New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

A Short History of Early English Nova Scotia

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From the blog at

I was reading an article about John Allan who, like many Nova Scotians, sympathized with the rebellious colonies during the American Revolution. The article was not very interesting except for a remarkably compact and well organized summary of early English colonization of Nova Scotia. The following, then, is short on detail but long on overview. It is taken from Memoir of Colonel John Allan: an officer of the revolution…, by George H. Allan, Albany, N.Y., 1867.

James I

James I of England

Attributed to John de Critz, c. 1605, Wikipedia


A Short History of Early English Nova Scotia

A brief glance at the history of Nova Scotia may be found interesting. Although the claim of England to a large part of North America depends upon the discovery of the country, in 1497, still the colonial history rests entirely on the great charter of James the 1st, April 10, 1606, by which sundry of his subjects were authorized to establish colonies between the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth degrees of north latitude. Subsequent grants to the companies of Virginia and New England extended this title as far north as the forty-eighth degree of north latitude, and over this broad belt of fourteen degrees from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Under this grant, colonies had been established principally by Englishmen as far south as Florida, and at the time of which we write (1750), the English flag waved from that point, along the coast to Cape Breton. The country called Nova Scotia was occupied by the French in 1603, and a settlement made at Port Royal, and subsequently at Mount Desert. In 1613, Capt. Argal was sent to dislodge them, which he effected. In 1621, the territory was granted to Sir Wm. Alexander, secretary of state for Scotland, who gave it its present name. The name of Acadie, which was given it by the French is the Indian word for Pollock, a fish very abundant on that coast. During the next eighty years this country had been taken and retaken alternately by the English and French, but by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, it was ceded by the French to Great Britain.

The accession of George I soon followed the treaty of Utrecht, and while great progress had been made in all the other English colonies in America, nothing of any importance had been done in Nova Scotia towards settling that country.

The governor resided at Annapolis Royal, a small settlement chiefly composed of neutral French; the facility of communication with Now England enabling him to maintain his position with a few companies of provincial troops usually supplied by the old colonies.

The necessity of a British station and military post on the Atlantic coast of the Peninsula had long been felt; but latterly the continued breaches of neutrality on the part of the French population, together with the loss of Louisbourg under the treaty of Aix la Chapelle in October, 1748, rendered such an establishment indispensably necessary to support the dominion of the British crown in the province.

A plan was accordingly submitted to government in the autumn of 1748, and being warmly supported by Lord Halifax, advertisements appeared in the London Gazette, in March, 1749, under the sanction of his Majesty’s authority, “holding out proper encouragement to officers and private men lately discharged from the army and navy to settle in Nova Scotia. Among other inducements, was the offer to convey the settlers to their destination, maintain them for twelve months at the public expense, and to supply them with arms and ammunition for defense, and with materials and articles proper for clearing the land, erecting dwellings and prosecuting the fishing, and also ample grants of land. The encouragements appeared so inviting, that in a short time 1,170 settlers with their families, in all 2,376 persons, were found to volunteer, and the sum of £40,000 being appropriated by parliament for the service, the expedition was placed under the command of Colonel, the Honorable Edward Cornwallis, M.P., as captain general and governor of Nova Scotia, and set sail for Chebucto Bay, the place of destination early in May, 1749.” (Akin’s History of Halifax, p. 5)

The fleet consisted of thirteen transports and a sloop of war, and arrived in safety in the bay of Chebucto early in June, 1749. Such was the care taken for the comfort of this large number of settlers that but one death occurred on the passage.

During the winter months the people were kept actively employed in cutting pickets for fences, and wood for fuel, and in erecting new dwellings. Mills were established, stores opened, supplies of cattle and horses obtained from the Acadian French, and when the spring opened, grain of various sorts was sown. Deputations from the Acadian French, and also from the various Indian tribes were received, and arrangements perfected for the better management of public matters. About this time a fearful epidemic visited the colony, and nearly one thousand persons fell victims during the autumn and following winter.

In August, 1750, about 350 new settlers arrived in the ship Alderney. Most of these were sent across the river and commenced the town of Dartmouth. The next year the Indians who in consequence of the intrigues of French emissaries had become troublesome, attacked the little village at night, killed and scalped a number of the settlers, among whom was John Pyke, father of the late John George Pyke, Esq. (who afterwards married Col. Allan’s sister Elizabeth). The night was calm, and the cries of the settlers and whoops of the Indians were distinctly heard at Halifax.


Written by johnwood1946

September 14, 2016 at 9:16 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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