A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #2: Settlement, Revolution & War. TOC
Part 1, "Pre-Revolutionary Settlement" TOC
Ch. 3 - The New England Planters (1760-1763).

The closing scene of book one took place at Government House, at Halifax. Charles Lawrence, the military governor of Nova Scotia, at whose feet history has laid the Acadian tragedy, suddenly and unexpectedly died. It occurred on October 19th, 1760, within 24 hours after a grand ball that had been held at his residence. Lawrence had been one of the three field brigadiers under Amherst when the English forced the capitulation of Louisbourg in July of 1758. In September, Lawrence left Louisbourg to take up his duties once again as the Governor of Nova Scotia (he had been appointed in 1754). He was under orders to loosen his reins of authority, for, as you see, up to this point, unlike the 13 American colonies to the south, Nova Scotia was governed by royal fiat. While it might have suited Lawrence and his un-elected Council, this system of government was very un-English and there had been much grumbling from those who had no say at Halifax. Pressure mounted up in London to such an extent that Lawrence was ordered to set up a people's house. It was necessary, in keeping with British tradition, that the form of government for Nova Scotia be a democracy.

Establishing a democratic government at this point, given its low population spread out over a few small communities, presented problems for Nova Scotia. But it was thought necessary for its growth. What was wanted was to bring English speaking settlers to Nova Scotia. Those who best qualified were New Englanders. But they were use to having an elected legislature. No matter the reasons, at the end of September, 1758, an elected legislature, the first one in Nova Scotia, was called into session. On October 2nd the first assembly met. It was to consist of 22 members, 4 elected by the freeholders of the township of Halifax, 2 from the township of Lunenburg, and 16 from the province at large. This being done, Lawrence and his Council were able to take the next step towards the desired objective of populating Nova Scotia with English speaking people. This next step was for Council to pass a resolution addressed to prospective settlers. It was printed up and distributed in the New England area. After representing that they would have the same democratic freedoms as had long been experienced in the established colonies, prospective settlers were lured by the representations that there were "one hundred thousand acres of interval plow lands, producing wheat, rye, barley, oats, hemp, flax, etc., which have been cultivated for more than a hundred years past and never fail of crops nor need manuring ... also more than one hundred thousand acres of upland, cleared and stocked with English Grass, planted with orchards, gardens, etc. ... situated about the Bay of Fundi upon rivers navigable for ships of burthen ..."

I quote the historian, Judge R. S. Longley:

"On October 12, just ten days after the Assembly convened, Lawrence, with the advice of his Council, prepared a Proclamation, which was published in the Boston Gazette. It informed the people of New England that since the enemy which had formerly disturbed and harassed the province was no longer able to do so, the time had come to people and cultivate, not only the lands made vacant by the removal of the Acadians, but other parts of 'this valuable province' as well. The Proclamation concluded with the words 'I shall be ready to receive any proposals that may be hereafter made to me for effectually settling the vacated, or any other lands within the said province.' Applications could be made directly to Halifax, or through two well known business and colonizing agencies, Thomas Hancock of Boston and DeLancey and Watts in New York."1
The Lawrence Proclamation was widely read in New England. As immigrants continued to arrive in large numbers in the port towns along the eastern seaboard, "the colonies were seized by a fever of land speculation."2 The fact of the matter is that by 1760 the best farming lands in New England had been taken up, and, it is to remembered, that the average family in pre-industrial America made their living directly off the land. Striking into the interior, going west, was not a choice. Memories of the French at the western borders of the English settlements were still fresh. Besides -- there were no roads in these times. To the west, was but a boundless wilderness with its varied combinations of tangled woodland. Then, if that was not enough, there was the almost impassable range of mountains that stretched from the north to the south fencing off the west: the Alleghenies.

Numerous inquires both from individuals and groups were to come to the attention of Governor Lawrence.3 This led to a second proclamation, dated January 11th, 1759. Longley set forth the substance of this second proclamation:

"Land would be granted according to the grantee's ability to enclose and cultivate it. Every head of a family was entitled to receive 100 acres of wild land for himself and an additional 50 acres for each member of his household. No quit rent [the 18th century equivalent to property taxes] would be charged for the first ten years; after that it would be one shilling for each fifty acres. The grantee would be required to plant, cultivate, and improve one-third of his holdings each decade until all was under cultivation. Land along the Bay of Fundy Shore would be so distributed as to give each grantee a share of upland, meadow and marsh. To prevent speculation, no person could receive more than 1000 acres. As to the government, the Province had an Assembly, and every township with at least fifty families had the privilege of electing two members to it. The courts were like those of New England. Religious freedom was enjoyed by all Protestants who were allowed to build their own Meeting Houses and choose their own members."4
Five agents came up from New England to take a look at the promised land. Arriving at Halifax on April 18th, 1759, the agents were: Robert Denison5, Joseph Otis, Jonathon Harris6, Amos Fuller7 and John Hicks.8 The first four were from Connecticut, Hicks was a "Rhode island Quaker." They were to meet with Lawrence and four of his Council (Belcher, Green, Morris and Collier). They then, together with Morris, who was the Surveyor-general for Nova Scotia, set sail for the Bay of Fundy.9
"The agents set out on a government ship with the Surveyor-General in command, and nine soldiers as guards. The vessel sailed around Yarmouth into the Bay of Fundy which enabled the visitors to view the lands along the Annapolis river before proceeding to Minas Basin. They landed on the shore of the Basin and spent many busy days studying the topography and soil of the large area between Cape Blomidon and Piziquid, now Windsor."10
Though, it seems that these five traveling agents had their pick of the agricultural lands accessed through the Annapolis Basin or Minas Basin, the lands chosen were those on the south-western shoulder of Minas Basin. These were the lands which the Acadians had formerly farmed. These lands are sheltered by the highland of Blomidon to the north, with the rivers Pereaux, Habitant, Canard, St. Antoine (to be renamed the Cornwallis) and the Gaspereau draining them to the Minas Basin, a body of water almost pinched off to the northeast of the Bay of Funday. The two townships to be created out of these lands were to be known as Horton and Cornwallis. (See Morris' Map.) The promise made was that 150 to 200 families would come to settle this area and the government would transport them at its expense. Each passenger would be allowed to bring, at his expense, "stock tools, building materials, and household goods up to a weight of two tons."11 These new settlers, except for the transportation and the free land, would cover all other costs. The agents, however, since there would be fifty poor families which would be accompanying the main group, requested help for these families to the extent of "one bushel of grain a month for each individual for one year, or until the first harvest."

With all these arrangements having been made, the three older agents, Denison, Otis and Harris returned to Connecticut, leaving behind Fuller and Hicks to clean up the details. Hicks on his travels was quite taken up with the lands to the south west and bordering on the Piziquid River, and requested that a settlement in that area might be made by his fellow Rhode Islanders. And, so it was, in complying with Hick's request, the township of Falmouth was created. (See Morris' Map.)

The returning agents from Connecticut were enthusiastic about the land deals they had made in Nova Scotia: news of this was to spread to adjacent colonies. Soon, more agents came to Halifax. For example, there were James Read and John Grow who came up from Massachusetts, and Paul Crocker from New Hampshire; they came up in June of 1759. Out of ensuing negotiations, the township of Granville was created. Next to come were Edward Mott, Benjamin Kimball12, Bliss Willoughby13, and Samuel Starr14; all from Connecticut. These last agents -- certain of them having been involved in the English/French battles that unfolded there in 1755 -- were interested in the lands around Fort Cumberland at the Isthmus of Chignecto (see Morris' Map). For a variety of reasons -- though apparently the government did show these lands to the agents -- lands at the isthmus were not available for settlement at this time.15 The fifth request that year (1759) was from a group represented by Daniel Knowlton16, which request led to the creation of the township of Onslow. (See Morris' Map.) The final grant for 1759 was that to those from Massachusetts17 who wished to settle at Annapolis.

Though it was anticipated that the settlers from New England would start coming in during 1759: they did not, as it took time to make arrangements. It was in the following year, 1760, that the first of the settlers started to arrive. Not only were settlers coming to the valley communities but also they came to Liverpool (see chapter five) on the southern shore of Nova Scotia. Morris sailed from Halifax in May with a view to call by and see how the new communities were doing. His vessel made a stop at Liverpool where he found "the newcomers busy and satisfied." At Annapolis he was greeted by 45 settlers and a small group of "lot layers" who had came up in advance in order to lay out Granville, the new township across the river opposite Annapolis. The Annapolis settlers had come on the Charming Molly and had been chartered through Hancock at Boston in the name of "Henry Evans and associates." Longley observes that on the first voyage of the Charming Molly there was "carried thirty-one men, two women, and twelve children, as well as stock and equipment. Most of the men left their wives and families in Massachusetts until they had prepared living quarters for them. These and other families came later in the year." The settlers for the Granville township were to follow, arriving "late in 1760, and early in 1761."18

Morris after his visit with the new arrivals at Annapolis then swung around out into the Bay of Fundy and then into the Minas Basin. He was just in time to see six sailing vessels coming in under the command of a Captain Rogers. Aboard these six vessels were between two and three hundred of the Connecticut planters who were headed for Horton.19 On June 4th, a larger fleet came into the Basin. It consisted of twenty two ships all of which had been hired by the Nova Scotia government. The fleet was escorted by a "brig of war" under the command of Captain Pigot.20 Thus it was, that the lands which had laid vacate for five years were now to be occupied by New Englanders. These were the very lands that had been previously worked seventy plus years by Acadian families with names such as: Aucoin, Landry, Lapierre, Melanson, Pinet, and Theriault -- now these lands were to be worked by men with names, such as: Bishop, Chipman, Coldwell, Fuller, Harris, Newcomb, Rand, and Starr.21

Later, that fall, on September 13th, 1760, more English settlers were to come into the Cobequid area. These settlers fell into "three main immigrant groups."22 Those that settled in Truro were of "Scotch-Irish" descent. While they come directly from New Hampshire, they were from stock which originally had come from Ireland in the 1720s. Those who settled in Onslow came from Puritan stock, from Massachusetts. Londonderry, somewhat west of Truro and Onslow (see Morris' map), was settled a couple of years later in 1762. Londonderry was one of two communities (the other was New Dublin, south of Lunenburg) established under the auspices of the notorious Colonel Alexander McNutt. The settlers of Londonderry were also "Ulster-Scotch" but they came directly out from Ireland. Though Londonderry is a small back water community these days (compared to Truro), it held great promise in the 18th century. Londonderry counted 20 families in 1763, but, by 1770, the count was 43 families (254 persons); whereas, Truro started with 50 families and by 1770 it dropped to 44 families (282 persons). Onslow, to complete the picture, went, in the same seven year period, from 30 to 37 families (205 persons).23

Londonderry was established in 1761 when McNutt's agents in New England sent up, in 1761, 120 families which "came largely from the Ulster settlements near Londonderry in New Hampshire." There was 250 Irish immigrants that arrived at Halifax (either in the fall of 1760 or 1761), and, after wintering over at Halifax were sent up to Londonderry, though it appears not the entire lot made it to Londonderry.

To finish the review of the settlements made in 1760, we make reference to the township of Falmouth. It will be recalled that a man from Rhode Island, John Hicks, was to have made the arrangements with the government of Nova Scotia. The settlers from Rhode Island were to come in sailing vessels, the names of two of which being the Sally under the command of Jonathan Lovett24 and the Lydia under the command of Samuel Toby. In total there were four sailing vessels which carried 73 families to their new homes to the southwest and bordering on the Piziquid River, another area that had been well populated by the Acadians prior to 1755.

Thus it was, that in the year 1760, Nova Scotia was to receive the first substantial lot of English speaking settlers (next to those that came in with Cornwallis in 1749, most of whom did not stick). Nova Scotia, which on paper had been English since 1713, and which up to mid-century was populated with but French speaking people, now, due the deportation of the French in 1755 and the influx of New Englanders in 1760, was more than English just in name; it had, finally, English speaking inhabitants. Justice Longley concludes:

"By the end of the year 1760, Annapolis County had a new Massachusetts, Kings County a new Connecticut, and the present Hants County a new Rhode Island. The whole Valley was a new, New England, with a population of nearly 2000 people."25

[NEXT: Bk. 2, Pt. 1, Ch. 4 - "The DesBarresian Description of 1763."]

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[The Lion & The Lily -- Book 1 (1500-1763)]
[Settlement, Revolution & War -- Book 2 (1760-1815)]
[The Road To Being Canada -- Book 3 (1815-1867)]

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