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October 28, 2009

Using Land Petitions to Learn about an Ancestor

Land records are very useful. Originally all land in Ontario belonged to the Crown. Although there were small areas of settlement in 1763 after the British took over,
major settlement of Upper Canada began in 1783 and utilized Crown Grants.

Most settlers bought land soon after arrival, although of course there were exceptions to this - some lived with family previously settled, others had no urgent need for land (a blacksmith didn't need land as urgently as a farmer for example)

There are many different types of land records, but the one I want to show today is the UCLP (Upper Canada Land Petitions) These are the actual Petitions for land which were submitted in Upper Canada (Ontario) . They frequently contain information about the petitioner and his or her family. Loyalists and discharged soldiers often mentioned the regiment in which they served.

The image below is an affidavit by an individual submitted as part of Albert Hainer's petition for land in the Niagara area of what is now Ontario in 1797. Affidavits were often submitted to strengthen a petitioner's claim that they were qualified to receive land under certain regulations. In this case, Albert was applying as a Loyalist and in right of his having married Catherine Vollick the daughter of a Loyalist. Albert had Robert Kerr, a well respected man in the community, write this affidavit on his behalf and it is found in the bundle of papers on file at the Ontario Archives for Albert Hainer's land petition.

Notice the variant spelling of the surname Vollick

This will certify that Albert Hainer, a Private in the late Corps of Rangers [Butler's Rangers] is married to Catharine Folluck, the daughter of Isaac Folluck, likewise a soldier in said Corps, and that she comes under the description fo a Loyalists Daughter, and entitled -- to U.E. [United Empire] and that -- Albert has now five children. Newark 14th May 1796

From this little piece of paper we learn that Albert Hainer was in Butler's Rangers so we can search the rosters for records of him. We learn that he is married to Catherine Folluck (Vollick) so we can look for a marriage record. We learn that Catherine's father is Isaac Vollick and that he too was in Butler's Rangers. We then learn that Albert and Catherine have 5 children as of May 1796 so we can try to determine the chldren's names and birth years. Lastly we see that Albert Hainer, and Isaac Vollick are Loyalists, and Catherine is a qualified DUE (Daughter of a Loyalist) so we can search for more Loyalist records on this family.

And remember, this is only one affidavit of all the papers in the bundle for Albert Hainer. Imagine what you might find for your ancestor in the Upper Canada Land Petitions.

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