March 19, 2014

Understanding Notations on the Envelope of an Upper Canada Land Petition

A few weeks ago I explained how to find your ancestor's petition in the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) online. If you missed this step-by-step it is at Searching Ontario Canada Land Records, eh? 

One thing I mentioned in that post was that it is important to read and save the "envelope" for any petitions you find, as the envelopes tell us what the final outcome was to the petitioner's request. Let me show you 3 examples of what might be found on these envelopes.

 Here is the envelope for the petition of Abraham DeForest. Abraham's petition was a fairly simple one page request. He asked for extra lands as a Loyalist, above and beyond the lands he had previously received.

The envelope provides his abbreviated name  (Ab. Deforest) followed by this note:

"Recommended for 100 acres in addition to the lot he has received as family lands if is apparent from the Surveyor General Books he is entitled to them

Read in Council
August 12, 1795"

Then follows a darker notation "V Ent. P 299" This refers to the Land Book where the entry for Abraham's lands can be found. Sometimes there is more detail in these Land Books but often it is simply a summary notation of the petitioner's name and land.


The next envelope is for Abraham's wife Elizabeth Bowman. It's a bit more complex and has several notations in different handwriting. First, the numbers at the top of an envelope refer to the Volume, Bundle and Petition number which we talked about in my first post on finding the petitions.

Next we see the words "Petition of Elizabeth Deforest for land as D.U.E."  D.U.E. stands for "Daughter of United Empire Loyalist" which tells us that Elizabeth's father was a recognized Loyalist. As such Elizabeth was entitled to a free grant of land.

Next, it's a bit hard to read but the first word appears to be "Received" So the next notation reads

"Received 28th January 1817 from Abraham Bowman" and is signed by the Clerk John B-----

In lighter handwriting is the notation "DUE" and the signature of an official. It appears the Council recognized that Elizabeth was a DUE.

The sideways notation reads "Entered in Land Book J, page 110" and the final legible notation in dark ink reads

"Referred to the Council by His Excellency this day and Recommended 8th March. Read and granted 26th march 1817" This tells us that Elizabeth received the lands she requested. Although I am not including it in this blog post, Elizabeth's petition consisted of several pages. On one page she filled out a pre-written form stating she was the daughter of Jacob Bowman, a Loyalist, that she was married to Abraham Deforest and had never received the land grant she was entitled to as the daughter of a Loyalist. Also included was an affidavit from the Justice of the Peace stating that Elizabeth had appeared before the Magistrates and was accepted as the daughter of Jacob Bowman, Loyalist

This last envelope is for the petition of my ancestor Peter Bell. Peter was not a Loyalist so this is a good example of what you might find for a petitioner who is applying for land under some other regulation or for another reason.

Peter's original petition stated he had come from England to New York and lived there for 3 years before deciding to leave and settle in Canada. He gave his reasons as being unhappy under the American government. He asked for land beside his daughter and brother-in-law.

The envelope tells us what the Council's decision was. We start on the right as that is where notations were made first. Apparently there was not enough room so the notations continued on the back.

"Peter Bell applies to purchase Lot No. 8 in the 10th Concession of Puslinch. -- House, 1 May 1839"

Next notation reads "Referred to the --- of Crown Lands to -- herein for the information of the Hon [orable] Executive Council" It is signed by two officials. It seems the Council couldn't make its decision without more information.

The notations continue on the back "In Council 23rd May 1839. There is no authority to sell Clergy Reserves at present. This/The Act of Parliament --- the amount to be sold to me -- which is nearly exhausted." Signed by an offiical. While I cannot make out all the words I can read enough to know it is not looking like Peter is going to get the land he wants. But then comes this notation

"I should like to know what quantity of Clergy Reserves may yet be disposed of under authority. In a case of this kind, settlement should, if ----, be encouraged. "

Peter's petition went through quite a bit of red tape and there is one more note which was written on yet another bit of the outside envelope

It's pretty important as it comes from the Crown Land Office in Toronto and reads

"I beg to recommend the prayer of the Petitioner under the circumstances stated by him - the lot being vacant" It is signed by an official and this last notation tells us that Peter Bell ended up being allowed to purchase the land he wanted.

So don't overlook the envelope as an important part of the Upper Canada Land Petitions.  To find out what other types of land records are available in Ontario, see Finding Ancestors in Ontario Land Records

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