Loyalist Background & Timeline

Loyalists were those Americans who:

  • resided in what is now the continental United States before the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783.
  • remained loyal to King George III during the Revolution.
  • took up arms as soldiers in one of the American loyalist provincial corps.
  • had property and/or possessions confiscated because of their loyalty.
  • settled in British North America after the Revolution…

Contrary to popular myth, a large percentage of Loyalists were of non-British extraction. Many were of German, Swiss, French, Dutch, American Indian and African descent. Loyalists transcended all social classes from wealthy merchants to farmers and tradespeople.


1713 – Treaty of Utrecht (Nova Scotia given to Great Britain)

1748 – Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle (French gain back territory) Although King George’s War was formally concluded in 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle that concluded it resembled a truce far more than a treaty of peace. It restored conditions as they had been in 1744.

1756 – Seven Years War begins (French & Indian Wars 1754-1763). The last of the great Anglo French colonial wars, the French and Indian War eventually became part of the great imperial struggle between Britain and France known as the Seven Years War.

1758 – French defeated at Louisburg (the French Super Fortress)

1759 – James Wolfe’s victory at Quebec. Battle of Quebec (Plains of Abraham)

1760 – Fall of Montreal

1763 – End of the French & Indian Wars. The “Treaty of Paris” (Canada given to Great Britain) signed ending the war which removed the French threat to the colonies. Britain to receive from France all of Canada and all territory west of the Mississippi River except New Orleans. France to retain some fishing rights in the Gulf of St.Lawrence. Florida was exchanged to the British for Cuba. 

1764 – At the end of the war King George III began to levy taxes on the colonies in the belief that they would be willing to contribute to the cost of protection . The first tax was referred to as the Revenue Act (Sugar Act) which taxed colonial imports and was roundly rejected. 

1765 – Stamp Act becomes law. It required all colonists to affix government stamps to official documents and printed materials. The Stamp Act was so unpopular it was quickly repealed. The colonists met and decided that no tax could be imposed without the consent of those governed.

1767/68 – Additional taxes were levied on everything from glass to tea which caused anti-taxation furor. British Parliament reaffirms right to tax colonies by passing Declaratory Act.

1770 – Thousands of British troops stationed in America were found to be supplementing their poor soldier’s wages taking away jobs from the locals. This along with the taxes being levied eventually caused the soldiers and civilians to clash.

1773 – Dec. 16th – A group of “thinly disguised” rebels took the matter into their own hands and boarded three British ships in Boston harbour and threw the cargo into the ocean. Britain, in retaliation drafted a series of new laws that required the port of Boston to be closed until the tea was repaid along with additional reinforced provisions that would make it legal for British officers to demand food and shelter from the colonists.

1774 – Jul. 9th – Quebec Act passed. Borders of province of Quebec expanded to Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in the west and Indian Territories in the south. New England colonies outraged.

  • Sir William Johnson’s sudden death while meeting with the council of northern Indians.
  • John Johnson travels to London where he is knighted by the King in recognition of his father’s achievements.
  • By the summer Lieut. Gen. Gage arrived with the support of many more British regular soldiers (4th Kings Own, 5th, 10th, 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers, 38th, 43rd, 47th, 52nd, and 59th Regiments) and four warships.

1775 – The British being concerned with the growing hotbed of discontent in Massachusetts and learning that a large quantity of gunpowder was being stored at Concord crossed the harbour to take action.

  • April 19th – Although the rebels had been surprised by the British military action they were able to pull together a semblance of force to confront the British under Captain John Parker at Lexington Green. No one is certain who fired the first shots but several of the rebels were killed and the survivors were scattered. The British continued to Concord to retrieve the ammunition and powder but upon arrival found it to have been moved. The British now under attack from all angles reversed and headed on the long trip back to Boston. The rebel rabble having had little military training took to sniping attacks and killed 300 of the original 800 soldiers that began the operation.
  • Start of the Revolution with battles at Lexington and Concord
  • General Gage issued a “beating warrant” for Allan Maclean to enlist
  • A regiment of two battalions, each consisting of six hundred, all ranks to be called Royal Highland Emigrants. Maclean to have the rank of Lieut.-Colonel.
  • Jun. 12th– Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys”, a militia from Vermont, capture New York’s Fort Ticonderoga from the British in the first victory of the Revolutionary War.
  • Insurgents invade Canada and capture Chambly, St.Jean and Montreal.
  • Jun. 17th – The Battle of Bunker Hill actually fought on (Breed’s Hill) General Howe, General Gage.
  • Dec. 31st – Defeat of the Americans at Quebec and death of General Montgomery.

1776 – Mar. 17th – – British troops forced to evacuate Boston and retire to Halifax to develop plans for further operations.

  • May 18th – Flight of Sir John Johnson and 170 – 200 followers to Canada (Quebec) from Johnstown, N.Y. through the Adirondacks for 19 days. Additional followers (Canadian and Indians) joined prior to entering Montreal increasing the party to 500. Party is welcomed to Montreal by Sir Guy Carleton who immediately grants Sir John Johnson authority to raise the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. Sir John is given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel Commandant.
  • May 19th – Captain Forster with a body of soldiers and Indians reclaimed Montreal from the rebels.
  • British Fleet arrives in New York and drives the Patriots out.
  • Delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia sign Declaration of Independence.

1777 – Sept. 15th– John Butler of New York raised a force of Rangers to raid, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  • Lieut. General Burgoyne arrives to take command of the main body of troops on the expedition against Fort Stanwix.
  • The St.Leger Expedition of 1777
  • May 5th– Oct. 8th Burgoyne Expedition from Quebec to Saratoga, New York
  • Aug. 3rd– Aug. 22nd – Attempted Siege of Fort Stanwix
  • Aug. 6th – Ambush of Rebel militia at Oriskany (both sides claim it as a victory)
  • Aug. 25th – Battle of Brandywine near Wilmington, Delaware
  • Battle of Germantowne
  • Sep. 19th – Battle of Freeman’s Farm, The First Battle of Saratoga – American’s defeat the British
  • Lieut. General Burgoyne arrives to take command of the main body of troops on the expedition against Fort Stanwix.
  • The St.Leger Expedition of 1777
  • May 5th– Oct. 8th Burgoyne Expedition from Quebec to Saratoga, New York
  • Aug. 3rd– Aug. 22nd – Attempted Siege of Fort Stanwix
  • Aug. 6th – Ambush of Rebel militia at Oriskany (both sides claim it as a victory)
  • Aug. 25th – Battle of Brandywine near Wilmington, Delaware
  • Battle of Germantowne
  • Sep. 19th – Battle of Freeman’s Farm, The First Battle of Saratoga – American’s defeat the British
  • The fall of Philadelphia, the Rebel capital and largest city.
  • Oct. 7th – Battle of Bemis Heights
  • The Second Battle of Saratoga Major General Haldimand succeeds Sir Guy Carleton as Governor-in-chief and Captain General of the Province of Quebec.


  • Rebels winter camp at Valley Forge. Rebel’s receive new training by Gen. Baron von Steuben
  • Howe angered by lack of support he was receiving, resigned his commission and was replaced by Sir Henry Clinton who recently captured Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery for the British.
  • General Clinton withdraws to New York
  • Battle of Monmouth: British on the move to New York were confronted by Washington’s army. Both sides fight an inconclusive battle. British pack up and carry on to New York.


  • Capture of Savannah
  • Siege of Charleston

1780 – Aug. 16th – Battle of Camden: Gen. Horatio Gates outnumbers the British but British regulars put American Rebels to flight.

  • Sept. – Benedict Arnold turns to the British side.
  • Oct. 7th – Battle of King’s Mountain, North Carolina. Col. Patrick Ferguson sent by Cornwallis (Ferguson killed and almost entire army captured).


  • Battle of Cowpens (near Charleston, South Carolina)
  • Battle of Guilford Court House – British winners but because so many casualties cannot pursue American’s.
  • Oct. 19th – Battle of Yorktown British defeated and lay down arms.

1782 – Nov. – Preliminary peace agreement signed to end the war. Treaty of Separation.

1783 – Apr. 15th– Peace agreement ratified by American Congress.

  • Sept. – Parallel agreements made between Britain and the Burbon nations and with the Dutch.
  • End of the American Revolution
  • Treaty of Paris
  • May 4th – Landing of Loyalists at Shelburne, Nova Scotia
  • May 18th– Landing of Loyalists at Saint John, New Brunswick
  • Oct. – Arrival of Loyalists at Fredericton, New Brunswick ? (Nova Scotia)

1784 – Baron Von Reitsenstern and persons of New Brunswick troops arrived at Kingston, later settling in Marysburgh Twp., Prince Edward County

  • May 22nd – Landing of Mohawks at Tyendinega
  • Jun. 12th – Loyalists landed on Prince Edward Island
  • Jun. 16th – Landing of Peter Van Alstines band of Loyalists at Adolphistown on the Bay of Quinte.
  • Jun. 24th – Disbandment of Loyalist’s Troops stationed at Upper Posts.


  • The name United Empire Loyalist came into use after 1789 when Lord Dorchester, Governor – General of British North America, suggested that he put “a mark of Honour upon those families who had adhered to the Unity of the Empire and joined the Royal Standard in America before the Treaty of Separation in 1783”. A list of these families was drawn up and anyone whose name was on the list, could put the initials U. E. after his or her name.
  • Lord Dorchester, Governor of Quebec, enacts marking Militia Rolls with U.E

1792 – Introduction of English Civil Law to Upper Canada– Quebec was split into the new colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada

Upcoming Events

7:30 pm Speaker Series, Stephen Davidson @ Via ZOOM
Speaker Series, Stephen Davidson @ Via ZOOM
Mar 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
I’m sure you recognize Stephen Davidson‘s name from his frequent (almost weekly) contributions to Loyalist Trails. We are pleased that Stephen will speak to the Toronto Branch via zoom on Wednesday,...
7:30 pm Speaker Series, Sarah Beth Gable @ Via ZOOM
Speaker Series, Sarah Beth Gable @ Via ZOOM
May 23 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Sarah Beth Gable, 2020 UELAC Scholarship Winner (ZOOM) 
8:30 am Ontario Genealogical Society Con... @ Delta Airport Hotel
Ontario Genealogical Society Con... @ Delta Airport Hotel
Jun 14 @ 8:30 am – Jun 16 @ 4:00 pm
Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, Delta Airport Hotel, Toronto Toronto UELAC has a table in the marketplace – volunteers needed! email Martha Hemphill <arabellagore@gmail.com>