Skip to main content
Select Source:

Loyalists

Loyalists

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Loyalism is a form of group identity based on the idea of fealty to the political status quo. The status quo is typically an imperial order like the Spanish or British empires or the French ancien régime. Sometimes, as in the Spanish case, the term royalist is used, while at other times counterrevolutionary may be applied. What is significant from the point of view of nationalism and ethnic studies is that in some cases entire ethnic groups may define themselves through their loyalty to a monarch. In colonial situations, numerous ethnic groups like the Ambonese in Indonesia or Karen of Burma favored retention of the colonial tie and were loyal in this way. However, these groups did not rely on loyalty to the empire as a prop of identity. In historical terms, use of the word loyalist has therefore principally focused on those British peoples who defined themselves through their loyalty to the British Empire in North America and Ireland.

In the American colonies in the mid-eighteenth century, there was no movement for independence. The settlers, 98 percent of them Protestant and 80 percent deriving from the British Isles, were content to remain in the empire. They defined themselves as English-speaking Protestants who had won a victory for Britain in the Seven Years War (17561763) against the Catholic French and their Indian allies in North America. The sphere of battle covered present-day Canada (Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia) as well as the United States (New York, Pennsylvania) in one undifferentiated whole. George Washington (17321799) played an important role on the British side.

Prior to about 1774, the identity of the American loyalists could well be described as dualistic. On the one hand, they saw themselves as Americans with a distinct geographical and cultural particularity. On the other hand, they identified with the British flag, language, and (Protestant) religion against the Spanish and French, as well as the British Empire and its mission (Colley 1992). Independence altered this calculus for roughly two-thirds of the colonists, but one-third remained loyal to the British Crown. Persecutionextending to tarring and feathering and land seizuresled most to downplay their allegiance or flee. Approximately 19,000 loyalists fled to present-day Canada, forming the United Empire Loyalists. These loyalists were the first major British Protestant settlers in Canada and largely laid down the dialect, ideology, and institutions of English-speaking Canada. In 1812 key loyalists like Sir Isaac Brock (17691812) and the Mohawk leader Joseph Brants son John Brant played a role in rebuffing the American invasion of Canada. This became part of the mythology of the United Empire Loyalists, which was celebrated a century later by British Canadians, most of whom were not descendants of the American loyalists, but of subsequent waves of American economic migrants and British immigrants (Kaufmann 1997).

At the time of Canadian confederation in 1867, roughly half the English-speaking population of Canada was of Scottish or Irish-Protestant extraction. The large-scale movement of Irish-Protestant settlers to Canada brought the other major loyalist ethnic group together with its Canadian soul mate. Protestants in Ireland were mainly the descendants of English and Scottish settlers from the early 1600s. The Anglo-Irish elite derived from a longstanding high-church Anglican population whose cultural life was centered upon Dublin. However, the bulk of the Protestant population was planted by the British Crown from Elizabethan times (post1600), mainly in the nine northern counties comprising Ulster.

Irish loyalism was initially divided because Presbyterians and other dissenting sects experienced discrimination (such as the nonrecognition of marriages) from the Anglican authorities. Fired by Whig ideas, Presbyterians were in the forefront of both the American Revolution (17751783) and the uprising of the United Irishmen in Ireland in 1798. Both movements sought independence from Britain and were inspired by liberalism rather than anti-Catholicism. However, popular conflict at the everyday level between Protestants and Catholics was a reality upon which political entrepreneurs could draw. After all, there was a history of sectarian strife and bloodshed, especially around the English Civil War in the 1640s. As the United Irishmen began to seek support from the Catholic Defender movement, with its Catholic-rights agenda, a countermovement sprang up among the Protestants. This movement coalesced into the Loyal Orange Order, formed in 1795 near Portadown in County Armagh after a series of local sectarian skirmishes. Based on the structures of freemasonry, Orangeism rapidly spread throughout Ireland, where it espoused an ideology of loyalty to Protestantism and to the Crown, which served as the political defender of Protestantism in the British Empire (Haddick-Flynn 1999).

Orangeism was soon exported to Scotland and England (by 1810) and Canada (by 1820) with returning British soldiers and through Irish-Protestant emigration. In Canada, it was so successful that it surpassed the Irish organization in numbers soon after 1900. The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of a full-blown Britannic nationalism, an expression of pride in British ethnic origins and political achievements that spanned Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australasia, and South Africa (Cole 1970). This imperial sentiment colored loyalism in Canada and Ireland. But it never displaced the metropole-settler dualism that is the hallmark of loyalist identity.

The decline of the British Empire drove home the local (or settler) side of loyalist identity for Canadians (as well as Australians, Scots, and Newfoundlanders), leading to new expressions of local nationalism in these places. In Canada, loyalism died hard, as witnessed in the 1965 debate over whether to retain the Union Jack or adopt a new maple leaf flag (Buckner 2004). In Ireland, the home rule crisis of 1884 to 1886 proved the last time that the Irish Protestants could count on Unionist support from mainland Britain. After the second home rule crisis of 1912 to 1914, Irish Protestants began to militarily organize and mentally prepare themselves to go it alone in the six Protestant-majority counties in the northeast of Ulster. The Northern Ireland Act of 1922 recognized the Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland state, restoring the British loyalty of the Ulster-Protestants. However, this loyalism was tested again in the 1960s when agitation by the 35-percent Catholic minority led the British government to press loyalists to reform their system of local government and housing, and share power with Catholics. When such reforms were not forthcoming, the British stepped in to directly rule the province, but by then the Irish Republican Army (IRA) military and terror campaign was in full swing. Twenty-five years of bombing and violence ensued, as the British army and its loyalist auxiliaries (local police and defense regiments) tried to subdue the IRA.

With the IRA ceasefires in 1995 and 1997, and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, some saw a new dawn for Northern Ireland. Catholics made gains toward economic and political parity with Protestants, but power sharing, premised on the inclusion of Sinn Fein/IRA in government, proved a nonstarter for most Protestants. By 2007, decommissioning of IRA weapons remained the main obstacle to peace, but changes within loyalism were also important. Loyalists have increasingly turned inward, shifting from being loyal to rebel Unionists (Kaufmann 2007). Skeptical of Britain for selling us out, they have begun to celebrate their Scottish roots, their Ulster-Scots dialect, and their role in anti-British episodes like the American Revolution and even the United Irish uprising. Though most identify as British, this label does not connote civic attachments to the British state, but rather an ethnic attachment to the Ulster-Protestants and their six-county homeland of Ulster.

SEE ALSO American Revolution; Colonialism

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Buckner, Phillip, ed. 2004. Canada and the End of Empire. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Cole, Douglas. 1970. Canadas Nationalistic Imperialists. Journal of Canadian Studies 5 (3): 4370.

Colley, Linda. 1992. Britons: Forging the Nation, 17071837. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Haddick-Flynn, Kevin. 1999. Orangeism: The Making of a Tradition. Dublin: Wolfhound.

Kaufmann, Eric. 1997. Condemned to Rootlessness: The Loyalist Origins of Canadas Identity Crisis. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 3 (1): 110135.

Kaufmann, Eric P. 2007. The Orange Order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Eric P. Kaufmann

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Loyalists." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Loyalists." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/loyalists

"Loyalists." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/loyalists

Loyalists

LOYALISTS

LOYALISTS were colonials who took the British side during the American Revolution. "Tories" often is used as a synonym but refers in the eighteenth-century context to believers in an unrestrained monarchy. Most Loyalists believed in Parliament's supremacy over the Crown and the colonies alike. Revolutionaries used "the disaffected" to describe not only active opponents but also people who tried to stay out of the conflict, including religious objectors like Quakers.

Estimates of the number of Loyalists have varied widely. John Adams supposedly said that one-third of colonials favored the Revolution, one-third opposed, and one-third stayed neutral, but that no longer commands credence. The historian Robert R. Palmer demonstrated that roughly sixty thousand people emigrated rather than accept the Revolution's triumph, a larger proportion of the actual population than emigrated from revolutionary France.

But many who opposed the Revolution did not leave, and some eventually rose to prominence in the young Republic. Moreover neither the supposed Adams estimate nor Palmer's figure takes into account the numerous enslaved blacks who chose the British side to win the British guarantee of freedom. Nor do the numbers include Indians who saw Britain as their only ally against land-hungry white colonials. For their own part British officials believed the vast majority of colonials would prove loyal if only the revolutionary leadership could be overthrown.

Without a general head count all arguments about absolute numbers are moot. A better approach is to understand that once independence was declared people might experience either conversion or persecution, in either direction, but no compromise or hope that the next election would change the state of affairs existed. The Revolution was not an era of normal politics. In principle the choice of king or Congress was absolute.

In practice Loyalists' strength depended not so much on numbers as on political and military situations. As the American movement moved from resistance to Revolution, Loyalists at the top of the old political and social structure could slow it down. These included native-born royal governors, such as Benjamin Franklin's son William Franklin in New Jersey or Thomas Hutchinson in Massachusetts; royal councilors and high judges in most provinces; Anglo-American politicians, like the Mohawk baronet Sir William Johnson and his son Sir John; and some political groups, such as the De Lancey party in New York. They also included individuals who had helped begin the movement, such as the lawyer Daniel Dulany of Maryland, the lawyer William Smith Jr. of New York, and the merchant Isaac Low of New York. But during the independence crisis they all were driven from the political arena. Their patriot compeers and the nucleus of a new elite displaced them.

At the popular level few white Loyalists lived in New England or Virginia. In New York, however, Staten Islanders and Long Islanders favored the king over Congress by an overwhelming majority. People in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys divided, leading to disruption and outright civil war. Many Loyalists lived in New Jersey, and a significant number lived on Maryland's eastern shore. They resisted the Revolution, even to the point of guerrilla warfare, but they remained clandestine unless British soldiers were nearby. Until 1780 it seemed that the Lower South was secure for the Revolution. But when the British captured Charles Town, South Carolina's governor renewed his allegiance and many backcountry people rallied to the British forces. As in the Mohawk Valley, civil war ensued.

After initial efforts to convert the "disaffected," political police, such as New York's Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, hauled suspects in, paying little regard to procedure. A few Loyalists were executed. Others were imprisoned in dismal places like Connecticut's Simsbury Mines. States confiscated Loyalists' property, and Loyalists were deprived of "the protection of the laws" and exiled with the penalty of death upon return. Victorious patriots could sue them despite the requirement in the Treaty of Paris of 1783 that the persecution end. Black Loyalists feared and often suffered reenslavement until British vessels finally bore them away. Indians who had chosen and fought on the British side were treated as conquered people whose land and liberties were forfeited unless they moved to Canada.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.

Calhoon, Robert M. The Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760– 1781. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.

Frey, Sylvia R. Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Hodges, Graham Russell. The Black Loyalist Directory. New York: Garland, 1996.

Hoffman, Ronald, Thad W. Tate, and Peter J. Albert, eds. An Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry during the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985.

Kelsay, Isabel Thompson. Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1984.

Norton, Mary Beth. The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774–1789. Boston: Little, Brown, 1972.

EdwardCountryman

See alsoConfiscation Acts ; Indians in the Revolution ; Revolution, American .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Loyalists." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Loyalists." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalists

"Loyalists." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalists

Loyalists

Loyalists, in the American Revolution, colonials who adhered to the British cause. The patriots referred to them as Tories. Although Loyalists were found in all social classes and occupations, a disproportionately large number were engaged in commerce and the professions, or were officeholders under the crown. They also tended to be foreign born and of the Anglican religion. In addition, thousands of free blacks were among the Loyalists. As a whole, their motives for remaining loyal were complex and embraced both ideological and material reasons. In 1774–75, when most colonials hoped for reconciliation with the British government, the line between Loyalist and non-Loyalist was not very sharp; many Loyalists voiced opposition to the acts of Parliament. But the Declaration of Independence created a sharp dividing line between supporters and opponents of independence.

Figures on public opinion in the Revolution are obviously mere guesswork, but John Adams estimated that one third of the colonials were Loyalists; probably another third were neutral, apathetic, or opportunistic. The Loyalists were strongest in the far southern colonies—Georgia and the Carolinas—and in the Middle Atlantic colonies, especially New York and Pennsylvania. In those places particularly the fighting became bitter civil war with raids and reprisals. The Revolutionaries deeply hated the leaders of the Loyalist armed bands, such as Thomas Browne, Edmund Fanning, and John Butler.

Even before warfare began many Loyalists were seeking refuge in British-held lands. Feeling against them, in addition to natural cupidity, led the patriots to enact harsh penal laws against the Loyalists and to confiscate many of their estates. The matter of restoring these properties to their owners was discussed in negotiations for the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the treaty provided that Congress should urge the states to make restitution, but little was done, and there were stray lawsuits concerning particular properties for many years. A great many of the dispossessed Loyalists settled in the Maritime provs. of Canada, in the Bahamas, in other parts of the West Indies, and in England.

See W. H. Nelson, The American Tory (1961, repr. 1964); W. Brown, The Good Americans: Loyalists in the American Revolution (1969); G. N. D. Evans, ed., Allegiance in America: The Case of the Loyalists (1969); M. Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (2011); studies of Loyalism in individual provinces by A. C. Flick (1901, repr. 1970; New York), O. G. Hammond (1917; New Hampshire), I. S. Harrell (1926, repr. 1965; Virginia), E. A. Jones (1927, New Jersey; 1930, Massachusetts), R. O. Demond (1940, repr. 1964; North Carolina), and H. B. Hancock (1940; Delaware).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Loyalists." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Loyalists." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/loyalists

"Loyalists." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/loyalists

loyalist

loy·al·ist / ˈloiəlist/ • n. a person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, esp. in the face of a revolt. ∎  (Loyalist) a colonist of the American revolutionary period who supported the British cause. ∎  (Loyalist) a supporter of union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ∎  (Loyalist) a supporter of the republic and opposer of Franco's revolt in the Spanish Civil War. DERIVATIVES: loy·al·ism / -ˌlizəm/ n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"loyalist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"loyalist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist-1

"loyalist." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist-1

Loyalist

Loyalist In Northern Ireland, a person who wishes the province to remain part of the United Kingdom. In contrast, a Republican is one who wishes Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic of Ireland. In US history, Loyalists were those North American colonists who refused to renounce their allegiance to the British monarchy after the Declaration of Independence (July 1776).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Loyalist." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Loyalist." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/loyalist

"Loyalist." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/loyalist

Loyalist

Loyalist a colonist of the American revolutionary period who supported the British cause.

The name Loyalist is also given in Northern Ireland to a supporter of the union with Great Britain.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Loyalist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Loyalist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist

"Loyalist." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist

loyalist

loyalistbacklist, blacklist •handlist • cabbalist • cellist • checklist •playlist • wish-list •cartophilist, necrophilist, oenophilist (US enophilist) •nihilist • pugilist • homilist •bicyclist, tricyclist •stylist • cyclist • unicyclist •motorcyclist • hairstylist • shortlist •Gaullist, holist •spiritualist • fabulist •funambulist, noctambulist, somnambulist •oculist • populist •idealist, realist, surrealist •millennialist •ceremonialist, colonialist, neocolonialist •aerialist •editorialist, memorialist •industrialist •immaterialist, imperialist, materialist, serialist •trialist, violist •loyalist, royalist •dualist, duellist (US duelist) •intellectualist • conceptualist •textualist • mutualist • individualist •sensualist • contextualist •diabolist, kabbalist •cymbalist, symbolist •tribalist •herbalist, verbalist •medallist (US medalist) •feudalist • triumphalist • legalist •evangelist, televangelist •syndicalist • clericalist • physicalist •vocalist • animalist • maximalist •formalist • minimalist •analyst, annalist, cryptanalyst, panellist (US panelist), psychoanalyst •nominalist, phenomenalist •finalist, semi-finalist •communalist • regionalist •internationalist, nationalist, rationalist •sectionalist • conventionalist •Congregationalist, conversationalist, educationalist, representationalist, sensationalist •traditionalist • emotionalist •constitutionalist • functionalist •journalist, paternalist, photojournalist •papalist •monopolist, oligopolist •centralist •amoralist, moralist •oralist • neutralist •muralist, pluralist, ruralist •liberalist • naturalist • structuralist •agriculturalist, horticulturalist, multiculturalist •federalist • generalist •multilateralist, unilateralist •literalist • universalist •substantialist • specialist •consequentialist, essentialist, existentialist •racialist • provincialist • socialist •controversialist •catalyst, philatelist •documentalist, environmentalist, experimentalist, fundamentalist, instrumentalist, mentalist, orientalist, ornamentalist, sentimentalist, transcendentalist •fatalist • capitalist •recitalist, vitalist •Pentecostalist • anecdotalist •brutalist • medievalist •revivalist, survivalist •novelist

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"loyalist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"loyalist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist-0

"loyalist." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/loyalist-0