Part of Revolutionary War (1775-83) genealogy is the Loyalists. They were those who did not side with the Americans during the war but with Great Britain. They either left en mass during the war or were rooted out of their communities fleeing as exiles to Canada and the Caribbean.
It’s sometimes surprising to hear people talk about how the Irish and Scots-Irish all sided with the Americans. However, as with all history, it’s more complex. It’s more common than you think for families to be split during the 1770s and 1780s.
Loyalists are the subject of much documentation which is helpful from a genealogical perspective. Most Loyalists resettled in what is today Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This marked the beginning of a predominantly English speaking population in the future Canada. The honorific title given to these individuals and families is United Empire Loyalist.
It is estimated that an estimated 70,000 left the thirteen newly independent American states for British territory elsewhere. Of these about 62,000 were white (with 17,000 slaves) and 8,000 Blacks. Of these about 40,000 went to what is now Canada, 7,000 to Britain and 17,000 to the Caribbean. Some would later return to the United States from the Caribbean and Nova Scotia.
If you cannot find out where your American branch of the family was from in Ireland during this period; then look for a Loyalist branch. An excellent place so start is the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada: www.uelac.orgTheir website has a “Directory of Loyalist” which lists name, rank, where resettled, status as Loyalist, and the source. To be descended from a Loyalists is as important in Canadian genealogy as being descended from an American Patriot is to Americans. Each has generated records which help us all in genealogy.
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