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Heir & Devisee Commission



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For those searching ancestors in Canada, Canadiana.org has some great digital images of miscellaneous databases online. One of these is the overlooked but valuable Heir & Devisee Commission papers 1777-1854, found in their Heritage Collection.

This microfilm consists of records documenting the review and determination of claims for land brought forward by the heirs, devisees, and assignees of individuals originally located by the Crown on land, in cases where no letters patent had been issued. The First Heir and Devisee Commission was in existence between 1797 and 1805. [Source: Ontario Archives]

This digitized but unindexed collection consists of 21 microfilm reels. The reels contain various volumes of the Heir & Devisee Commission papers, starting from Volume 1 to Volume 104. Canadiana.org provides a list of each microfilm and what volume numbers are included, plus a very brief description of what is contained in the volumes. For example, the first microfilm H 1143 contains Volumes 1 to 6. Volume 5, as an example, is said to contain Notices of claims, received but disallowed or unresolved, arranged alphabetically for the Eastern District ca 1809-1841.

This is very useful to the researcher as we can narrow our browsing to those microfilms of interest to us. It's still a long task as there are no indexes and each Volume is arranged differently. Some are alphabetical, some are by district and so on. But this listing of microfilms with volumes contained narrows our search. Each microfilm has been digitized and is available for immediate browsing.

Example of a document in the Heir & Devisee Commission digitized documents online

Unfortunately Canadiana.org's listings are incorrect. I discovered this accidentally by searching for a specific time period in a specific location. Using the list of microfilms with contents, I chose the appropriate images. But as I scrolled through I realized something was wrong. I seemed to be looking at documents for the Johnston District, not Niagara area. Then I came across what I call a cover page - a typewritten sheet stating what Volume number I was about to view and a description of what images came next. But the volume number was wrong and should not have been on that particular microfilm according to the list provided by Canadiana.org.

I began a methodical (slow!) search of every microfilm that has been digitized and placed online. Of the 21 microfilms, 10 are incorrectly identified as to volume numbers and content contained. To assist other genealogists and researchers, I am providing my correctly identified contents of each microfilm. It took me many weeks to do this and I am happy to share it with others. I will be contacting Canadiana.org to advise them of the errors.

I have written to Canadiana.org offering to provide them with the corrected details for each film but have had no response from them. Please refer to my blog posts about this matter:

I will be providing a list of where each volume starts within each film. That is, I will provide image numbers for each volume buried in the films so that researchers can quickly and easily jump to the volume of interest. This project is underway and I have most of the films completed with only a few more to look through.

Here is the corrected list of Heir & Devisee Commission microfilms and volumes contained within each compared to the Canadiana.org list. Those in red are incorrectly labelled and identified on Canadiana.org. For those microfilms with no cover pages indicating Volume Numbers, I compared page numbers at the start and the end of each film to determine what volume(s) were in each film.

Film #; Candiana.org Volume list; Actual Volumes

H 1133; V 1-6; V 1-6
H 1134; V 6-8; V 6-8
H 1135; V 9-15; V 16-20
H 1136; V 16-20; No V# labels but is V 20-24
H 1137; V 20-24; No V# labels but is V 24-28
H 1138; V 24-28; No V# labels but is V 28-32
H 1139; V 28-32; V 33-37
H 1140; V 33-37; V 38-44
H 1141; V 37-44; V 45-46
H 1142; V 46-51; V 9-15

H 1143; V 51-54; No V# labels but it is V 51-54
H 1144; V 54-63; No V# labels at start but V 56-62 labelled. This is V 54-63
H 1145; V 64-73; V 64-73
H 1146; V 74-78; V 74-78
H 1147; V 78-80; V 78-80
H 1148; V 81-83; V 81-83
H 1149; V 84-86; V 84-86
H 1150; V 87-89; V 90-98
H 1151; V 90-98; V 86-89

H 1152; V 99-103; V 99-103
H 1153; V 103-104; V 103-104

Following is a detailed list of the contents of each digitized film (plus dates) which Olive Tree Genealogy obtained by viewing each film online. This should work very well for genealogists as a Finding Aid

H 1133

H 1133 (V 1-6)
  • Image 14 V 1 Index to Location Certificates pre 1804
  • Image 15 A;
  • Image 16 B;
  • Image 18 C;
  • Image 20 D;
  • Image 21 D, E;
  • Image 22 F;
  • Image 23 F, G;
  • Image 24 G, H;
  • Image 25 H;
  • Image 26 J;
  • Image 27 K;
  • Image 28 L;
  • Image 29 L, M;
  • Image 30 M;
  • Image 32 N;
  • Image 33 O;
  • Image 34 P;
  • Image 35 P, Q;
  • Image 36 R;
  • Image 38 S;
  • Image 41 T;
  • Image 42 U;
  • Image 43 V;
  • Image 44 W;
  • Image 46 Y;
  • Image 47 Z
  • Image 51 V 2 Eastern District Commissioner Reports 1803-1804
  • Image 162 V 3 Eastern District Commissioner Reports no dates
  • Image 191 V 4 Eastern District Commissioner Reports 1797-1802
  • Image 192-199 Partial index
  • Image 344 V 5 Eastern District unresolved or disallowed claims 1809-1841
  • Image 335-336 List of Names of claimants
  • Image 513 V 6 Eastern District Location Certificates A-F
  • Image 514 A 1785-1797;
  • Image 539 B 1785-1803

H 1134

(V 6-8)
  • Image 14 V 6 Eastern Land Certificates 1785-1808 C-F
  • Image 14 C names
  • Image 87 D names 1784-1802
  • Image 136 E names 1784-1795
  • Image 180 F names 1783-1803
  • Image 215 V 7 Eastern District Location Certificates G-M
  • Image 216 G names 1785-1803
  • Image 278 H names 1788-1800
  • Image 314 J names 1787-1803
  • Image 326 K names 1789-1802
  • Image 344 L names 1789-1803
  • Image 384 M names 1785-1803
  • Image 533 V 8 Eastern District Location Certificates N-Z
  • Image 534 N names 1788
  • Image 538 O names 1799
  • Image 541 P names 1787
  • Image 551 R names 1785-1803
  • Image 565 S names 1787-1803
  • Image 606 T names 1788-1789
  • Image 612 V names 1787-1789
  • Image 619 Z names 1789-1792

H 1135

H 1135 (Volumes16-20 Johnston District Location Certificates) does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed. H 1135 is described on Canadiana.org as containing Volumes 9-15. In reality this digitized film contains volumes 16-20.
  • Image 14  V16 Johnston District  
  • Image 148 V 17 Johnston District Location Certificates, alphabetical  A-B
  • Image 149 A names Land Certificates
  • Image 186 B names Land Certificates
  • Image 319 V 18  Location Certificates C-F
  • Image 319 C names Land Certificates
  • Image 402 D names Land Certificates
  • Image 434 E names Land Certificates 1787-1795
  • Image 448 F names Land Certificates 1784-1803
  • Image 485 V 19 Location Certificates G & H
  • Image 486 G names Land Certificates 1785-1806
  • Image 547 H names Land Certificates 1784-1803
  • Image 619 J names Land Certificates 1784-1802
  • Image 665 V 20 Location Certificates K-M
  • Image  666 K names Land Certificates 1784-1810
  • Image  701 L names Land Certificates 1784-1801
  • Image 757 M names Land Certificates  1783-1803

H 1136

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed No volume label at start. End of roll is Midland District. I have not completed this film.

H 1137

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed No volume label at start but first Image is Midland District 1803. I have not completed this film.

H 1138

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed No volume label at start but it is Midland Land 1784-1793. I have not completed this film.

H 1139

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed Image 14 V33 Midland District. I have not completed this film.

H 1140

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed Image 24 V 38 1804 Commissioners Reports. I have not completed this film but here is the corrected list of contents from Image 1 to Image 431:
  • 14 starts the documents 9 June 1809 survey report
  • 15 to 19 List of claimants. Markham, York, Whitchurch, East Gwillumbury. Plus details
  • 20 Home District May 1804 survey general’s report
  • 24 minutes and reports to the executive Council volume 38 home district 1804
  • 25-27 list of claimants and details of claim 13 June 1804
  • 29-38 list of claimants and details of claim July 1804
  • 40-42 ditto
  • 44 ditto
  • 49-61 ditto
  • 62-93 1803 and four
  • 97-105 miscellaneous documents volume 39 home district 1816; 1821 to 1823 claimants
  • 106 notices with names and details 1812
  • 108-111 documents dated 1818
  • 112-114 documents dated 1817
  • 115-119 1821-1823
  • 120-121 large legal document
  • 122 Detroit 1787 petition of Jacob Arnes
  • 123 certificate re Daniel A----- dated 1797
  • 124 Malcolm Tulley 1802 land title search
  • 128 volume 40 Orders in Council 1797 - 1802 home district
  • 129 Conrad Hotrum Niagara October 1800 also Thomas Paige, Thomas Dickson and David Heron
  • 130 names and locations, 1803
  • 132-134 claims 1803
  • 135 claims 1804
  • 140-142 Gen. Benedict Arnold of the city of London England deceased and his widow Margaret also Sarah Fitch and Ann Fitch of Devonshire
  • 143-144 Eastern District claims 1799 heard in 1804
  • 145 claims Markham and Pickering
  • 146-147 claims Markham 1804
  • 148–154 claims home district 1804
  • 158 volume 41 location certificates alphabetical for home district
  • 159 Nassau District land certificates 1-15 1790 – 1792
  • 160  List of names
  • 161– 211 land certificates for each person listed. Please see complete list of names and image numbers for their Land Certificates at An index to Niagara area Loyalists and their Land Certificates
  • 215-216 Home District land certificates 1 – 17, 1787 – 1795. List of names. Note that I will be adding the complete list of names and image numbers
  • 415– 416 Peter Robinson son of the late Christopher Robinson
  • 417 Solomon Ball, Pickering 1803
  • 418-419 Peter Robinson
  • 420 Angus McDonald of York
  • 421-424 Basil Rossiton of Elizabethtown, Samuel Heron of York
  • 425 George Cutter of town of York, Shoemaker.  Basil Rossiton
  • 426 Duncan Cameron
  • 427 John Schmeltzer of Markham
  • 428 John Nicholas Steffens Markham Township
  • 429-430 John Daniel Frederick Bush of Kingston in Frontenac County in Midland District baker, brother to delete John Christian William Bush of the town of York
  • 431 Birth Certificate written in German for Johann Christian Wilhelm 1767. There are other names and the year 1773 and a name Johann Daniel Friedrich but I cannot translate the rest
To be continued...

H 1141

Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed
  • Image 14 V 45 Western District
  • Image 16 index
  • Image 251 V 46 Western District

    H 1142

    Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed
    • Image 14 V9 Eastern District
    • Image 182 V 10

    H 1143

    No volume label but Image 14 is Newcastle District 1803 Land Claims
    • Image 15, 16 partial index

    H 1144

    No volume label. Image 14 is Markham 1850
    • Image 310 no volume label. 1852 miscellaneous
    • Image 527 V 55 Ancaster Township 1796-1799
    • Image 580 V 56 Blenheim Township
    • Image 650 V 57 Beverley Township 1796-1797
    • Image 674 V 58 Burford Township
    • Image 725 V 59 Charlotteville
    • Image 738 V 60 Crowland
    • Image 748 V 61 Ernestown Wills
    • Image 754 V 52 Etobicoke, Gainsboro, Grand River 1794-1797 & 1828
    • Image 812 V 53 Grimsby etc 1794-1798

    H 1145

    • Image 15 Oxford on Thames
    • Image 94 V 65
    • Image 138 V 66
    • Image 199 V 67
    • Image 217 V 68 A-F 2 page index
    • Image 354 V 70 R-W 2 page index
    • Image 432 V 71 A-W index
    • Image 462 V 72 Certificates by Township
    • Image 483 V 73 Certificates of Good Character index on one page A-W

    H 1146

    V 74-78.
    • Image 13: Certificates from Loyalist Claimants 1777-1816. Numbers 1-155. Alphabetical
    • Image 15-20: Index to names
    • Image 21-414 Certificates from Loyalist Claimants
    • Image 415 Vol.79 Certificates re Land exchanges and surrenders 1788-1804, 1820,1856
    • Image 483 Vol. 76 Niagara and Home District Certificates and Orders from the Land Boards, 1780-1801
    • Image 485-488 Alphabetical index
    • Image 622 Land Certificates Niagara & Home Districts. A-W #s 1-17 1796 2 page index of names
    • Image 624 start of Certificates
    • Image 669 Vol. 77 Assignment of Land Titles 1797-1804
    • Image 671 List of names
    • Image 694 Vol. 78 Bonds, Deeds, Mortgages etc re Land titles

    H 1147

    No volume label but first Image is 1801 indenture which agrees with V 78
    • Image 161 V 79 Receipts 1798-1815
    • Image 266 V 79A Orders in Council 1803, 1804
    • Image 497 V 80 Commissioners Reports 1797-1802
    • Image 497-527 Index
    • Image 528 the actual OICs
    • Image 554 Eastern District Claims
    • Image 606 Johnstown District Claims
    • Image 651 Midland District Claims
    • Image 666 Names of original nominees 1798 (Midland)

    H 1148

    agrees with Canadiana.org
    • V. 81 B Commissioners Reports. Index images 18-47
    • V. 82 Image 283 C Commissioners Reports. index images 288-309
    • V. 83 Image 450 D Commissioners Reports 1805-1822. No index

    H 1149

    agrees with Canadiana.org
    • V. 84 Image 14 E commission reports 1823-1835
    • V 85 Image 295-329 Index of names

    H 1150

    Does not contain what Canadiana.org has listed as V. 87-89. This film contains V. 90-92
    • Vol.90 Image 17 Register of claims allowed arranged chronologically by district 1797-1804
    • Eastern District: Images 56-84; 97-98; 123-136; 176-184
    • Johnston District: Images 85-90; 99-101; 112-122; 187-198
    • Midland District: Images 19-55; 144-159; 169-175
    • Newcastle District: Images 137-138; 203-204
    • Home District: Images 95; 110-111; 162-168; 199-200; 205
    • Niagara District: Images 95; 106-109; 139-143; 160-161; 201-202
    • Western District: Images 96; 102-105
    • London District: Images 185-186
    • Vol. 91 Image 211 Index to claimants in Registers A, B, C, Vol 80-82
    • Vol. 92 Image 283 Index to claimants in Registers A-B Vol. 80, 81

    H 1151

    Canadiana.org description of V. 90-98 incorrect. This film contains V. 86-89
    • Image 18-48 V 86 F Commissioners Reports 1836-1845 Index to names
    • Image 320 V 87 G Commissioners Reports 1845-1853 no index
    • Image 503 V 88 Register of claims 1826-1828, alphabetical
    • Image 515-518 is list of those who paid, arranged by year
    • Image 561 V 89 Minute book with index 1837-1847
    • Image 565-588 V 89 Indexes

    H 1152

    No index. Agrees with Canadiana.org
    • Image 15 V. 99 Claims 1816-1823
    • Image 18 Start of index
    • Image 83 V 100 Registered Claims 1833-1836
    • Image 95 V 101 Commissioners Reports 1808-1829
    • Image 293 V 102 Commissioners Reports 1830-1840
    • Image 512 V 103 Commissioners Reports 1844-1850

    H 1153

    No indexes. Agrees with Canadiana.org
    • Image 13 No volume label but start page is #537 which agrees with V. 103 continued from H 1152
    • Image 119 V 104 Commissioners Reports 1851-1854
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