A Blupete Biography Page

Lord William Campbell

Campbell came from a well connected Scottish family, loyal to the British crown. As the younger son, Campbell joined the Royal navy; and, through the years, 1752-1760, he was to serve in the Indian theatre. By 1762, with the impetus of The Seven Years War, Campbell had risen to be a captain of a British navel ship and was then to serve several years in American waters. When in South Carolina, he met Sarah Izard, a daughter of "one of the principal planters" of South Carolina; they married in 1763. In 1764, Campbell came ashore and sat in parliament in the seat of his family's constituency, Argyllshire. In 1766, due to his family's connections at court, Campbell was appointed as the Governor of Nova Scotia.1

Campbell was to arrive at Halifax aboard HMS Glasgow2 on the 26th of November, 1766. I might say, incidently, that he had, as part of his company, a Captain William Owen (1737-78). Owen had served with Campbell in India and arrangements had been made for Owen to serve Campbell in Nova Scotia. In the summer of 1767, Owen carried out a survey of Campbell's new domain, beginning his exploratory tour of Nova Scotia by journeying from Halifax to Minas Basin via the Dartmouth Lakes and the Shubenacadie River.3 Later that year Campbell was to grant an island in Passamaquoddy Bay to Owen, which Owen was to name, Campobello.

Campbell was absent for almost a year (October 1767 to September of 1768) as he had gone to England, via New York, to arrange for his family to come out to Nova Scotia with him.4 Campbell was often not at his post; he seem to like to slip down to Boston. Indeed, of the seven years of his governorship, he spent two years out of the province.

One of the problems that Campbell inherited and which he was determined to fight was smuggling; it was, in 1770, "rampant."5 In his fight, Campbell was to get on the bad side of the Halifax merchants, and, their connections in London, in particular, Joshua Maugher, brought pressure to bear to have Campbell removed. Campbell had serious eye trouble; and, generally, he calculated that the climate at Halifax was injurious to his health. It will be recalled that his wife was from South Carolina and he and Sarah wanted to return; this drove Campbell to make a number of applications for the governorship of South Carolina. As it happened an opening came up just as the English authorities were being plagued with complaints about Campbell; so, they were happy to offer him the South Carolina governorship and Campbell was happy to accept. Francis Legge, Campbell's replacement, arrived at Halifax on the brigantine, Adamant, on October 6th, 1773. Not too many weeks after that, Campbell boarded the Adamant for her return trip to London.6 He had company during this trip, as DesBarres was then sailing for England in order to see to the publication of his maps and charts (The Atlantic Neptune). After spending a number of months in England, Campbell arrived at Charleston in June of 1775. The American Revolution, by then was making itself felt, and, by September of that year he was obliged to seek the safety of a British warship that was anchored in Charleston Harbour. In 1776, during hostilities, Campbell was wounded and returned to England to recover. He died two years later, in 1778.


[1] See DCB.

[2] See, "Lord William Campbell, Governor of Nova Scotia, 1766-1773," NSHR, Vol. 13, No. 2 at p. 14.

[3] See Narrative of American Voyages and Travels of Captain William Owen, R.N.; And Settlement of the Island of Campobello in The Bay of Fundy: 1766-1771 (New York Public Library, 1942).

[4] Brebner, The Neutral Yankees (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970) p. 205.

[5] Ibid., at p. 206.

[6] Earlier in the year in which Campbell was to take his leave of Nova Scotia, 1773, Sarah Campbell was to give birth to a son. This event caused Campbell to write the home authority asking permission to grant 400 acres to his new born son "as a kind Mementory information to him, thereafter, that he drew his first breath in this province." (As quoted by Brebner in The Neutral Yankees, p. 204.)


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)