During his long life, covering the last half of 18th century and the early part of the 19th, J. F. W. DesBarres was to witness many of the dramatic events which made up the history of Nova Scotia during these times. He was an army officer, military engineer, surveyor, colonizer and colonial administrator: he was a lover and an artist.
Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres, likely born at Basel, Switzerland, was a member of a Huguenot family.1 His parents were Joseph-Leonard Vallet Des Barres and Anne-Catherine Cuvier; he was the eldest of three children. After an educational grounding in mathematics in the schools of Switzerland, DesBarres, like so many young Huguenot men, left Europe for England. He enrolled in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.2 At Woolwich, DesBarres was trained as a military engineer which, as such, was to give him a superior knowledge of the building of fortifications and of how to destroy them; his training at Woolwich was to also give him a solid grounding in land surveying and in the preparation of maps.
With England and France having declared war on one another (The Seven Years War, 1756-63), Lieutenant DesBarres was sent off to the North American theatre, which, as a practical matter, was the only theatre for this particular war.3 In 1757, it seems, he was operating in the area which we now know as upstate New York (Lake St. George); but, in 1758, he was to be with Amherst at the Siege of Louisbourg. He then went with Wolfe to Quebec in 1759. By 1761 DesBarres was at Halifax. In April of 1762, news was heard at Halifax that St. John's, Newfoundland, had been attacked and captured by the French. Because of this there was a frenzy of activity at Halifax: batteries were added to those already in existence on George's Island, more were erected at Point Pleasant and near the Dockyard, the walls of the eastern redoubt at Dartmouth were repaired, and a boom of "timber and iron" was bolted, shore to shore, at the mouth of the Northwest Arm. DesBarres, being the military engineer that he was, was in the thick of this activity. In September an English force was launched from Halifax, of which DesBarres was a part, aimed at St. John's, which, in short order, was retaken by the British.4 It was during this time that DesBarres worked with James Cook, who was to learn much from DesBarres, in the Admiralty business of charting the coasts of Newfoundland. On his return to Halifax, DesBarres was charged by the Admiralty to make "accurate Surveys and Charts of the Coast and Harbours of Nova Scotia. This was to lead to an effort which was to continue for a number of years and to the eventual publication of The Atlantic Neptune. It was for this work that DesBarres was to take his place in the history books. The Atlantic Neptune, was "a magnificent contribution to hydrography and a classic of the minor arts."5
DesBarres' second interest in Nova Scotia (second to charting its coasts) was in acquiring title to its lands. Both by "grant and purchase" DesBarres was to take for himself large pieces of land in such areas, as: Tatamagouche, Falmouth and Chignecto6. (For these areas, see map.) His grant (500 acres) at Falmouth was one of his earlier acquisitions. In addition to being located in one of the best agricultural areas in Nova Scotia (known as Piziquid in the days that the Acadians occupied the lands; see map) Falmouth was accessible overland by road from Halifax; about the only community that was, in those days.7 It was here (see picture of the foundation ruins) that DesBarres was to build his home, his "Castle Frederick." It is to Castle Frederick that DesBarres retreated after his seasonal field work was done, and there, with key members of his staff during the long winter evenings before the open fire, based on his field notes, the DesBarres charts came into being. Castle Frederick was a substantial establishment. We see that by 1770, the household at Castle Frederick, "consisted of 42 men, 5 boys, 13 women, 33 girls." This total of 93 was to be broken down, as follows: 14 English, 21 Scots, 24 Irish, 7 Americans, 17 others, 10 Acadians."8
DesBarres was to take his leave of Nova Scotia sailing from Halifax for England during October of 1773. He was to leave behind, there, at Castle Frederick, his common law wife, Mary Cannon (known to her intimates as, "Polly") and the five children born to them.9 In England, incidently, he was to take up with another, Martha Williams; but, yet, DesBarres was to keep up correspondence with his "beloved friend," Mary Cannon. More children, indeed eleven children were to come of the DesBarres/Williams union; it is not clear whether DesBarres married Williams, or not, though there might have been a ceremony in England, at some point or other.
DesBarres was not to see Nova Scotia again until 1784. During this time in England, 1773-84, he saw to the publication of his Atlantic Neptune. While there, in England, he developed his connections, such that, in 1784, Lord Sydney, there having been a determination that Cape Breton was to have a separate administration, was to appoint DesBarres as its new governor. DesBarres arrived at Halifax10 from England during 1784, and, within a few weeks, he was off to take up his duties in Cape Breton. He was to spend time both at St. Peters and at Louisbourg.11 Though, given its history, Louisbourg might well have been chosen as the capital of the Cape Breton colony, DesBarres for his own reasons determined to relocate to Spanish Bay. His new capital was to be renamed, Sydney.12 He arrived there, at Sydney, on January 7th, 1785. He came by sailing ship (the Blenheim) stepping off with 129 persons, the nucleus of a new English settlement.13 Within two years, after a stormy administration, DesBarres was relieved of his post. The storm revolved around a "turf fight" that DesBarres had with the local army commander, Colonel John Yorke.14
We turn, now, to Dr. Webster, who gives us a description of the beginning of the next stage in the life of DesBarres, a stage which was to last from 1787 to 1804, during which time, with considerable difficulty, he was able to retrieve his reputation and good fortune:
"... DesBarres departed for Europe, having chartered an old brigantine to convey him thither. Having been warned that those who claimed money from him [he had kept the Sydney colony going pretty much on his own signature], because of the bills which had been dishonoured, were waiting to have him arrested, he sailed to the Island of Jersey where he arrived on December 7th. He sent a requisition to Lord Sydney asking for a guarantee of immunity from arrest so that he might safely visit London, but this was refused [Sydney, who was to get DesBarres the job as Cape Breton's governor, but just a few years earlier was to desert DesBarres]. He, thereupon, went secretly in disguise to England and reached Whitehall in April, 1788."15
DesBarres was aggrieved by the personal expense that he had been put to, both because of the difficulties at Cape Breton and because of the The Atlantic Neptune. He intended that he should be reimbursed by the English government and thus to get the creditors, to whom he was personally liable, off his back. At first, his impugning ways served but only to harden up the authorities; but, while he was to never be reimbursed fully for his expenses, he gradually gained favour with those in power. In 1794, we see, DesBarres was made a Lt-Col; and, in 1798, full Colonel.16 In 1804, after kowtowing in London for sixteen years, DesBarres, notwithstanding his old age, was appointed the lieutenant-governor of Prince Edward Island. DesBarres was to hold onto his governorship of Prince Edward Island longer than he did of that of Cape Breton; though, similar problems led to his recall. He made a public display of his dislike of the chief justice of the province; and, in any event, the authorities no doubt figured it was time that the ninety year old governor ought to be replaced, particularly since war had broken out with the United States of America.17 In 1812, DesBarres left Prince Edward Island and lived for a period of time on his lands at Amherst where he lived until he moved to Halifax in 1817. At Halifax he continued on and lived to the ripe old age of 103.18
The longer, and certainly the more placid relationship, that DesBarres had with Martha Williams was to continue during the two long sojourns that DesBarres had in England (1773-84 and 1787-1804); and, thereafter, in Nova Scotia, as Martha did come over to join DesBarres -- he was to be buried by her side. As for Mary Cannon: she, in DesBarres' absence, carried on at Castle Frederick. As we know, and as we touched upon earlier, DesBarres had vast tracts of land in and around the province. While in England, he had, by necessity, to rely on someone for the administration of these lands: the collecting of rents and the enforcement of his property rights. All of this he left to Mary Cannon. These properties were becoming increasingly more valuable, especially as settlers flooded into Nova Scotia during the latter part of the 18th century. Mary Cannon administered the DesBarres estates from her fiefdom at Castle Frederick. DesBarres, when in England, gave little direction on how his affairs as a landlord should be administered. However, on his return in the early part of the 19th century, DesBarres was to get himself more involved with these matters. On doing so, he was to become dissatisfied in the manner in which Mary Cannon had carried out her duties as his agent. All of this led to a falling out between the two, to the point where he caused a suit to be commenced alleging that she had "fraudulently and corruptly" betrayed him. The suit was still stuck in the Court of Chancery at the time of DesBarres death.
It is to be noted that the numerous children of DesBarres (at least; five by Mary Cannon and eleven by Martha Williams) were to prove to be as headstrong and litigious as their father. I quote from the biographical work by Evans, Uncommon Obdurate: The Several Public Careers of J. F. W. DesBarres:
"He decreed [his will?] that his wealth [consisting I suspect entirely of lands throughout the province] be divided into ten shares, two to be given to his wife Martha ... and one each to his sons James Luttrell, Augustus Wallet, Dollben Wyndham, and his daughters Martha Ferderica [Indiana], Isabella Matilda, Clara, Louisa, and Grace Frederica. Another son, Joseph Frederick, died in India in 1817. In a way he was lucky, for within weeks of their father's death his brothers and sisters were squabbling about their shares and hiring lawyers without a second thought about costs, appearances, or the possibility of settlement. Their quarrel dragged on for forty years with little being gained by anybody."19
In 1985, Lois K. Kernaghan was to set out her concluding observations on the character of DesBarres:
"[He had] many talents and used them well. He knew the value of friends and influence, and cultivated both. He was an opportunist and an optimist, eager to turn situations to his own advantage. A man of broad vision, he could also scrutinize minute details. His cultivated air and personal magnetism drew many admirers, as did his keen intellect, lively conversation and ability to live life with gusto.
DesBarres was to live out the last of his years at Halifax, having, in 1817, moved down from Amherst. At Halifax, he was to become quite the conversation piece "crotchety, eccentric and entertaining."21 Vigorous to the last, DesBarres was to die at Halifax in 1824. A contemporaneous account of his funeral went as follows:
... He was brilliant but impetuous. He often ignored the niceties of bureaucratic procedure, then railed at those who advanced by following the more conventional routes. He did not suffer fools gladly, nor was he interested in those whose ideas and opinions ran counter to his own. He was a convinced of his own rightness, and expected those around him to be likewise, without question or hesitation. He was pompous, overbearing and impatient, descending at times to pettiness and suspicion."20
"The procession was escorted by a detachment of military and the rear was closed by a number of carriages. On arriving at St. George's Church, the funeral service was read ... at the conclusion of which three volleys were discharged by the troops. Although the day was rainy, we have seldom seen a greater attendance or more interest excited on such an occasion. Indeed, every reflecting person must have found great cause for meditation in the departure of the venerable from our fleeting and unsubstantial scene."22
DesBarres magnetism had limited appeal to officialdom, though, to his family, except for Mary Cannon23 in the later years, DesBarres was much respected if not loved. Martha Williams, and all of his children remained loyal to DesBarres to the last. As for Martha Williams, of whom little is known, she stuck with DesBarres through thick and thin. In 1821, she died. Three years later, DesBarres was buried next to her at St. George's Church, Halifax.24
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§ DesBarres was born in Europe of a Huguenot family.
§ DesBarres is at The Second Siege of Louisbourg.
§ At the Siege of Quebec.
§ October 25th: George II dies: George III becomes king.
§ October: Demolition work being done by British engineers and sappers at Louisbourg.
§ In the autumn, DesBarres is back at Halifax.
§ April, 1762: News is heard at Halifax that St. John's, Newfoundland, had been attacked and captured by the French.
§ September: DesBarres served as Engineer and Quarter Master General in the expedition sent under Col. William Amherst to recapture St. John's Newfoundland.
§ The Treaty Of Paris is signed bring the war, The Seven Years War, between herself and her rivals (principally France) to an end.
§ In June, DesBarres was granted 500 acres at Falmouth where he was to build his "Castle Frederick."
§ Between these years DesBarres obtains five grants of large tracts of land throughout the province which amounted to several thousand acres.
§ In October, DesBarres leaves to spend the winter at New York.
§ In the Spring, DesBarres is back at Halifax where he was to commence his work surveying and mapping the coasts of Nova Scotia, a project which took him nine years.
§ DesBarres takes up with Mary Cannon.
§ DesBarres sues a fellow officer, George Adam Gmelin, on a £200 debt which dates back to 1758. DesBarres wins his suit and through a judicially ordered sale buys Gmelin's land, which was likely located in the River Nappan area.
§ A new authority was trenching upon the old. It went hand and hand with the growth of literacy and the ease by which political writers could get their pamphlets abroad. Though the old political guard were slow to recognize it: public opinion, right or wrong, was what was to rule: the plutocratic could rule but only through the shaping of public opinion. As Pitt observed, "Five hundred gentlemen, my Lords, are not ten millions; and if we must have a contention, let us take care to have the English nation on our side."
§ Boston "massacre": Some garrison troops in self-defence shot down a few of the Boston crowd who had attacked.
§ Smuggling is "rampant."
§ DesBarres is sued by Halifax merchants (loses).
§ At the urging of DesBarres, about eleven settlers arrive at Tatamagouche from Lunenburg. These settlers bear the names such as Langille, Tattrie, Gratto, Matatall and Patriquin. There was nothing there at Tatamagouche except for the disappearing traces of the French inhabitants which had been forced off their lands 17 years earlier.
§ DesBarres receives leave to go to England in order to see to the publication of his maps and charts. (The Atlantic Neptune.)
§ During October, DesBarres boards the Adamant and sails for London. Also aboard is the retiring governor, Lord William Campbell and his family. Apparently, DesBarres was to be in England throughout the years, 1773-84. In is during this period that he meets Martha Williams, by whom, eventually, he was to have eleven children.
§ December, 1773: Boston Tea Party.
§ September 5th: The first Continental Congress takes place at Philadelphia.
§ April 19: Fighting erupts at Lexington and Concord.
§ In England: DesBarres is promoted from Lieutenant to Captain.
§ November 30th: Governor Legge proclaims Martial law in Nova Scotia.
§ April: Having evacuated Boston, General Howe arrives at Halifax.
§ June: Sailing down from Halifax to Long Island, Howe lands at Long Island and then marches on New York.
§ June: General Howe, who had proceeded from New York to Jersey, intending to penetrate thence to Pennsylvania, was compelled, by Washington's skilful operations, to retreat.
§ October the 16th: The surrender of Burgoyne to the Americans.
§ Washington and his troops spent the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge in great misery and deprivation.
§ The French officially recognize American independence and become allied with them, and, conclude a treaty in respect to trade with the Americans.
§ February, 1778: By statute (18 Geo. 3, cap. 12) parliament frees the colonies from taxation, they are not to be taxed unless by the consent of their own representatives; this statute has come to be known as the magna charta of British America.
§ The laws in England were to be changed so that Roman Catholics should have the same rights as everyone else. (This move was to bring on the Gordon Riots
§ January: Admiral Rodney, "the greatest of the English seaman save Nelson and Blake" defeated the Spanish fleet of Cape St. Vincent.
§ The British parliament, much before any other legislative chamber in the world, passed an Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery.
§ In a speech to the House of Commons, Burke makes a passing comment, "What sums we incur to nurse that ill-thriven and ill-favoured brat [Nova Scotia] -- what a cost to this wittol nation!"
§ Yorktown: After his unsuccessful Carolina campaign (1780-81), Gen. Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) retreated into Virginia, fortified Yorktown, and awaited reinforcements from Sir Henry Clinton in New York. Clinton delayed, however, and the French fleet blockaded Chesapeake Bay. Generals Washington and Rochambeau rushed south with French troops. Unable to escape, Cornwallis surrendered on October 17, 1781, thereby bringing victory to the rebellious Colonies.
§ Ratification of the Articles of Confederation places the original 13 states under the first American federal constitution.
§ Pitt, the younger, enters the House of Commons; the Tory Government of Lord North is tottering under the disasters in America.
§ April 12th: Lord Howe's destruction of De Grasse's fleet at the Battle of the Saints, a battle which saved the British West Indies and restored Britain's absolute command of the seas.
§ Peace negotiations between England and the United States were signed in November and with France and Spain in January 1783
§ The Paris Peace Treaty 1783.
§ May 5th, J. F. DesBarres' Atlantic Neptune charts of Nova Scotia advertised for sale by Thomas Freeman, Halifax.
§ In England: DesBarres is promoted from Captain to Major.
§ Thousands of Loyalists arrive, firstly at Halifax.
§ March 25th: Parliament is dissolved.
§ Pitt defeats Fox and North at the polls.
§ The Bishop of Salisbury, John Douglas, edits and arranges for the notes of Cook; thus, his exploits come to the attention of the public. It will be recalled that DesBarres was responsible for much of Cook's early training.
§ Having received his appointment as the Governor of the new administration at Cape Breton, in August, DesBarres arrives at Halifax from England. Almost immediately he sails for St. Peters and from there makes his way Louisbourg.
§ The population of Nova Scotia (which at this time included part of present day New Brunswick): "Old British inhabitants," 14,000; "Old French Acadians," 400; and "Disbanded troops and loyalists, called new inhabitants" 28,347: For a total of 42,747.
§ January 7th: DesBarres arrives at Sydney, there to take up his gubernatorial duties.
§ The Big Bang of The Industrial Revolution occurs in England when, for first time, steam engines are used to power spinning machinery.
§ After a stormy administration, DesBarres is relieved of his post at Cape Breton.
§ In Philadelphia the members of the Federal Convention of 1787 were sitting down to put the finishing touches to the American constitution.
§ DesBarres departs to begin his second sojourn in England, 1787-1804.
§ At Paris, a political club or society meets in the old convent of the Jacobins (order of monks) to maintain and propagate the principles of extreme democracy and absolute equality; they became known as the Jacobins. "May the last of the Kings be strangled with the guts of the last priest," an old Jacobin toast.
§ Green: "The cautious good sense of the bulk of Englishmen, their love of order and law, their distaste for violent changes and for abstract theories, as well as their reverence for the past, were rousing throughout the country a dislike of the revolutionary changes which were hurrying on across the channel; and both the political sense and the political prejudice of the nation were being fired by the warnings of Edmund Burke. ... [Burke hated] a revolution founded on scorn of the past, and threatening with ruin the whole social fabric which the past had reared; the ordered structure of classes and ranks crumbling before a doctrine of social of social equality; a sate rudely demolished and reconstituted; a church and a nobility swept away in a night."
§ Washington becomes the first president (1789-97) and takes office on April 30, 1789.
§ The very first nation wide census is carry out in the U.S. The count was 3,929,827.
§ French Constitution: The European liberalism of the 19th century, was first formally proclaimed in the French constitution of 1791; a theory of liberty, the "Golden Rule of Liberty": "Men are born free and equal in rights, ... Liberty, ... consists in being permitted to do anything which does not injure other people. ... The exercise of the natural rights of each man has not limits except those which guarantee to the other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights."(Articles 1 & 3 of 1791 French Constitution.)
§ May 14th: Sir John Wentworth sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia; he remained so for the next sixteen years, until 1808.
§ August 10th: A Parisian mob storm the Tuileries and take the royal family as prisoners. The "September massacres" follow.
§ The British capture Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
§ January 21st: Louis XVI is beheaded; George III sent the French ambassador packing; Diplomatic relations were severed; France invaded England's ally, Holland; and, on February 1st, France declared war on England.
§ The trials of the "Reform-martyrs," Thomas Muir (1765-99) was one, who, with others, was transported to Botany Bay. These trials were part of the larger government effort to prosecute editors, nonconformists and radicals who were arguing for Parliamentary reform.
§ On the 22nd of July, 1793, Mackenzie writes his famous inscription on a rock bluff in Dean's Channel: "Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three."
§ Howe's victory of "The First of June" that arose as a result of the meeting of the English and French fleets off of Brest was to show to the world that England continued to hold on to her superiority at sea.
§ The American Congress establishes a navy.
§ In England: DesBarres is promoted from Major to Lt-Col.
§ Washington's Farewell Address
§ The French conquer Italy, and Austria deserts Britain in her struggle against France.
§ Jenner discovers vaccination.
§ A Bavarian by the name of Alois Senefelder discovering that water and grease did not have an affinity for one another and from that determined to employ a different printing process by which art work could be relatively and inexpensively reproduced in quantity. Thus, a printing process known as lithography was to come into being.
1 See genealogical study by Jean-Marc Debard, "The Family Origins of Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres: A Riddle Finally Solved," NSHR, Vol. #14, No. 2 (1994).
2 Debard writes, ibid., that DesBarres went to University of Basle, matriculating on 25th of August 1750. Debard then suggests that DesBarres left Basle because of a duel.
3 Samuel Holland was another European who had joined the British army, and, like DesBarres, became a military engineer. Their career paths were similar; both having been with Wolfe at Louisbourg, in 1758, and at Quebec, in 1759. They were, however, of much different character from one another. "While DesBarres was intemperate and impetuous in manner, Holland made friends easily and seldom had problems in impressing his superiors." ("DesBarres and His Contemporaries as Mapmakers" by Stephen B. MacPhee, NSHR, Volume #5, No. 2 (1985) at p. 18.) In proof of this, we see that when the Chief Engineer for the British in America, Mackellar, was wounded at St. Foy, that it was the thirty-one year old Holland who was to fill the shoes of the Chief Engineer, passing over in the process the thirty-eight year old DesBarres.)
4 DesBarres "served as Engineer and Quarter Master General in the expedition sent under Col. William Amherst to recapture St. John's Newfoundland, from the French." [Webster's The Life of Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres (Shediac, N.B.: Privately printed, 1933).]
5 The Atlantic Neptune was to eventually come out in print beginning in 1777. It was a very elaborate publication, a work of great technical accuracy and artistry containing 78 plates depicting maps adorned with acquatints of the then familiar Nova Scotian landmarks. The Atlantic Neptune turned into a very expensive book and so there were only so many that came off the presses, the result being, that today it is a very rare work. Evans, in his biography, Uncommon Obdurate: The Several Public Careers of J. F. W. DesBarres, (University of Toronto Press, 1969) gives a lot of interesting details on the preparation and publication of The Atlantic Neptune; see in particular Chapter II. Incidently, The Atlantic Neptune might be found on the 'net.
6 Evans, in his work, Uncommon Obdurate ..., op. cit., at p. 27, gives details of the DesBarres holdings in and around the Isthmus of Chignecto. DesBarres owned 8,000 acres at Minudie, "so rich in the highly fertile marshlands that he called it the Elysian Fields." DesBarres had a second estate which he named Maccan-Nappan after the two little streams which ran through it." He first started to acquire land in this area in 1765 and was to add to his estates through the years which included lands in the areas between Memramcook and Petitcodiac rivers located in present day New Brunswick.
7 We see in a despatch to the Board of Trade dated September 30, 1766, the Following: "For the present although several paths have been cut to some of the settlements, yet none but that to Windsor have been so far completed as to admit of Carriages, which is yet in an imperfect state, nor is any other passable for Horses without great difficulty ... (As found in Holland's Description Cape Breton Island (Halifax: PANS, Publication, No. 2; 1935) at p. 23.)
8 Esther Clark Wright in Planters and Pioneers, Nova Scotia, 1749 to 1775 (Hantsport: Lancelot Press, 1982) at p. 102. As for the Acadians: MacPhee, in his article, "DesBarres and His Contemporaries as Mapmakers", op. cit., at p. 23, makes reference to DesBarres use of the Acadians, "the Acadians were the best for the job, since they were familiar with both shallopsand the inshore waters. But bureaucracy interceded: the expenditures for the Acadians had not been approved, and DesBarres ended up paying their wages out of his own pocket."
9 Mary Cannon was a Halifax "servant girl," twenty years DesBarres' junior. He was to have five children by her: Amelia Louisa Matilda Lutterell, John Frederick William, Spry Ann, Martha Sophia, and an unidentified daughter who died but a few years old and whose name might have been Mary. ["A Man and His Lawyer: The Friendship of J.F.W. DesBarres and Richard Gibbons," NSHS, #43 (1991); Kernaghan, "'A most Eccentric Genius': The Private Life of J. F. W. DesBarres," NSHR, Volume #5, No. 2 (1985) at p. 46. The DCB, incidently, states there were six children by Mary Cannon?]
10 Mary Cannon came down from Castle Frederick to meet DesBarres, they renewed their old acquaintance (in a most intimate manner, as Mary was to became pregnant by him once again).
11 The two oldest children by Mary Cannon, William and Amelia, were to accompany their father to Sydney where he was to establish a 12 acre farm at Point Edward. Martha Williams was left back in England, though their oldest son, who could not have been older than 10 years, did accompany his father and was to stay with him at Cape Breton. As for Mary Cannon and the other children: they were to stay on at Castle Frederick. DesBarres, possibly as early as 1782, had signed over Castle Frederick and its surrounding lands to Mary.
12 DesBarres administration was a family affair. His son by Mary Cannon, John Frederic William DesBarres was to hold down three positions and was therefore illegible to collect the parliamentary grants given for such posts. Douglas B. Foster, in his article, "DesBarres the Town Planner," NSHR, Volume #5, No. 2 (1985) at p. 29, gives forth with some interesting details on the founding of Sydney.
13 To this group of "poor Englishmen and disbanded soldiers," which were landed by DesBarres, were to be added a number of Loyalists who were fleeing in the aftermath of the American Revolution. The Loyalists, according to the DCB, had arrived due to the efforts of Abraham Cornelius Cuyler, a former mayor of Albany, New York.
14 Robert J. Morgan was to conclude in his article, "DesBarres the Founder," NSHR, Volume #5, No. 2 (1985) at p. 13: "In the end, DesBarres was dismissed because he disturbed the peace of Whitehall. Formally he was accused of causing friction between Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, between the civil authorities on the island, and of wasting money by distributing supplies to people unentitled to them."
15 Life of ..., op. cit., at p. 42.
16 There was something about DesBarres that was to consistently hold him back from promotions. He came through the battles of 1757-60 with holding only a lieutenancy, and, in 1763, when he was first commissioned to do the survey work in Nova Scotia, he was yet still a Lieutenant. It was only in 1775 that he made Captain. In 1783, Major; in 1794, Lt-Col; full Colonel in 1798. His name was kept on the Army List until his death in 1824. (See Webster's Life of ..., op. cit., at p. 26.)
17 Evans observed: "DesBarres had suffered all his life for his strong opinions and tendency to see matters in black and white, and while old age may have mellowed him a trifle the frequent testimonies to his continued vigor strongly refute any picture of a doddering governor at the mercy of scheming politicians." (Uncommon Obdurate ..., op. cit., at p. 27.)
18 In his 1994 study, "The Family Origins of Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres: A Riddle Finally Solved," op. cit., Jean-Marc Debard determined, as a "new certainty," that DesBarres "age at his death in 1824 was at most 95, rather than 103 as has been claimed."
19 Uncommon Obdurate ..., op. cit., at p. 98. Kernaghan reports that "DesBarres' legal heirs [who ever they may have been] moved to England." ("A most Eccentric Genius," op. cit., at p. 58.) The son by Mary Cannon, William, had died in 1800. Amelia, Spry Ann and Sophia, according to Kernaghan, were to live at Horton, "where they continued to live for many years." (Ibid., at p. 53.)
20 "A most Eccentric Genius," op. cit., at pp. 58-9.
21 Kernaghan, "A most Eccentric Genius," op. cit., at p. 57.
22 The Acadian Recorder as set out in Webster's Life of ..., op. cit., at pp. 69-70.
23 A lease between his mother, Mary Cannon, and William, was executed in 1794 in respect to lands at Minudie. William met his death there by drowning in 1800. (Kernaghan, "A most Eccentric Genius, op. cit., at p. 53.)] Mary Cannon was to carry on at Castle Frederick," and, was to there in 1817. She had proceeded in life, full of fire; she was of a personality and character, I suspect, that was very much different than that of Martha Williams. Incidently, we learn, that in the 1840s, the lands at Falmouth were purchased by Mary Cannon's grandson, William Frederick DesBarres (1800-85; he was to become a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, in 1848).
24 It would appear that the Public Archives of Nova Scotia has an extensive and organized collection in respect to DesBarres ("DesBarres Papers") including, apparently, a copy of The Atlantic Neptune. Evans, (Uncommon Obdurate ..., op. cit., at pp. 101-23) sets forth an excellent "Bibliographical Essay," which must be consulted if one is to undertake further research on the life and works of DesBarres.