United Empire Loyalists

As a sixth generation Canadian and a descendant of the United Empire Loyalists (originally from Yorkshire, England) I delight in making claim to a pedigree founded on both British and American roots.

The term “Loyalists” refers to American colonists who remained loyal to the British Crown. Many of them served under the British during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Loyalists settled in what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario. “United Empire Loyalists (or “Loyalists”) is an honorific given in 1789 by Lord Dorchester, the governor of Quebec and Governor-general of British North America, to American Loyalists who resettled in British North America during or after the American Revolution. They settled in what was initially Quebec (including the Eastern Townships) and modern-day Ontario, where they received land grants of 200 acres (81 ha) per person, and in Nova Scotia (including present-day New Brunswick). Their arrival marked the beginning of a predominantly English-speaking population in the future Canada west and east of the modern Quebec border.”

Though the most distinguished branch of my family originates in the province of New Brunswick, I have in my ancestral records connections from the state of Massachusetts with the former province of Upper Canada. To this day I have relatives residing in Boston.

The confluence of these historical associations has been echoed in my life. I studied law at Dalhousie University, the oldest law school in the British Empire, exceeded only in its North American antiquity by Harvard Law school (but both exceeded by the University of Bologna founded in Italy in 1088).  There is a little known east coast alliance between the two schools. Most notorious is the preoccupation of the former rumrunners. My own New Brunswick roots were similarly mercantile though they tended to the legitimate trades of fishery, maple syrup products and silver fox pelts.  My Massachusetts roots were reflected in my annual pilgrimages to Cape Cod. And finally in the winter of my life I have retired to the southern United States for six months each year. It continues to be a great source of pride to straddle the borders of these two nations.

Interestingly the chain of descent in my Canadian heritage bifurcates into French and English, rich and poor, educated and illiterate. Both sides of my family are nonetheless remarkable for their pride and their enduring commitment to work and loyalty.  It is also significant that three immediate members of my family have returned to live in the United States as naturalized citizens thus completing the historical alliance.

My personal affection for the United States of America is unquestionably insinuated by my maritime roots. For the past many years I have wallowed in the pleasure of seaside living on the barrier islands of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Pardon the pun, but this proclivity is for me nothing short of a fish to water.  Everything about the ocean is my inalterable preference. From the salt sea water and rollicking waves I derive my inspiration (mostly recently upon the Florida Keys while residing on Key Largo).  I have laterally been consumed as well by the dynamics of American politics which oddly were at one time the focus of my legal predecessor, the late Raymond Algernon Jamieson QC. Formerly I regularly trafficked in this political intelligence through articles I submitted as a contributing columnist to a local e-newspaper with which I was affiliated.

Though comparison is unnecessary I feel compelled to observe that my frequent trips to Europe have failed to compete with my affection for North America.  Whatever may be my ancestry as a United Empire Loyalist and a British citizen, on balance I maintain the integrity of the North American tradition.


Over two hundred years ago the American Revolution shattered the British Empire in North America. The conflict was rooted in British attempts to assert economic control in her American colonies after her costly victory over the French during the Seven Years War. When protest and riots met the British attempts to impose taxes on the colonists, the British responded with political and military force. Out of the struggle between between the Thirteen Colonies and their mother country emerged two nations: the United States and what would later become Canada.

In the spring of 1776 the first shipload of Loyalists left the Thirteen Colonies for Nova Scotia. The British government gave them free passage and permitted them to take necessary articles with them. Approximately half of the refugees settled near the Saint John River, in what was to become New Brunswick, with a concentration at the mouth of the river around an excellent harbour. This developed onto the city of Saint John. There were also settlements along the coast of the peninsula at Lunenburg, Shelburne and Digby.

Suffix Major
Born Abt 1756 Hawnby, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, England

Died 5 Nov 1837 Fort Lawrence, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada
Buried Point de Bute, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada

Family Abigail CAIN, b. Abt 1754, Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States d. 5 Apr 1836, Fort Lawrence, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada (Age ~ 82 years) Married 4 Nov 1779 Fort Lawrence, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada

Father Arthur CAIN, d. Date Unknown, , , New England, United States
Mother Lydia TOWNSEND, d. Date Unknown
Married 13 Dec 1749 Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States

Father William CHAPMAN, c. 12 Oct 1729, Hawnby, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, England d. Bef 1805 …. (Age ~ 75 years)

Mother Mary IBBITSON, b. 26 Jun 1732, Helmsley, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, England d. Bef 1788, Point de Bute, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada (Age < 55 years)
Married 21 Jan 1755 Hawnby, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, England

Born 3 Apr 1785 Fort Lawrence, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada

Robert Dickie CHAPMAN
Born Abt 1812 Coverdale, Albert, New Brunswick, Canada

Born 13 Mar 1841 Coverdale, Albert, New Brunswick, Canada

William F. CHAPMAN
Born 28 Sep 1869 Salisbury, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada

George William CHAPMAN
Born 30 Jul 1895 Salisbury, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada

Cecil George William CHAPMAN
Born 17 Aug, 1918 Hillsborough, Albert, New Brunswick, Canada

Lawrence George William CHAPMAN
Born 11 Dec 1948 Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Who Qualifies as a Loyalist?

Very simply, the general guidelines are as follows:

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.

Being a proved Loyalist descendant confers no special status in Canadian or other society, but many members use the post-nominal letters “UE” after their name, in consequence of Lord Dorchester’s Order in Council in 1789, conferring recognition of the service of the Loyalists in defense of “The Unity of Empire.”