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The Township was originally named Gwillimbury, but the spelling was changed in 1858. The first settlers arrived in East Gwillimbury around 1798. They were United Empire Loyalists who had been granted land by Simcoe as payment for their services during the American Revolution and its aftermath. The Crown provided plots of land to soldiers at five shillings per acre ($1/km²). This amount would not buy much more than half an acre (0.2 hectares) today; however, it could be used to support a family on what is now some of Canada's most productive farmland: rich soil with a deep topsoil that can support intensive farming methods such as cash cropping or market gardening without requiring fertilizers or pesticides due to high levels of organic matter and nutrients present in the soil itself. After Simcoe left York County for Upper Canada (now Ontario), he arranged for his wife Elizabeth Simcoe née Gwillimto travel north from her home near London, England with their children John Graves Jr.