Last Heritage Paper began the history of land grants in the Township of East Flamborough. Once surveying was completed, the Government began to distribute land very quickly in an effort to solve the problem of Loyalist families dependent upon their support, and as payment for services during the American Revolutionary War. This Heritage Paper outlines some of the problems that resulted and lists the early grants of land in the township.
Settlers who wished to apply for land appeared before the Land Board at Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), and if they qualified, the British Government of Crown granted them lots and assured them of freehold ownership by giving them a Patent — hence the term “Crown Patent”, the owners becoming known as Crown Patentees.
In East Flamborough, as in several of the surrounding townships, many of the first Crown Patentees were government officials and military officers with their wives, and even children in some cases. From information in the Registry Office in Hamilton, it appears that all of them, with the exception of two of three, were absentee owners, settling elsewhere, and using their property in East Flamborough as a source of cash.
Some very large grants of land were awarded to the McDonnell/MacDonnell family according to the earliest known map of the Township, signed at the Nassau Land Board on 25th October, 1791 by Samuel Holland and Augustus Jones. Blocks of land, totalling over three thousand acres in the first five concessions were received by members of this family. Much of this grant to Lt. Alexander McDonnell was in Concession 3, along Dundas Street or the Governor’s Road. It was almost certainly awarded to this ex-soldier who had fought for the British in the American Revolutionary War based on Governor Simcoe’s decision that only trained ex-soldiers, who could be quickly mustered in case of invasion to protect this vital road, could receive such land. Most of the land grants were much smaller, and not distributed in such an organised or thoughtful way, with the settlers often drawing for lots and obtaining land that was almost useless. In many instances the awarding of land was a haphazard affair, as in the case of Thomas Miller, a Private in Butler’s Rangers who was awarded Lot 2, Concession 7 East Flamborough, but who also received land in Beverly and West Flamborough.
Following is a list of the Crown Patentees who were awarded land in East Flamborough during the first ten years of its existence, and registered their Patent at Newark by 1800.
Land Book, East Flamborough Township – Registry Office, Hamilton“Census of Niagara 1783” – U.E.L. Association of Canada, Hamilton Branch, 1978“Wentworth Bygones” – The Paper and Records of the Head of the Lake Historical Society, Volume No. 9. Walsh Printing Service, Hamilton, 1971.
Originally published in Heritage Happenings, March 1984.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1984, 2021