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April 20, 2011

Finding a Loyalist Ancestor: Part 3 Petitions

We talked about the history of Loyalists in Part 1 and about Land Grants and Requirements for Loyalist Status in Part 2

Today I want to discuss Land Petitions. Every individual who believed they were entitled to a grant of land under Loyalist Regulations, had to file a petition with the Executive Council. In their petition the individual presented their case for receiving a grant. These Land Petitions often contain a wealth of genealogical information.

Below is the petition of Storm Folluck. It is a typical petiton and  could be the first of many pages submitted by one individual. This petition states (in formal language)

The Petition of Storm Folluck Humbly Sheweth That your petitioner served as a Private in Col. Butler's Corps, that as yet your Petitioner has only drawn from His Majesty's 200 acres, most of which your Petitioner has improved, therefore prays your Honour will be pleased to grant him an additional 100 acres to put him on a footing with other soldiers of that corps.
There is the formal typical ending of "... as in Duty bound your Petitioner will ever pray"  and dated Niagara January 1797

Some petitions are as little as one page outlining military service. Some are many pages long and often include affidavits from commanding officers testifying to military service. Sometimes affidavits or letters are included which outline personal hardships and suffering in the American Colonies - arrests, property seized, homes burned, etc. If an individual applied for a land grant as the son or daughter of an approved Loyalist, reference is made to the Loyalist parent. You never know what you will find in a petition until you read it.

One of my Loyalist ancestors' petitions contained an affidavit outlining the hardships his wife and children suffered when their home in New York was burned to the ground  by those opposed to the King.

The affidavit on the left is for the same Loyalist ancestor but provides other details including the year his wife arrived in the Niagara settlement of Upper Canada. This affidavit also tells me that he was in Butler's Rangers from 1778 to the end of the war.
Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP)

The good news is that Library & Archives Canada recently indexed the Upper Canada Land Petitions and genealogists can now search the index on their site. If you find a name of interest in the index, be sure you copy the details exactly as you will need the microfilm number, Volume number, Bundle Letter and Number, and the Petition Number.

The Volume, Bundle and Petition numbers and letters allow you to find the Petition(s) you want on the microfilm reel. You can order the Microfilm in to a Library or Family History Center. Remember that Upper Canada is now present day Ontario. Also it is important to note that the UCLP (Upper Canada Land Petitions) include petitions from individuals other than Loyalists.

Envelope of a
Loyalist Petition

Once a petition was submitted, it was read in Council and a decision was made. Whether the individual's petition was recommended (approved) or denied is marked on the outside "envelope" of the petition.

This is the dated Order in Council (OIC) and it will have a brief reference to how much land was granted and under what regulations, or the fact that the petition was denied.

My next Finding a Loyalist post will be about Upper Canada Land Books and the CLRI

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