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Article Published November 16, 2000

Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part Three
By Brenda Dougall Merriman, CGRS, CGL., author of United Empire Loyalists, A Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada

Links to all four parts of this series:

Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 1
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 2
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 3
Loyalist Petitions For Land Grants: Part 4

A reader of this column raised an interesting point that may innocently mislead other family historians who are trying to understand the early land granting system of Upper Canada (Ontario). The term "Crown patent" has no special Loyalist connection. "Service to the Crown" does have special meaning for Loyalists. We have been using the latter in these columns as a checkpoint for establishing an ancestor's Loyalist status. The phrase specifically applies to service performed or given during the time of the Revolutionary War.

On the other hand, a Crown patent (title deed of ownership), depending on the period of time and the existing regulations, went to all manner of settlers — Loyalists and their children, discharged soldiers from the regular British army, men who paid their fees and fulfilled some required settlement obligations, men who served in the local militias during times of trouble, and all the thousands of others throughout the 19th century and later who proved themselves as desirable and serious settlers by establishing farms and paying the going rate per acre. A Crown patent for a piece of property does not signify that the recipient was a Loyalist, nor does it necessarily mean the recipient received a "free" grant of land.

"The Crown" is a term used in many countries of British heritage to denote the sovereignty of the reigning monarch. Governments act on behalf of the Crown or the Crown's representative, the head of state who ultimately signs legislation into existence. Even though parliament "rules" in the United Kingdom and in Canada, Queen Elizabeth II is our head of state, and we still have many ceremonial acknowledgments of this position. When the British finally won dominion over what we call Canada today, all "waste land" (that is, land not already assigned to individual ownership) was considered Crown property — for the prevailing government to dispose of, with regard to settlement and the withholding for future income (clergy and crown reserves). We still have Crown land in Canada today, in the more remote or unsettled areas.

We have introduced and described land petitions for Loyalists and will now broach examples of difficulties encountered by researchers. The families and petitions described were chosen at random. Some common problems are:
  • (1) Discrepancies in references to contemporary Loyalist status. This can become evident when a Loyalist or one/some of his children submitted more than one land petition. It reinforces that when you search the index to land petitions, you should always look at all references to the ancestor's name (or suspected name, in spelling variations). Thorough researchers would inspect sibling petitions as well;
  • (2) Confusion among same-name men in one district, and/or same-name men in different generations of related families;
  • (3) Confusion between Loyalist status (UE) or Military Claimant (MC) status. The above word "confusion" is used loosely, to apply equally to inconsistencies occurring with contemporary official documents, and to the researcher who is trying to analyze evidence.
We will illustrate with some examples of (1) among the children of Loyalists. Two different men asked for land grants as the sons of men who had died in the service of the Crown. The petitioners themselves were approaching from different circumstances.

  • David Lockwood petitioned at Kingston in November 1789, expressing his allegiance to Britain and his wish to become an earnest settler. He asked for a 400 acre land grant to which his deceased father would have been entitled, as a non-commissioned officer in His Majesty's service. The government notation was simply "David Lockwood examined". However, on cross-checking with the Land Books of the Executive Council (also indexed in the Upper Canada Land Petitions series) we find an entry where a rare bit of extra information is available. At the land committee meeting in July 1790 it was stated, "The Committee are of opinion that he is not entitled to any land from Government in right of his father." The Executive Council concurred when the petition finally came before them on 7 January 1791 (endnote 1).

    Here, Lockwood did not give his father's name, and was rather non-specific about the man's service. It is not until after searching out all potential petitions that more of the story and the eventual results emerge.

  • Lockwood's next petition in August 1791 revealed that he was living in Ernestown and had by then received a 200 acre grant that he had duly improved. He asked for His Majesty's bounty of [another] 200 acres "in the ninth township"[Sidney], with no elaboration. It was rejected with no explanation (endnote 2). Despite the negative notation on his original petition in 1789, Lockwood had been granted 200 acres in the meantime. This may have been done on the basis that he was a settler under general regulations with no special privileges.

  • A later petition from David Lockwood in June 1797 for "a grant of his Father's Lands" explained that his father Joseph Lockwood had served as a Sergeant under General Burgoyne; after the capture of Burgoyne his father went to New York "and there entered the service and dyed". David's widowed mother then brought him as a child "into this Province". The response was a recommendation for a 200 acre land grant "as UE" (endnote 3).

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    Technically, this should perhaps have been marked as "SUE" (son of a Loyalist) although the name David Lockwood duly appears on Midland District Loyalist Rolls (endnote 4). The OntarioLand RecordsIndex (compiled from Orders-in-Council, Fiats and Warrants for this period) shows him receiving a location ticket for a lot in Sidney. In other words, David Lockwood himself was listed as a Loyalist, even though he had been a child (under the age of majority) during the War and had not personally participated. His first petition in 1789 seems to indicate he had turned 21 years old by then.

    While this may look like an obvious error on the government's part, it is not an uncommon occurrence. On some days the Executive Council dealt with many dozens of petitions. In his book of transcription, Fitzgerald observes about the District Loyalist Rolls (p 123), "There is little doubt that many are not "true" UEs, but sons/daughters of UEs" and (p 158) "There is very little doubt that parents included names of sons as UEs when they probably were too young to have fought during the war." (endnote 5)

    This was not exactly the case with David Lockwood, who could have "promoted" himself as the son of a Loyalist. Rather, he seemed intent on having his father's name and claim recognized. Interestingly, David's widowed mother did not apply for a grant on the strength of her deceased husband's service. Many widows did petition, and received, land grants on privilege of the deceased husband. As an aside, Rachel Mallory Lockwood, David's mother, married a man called Jeptha Hawley, — some time at or near the end of the war, likely at Sorel. This too was not uncommon. Marriages of widowed survivors of the war combined their children of all ages into step-families. These second or third marriages certainly cause problems in today's attempts to re-construct family units.

    • Jeptha Hawley "Lieutenant in the Battoe Service" petitioned at Kingston in 1789 with a list of requests: first, having received part of his land allowance, he was entitled to another 50 acres according to His Majesty's original instructions; secondly, he expected additional land to bring him up to par with officers of the 84th Regiment [we mentioned this type of request in the column of 23 June]; thirdly, he asked for the 500 acres which would have been due to his father "as one of the commissioners belonging to the Board of regulation in General Burgoyne's Camp". All in all, Hawley had calculated that he should be assigned 2,250 acres of land. What was the government's response? The reverse of the petition merely states "Jeptha Hawley examined" (endnote 6).

      The number of requests in the above petition would have had to be dealt with separately. Clearly, Hawley had already received some land in his own right. Like Lockwood's first petition, he also did not give his father's name, nor is his father's service specifically outlined.

    • On 3 October 1797, Captain Jeptha Hawley who served under the command of General Burgoyne stated that he had received land grants of 950 acres to date, and requested the residue of grants to complete his Captain's allowance. This petition languished somewhat, in that it was not fully addressed by government until June of 1802. One reason for government delay was that Hawley had not provided "further proofs" of his rank. The back of the petition also notes, " ... even if they were now established, the Lieut Governor is not vested with any Authority to exceed the proportion of Land authorised by the King's Instructions — all additional Grants under Provincial Authority having ceased since the operation of the new Regulations." This raises undercurrents that prompt a serious family historian to seek out background on the evolution of land granting policies. Another note obviously added later, says "See his Petition read 7th Feb 1809 on which Day he was granted 3,000 acres including former Grants, as a Captain" (endnote 7).

      Checking with Upper Canada Land Book entries of the same day's Council meeting (17 November 1797), the government, perversely, granted to four of Hawley's sons 600 acres each as the sons of a Captain (Sheldon, Martin, Russell, and Davis Hawley)(endnote 8). Is this Captain Jeptha Hawley in 1797 the same man as Lieutenant Jeptha Hawley of 1789? If so, one questions the leap in rank. Do we have two different men of the same name? Superficial surveys of indexedLand Recordsdo not reveal a second contemporary Jeptha Hawley. The petition of 1789 was written and signed all in one educated, copper-plate hand. The petition of 1797 has a signature that differs from the text, and might be assumed as this Jeptha's own signature. This column is not an examination of the Hawley family, so some questions must be left to descendants who are researchers. If we, as suggested, persevere with other Hawley petitions, we may discover some answers without straying too far off the topic of petitions.

    • A later petition from Jeptha Hawley was made at Ernis Town [sic] on 26 January 1807. He requested a free land grant as the eldest son of the late Capt Jehiel Hawley of Arlington, then in New York state, now in Vermont. Again, the signature differs from the text of the petition, but seems to match that of 1797. Details of Jehiel Hawley's service to the Crown were here provided — he joined the Royal Standard at Fort Edward on 20 July 1777, served under Lieutenant General John Burgoyne who appointed him to "the Board of Commissioners for the Examination of such persons as was then in arms against His Majesty and who wished to Return to their Allegiance". Hawley served in Burgoyne's failed campaign, was taken prisoner at Saratoga on 16 October 1777, and died on 6 November at Plattsburgh on his way to Quebec(endnote 9).

      The response? "The Petitioner's Father unfortunately not having ever resided in this province he does not come within his Majesty's Instructions as to obtaining of Lands as a Military Claimant". This is very clear, although is not exactly what Hawley seemed to have in mind. While he expected his deceased father had acted, and should be treated, as a Loyalist, the government was apparently considering him as a soldier.

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    • A final petition from Jeptha Hawley of Ernestown in January 1809 stated that he was a Captain under Burgoyne in 1777, "employed in what was called the Batteau Service", and summarizes his previous petition and notations. We have already seen that his requested additional land grants hinge on proof of his Captain's commission " ... which neither your Petitioner, nor any other officer in the same service ever received". He goes on to state that with the advent of General Peter Hunter as Lieutenant Governor (April of 1799) "new regulations had been established annihilating all future military claims"(endnote 10).

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      This petition brings home forcefully the many government influences that affected specific families or cases. Hawley continues, "but since these regulations are now no longer in force, and His Majesty's gracious bounty is once more extended to Military Claimants" he has this time submitted evidence of his having performed the duties of a Captain. That evidence was unfortunately not included in the microfilming, but it had the desired effect: "Recommended that the Petitioner do receive as much Lands, as well his Lands already received will make 3000 acres as a Captain".

    • David Lockwood's sister Nabby Fairfield "Daughter of Joseph Lockwood UE Loialist" petitioned for 200 acres as DUE in June 1800. The accompanying certificate from the Local Justice of the Peace asserted that she was of age and married. Her petition was denied because "Joseph Lockwood not on the UE List"(endnote 11). Not to be deterred, Nabby petitioned again in November of the same year. Perhaps she had received advice from her brother, because this time her approach was quite different. This time she was "Nabby Fairfield UE of Ernestown StepDaughter of Jeptha Hawley of Ernestown UE Loyalist" (endnote 12)[italics added]. This did the trick, as she was issued a warrant for 200 acres within a week!

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      The names of the two fathers — Captain Jehiel Hawley and Sergeant Joseph Lockwood — do not appear on any Loyalist lists created for Upper Canada (endnote 13). From what we have seen, this is because the men in question never resided in Canada. Can a "case" be made that these two men were Loyalists? I would argue that both indeed performed service for the Crown (other sources beyond the petitions provide additional evidence). In terms of applying to the UEL Association for full membership, the arguments may be redundant because the known children in Canada of both men were recognized either as UE, SUE or DUE. In her experience, Elizabeth Hancocks, Dominion Genealogist for the UEL Association, doubts that any one person received Loyalist land grants for both his own service and that of his father.

      It was usually the widow of a fighting man who petitioned for, and received, a UE grant in the husband's name. Some widows were granted land in Upper Canada in spite of the man's death before coming to Canada, and occasionally even before joining the Royal Standard.

    • Catherine Leech sent a petition from Augusta township in August, 1789: "That your Petitioner had Considerable property taken from her in the Colonies, & her husband was Murdered By the rebels, on account of his attachment to the British Government. That your petitioner is Desirous of becoming an Inhabitant in this District. She therefore prays the Hone Board will be pleased to Grant her two Hundred acres of Land, as a Compensation for her Losses and Sufferings." As a result, she was "admitted for two hundred acres" (endnote 14). There is no discernible evidence that Mrs Leech was asked to provide proof of her husband's allegiance or service to the Crown.
    Neophytes to Loyalist genealogy and its primary 18th and 19th century sources will be realizing by now that while petitions from Loyalists have common elements, and some common family situations, the outcome is not always predictable. You will have to evaluate what you find, understand some of the historical or political background, and report a confident conclusion supported by documentation.

    If readers have questions relating directly to the examples in this column, let's hear them. The discussion of land petitions will continue.

    Many people who hear of Loyalist ancestry in their family develop a keen interest to investigate this hearsay. After all, they may know that people called Loyalists had a large historical part in the founding of Canada, and a somewhat lesser role in the history of the United States (tongue-in-cheek, here). If they are practical, they will discover the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada and will join it to learn about the whole subject and the requirements for full membership. If they are truly involved, they will join a genealogy society to further their knowledge of genealogical methods in connecting generations and finding local sources. Both kinds of societies provide invaluable resource contacts.

    This is in contrast to the new-millennium person who searches the Internet for the word "Loyalist" to find his family, and ends up with hundreds (thousands?) of links to sites that dazzle, baffle, or garble. It seems, for some reason, that only a minority of people who learn of a potential Loyalist connection are people already familiar with good genealogical procedures and techniques. The standard methods of starting with yourself (instead of a person in the past) and tracing back through each earlier generation — joining a genealogy society in the ancestral area — reading books about the ancestor's era — attending lectures or signing up for courses — seem to have been forgotten in our new times of "instant gratification".

    This may be "preaching to the choir" but it is so important, it bears repeating from time to time. Whenever we hear of someone newly excited about Loyalist heritage, we should all encourage them to become researchers rather than browsers.

    Upper Canada Land Books, the minutes of Executive Council meetings, normally do not give much detail from a petition which was submitted. On the other hand, they may include a revealing comment once in a while from the Council or a committee. Also, they record the various changes in instructions and regulations that governed their decisions. For this reason, they supply excellent background information. The original books (NA, RG 1, L 1) are nominally indexed along with the petitions themselves, but they are difficult to read. The Archives of Ontario, under its former title of Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario, has published transcribed portions of the earliest books (much easier to read!) as "Grants of Crown Lands in Upper Canada" in:

    1928, Seventeenth Report (Books A & B, 1787-1791)
    1929, Eighteenth Report (Book A, 1792-1796, Simcoe Administration)
    1930, Nineteenth Report (Books B & C, 1796-1797)
    1931, Twentieth Report (Books C & D, 1796-1798)

    1. National Archives of Canada, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 306, L Bundle Miscellaneous, No 125; microfilm C-2138. National Archives of Canada, RG 1, L 1, Upper Canada Land Book B, 1790-1791, as published in Seventeenth Report of the Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario, 1928, p 154
    2. NA, RG 1 , L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 306, L Bundle Miscellaneous, No 126; mfm C-2138.
    3. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 284, L Bundle 3, No 53; mfm C-2125.
    4. NA, RG 1, L 7, Vol 52b, Files 4 & 5; also as published by E Keith Fitzgerald and Norman Crowder in Ontario People: 1796-1803 (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1993).
    5. See endnote No 4.
    6. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 251, H Bundle Miscellaneous, No 64; mfm C-2107
    7. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 224, H Bundle 3, No 171; mfm C-2044.
    8. Upper Canada Land Book C, 1796-1797 (in National Archives RG 1, L 1), as published in Twentieth Report of the Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario, 1931, p 88.
    9. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 226, H Bundle 8, No 102; mfm C-2046.
    10. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 226, H Bundle 9, No 32; mfm C-2046
    11. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 186a, F Bundle 5, No 21; mfm C-1894.
    12. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 186a, F Bundle 5, No 59; mfm C-1894.
    13. At least one of Jeptha Hawley's brothers had a son named Jehiel who petitioned for land as SUE, but for the time being this does not affect our discussion.
    14. NA, RG 1, L 3, Upper Canada Land Petitions, Vol 306, L Bundle Miscellaneous, No 158; mfm C-2138.

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