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May 25, 2008

FInding a Loyalist (Tory) Ancestor in Land Petitions

A Loyalist is any person who is loyal to their allegiance (especially in times of revolt). During the American Revolution in what was to become the United States of America, a Loyalist (also called UEL - United Empire Loyalist) was anyone who remained loyal to the King of England. They were called Tories in their own country but Loyalists elsewhere. Most fled to Canada and helped settle that country, particularly Ontario and Nova Scotia

For free Loyalist data online refer to the Loyalist Genealogy on Olive Tree Genealogy website

Loyalists could petition for, and were granted land as follows:

> 100 acres for head of family plus 50 acres per family member
> 50 acres for single men
> 300 - 1000 acres for army officers
> 200 acres for an NCO plus 200 for wives, if they applied
> 100 acres for a private soldier plus 50 acres for each family member

The Petitions of Loyalists for land, which are found in the Upper Canada Land Petitions on microfilm are not uniform. You may find one small petition, giving just enough facts to persuade the Crown to give that person a free grant as a Loyalist. You may find page after page of affidavits,testimonies, and so on, all documentation to prove the petitioner's claim. For example in my own Loyalist research,one of my Loyalist ancestors' files has an affidavit from a well known judge of the Niagara area, testifying to his Loyalty during the 'troubles' - this document providing his former place of residence in the United States.

Another Loyalist file included a document signed by his commanding officer in Butler's Rangers (providing his unit),describing the petitioner's hardships including being imprisoned 3 times in Albany NY. A second document gave great detail about the petitioner's wife (including the number of children) and her hardships in NY, including a description of the night the "rebels" (Patriots) came to her home in the northern part of NY and burned it to the ground. Thisdocument went on to describe her ordeal as she and her children attempted to make their way north to "Canada".

Don't overlook these petitions as a wonderful source of detail as well as genealogical material. Until you find them you have no way of knowing how much or
how little information may be contained in the file.

For more info on these petitions and how to obtain them on microfilm, see How to Find your Loyalist Ancestor

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