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Why I am interested in these records.
The records of the "Loyalist Claims for Losses" made by loyalists who suffered losses during the American Revolution are a major source of Loyalist information. John W Meyers provided evidence for his claim for his losses in October 1787. By then he had been discharged and given Half Pay as an officer and was residing at the "Bay of Kenty." Below is a transcription of John W Meyer's claim and the resulting payment of £247.
Doug Knutson, of Windswept Productions, is making a video on Capt John W Meyers and has done considerable research. He shared the image below of one page of Meyer's claim that he obtained from the National Archives [formerly the Public Records Office] in London, England. Thanks Doug.
In 1783 the British Gov't appointed Commissioners to hear evidence from Loyalists who had suffered losses of land and other possessions during the Revolution. They started hearing evidence in 1785. Commissioners reports of the evidence (AO 12) and bundles of evidence support documents (AO 13) have been filmed. See section 5 below for more about these records.
|This is a long web page so use these links to jump around the page.
1. EVIDENCE given by Meyers in his Claim for Losses
As recorded in Commission reports in AO 12.
Account of losses sustained by Captain John W Meyers late of the Major Jessup’s Corps known by the name of the Loyal Rangers formerly of the
To 200 acres of land 24 of grain? £400
To 7 horses @£11.1s each 78.
To 6 cows @£5.11 33
To 1 yoke of oxen 18
To 5 young cattle @£2.2 each 10.10
To 30 hogs amount 27.9
To 24 sheep @14 each 14.8
To farming utensils 21.3
To household furniture 36.11
To 60 bushels of wheat @6/ per bushel 18
To 100 boards 5
Evidence in the Claim of John W Meyers late of Albany County New York.
Says he resided at
Is a native of
Afterwards came to
Had 200 acres in Cohenning's Patent Albany County. Was to have had a lease for ever paying 10th part of produce. Had the Promise, but there were Infants concerned and he could not get the lease. Went upon it in 1771 – cleared 100 acres, built House and barn, planted orchard.
Produces an application from one Bat Rossboon to the Commissioners requiring an appraisement of Claimants Farm as being forfeited amongst others offering to deposit 1/3 part of the value, in order it seems to purchase under an Act of the State.
Values the Improvements at £400
Lost 7 horses, 4 cows, 5 young cattle, 30 Hogs, 17 sheep, utensils, Furniture, 140 bushels wheat.
These things were taken after he joined Burgoyne, most of them in 1777 and 1778.
Joseph Smith sworn,
Served with claimant as a servant, he joined Burgoyne, he went afterwards to
Knew his farm, 100 acres Clear, he was on it 6 years before the War.
Knew his stock when he went from home, they left 7 horses and a good stock behind them, 4 cows, 5 young cattle.
The Rebels got most of the things.
[Doug Knutson writes that "Richmore" is a clerk error andthat Joseph Smith is referring to Colonel Rudolphus Ritzema - a former Rebel turned Loyalist. The interesting thing is that Ritzema's unit, the Royal American Reformers (or Reformees), were to have been manned by repentant Rebels! Wm Canniff writes in his famous book "...we have heard it stated that [John W Meyers] was at first, a rebel also, but not receiving promotion as he expected, forsook the cause, and upon the offer of a captaincy in the British forces allied himself to them. That this was the pure invention of his enemies is sufficiently plain" (Canniff, p. 110, email Jan 2014)]
Source: Claims, American Loyalists, Evidence, 1787-88, New York, LAC films of National Archives holdings in England, AO 12, Vol 29, 23-25, film B-1162, Archives of Ontario, diffusion D 12, for index see film C-9821.
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2. DECISION by the Commission
The decision is recorded in two volumes - 64 and 109.
John W Meyers, late of
Amount of property £357/8/8
The Claimant is a Loyalist and bore arms in support of the British Government
Real estate, Improvements on a tenant farm £150
Personal estate various articles of personal property £97
Loss proved £247
The claimant receives half pay as Captain in Jesssup’s Rangers*
Note *: Peter Johnson, Loyalist expert, states "The proper name of the regiment was the Loyal Rangers. I usually refer to them as (Jessup's) Loyal Rangers to cover all bases."
Source: Claims, American Loyalists, Decisions, 1787-88, New York, LAC films of National Archives holdings in England, AO 12, Vol 64, film B-1169, Archives of Ontario, diffusion D 12
John W Meyers
Claim for loss of property £357
Sum originally allowed £247
Total sum £247
Source: Claims, American Loyalists, Various, 1784-89, Reports and Statements, LAC films of National Archives holdings in England, AO 12, Vol 109, film B-1180, Archives of Ontario, diffusion D 12
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|3. Image of the decision
Thanks to Doug Knutson for this image.
Source: Auditors Office [AO], Records of the Auditors of the Imprest, Commissioners of Audit, Exchequer and Audit Department, National Audit Office and related bodies, American Loyalists Claims, Series I , National Archives, Kew, AO 12/64 f20 Lh
Courtesy of Doug Knutson, Windswept Productions
4. Evidence Papers in AO 13
[The original listing of claims as transcribed by the commission in its report of Evidence - see 23 above. The image is too faint to transcribe.]
Jno W Myres
Agreeable to your letter I have the Honour to Inform you that I resided at Fort St Johns, Isle aux Noix of River du Chene in this Province from the 15th July 1783 to 25th March following. I have the [smudge] to be Gentlemen
Your most Obedient & most Humble Servant
John W Meyers
To the Honourable
The Commissioners for
Settling the American Claims
Source: Claims, American Loyalists, Series 11, New Claims, New York, LAC films of National Archives holdings in England, AO 13, Vol 14, film B-2187, Archives of Ontario, diffusion D 12, for index see film C-9821.
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|5. Comments about Claims for Loyalist losses
The records for the Loyalist Claims for Losses are a vast and somewhat confusing collection. The original bundles of evidence documents and Commission reports were stored in London's Audit Office. Those that remained in Britain are now housed in the National Archives in London, England and designated AO.
In 1874 a major set of 34 original volumes of "rough minutes of the hearings of the various claimants before the Commissioners" were given to the Smithsonian and are now housed at the Library of Congress. Most of the information in these volumes is repeated in volumes in AO 12 and 13, however some rejected claims are unique to these 34 volumes.
A major resource and a good starting point
In 1904 a transcription of the 34 volumes mentioned above was published; titled the The Second Report of The Bureau of Archives For the Province of Ontario, Subtitle: United Empire Loyalists, Enquiry into the Losses and Services in Consequence of Their Loyalty, Evidence in the Canadian Claims, 1904, Alexander Fraser. It is online at Internet Archive. Click on these links for Part 1 (pages 1 to 704) and Part 2 (pages 705 to 1436, including the index.) If these links don't work then try this page and click on Volume 2, parts 1 and part 2 (two separate volumes). Thanks to Mark Davenport for bringing these links to my attention.
The Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) microfilmed all these holdings and more - AO 03, 12, 13 and T50 and these films are designated MG14 and MG15 at the LAC.
The Archives of Ontario has a set of films done by the LAC as Diffusion material designated D 12. They also have films of the original reports held at the Library of Congress under Diffusion D 357. Film C-9821 has the index for AO 12 and 13. See the Loyalists' Claims for Losses finding aid (page 2).
The Church of Latter Day Saints library also has the microfilms. Search "American Loyalist Claims" to see their holdings.
Lastly, see the book American Migrations 1765-1799 by Peter Wilson Coldham, 2000, Genealogical Pub. Co.
All 5,800 individual claims - the entire contents of the papers of the Claims Commission that form record classes AO 12 and AO 13 at the Public Record Office - are abstracted in this new and comprehensive publication.
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6. False Claim?
The full erroneous quote from Cruickshank: "When the militia of the [Hastings] county was organized about 1798, [Capt John W Meyers] was, as a matter of course, appointed captain of the local company and seems to have held that command until the beginning of the war in 1812 as his name appears in an official list of officers and soldiers in service. He was then succeeded by his son, George."
Source: E.A. Cruikshank, 'Captain John Walden Meyers, Loyalist Pioneer', OHSPR, Vol. 31, 1936
Ernest Cruickshank is a respected early historian of Upper Canada history and Doug Knutson noted the quote below that John W Meyers was a "Captain of the local company." The J. W. Meyers in the early Militia records are of his son Jacob W Meyers. Half Pay officers such as John W Meyers, were exempt from Militia duty by the Militia Act of 1793 though some did continue to be active in the militia. No record has yet been found to support the claim that John W Meyers was active in the Hastings Militia.
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|7. Records about Half Pay Officers c1783
In 1783, after the American Revolution both British Army and Colonial Militia officers were given half-pay. The lists of these officers are kept in the National Archives, Kew.
John W Meyers was likely put on Half Pay around 1784. See British/American Half Pay c1782, reference War Office Records WO 65/165 and WO 65/166 at the National Archives, London, England. They are microfilmed.
More is said about these Half Pay records on the web site of the Loyalist Collection at the Univ. of New Brunswick.