United Empire Loyalist

United Empire Loyalist

The name United Empire Loyalists is a honorific name which has been given after the fact to those American Loyalists who resettled in British North America and other British Colonies as an act of fealty to King George III after the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War. Some sought to recover fortunes (land and private property) lost under laws enacted by the Continental Congress as a way of financing the revolution. Most, however, are believed to have fled north to escape persecution and because they rejected the republican ideals of the American Revolution, which they regarded as anarchistic. A portion of the Loyalists were recent settlers in the 13 colonies and had few economic or social ties to leave. These Loyalists settled in what was initially Quebec (including the Eastern Townships) and modern-day Ontario, where they received land grants of two hundred acres per person, and in Nova Scotia (including modern-day New Brunswick). Their arrival marked the beginning of a predominantly English-speaking population in the future Canada west and east of the Quebec border.

Origins and history

During the American Revolution, a significant proportion of the population of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, East Florida, West Florida and other colonies was determined to remain loyal to the crown and desired to remain within the British Empire. The reasons were as varied as the people themselves, but the overriding principle was loyalty to the King.

Loyalists began leaving at the end of the war whenever transport was available. An estimated 70,000 Loyalists, approximately 62,000 white and 8,000 blacks (representing about 3% of the total American population of which 20-30% supported the Crown during the American War for Independence), left the thirteen newly independent states: 46,000 to Canada; 7,000 to Britain and 17,000 to the Caribbean. Beginning in the mid-1780s and lasting until the end of the century, however, a small percentage chose to return from the Caribbean and Nova Scotia, betraying their beliefs.

Following the end of the Revolution and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Loyalist soldiers and civilians were evacuated from New York and resettled in other colonies of the British Empire, most notably in the future Canada. The two colonies of Nova Scotia (including modern-day New Brunswick), received about 34,000 Loyalist refugees, Prince Edward Island 2,000 and Quebec (including the Eastern Townships and modern-day Ontario) received some 10,000 refugees.

The arrival of the Loyalists led to the division in the war of independence 1783 into the provinces of Upper Canada in what is now Ontario and Lower Canada in what is now Quebec. The creation of Upper and Lower Canada allowed the Loyalists to live under English laws and institutions while the French-speaking population of Lower Canada could maintain French civil law and the Catholic religion.

Realizing the importance of some type of recognition, on November 9, 1789, Lord Dorchester, the governor of Quebec and Governor General of British North America, declared "that it was his Wish to put the mark of Honour upon the Families who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire." [Dorchester Proclamation, transcript at "http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/UNITED-EMPIRE-LOYALIST/2001-05/0989875861"] As a result of Dorchester's statement, the printed militia rolls carried the notation:

Those Loyalists who have adhered to the Unity of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783, and all their Children and their Descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following Capitals, affixed to their names: U.E. Alluding to their great principle The Unity of the Empire.

Some of the richest and most prominent Loyalists went to Britain to rebuild their lives, and many received pensions. Southern Loyalists, some even taking along their slaves, went to the West Indies and the Bahamas, particularly to the Abaco Islands.

Thousands of Iroquois and other pro-British Native Americans were expelled from New York and other states and resettled in Canada. The descendants of one such group of Iroquois, led by Joseph Brant Thayendenegea, settled at Six Nations of the Grand River, the largest First Nations Reserve in Canada. Another smaller group of Iroquois settled on the shores of the Bay of Quinte in modern day South-eastern Ontario. A group of Black Loyalists settled in Nova Scotia but, facing discrimination there, some emigrated again for Sierra Leone.

Many of the Loyalists were forced to abandon substantial amounts of property, and restoration or compensation for this lost property was a major issue during the negotiation of the Jay Treaty in 1795. Negotiations rested on the concept of the American negotiators 'advising' the Congress to provide restitution. For the English this concept carried significant legal weight, far more than it did with the Americans; the U. S. Congress declined to accept the advice. More than two centuries later, some of the descendants of Loyalists still assert claims to their ancestors' property in the United States.


Modern-day descendants of those original refugees often apply the term "United Empire Loyalist" to themselves, using "UE" as postnominal letters; the honorific is one of few hereditary titles in Canada, though this is disputed by some. [see for example this http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/UNITED-EMPIRE-LOYALIST/2001-05/0989875861 on Rootsweb] Such everyday practice is rare, even in the original Loyalist strongholds like southeastern Ontario. However, it is used extensively by historians and genealogists.

In Canadian heraldry, Loyalist descendants are also entitled to use a Loyalist coronet in their coat of arms.

The influence of the Loyalists on the evolution of Canada remains. Their ties with Britain and their antipathy to the United States provided the strength needed to keep Canada independent and distinct in North America. The Loyalists' basic distrust of republicanism and "mob rule" influenced Canada's gradual "paper-strewn" path to independence. In effect, the new British North American provinces of Upper Canada (the forerunner of Ontario) and New Brunswick were created as places of refuge for the United Empire Loyalists. The mottos of the two Provinces reflect this history - Ontario's motto is "Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet" (Loyal she began, loyal she remains), New Brunswick's motto is: "Spem Reduxit" (Hope restored).

The word "Loyalist" appears frequently in school, street, and business names in loyalist-settled communities such as Belleville, Ontario. The nearby city of Kingston was established as a loyalist stronghold, named in honour of King George III. There is also a township named Loyalist in the suburban outskirts of Kingston.

In 1996, Canadian politicians John Godfrey and Peter Milliken sponsored the Godfrey-Milliken Bill, which would have entitled Loyalist descendants to reclaim ancestral property in the United States that was confiscated by the American government during the American Revolution. The bill, which did not pass in the House of Commons, was primarily intended as a satirical response to the contemporaneous American Helms-Burton Act.

List of Loyalist settlements in present-day Canada

18th-century names are listed first, alongside their present-day equivalents.

* Antigonish, Nova Scotia
* Belleville, Ontario
* Buell's Bay → Brockville, Ontario
* Butlersbury → Newark → Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
* Cataraqui → Kingston, Ontario
* Clifton → Niagara Falls, Ontario
* Cornwall, Ontario
* Digby, Nova Scotia
* Eastern Townships, Quebec
* Effingham, Ontario
* Grimsby, Ontario
* Merrittsville → Welland, Ontario
* Port Roseway → Shelburne, Nova Scotia
* Prince Edward County, Ontario
* Saint John, New Brunswick
* Shelburne, Nova Scotia
* Six Nations and Brantford, Ontario
* St. Andrews-by-the-Sea → St. Andrews, New Brunswick
* St. Anne's Point → Fredericton, New Brunswick
* The Twelve → Shipman's Corners → St. Catharines, Ontario
* York → Toronto

ee also

*Loyalist (American Revolution)
*Canadian honorifics


Further reading

*Lawrence Hill; "The Book of Negroes"; Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. 2007.
*Christopher Moore; "The Loyalists: Revolution, Exile, Settlement"; 1984, ISBN 0-7710-6093-9.
* W. Stewart Wallace; "The United Empire Loyalists: A Chronicle of the Great Migration"; Volume 13 of the "Chronicles of Canada" (32 volumes); 1914, Toronto.

External links

* [http://www.uelac.org The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada] - fraternal association for descendants of Loyalists
* [http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyherkim/regiments/loyclaims9.html Example of Loyalist claim from New York state]
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/11977 E-text of Wallace's Chronicle] at Project Gutenberg
* [http://www.geocities.com/kinfolk.geo/Pioneer_Philip_Crouse_Biography.htm#Loyalist_Pioneer Biography of Loyalist Philip Crouse, ca.1760-1856]
* [http://www.wampumchronicles.com/josephbrant.html "The Myth of the Loyalist Iroquois"] , argues that it is misleading to describe Joseph Brant and other Iroquois leaders as "Loyalists"
* [http://ontarioplaques.com/Plaque_Toronto66.html Ontario Plaques - The Loyalists In Upper Canada]
* [http://ns1763.ca/guysbco/loyalistchw.html Photographs of the United Empire Loyalist monument at Country Harbour, Nova Scotia]
* [http://www.uelac.org/PDF/loyalist.pdf A Short History of the United Empire Loyalists, by Ann Mackenzie, M.A.]
* [http://www.uelac.org/loyalistes.pdf Une Courte Histoire des Loyalistes de l'Empire Uni, French translation of "A Short History of the United Empire Loyalists" by Ann Mackenzie, M.A.]
* [http://anglicanhistory.org/canada/uel/ United Empire Loyalists and Anglicanism]
* [http://www.haldimand-collection.ca Haldimand Collection] A major source of information regarding the installation of more than 50 thousand American Loyalists in Canada : Cataraqui, Quebec, Sorel, Nova-Scotia, New-Brunswick
* [http://franklinpapers.org/franklin/yale?vol=43&page=246&rqs=230&rqs=283&rqs=674&rqs=687 Benjamin Franklin to Baron Francis Maseres, June 26, 1785] (Opinion of Benjamin Franklin on persons who called themselves "Loyalists", whom he judged better called "Royalists")

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • United Empire Loyalist — United Empire Loyalist, any one of a group of British colonists in America who emigrated to Canada during and after the Revolutionary War because they chose to remain British subjects; Loyalist …   Useful english dictionary

  • United Empire Loyalist — noun any of the American colonists who in loyalty to the British throne settled in Canada during or after the War of Independence …   Australian English dictionary

  • Loyalists, United Empire —    Name applied to the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies who remained loyal to Great Britain, and rather than submit to the new republic, migrated to Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. No adequate provision having… …   The makers of Canada

  • Loyalist (American Revolution) — Britannia offers solace and a promise of compensation for her exiled American born Loyalists.(Reception of the American Loyalists by Great Britain in the Year 1783. Engraving by H. Moses after Benjamin West.) Loyalists were American colonists who …   Wikipedia

  • Loyalist — In general, a loyalist is one who maintains loyalty to an established government, political party, or sovereign, especially during war or revolutionary change. In modern English usage, the most common application is to loyalty to the British… …   Wikipedia

  • Loyalist College — Infobox University name = Loyalist College of Applied Arts and Technology motto = established = 1967 type = Public College of Applied Arts and Technology head label = President head = affiliation = non denominational city = Belleville| state =… …   Wikipedia

  • Loyalist, Ontario — Loyalist   Township   Main street in Bath Motto: A Loyal Three Made Stronger In One …   Wikipedia

  • Loyalist (disambiguation) — Loyalist may refer to:*Loyalist, a person who supports the British monarchy or the United Kingdom *Loyalist (American Revolution), a British North American colonist who remained loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution. *Loyalist …   Wikipedia

  • loyalist — loyalism, n. /loy euh list/, n. 1. a person who is loyal; a supporter of the sovereign or of the existing government, esp. in time of revolt. 2. (sometimes cap.) a person who remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution; Tory. 3.… …   Universalium

  • United Provinces of the Río de la Plata — (United Provinces of South America) Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata (Provincias Unidas en Sud América) ← …   Wikipedia