Loyalists

Background

The term "Loyalists" refers to American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown. Many of them served under the British during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Loyalists settled in what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario. The Archives in each of these provinces will have records relating to Loyalists.
 
Note that German Troops under the command of the British Forces were not Loyalists.

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada holds a variety of sources relating to the United Empire Loyalists who settled in Canada after the American Revolution (1775-1783).

British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series)

This series covers the period from the American Revolution to the mid-1800s. It includes a wide range of documents relating to the British Army in Canada, Loyalist regiments, the War of 1812, the Canadian militia, etc. A nominal/subject card index and the actual records are available on microfilm. References located in the index provide a brief description of the document, date, C Series volume number and a page number. After consulting the index, refer to the list of microfilm reel numbers for the actual records.
 
Microfilm Reel Numbers for Index
(arranged alphabetically)
 
Microfilm Reel Numbers for Records
(arranged by volume number)

Land Petitions

Many Loyalists and their descendants submitted Petitions for Land.
 

Loyalist Lists

Two lists exist for the province of Ontario.

Sir Frederick Haldimand (MG 21)

Some provision lists and muster rolls, relating mostly to Loyalists, disbanded soldiers and their families in the province of Quebec. These Loyalist volumes,and the nominal index to them, are available on microfilm reel C-1475.
 
The following book contains transcriptions of some of the lists.
  • Loyalist lists: over 2000 Loyalist names and families from the Haldimand papers, by Keith E. Fitzgerald, ca. 1984.

Audit Office 12 and 13 (MG 14)

Some Loyalists, particularly those who settled in the Maritime Provinces, submitted claims for losses to the British government. The claims contain details about:
  • former place of residence;
  • income;
  • property; and
  • details of military service, etc.
A nominal index is available on microfilm reel C-9821.
 
The following books contain summaries of some of the claims.
  • American loyalist claims/abstracted from the Public Record Office, Audit Office series 13, bundles 1-35 & 37, by Peter Wilson Coldham, 1980.
  • American migrations, 1765-1799: the lives, times, and families of colonial Americans who remained loyal to the British Crown before, during, and after the Revolutionary War, as related in their own words and through their correspondence, by Peter Wilson Coldham, 2000.
  • The Biographical sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, by Gregory Palmer, ca. 1984.

British Headquarters Papers (MG 23 B1)

These records are also known as the Carleton Papers or the American Manuscripts. They contain:
  • lists of refugees in New York, 1776-1783;
  • lists of persons who were evacuated from New York in 1783;
  • lists of refugees from Massachussetts and Rhode Island who were evacuated through the port of New York; and
  • numerous references to Port Roseway and Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
The United Empire Loyalist Association has compiled a comprehensive nominal index to these records, which can be searched for a fee or purchased.

Book of Negroes

The Sir Guy Carleton branch has also indexed the Book of Negroes, contained within the British Headquarters Papers. It gives information such as:
  • names of the black Loyalists;
  • sex;
  • health;
  • distinguishing marks;
  • status (free or slave);
  • origins;
  • names of their white associates; and
  • names of ships used to carry them.
The full text of the Book of Negroes is presented on the Black Loyalist: Our History , Our People Web site. Once on that site, click on Documents then on Official Documents and Proclamations.

Ward Chipman, Muster Master's Office (1777-1785) (MG 23 D1)

Volumes 24 to 27 (microfilm reel C-9818) contain some muster rolls of Loyalists and their families pertaining to regiments that were disbanded and settled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Those volumes have been digitized and are available online. The use of this digitized database is facilitated by a name index.
 

War Office 42: Certificates of Births, etc. (MG 13 WO42)

Pension claims submitted by widows of officers of the King's German Legion and the British American Regiments.
 

Port Roseway Associates, Muster Book of Free Blacks, Settlement of Birchtown, 1784 (MG 9 B9-14)

During the American Revolution, the British and Loyalist forces evacuated New York in 1783. Hundreds of Loyalist refugees joined as the Port Roseway Associates with the intention of finding new homes and creating a new settlement together in Nova Scotia. These Loyalists, with their families, servants and slaves, founded the community of Port Roseway, shortly renamed Shelburne. The free Blacks amongst the Loyalists formed a separate enclave known as Birchtown. The Muster Book of Free Blacks who settled in Birchtown has been digitized and is available online. The use of this digitized database is facilitated by a name index.
 

Research Online

Use AVITUS and the General Inventory -(Archived) databases to find other sources on Loyalists.