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The Most Gentlemanlike Government on Earth

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The Most Gentlemanlike [Government] on Earth

Ward Chipman

Ward Chipman

A friend of Edward Winslow from the earliest days.

Edward Winslow (abt. 1746-1815) said that he was mortified when he wrote the following letter to Ward Chipman in July of 1783. He had been born into a prominent Massachusetts family with roots going back to the Mayflower. He had graduated from Harvard and was ready to take on the responsibilities of being a Winslow. The American Revolution was formative in determining his future, however, as he was a strident Tory. He fought for the British during the Revolution and became muster master general of the loyalist forces.

His family’s financial position had been tenuous for some time, and was not in a good condition when he evacuated Boston for New York. By 1783, the war was totally lost, and Edward Winslow and family did not have sufficient resources to go to England. He therefore became an agent for Loyalist regiments and evacuated to Nova Scotia.

Winslow soon relocated to Saint John, and his reference in the attached letter to New Brunswick becoming a separate Province is perhaps the first time that that speculation was ever put to paper. The letter describes his vision for the Province as “the most Gentlemanlike [Government] on earth”, and it was he who also said “by God! we will be the envy of the American states.”

Living in a camp at Saint John, and mortified or not, he was busy ‘networking’ his substantial connections in support of his ambitions for himself and what he hoped would be the new Province.

This letter is from The Winslow Papers, 1776 to 1826, edited by W.O. Raymond in 1901.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Edward Winslow to Ward Chipman.

River St. John’s 7th July, 1783.

That’s a good fellow Chip, a long letter from an old friend received in this desert is like a glimpse of glory. I know Tom Coffin would write if he could. I am sorry you’d so much trouble in effecting the business I wrote you about by Ryersen. I did not intend it.

You have gratified me much by the account given me of my father’s situation and the state of the family—would to God the comfort they now enjoy could be continued to them. Is there any chance my dear Chip that recompence will be made to the Loyalists by Government? Will it be possible for my poor father to obtain only a sufficiency to support him in England for a little time? If so will it not be best for him to go there? What can I do for them, Chip? I should merit the curse of all of ’em were I to give the least encouragement for them to come here. The mortifications which I experience and laugh at would be insupportable to them; the whole country is crowded, the towns are expensive beyond belief, they can’t live on rations, nor in sodded huts. If it is fashionable or necessary to make representations of sufferings I am sure you will do it for him. Suppose he obtains any part of a single thousand pounds it will be enough. He can get nothing here; it will be half an eternity before any man will be worth a third of that money. Perhaps in a few years the present savage appearance of this country may in some degree be changed and I may offer them an asylum. Penny’s good sense enables her to see this business in a proper light. You must settle it among you; they all know that if anything is done for me in England it will be for their benefit,—I’ll have done with this subject. * * *

I saw your new appointment with pleasure. May your consequence be increased until your ambition is satisfy’d and then I think you’ll be a pretty consequential fellow. I like your scheme of going to England. I’ll not be too sanguine in my opinions—I do think this province ere long will be a good stage for abilities like yours to exhibit upon. The present Att. Gen.1 here is an ignorant harmless nincompoop and the Sol. Gen.2 is a great lubberly insolent irish rebel, indeed I do not find that there’s a man of any consequence in the profession. Sterns is the most so (really) at Halifax. When the variety of people who compose your garrison have scattered about in different parts of this province, I think a gentleman may find an eligible situation and in a good society but this is a subject that shall be treated on largely and deliberately—at present I am in a camp where one man is laying out roads, another building boats, &c.

You wish to know what are my views, plans and prospects. In a few words my faithful friend, In the situation I left, my views were at an end, I had no plans and my prospects were blacker than hell. I knew that the appointment of agent to the Provincials would give me consequence here and furnish employment for my mind. Hitherto everything has happened as I could have wished, the reception I met with from the General, Governor, and all the great people in the country was beyond my most sanguine expectations, it has revived all my old spirits and I have adopted a style that would astonish you. There’s not a man from this quarter that presumes to solicit from head Quarters without my recommendation and I have effected some business for meritorious characters which has afforded me vast pleasure. Our old friend Marston has felt the benefit of a pointed application to the Governor without his knowledge. He is appointed a chief Magistrate, or a kind of Governor-General, at Port Roseway and is a confidential man with Governor Parr. I am particularly gratify’d at this circumstance for various reasons.

We have just begun our operations in the land way, the people who have arrived here are prodigiously pleased with the country and I shall certainly soon be possessed of a good farm, and if we’ve our half pay I will be more than comfortable. I have left those sweet little ones in as comfortable a place as is in this province, made so by own exertions. I found a house and hired it for £6 a year and I’ve taken a lease for two years. I added two rooms and a chimney and have now a spare bed room at your service, ’tis just on the bank of a most beautiful river immediate opposite the town of Annapolis. I have left Thomson’s William3 to superintend, and mother Silk4 & little George. We have plenty of poultry, a good garden and such a variety of fish as you never saw, and I have built a tolerable boat. So much for the family.

On this side of the Bay of Fundy I am speculating pretty largely. I have taken three town lots on the West side of the river5 in the most delightful situations I ever saw, for myself, Major Coffin and Col. Ludlow, on condition to build a tenantable house on each within six months. Coffin’s is already in some forwardness and my own and Major Murray’s will soon make a figure. Should our farms in the general division fall at a distance from this, we cannot lose by the exertion; the houses will cost but a very trifle, and those who are obliged to come without such covering prepared will be glad to pay the expense. I am at present at Murray’s Quarters in a township which we shall lay out for the provincials and we have already cut a road from his camp to the river about three miles.

I will not aim at a description of this business. We cut yesterday with about l20 men more than a mile thro’ a forest hitherto deemed impenetrable. When we emerged, from it, there opened, a prospect superior to anything in the world, I believe. A perfect view of the immense Bay of Fundy on one side, a very extensive view of the river St. John’s with the Falls, Grand Lake (or Bay) and Islands on the other—in front the Fort, which is a beautiful object on a high hill, and all settlements about the town with the ships, boats, &c., in the harbour—It was most positively the most magnificent and romantic scene I have ever beheld. Our town is to be on the slope of this hill, and you shall have a house on it whether you ever see it or not by Jupiter. I shall look in future with extreme contempt on your poetical descriptions of your pussy, meandering, serpentine, purling rills, &c—any man, woman or child that has not a stranguary can make such in a minute—but on viewing a prospect like this any Infidel would acknowledge that only God could effect it.

Thank you for the articles you sent me. I am infinitely obliged to Tom Coffin for the encouragement about the seine and boat, and to Gilfillan; you cannot imagine of how much consequence such things are. Should the post be abandoned this fall I am sure I shall not be forgotten. Send me anything in the world that you can procure without expense. With respect to cash Chip, I have done monstrously well— the tour to Halifax was d——d expensive, but I am determined to be repaid. The 30 Guineas I received of you and 25 out of the abstract, has hitherto answered my purpose for building houses, boats, supporting family and travelling expenses, and as I am now in a wilderness I shall make out till my own subsistence is due.

I have received a letter from Fred Philips of an old date, I cannot find from that or yours if he is determined to go to England or not. I promised him letters, he knows how interested I am in everything which concerns him. I have postponed sending them because it is my intention, as we survey the different townships and cruise in the different rivers to form as elegant a description of them as possible with the assistance of a most able hand who is retained in my service for that purpose, these I shall transmit to Great Britain to my Lord Percy by him, and I am determined at all events to distinguish myself by proposing a plan which affords the grandest field for speculation which ever offered. Take the general map of this Province (even as it is now bounded), observe how detached this part is from the rest, how vastly extensive it is, notice the rivers, harbours, &c., Consider the numberless inconveniences that must arise from its remoteness from the metropolis and the difficulty of communication. Think what multitudes have and will come here, and then judge whether it must not from the nature of things immediately become a separate government6, and if it does it shall be the most Gentlemanlike one on earth. Suppose you and he go to England after being provided with the necessary facts, can you be better employed than in a solicitation of this kind properly authorized. You know how Industrious I can be if I please and you may rest assured I will pursue this project with unremitted attention. The people on the other side [the Bay] are already jealous, even the Gov’r fears it evidently, we have therefore been perfectly snug yet. Tell him (Fred) that the want of subjects to render my letters acceptable and of consequence was the only cause of my not forwarding them before. Fanning is expected every hour here and I could have wrote only to Innes a formal letter of recommendation which would not have satisfy’d my mind. I wish to be more serviceable to a man I love like him, I intended to have wrote him, I can’t—do you give him a share of this. Acquaint him that White Stocking’s colt is very ugly —to make up for it she has been maneuvred by Tartar—of course she will have an elegant one next time, this has been performed by consent of Council. She has never been saddled since she landed at Nova Scotia and is fatter than he ever saw her. The other is a very good horse.

Tell Tom Coffin that Miss Fanny was safely delivered of sixteen puppies—twelve of which were so handsome that a court martial that sat the day I left Annapolis, at which Lt. Col. DeLancey presided, could not agree to destroy any of ’em.

I wrote my father and sisters from Annapolis so lately that they must excuse me now.

Coffin, Brinley, Townsend, Chew, ‘tother Fred’7, everybody, will believe that I remember them affectionately.

I had a letter prepared for Mr. Watson which, from a circumstance that has lately taken place, I must defer sending by this conveyance. Say everything to him for me that gratitude can suggest and to that best of friends Dr. Bailey, they will readily believe that I have little time to spare. I shall write Col. Ludlow a few lines—there is no Providence if he suffers.

Next time you write me inclose a short note to Pop — it will gratify her. If you had ever an esteem for her it will increase when you know with what perfect propriety she has conducted.

Adieu, my friend—



Ed. Winslow.

This letter is a monster in every respect. My Boy is not dead, thank Heaven, & Paddock8 has gone to see him.


  1. The attorney general here referred to was Richard Gibbons. He was appointed chief justice of Cape Breton December 24, 1784, and Sampson Salter Blowers succeeded him as attorney general of Nova Scotia.
  2. The reference is to Richard John Uniacke. See collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, vol. ix, p. 83.
  3. Colonel Benjamin Thompson’s servant or groom. See letter under date 2nd August, 1783, in this book [not included in this blog].
  4. Evidently a black servant, probably a slave.
  5. These lots were on the west side of St. John harbor, in Carleton.
  6. Anticipating the formation of a new Province on the north side of the Bay of Fundy. The idea seems to have originated with Edward Winslow, who suggested it to Colonel Fox. This letter contains the first known reference to the subject.
  7. The names of these officers will be found among the correspondence of Edward Winslow. “T’other Fred” is explained by the fact that there were two captains named Frederick Phillips, one of them in the Loyal American Regiment and the other in the King’s American Dragoons. Both were Winslow’s intimate friends and associates during the war.
  8. Doctor Adino Paddock was formerly of Boston. He was a son of Major Adino Paddock, who planted the Paddock elms in Tremont street, Boston. In 1779 he went to England and studied medicine and surgery. Returning to America he became surgeon in the King’s American Dragoons. He settled after the War at St. John, N. B., but later went to St. Mary’s in York Co., where he died. A son and grandson bore the name of “Adino”; both were physicians. The grandson, Dr. Adino Paddock, died at Kingston, N. B., in August, 1893. There was consequently a continuous practice of 110 years by the three Adino’s, father, son, and grandson.

Written by johnwood1946

November 18, 2015 at 8:01 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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