Canadian Genealogy | Chronicles of Canada


Canadian Research


British Columbia


New Brunswick


Northern Territories

Nova Scotia



Prince Edward Island




Canadian Indian Tribes

Chronicles of Canada


Free Genealogy Forms
Family Tree Chart
Research Calendar
Research Extract
Free Census Forms
Correspondence Record
Family Group Chart
Source Summary


New Genealogy Data
Family Tree Search

Genealogy Books For Sale

Indian Mythology

US Genealogy


Other Websites
British Isles Genealogy
Australian Genealogy


FREE Web Site Hosting at
Canadian Genealogy




In Prince Edward Island 

Not many Loyalists found their way to Prince Edward Island, or, as it was called at the time of the American Revolution, the Island of St John. Probably there were not many more than six hundred on the island at any one time. But the story of these immigrants forms a chapter in itself. Elsewhere the refugees were well and loyally treated. In Nova Scotia and Quebec the English officials strove to the best of their ability, which was perhaps not always great, to make provision for them. But in Prince Edward Island they were the victims of treachery and duplicity.

Prince Edward Island was in 1783 owned by a number of large landed proprietors. When it became known that the British government intended to settle the Loyalists in Nova Scotia, these proprietors presented a petition to Lord North, declaring their desire to afford asylum to such as would settle on the island. To this end they offered to resign certain of their lands for colonization, on condition that the government abated the quit-rents. This petition was favorably received by the government, and a proclamation was issued promising lands to settlers in Prince Edward Island on terms similar to those granted to settlers in Nova Scotia and Quebec.

Encouraged by the liberal terms held forth, a number of Loyalists went to the island direct from New York, and a number went later from Shelburne, disappointed by the prospects there. In June 1784 a muster of Loyalists on the island was taken, which showed a total of about three hundred and eighty persons, and during the remainder of the year a couple of hundred went from Shelburne. At the end of 1784, therefore, it is safe to assume that there were nearly six hundred on the island, or about one-fifth of the total population.

These refugees found great difficulty in obtaining the grants of land promised to them. They were allowed to take up their residence on certain lands, being assured that their titles were secure; and then, after they had cleared the lands, erected buildings, planted orchards, and made other improvements, they were told that their titles lacked validity, and they were forced to move. Written title-deeds were withheld on every possible pretext, and when they were granted they were found to contain onerous conditions out of harmony with the promises made. The object of the proprietors, in inflicting these persecutions, seems to have been to force the settlers to become tenants instead of freeholders. Even Colonel Edmund Fanning, the Loyalist lieutenant-governor, was implicated in this conspiracy. Fanning was one of the proprietors in Township No. 50. The settlers in this township, being unable to obtain their grants, resolved to send a remonstrance to the British government, and chose as their representative one of their number who had known Lord Cornwallis during the war, hoping through him to obtain redress. This agent was on the point of leaving for England, when news of his intention reached Colonel Fanning. The ensuing result was as prompt as it was significant: within a week afterwards nearly all the Loyalists in Township No. 50 had obtained their grants.

Others, however, did not have friends in high places, and were unable to obtain redress. The minutes of council which contained the records of many of the allotments were not entered in the regular Council Book, but were kept on loose sheets; and thus the unfortunate settlers were not able to prove by the Council Book that their lands had been allotted them. When the rough minutes were discovered years later, they were found to bear evidence, in erasures and the use of different inks, of having been tampered with.

For seventy-five years the Loyalists continued to agitate for justice. As early as 1790 the island legislature passed an act empowering the governor to give grants to those who had not yet received them from the proprietors. But this measure did not entirely redress the grievances, and after a lapse of fifty years a petition of the descendants of the Loyalists led to further action in the matter. In 1840 a bill was passed by the House of Assembly granting relief to the Loyalists, but was thrown out by the Legislative Council. As late as 1860 the question was still troubling the island politics. In that year a land commission was appointed, which reported that there were Loyalists who still had claims on the local government, and recommended that free grants should be made to such as could prove that their fathers had been attracted to the island under promises which had never been fulfilled.

Such is the unlovely story of how the Loyalists were persecuted in the Island of St John, under the British flag.

This site includes some historical materials that may imply negative stereotypes reflecting the culture or language of a particular period or place. These items are presented as part of the historical record and should not be interpreted to mean that the WebMasters in any way endorse the stereotypes implied.

Chronicles of Canada, The United Empire Loyalists, A Chronicle of the Great Migration, 1915


Chronicles of Canada

Add/Correct a Link

Comments/Submit Data

Copyright 2002-2024 by Canadian Genealogy
The WebPages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission.