Grand River Branch

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada





Selected Reprints from the

Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches

"Squatter Loyalists: The Early Settlement of Ancaster Township, Wentworth County"

Angela E.M. Files, November 1998, Vol.10 No.1, Pages 14-18



   On a sunny Sunday afternoon, July 19, 1998, local, devoted historians Harold and Betty Lampman gave an interesting discourse about the early settlement of Ancaster Township to the Grand River Branch, United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada.  Ancaster Township is located southwest of the city of Hamilton.   Today the Town of Ancaster has a population of 24,000 and an area of 67.39 square miles.


The Arrival of Land Squatters in Ancaster Township

  After the Native era ending in 1784, the genesis of inhabitation to Ancaster Township commenced with the arrival of squatter-Loyalists and other white settlers in 1789.  Their nearest communities to this area were Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Grimsby, Queenston and St. Catharines.  Brantford, Burford, Dundas, Hamilton, London and Woodstock had not yet become defined areas of settlement.

The Squatters Petition for Title to Ancaster Land

  The earliest known record of squatters' petitions was known as "The James Wilson and Associates", 1783, a list of 22 petitioners who had been encouraged by the Land Board and Acting Surveyor to settle upon these lands four years before they were surveyed and considered reserved lands for Crown Patents.

1. Aikman, John (1764 - 1841) Crown Patent Lot 39, Concession 1, Petitioner 18
2. Almost, Christopher or Almas, Christian (1752 - 1843) Lot 55 and 56, Concession 3, Lot 20/8 Barton, 42, 43/5 Ancaster Petitioner 12
3. Book, John (1754 - 1827) Lot 44/4 and 45/4 Lot 55 northern half 45/5, 700 acres, Petitioner 21
4. Bowman, Abraham (1768 - 1860) Crown Patent Lot 53/3, Petitioner 18
5. Bowman, Peter, Lot 50 and 51/3, Petitioner 4
6. Filman, John (1768 - 1780) brother of Conrad, Crown Patent Lot 53/2
7. Filman, Conrad (1759 - 1859) Crown Patent 51/2 and Lot 31/5, Petitioner 2
8. Horning, Abraham (1764 - 1845) brother of Isaac, Crown Patent 55/2, Petitioner 7
9. Horning, Isaac (1766 - 1827) Lot 49/3, Petitioner 3
10. Jones, David, Petitioner 16
11. Lampman, Mathew (1761 - 1830), Lot 52/3
12. Latham, Conrad, Crown Patentee, Petitioner 22
13. McLeese, Wm., Crown Patent Lot 4413, 34/3, Petitioner 10
14. Smith, Edward, unregistered land, Petitioner 14
15. Smith, John Jr., south half Lots 48 and 49, Petitioner 20,
16. Smith, John Sr., Did not settle on Ancaster land.  750 acres in Long Point, Petitioner 9
17. Smith, Joseph,  Crown patent north half Lots 48 and 49, Concession 2, Petitioner 13
18. Smith, Wm., Lot 47/2, Petitioner 6
19. Westbrook, Anthony (1738 - 1793) Lots 44 and 43, Petitioner 19
20. Westbrook, John (1770 -1845) Petitioner 5
21. Wilson, James (before 1775) Concession 2, Lot 45, Petitioner, wife was a Loyalist, Petitioner 1
22. Wilson, Thomas, Lot 45/3, Petitioner 17,

Source: Ancaster's Heritage, Vol. 1    

The Rise of the Village of Ancaster

  In the next 30 years, Ancaster became the third most important community in Upper Canada besides Niagara-on-the-Lake and Frontenac (Kingston).  By the 1820's the development of water power in Dundas made it a greater community than Ancaster and by 1826 the opening of the Burlington Beach canal and the development of Hamilton outgrew Dundas.

Mills to Settlement: The Founding of the Village of Ancaster

  In the year 1791, partners James Wilson and Richard Beasley built a grist mill and sawmill on the site of Ancaster community.  Three years later the mills were sold to Jean Baptiste Rousseau (1758-1812), a trader and businessman.  Settlement grew around these mills!  About 1800 the names of the settlements, Wilson's Mills and Rousseau's Mills became known as Ancaster after a village in Lincolnshire, England.

Other Early Significant Facts About Ancaster

  1796 - 1798 :  Dr. Oliver Tiffany was the first physician in Ancaster.

  1796 : Mr. Richard Cockerell, first public school teacher, taught at the Union Hotel.

  1803 : Mr. Marlatt taught by public subscription in a log school house.

  May 1814 : Bloody Assizes of Ancaster : Marauding bands of renegade settlers who defected to the U.S. were indicted for high treason.  Fifteen of the nineteen prisoners were convicted on July 20, 1814.  Eight of them were executed at Burlington Heights and the remainder were sent into exile.

We wish to thank Betty and Harold Lampman for this information.  They, along with other members of the Ancaster Historical Society and the Fieldcote Museum are working on Volume II, "Ancaster's Heritage" which will be for sale at Christmas time.  We wish them good luck in this worthwhile project.