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Associators were members of a Military Association, more commonly known as a militia.

Philadelphia Associators[]

During King Georges War, Benjamin Franklin, in 1747, wrote and published the pamphlet, Plain Truth, calling for a voluntary association to defend Philadelphia. This was in line with his earlier formation of volunteer fire-companies. This organization was formed and approved by the Council and the officers would be commissioned by the Council President.[1] The 111th Infantry Regiment (United States) traces their lineage to these Associators. In 1755 these groups were re-established in response to Braddock's Defeat [2] and they were again started as revolutionary groups in 1776 before being renamed the Pennsylvania Militia in the following year.

Loyalist Associators[]

Loyalist irregulars who fought with the British in the American Revolutionary War were also known as Associators. They received no pay, and often no uniforms; they were usually issued provisions, but relied on labor or looting to earn money.

Loyalist Associators often served in mixed-race units, composed of whites, escaped slaves, and even American Indians.

Perhaps the most famous Associator was Colonel Tye; the first (depending on your definition) black officer in North American military history.

Associator units included:

  • Associated Loyalists
  • Brant's Volunteers (Technically a Mohawk company, but actually composed of 80% white Loyalists)
  • Hatfield's Company of Partisans
  • James Stewart's Company of Refugees
  • King’s Militia Volunteers
  • Loyal American Association
  • Loyal Associated Refugees
  • Loyal Irish Volunteers
  • Loyal Newport Associators
  • Loyal Refugee Volunteers
  • Maryland Royal Retaliators
  • Pepperell's Corps
  • Robins' Company of Partisans
  • Royal North British Volunteers
  • Sharp's Refugee Marines
  • Uzal Ward's Company of Refugees

These units were sometimes commissioned by the commander in chief, but could also be commissioned by the commander of a garrison or even a governor.

Further reading[]

  • Seymour, Joseph. The Pennsylvania Associators, 1747-1777. Westholme Publishing. 2012. ISBN 978-1594161605.


  1. Newland, Samuel J. The Pennsylvania Militia:Defending the Commonwealth and the nation, 1669-1870 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs (2002)pp36-45
  2. The Pennsylvania magazine of history and biography, Volume 26. Retrieved Feb 27, 2010.

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