Genealogy Friday: What if My Ancestor were a Tory

Last week, we discussed where to find records for our Revolutionary War Ancestors.  We often think of these ancestors as the patriots who fought for independence.

However, there were also many Tories on hand.  Tories was the name used in the colonists for the loyalists that remained local to King George III of England.

During the war, loyalists were often treated as traitors.  The reason for remaining a loyalist is different for each individual.

For some it may be a business decision based on their contacts and contracts, for others it may be their personal beliefs and for still others it may be fear to go against the King.

British soldiers were referred to as Tories during the Revolutionary War

What I do know is war is never pretty.  I had an ancestor who was burned out of their home by the tories and I find it very painful to watch that scene in The Patriot, thinking of my ancestor.

However, these men did the best they could and have many descendants today.  Many Americans with ancestors that were on American soil during that turbulent time probably have both patriots and loyalists in their family history.

Many loyalists were harassed to the point they left the area or country.  Over 10,000 loyalists are said to have fled to Quebec.  However, by 1784, loyalists could live in the US without fear of persecution or retaliation.

So, what if your ancestor was a tory?

  1. Search for books on the loyalists
  2. Check the Directory of Loyalists—compiled by The United Empire Association of Canada it is the greatest known list of loyalists
  3. Check with State Libraries for resources
  4. British Archives—if your ancestor served in the British regiment
  5. Revolutionary War Records—don’t forget to check the Revolutionary War Records. You never know when an ancestor may have switched sides, been a double agent or traitor.

What are sources have you used to discover your tory ancestors?