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Monday, September 20, 2010

Was Your Ancestor a Loyalist?

Diane asked a question about possible Loyalist ancestors

James Wheeler, born in Upper Canada c.1782. He married Mary Slingerland (Daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Slingerland) born c. 1790, bapt. 24 Apr 1803. On 28 Jun 1820, Mary Wheeler of Charlotteville Twp., Norfolk Co. received an Order in Council for a grant of 200 acres of land as the daughter of Richard Slingerland, UE. In 1822, they lived at Grantham Twp., Lincoln Co. In 1844, they lived at Rainham Twp., Haldimand Co. then returned to Norfolk County and settled on Lot 12, Concession 2, Walsingham Twp., northwest of Port Rowan. In the 1852 Census of Walsingham Twp. p.7 , James Wheeler was listed aged 74 with his wife Mary 60, and son Isaac 20. All were born in Upper Canada, Wesleyan Methodist. This information is from Robert Mutrie of A Long Point Settlers Genealogy.



We are trying to find out who James Wheeler's parents were. It says that Richard's father was reported born in France (sic) and his mother in Canada. It says in this information though, that James Wheeler, was born in Upper Canada. Whether the France means New France in Quebec, we do not know.


Someone suggested and I saw a list, that a Samuel Wheeler could possibly be James father, as their names were both listed together as being in the Butler's Rangers of the British Infantry. But I don't know if that is so or not. Is there any help you can give me in this?
ASK OLIVE TREE RESPONSE: Dear Diane - Let's tackle the question of your James being a Loyalist. With a birth year of circa 1782 he was not old enough to be one. The American Revolution ended in 1783 when he was one year old.

Second problem - James does not appear on any lists of Butler's Rangers that I have found. I have 3 ancestors who fought in Butler's Rangers and was able to have a look on your behalf in my resources.

I checked "Early Settlers in Niagara including the First "Census" 1782,1783, 1784, 1786, 1787" published in 1992 by the Niagara Peninsula Branch of the OGS. This is basically a list of disbanded Butler's Rangers, their units, the victualling lists (for rations to the men and their families) and other assorted census substitutes. There is *no* James Wheeler or Weeler listed. There is a Samuel Wheeler on a list of those disbanded rangers receiving rations and willing to settle on Crown Lands at Niagara. The date is 20 July 1784 and he is alone - no wife, no children. He received 1 ration for one person daily.

He appears on a second list as Samuel Weeler as being in Cpt Lewis Genevay's Co. of the Corps of Rangers (Butler's) dated 30 Nov. 1783 - no family of any kind listed with him.

I checked the Old UEL List (there is a James Wheeler listed there but he was a Treasury Loyalist who settled in New Brunswick) Samuel Wheeler is on the Old UEL list and it is noted he was a soldier in the Kings Rangers.

Samuel does not appear in Reid's book "The Loyalists in Ontario: The Sons & Daughters of the American Loyalists...." but don't be misled! Reid's book on Loyalists was never intended to be the Bible of Loyalist families. Reid simply organized index cards into what he thought were family groups. *Many* if not most families are incomplete. Some individuals are incorrectly placed.

Reid's book is a wonderful resource, and a great starting point for your Loyalist research, but you should verify independently that a child he places in a family group does belong there (by looking up ALL petitions for that family),and never never assume that because an individual isn't in the family group he/she doesn't exist or isn't a Loyalist.

No one list of Loyalists can be considered "the" List. There is no simple definitive and accurate list. You must consult them all, from the Old UEL list to Reid's book to all the variant lists made.

After 1796 the Executive Council kept a list of Loyalists based on District Rolls. This became the Executive Council UE List and contains about 3,500 names. It is not considered a complete list, but it is considered more accurate than the Crown Lands (Old UEL) list.

The Crown Lands Dept. created a second list, based on other records. This became the Old UEL List and contains approximately 6,000 names, but not all qualified.

When searching Loyalists you also need to consult pay lists, muster rolls, and the land records. For a good reference to what is
available, see Brenda Dougall Merriman's book Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the records Look under Brenda's chapter on Loyalists.


You would be wise to consult the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) because Loyalists and their families petitioned in order to receive their allowed land grants. One thing that isvery important is to recognize that the Petitions of Loyalists for land are not uniform. You may find one small petition, giving just enough facts to
persuade the Crown to give that person a free grant as a Loyalist. You may find page after page of affidavits,testimonies, and so on, all documentation to prove the petitioner's claim.

Also see this article on steps to take researching a Loyalist

So the bottom line is that your James could not be a Loyalist but he could have been the son of Loyalist. However Samuel Wheeler in Butler's Rangers does not appear to have been married or have children. Having said that my recommendation is that you start from scratch. Begin with James. Note every fact and every source.

Search the sources you have not yet looked at. Don't jump to conclusions that Man A might be his father unless you have some solid evidence to support that theory. Don't rely on others checking sources and giving you information unless they copy it accurately from the resource and provide the full source notation.

Once someone paraphrases what is found, there is tremendous opportunity for error. Sometimes other researchers, trying to be helpful, will give you their interpretation of a record, not the exact wording. That can be very wrong and lead you down an incorrect path.

Be prepared to find out that your James wasn't the son of a Loyalist. If he was, he should have filed a petition for his land claim (a free grant). But keep searching all the records so that you can eliminate possibilities and correct any errors you might have in your previous research

4 comments:

  1. Just a note that Loyalists spread to a variety of places in Canada, including Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well as Ontario. We found a lot of information in records kept for those provinces as well.
    Have fun, we're very proud of our UEL ancestor!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also spotted a James WHEELER of RAINHAM filing a petition for land in 1821 in Upper Canada Land Petitions Index online. I'd run, not walk, to find that petition and see what genealogical info is in it!

    Lorine

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  3. How do I find this land petition, for James Wheeler of Rainham in 1821? Not sure where to go, to get this information.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  4. Diane - I have given the necessary URLs in my blog post. All you need do is click on them (there are 2 that will be helpful) and read how to get the land petition.

    You want the URLs given in these 2 paragraphs in the original post

    You would be wise to consult the Upper Canada Land Petitions (UCLP) because Loyalists and their families petitioned in order to receive their allowed land grants. One thing that isvery important is to recognize that the Petitions of Loyalists for land are not uniform. You may find one small petition, giving just enough facts to
    persuade the Crown to give that person a free grant as a Loyalist. You may find page after page of affidavits,testimonies, and so on, all documentation to prove the petitioner's claim.

    Also see this article on steps to take researching a Loyalist

    ReplyDelete