The Loyalists were colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) between Great Britain and the united former Thirteen Colonies. Many fought on the British side in Loyalist regiments that were raised in all of the colonies from Georgia to Massachusetts.
Eventually, between 80,000 - 100,000 Loyalists fled the former Thirteen Colonies. While some went to England, Florida, Jamaica and the Bahamas, roughly half settled in the British North American colonies that later became the Dominion of Canada. Many were soldiers who had fought in the Loyalist regiments. The Loyalists were not only of English origin. Many were immigrants from Scotland and the German states; others were of Dutch or Iroquois ancestry or were former African-American slaves.
The main waves of Loyalists arrived in 1783 and 1784, settling in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the Island of St. John (later Prince Edward Island). In Nova Scotia, the two chief settlements were in the Saint John Valley and at Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The influx of population overwhelmed the previous population and led to the creation in 1784 of two new colonies, New Brunswick and Cape Breton (Cape Breton returned to the jurisdiction of Nova Scotia in 1820).
Significant numbers of Loyalists also went to the Province of Quebec, which at the time encompassed the area of modern Ontario and Quebec. Most went to the western part. The influx gave the region its first large European population and led to the creation of the separate province of Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1791, while Quebec became Lower Canada.
Many Loyalists were entitled to land grants and received compensation related to their service in the Revolutionary War and their family needs. Documents associated with land grants and claims for compensation provide an important record for genealogists and other researchers.
Today more than two million Canadians trace their ancestry to the Loyalists. The Vancouver Public Library has many resources for genealogists interested in exploring Loyalist roots. Additional resources are available online and there is an active United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada with a branch in Vancouver.
Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) is a popular electronic genealogy research source available at all Vancouver Public Library locations. It includes several searchable electronic databases containing thousands of references to Loyalists. The following is a list of Loyalist related databases in ALE.
Before the Coming of the Loyalists
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Canniff Haight, originally published in 1897.
Kingston and the Loyalists of the Spring Fleet of A.D. 1783: With Reminiscences of Early Days in Connecticut; A Narrative to Which is Appended a Diary Written by Sarah Frost on Her Voyage to St. John, N.B., with the Loyalist of 1783
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Walter Bates, originally published in 1889.
Loyalists and Their Times, Vol. 1
Loyalists and Their Times, Vol. 2
- Searchable transcribed version of The Loyalists of America and Their Times (1620-1816), a 2-volume work by Egerton Ryerson, originally published in 1880.
Loyalists in the American Revolution
- Searchable transcribed version of a book of the same title by Claude Halstead Van Tyne, originally published in 1929.
Loyalists in the American Revolution: Miscellaneous Records
- A compilation of information from several small Loyalist databases, based on Canadian and British Loyalist military records.
Old United Empire Loyalists List
- Searchable transcription of the register prepared under the auspices of Governor-General Sir Guy Carleton to honour persons who remained loyal to Britain. VPL also owns the print version.
The United Empire Loyalists
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Edward Harris, originally published in 1897.
The United Empire Loyalists; and The Memorial Church, Adolphustown, Ontario: A Sketch
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Richard Sykes Forneri, originally published in 1888.
The United Empire Loyalists of Canada: a sermon by the Reverend R.S. Forneri, B.D., Record of Adolphustown, preached in St. George's Cathedral, Kingston, Ont., on Sunday, May 18th, 1884
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Richard Sykes Forneri, originally published in 1884.
United Empire Loyalists of the County of Dundas, Ontario
- Searchable scanned version of a book of the same title by Alexander Clark Casselman, originally published around 1900.
United Empire Loyalists, Parts I-II
There are no comprehensive online databases comprising nominal information associated with Loyalists. The websites listed below vary greatly. Many are basic listings of soldiers in Loyalist regiments that were disbanded and settled in Canada.
Databases listed in this section are not associated with a specific Canadian province.
- Banishment Act of the State of Massachusetts
- Loyalists in the Maritimes - Ward Chipman Muster Master's Office, 1777-1785
- New Jersey Volunteers Muster Roll, 1777
- New Jersey Volunteers Muster Roll, 1783
- On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
- This site does not have any nominal listings of Loyalists but provides a breadth of information on Loyalist history and genealogy.
- Annapolis Loyalists, 1784 [Excel document]
- Black Loyalists: Our History, Our People
- Boston Evacuees, 1776 [Excel document]
- List of Cape Breton Loyalists
- Bear River Muster Roll
- Muster Roll at Weymouth, Gullivers Hole and Sissiboo
- Muster Roll of Discharged and Disbanded Solders and Loyalists at Digby - May 29 1784
- Black Loyalist Refugees, 1782-1807 - Port Roseway Associates
- Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities in Nova Scotia
The following two databases of Ontario genealogical information are wide-ranging but include some Loyalist content:
- Royal Gazette, May 5, 1841, Page 61, Loyalist List
- Muster Rolls, King's Rangers - 1784
- Musters Rolls, St. John's Volunteers - 1784
- Muster Rolls, Royal Nova Scotia Volunteers - 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, 12 June 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, 26 July 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, 15 Sept 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, 19 Sept 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, 25 Sept 1784
- Muster Rolls, Soldiers and Loyalists, Spring 1785 List