Tuesday, August 24, 2010

American Claims Commission

Last week's topic was the Southern Claims Commission which was set up for those who lived in the south, opposed the confederacy, and lost property for official use by the Union Army as they marched into the south. Likewise, a similar commission was established following the American Revolution for those who could prove loyalty to the crown and who lost property as a result. As you can imagine, since they had been colonists, but ended up on the losing side of the war, they weren't exactly welcomed back home by their patriot neighbors. The British Government didn't treat them very well right away either. Most fled to Florida or Nova Scotia but didn't have any real means of establishing a homestead. In 1783 the British Government set up the American Claims Commission. Loyalty to the crown had to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, ownership of real and personal proerty had to be proved down to the last half acre and last shilling. In many cases the claimant had to swear under oath to abide by a list of conditions sometimes arbitrarily imposed on the him by the Commission. As with the Southern Claims Commission, little relief was ultimately provided. Either way, you as the descendant can benefit from the book American Loyalist Claims by Peter Wilson Coldham, F.A.S.G. For each claimant listed in the book a "highly summarized version of the papers submitted in support of his claim" is presented, "with particular attention to relationship and property holdings." You can find this source at R Gen 929.3733 COL.

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