Case of the honourable the baronets of Scotland and Nova Scotia

“The baronetage, which forms a distinct estate of nobility in the British empire, intermediate between the peerage and knighthood, was erected by his majesty king James I by Charter under the great seal, on the 22nd of May, 1611”

“Sir William Alexander obtained by Royal Charter under the Great Seal of Scotland, bearing date the 10th of September 1621. a grant of the whole of the country of Nova Scotia, with the hereditary Government thereof as the Locum Tenens of the British Crown. The Charter farther invests Sir William Alexander, his heirs, and assignees, with plenary power to colonize the country, erect towns, appoint officers, coin money, administer justice, &c ; reserving however to King James 1st, his heirs and successors, “all places, privileges, prerogatives, pre-eminences and precedencies whatsoever, given, granted, and reserved, or to be given granted and reserved, to the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs, and assignees, Lieutenants of the said country of Nova Scotia, on behalf of the Knight Baronets, and remnant portioners and associates of the said plantation.” On the passing of this Charter under the Great Seal, Sir William Alexander took seisen of Nova Scotia, and thereafter proceeded to found and establish a colony in it.”

“We now come to consider the rights and privileges annexed to their Territorial grants in Nova Scotia.

1st, Territorial ; — A grant of sixteen thousand acres of land to be incorporated into a full, entire, and free Barony and Regality for ever, to be held of the Kingdom of Scotland in blench farm for payment yearly of one penny, if asked only ; the said Regality to extend three miles in length alongst the sea coast, and six in length inland, with gifts of benefices, patronage of churches, fisheries, huntings, minerals, mines, pearls, jewels, offices, jurisdictions, and power of pit and gallowes as plenary as had ever formerly been enjoyed by whatsoever noblemen under the Crown of Scotland; also with express power of planting the said Regality, and of transporting thence from Scotland, or any other parts, persons, goods, and chattels ; with liberty to such persons, their children, and posterity, to have, hold, acquire, enjoy, and possess, all, and whatever, the liberties, privileges, and immunities of children, and natural born subjects of the Kingdom of Scotland, and the other dominions thereunto belonging, as if they had been born in the said Kingdom or dominions.

2 d, Seigneurial ; — The right and liberty to erect cities, towns, villages, corporations, burghs of Barony, &c.; of making and appointing captains, commanders, leaders, governors, mayors, provosts, baillies, justices of the peace, constables, &c. ; of making such particular laws, ordinances, and constitutions as shall be deemed expedient for the good order and police of the Regality, with the heritable justiciary and sheriff-ship of the same ; the power of judging and decerning in all causes as well civil as criminal, within the bounds; of holding Courts of Justiciary, Sheriff Courts, Courts of Free Regality, and Baron, and Barony Courts ; also of appointing their officers, and of exacting and appropriating all escheats, amercements, &c.; also of imposing and levying tolls, customs, anchorages, Sec. Sec.

3d, Commercial : — The right of erecting free ports, harbours, naval stations, Sec., of building ships, craft, vessels. Sec. as well for war as merchandise ; of importing and exporting from and to Scotland or any other country, wares, merchandizes, and commodities of whatever description, for payment of the sum of five pounds Scots money of custom for every hundred pounds only, without payment of any other custom, impost, or duty of any kind ; also of imposing and exacting five pounds for every hundred, on all goods imported into Nova Scotia by the colonists, and ten per cent on all imported by foreigners.

4th, Legislative . — The right, either personally or by deputy, of a suffrage and vote in framing all and sundry the laws to be made concerning the public state, good, and government of the Realm of Nova Scotia, in all assemblies, parliaments, synods, councils, and conventions, to be called together, convened, or held for that end ; and that no person or persons whatsoever, who shall not be heirs of the said Baronies of Regality, shall have vote or suffrage in whatsoever laws concerning the said Realm, without the advice, counsel, and consent of the Baronets.

5th, Personal: — Freedom from arrest, and exemption from all penalties and execution of the laws.

In addition to these rights and privileges, the said Charters empower the Baronets, 1st, if furth of the Kingdom of Scotland, to sit in the Scottish Parliament by deputy ; 2d, gives to them, and those who colonize their Regalities in Nova Scotia, to be judged, ruled, and governed, in all time coming, in all cases, civil and criminal, by the laws of the said Realm of Nova Scotia only, and not by others ; 3d, to have all and whatsoever privileges, liberties, permissions, commodities and immunities, profits, prerogatives, dignities and casualities, generally and particularly, that are specified and expressed in the original infeftment granted to Sir William Alexander and his heirs, and that in as full, free, and ample manner and form, as if the said privileges, prerogatives, immunities, liberties, permissions, dignities, commodities, Sec. with all the clauses and conditions, had been inserted at full length in their patents ; 4th, dispenses with non-entry, and taking seisen in Nova Scotia, and grants authority to have seisen and instruments of possession taken on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh, because the said Realm of Nova Scotia, and original infeftment thereof, is holden of the ancient Kingdom of Scotland, and forms part of the county of Edinburgh ; 5th, promises that the said Charters, with all and sundry privileges, liber- ties, clauses, articles, and conditions as specified, should be ratified, approved, and confirmed, by the Parliament of Scotland, in order that they should have the strength, force, and effect of a decree and sentence of that supreme and pre-eminent tribunal ; and lastly provides, that “the said Charters are and shall be valid, sufficient and effectual, in all time coming, in all parts thereof, as set forth for ever to the said Baronets, their wives, sons, daughters, and son’s wives respectively, and each of them, in law against King Charles I. his heirs and successors, and against all other persons whatsoever, in all His courts, and those of his heirs and successors, and in all other places whatsoever, at all times and occasions, notwithstanding whatsoever law, custom, prescription, practice, ordinance, or constitution hitherto made, ordained, or published ; or hereafter at whatsoever time to be made, ordained, and published, or provided, and notwithstanding any other matter, cause, or occasion whatsoever.”

Such are the rights and privileges dignitorial and territorial, conferred upon the Baronets of Scotland and Nova Scotia, by the Charters of King James I. and King Charles I. Up to the date 31st July, 1637, all the Baronets created by King Charles I., or under his commission of the 25th of July, 1625, had their grants of land and their boundaries, fully defined in their diplomas; and out of this number, 111 in all, 66 had seisen of their Baronies. From this latter date to the Union in 1707, all the Baronets created, whether during the reign of King Charles 1. or by his successors, of whom nearly 100 representatives exist, had no grants of land in Nova Scotia given per expressum, but the rights of the institution were conveyed to them in shorter, and general terms. There seems to be an impression that the Baronets created after 1657, stand on a different foundation from those created before that date. This is an error. The Baronetage was ex- tended to Scotland for a specific object — the plantation of New Scotland, and King Charles I. bound himself, his heirs and successors, never to elevate any one to that dignity, except for this purpose. Every Baronet, therefore, created under the Great Seal of Scotland, whether before or after 1637, is entitled to the rights and privileges of the institution, whether dignitorial and territorial, in their complete extent. The only difference between the senior Baronets and the junior, is this, that the former got their grants of land, whilst the latter have still to get them.”

Broun, R. (Richard), Sir, 1801-1858. Case of the Honourable the Baronets of Scotland And Nova Scotia: Shewing Their Rights And Privileges, Dignatorial And Territorial. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood, 1836.