The Loyalists were an important part of the American Revolution. While estimates vary, there were many Americans who chose to remain loyal to King George III and Great Britain. Many of these people were armed by the British and fought against the Rebels along side British and Hessian soldiers. Loyalist played crucial roles in scouting Rebel postions, guiding British forces through uncertain terrain and raiding Rebel strongpoints and supply depots.
The were not natural concentrations of Loyalists. However, after the British captured New York City, Charleston and Savannah, loyalists flocked to these cities. At the War’s end, most Loyalist left with the British. Many resettled in Canada, the Bahamas, West Indies and Britain. Generally, most Loyalists were worse off after the Revolution and never regained pre-war wealth and/or social standing.
Sometimes overloooked, many of the Loyalists were African Americans. Many ex-slaves came over the British lines seeking their liberty. The British transported many of these Loyalists to Canada and other locations. Considerable modern research has been conducted to highlight the contributions of the African Americans to the British and Rebel war efforts.
In addition, many Native Americans also regarded themselves as Loyalists and fought against the Rebels. One of the most successful Native American leaders was Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) who led both American and British forces in contesting control of western New York. After the Revolution, Brant moved with his followers to southern Ontario onto lands granted to them by the British government. Today’s Brantford, Ontario is named after him.
Primary Sources including Diaries and Memoirs
Boucher, Jonathan, ed. Reminiscences of an American Loyalist. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925.
James Moody, Narrative of the Exertions and Sufferings of Lieut. James Moody, in the Cause of Government since the Year 1776, Written by Himself . New York: Charles Bushnell, 1865.
Operating in New Jersey, James Moody is one of the most celebrated Loyalist military officer, scout, and spy. He penned a captivating diary. For an overview of his life see CONTINGENCIES, CAPTURE, AND SPECTACULAR GETAWAY: THE IMPRISONMENT AND ESCAPE OF JAMES MOODY by Kevin A. Conn.
Allen, Thomas B. Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War. New York: Harper-Collins, 2010.
Brown, Wallace. The Good Americans: The Loyalists in the American Revolution. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1969.
Callahan, North. Royal Raiders: The Tories of the American Revolution. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1963.
Cruikshank, E. A, and Gavin K Watt. The King’s Royal Regiment of New York. Toronto: G.K. Watt, 1984.
Gara, Donald J. The Queen’s American Rangers, 2015.
Jasanoff, Maya. Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World. 1st ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
Jones, Brad A. Resisting Independence: Popular Loyalism in the Revolutionary British Atlantic. Ithaca, [New York]: Cornell University Press, 2021.
New, M. Christopher. Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution. Centreville, Md: Tidewater Publishers, 1996.
Ranlet, Philip. The New York Loyalists. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Pr, 1986.
“The Queen’s American Rangers – Journal of the American Revolution.” Accessed July 30, 2016. https://allthingsliberty.com/2015/09/the-queens-american-rangers/.
Stone, William L. The Life of Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) Including the Border Wars of the American Revolution and Sketches of the Indian Campaign of Generals Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne and Other Matters Connected with the Indian Relations of the United States and Great Britain from the Peace of 1783 to the Indian Peace of 1795. 2 vols. Albany: J. Munsell, 1865.
Van Tyne, Claude Halstead. The Loyalists in the American Revolution. Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2007.
University of New Brunswick Libraries