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April 14, 2011

Finding a Loyalist Ancestor Part 2

We talked about the history of Loyalists in Part 1 and today I want to talk about lands given to those who could prove they were Loyalists.

By 1784, Loyalists could return to the U.S.A. without fear of persecution or physical assault, and some did. Those who stayed in Canada were granted land under the following conditions:

  * 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 

In order to obtain their grant of land, an individual had to meet certain requirements (which changed slightly depending on the year of application):

1. had to live in the American colonies before the start of the American Revolution
2. joined the  British forces before 1783
3. suffered property losses

In 1798 a fourth requirement was added, that an individual had to be living in Upper Canada before 1798

Lots were drawn for locations and when the land had been occupied for a year, the Loyalist received a permanent deed. In 1789, it was decided that sons would receive 200 acres when they became 21 and daughters the same, except they would receive the grant upon marriage if not yet 21. This was known as an Order in Council and you may see it referred to as OIC. For instance here is a one-line entry for one of my Loyalist Ancestors, found in Reids' book The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons and Daughters of the American Loyalists of Upper Canada

Cornelius Vollick OIC 25 May 1793

This entry tells us that Cornelis received his land grant on 25 May 1793. Since I know his father was a Loyalist I also know that Cornelis was at least 21 years old in 1793. Therefore I  know he was born 1772 or earlier. This also tells me that he submitted a petition to receive his Loyalist Land Grant, and so I need to look for that petition. I may get a surprise as it is possible he was applying for land in right of being a confirmed Loyalist himself and not just a son of a confirmed Loyalist. The Petition, if found, will have the information as to under what conditions he was applying. 

We'll talk about Petitions in Part 3. They are very important and can contain a wealth of genealogical information and detail. In Part 4 we'll discuss the various lists of Loyalists and why researchers should use caution when referring to them.


RhodeIslandLetson said...

Many Loyalist also fled to Halifax and surrounding areas following the Rev War. At least 30,000 fled there in 1783-4. I have a relative who fled in the big 1783 group. He and his mother both received land grants from the King in 1784. They had not served in any military compacity so such service was not a condition for land grants at least in Nova Scotia. I have searched for a reference for an age requirement for a grant since one was issued in what might have been the name of his son who was only eight years old. It also may have been to another relative who had been reported dead, but may have survived alto no other record of him can be found.
I have many Letson cousins in the Eastern regions of Canada.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Thank you for reminding me that I should have made it very clear that Part 2 of Finding a Loyalist Ancestor is specific to Upper Canada (now Ontario).