Loyalist Ancestors in the U.S. Revolutionary War
Not all of those who fought in the U.S. Revolutionary War were patriots or supported the rebellion. Thousands remained loyal to the English Crown and were called Loyalists. There were several types of Loyalist groups: those who remained passive and refused to fight, those who fought as part of a local militia but not as part of the regular British Troops, and those who joined the British troops and fought with them.
All colonists were required by the militia to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the new country. Those who refused were driven from their homes and most fled to Canada. However, not all those who moved to Canada were Loyalists.
If you know your ancestor moved to Canada, look in the records of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Search the FamilySearch Catalog under the topics Land and Property, Military Records, and Church Records.
The following books contain information on some Loyalists who have been identified in military records or court records. These and other sources can be found in the reference area on the second floor or in the book collection on the main floor of the Family History Library.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 973 M2bun. The New Loyalist Index by Paul Bunnell. 3 vols. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1989-1998. This index lists the name of the loyalist with his residence, service, and family information, if available.
- FHL book 973 F2sLb; film 928084 item 2; or fiche 6078217 [set of 12]. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution by Lorenzo Sabine. 2 vols. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1864. Both volumes are available online: vol. 1, vol. 2.
These books contain alphabetical lists of loyalists with dates and places of service, regiments, land holdings, and brief information on their lives and families.
- FHL book 971.3 H2u or film 924058 item 2. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884. United Empire Loyalist Centennial Committee. 1885. Reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Available online as The Old United Empire Loyalists List. This list shows the loyalist’s name, residence, and information about his service and discharge.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 971 M2fe; fiche 6010886. Loyalist Lists: Over 2000 Loyalist Names and Families from the Haldimand Papers by E. Keith Fitzgerald. [Toronto, Ont.]: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1984. This book includes the Loyalist’s name, occupation, and state or province of residence.
Those Who Lost Property
Some of those who lost their lands and livelihood petitioned the British government for reimbursement after the war. These petitions resulted in many records of claims to the British government. Abstracts of these claims are found in the following books:
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 973 D3cam. American Migrations, 1765–1799 by Peter Wilson Coldham. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 2000. The book is arranged by state and then alphabetically by surname.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 973 F2sLba.Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution by Gregory Palmer. Westport, Conn.: Meckler Publishing, 1984. The book is arranged alphabetically by the name of the loyalist and includes claim numbers.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 971.3 A5o; films 1415253 item 13 and 1415254; fiche 6060501. United Empire Loyalists: Enquiry into the Losses and Services in Consequence of their Loyalty by Alexander Fraser. 2 vols. 1904. Reprint, Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. A CD version by Brøderbund, 1999 is available at the FHL only. The types of claims are explained with dates, places, and evidence for each claim.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL book 971 N29L or fiche 6101708 [set of 6]. Loyalist Settlements, 1783–1789: New Evidence of Canadian Loyalist Claims. [Toronto,Ont.]: Ministry of Citizenry and Culture, 1985. This book contains 10 reconstructed volumes of lost evidence books and claims not included in other sources.
- At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL film 944044 index to vols. 1-112 and bundles 1-10, index to claimants. FHL film 162010 index to accounts in books, index to accounts in bundles, index to War Office records. American Loyalist Claims, 1730-1835. Great Britain. Exchequer and Audit Dept. London, TNA: 1960-1962.
Those Who Fought
Records of some fighting units and genealogical information about the soldiers can be found in the National Archives of Canada. Microfilm copies of these records are also available at the Family History Library. The records collected on the British forces stationed in North America are in the “Series C” records. These include Loyalist Regiment Muster Rolls, 1777–1783. The index to these records contains more than 500,000 entries, mostly in alphabetical order by surname.
- British Military Records, “C” Series, 1757–1899, Located at the National Archives of Canada. Ottawa, Ont.: Public Archives of Canada, 1966–1991. Beginning FHL film 1683760. WorldCat.
Go to the FamilySearch Catalog entry British Military Records, "C" series, 1757-1899. Scroll through the names until you find the film number for your ancestor’s surname. Find the film, put it on a microfilm reader, and look alphabetically for your ancestor’s name. Copy the information about your ancestor, including military unit, volume, and page number.
Return to British Military Records, "C" series, 1757-1899. Scroll past the index until you find the volume number you located on the first film. Find the film, put it on a reader, and look for the volume and page number for your ancestor. Make a copy of the pages for your records.
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For additional information on Loyalists contact:
- National Archives of Canada
- 395 Wellington St.
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A ON3
- Telephone: Toll-free 866-578-7777
- Internet: http://www.archives.ca
- The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies is available at www.royalprovincial.com. This site contains information on Loyalist records and genealogies.
- The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada is available at www.uelac.org. This includes references and links to Loyalist sources and information.
- Loyalists links are available on Cyndi’s List at www.cyndislist.com/loyalist.htm. This has links to other Internet sites with information on Loyalists.
- Loyalists of the American Revolution at http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/loy/ in Olive Tree.