Was my ancestor, Charles Tripp, a “Late Loyalist”, one of those Americans who settled in Upper Canada after the main influx of Loyalists stopped in 1786? I searched the records to see if I could find any evidence to prove or disprove this. That is when I found Charles’ pension records on Ancesty.com. Somehow, I don’t think that a man who fought in the American Revolution on the American side could be labelled a “Late Loyalist.”
The pension records were a gold mine. In his application, Charles not only stated where and when he had fought in the revolution, but where he had lived after the war. He outlined the places he moved to in New York State and, then, when he moved to Upper Canada. But his statement said that he settled in Percy in 1800. It looks like he must have put up the required building to qualify as a settler in 1797 but didn’t move his family there until later.
The gap between the birth of his third child in New York State in 1795 and the first one born in Percy, New Castle District in 1800, seems to confirm some distance between Charles and his wife, Jane, for a period of time as they had ten more children after they moved to Upper Canada. With nine boys to start in life, it made sense to move to an area where land was easier to obtain. Land grants in Upper Canada were set up with terms to entice settlers, in New York State much of the land was tied up by a few land companies.
From a land point of view, moving across the border made sense. I could understand why many Americans chose to move north to take up lands in British North America. What I had a hard time grasping was that at least one of those Americans who followed in the footsteps of the United Empire Loyalists, had fought for American independence.
1818 Map by Robert Pilkington, Royal Engineer*
Craig, Gerald M. Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784-1841. Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario, 2013
Hall, Roger and Gordon Dodds, Ontario: 200 Years in Pictures: A Celebration of Ontario, 1791-1991. Dundurn Press Limited, Toronto, 1991