When the American Colonies revolted in 1776 and declared their independence from the British Empire, there were a large number of Colonists who opposed the movement and assisted British troops in the war that ensued.
Those who took up arms for the Crown and fought for a United Empire longed to see the English people united under a common flag and sovereign. These largely forgotten U. E. Loyalists (United Empire Loyalists) who resolved not to live under any flag but the British flag were often driven out of the United States. They were scorned and had their lands confiscated. Their plight was arduous and filled with turmoil.
Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, KB (1724–1808) was two-time Governor of the Province of Quebec, and concurrently served as Governor General of British North America. He was later raised to the Peerage in August 1786 as Lord Dorchester, Baron of Dorchester in the County of Oxford.
In August 1783, Carleton was informed that Great Britain would grant the United States its independence. Loyalists began their arduous exodus from the Thirteen Colonies and Carleton saw it fit to help them resettle in British North America; in the end, more than 3,000 people moved.
Many were soldiers with their families, some from as far away as North Carolina. To recognize their efforts and loyalty to the crown, Lord Dorchester passed an Proclamation on Monday November 9, 1789 to recognize "those Loyalists who have adhered to the unity of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard before the Treaty of Separation in the year 1783, and all their children and their descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following capitals, affixed to their names: U.E. alluding to their great principle the unity of the Empire"
While Lord Dorchester proclaimed the phrase "U.E." to be added to their names, many chose to use "U.E.L." interchangably 
Furthermore, they were also granted lands: "And it is alfo Ordered, that the faid Land Boards may, in every fuch Case, provide not only for the Sons of thofe Loyalifts, as they arrive to Full Age, but for their Daughters alfo, of that Age, or on their marriage, affigning to each a Lot of Two Hundred Acres, more or lefs."
Most of the U. E. Loyalists settled in the eastern townships of Quebec and in Niagara, Adolphustown, and Toronto in Ontario. Some settled in the wildernesses of New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nova Scotia to carve out a new life under their loyal flag of Britain.
Today many cemeteries in the above areas show evidence of these settlers to Canada. Grave stones are often prominently marked with UEL in a large circle. Some have the customary U.E. after their names to show their heritage. Even today, obituary columns in local papers from the many of the aforementioned communities still put U.E. after an entry at the request of family.
- ^ Swyrich, Archive materials