Like many New Englanders, I have ties to Nova Scotia. I have ancestors who have relocated from Nova Scotia over the last 150 years. For one branch in particular, the Martins, when they came to Massachusetts in the 1880’s it was a return home after four generations. My gg-grandfather, Marsden Martin, descended from Brotherton Martin, born in Martha’s Vinyard, Massachusetts. But he also descended from James Anderson of Fells Point, Maryland, a mariner and sometime privateer. James’ activities during the Revolutionary War caused him to lose a great deal of property, made his return to Baltimore impossible, and resulted in him fleeing to Nova Scotia with his family to seek support from the British government.
Which leads us to the subject of Loyalist Claims. The British government has filed these in two sets – A.O. 12 and A.O. 13. The records are of particular interest in North America and so the Library and Archives Canada has copies of those records.
Up to this point, I had only seen one Loyalist Claim by James Anderson, in A.O. 13, Bundle 24, page 7-9, dated 22 April 1786, Halifax (No. 1453). He reported the following losses:
- A Farm totaling 300 acres (70 cleared) and a dwelling house and barn on the North Branch of the Potomock near Fort Cumberland
- a two-story brick house well finished, a two-story frame house on the back of that house, a framed stable, a kitchen, in Fells Point, Baltimore, Maryland
- Two horses, two cows
- A mahogany cased 14-day clock, beds, various mahogany furniture, two large looking glasses, and other household goods
- A chair and harness
Using the Index
I have two associates in this search for the roots of James Anderson, my cousins Bonnie and Pat. Bonnie found this index at the Library and Archives Canada:
It’s two digitized microfilm reels. Buried in there are several long index sections. Here is what she found for James Anderson:
I found the Bundles I needed on the list of Family History Library microfilms here. What I should have done was go back to the main page of this data set at the Library and Archives Canada. I would have seen:
The details of A.O. 12 & A.O. 13 include a tip that the bundles can be found on Ancestry.com. But no, not realizing the rolls of microfilm were available on Ancestry.com, I rented the microfilm from the Family History Library. I went over this weekend to look at them. One roll was difficult to read, so I came home and searched again online, thinking perhaps I could find a way to order just the pages I needed somewhere. That’s when I discovered the Ancestry set. And it turned out, the Ancestry set was actually far more readable than the films I had been struggling with.
The Ancestry.com records can be found here: UK, American Loyalist Claims, 1776-1835. Subscription required. Using the index on that page results in only 2 of the 4 James Anderson files I have found. Not all records are indexed at this time. Paging through the printed index book at Library and Archives Canada website is probably a better idea. Then, return to the Ancestry page and choose either set A.O. 12 or set A.O. 13 in the “Browse” column. Each bundle can be selected from there.
If you believe you have ancestors with Loyalist Claims, definitely put this on your to-do list – if you don’t have an Ancestry.com subscription, try accessing it a local library.
Two claims for James Anderson of Fells Point, Baltimore
One set of claim papers seemed to be a re-working of the papers I had already found (A.O. 13-24 New Claims, Images 8 – 10 on Ancestry.com – details of that claim are here) with an added endorsement. Having a great deal of evidence for our ancestor, James Anderson, (although lacking evidence of his origins and parents) we know this claim belongs to him. Here is a transcript.
- A.O. 13-100. Various Papers. New Claims, Nova Scotia. Dated Halifax, 22 April, 1786.
To the Honourable Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament to enquire into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists.
The Memorial of James Anderson
That your Memorialist, from Principles of loyalty and attachment to the British Government, was among the first that opposed the Association at the beginning of the Rebellion, and at many times was under the necessity of leaving his Estate and Family at their discretion, and screen himself in the Woods.
That your Memorialist in April 1778, joined His Majesty’s Forces at Philadelphia, and had a permit from General Howe to procure provisions for the Garrison, which he dud in a Vessel of his own, in Consequence thereof the Rebels Confiscated his Estate and every Individual Article he was possessed of.
That your Memorialist rendered every essential service in his power during the War, Serving often as a Pilot, as is well-known by Commissioner Duncan of his Majesty’s Dock Yard at Halifax.
That your Memorialist from the heavy losses he sustained, and his Indigent Circumstances, was thereby rendered incapable of going to Great Britain, when others did, to give his claim.
Your Memorialist therefore prays & hopes that his case may be taken into Consideration, in order that he may receive such aid as his losses and Services may be found to deserve. And as in duty bound he will ever pray
[note scrawled sideways in margin: I hereby certify that this memorialist did join his Majesty’s Forces at Philadelphia and that he employed his Vessel and set forth in the [?] he was recommended to me as an honest man much attached to the British [Good?]. I believe him to be [?] this Memorialist will be bound to deserve [it?]. [signature not legible].
[another signed note appears on the next page:]
I certify I am well acquainted with James Anderson the Memorialist, that he lives in the interior parts of the Province of Nova Scotia; That his character, is fair & honest, but an Ignorant man, was an active and zealous Loyalist, during the War. That I am informed and believe that he put in a claim under the Second Act of Parliament at the American Office in Halifax, which was never enquired into by the Commissioners, but rejected by them, not because they were of the opinion that said claim was unfounded, but because he had not exhibited it under the first act of Parliament, a Circumstance which I am convinced proceeded from his perfect ignorance of the necessary steps to be pursued, and his total inability to attend in England in support of it, which I have every reason to believe he thought absolutely requisite.
Schedule of property that did belong to James Anderson late of Baltimore in Maryland, viz. [followed by same list as from Claim 13:24, detailed here.]
Some new information appears in this updated claim. “Mich. Wallace” appears to be a supporter or friend. If I could ever figure out the signature on the margin note, that would be another name. James Anderson’s signature, if such it is, is interesting – flourishy, but a bit sloppy.
The other two claims
The other two remaining claims for James Anderson were startling at first, containing so much new information, but eventually I decided they refer to a different James Anderson of Maryland. The following observations in themselves don’t prove anything, but taken together, it is hard to conclude this person could be the James Anderson of Fells Point.
- he is from Dorset County Maryland. If that is Dorchester County, Maryland, it is along the Eastern Shore and suitable for a seafaring man. But it is not Fells Point or Fort Cumberland, the known locations of James’ Anderson’s property.
- his list of losses consists of slaves and a bond owed to him by a Dorset County man. This is so different from James Anderson’s list of two properties and various household goods that at first I thought it might be an addendum. It does not seem to be.
- he served on ships for the British government steadily throughout the war except for the period when he was held prisoner. James Anderson had other activities going on; his interest seemed to be in procurement, not service on a ship (source for that is here).
- a long list of Captains could recommend him. James Anderson was cut off from service with the British after a short time due to an altercation (source for that is here).
- no wife or children are mentioned, and indeed his lost clothing seems to be his primary concern – that would be an unusual claim for a man supporting a family.
Here are the two claims:
- A.O. 13-96 Part 1. Various Papers. Ancestry.com Images 72-75. No.452, James Anderson, Maryland. “Received 13 th Feby 1784.”
To the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for Enquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists.
The Memorial of James Anderson lately of the Province of Maryland in Dorset County Sheweth
That your Memorialist went into the British Service in the year of our Lord 1776 and served as a Lieutenant on board the Lord Dartmouth when she was at [Senagold?] and that in the year 1781 he was Master Mate of the General [Minoh?] and your Memorialist has served his present Majesty in Different Capacities from the year 1776 to the year 1783.
That your Memorialist has Suffered and Sustained the Loss of three Negro Men, a Negro Lad aged about 16 years and a Negro Woman, a Bond of £50 payable to your Memorialist, several sheep, hogs, horses, and other cattle.
That for the satisfaction of said Commissioners your Memorialist has [annexed?] a Schedule to the Petition wherein is [****ed] every article.
Your Memorialist therefore Prays that his Case may be taken into your Consideration in order that your Memorialist may be Enabled, under your [?] to receive such aid or Relief as his Losses and Services may be found to deserve.
To Three Negro men £165. One Negro Lad £40. One Negro Woman £40. Horses & Cattle £120. a Bond of John Fittshew living in Maryland in Dorset County £50.
Claiment says he has no witness in England to prove his property.
To prove his services on Board of His Maj’s Ships:
Capt Josiah Rogers now stationed in Yarmouth [?]
Capt Alexr Mackey in London
Capt George [Cahes?] in London
Capt Morgan Laugham in London
Capt Thomas Laugham at [?]
I have certifickets from the above menchened for my service on Board of His Maj’s Ships.
I lost all my papers when taken and kept a Prisoner twenty months and Lost all my Wearing Apparel. When employed was content to put up with the loss but now out of employ the Ships was Paid of at Portsmouth November 19 1783 Come from New York being Master of His Maj’s Sloop Vulture.
[back cover:] No. 452
received 13th Feby 1784.
3 Ton Court near the [H***? M***?]
- A.O. 13-39 (Claims A-D, Maryland), dated 24 March 1784. “Maryland. James Anderson. Temporary Support. No 10 [Three Ton?] Court, Nightingale Lane. Wrote to attend. Is gone to the Prov: Mass for 8 Mos.”
That your Petitioner did on or about the sixth day of February last deliver unto the Honourable Commisioners a memorial of the losses he has sustained in the service of his present Majesty King George the third [wisely?] prayed.
That the said Commissioners would be pleased to take the same unto their consideration to enable him to receive such aid or relief as the nature of his case deserved.
That your Petitioner has since been informed that his provision which he may be entitled to under the act will not be payable for the space of three years to come.
That your petitioner having sustained such losses as are specified in the said memorial and Schedule[ ? ] not support himself without [ ? ] some relief until the benefit to be received from that act is made payable.
Your petitioner therefore most Humbly Prays your Honours that you will be Pleased to allow your Petitioner such sum or sums of money for his maintenance in the meantime and Untill the provision which he [ ? ] himself to [be titled?] to by the Act of Parliament is made payable.
And your petitioner will as in Duty bound Ever pray
Losses. Three Negro men £165. One Negro Lad £40. One Negro Woman £40. Horses & Cattle £120. a [Bond?] [?] John Fitshue living in [Maryland?] Dorset County £50.
To prove property, no witness in England at present.
To prove services, Capt. Rogers Capt. Macke & Capt. [Cahir?] Capt. Morgan Laugham and Capt. Thomas Laugham having all their certificate of my servitude on Board his Maj’s [?]
[back cover inscription not readable].
I would definitely follow-up on “Mich. Wallace” in Halifax who had presumably known James Anderson for quite a while. And knowing that it was General Howe that James Anderson approached offering procurement services, I wonder if there could be more information about their transactions in the British Archives.
All in all, not a big haul of new information here, but I am glad I found a better way to access the Loyalist Claims.
There is a lot of helpful advice out there for people searching for Canadian land grants, particularly Upper Canada. See a few examples:
- Olive Tree Genealogy by Lorine McGinnis Schulze – 10 Ways to Find Your Loyalist Ancestor
- Genea-Musings by Randy Seaver – Looking for United Empire Loyalist Ancestors – also Finding Loyalist Petition Papers on Library and Archives Canada (LAC) – this is particularly helpful, and includes some more links to assistance on Olive Tree Genealogy, as well as some guidance on finding materials at the Library and Archives Canada website by Ken McKinlay.
- The Loyalist Collection at The University of New Brunswick library offers a guide to the contents of A.O. 12 and A.O. 13.
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