Benjamin Willson UE, Loyalist

Gilman Willson (1771-1836) was the son of Benjamin Willson UE (bef 1740- bef Jan 1809) and Sarah Willson (bef 1764 - ).

Gilman Willson's family Bible states that Gilman was born in 17711. Proof that Benjamin was Gillman's father is provided by 3 documents as follows.

First, on 1 Feb 1810, Gilman traveled to York (present day Toronto) to petition for an additional land grant by virtue of his father's being on the U.E. list. An affidavit that accompanied the petition states that Gilman was the brother of C. Willson, M.P.2

The original documents3 from the 1810 petition are dated 1 Feb 1810. The petition reads:

"In Council The Petition of Gilman Willson of the Township of Ber- tie in the District of Niagara. Gentlemen Humbly Herewith That your Petitioner has resided in this Province Twenty Years and has drawn Two hun- dred Acres of the waste Lands of the Crown by virtue of his Father's name being on the U.E. List."

Gilman Willson was granted the additional 200 acres he petitioned for on 6 Feb 1810 after paying Patent and Surveying Fees.4

The cover of the record and shows the progress of the petition from the Lieutenant Governor's office, to the Council, to approval. There is no indication of the location of the 200-acre land grant.

The petition is accompanied by affidavits of residence and character. The second affidavit states that Gilman is "Brother to C Wilson M.P." Both affidavits state that Gilman had been a resident of the Province for 20 years and was a Captain in the Lincoln militia.5

Thus the 1810 petition did not name Benjamin Willson but did state that Gilman's father was on the U.E. List, and Benjamin Willson was the only Willson on the list from Bertie. The petition does state that Gilman was the brother of Crowell Willson M.P. To complete the proof that Gilman was the son of Benjamin Willson U.E., we cite two documents that establish that Gilman's brother, Crowell Willson, was the son of Benjamin Willson U.E.:

1) Willson6 cites a deed from 4 Jun 1806 in which lot 23 of concession 10 of Bertie was deeded by:

"Benjamin Willson of Bertie … for love, affection and goodwill which I have and do bear towards my loving grandson Benjamin Willson (son of my oldest son, Crowell Willson Esquire)"

2) Willson7 cites a second document, a petition by Crowell Willson on 20 Jan 1809 for an additional land grant. The petition contains the following statement:

"…that he [Crowell Willson] has received three hundred acres of land from the Crown in the Township of Bertie as the son of the late Benjamin Willson, a U.E. Loyalist;"

These two documents incidentally establish that Benjamin Willson U.E. died between 4 Jun 1806 and 20 Jan 1809. His birth date can be placed before 1740, because he was presumably at least 21 on 4 Feb 1760 when he inventoried the estate of Joseph Willson of Wantage, New Jersey8.

Land Grants to Benjamin Willson U.E.

Willson cites three separate land grants to Benjamin Willson totaling 1200 acres9, an unusual quantity for Loyalist grants:

  • 200 acres in Bertie on 3 May 1791;
  • 350 acres in Wainfleet on 8 Oct 1796; and
  • 650 acres in Blenheim on 15 May 1797.

Records of the third grant of 650 acres survive in Canadian Public Archives. The documents state 10:

  • "The Petition of Benjmn. Willson"; "…came into this Province in the year 1787"; "…two hundred for himself and 350 acres family lands…"; "…so as to make 1200 acres…";
  • "Benjmn. Willson"; "Ordered 650 acres to complete 1200 acres."; "15th May 1797";
  • Affidavit attesting to good character; "…settled in the Township of Bertie Ten Years,"

Proof that Benjamin Willson was a New Jersey Loyalist

Benjamin Willson is listed as an American Loyalist11 as follows:

"Willson, Benjamin of Bertie", and his son, "Capt. Gilman Willson of Dunwich"

Gilman Wilson's 1810 land petition corroborates his father's status with the following statement12:

"…by virtue of his [Gilman's] father's name being on the U. E. List."

Willson states that there are many records showing that Benjamin Willson was a resident of Wantage, New Jersey13. He cites two documents that establish that Benjamin Willson was a Loyalist in New Jersey during the American Revolution:

  • The first was an order by the Council of Safety of New Jersey in March 1777 that Benjamin Willson and others be returned to New Jersey from prison in Fredericksburg, Maryland. They had been imprisoned for boarding a British ship14.
  • The second document records the case of the State of New Jersey v. Benjamin Willson in May term 1778, when the Council of Safety was indicting Loyalists15.


1) Willson, Thomas B. Descendants in Canada and the United States of Benjamin and Sarah Willson, New Jersey Loyalists of Ft. Erie, Ont. Madison, N.J.: St. Thomas Public Library, 1967, pp. 12-14

2) Ibid., p. 12

3) Gilman Willson land petition, 1 Feb 1810. Upper Canada Land Petitions "W" Bundle 9, 1808-1811. (RG1, L3, Vol. 525(a)), Public Archives, Canada

4) Ibid.

5) Ibid.

6) Willson, op. cit., p. 5

7) Ibid., p. 7

8) Ibid., p. 3

9) Ibid., p. 5

10) Benjamin Willson land petition, 15 May 1797. Upper Canada Land Petitions "W" Bundle 3, 1797. (RG1, L3, Vol. 523)

11) Reid, William D. The Sons and Daughters of the American Loyalists of Upper Canada. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1973, p. 340

12) Gilman Willson land petition 1 Feb 1810, op. cit.

13) Willson, op. cit., p. 2

14) Ibid., p. 2

15) Ibid., p. 2