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April 28, 2011

Finding a Loyalist Ancestor Part 4: Land Records

We talked about the history of Loyalists in Part 1 and about Land Grants and Requirements for Loyalist Status in Part 2 and Land Petitions in Part 3. Now let's talk about other Land Records that can help you find a Loyalist Ancestor

Upper Canada Land Books

The Upper Canada Land Books do not, for the most part, contain much more information than the names of petitioners for land. However if you cannot find your ancestor in a Land Petition, you may find his or her name in the Land Books. Sometimes more detail is found in the comments section of the Land Book reference, but not often. Library & Archives Canada provides a list of microfilm reel numbers for both Upper and Lower Canada Land Books.

There are four Land Books for Upper Canada (A, B, C & D) which are in chronological order from 17 February 1787 to 13 July 1798. Upper Canada Land Book C covering 11 April to 20 December 1797 has been indexed and abstracted and can be consulted online. There are also some out-of-order petition entries for June and July 1796 in this database.

An example of a Land Book entry is one for my ancestor Jacob Peer in July 1797. His one line entry in Land Book C states

"Peer, Jacob - Praying for lands as a settler. Recommended for 200 acres." 

That is a typical entry.  However some entries provide much more detail such as this one for Rebecca Seeley

"Seeley, Rebecca - Praying for 3000 acres of lands in remuneration of her father's losses during the American war. The committee of Council are restricted from recommending lands as a compensation for losses, commissioners having been sent by His Majesty to this country for the especial purpose of remunerating the suffering loyalists. As the petitioner appears to have neglected this opportunity, the committee regret that they can only recommend her for 200 acres, if her father's name appears on the U.E. List."
Remember - these are brief entries from the Land Books. Petitions in the Upper Canada Land Petition files contain letters, affidavits, petitions, oaths of allegiance and more.


CLRI (Computerized Land Records Index) (aka Ontario Land Record Index)summarizes land grants from sales of Crown Land, from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. If your ancestor settled anywhere in Ontario and he was the first time buyer of Crown Land, he will be on these lists. Loyalists were the first time owners of Crown Lands and thus are almost always found in the CLRI.

The information from the CLRI one-line entry includes date of purchase, type of purchase, residence of purchaser, land location (lot, concession, township), type of purchase (very important to knowing whether or not there are more records available!), archival reference (where full record can be found) and often more info such as date of land ticket, or date of petition for land, etc.

Both of these resources can help you find a Loyalist ancestor. Next time I'll talk about the various lists of Loyalists and why the researcher should approach with caution....

1 comment:

BDM said...

The many Upper Canada Land Books right up to 1841 have been name-indexed by the Ontario Genealogical Society, the entire list now being available on a CD from OGS. Loyalists continued to petition the government (and thus Land Book entries) at least until the mid-nineteenth century.