|Country||Great Britain, United States|
|Allegiance||Great Britain, United States|
|Branch||colonial militia, independent volunteers, military association, refugees, partisans, (auxiliary troops)|
|Type||infantry, dragoons (mounted infantry), artillery|
|Engagements||Maryland Protestant Rebellion (1689)
King George's War (1744-1748)
French and Indian War (1754-1763)American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Associators were members of 17th- and 18th-century volunteer military associations in the British American thirteen colonies and British Colony of Canada. These were more commonly known as Maryland Protestant, Pennsylvania, and American Patriot and British Loyalist colonial militias. But unlike militias, the associator military volunteers were exempt from regular mandatory military service. Other names used to describe associators were "Associations", "Associated", "Refugees", "Volunteers", and "Partisans".
The term Non-Associators was applied to American colonists who refused to support and sign "military association" charters. They were not affiliated with associators, or would choose instead, to pay a fine and suffer possible retaliation. During the American Revolutionary War, some associator units were said to operate more like, or were in fact loose-knit criminal gangs, taking advantage of the disruption of warfare.
The present-day U.S. Army 111th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division is nicknamed the "Associators", helping to preserve the volunteer associators' ancestral legacy in Pennsylvania.
During King George's 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. The U.S. Army 111th Infantry Regiment Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, nicknamed the "Associators", traces their lineage to these Pennsylvania Associators. In 1755 these groups were re-established in response to Braddock's defeat.
In 1776, Pennsylvania, Patriot, volunteer, military groups, in the tradition of earlier, colonial, associator militias, used the name the Pennsylvania Associators and in 1777, were renamed the Pennsylvania State Militia.
Main article: List of British units in the American Revolutionary War
Many Loyalist irregulars who fought with the British in the American Revolutionary War were "associators". These units were sometimes commissioned by the commander in chief but could also be commissioned by the commander of a garrison or a royal colonial governor. 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 one of the most famous Loyalist associators was Colonel Tye, a former slave and leader of the infamous "Black Brigade". He was the first known black officer in North American military history.