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Article Published January 4, 2001
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part Four
By: Brenda Dougall Merriman, CGRS, CGL.
If you missed the first three parts of this series, click on the following links:
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 1
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 2
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 3
Part Three of the discussion about land petitions referred to some typical problems that researchers may encounter, in determining the status of a Loyalist ancestor. Some of those problems were illustrated with discrepancies or anomalies in the results of theirs or their children's petitions. We also saw how Jeptha Hawley was not allowed to claim a land grant as the son of a Loyalist, in addition to his own proven right as a UE.
Another example of a Loyalist himself running into a problem was Jeptha's relative, (brother?) Davis Hawley of Ernestown. Davis petitioned in 1808, "his name being Exspunged from the UE List at York, Prays that it may be Inserted there on ...".(1) No earlier petition is recorded in his name. This was just before Davis' children began to petition for their own 200 acres each. When was his name put on the list, and why was it expunged? He is certainly on the endorsed roll of the Midland District, in Ernestown, dated between 11 October and 15 November 1796 (2).
Davis had much earlier received a certificate for 300 acres from the Mecklenburg Land Board on 26 August 1789. The schedule submitted by the Land Board was precise: Hawley's grant was for lot 26 and one-half of lot 27 concession 1 of Camden township; he was also scheduled for lot 19 concession 4 Ernestown. (3) But these certificates were recorded as being granted under Old Regulations, not as UE grants.(4) The petition of 1808 resulted in successfully restoring his name to the UE list. While we may not always find explanations of expunging or suspension, other sources to investigate for more information would be his children's petitions, old Land Board records, and the Archives of Ontario's Township Papers series. (These latter two sources will be described in later columns.)
A newcomer to Loyalist research (also to genealogy in general) would be rather skeptical that two or more men of the same name, causing identity problems, could throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of genealogical procedure. But no-one promised that life, including family history, would go smoothly, right? The extended Hawley family is but one example of recurring same names — Jeptha, Davis, Martin. In 1798 the Surveyor General submitted a search schedule of Midland District property descriptions which were questionable or unclear to him, and which needed addressing by the Land Board commissioners. Martin Hawley was one of those on the list, whose property (lot 25 concession 7 Fredericksburg), it was observed, "appears to be afterwards allowed to a man of the same name".(5) At this time, the provincial Administrator, Peter Russell, instructed the Attorney General "to suspend issuing his fiats upon the 101 claims noticed in the within observations".
Queries on the UEL listserve sometimes illustrate the attempts of family historians to sort out same-name men. Oliver Church does not seem to be a "common" name, but at least two men of that name appear in Upper Canada before the turn of the 19th century, originating from Vermont. One is a Loyalist, but it is proving difficult to identify the other, and whether he had Loyalist connections. While some Loyalist hunters bemoan the lack of records for a specific name, the descendants of John Wert of Osnabruck in Stormont County represent a different problem. They are dismayed to find multiple references to Johannes or John Wirth-Wirt-Weart-Werdt, and so on, from early records of Upper Canada right back into 18th century New York church registers.
To separate and identify same-name men, it may be necessary to employ the genealogical techniques of building timelines and charts to reconstruct the families.
The study of Loyalists, particularly those who had lived in New York prior to the Revolution, brings up the anglicizing of Palatine and old Dutch names. Anglicizing is just a polite modern way of saying that the person who wrote down the information spelled it like he heard it. A person who could write down the information, a person who had the requisite literate skills, was definitely in a small minority in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Obviously this included clergymen and government officials or clerks, — and even they may not have been familiar with cultural spellings, not to mention contributing some appalling handwriting. Many religious ministers and census enumerators were unable to make fine phonetic distinctions, and this includes the Gaelic Highlander names.
This is why good genealogy courses advise you to abandon a precious belief that "my family surname has always been spelled such-and-such". Simply not true. You cannot reject a Donald McDonald occurrence in the right time and place just because his name was not written MacDonald. The best instructors tell you to put yourself in your ancestor's shoes if you can. Why was this record being created? Who wrote it at a local level? Are you looking at an original document, a copybook memorial, an abstract, or a transcription? English-sounding names like Brooks, Young, can well be derivations of original surnames like Bruch, DeJong, etc. One listserve correspondent has found Stoneheap as a form of Steinhoff.
To further illustrate the tangled experiences of some Loyalists, Benjamin Lockwood's petition in April 1795 at Newark stated his intention to become an inhabitant of this province. He mentioned his good stock of cattle, his trade as a mechanic, and gave personal references to Messrs Beasley and Wilson of Burlington. He was duly granted 200 acres with no special privilege.(6) The wording of his petition sounded clearly like a man who had recently arrived as an "ordinary" settler (who were expected to pay fees and fulfil some settlement conditions). Another petition from Benjamin in October 1796 requested a "donation" of 400 acres of land in Beverly township, with the briefest of statements that he had come into the province in 1778. The petition was delayed for reasons unknown, and not read by the Executive Council until mid-1802. Lockwood's presence was requested in order to proceed "as a common application subject to settling duties". By August 1804 he had not appeared before the Council, and the petition was dismissed.(7)
A different story emerges when we look at the petition of one of his children in 1832. David Lockwood requested a land grant as the son of a Loyalist, with several enclosures. Not all of these were microfilmed, unfortunately. (Lockwood signed his name David, but the clerk wrote Daniel in the Council notes.) One of the filmed enclosures was a letter from Richard Beasley of Barton township dated December of 1832. Beasley wrote it in response to the Inspector General's letter to Benjamin Lockwood, informing him he was suspended from the UE list. Beasley's letter reads in part:
Some of the points to emphasize in this example are:-
Another issue to address is the sometimes-conflicting documentation between Loyalist military service and regular British army service. When the size of Loyalist (militia) grants was soon standardized with those of regular army officers (military), some Loyalists petitioned to have the amount of their lands "equalized". This could result in a grant, or Order-in-Council, with "MC" noted on it. We previously emphasized that the initials "UE", "SUE", and "DUE" on a petition are indicators of a Loyalist ancestor. (These initials also show up on the OntarioLand RecordsIndex [OLRI] in the "type of free grant" column.) "MC" stand for Military Claimant and normally would apply to regular soldiers who did receive a free grant in terms of the land itself, but were not exempt from administrative fees.
To keep the issue fuzzy, occasionally a soldier slipped through as a Loyalist. It has been argued successfully in some cases for UEL Association applications that a man who received an MC grant was indeed a Loyalist. Much depends on supporting documentation from other sources, of course, and each case must be viewed on its own merits or defects. I do not have a good representative example of this situation, and if anyone is familiar with such a case, I invite them to share with us by emailing me.
The discussion of petitions for land would not be complete without reference to a totally different series at the Archives of Ontario. These are the Crown Lands petitions (RG 1, C-I-1 at AO). When the Crown Lands Department was created in 1826, free land generally became an item of the past. Thus, Loyalist researchers seldom consult this record group. Surprisingly, it can be a rewarding source for some ancestors, especially when you consider that some children of the Loyalists were born and/or lived well beyond that date of 1826. In fact, the government had some prepared forms for just such petitioners.
On 27 February 1850, John Jones in Augusta township petitioned on behalf of his late brother who is described as someone who "never received any land or order for land, or scrip therefor, from the Crown, as such child of a U.E. Loyalist" in the pre-printed words of the form. (10)
These "late" petitioners were encouraged to accept scrip, a monetary equivalent of 200 acres of land. Hence it may be almost impossible to find them in the usual indexes to land locations. However, the researcher finds many other compensations. The petition form not only asks for the expected name of the Loyalist father, but also the precise date and place of the petitioner's birth. In addition the accompanying affidavit requests —
We also learn from this that John Jones was born 29 January 04779 [the "township" is clearly an American name with no state attached]. His father was Capt John Jones UE, late of Augusta, who died in 1802, age 52; his mother was Catherine, the first and only wife, who died in 1804; the only other sibling named was Augustus Jones born 16 May 1788 in Augusta, who died there intestate in 1809, on whose behalf John was petitioning. The petition form filled out by Philip Shaver of Matilda in the same year has a slightly different format in that £40 of scrip was pegged as the going rate for 200 acres of land. These petitions are indexed in the Archives' RG 1 Finding Aid.
Additional Notes —
Electronic Sites —
More Loyalist Resources