Niagara's Land Grants; in between the wars

Life at the beginning of the 19th century.
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Niagara's Land Grants; in between the wars

Post by pud » Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:31 pm

Source: United Empire Loyalists in the Niagara Peninsula. St. Catharines, Ontario, Brock University, 1984. Sixth Annual Niagara Peninsula History Conference. P.p. 23-25.

"Three men identified as "Heads of families" have their names annotated "Rangers", which may mean that they were not yet discharged but working on their farms by special arrangement with Butler. The farmers had cleared 236 acres of land, producing wheat, Indian corn, Oats and potatoes. Every farm had at least two horses and almost every farm had a cow, while some had hogs, steers, heifers and sheep; farmers also exchanged wheat for flour from the Kings storehouse at the Fort.

Rumors of the peace treaty, later to be known as the Peace of Paris, 1783, reached Niagara in the month of March 1783. Butler wrote to the Military Secretary of the Governor that many of his officers and men were looking to settle on the west side of the River and that he thought it might be possible to purchase additional lands from the Indians. He also reported that farmers were dissatisfied with "the uncertain tenure" on which they held their lands. The farmers, Butler wrote, would rather pay a rent and be secure in their tenure than to continue under the regulations which Haldimand had set down in 1780.

MacLean wrote to Haldimand on 1 May 1783 after receiving official notice of the end of the War, and also pointed out the uneasiness of the farmers, repeating the statement of many of the Rangers that they preferred Japan to returning to the new United States. He attached a petition from Isaac Dolson, Elijah Phelps, Thomas McMicking and Donald Bee who described themselves as "farmers residing on lands on the west side of the river". They requested leases for the land while promising to continue to sell their produce to the garrison at the Fort at a reasonable rate. Haldimand replied that he was awaiting instructions from England but that he would show the farmers "every indulgence".

About the same time Butler wrote giving a vague reference to the settlement. He insinuated that at least 80 Rangers had "made a beginning" and that four or five officers had also built but that all were on lands specifically reserved for the Crown. He also pressed for permanent ownership by the farmers, and indicated his family's intention to settle in the area with the statement that now that the War was over he could not "point out anything better that the Plough for (his) two sons".,.

During the winter of 1783/84 Butler began negotiations to purchase lands on the west side of the River from the Mississauga Indians and in March 1784 Haldimand ordered Sir John Johnson to instruct Butler to purchase "the land situated between the Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron". Haldimand had by this time received the Royal Instructions and was preparing for the distribution of land to the Loyalists and disbanded soldiers. He passed these orders to Lieutenant Colonel Arent de Peyster, Commanding Officer at Niagara, with additional orders of his own. The grants under the Royal Instructions of July 1783 are now familiar to all who study the Loyalist settlement of Ontario: to every master of a family, 100 acres; to every member of his family, 50 acres; to every single man, 50 acres; to every non-commissioned officer, 200 acres; to every private soldier, 100 acres; and to every member of their family, 50 acres."

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