The Exodus of the Loyalists from America

Jeannette Holland Austin
4 min readMay 27

Where did the Loyalists in the Northern Colonists Go?

Even before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, tens of thousands of the Loyalists shook the dust off their feet, never to return. Those who sailed for England were Royal officials, wealthy merchants, landowners, professional men, and military officers. Once in England, they pressed their claims for compensation and advancement.

But there was a poorer element whose migration into the other British colonies was the cause of upheaval in hardship.

About two hundred families went to the West Indies and Newfoundland, known afterward as Upper and Lower Canada, and a vast army removed to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

The advantages of Nova Scotia as a field for immigration had been known to New England and New York people before the Revolutionary War had broken out. Shortly after the Peace with the Indians in 1763, parts of the Nova Scotian peninsula and the banks of the river St. John had been sparsely settled by colonists from the south. But it was during the Revolutionary War that the colonists from New England showed considerable sympathy with the cause of the Continental Congress. Moreover, Nova Scotia was contiguous to the New England colonies, and it was not surprising that after the Revolution, the Loyalists should have turned their eyes to Nova Scotia as a refuge for their families.

Boston: The First Migration

The first migration occurred soon after the tea was dumped into the sea and the evacuation of Boston by General Howe in March of 1776.

At that time, Boston was a town with a population of about sixteen thousand inhabitants, and of these, nearly one thousand accompanied the British Army to Halifax. The talk of the Declaration of Independence doubtless aroused much emotion and divided opinions among the colonists.

“ Neither Hell, Hull, nor Halifax, said one of them, can afford worse shelter than Boston. “

The embarkation was accomplished amid the most hopeless confusion of carts, trucks, wheelbarrows, handbarrows, coaches, and chaises in the streets.

The Loyalists assembled a fleet of every vessel on which hands could be laid. It is said that Benjamin Hallowell’s cabin without berths shared the quarters with some thirty-seven persons, viz; men, women, and…

Jeannette Holland Austin

Author of 100+ genealogy books. Owner of 8 genealogy websites available by subscription.