Upper Canada Militia Rolls, 1828-1829

Nowadays, people tend to think of militiamen and citizen’s militias and the like as a peculiarly American phenomenon, but that’s not really historically accurate. The whole apparatus of the citizen’s muster rolls was imported from England, actually, and can be found in Upper Canada from a relatively early phase.

Did your Ontario ancestor enroll as a militiaman? Well, some of my ancestors did. If you know or suspect that a (male) ancestor was in the province by 1828, it’s worth checking the militia rolls to find out.

Under the Militia Act of 1793, all able-bodied male inhabitants of Upper Canada between the ages of 16 and 50 were required to enroll in the local regiment of the provincial militia and to attend the annual muster on 4 June (the King’s birthday). In 1828, the commanding officers of each regiment were ordered to prepare and submit a nominal roll of the men in their units between the ages of 19 and 39. The resulting militia rolls are an extremely useful source of genealogical information, which can help to roughly date an ancestor’s arrival and to place him in a township/county:
Despite certain exemptions and omissions, the resulting returns constitute the closest thing to a province-wide census that survives for a genealogically difficult period, coming midway between the Loyalist influx of the 1780s and the first fully nominal census in 1852. As well as the old population, largely of American origin, it includes the names of those who arrived from Britain during the first dozen years of the post-1815 wave of settlement.*
There is an online transcription of the 1828 muster roll for the 1st Carleton Regiment (transcribed by William O. Minish) at Olive Tree Genealogy. The most complete published version (transcribed from records housed at Library and Archives Canada) is found in the OGS publication Men of Upper Canada: Militia Nominal Rolls, 1828-1829 (full citation below).
I find two of my paternal ancestors (James Moran and Denis Killeen) on the militia rolls for Carleton Co., along with one known and another suspected brother of a third ancestor:


No. Name Age Remarks
354 MORAN, James 29


No. Name Age Remarks
457 KILLEEN, Denis 39 Served 97th Reg’t
482 LAHY, Frans’s 21
483 LAHY, Patt 25

James Moran (born in Ireland about 1798, county unknown) and Denis Killeen (born about 1784 in the parish of Meelick, East Galway) are both my gr-gr-great-grandfathers. Patt Lahy/Lahey is an older brother of my gr-gr-great-grandfather James Lahey (born about 1799 in Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary). The Laheys emigrated from Tipperary in the 1820s and early 1830s, with two brothers, John (sometimes known as John Lahy the Elder) and Patrick (Patt), arriving in 1824, and six more siblings coming to Canada by 1834. I’m not yet sure about Francis, his name was new to me when I encountered it on the muster rolls.

*Men of Upper Canada: Militia Nominal Rolls, 1828-1829, ed. and with an Introduction by Bruce S. Elliott, Dan Walker, and Fawne Stratford-Devai (Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1995).
(Visited 906 times, 1 visits today)