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 @.