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.

8 thoughts on “Loyalist Records Online: An Overview

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