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Loyalist Muster Rolls
The history of this corps can really be divided into two periods— pre and post John Graves SIMCOE.
SIMCOE commanded the Rangers throughout most of the American Revolution, but prior to his assuming command in October of 1777, the corps passed through three commanders.
Robert ROGERS of French and Indian War fame was their first commander, raising the unit in August of 1776. His command was taken away by the commander in chief, Sir William HOWE, in January of 1777 for irregularities.
The unit then passed to two British officers, first Major Christopher FRENCH of the 22nd Regiment, and then Captain James WEMYSS of the 40th Regiment. These were the commanders of the unit through the Battle of Germantown in October of 1777.
During this period the regiment enlisted hundreds of men, many of which were lost in battle or by disease, desertion, or discharge. Most of the original officers were superceded or otherwise dismissed.
It is during the time of flux that virtually no rolls exist for the regiment. Until recently, no rolls at all were known for this time until four were discovered in an obscure collection in the Public Record Office in England.
These four companies (out of a strength of ten) have rolls dated 24 December 1776 and 30 March 1777. These rolls were evidence used in a lawsuit against HOWE and Colonel Alexander INNES for dismissing the original officers of the Rangers.
They are located amongst the court papers and other support documents in Great Britain, Public Record Office, Treasury Solicitor, Class 11, Volume 220. This collection is not on microfilm or located anywhere outside of the PRO.
If anyone knows the location of other rolls for the unit prior to the command of SIMCOE, please contact us with the details!
After Germantown the unit passed to the famous John Graves SIMCOE. SIMCOE was not a Loyalist, but like his two immediate predecessors, a regular British officer, being a captain in the 40th Regiment.
It is at this time that rolls regularly exist for the Rangers. Starting in November of 1777 at Philadelphia and continuing on through their continuance in the Provincial Establishment in early 1783, the rolls are lodged in the National Archives of Canada.
They are a part of the RG 8, “C” Series, divided into the following volumes: from 1777-1778, Volume 1861; for 1779, Volume 1862; for 1780, Volume 1863; for 1781, Volume 1864 and for 1782-1783, Volumes 1865 & 1866.
On 25 December 1782 the regiment was made a regular regiment in the British Army, whereby their rolls were kept by the British. Only one muster exists while they were on the British Establishment, taken near Newtown, Long Island on 2 September 1783, just prior to embarking for the River Saint John.
This muster is located in England at the Public Record Office in War Office, Class 12, Volume 11035. It may also be on microfilm at the National Archives of Canada.
There are a handful of scattered rolls for the unit, in such places as the Archives of Ontario and the New Brunswick Museum.
Keep in mind that many smaller corps found their way into the Rangers during the course of the war. You may wish to consult our list of drafted regiments to identify them and perhaps search those units’ histories.
The muster presented below marks a period in the unit's history when it was enlisting numbers of rebel deserters. It is also the time when the unit was first issued its distinctive uniforms for the first time.
To read more about the history of this unit, please see our Regimental History of the Queen's Rangers.
Captain Stair Agnew's Company, 24 December 1779 to 23 February 1780
Click here for ---> Rolls for Other Regiments
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies