February 6, 2008

What is a Loyalist?

In Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario, individuals had to qualify as Loyalists. They had to be recognized by the Government as Loyalists. If recognized, they and their descendants are entitled to use the designation UE (Unity of Empire) after their names.

If the courts did not approve their claim, or did not agree that the person met the qualifications, then they are not Loyalists

I have Loyalist ancestors who were approved. I have ancestors from New Jersey who remained loyal to England and left New Jersey for Ontario but who were NOT approved. They are not qualified Loyalists.

So while an ancestor might be loyal to the British Crown, they might not meet all the criteria and hence not be Loyalists.

The criteria basically for qualification was three-fold:

* a person had to reside in the American Colonies before the war with Britain
* had to join the British Forces in some capacity before 1783
* had to experience some loss of property, life or goods.

So in the case of my loyal, but non-Loyalist ancestors, because no one took up arms (i.e., joined the British forces) they did not qualify as Loyalists.

Being a Loyalist gave many rights to an individual, including free grants of Crown land and being exempt from administration fees for land processes.

There is no one list of approved Loyalists! Finding a Loyalist ancestor means looking in many different sources, including the following

CLRI (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants from sales of Crown Land, from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. Also includes Loyalist grants (as UEL, DUE and SUE)

UCLP are the actual Petitions for land which were submitted in Upper Canada . They frequently contain
information about the petitioner and his or her family. Loyalists and discharged soldiers often mentioned the regiment in which they served. A land grant will provide you with the information as to under what conditions the land was granted. This will confirm Loyalist status if qualified.

No comments: