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The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
This article on Loyalist families is presented in 8 parts. Click below to skip to:

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Those Left Behind
Part 3 - A Variety of Hardships
Part 4 - The Women Join Their Husbands
Part 5 - Services of the Women
Part 6 - Problems in Camp
Part 7 - Widows & Orphans
Part 8 - A New Life

Female Ancestors
Refugees & Others, Part 4 of 8

The Women Join Their Husbands

Slowly at first and then by waves, the families of Loyalist soldiers came into the army to join their husbands. With no means of support at home, made enemies by many of their neighbors and often having their homes confiscated from around them, these women had little choice but to join the army.

Some, like William PARKER and his family of Williamsburg, Virginia, joined the army together, enlisting in the American Legion when Benedict ARNOLD arrived in Virginia in 1781.18

The number of women and children with the regiments grew as the war progressed. In 1777, but few could be found with the regiments around New York City. By July of 177,8 however, there were 698 women and 731 children, as compared to 5,916 men, a ratio of a little over 4 soldiers to 1 dependent.19

An examination a year later of the same corps, added to those at Savannah, Georgia, shows 929 women, 877 children and 6.022 men, decreasing the ratio even more.20

By the end of the war the numbers were startling. In April of 1782 for New York the ratio was less than 2 to 1. What is interesting is that the number of women and children numerically did not increase much, but the number of men who were with them decreased dramatically.21

For regiments on campaign, the number of women and children allowed was much more in keeping with British ratios. A return of Provincials victualled at the Siege of Charleston in early April of 1780 shows but 19 women and 9 children for 578 men.

However, when we examine the Savannah Black Pioneers, there were 96 women and 74 children for 186 men. This is a great testament to the number of escaped slaves joining the army as a family.22

The Provincials who left New York to serve in the South generally left most of their families behind. In a return for April of 1781, there were 254 women and 493 children at New York for Provincials serving elsewhere, almost entirely in the South.

These families were generally left under the care of an NCO's detachment and were provisioned by the Commissary General.23

A good example for examining the progression in numbers through the war is the Loyal American Regiment. If we follow their progression through the war, we see a massive influx of women and children between 1777-1778, and then proportional numbers for the remainder of the war.

At times the number of dependents almost equaled the number of soldiers. The numbers are similar for other provincials stationed at New York during that period.24

Loyal American Regiment
Date of Return Men Women Children
  1 July 1777 216   4     1
20 July 1778 278 62 116
29 July 1778 270 62 116
24 March 1779 271 66 126
25 July 1779 227 77 132
29 August 1779 260 88 152
26 September 1779 239 75 151
21 November 1779 246 70 134
25 September 1780 264 75 173
28 April 1782 204 56 114

18 Petition of William Parker, undated. Great Britain, Public Record office, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 32, folio 239.

19 "Abstract of the Number of Men, Women, Children and waggoners Victualed at the Commissary Generals Provision Stores between the 17th and 20th July 1778." University of Michigan, William L. Clements Library, Sir Henry Clinton Papers, Volume 37, item 18.

20 "Abstract of the Number of Men, Women and Children, Negroes and Prisoners victualled at the Commissary General's Stores at Savannah from 11th to 20th October 1779." Clinton Papers, 72:10. This does not include the King's Orange Rangers, who were serving in New York in 1778 but were in Nova Scotia for the 1779 return. Likewise the Maryland Loyalists and Pennsylvania Loyalists are not included, records at Pensacola not existing for this information.

21 "Return of the Number of Men, Women and Children, Victualled at New York and the Out Posts, Between the 22nd and 28th April 1782." PRO, Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America, PRO 30/55/4574. These numbers do not include the regiments serving elsewhere, or the women they left behind.

22 "Abstract of the Number of Men &c. Victualed at Gibbs Landing 6th April 1780, from 7th to 9th Inclusive." Clements Library, Frederick Mackenzie Papers.

23 "Return of the Number of Men... Victualled at New York...29 April 1781." Clinton Papers, 153:44. A published Rebel account that the provincials in the Savannah expedition of 1778 "had chiefly their families with them" was undoubtedly false. See The Pennsylvania Gazette, and Weekly Advertiser (Philadelphia), February 3, 1779.

24 Various abstracts of the Commissary General's Department. See: Clinton Papers 37:18, 37:39, 54:20, 64:10, 66"36, 69:17 & 76"21; Headquarters Papers, PRO 30/55/4574; Nassau County Museum, Seth Norton Papers, L 83.2.3.

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                               Refugees & Others: Loyalist Families

                               Part 1 - Introduction
                               Part 2 - Those Left Behind
                               Part 3 - A Variety of Hardships
                               Part 5 - Services of the Women
                               Part 6 - Problems in Camp
                               Part 7 - Widows & Orphans
                               Part 8 - A New Life

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