Tag Archives: Loyalists

Documenting Loyalists in the Family Tree: Part 4 – Canadian Resources

Having researched all of my Canadian ancestral lines, I have to say upfront that Canadian records are much more exciting and revealing than most American records when it comes to documenting Loyalists and their families.

Aside from one foray tracing some Loyalist children who removed to Nova Scotia and Ontario, all of my personal experience with Canadian Loyalist records has been centered in New Brunswick.

Therefore, I’ll share links to websites in other provinces, but, for the most part, the majority will be related to New Brunswick, where most of the Loyalists lived at least when they first arrived.

Library and Archives Canada – During the past year, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has updated its website and migrated its collections. My favorite collection is the free census records, most of which date from 1851. I generally just use Google and enter 1851 census Canada, for example and a link appears. It’s not as easy to navigate as Ancestry, but it’s free. A word of warning – the website can be unbelievably slow in loading. I hoped that would change with the updated website, but that seems not to be. Perhaps when everything has been migrated, there will be a change.

Archives of Ontario – There are links to a few databases of records. The main one is to the Wills and Estate Files.

Quebec – BAnQ at a Glance – Scroll down to the very bottom of the page for a link to English.

Prince Edward Island Public Archives & Records Office – PEI has an online collection, the PARO Collections Database.

Nova Scotia Archives Genealogy Guide – with links on the right sidebar

The Online Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies

Atlantic Loyalist Connections Blog

Black Loyalist Heritage Centre – Nova Scotia

Black Loyalists: Our History, Our People

Black Past: Black Loyalists Exodus to Nova Scotia (1783)

Black Loyalists in New Brunswick, 1783-1854

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is, in my opinion, the gold star winner for records online. PANB is one of my favorite websites! Its resources are terrific and the staff is wonderful replying to requests.

Click on the Federated Database Search. Next, click on the 39 databases link.

Notice in the list that there are some Charlotte County marriage records dating back to 1789 and some birth and deaths as early as 1800 and 1815.

One of the gems is the Land Records for petitions and grants, beginning in 1783. Loyalist petitioners were called “memorialists” and children of Loyalists were also eligible to apply for land grants when they reached the age of 21 years. I actually found a child’s record on which it said “your memorialist” reached the age of 21 years on 8 June last, giving me an otherwise unknown birth date.

Buried in the “Other” category are two more gems – House of Assembly Sessional Records 1786-1833 and Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Widows. The widow of my Robert Carlisle received a pension, which not only gave me the 1834 death date in Charlotte, Maine for Robert, but also allowed me to estimate wife Catherine’s death in the early 1840s.

Another invaluable database is Daniel F. Johnson’s New Brunswick Newspaper Vital Statistics, which date as early as 1784. Mr. Johnson at the very young age of 52 years, having made an incredible contribution to New Brunswick genealogy through the abstraction of vital record information found in early New Brunswick newspapers. I have found everything from unrecorded marriage records to Loyalist obituaries to deaths of otherwise unknown young children, including notices concerning my ancestors living across the international border in Maine.

Some of PANB’s databases are just indexes or abstracts. However, there have been a handful of times where I needed to access a record not yet digitized. A phone call to the archives brought an email link in return where I could make my request and pay a very nominal fee ($5 or $10) for the record. It never took more than 2 days for the digitized record to appear in my inbox.

To conclude, if you find a Loyalist in your family tree, there are many records, both in the United States and Canada that may tell the life story of your ancestral family.

Documenting Loyalists in the Family Tree: Part 3 – U.S. Resources

Four decades ago, when I began researching my potential Loyalist ancestors, the internet wasn’t an option. The situation today is totally different. There are so many online resources in terms of lists, military engagements, estate confiscations, family history, historical books and journal articles plus research done by others, which might already document your Loyalist family. Don’t forget to seek out non-digitized records, too, by checking library catalogs and contacting local historical and genealogical societies.

Online family trees are also a good resource, but keep in mind that most trees are unproven and data has been cut and pasted into the tree. Be sure to verify all the information!

It is impossible to list every single resource pertaining to the original thirteen American colonies, as records may be found at the national, state, county and even town level.

However, this resource list, which is just a sampling, should give you an idea of repositories and items to seek out.

  1. Publications – U.S.

A Bibliography of Loyalist Source Material in the United States, Part I, Part II, Part III, Herbert Leventhal and James E. Mooney [There is a Part IV covering the rest of the U.S., but I couldn’t find an accessible digital copy.]

The Exodus of the Loyalists from Penobscot to Passamaquoddy, Wilbur H. Siebert, The Ohio State University Bulletin, April 1914.

Loyalists, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, William S. Powell, editor, 2006.

The Loyalists in the American Revolution, Claude Halstead Van Tyne, 1902.

The Loyalists of Connecticut, 1934.

The Loyalists of Pennsylvania, Wilbur Henry Siebert, 1920

The Loyalists in the Revolution, Frank R. Diffenderffer, 1919.

New Haven Loyalists, Franklin B. Dexter, 1918.

Internet Archive has a number of books still under copyright, which users can “Log In and Borrow:”

The Loyalists in North Carolina During the Revolution, Robert O. DeMond, 1938

Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Gregory Palmer, 1984.

The New York Loyalists, Philip Ranlet, 1986.

Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution, M. Christopher New, 1996.

The FamilySearch catalog has a number of books. Although most are still under copyright, it is handy as a finding aid:

A general online search brought up quite a few digitized records:

Guide to [Delaware] Revolutionary War Records – Delaware Loyalists (10 folders)

List of Loyalists Banished from Georgia – 1783

Penobscot [Maine] Loyalists [list]

Maryland Loyalism Project

The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution, James H. Stark, 1907

Revolutionary New Hampshire and the Loyalist Experience: “Surely We Deserved a Better Fate,” Robert Munro Brown, Spring 1983

New Jersey Volunteers List of Officers, 1776-1783

Loyalism in New York During the American Revolution, Alexander Clarence Flick, 1901

An Introduction to North Carolina Loyalism Units

The Loyalists of Pennsylvania, Wilbur H. Siebert, 1905

Rhode Island Claims and Memorials

South Carolina – British Loyalists During the American Revolution [list]

Loyalists in Strafford [Vermont], Josephine Fisher, 1937

Loyalists in Virginia During and After the American Revolution

2. Websites – U.S.

Search engines are your friend! Use them.

National – A U.S. National Archives catalog search brought up more than 2,400 hits!

State – Most state libraries/archives for the original thirteen colonies, plus Maine (which was part of Massachusetts until 1820) have Loyalist collections.

Many colleges and universities in those states also have Loyalist-related journal articles, books and perhaps other records as well. Most books in college libraries won’t be digitized, but Master’s theses and PhD dissertations may be accessible by the public for no charge.

The New York State Library has Loyalist Records: Genealogy. Even the DAR Library has many Loyalist-related items.

CountyBergen County’s [New Jersey] Loyalist Population, Todd W. Braisted, Bergen County Historical Society

Town/CityNew York City During the First Year of the Revolution, Jim Davis

Town/CityThe King’s Men

As you can see from this list, there are all types of records available that will help document the life of your Loyalist ancestor while he still lived in the colonies. Take some time to dig deep in the U.S. locality where he and his family lived.

The last post in this series will focus on Loyalist resources available in Canada. There are quite a few records identifying the colonial homes of Loyalist families before they settled in Nova Scotia.

By using both American and Canadian resources, it is often possible to recreate our ancestors’ lives, pre- and post-Revolutionary War.

Documenting Loyalists in the Family Tree: Part 2

Yesterday, an overview of colonial geography and an overview of several immigrant groups to Canada were introduced.

Today, let’s take a look at some of my Canadian ancestors who fit into these immigrant groups. My experience is almost 100% in New Brunswick records, but these examples are universal to all Canadian provinces with Loyalist histories.

The main takeaway from this post is that a researcher must verify not only a potential Loyalist ancestor, but also verify that he/she qualifies as a United Empire Loyalist.

So, how did I document my Canadian ancestors? My research method wasn’t any different than the process I use for any person in my family tree. I worked my way back in time.

First, here’s a list of some of my Canadian ancestors. I’m American and my direct lines place the births of my great grandparents in the U.S. Things changed quickly after that and each ancestral story is slightly different.

At first glance, I thought I had a boat load of Loyalist ancestors, as all but Robert Carlisle had proven lives in the colonies before the war.

  • John Adams
  • Samuel Hicks
  • Philip Crouse
  • Benjamin Burt
  • Robert Carlisle
  • Robert Wilson
  • Walter Stewart
  • James Astle
  • Jonathan Parker

John Adams was the impetus for hooking me on family history. My mother was an Adams, my grandparents lived in Massachusetts and family lore stated that, although we weren’t descended from the Presidents, the family origin was shared with them, meaning we were descended from Henry Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts – the immigrant ancestor of John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

However, although my grandparents lived in Massachusetts, they were born and raised in Calais, Washington, Maine, just across the border from New Brunswick, Canada.

A quick look at the U.S. census records showed my great grandfather, Charles Adams, was born in Maine, but his father, Calvin Segee Adams, was born in New Brunswick, Canada, as were his parents, Daniel and Sarah Adams, and grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Adams. This was problematic for someone who hoped to find a Revolutionary War patriot because Thomas and Sarah Adams were born in 1783 and 1787! In New Brunswick!

By contacting a genealogical society in New Brunswick, I learned that a huge portion of New Brunswick settlers were Loyalists and, in fact, my line connected to John Adams of Fairfield County, Connecticut. The family fled during the war and lived for a time in the New York-New Jersey area, working for the (British) Commissary General’s Department. My first Loyalist!

But what of the others on my Canadian ancestral list?

Samuel Hicks was a Pre-Loyalist, who left Rhode Island in the 1760s.

Philip Crouse was a Dutchman from Zeeland, Netherlands. He first appears in New Brunswick, petitioning land in 1789. He was reportedly from North Carolina, but appears in no records there, has no known military service and it is also unknown exactly when he arrived in New Brunswick. Was he a Loyalist or did he simply decide to emigrate for a different life, perhaps following friends or family?

Benjamin Burt was a Loyalist from Ridgefield, Connecticut. He and his family left for Nova Scotia in 1783, but Benjamin died there in 1785. His family remained in Canada.

Robert Carlisle‘s family origins are unknown. He has no known ties to any American colonies before the war, but was one of the defenders in the siege of Fort Cumberland, New Brunswick, against an American attack. His widow, Catherine, received a pension for his services. Interestingly, while he is my only Canadian ancestor who fought against Americans, he moved his family to Charlotte, Washington, Maine, where he died in 1834. Given that I’ve yet to find any pre-war American connection, I don’t really classify Robert as a Loyalist. He is the only one of my Canadian ties to have military experience, but he was living in Nova Scotia and defended his home. It’s possible he was a Pre-Loyalist, but I’ve had no luck identifying his parents, siblings, wife’s maiden name or any previous home. He might have been born in Canada.

Robert Wilson was a Sudbury, Massachusetts-to-Campobello Island, New Brunswick transplant who was a Pre-Loyalist, living on the island by 1766. He took part in pro-American activities during the war.

Walter Stewart was a Loyalist from Dutchess County, New York who chose to leave in 1783. He has no known military service and settled in Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada.

James Astle was a Loyalist from Schenectady, New York, who first appears in Sorel, Quebec by 1784. He then moved his family to Restigouche County, New Brunswick and finally to the town of Ludlow, Northumberland, New Brunswick in the 1790s. He has no known military service.

Jonathan Parker was from New Jersey and was an Anabaptist in religious belief. Like the Quakers, Anabaptists were against war. Jonathan is classed as a refugee Loyalist, but it is very possible that, because he refused to support the American cause – likely because of his religious beliefs – he found it prudent to leave for Nova Scotia at the close of the war.

Each of these men, on the surface, could easily be classified as Loyalists, absent further research. However, delving into their lives, the facts tell very different stories about how and why they ended up living in New Brunswick.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that, for most of these men, by the third generation (their grandchildren), many had returned to the United States.

How can you document Loyalists in the family tree? Next, I’ll provide both American and Canadian resource suggestions to help with your search.