New Brunswick Additional Loyalist Settlers and Records (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors  by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Passamaquoddy[edit | edit source]

Saint John, which used to call itself “the Loyalist City” has overshadowed the Passamaquoddy Bay region, but around St. Andrews and St. Stephen on the St. Croix River, a large group of Loyalists arrived and founded these towns. Most, however, came from the coastal areas of New England, having moved north to avoid the rebellion and moved again as disputed borders also moved.

Grace Helen Mowat, The Diverting History of St. Andrews, recounts the whole saga and how the Loyalist town just across the Penobscot River, at Fort George, was dismantled piece by piece, the framework, lumber and hardware, and shipped off to the British side of the new border, the St. Croix. It is a diverting tale, contains quite a lot of family information and, used in conjunction with The Loyalists of New Brunswick, and Charlotte County records, can enrich a family history.

Martha Ford Barto’s Passamaquoddy: genealogies of West Isles Families (Saint John, New Brunswick: Lingley Print Co., 1975) also offers extensive genealogies of Loyalist settlers in this region.

A genealogical guide to “Charlotte Co. Archives, St. Andrews, New Brunswick.” by Shirley O’Neil, published in Generations, Vol. 20, No. 2, Summer 1998, lists the various types of records available at the old Charlotte County Gaol. Preserved and organized by the Friends of the Charlotte County Historical Society, the list of holdings and microfilms is impressive. The two-page list of publications in itself is a most useful Charlotte County bibliography, and informs me than an Index to The Diverting History, has been published.

Theodore C. Holmes,Loyalists to Canada: The 1783 Settlement of Quakers and Others at Passamaquoddy (Camden ME: Picton Press, 1992), has been described as “a combined biographical dictionary, collection of manuscripts and group portrait.”[1] It centres particularly on the Pennfield settlement, contains considerable information on the Quakers, and has an excellent index of names.

Saint John County[edit | edit source]

One worth searching for is George W. Schuyler’s Saint John: Scenes from a Popular History (1984). It covers the history of the city by describing and analysing several specific events, with maps and many contemporary documents and illustrations. “Saint John’s First Election” examines the “serious differences that had festered within the Saint John community almost from the moment the Loyalists had stepped ashore in 1783” (page 18). His sympathies are not with the “governing elite” who managed to “win” on a technicality.

Ross N. Hebb’s Quaco-St. Martins… 1784-1884 tells of this coastal area where Loyalists from the King’s Orange Rangers were granted land. The author was the Anglican minister, and in writing a history of the Anglican Church in St. Martins, he became interested in the “broader historical context of the entire community.” (page 7). Well written, well annotated, and including many original documents, it lacks an index so it is a challenge to winkle out the family data.

The Saint John Branch of the NBGS has published Arrivals 99—Our First Families in New Brunswick, “first generation family group sheets for 620 immigrant ancestors of members and friends of Saint John Branch.” It is a revision and expansion of a 1985 project, and naturally will include many Loyalist families, their Planter connections (because the children of the two groups did marry) as well as later arrivals.

Saint John River Valley[edit | edit source]

Most Loyalists were educated, and while they did not have much time in the early years to write down their experiences, often in old age they did. One such account,Kingston and the Loyalists of the “Spring Fleet” of A.D. 1783 with Reminiscences of Early Days in Connecticut: a Narrative by Walter Bates, Esq., Sometimes High Sheriff of the County of Kings, To Which is Appended a Diary Written by Sarah Frost on Her Voyage to St. John, New Brunswick. With the Loyalists of 1783. ed., with notes by W.O. Raymond, A.B., Rector of St. Mary’s Church, Saint John, New Brunswick was published by Barnes and Company, Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1889. It has been reprinted in facsimile by New Ireland Press, 1980 & 1999. The 32 page booklet is as packed with information as the title page, and even then the editor was lamenting the destruction of other records of early history by those who were part of it.

Up Country Memories and More Up Country Memories, by Linda Aiton and Diane Bormke (privately published, c.2000) contains accounts of early loyalist settlements and life along the St. John River. To judge from two excerpts printed in Generations, Spring 2001, page 13, the hard family data is sparse, the anecdotal and family myth information quite amusing.

Charlotte Gourlay Robinson, Pioneer Profiles of New Brunswick Settlers (Belleville, Ontario: Mika Publishing, 1980), contains 20 biographies of women, mostly Loyalists but a few from other early families. Well written, imaginative and easy to read, with many family tales and legends, and a bit of documentation, these accounts give a picture of life in early New Brunswick settlements. It is the sort of book I would recommend to a client whose family turned out to have “connections” to one or more of the subjects. Unindexed.

Other Sources[edit | edit source]

The Loyalist Guide: Nova Scotia Loyalists and their Documents (Halifax: Public Archives of Nova Scotia, c.1983) was compiled by Jean Peterson assisted by Lynn Murphy and Heather MacDonald, also because of the bicentennial. Of course, in 1783 New Brunswick was still part of Nova Scotia, so a lot of the secondary sources listed in Part 1 are applicable as is the bibliography, pages 90-92. Part 2, primary sources, also lists a great many documents and lists that make no distinction based on place of settlement. A useful finding aid.

Brenda Merriman’s Genealogy in Ontario (3rd ed. 1996), Chapter 11 on “Loyalist Ancestors”, covers most of the important collections of Loyalist documents generated by the British Government as well as those in American sources. The bibliography for the chapter also ranges beyond Ontario.

She, in turn, points out (page 204) that “One of the best monographs written to introduce genealogists to Loyalist sources is How to Trace Your Loyalist Ancestors by Patricia Kennedy.”[2] At the time, Patricia Kennedy was Chief of the Pre-Confederation Archives, Manuscript Division, at LAC. You will find she also wrote many of the “Introductions” to the finding aids for the manuscript groups you will use. Read these explanations, they are clear, easy to read, and will clue you in to what documents survive, and where.

Survey of Settlement 1785[edit | edit source]

When the new New Brunswick government had to find land for all the Loyalists, they first had to find out where people were already settled and holding land, and what sort of legal title, if any, they had. The surviving maps and lists can be valuable, but they are scattered.

In Chignecto most Planter grants are found in Nova Scotia’s Crown Lands Department since by 1784 most of the land was granted. The Studholm Report, however, records many along the St. John River had “no title but possession.”

In Dr. Wright’s The Mirimichi, is a copy of a map from the Crown Lands Office, Fredericton, showing lots along the River, some with owner’s names. Some names are in brackets, others not. In the National Map Collection (NMC 24194-Mirimichi April 1875) is what must be a preliminary map, without the lots marked, but with every creek inlet, the names of settlers, and a tiny drawing of a house if one had been built. The names are the unbracketed names on the later map.

A manuscript in LAC, MG9-A5 Volume 1, pages 93-94, a transcript of documents in the New Brunswick Crown Lands Office’s “Register and Index of Loyalist Lots” is “Mr. Micheau’s Survey on Miramichi River South Side”, a list of all the settlers and their lot numbers. By comparing the list and the maps, one can separate the old settlers from the new Loyalist grants.

Daniel Michaud was a Loyalist from Staten Island, a surveyor, who in April 1785 mapped the Mirimichi river (LAC NMC-24194) and in July, the Washademoak (later Canaan) River, as well as the upper reaches of the Kennebecasis (Salmon River) beyond Sussex, and the Memramcook, reporting on the quality of land and timber, and noting where settlers were already established. Several copies of his lists of lot-holders are found at LAC, MG9 A-5, Volume 1; note that the originals have been returned to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

The Loyalist Collection[edit | edit source]

Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick Loyalist Collection

In Fredericton, New Brunswick, is a repository of Loyalist resources that is unique in Canada. The Loyalist Collection is a special collection on microfilm of British, North American Colonial, and early Canadian primary sources from approximately 1760-1867. Started in the early 1970s, a project to identify, list and microfilm all Loyalist primary sources in the United States, Great Britain and Canada focused on the American Revolution and the early years of Loyalist settlement in British North America.

The Canadian portion of the project ceased in 1976 and some 700 reels of microfilm were deposited in the UNB Library. In 1982 the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded the UNB Library a three-year grant to expand both the Loyalist Collection and the Library’s resources which support Loyalist research, and confirmed the position of the UNB Library as the principal Loyalist research centre in and for Canada.
There are now over 3200 reels of microfilm and 700 microfiche in the Loyalist Collection. It is largely unindexed and contains only original sources. However, there are numerous finding aids to records in the Collection. The Loyalist Collection is arranged by five categories of material:

  • Church Records
  • Family Records
  • Military Records
  • Public Records
  • Special Collections

The inventory of the collection is in preparation and may be accessed on the Internet at the Harriet Irving Library. Inquiries regarding the inventory should be directed to the following department:

Christine Jack, Manager of Microforms
Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 7500
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H5
Telephone (506) 453-4834

Researchers planning to visit the UNB Library to use the Loyalist Collection and related material should write or telephone in advance.

Revisionist History?[edit | edit source]

A recent background work, Ronald Rees’s Land of the Loyalists: Their Struggle to Shape the Maritimes (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2000), is reviewed in The Beaver, April/May 2001, by retired history professor Ann Gorman Condon. She found it “the best popular history of the Loyalists I have read”, but wonders at the end “whether exiles, with their bitterness and longing for former homes, make good trailblazers.”

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Nova Scotia Historical Review, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1993, reviewed by Allen B. Robertson, page 164.
  2. Kennedy, Patricia, How to Trace Your Loyalist Ancestors: a review of source material (Ottawa: Ottawa Branch OGS, 1972; revised 1982).


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