment

  • Queen's Rangers

  • Roman Catholic Volunteers

  • Royal American Reformers

Some loyalist units continued9

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Royal Fencible American Regiment

  • Royal Garrison Battalion

  • Royal Highland Emigrants (the 84th Regt. Of Foot)

  • Royal Yorkers

  • South Carolina Dragoons

Some loyalist units continued10

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • South Carolina Militia

  • South Carolina Rangers

  • South Carolina Royalists

  • Two troops of cavalry raised in Georgia by Governor Wright in 1781

  • United Pennsylvania and Maryland

Some loyalist units continued11

Some Loyalist Units continued. . . . . .

  • Volunteers of Ireland

  • Volunteers of New England

  • West Florida Royal Foresters

Muster roll contents typical

Muster Roll Contents (Typical)

  • Names and ranks

  • Notation if absent or if status has changed since last muster

  • Notation of circumstances that affect pay or absence (death, injury, prisoner, desertion, absent without leave, on duty elsewhere)

Muster roll availability

Muster Roll Availability

  • Muster rolls exist in varying degrees of completeness for most of the units that mustered for pay.

  • However, many units were “irregular” and did not muster for pay

  • There are few or no muster rolls for those units.

  • British units mustered about every 182 days.

  • Loyalist units mustered about every 61 days.

Muster roll locations

Muster Roll Locations

Muster rolls are housed in four collections in three repositories.

  • MG 23 Chipman Family Papers (Library and Archives Canada)

  • RG 8 “C” Series Military Papers (LAC)

  • War Office 28 Volumes 2-10 (Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK; also LAC)

  • Haldimand Papers Additional Manuscripts (British Library, London, England, UK; also LAC)

Ward chipman muster master general

Ward Chipman, Muster Master General

General sir frederick haldimand

General Sir Frederick Haldimand

Operations records

Operations Records

  • Operations records contain accounts of battles, skirmishes, movements, retreats, exchanges, memorials, etc.

  • Names of individuals may be mentioned in such records.

  • The movements of Loyalist units may give clues as to the area in which a soldier was recruited.

  • This is turn, may indicate an area to search for pre-rebellion residence of an ancestor.

Operations records location

Operations Records Location

  • Operations records will be found at Library and Archives Canada in the following record and manuscript groups:

    • RG 8 “C” Series

    • Carleton/British Headquarters Papers (MG 23 B1)

  • Other repositories (such as Provincial Archives, academic libraries, etc.) may have correspondence relating to military operations.

Guy carleton first baron dorchester

Guy Carleton, First Baron Dorchester

Claims for compensation

Claims for Compensation

  • Only a few of those who suffered losses in the rebellion make claims on the British government.

  • The British government investigated these claims, and in some cases, made compensation.

Compensation claims contents

Compensation Claims Contents

  • Former place of residence

  • Income

  • Property

  • Details of military service

  • Details of loss

  • Decision

Compensation claims location

Compensation Claims Location

  • Audit Office 12 and 13 records may be found at Library and Archives Canada

  • A nominal index exists for these records

Land petitions and grants

Land Petitions and Grants

  • Major Settlement Areas

  • Land Grant Process

  • Location of Records

Major settlement areas

Major Settlement Areas

  • Nova Scotia

    • West of Amherst (now New Brunswick)

    • Lunenburg, Shelburne, Digby, etc.

  • Quebec

    • South Shore of St Lawrence (Gaspé, Sorel, Missisquoi Bay, Eastern Townships)

    • North Shore of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario (now Ontario)

Where to look for land petitions and grants

Where to Look for Land Petitions and Grants

  • LAC

  • Nova Scotia Search Page -

  • New Brunswick Search Page -

  • Ontario Computerized Land Record Index (on microfiche)

  • Quebec – indexed by Quebec Family History Society

Research tips

Research Tips

  • Ontario before 1791 – look in Lower Canada

  • Quebec after 1841 – look in Upper Canada

  • Lower Canada petitions were usually filed by a group

  • Upper Canada petitions were usually filed individually

Lower canada land records

Lower Canada Land Records

  • Petitions for grants or leases of land or for commutation of tenure

  • Reports from the Surveyor General or the Attorney General

  • Submissions to the Land Committee

  • Administrative records

  • Certificates and other documentation submitted in support of individual requests

  • Copies of committee minutes

  • Microfilm index at LAC

Lower canada index contents

Lower Canada Index Contents

  • Name

  • Date

  • Page number

  • Reference to proceedings of the Gaspé Land Commissioners

Upper canada land records

Upper Canada Land Records

  • Petitions for grants or leases of land

  • Reports from the Surveyor General or the Attorney General

  • Certificates and other documentation submitted in support of individual requests

  • Some Canada Company lists

  • Some lists of settlers by place

  • Microfilm index at LAC

Upper canada index contents

Upper Canada Index Contents

  • Entries from the Land Books (RG 1 L1)

    • Name

    • Date

    • Land book

    • Page number.

  • Entries for land petitions (RG 1 L3)

    • Name

    • Place

    • Date

    • Bundle

    • Petition number

Upper canada land petition

Upper Canada Land Petition

Example land grant process new brunswick

Example Land Grant Process (New Brunswick)

  • The settler who wished to obtain a grant of Crown land submitted a petition to the Lieutenant Governor (later to the Crown Land Office) describing his or her circumstances, need, family, and any service (usually military) rendered the Crown which would reflect favorably and put the petitioner in the good graces of the Administration.

  • The Lieutenant Governor in Council, acting as a Committee of Council on Land would approve or disallow the petition.

Example land grant process new brunswick1

Example Land Grant Process (New Brunswick)

  • If the petition was allowed, an Order/Warrant of Survey would be issued to the deputy-surveyor who had to establish the boundaries of the grant to be issued.

  • Field notes made by the deputy-surveyors describe the boundaries.

  • From those notes a Return of Survey was prepared to show in detail the location, size, and other survey-related information concerning the land to be granted.

Example land grant process new brunswick2

Example Land Grant Process (New Brunswick)

  • Correspondence between the Surveyor General and his deputies may be found in the records.

  • The Returns of Survey were kept by the Surveyor General by county or on subjects such as railways, Indians, etc..

  • The Returns were used to draw up the official Land Grant which form the official record and final authority of granted Crown land.

Example land grant process new brunswick3

Example Land Grant Process (New Brunswick)

  • A copy of the Grant was issued to the petitioner (cum grantee) and became his proof of ownership.

  • All subsequent transactions such as selling, leasing, or mortgaging between individuals required registration at the county registry offices.

  • However, in the case where the Crown reclaimed the property by escheatment for non-compliance with granting regulations, the original grant was cancelled and the land re-granted.

United empire loyalist lists

United Empire Loyalist Lists

  • UE List from the Executive Council Office. This list contains annotations.

  • Crown Lands Department Loyalist List. It was published in 1885 as Appendix B in The Centennial of the settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalist, 1784-1884.

United empire loyalist lists1

United Empire Loyalist Lists

  • Available on Ancestry

  • Also available at

  • And various other places

Confiscation records

Confiscation Records

  • Records kept in the rebel jurisdictions

  • By act of the assembly, properties were confiscated from loyalists

  • Records of these acts may have been kept and may be filed in the archives of the state

  • Look under confiscations and forfeitures

  • Example:

Secondary record sources

Secondary Record Sources

  • Some of the many, many books about Loyalist family history research.

  • The Loyalists in Ontario, William D. Reid

  • Data on United Empire Loyalists, William D. Reid

  • The Old United Empire Loyalists List

  • Loyalist Lists, E. Keith Fitzgerald

  • The Kings Royal Regiment of New York, Brig. Gen. Ernest A. Cruikshank

  • Early Ontario Settlers, A Source Book, Norman K. Crowder

Secondary record sources1

Secondary Record Sources

  • Loyalist Lineages of Canada 1783-1983, Toronto Branch U.E.L Association of Canada

  • Loyalist Lineages of Canada Volume II, Parts 1 & 2, Toronto Branch U.E.L. Association of Canada

  • United Empire Loyalists, Second Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario, Alexander Fraser

  • Loyalist Settlements 1783-1789, New Evidence of Canadian Loyalist Claims, W. Bruce Antliff

Secondary sources

Secondary Sources

  • The Loyalists of New Brunswick, Esther Clark Wright

  • New Brunswick Loyalists, A Bicentennial Tribute, Sharon Dubeau

  • Early New Brunswick Probate Records 1785-1835, R. Wallace Hale

  • Loyalist Families, Cleadie B. Barnett & Elizabeth S. Sewell

  • Carleton’s Loyalist Index, John E. Ruch and Elizabeth Kipp



An empire divided the loyalist experience by bev ken rees

Beverley A. & Kenneth W. Rees

15 Heritage Point West

Lethbridge, AB T1K 7B7

Phone: 403.328.9366


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