Loyola University to Create a Database of Loyalist Americans’ Claims

Loyalists, the women and men who chose to stay loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution, have been the subject of a resurgence of scholarly interest over the past decade. Many of the Loyalists moved to Canada as the U.S. Revolutionary War came to a close and a few others moved to England.

Previously dismissed as the losers in the conflict, scholars have turned their attention to those who separated themselves from their friends and neighbors and gave up their land and possessions when they chose to leave the new United States at the end of the American Revolution. The story of that difficult decision recorded in the Loyalist Claims Commission is one that has been largely overlooked since the end of the war.

The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William & Mary has awarded Benjamin Bankhurst, assistant professor of history at Shepherd University, and Kyle Roberts, associate professor of public history and new media and director of the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities at Loyola University Chicago, with a $5,000 Lapidus Digital Collections Fellowship for “The Maryland Loyalist Project.” The project is a collaboration between Bankhurst and Roberts, aiming to make the letters and petitions of British loyalists who fled the American Revolution housed in the British National Archives available in a digital archive.

You can read the full story in an article in the (Martinsburg, WV) Journal at: bit.ly/2XZSkB4.


Reblogged this on Old Bones Genealogy of New England and commented:
This could become a great resource for Loyalist research.


“Previously dismissed as the losers in the conflict, scholars have turned their attention to those who separated themselves from their friends and neighbors and gave up their land and possessions when they chose to leave the new United States at the end of the American Revolution.”
See the last paragraph of the Banishment Act dated Sept 1778:
“Sect. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons, who shall be transported as aforesaid, shall voluntarily return to this state, without liberty first had and obtained from the general court, he shall, on conviction thereof before the superior court of judicature, court of assize and general gaol delivery, suffer the pain of death without benefit of clergy.”
I would suggest “choice” is a relative term. My direct ancestor and his second son are listed on the Massachusetts Banishment Act of 1778. The original compiler of the family genealogy doesn’t list what happened to my ancestor after listing the detail that he was proscribed and banished from the US. I found out his fate and got copies of his will and two group deeds he is listed on in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. The second son must have been forgiven because he is found in CT records, married with children, a short time later. [This info was among my fluke finds shortly after I got my first computer some 16/17 years ago; the other finds were in databases in Norway and Denmark. The Swedish info came years later after I finally found the missing location name after 45 years of a brick wall on him.]

While I have an ancestor who served some six++ years and several months in the Revolutionary War and whose honorable discharge was signed by ‘G. Washington’ at Newburgh while they were waiting for the ship to arrive from Paris with the peace treaty and money to pay the troops (I have microfilm copies of his military and pension records), I also have a Loyalist among my ancestors. Down the coast from NB in Maine, descendants of both of them married and produced offspring…, and I’m one of those descendants.

R. Wallace Hale authored the “Early New Brunswick Probate Records, 1785-1835”
His web site is no longer online, but I did let him know a typo in the published book about my ancestor’s will when I compared it to Hale’s abstract and he corrected the version he used to sell on CD (he sent it to me). I had an extensive correspondence with him for a few months (he was in his early 80s at the time).
Amazon also has “American Loyalists to New Brunswick: The ship passenger lists” for sale (use the Search feature to see if a name is included in the Index):

I will be eagerly looking forward to any further information about the Loyalists. Thanks for the article, Dick.


This will be interesting. Our Wadsworth family supposedly had Patriots who stayed and Loyalists who left, returning about 1840. Connecting the two branches has been a challenge so any Loyalist scholarship would be greatly anticipated.


I have many Revolutionary War ancestors- one was opposed to war in New Hampshire on religious grounds yet served in a civil capacity for the Cause, one was a Captain of Wylly’s Regiment in Connecticut and is in Washington’s letters when he met with him, and one was a judge in Gloucester County, NY which became Vermont- he chose to become a Loyalist and fled to New Brunswick, penning a letter unsigned praising the Loyalist effort and calling the Patriots “damned rebels”. Both the Patriot Captain and the Loyalist shared the same name and 2nd cousins 1 times removed, great great grandsons of William Sumner and Elizabeth Clement.


Being a descendant from two of the Detroit first settlers, I also have had descendants, who were French citizens who worked for the British Army as indian interpreters. At least one of my DesJardins family line were Loyalists. The move was short as they just had to cross the Detroit River. On my own family Boyd line, I have found information of a family of Loyalists, who were pretty much forced to leave from their east coast town. They did not go to Canada, but to western New York. This is a great part of history that does need to be looked at. These loyalist were not traitors in my mind, it was a position of choice, to support or not to support the Revolution.


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