One thing to keep in mind are the following guidelines as to what defines a Loyalist:
- Either male or female, as of 19 April 1775, a resident of the American colonies, and joined the Royal Standard prior to the Treaty of Separation of 1783, or otherwise demonstrated loyalty to the Crown, and settled in territory remaining under the rule of the Crown; or
- a soldier who served in an American Loyalist Regiment and was disbanded in Canada; or
- a member of the Six Nations of either the Grand River or the Bay of Quinte Reserve who is descended from one whose migration was similar to that of other Loyalists.
Here are just some of the online resources I use:
- List of Branches - Often the best place to ask for assistance is either the nearer branch of UELAC or the branch closest to where your Loyalist settled.
- Loyalist Directory - Besides just the list of known Loyalists and whether someone has proven their descent from that specific Loyalist you may also periodically come across the actual application form that was submitted (like what I sent in for proving my descent from Lt. Caleb Howe of the Queens Rangers).
- UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Registers of Soldiers Who Served in Canada, 1743-1882 - This collection consists of extracts from the War Office WO/97 and WO/120 collections of soldiers that served in Canada.
- Canada, Loyalist Claims, 1776-1835 - This is the Audit Office AO-12 and AO-13 collection relating to the Loyalist claims and cases heard by the American Loyalist Claims Commission.
- The Loyalists in Ontario -The book by William D. Reid "The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons and Daughters of the American Loyalists of Upper Canada" publish in Lambertville, NJ, USA by the Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1973 is a well-known resource. Just be aware that there are some interesting errors in it where Mr. Reid may have combined two families into one in the listings.
- United Empire Loyalists, Parts I-II - This collection is taken from the "Second Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario" as compiled by Alexander Fraser in 1905.
- Old United Empire Loyalists List - This database is taken from the "Old United Empire Loyalists List" that was assembled by the Centennial Committee.
- Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Vol. I & Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, Vol. II - This is the well-known set of volumes compiled by Lorenzo Sabine. It contains biographical sketches of many Loyalists.
- Loyalists and Land Settlement in Nova Scotia - If you have Loyalist roots from Nova Scotia, this book compiled by Marion Gilroy under the direction of D. C. Harvey and published by the authority of the Board of Trustees for the Public Archives of Nova Scotia may be of interest to you.
- New York, Sales of Loyalist Land, 1762-1830 - Maybe your Loyalist ancestors had land in New York. If so, this collection from the records of Surveys and Maps of State Lands, 1686–1892, Series A4016, Vols. 7–10 and 17 by the New York State Engineer and Surveyor may hold some clues.
- Canada, Pension Applications For Widows and Family of British Military Officers, 1776-1881 - If your Loyalist was an officer and he died during or shortly after the war then his widow or children may have applied for a pension under his name. If so this collection from the National Archives in Kew will be a treasure trove. The WO 42/52–63 "Officers’ Birth Certificates, Wills and Personal Papers. WO 42/52–63. Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies" records can hold attestations and details about when and where the officer was married, the names of children, and the unit he served in.
- Loyalists in the American Revolution: Miscellaneous Records - This database is taken from a number of sources such as the muster rolls of the 15th Regiment of Foot, 44th Regiment of Foot, 47th Regiment of Foot and 48th Regiment of Foot, 1763; list of men in Sir John Johnston's Brigade; men from the Turloch Militia who Joined Kings Royal Rangers of New York and Butler's Rangers; and the 1778 List of men From Pennsylvania who joined the British Army.
- Canada, Records of British Military Headquarters, 1775-1856 - This database is from WO 28/2–10, 268–269, 303–317 and is the records of the Armed Forces from commands, headquarters, regiments and corps.
- Ontarian families: genealogies of United-Empire-Loyalist and other pioneer families of Upper Canada - This book by Edward Marion Chadwick was published in 1894 and has, as the title indicates, genealogies of various families that settled in Upper Canada.
page describing the various fonds available both onsite and online that can aid in locating information on your Loyalist Ancestor. The following online collections may save you a trip to Ottawa (although it is a very nice city if I do say so myself).
- Land Petitions of Lower Canada, (1764-1841) - Did your Loyalist ancestor settle in Lower Canada (Quebec) or were they an early settler in what later became Upper Canada (Ontario)? Then they may have petitioned for land as a Loyalist.
- Land Petitions of Upper Canada, (1763-1865) - After 1791 the Colony of Quebec was separated into Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) Canada. This database is an index to the land petitions of Upper Canada. In my post "Upper Canada Land Petitions at LAC" I wrote about how to use this database to look for the petitions in the Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) digitized microfilm.
- Upper Canada Sundries - The Upper Canada Sundries consists of letters, petitions, reports, returns and schedules, certificates, accounts, warrants, legal opinions, instructions and regulations, proclamations and other documents received by the Civil Secretary of Upper Canada, 1791-1841. This collection housed on Canadiana.ca's Heritage site unfortunately doesn't have a name index but it can be worth looking through. Lorine McGinnis Schulz has written about using this set of digitized microfilms in her blog post "12 Months of Finding Ancestors: Upper Canada Sundries (Part 3 of a 12 Part Series)"
- Heir and Devisee Commission - The Heir and Devisee Commission was established by provincial statute in 1797 to clarify the titles to lands in Upper Canada which had been granted before the provision was made, in 1795, for the issuance of patent deeds on Crown Grants. In The Olive Tree Genealogy blog Lorine McGinnis Schulz has written a number of very useful articles on how to search the Heir and Devisee Commission digitized microfilms. As part of her work she has created a list of what volumes are really on the specific microfilms.
- Loyalists in the Maritimes — Ward Chipman Muster Master's Office, 1777–1785 - This searchable database includes recordss that refer mostly to Loyalists who eventually settled in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island. They include references to wives and children of Loyalists, some soldiers of British regiments and black members (slaves or free individuals) of Loyalist regiments.
- British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) - The defense of Canada was primarily the responsibility of British military and naval forces from the early 1700s to 1871. This collection consists of index cards and documents that have details on the various regiments and naval units that were in Canada from that time. It isn't a searchable database so I would recommend you check out my post "Library and Archives Canada RG 8, C Series How-To" on how to look through this collection.
- Black Loyalist Refugees, 1782-1807- Port Roseway Associates - This database includes the 1,498 references to the Muster Book of Free Blacks who settled in Birchtown held at Library and Archives Canada.
- Nova Scotia Land Papers 1765-1800 - Volumes 1-25, the surviving records from 1765 to 1800, have been indexed and made available online. The searchable index contains 11,464 names of people who received land in the province during that time period.
New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780-1930 - This unindexed collection of the New Brunswick County Deed Registry Books includes not only the usual land records of the settlers of New Brunswick (before 1784 New Brunswick was a county of the Colony of Nova Scotia) but also a listing of those that drew lots in Parrtown (later Saint John). The same list, although with some more details, can be found in Dr. Esther Clark Wright's book "The Loyalists of New Brunswick". You can find some instructions for looking through this collection in my post "Expecting only Deeds and Mortgages? How About a Will?"
- United Empire loyalists
- Claims of American Loyalists (Volume 15)
- Petition of American Loyalists, 1778 (Volume 1)
- The loyalists of Pennsylvania
- Muster Rolls of Three Troops of Loyalist Light Dragoons Raised in Pennsylvania 1777-1778 (Volume 34)
- The Loyalist refugees of New Hampshire
- United Empire Loyalists of the County of Dundas, Ontario
- Ontarian Families: Genealogies of United-empire-loyalists and Other Pioneer ... (Volume 2)
- The centennial of the settlement of upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884
- Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution by Lorenzo Sabine
Usually if I find a mention of an older book in an article on Loyalists I will see if it has been digitized and made available either through Google Books or the Internet Archive.