Associated Loyalists

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Associated Loyalists

ASSOCIATED LOYALISTS. The term "associated" or "association" was used by various Loyalist military organizations active during the war. During the siege of Boston, Timothy Ruggles, a major political figure in colonial Massachusetts and a veteran senior commander of Massachusetts' troops during the French and Indian War, called the several armed companies of Loyalist refugees he organized to help maintain order in the town the Loyal American Association. During the British occupation of Rhode Island, Colonel Edward Winslow Jr. formed the Loyal Associated Refugees to avenge losses and indignities suffered at the hands of the Patriots. The Refugees made several raids to Long Island and Nantucket, capturing vessels, cattle, and people, and they even tried to acquire the Oliver Cromwell, a Connecticut state navy ship captured by the Royal Navy, to promote their activities.

A better-known organization grew out of a meeting held in London on 29 May 1780, with Sir William Pepperrell as chairman and Joseph Galloway on the committee to draw up an address to the king. William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, became the head of this organization in New York City, whose purpose, apart from revenge and plunder, was to give the Loyalists some sort of legitimate status in dealing with the British and American governments. On 30 June, Major General William Tryon, the commander of Provincial forces in America, supported the idea of tapping the military potential of Loyalists "who for various reasons will not enlist themselves soldiers,… many of whom are nevertheless willing to take up arms and contribute their aid for the suppression of the rebellion" (Van Doren, p. 236). In November 1780, Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander in chief in North America, authorized the Associated Loyalists to make war under their own officers, but he was unenthusiastic about the value of the group's activities and withheld some of the powers requested by its board. When Lord Cornwallis surrendered his army at Yorktown (19 October 1781), the Board of Associated Loyalists informed Clinton in great alarm that it considered that Loyalists had been "abandoned to the power of an inveterate, implacable enemy" (Clinton's words) by the tenth article of the capitulation, in which the Americans refused to promise that the Loyalist prisoners at Yorktown would not be punished for joining the British. Clinton was unable to give the board any satisfaction on this particular matter, but its influence was sufficiently strong for him to feel obliged to direct that British commanders in the future would "pay the same attention … to the interests and security of the loyalists within their respective districts that they did to those of the King's troops" (Clinton, p. 353). The involvement of the Associated Loyalists in the retaliatory murder of New Jersey militia captain Joshua Huddy (12 April 1782) led Clinton to deprive the group of all its powers, and in August 1782 Franklin left for England.

SEE ALSO Franklin, William; Huddy-Asgill Affair; Tryon, William.


Clinton, Sir Henry. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton's Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782. Edited by William B. Willcox. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1954.

Cole, Nan, and Todd Braisted. "The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies." Available online at

Van Doren, Carl. The Secret History of the American Revolution. New York: Viking Press, 1941.

                             revised by Harold E. Selesky

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Associated Loyalists

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Associated Loyalists