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Heir & Devisee Commission
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.
Quoting from their website "In 1797, the government of Upper Canada (now Ontario) established the Heir and Devisee Commission. Its purpose was to clarify land titles for settlers on unpatented land. If your ancestor was living in Upper Canada around this time, there is a chance that you might find them referenced in this collection. Records can include: affidavits, bonds, location certificates, powers of attorney, orders-in-council, copies of wills, mortgages, deeds of sale, and testimonial letters." [Source: http://heritage.canadiana.ca/?usrlang=en]
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.
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.
Long story short, 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 over a week 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 will also 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.
And now - 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 VolumesH 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
Stay tuned for more details on each film and what it contains plus image numbers to jump to the different volumes within each.
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