Loyalists have often been described as selfist, elitist and cowardly. But they were a more diverse group who opposed revolting against England for a variety of economic, religious, emotional and political reasons, and defining a Loyalist woman is complicated. Many were deemed “Loyalists” because their male family members were considered loyal; some women were more active and showed their support through activities such as letter-writing, buying British goods, delivering intelligence and resisting patriots. During the Revolution, Loyalists – including women – made up roughly 20 percent to 30 percent of the American Colonial population.
Cambridge was home to many early events in the American Revolution. In September 1774, the Powder Alarm took place and most Cambridge Loyalists relocated to Boston. Cambridge became the headquarters for George Washington, the Continental Army and the patriot Massachusetts government in 1775. The Siege of Boston lasted until March 17, 1776, when the British and Loyalists evacuated Boston. In September 1778, Massachusetts banished many Loyalists and later passed additional acts for confiscation of property. All of these events would affect the lives of Loyalist women. Some would never return to Cambridge.