Do you qualify for the letters U.E.?

Many Canadians have ancestors who remained loyal to the British Crown in the American revolution and, having found themselves on the losing side of the war, were forced to rebuild their lives in Britain’s Canadian colonies.


Today, Canadian descendants of Loyalists can still apply to the UELAC (United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada) to include the initials UE (for Unity of Empire) after their names because the title is hereditary. This is a unique quality amongst Canadian honours. It doesn’t come with any special status or rewards anymore, but at one time it was worth 200 acres of land.

The post-nominal letters and this designation come from Lord Dorcester’s 1789 Proclamation, in which he notes:

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.

To qualify for this designation, one needs to complete a Loyalist Certificate Application. If you’re interested in gaining this designation, a first step would be to contact your local chapter of the UELAC to find out about joining the network and putting together an application with a volunteer from the organisation.

It’s also worth searching online for previously-approved applications that are published on the website. Not only might you find that your ancestor has already been proven to have been Loyalist, but the application should also include details about where the applicant found proof. This can be a very useful shortcut for digging up the primary sources for yourself, especially since (as we’ve seen) searching can be a frustrating, time-consuming activity.

For example, applications have been made by a very distant cousin of mine for both Jacob and Henry Anguish who are also my direct ancestors. This person’s applications included details about their military experience and where to find them in the records, and the applicant was kind enough to share their documents online. This also means that Jacob and Henry are now listed in UELAC’s Loyalist Directory.

You can also follow the UELAC on Twitter @uelac.

US Presidents and Ireland, Part III

A few weeks ago I looked at the tours of Ireland by Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.  You can find that post here.

Now let’s take a look at the visits from American presidents since the 1980s.



Ronald and Nancy Reagan in Ballyporeen – photo credit:

Earlier this year, RTE’s History Show did a podcast on Reagan’s visit to Ireland, which you can find here.  It highlights the mixed reception he was subjected to throughout his visit, given American policies in Central and South America at the time.

Reagan arrived at Shannon for a four-day visit on 1 June 1984.  He received an honorary degree, which caused quite a bit of controversy, at NUI Galway

On 3 June, Reagan visited his great-grandfather’s hometown of Ballyporeen in Tipperary.  Before his visit, he had little knowledge of his family roots because his father had been orphaned at a young age, so there was not much of a sense of connection to the family’s past.

It’s difficult to express my appreciation to all of you.  I feel like I’m about to drown everyone in a bath of nostalgia.

-Ronald Reagan at Ballyporeen

He stopped in at Ballyporeen’s Ronald Reagan Lounge, the facade and fittings of which were later moved to the Reagan Presidential Library in California.

From there, Reagan went to Dublin, where he stayed at the US Embassy in Phoenix Park and addressed a joint session of the Irish National Parliament, highlighted by his celebration of the connection between the US and Ireland, as well as addressing IRA attacks in Northern Ireland and London.

Reagan’s remarks at Ballyporeen

Address before a Joint Session of the Irish National Parliament


Bill Clinton arrived in Northern Ireland at a key moment in 1995.  His decision to previous year to grant a visa to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams had garnered both praise and high levels of criticism.  He became the first sitting US President to visit Northern Ireland, arriving in Belfast on 30 November.  He was self-consciously leading the US to intervene in British-Northern Ireland relations, calling for reconciliation to end the Troubles.

Over the last 3 years since I have had the privilege to be the President of the United States I have had occasion to meet with Nationalists and to meet with Unionists and to listen to their sides of the story. I have come to the conclusion that here, as in so many other places in the world, from the Middle East to Bosnia, the divisions that are most important here are not the divisions between opposing views or opposing interests. Those divisions can be reconciled. The deep divisions, the most important ones, are those between the peacemakers and the enemies of peace: those who, deep, deep down inside, want peace more than anything and those who, deep down inside, can’t bring themselves to reach out for peace; those who are in the ship of peace and those who would sink it; those who bravely meet on the bridge of reconciliation and those who would blow it up.

-Bill Clinton in Derry

Clinton’s visit was considered extremely successful, leading the United States to play an undeniably key role in the peace process.  With George Mitchell as lead negotiator, the Good Friday agreement was agreed in 1998.

Clinton made two further presidential trips to Ireland. In September 1998 his trip included a visit to Omagh, shortly after the bombing there.  And he returned in December 2000, including a visit to Dublin and Drumconda.


George W. Bush’s visit to Ireland was marked by controversy before it started.  He conducted an exclusive RTE interview (seen above) with Carole Coleman from the White House the day before his visit, causing tensions with tough questions on the Iraq War, conduct of American soldiers, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction.  RTE had planned another interview with Laura Bush, but this was cancelled.

Bush arrived at Shannon on 25 June 2004, staying at Dromoland Castle in County Clare and attending a two-day European Union-US summit.  He also met with Bernie Ahern and Mary McAleese.

His visit was marked by the need for high levels of security, and protests against the Iraq War and American military actions.


The most recent Presidential trip to Ireland was that of Barack Obama in 2011.  He arrived in Dublin with the First Lady on the morning of 23 May, meeting with Mary McAleese and Enda Kenny.

Next, he traveled to his ancestral hometown of Moneygall, County Offaly, shaking hands with as many as possible who came out to greet him in the rain.


The Obamas in Moneygall – photo credit: New York Times

After enjoying a pint of Guinness, the Obamas headed back to Dublin.  President Obama gave a speech in College Green before departing for London amidst the Iceland volcanic ash cloud.

Now, of course, an American doesn’t really require Irish blood to understand that ours is a proud, enduring, centuries-old relationship; that we are bound by history and friendship and shared values.  And that’s why I’ve come here today, as an American President, to reaffirm those bonds of affection.

-Barack Obama in Dublin

White House image gallery of President Obama’s visit

College Green Speech

New York Times coverage of the trip

RTE Coverage

Is féidir linn


Using the Records Loyalists Left Behind: The Search for Henry Anguish

Using the Records Loyalists Left Behind: The Search for Henry Anguish

Over the past month I’ve been looking at Loyalist history and the records that have been preserved and digitised for historians and family historians alike to use to find out more about the early European and Loyalist American settlers in Upper Canada (now Ontario). Several of my ancestors were Loyalists who settled near the shores of Lake Erie in Upper Canada and many of their descendants are still living in the region.

Today I wanted to demonstrate what can be found within these records. I did this briefly with my look at Jacob Anguish’s request for aid that is found in the Haldimand Papers. Today I want to show what can be found across a range of sources for one person, namely Henry Anguish, Jacob’s son.

Henry is my 5x great-grandfather. Over the course of his life he moved from Canadian to American-held territories and back again. This demonstrates the fluidity of movement across borders during peacetime between the Canadian and American territories. He was one of the first Europeans settlers in the area of Tonawanda, New York. By opening the first tavern in the area in 1811 and creating the first building in what would become the village and then town, he is sometimes referred to as the town’s founder. However, he ultimately settled in Rainham Township in Haldimand County, Upper Canada.

So we know that Henry’s father was a Loyalist and that after the war his family’s land in Pennsylvania was no longer theirs. We know that he moved several times in his life. What details can the records fill in for us? Let’s take a look through the different sources that I’ve been writing about.

The Haldimand Papers

My first stop is the Index pages on the reel, C-1475, to look up Henry Anguish. The reel shows that a Henry Anguish is found at volume 105, p. 385, and volume 166, p. 81. Below the typed list of Anguishes there’s a note to see Anguish for Angust; this indicates that there must be places in the records where the last name was written as Angust. I should mention that there are a number of Anguishes in the list. In order to be satisfied that I had found everything, I would look up every one to see if they happen to also mention Henry.

Now we need to find which digitised microfilm reels contain volumes 105 and 166. Library and Archives Canada have put the four volumes that they consider to be ‘Loyalist Volumes’ all on one reel, C-1475, the same one we used above for the index Now it’s just a matter of finding the right page in the right volume. For ease of future searching, I’m noting the start pages of each volume here:

This should help us pretend that they are proper volumes and not one large, artificially created microfilm reel. It’ll also speed things up.

First we want to find Henry in Volume 105 Page 385. This is found through a lot of ‘hit and miss’ work with pages, because the pages aren’t all there. Unfortunately, when I did find the image it’s pretty poor quality (see below).


‘[List] of Persons under the Description of Loyalist Specify[ing] … Captain Lewis Geneway Company in the Corps of Rangers’, Haldimand Papers C-1475 Vol. 105 (Image 386), page 385.

What we have here is a list of Loyalist families that are under the command of Captain Lewis Geneway and the rations allotted to them. Geneway was a Captain in Butler’s Rangers, the regiment Jacob had fought with.

Henry is listed with his family on the right side of the page:


This segment of the list shows that Henry is 18. He is with his father, Jacob (age 63), his mother Elizabeth (age 54), older brother Jacob (20), and younger sisters Anna (16), who was initially left out by the transcriber) and Elizabeth (10). The family is entitled to 2 rations. Extrapolating from information on slightly clearer pages, it looks like this list is from 30 November 1783, the year before Jacob applies for aid for his family.

Next, we want to find Henry in Volume 166 page 81. Henry August is listed next to a Hanah August on a list of Loyalists from 1 August 1787 who are about to lose their right to provisions. Henry August is noted as being 14 and fit for service. As Henry’s last name is different, Anna’s (or Hanah’s) entire name is spelled incorrectly, neither are the expected age, they are not situated with their family, and they are in Montreal (we don’t know where they were in the first list, but have no evidence that they did not stay in the Niagara region where Jacob had been treated), we can’t be sure that this is the same Henry. However, we’ll keep it in our notes.

Upper Canada Land Petitions

My first stop is Library and Archives Canada’s Search page for the Land Petitions of Upper Canada, 1763-1865. A quick search for the surname Anguish brings up 15 results; Henry is first.


Partial list of Search Results for the surname ‘Anguish’

Then, starting with the Microfilm reference in the far right column, C-1609, I search for the item with the digitised, microfilmed Upper Canada Land Petitions. Henry petition is number 27 in volume 1, so I thought I wouldn’t have to dig through too many images, but I was wrong, as volume 1 isn’t the first volume on the reel. Also, it’s important to note that the Haldimand Papers are numbered by page, but the UC Land Petitions are numbered by petition, so I am looking for Petition 27, not page 27 (like I would if I was searching in the Haldimand Papers).

Henry’s petition is found on page 276 of reel C-1609. It is addressed to John Graves Simcoe, the Governor of Upper Canada, and dated 11 May 1796. The petition tells us that Henry has lived in Upper Canada since 1778 and has about 50 acres of land which isn’t enough to support his family, which now consists of his wife and their four children. He states that his father served in the war under John Butler and his wife’s father had been a Sergeant in the same regiment. He concludes by praying that his request will be granted as they will suffer if it isn’t, and signs his name to the petition.

The following page records the reply: Henry and his wife are to be granted 200 acres of land each. In the reply they specifically note that Henry’s wife is the daughter of a Loyalist.


Response to the petition of Henry Anguish, Upper Canada Land Petitions, C-1609 volume 1 (Page 277): 22/27.

Land Boards of Upper Canada

Names contained within the records of the Land Boards of Upper Canada can be searched for on Library and Archives Canada’s search page. A quick search for Henry Anguish leads us to a digital record of where he can be found in their list of land recipients:

Screen shot 2016-11-13 at 13.43.06.png

Search Results for Henry Anguish

The record here could be quite misleading. While the year given is 1802, when you find the actual entry in the manuscript, the date of the land grant was 12 May 1796. We already know this from our search above. The 1802 comes from the list of the Attorney General as they attempt to track all of the land grants, as the grant is recorded in the Land Board’s records on 24 March 1802. You can see the actual entry in my earlier post on Loyalist records.

Upper Canada Land Books

The Upper Canada Land Books provide information on where people can be found in the records. There’s no online search, but the index volumes are useful. Using the Land Books takes time and their intention is to refer you to where the actual records are. Here are the two record cards for Henry Anguish, found in Image 2821 and Image 2822:


Upper Canada Land Book entry for Henry Anguish, C-10810 Image 2821


Upper Canada Land Book entry for Henry Anguish, C-10810 Image 2822

Heir and Devisee Commission records

As we’ve noted, the online search available for these records only applies to those from the Second Heir and Devisee Commission which did not deal with Loyalists, but instead with their descendants’ applications for land. The only Anguish found in the Second Commission’s records is Lewis, Henry’s son (and my 4x great-grandfather) and shows that Lewis was granted land in Rainham township in 1841. The search results also give us useful details for tracking down Lewis’s grant in the records.

Without an online search for the time period I’m interested in, I have yet to find henry in the documents. There are a couple things I can do. First, I can perform an online search using a general search engine such as Google to see if someone else has found Henry in the records and has provided the details on where to find him. Second, I can try to find out where the land was granted (it appears to be Nassau, according to the Land Books we looked at above) and then find the set of records here that relate to Nassau and search for Henry within them.

The Nassau District becomes known as the Home District in 1792. This index to the records indicates that a number of volumes relate specifically to the Home District, but these often lead to summaries of the number of land claims rather than information on the individual claimants. Therefore, it’s possible that Henry is simply included in number of claimants given for a specific year or time period, rather than by name.

I hope what we can take from this search is that we can find out a lot of information about Loyalists and their families in the digitised sources. In some case this information includes interesting little details and insights into the lives, locations, living conditions, and the needs of early settlers in Upper Canada, while in other records these men and women and the documents they created have been amalgamated into the bigger picture of the European and American settlement of early Canada after 1776. When combined with some of the excellent recent works on Loyalist history and the history of Upper Canada, these stories of individuals bring the larger studies to life.

On the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme


Battle of Bazentin Ridge (14-17 July) – photo credit: Imperial War Museums

After almost five long months of battle, the Battle of the Somme ended on 18 November 1916.  The battle began with artillery bombardment on 24 June before the infantry assault was launched on 1 July.  On that day, the British army suffered its heaviest ever casualties in a single day: 57,470, with an additional 2,152 missing.

From 1 to 3 July, the 36th (Ulster) Division on its own lost 5,500 killed, wounded, or missing, out of a total of 15,000 men.  This helped the Battle of the Somme become a symbol of Ulster sacrifice for the Union with Great Britain.  On the other hand, the southern Irish and nationalist participation in the war has historically tended to be hidden and erased.

As the late Keith Jeffery explained in his 1916: A Global History, “There are very good reasons for the privileging or ‘foregrounding’ of the 1 July attack, both at the time and in the subsequent literature…. The desperate heroics and catastrophic casulaties of that day make it a rightfully irresistible human story.” But in his geographically and chronologically arranged book, Jeffery placed the Battle of the Somme later in the year.  “The almost slavish concentration on 1 July to the exclusion of the broader context, and the actual beginning of the offensive almost a week earlier, seriously distorts any proper understanding of the battle,” he explained.

Surmising the scope of the entire five months of the Battle of the Somme, for the British “perhaps the single most iconic engagement of the First World War,” Jeffery wrote, “From the beginning the cost was horrific, and over the whole battle British and French formations fought along a twenty-mile stretch near the river Somme, sustaining some 623,000 casualties, of whom 420,000 were British.  The Germans suffered something between 500,000 and 580,000 casualties.  During the battle the Allies advanced no more than ten miles, and the Somme has come above all to exemplify a perception of the fighting on the Western Front as unremittingly costly and essentially futile.”  The Battle of the Somme encompasses everything from frustrations, costs, catastrophies, and futility to heroics and honored memory of the First World War.

Fighting for the Unity of Empire

Fighting for the Unity of Empire

For the past few weeks I have been writing about the digitised sources available for historians and genealogists (family historians) alike for finding out information about Canada’s Loyalist ancestors. I wanted to take a slightly different perspective on the blog today by looking at what it meant to be a Loyalist.

Who were the Loyalists?

United Empire Loyalists were men and women who were in the thirteen colonies in America and who opposed the American revolution. Estimates of their numbers vary, but there were perhaps around 50,000 Loyalists.

These were people who:

  • lived in the American colonies as of 19 April 1775 (the date of the Battles of Lexington and Concord) and either joined the Royal Standard before 1783’s Treaty of Separation (aka the Treaty of Paris) or demonstrated loyalty to the Crown, and settled in British-held territory, OR
  • were soldiers who had served in an American Loyalist Regiment and then relocated to Canada, OR
  • were members of the Six Nations of either the Grand River or the Bay of Quinte Reserve and were descended from those whose migration patterns were similar to the Loyalists’.

There were Loyalist regiments, Loyalist forts and garrisons, and Loyalist settlements. They were from diverse backgrounds and had different motivations for choosing to fight against the revolution. Some of their stories are captured in the records that I’ve been writing about; historians have been utlising these records and other information as they explore their experiences and attempt to explain these motivations. You can find a list of suggested readings at the end of this post.

Former soldiers and their families and descendants were granted land, particularly in Upper and Lower Canada, and thanks to the well-preserved, transcribed, digitised records found in the Haldimand Papers, the Land Petitions of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, and the records of the Heir and Divisee Commission, we can see who was given land, where, and why. This is fundamental to our understanding of how Upper Canada (now Ontario) in particular was settled by Europeans and their American descendants as well as displaced First Nations peoples in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


James G. Chewett & Thomas Ridout, A Map of the Province of Upper Canada, 1826.

I think it can be tempting to try to whitewash the experiences of the war and the fact that thousands of men and women opposed the throwing off of British rule over the thirteen colonies. I’m a strong supporter of analysing the losing side of the battle or argument, particularly when it comes to arguments based on ideology, as a means of better understanding what the winning side was able to overcome and to challenge assumptions that a win was inevitable (this perspective is also pretty obvious in my book!). Loyalist history is the history of those who defended British rule in America and who believed in the need to maintain direct ties to the mother country; with the Commonwealth, we continue to see the legacies of these ties today.

Suggested Readings:

Jerry Bannister and Liam Riordan (eds), The Loyal Atlantic : Remaking the British Atlantic in the revolutionary era (University of Toronto Press, 2012).

Robert M. Calhoon, Timothy M. Barnes, and George A. Rawlyk (eds.), Loyalists and Community in North America (Greenwood Press, 1994).

Philip Gould, Writing the Rebellion: Loyalists and the Literature of Politics in British America (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Norman James Knowles, Inventing the Loyalists : the Ontario Loyalist tradition and the creation of usable pasts (University of Toronto Press, 1997).

Christopher Moore, The Loyalists : Revolution, exile, settlement (McClelland & Stewart, 1994).

Peter C. Newman, Hostages to Fortune: The United Empire Loyalists and the Making of Canada (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

Gavin K. Watt, The Burning of the Valleys : Daring raids from Canada against the New York frontier in the fall of 1780 (Dundurn Press, 1997).

Gavin K. Watt,  Loyalist refugees : Non-military refugees in Quebec 1776-1784, 2nd edition (Global Heritage Press [Canada], 2016).

A quick shout out and recommendation also goes to the work of Dr Tim Compeau, who’s a former classmate of mine and whose PhD thesis, ‘Dishonoured Americans: Loyalist Manhood and Political Death in Revolutionary America’ is available from Western University here. You can follow him on Twitter @TimCompeau and find a summary of his dissertation on the UELAC’s scholarship page.

Political Cartoon: The Anti-Home Rule Orange Circus Over the Water


Irish World, 11 March 1893

In the midst of the second Home Rule crisis in 1893, the most prominent Irish-American newspaper, the Irish World, published this political cartoon: “The Anti-Home Rule Orange Circus Over the Water.”

Here we see Edward Saunderson, MP and leader of the Ulster unionists in Parliament, beating the Orange drum.  Reverend Richard Rutledge Kane, of Belfast’s Christ Church, rips and stomps the Home Rule bill.  And in the background, Prime Minister William E. Gladstone is burned in effigy.

The Irish World described the scene: “More than 5,000 persons were present at the great Orange meeting here [in Belfast] to-day.  Dr. Kane, who presided, said that Ulster was prepared to defend herself to the last against the proposals of the Home Rule Bill.  The men of Ulster need not feel, however, that they would be alone and unaided in the fight for their liberties.  They had the sympathies of Englishmen of all classes throughout the world.

“He had received letters from military and police officers in England and Ireland and telegrams from Canada and Australia promising co-operation with the men of Ulster if the latter resorted to arms to defend their liberties against the tyranny of their historic foes.  A hundred thousand Orangemen were ready to resist to the death the Home Rule Bill.”

The Irish World‘s serious tone in reporting the event contrasts with the snarling and chaotic feel to the political cartoon, with the beating of the Orange drum an annoying “circus” and distraction from what Irish nationalists considered as the larger issues at stake with Home Rule.

Loyalist Records Online: An Overview

Loyalist Records Online: An Overview

For the last few weeks I’ve been writing quite a bit about using digitised Loyalist documents (check out my reflections on the struggles inherent in finding specific records and my detailed look at an injured Loyalist’s plea for financial support for his family). I’m thinking that a well-organised overview of some of the digitised sources I’ve been using and writing about might be in order. The resources are presented in a confusing enough way on their own sites; here we might be able to make a bit more sense of them.

Haldimand Papers

Search Page: The papers have not been transcribed and there is no online searchable index. There is, however, microfilm reel C-1475 that contains a typed index of names. Watch out for misspelled names and try to think up and look for alternative spellings. Also look for potential relatives; if a specific person you are looking for is not in the index, they may still be mentioned near a relative’s name in the actual records and were simply missed. This guide from Olive Tree Genealogy provides a helpful introduction.

Actual Digitised Microfilm Reels: Haldimand Papers


Excerpt of a letter from Robert Leake, dated 14 February 1768, complaining that troops in Pensacola, Florida are not receiving the bread or flour they need. Haldimand Papers reel C-4652 (p. 2), Image 9.

What you might find: 48 reels of documents in English that are preserved in the British Library. These documents are copies of the originals that were rewritten in the 19th century. Sir Frederick Haldimand was the Governor of Quebec (at the time this included present-day Ontario) from 1778-1786. In these reels can be found all types of correspondence and some tables and charts recording names, locations, individual stories and experiences, financial support, encampments, lists of soldiers in specific regiments, and so on.

Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865), aka Land Petitions of/for Upper Canada

Search Page: Library and Archives Canada search

Actual Digitised Microfilm Reels: Upper Canada Land Petitions


Excerpt from John Anable Jnr.’s Petition for Land dated 15 July 1807, Upper Canada Land Petitions reel c-1610 (item 50), pp. 37-8.

What you might find: 327 digitised microfilm reels containing details of Loyalists and their descendants who are submitting a claim or ‘petition’ to an initial or additional grant of land in the newly-created Upper Canada. Their requests contain varying levels of details and may also include additional supporting documents as well as information on whether a grant was made, why or why not, and what the grant entailed. Requests from the descendants of Loyalists tend to provide useful information for genealogists and those interested in family history because the petitioner has to outline their heritage to justify their claim.

Land Boards of Upper Canada, 1765-1804

Search Page: Library and Archives Canada search

Actual Digitised Microfilm Reels: Minutes and records of the Land Boards accumulated by the Executive Council Office


Records of grants recorded on 24 March 1802 (including to Loyalist Henry Anguish, my 5x Great-Grandfather, on 12 May 1796), Land Boards of Upper Canada, reel C-14027 (p. 14/46), Image 273.

What you might find: Minutes and records of the Land Boards of Upper Canada, including letters with detailed information about individuals and charts recording the most basic information about land recipients (name, amount of land granted, and date of the grant). These records were created by the Land Boards as they tried to keep track of who had been granted land in Upper Canada.

Upper Canada Land Books

Search Page: None online, although reels H-1976, H-1977, and H-1978 contain an index.

Actual Digitised Microfilm Reels: Upper Canada Land Books


Index card for Jacob Anguish, Upper Canada Land Books, reel C-10810, Image 2825.

What you might find: 41 reels of ‘finding aids’ in the form of thousands of filmed index cards with names that are related to requests and decisions about land grants in Upper Canada. These cards, organised in alphabetical order by the petitioner’s last name, refer to other sources where a request was recorded. Maybe someday we’ll have a version that is digitally linked to the sources referred to in the cards…

Heir and Devisee Commission records

Search Page: There is an online search for the Second Heir and Devisee Commission and an Index to the Records

Actual Digitised Microfilm Reels: Heir and Devisee


Segment of a chart of land grants, Heir and Devisee, reel H-1133 (p. 81), Image 130.

What you might find: 21 digitised microfilm reels recording the workings of the Heir and Devisee Commission, including legal documents, testimony, copies of wills and mortgages, and other information that was required by and sent to the Commission by claimants wishing to receive confirmation of land ownership. In other cases, information is displayed in the form of a chart (as above). Some volumes begin with an index. The major differences between the First and Second Heir and Devisee Commissions is time period — the First is for the period 1797-1804, the Second is 1805 and onwards — and the claimants. Only descendants were dealt with by the Second Commission. Most of the original nominees had died by this point, and those who remained could apply directly to the Surveyor General for their patent (the confirmation of land ownership).

In my next posts, I’ll give some more background information on the Loyalists and I show how I’ve used each of these records in my search for a certain Loyalist ancestor, Henry Anguish.

US Presidents and Ireland, Part II

Last week, I looked at how Ulster unionists and the Scotch-Irish memorialized and celebrated their ties to American presidents.  Find the post here.

Now let’s turn to visits by three US presidents to Ireland, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.


The first American president to visit Ireland was Grant, hero of the American Civil War, after his two rather tumultuous terms as president were over.  While he wished to make a tour of the world as a private citizen, then-President Rutherford B. Hayes encouraged him to take a diplomatic role and attempt to strengthen American interests abroad.

Grant departed Philadelphia on his world tour in May 1877 and arrived in Dublin on 3 January 1879.  He met with Lord Mayor, Sir Jonah Barrington, and was made an honorary citizen.  He toured the Mansion House, Royal Irish Academy, Bank of Ireland, Chamber of Commerce, stock exchange, Trinity College, and City Hall, spending two days touring the city in total.

Grant left Dublin by train on 6 January, stopping in Dundalk, Omagh, and Strabane on the way to Derry.  He did not visit his ancestral homestead at Ballygawley in County Tyrone.  The next day he arrived in Belfast.

From the train-window, Grant saw a perfect sea of heads, which showed the eagerness of the people to honor the distinguished traveller.  The platform of the station was covered with scarlet carpet.  The Mayor and members of the City Council welcomed the General, who descended from the car amid tremendous cheers.  Crowds ran after the carriages containing the city authorities and their illustrious guest, and afterwards surrounded the hotel where the General was entertained.

Belfast might be said to have been en fête, the public buildings were draped with American and English colors, and in a few instances with Orange flags.

–  J.F. Packard, Grant’s Tour Around the World (1880)

Grant viewed City Hall, linen warehouses and factories, and the Harland & Wolff shipyard.  Grant then returned to Dublin and departed for Asia, finally returning to Philadelphia in December 1879.

Grant received a huge welcome in the north compared to his more subdued reception in the south.  As Bernadette Whelan explains, this can be attributed both to his Ulster roots and to the policies of Grant’s Republican Party, which was associated with being pro-British, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant.


If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay and you looked west, and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts.  And if you did, you would see down working on the docks there some Doughertys and Flahertys and Ryans and cousins of yours who have gone to Boston and made good.

John F. Kennedy in Galway

Kennedy’s visit to Ireland is clearly the most famous of any US president.  As Tom Deignan writes, the trip “is now the stuff of legend.  He met with de Valera and was greeted like a rock star.”

Kennedy came to Ireland as part of a wider European tour, including his infamous trip to Berlin.  He arrived in Dublin from Germany on the evening of 26 June 1963 and was formally welcomed by  Éamon de Valera.  He then traveled by motorcade through the city to Phoenix Park.


Crowds line the streets of Dublin for JFK’s visit – photo credit: RTÉ

See RTÉ (Telefís Éireann) coverage of Kennedy’s arrival here.

The next day, he toured County Wexford, including visiting New Ross and his ancestral homestead at Dunganstown before returning to Dublin.  On 28 June, he addressed the Houses of the Oireachtas, where he declared, “My friends: Ireland’s hour has come. You have something to give to the world–and that is a future of peace with freedom.” He also memorialized the Easter Rising and Irish participation in the American Civil War, received the freedom of the city, and visited Cork.  On his final day in Ireland, Kennedy traveled to Galway and Limerick before leaving from Shannon.

Transcript of Kennedy’s speech before the Irish Parliament.

RTÉ has an extensive online exhibit of coverage from Kennedy’s trip.


Nixon arrived at Shannon on the evening of 3 October 1970 and stayed for two nights in Limerick.  He and his wife, Pat, visited her ancestral hometown in Mayo, then went to the home of his Quaker ancestors in County Kildare at Timahoe where he enjoyed a positive reception.

I do proudly claim, as do almost all successful American politicians, an Irish background.

-Richard Nixon

He toured County Kildare before heading to Dublin.  In the midst of the Vietnam War, Nixon faced protests and even attempted eggings of his motorcade as he was driven through the city.  He met with Jack Lynch at Dublin Castle before leaving Dublin on 5 October.

RTÉ Radio 1 documentary on Nixon’s visit

Nixon’s speech at Timahoe, County Kildare