From 1776, the British Treasury granted relief in the form of allowances to impoverished American Loyalists of the American Revolution who had sought refuge in Great Britain. In 1782, Treasury assigned its duties to the Loyalist Relief Commission, then in 1783, Treasury assigned its duties to the Loyalist Claims Commission. Commissioners received claims of losses of property and incomes, as well as requests by impoverished Loyalists for relief in the form of an allowance. In England initially; but from 1785-90 the Commissioners travelled to the North American colonies where they received Loyalists' claims and heard evidence in support of these claims.
To compensate Loyalists from Eastern Florida, Britain appointed the Florida Claims Commission in 1776; one book of evidence is included with Audit Office 12. Britain also added the responsibilities to the Loyalist Claims Commission to deal with merchants who had lost the opportunity to recoup debt money due from the Cherokee and Creek natives as a result of the sale of their lands in Georgia. This money from the sale of lands was to go towards their debts to the merchants.
Audit Office 12 contains the first series (Series I) of papers relating to claims for relief, compensation, or other payments submitted by persons who had suffered losses in the American Revolution because of their loyalty to the British crown. These involve American Loyalists but also include claims by merchants for debts due them because of an agreement between the crown and the Cherokee and Creek natives in Georgia. Examples of the types of documents and content include: evidence books, decision books, examinations and reports of the army and navy concerning losses sustained through providing supplies; reports pertaining to each of the colonies; minute books and reports of the commissioners; correspondence; letter book of commissioner John Pugh; collection of intelligence used for reference of the commissioners; ledger listing debts owed Loyalists; and cases not prosecuted. The material contains much information about the politics of the revolution, the conduct of the war, and the experiences of individual Loyalists. Topics for research not already mentioned include women and family, war, emigration, finances, military, property, law and justice, and black history.
Arrangement and Content Details:
Volumes 1-56, "Evidence," are entry books which contain the evidence of witnesses at each hearing with a copy of the claimants' memorial and schedule of losses. The volumes are arranged alphabetically by state and within the volumes by the dates of the hearings. Each volume contains an index to the claims in that volume.
Volumes 57-70 "Decisions," are books which give a short summary of the Commissioners' findings on each claim. Each volume contains an index. Again the arrangement is by colony and by date.
Volumes 71-77, "Examinations and Reports generated by the Army and Navy Claims Commission. These concern the losses sustained through providing supplies to the British Army and Navy during the war. There is an index at the beginning of the volumes; volume 77 is an index to the section.
Volumes 78-92, Reports on property and claims for Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and North and South Carolina.
Volumes 93-146, "Various," contains a heterogeneous mix of documents which includes material relating to the previous volumes. There are indexes for many of the volumes; it is organised as follows:
- Acts, ordinances and resolves of the General Assembly of South Carolina (1785-87)
- General Reports - Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Delaware (1786-88)
- Minute Books (1785-90)
- Exams and Decisions on fresh claims and old claims (1782-90)
- Intelligence (1783-5)
- Debts owed Loyalists (1788-90)
- *Index to American Claims (vol. 109), alphabetical, (1789-90)
- Evidence Books (1783)
- Claims withdrawn (1784-88)
- Letters from Anstey (1786-7)
- List of papers transmitted by Ansley, chronological (1786-88)
- Claimants demands (1790)
- New York persons indicted and judged (1786)
- Minute Books (1783)
- Notices issued by the Commissioners in Halifax, Saint John, Quebec, and Montreal (1785-88)
- Register of claims examined, referred by Treasury and by the Loyalist Claims Commission to the Army and Navy Claims Commission (1789-90)
- Book of New Claims (1785-6)
- Minutes of New Claims (1785-6)
- General Index to Evidence Books, arranged by surname
- Accounts of Ansley's Expenses (1786-8)
- Copies of Laws and other legal documents: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia
- Preliminary Examinations on new claims (1785-8)
- Letter book of John Pugh (1815-31)
- Letter book concerning Army and Navy Claims Commission (1788-90)
- Index to books of exams and decisions, old and new claims
- General correspondence (1785-90)
- Cases not prosecuted (Nov. 1785)
- Report of the Loyalist Claims Commission of North America (1786-89)
- Note book of Samuel Greatrex while he was wagon master at Charleston and planter on James Island in South Carolina (1781-83)
- Accounts of losses (1784)
- Part of evidence of William Eddis (1776-87)
- Copies of miscellaneous reports (1786-90)
- Stedmans Reports (1785-86) concerning claims against army and navy due to the war
Volume 109 is of particular significance as it contains the reports and statements of the Commissioners. The register in the centre of this volume is thought to contain the names of all claimants. Though all books extant have been microfilmed, researchers should be aware that fourteen books are known to be missing from the Public Record Office collection. The room in Somerset House, in which the Commissioners had deposited their records, was broken into and many books and papers were carried off. Note: Does not include the records of the Loyalist Claims Commission in its role as examiner of claims for temporary support.
Microfilm shelf list providing the reel numbers for each volume is available in The Loyalist Collection red binders and online; see Electronic Finding Aid section.
Guide to the contents, broken down by volume:
Name indices available in each of these books, each providing a reference to locate the originals on film:
Interpreting the references in the books in order to locate the original:
- There are two series, Series I and Series II from Audit Office - Series 12 and 13; references will read AO12 or AO 13
- References will indicate the volume and page number - AO 12/100/190; interepreted as Series 12, volume 100, page 190
- Use the Microfilm Shelf List (found in the Electronic Finding Aid field) to find the appropriate microfilm reel no. for that volume. Just make sure you are in the right Series! There are two collections (that sit next to each other on the shelf) with two different call numbers for Series I (AO 12) and Series II (AO 13); the latter is at call number FC LPR .G7A9C5L7.
**Note: None of the Indices are complete; Antliff indicates at the back of his guide which volumes were omitted from each book.
**Researchers should consult the companion series, Great Britain. AO 13. Claims, American Loyalists: Series II, which is available in the Loyalist Collection and shelved at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7A9C5L7.
Researchers are advised to consult the following primary sources for related material:
- Great Britain. AO 1. Declared Accounts. The accounts of the payment of pensions, etc. Selected volumes of this Series are shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7A9D4L6
- Great Britain. AO 3. Commissariat. Accounts, Various: Compensation to American Loyalists and other Refugees, AO 3/276. One volume of this series is shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7A9C6L
- Great Britain. T 50. Miscellanea. Documents Relating to Refugees. Shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7T7M5L6
- Great Britain. T 79, vols. 70 and 71, American Loyalist Claims. Shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7T7C5L6
- Great Britain. FO 4. Correspondence: United States of America: Series I. Shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7F6C6U9
- Coke, Daniel Parker. Original Notes 1783-1785. Shelved in the Loyalist Collection at MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .C6N6
- Archives of Ontario. United Empire Loyalists: Enquiry into the Losses and Services in Consequence of their Loyalty: Evidence of Canadian Loyalist Claims. MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .G7A7L6. Shelved with the Loyalist Collection Finding Aids
- Antliff, W. Bruce. Loyalist Settlements, 1783-1789 : New Evidence of Canadian Loyalist claims. Toronto: Archives of Ontario, 1985. MIC-Loyalist FC LFR .A5B7L6. Shelved with the Loyalist Collection Finding Aids and containing a nominal index