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Loyalist Overview

©Lorine McGinnis Schulze

When the American Revolution started in 1775, many Loyalists were harassed socially and politically. Many were expelled from their land and their property was seized. The first trickle of Loyalists into Canada was in March 1776 when 1 000 people fled Boston and accompanied the British Army as it retreated before the American forces. During the next six years, Loyalists by the thousands crossed the border to land allocated in Nova Scotia.

In 1782 when the Revolution ended, Canada had two colonies: Quebec and Nova Scotia. About 10,000 Loyalists went to Quebec, the rest to Nova Scotia. Those who settled in Quebec ran into problems with the French feudal system of land ownership and agitated for the creation of an English-speaking province. As a result, the Quebec colony was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791. Loyalists came overland to the Niagara Peninsula in the new area of Upper Canada.

Although there were exceptions, Loyalist settlement in Ontario in 1784 was mostly by discharged servicemen from Ranger Units who settled in roughly the following pattern, going from east to west along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario:


   > Lancaster Township: Royal Yorkers settled there in 1785
   > Charlottenburgh Township: Roman Catholic Highlanders in the Royal Yorkers
   > Cornwall Township: Scottish Presbyterians in the Royal Yorkers
   > Osnabruck Township: German Calvinists in the Royal Yorkers
   > Williamsburgh Township: German Lutherans in the Royal Yorkers
   > Matilda Township: Anglicans in the Royal Yorkers
   > Edwardsburgh, Augusta and Elizabethtown Townships: Major Jessup's Loyal Rangers
   > Kingston Township: Captain Michael Grass and his New York Loyalists
   > Ernestown Township: Jessup's Rangers
   > Fredericksburgh Township: Major James Rogers' Co. of the King's Rangers and the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Yorkers
   > Adolphustown Township: DeLancey's Corps
   > Marysburgh Township: German mercenaries and disbanded English and Irish troops
   > Sophiasburgh Township: Americans who arrived after the Revolution
   > Ameliasburgh Township: no specific Loyalist units
   > Sidney Township: no specific Loyalist units
   > Niagara Region: Butler's Rangers

By 1784, Loyalists could return to the U.S.A. without fear of persecution or physical assault, and many did. Those who stayed in Canada were granted land under the following conditions:


   > 100 acres for head of family plus 50 acres per family member
   > 50 acres for single men
   > 300 - 1000 acres for army officers
   > 200 acres for an NCO plus 200 for wives, if they applied
   > 100 acres for a private soldier plus 50 acres for each family member

Lots were drawn for locations and when the land had been occupied for a year, the Loyalist received a permanent deed. In 1789, it was decided that sons would receive 200 acres when they became 21 and daughters the same, except they would receive the grant upon marriage if not yet 21. The United Empire Loyalists were the first settlers to take up land for homes in Lincoln and Welland Counties. There were other people on the Niagara Peninsula before the Loyalists but they were not permanent land-holders and only wanted to trade with the Indians.

Butler's Rangers, a company of UE Loyalists, came to Niagara in 1784 and began to build homes on land granted to them by the government. By 8 May 1784, an official survey showed that 46 families had settled and built 44 houses and 20 barns. Isaac Van Valkenburg, aka Vollick, my 5th great-grandfather, was one of these settlers under the command of Colonel Butler. Colonel Arent Schyler DePeyster succeeded in command at Niagara and received instructions to disband the Rangers in March of 1784. .He was to settle as many of Col. Butler's Rangers as possible "on the tract of Land opposite to Niagara...and the rest at the Head of Lake Ontario, towards the Grand River". Lots were to be numbered and drawn to prevent jealousy, and officers and men had to sign up if they wished to settle there. Lots were to be given only to those willing to cultivate them and Rangers were allowed to occupy their barracks until lots were assigned, with rations provided from the day of being disbanded. Rations were allotted as one per person over 10 years of age, and 1/2 for those under 10.

They consisted of:
   > 1 1/2 lb. flour or biscuits
   > 1 lb. beef or 8 oz. pork
   > 1/4 pint of peas
   > 1 oz. butter
   > 1 oz. of oatmeal or rice

This was the total per day. Any not wishing to settle at Niagara were to be sent to Quebec or Cataraqui [now Kingston, Ontario]. Many settlers were unhappy with the proposal that they become tenants of the Crown with rented land and signed the list to cultivate Crown Lands slowly, as indicated in a letter from Col. DePeyster in June of 1784. He states that there are only about 100 names on the list and that about 70 of the settlers who had refused to sign "went off without leave with the intent never to return". Thirty went to Montreal with DePeyster's permission.

On 21 July 1784, a List of Subscribers was sent to Haldimand. Isaac Vollick's name is on this list, along with his wife and 6 children. By 24 June 1784, the troops were disbanded, and victualling lists were to be kept. Isaac Vollock, his wife and 5 children, Derrick Hayner, wife [Hannah Vollock] and 2 children, Benjamin Crumb [who later married Sarah Vollock], Christian Bradt and wife [Elizabeth Vollick], and Adrian Bradt and wife [Sophia Vollick] are all listed as victualled at Niagara of Murray's District, 14 December 1786. Murray's District is believed to be the area now known as St. Catharines, including Grantham and Louth Townships.

During the winters of the American Revolution, Butler, Joseph Brant and other commanders had wintered at Niagara, from where they could send many expeditions against the Americans. After the war, land was first settled along the old French Road leading around Niagara Falls, then along the shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie and on river banks. Gradually, as roads were extended inland, settlers took up this land and made homes. Many of the refugees who settled in Lincoln and Welland in 1784, endured many hardships. They had to make their way through hundreds of miles of forest. Those who received land erected simple log homes which took no more than one or two days to build. Many settlers dressed in buckskin for lack of other clothing. Women wove cloth to make their clothing. In 1787, due to poor crops, the settlers endured a year of hunger where they were forced to live on anything that could be eaten: buds of trees, plants, fish and wheat bran, made into a tasteless bread.

During the summer of 1787, the Loyalists' evidence for claims of losses during the Revolution, began to be heard. In August, many Loyalists who had settled near Niagara went to Montreal to appear before the Commissioners.

In 1788, Upper or Western Canada was divided into four new districts. In 1795, Newark (now Niagara on the Lake) was made the capital of Upper Canada. When Fort Niagara across the river was surrendered to the Americans in 1796, the capital was shifted to York. In 1798, Upper Canada was again divided into 8 districts of 23 counties and 158 townships. Lincoln County consisted of 4 ridings: the townships in the first were Clinton, Grimsby, Saltfleet, Barton, Ancaster, Glanford, Binbrook, Gainsborough and Caistor. In the second were Niagara, Grantham and Louth. In the third were Stamford, Thorold and Pelham. The fourth comprised Bertie, Willoughby, Crowland, Humberstone and Wainfleet.

ORDER IN COUNCIL
On 9 November 1789 at Quebec, it was ordered that the Land Boards provide for the sons of Loyalists, as soon as they reached the age of 21, and to daughters at age 21 or at marriage by providing to each a Lot of 200 acres. This was known as the OIC and will often be seen in lists of Loyalists as:

Cornelius Vollick OIC 25 May 1793

This OIC date provides us with important clues. We can estimate Cornelius' date of birth as 1772 since he would have received his land at age 21. It is more difficult with daughters since we don't know whether the OIC date is a marriage date or a 21st birthday. However the OIC date still provides clues for estimated birth dates.

Disclaimer: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information on The Olive Tree Genealogy pages, all transcriptions are subject to human error, and researchers should always check the original source of any list.

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