Book Review: Loyalist Refugees. Non-Military Refugees in Quebec 1776-1784.

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Loyalist Refugees. Non-Military Refugees in Quebec 1776-1784.
By Gavin K. Watt. Published by Global Heritage Press, Milton, Ontario, Canada. 2014. 330 pages.

Not everyone in colonial America believed the colonies should be independent of England. Some 15-20% of the settled occupants remained loyal to the British Monarchy, and consequently were hounded, harassed, persecuted, and run out of their homes. The so-called Loyalists living in the northern regions moved north to the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. (Not every Loyalist fled the colonies. Many remained in the states and assumed citizenship in the new republic.)

According to the introduction in his book, Gavin Watt has found no published names of Loyalist non-military refugees to the province of Quebec. He finds plenty of references (and lists several ) to the fighting men who migrated to lower Quebec, but he has found no master list of the wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and children of the fighting men who were compelled to leave their homes for the safety of Canada.

So Mr. Watt compiled one.

Loyalist Refugees identifies and lists more than 2,000 non-military loyalist refugees who took shelter in lower Quebec during the American Revolution. Introductory material examines the persecution that forced the many to re-locate, as well as efforts by the British governing authorities to house, feed, clothe and employ the refugee families.

Mr. Watt’s “The Refugee Roll” records approximately 2500 entries representing over 6500 individuals. The surnames are listed alphabetically followed by entries recording a given name, spouse or father or mother, children (but no names, just number-of and ages), locations, remarks (such as “Husband subsisted as Lieut 01July79.” and so forth), and rank, regiment, or organization.

Mr. Watt provides a description of how to interpret the Refugee Roll, what the various abbreviations mean, and explanations of the data offered.

This looks to be a reference every Loyalist researcher should have.

Loyalist Refugees. Non-Military Refugees in Quebec 1776-1784 is available from the publisher at


This is wonderful – many thanks!! My 5-great-grandfather disappeared from Connecticut records in 1774 (birth of a child) and reappears in 1784 (next child born – 10-year gap!). Based on other research, I strongly suspect that the family adhered to the Church of England and thus opposed the Revolutionary War. This kind of information could be ever-so-helpful in learning more about the “10-year gap”.


I too have a 10 year ‘gap’ for my third great grandparents except that I know Captain Robert and Hannah Gill were in England 1773-1784. I have wondered whether they were loyalists. Captain Robert did bring several boatloads of German and Irish immigrants to Philadelphia during those years.


Mr. Eastman, as I’m sure you know, there is a society in Canada which is parallel to the US Daughters of the American Revelotion. It is the United Empire Loyalists – for descendants of Americans who served under the British flag during the revolution. More info at their website:


    Correct. In fact, I have attended a meeting of the United Empire Loyalists while in New Brunswick some years ago. However, this article is about a newly-released book so it focuses on only that one book. There are many other resources available for Loyalist research as well.


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