I remember precisely what the impetus was that propelled me down the path of ancestor hunting. It was my mom’s family story that they (surname: Adams, from New England) were related to, but not directly descended from, Henry Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts. Henry was the ancestral patriarch of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams.
I started to question that when I discovered that my grandfather’s grandparents were born in Canada AND the generation before them had also been born there. I was so new to genealogy at the time that I didn’t immediately start thinking Loyalists, but my family was living in Calais, Maine and my grandmother told me how she used to walk over the bridge into New Brunswick, Canada to shop.
I think it might have been the Calais City Clerk at the time, Philip Manship, who suggested that my branch of the Adams family might have been Loyalists. He was right. I had not one or two, but more than a half dozen Loyalists!
If you suspect – or know – that you have Loyalist ancestors, be sure to visit the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC)’s website.
Membership in this organization is similar to DAR and other hereditary organizations in that one must prove lineal descent from the Loyalist. Americans may apply for membership, but only as associate members. That is because full members continue to pledge their allegiance to the British monarch.
If you are just looking for information or clues that might pertain to your family, click on the “Loyalist Directory” link on the left. This directory is a list of proven Loyalists, many of whom are represented by descendants who have joined UELAC. It is by no means complete, but it is an ongoing work in progress. A check of my seven Loyalists showed that four are listed in the directory.
Another link on the left is for “Resources,” which will help guide you in your quest to prove a Loyalist ancestor.
Two fun links under “Making the Loyalists” showcase information on Loyalists who were the longest lived and the men with the most children. The winner of that title is Frederick Keller of New York, who wore out four wives while gaining 24 children.
Another great link on the left is “Military,” which brings up a list of Loyalist military units, some of which have website links embedded.
I proudly share my Loyalist heritage with others – just as much as I share my Patriot heritage, as I am descended from six Patriots and seven Loyalists. My view is that my ancestors were willing to take a stand for their beliefs, whichever side they were on, but my Loyalists ended up losing all and starting over when they sailed to Canada in 1783.