A Blupete Biography Page

Jonathan Binney

Binney was born in Massachusetts. Thinking there were opportunities to be had in the recently (1749) founded community of Halifax, he moved there in 1752. He involved himself in trade and became associated with Francklin and Maugher, who, as merchants, had matters pretty much tied up in Nova Scotia. For a period of time, he was the collector of provincial duties and a magistrate at Canso; he built a home there and spent his summers there.

Binney had an idea as to what his pay ought to be and got into the custom of automatically deducting his pay before remitting the duties which he collected at Canso. The authorities at Halifax thought that Binney was illegally helping himself and there was quite a furor over the matter, such that, Binney was arrested in 1775, brought to Halifax, and, together with his family, put in jail. Legge at the time was the governor, and his handling of the whole affair came under much criticism, and this business of jailing the Binney family was to be but one of a number of difficulties that led to Legge's recall. As for Binney: he did not appear to stay in jail for long. Many of those in the legislature became sympathetic to Binney and determined to go over on his side. In the result, a general gang-up occurred against the executive, i.e., Legge.

With Legge going back to London and the outbreak of the American Revolution, the "Binney Affair" soon receded into the background. As for Binney, himself, he continued to be embroiled in other legal difficulties stemming from his time in Canso, including certifying New Englanders to be Nova Scotians at the cost of two dollars each thus qualifying them for fishing licenses. Presumably things settled down for Binney as he became older; he died at Halifax in 1807.

Professor Bumsted, in his DCB entry on the man, concluded: "Jonathan Binney was a typical example of the first generation of New England merchants and politicians in Nova Scotia. If his affairs always seemed to teeter on the brink of the unsavory and illicit, it was because in those early times one could not be successful in the harsh climate of the Maritimes by being genteel."


[1] For a note on the various offices that Binney held, see fn at p. 228, Brebner, The Neutral Yankees.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)