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Title: From Anglicisation to loyalism? : New York, 1691-1783
Author: Jones, S. H.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation investigates the development of loyalism in the colony of New York during the American Revolution. It argues that the decision to remain loyal was largely determined by local, rather than ideological, factors. In contrast to interpretations that see loyalism as a fixed, ideological construct, this dissertation shows that the loyalist experience differed greatly between distinct geographic regions within a single colony: different counties entered the war at different stages, loyalist claimants described different motivations for remaining loyal, while the nature of the activities and services provided by loyalists to advance the British cause varied considerably. Crucially, the local factors which shaped the nature of New York loyalism had historic roots which extended back into the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. New York is deserving of a detailed study because of the unique role which it played during the conflict. Captured by the British during the summer of 1776, New York City formed their military headquarters for the duration of the war and became the centre of loyalism in British North America. Responding to the emergence of recent scholarship on upstate New York during the Revolutionary era, this dissertation shows that significant reserves of loyalist support could also be found within more rural and frontier regions. However, this allegiance to Britain was not necessarily guaranteed: New York had initially been established as a Dutch colony but, during the early eighteenth-century, underwent a significant process of Anglicisation. This dissertation is divided into two parts. Beginning with Jacob Leisler's Rebellion of 1691, Part One considers New York's transformation from a Dutch colony to an English province. Tracing New York's social, cultural, political and material development, it questions the extent to which the process of Anglicisation was felt uniformly within the colony. It argues that the uneven impact of such changes produced distinctly different regions within New York, each with their own local character. Part Two forms a detailed and sustained analysis of the post-war compensation claims submitted by New York's loyalists to the British Loyalist Claims Commission. Comparing the claims of loyalists from three counties - the city and county of New York, Albany County and Tryon County - it demonstrates that the exact nature of loyalism in each of these regions was mainly influenced by local circumstance and the unique complexities of each region; the nature of which have been outlined in Part One. This study is original in the way that it makes use of the loyalist claims. Despite their vast potential, limited scholarly attention has been paid to the claims and they remain an under-utilised resource. Furthermore, this study bridges a scholarly gap that has emerged between the histories of New York City and upstate New York: in contrast to studies that exclusively focus on the revolution within either region, this dissertation is the first to compare the loyalist experience between the colony's urban and rural areas. Finally, as scholars continue to comprehend the complexity of loyalist identities, this dissertation contributes to the growing field of loyalist studies by demonstrating that the nature of loyalism varied greatly, even within a single colony. This variance not only supports the conclusions of existing scholarship which argues that loyalist identities were neither static nor homogenous, but it also indicates that the exact nature of loyalism was ultimately a product of local circumstance.
Supervisor: Towsey, Mark ; Chalus, Elaine ; Mason, Keith Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral