Loyalist Losses Claim and Half Pay

1787 Loyalist Losses Claims ~ and later

John W Meyers, Half Pay Officer, claims for losses

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Captain John Walden Meyers

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.

Claims Process
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
  2. DECISION by the Commission
  3. Image of the decision
  4. Evidence papers in AO 13
  5. Comment about Claims for Losses records
  6. False Claim
  7. Records about Half Pay Officers

1. EVIDENCE given by Meyers in his Claim for Losses
    As recorded in Commission reports in AO 12.

New Claim
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 County of Albany and Province of New York at present in Canada by his attachment to the British Majesty in year 1777.
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
                                    New York Curry      662.1
October 22nd 1787
Evidence in the Claim of John W Meyers late of Albany County New York.
Claimant Sworn
Says he resided at St Johns and Isle aux Noix and Du Chene in 1783 on Service, resided chiefly at St Johns during the winter.
Is a native of America, lived in Albany County when Rebellion broke out, joined the British Army in 1777. Joined Major Jessup’s Corps, staid with Burgoyne some time, but had leave to go after some Recruits, he got to New York.
Afterwards came to Canada with dispatches, returned to New York and in the year 1780 returned again to Canada where he raised a Company and was assigned to Major Jessup’s Corps. Served till end of the War as Captain. Has half pay. Resides at bay of Quinty.
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 York money.
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 New York, he from the first to the last did all he could for the British Government. He carried dispatches to Canada. He served at New York under Colonel Richmone several months which was draughted into other Regiments. He afterwards raised a Company in Canada.
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 and that 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.

Volume 64
John W Meyers, late of Albany County
Amount of property 357/8/8
Determination 12th December 1787
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*
Resides at Bay of Kenty
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

Volume 109
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 [12], National Archives, Kew, AO 12/64  f20 Lh

half pay
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.]
[fold note]
No 1374
Jno W Myres
New Claim
15 Apr 1786
New York
22 Oct 1787
Montreal 22nd October 1787
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.