Dartmouth Parish (The Harbour of Halifax)

One of the only maps I’ve seen that shows what is a political division, “Dartmouth Parish”, I believe this is a reference to it being a bishopric. From Coke Upon Littleton:

“…the ancient towns called boroughs are the most ancient towns in England; and from these towns come the burgesses of parliament, when the king has summoned his parliament. Every borough incorporate that had a bishop within time of memory, is a city, albeit the bishopric be dissolved…It is not necessary that a city be a county of itself; as Cambridge, Ely, Westminster &c. are cities, but are no counties of themselves, but are part of the counties where they are.”

This ancient constitutional precept can be seen in Nova Scotian municipalities, at least, it was more easily seen while they were still legitimate municipal corporations, previous to the 1996 municipal coup when they had separate jurisdiction from the Counties in which they resided. This may have been owing to Nova Scotia’s Virginian Constitutional foundation as much as it was due to any influence from England. [“After the incorporation of Halifax (1841) and Dartmouth (1873), which made those cities geographically but not politically part of the County, the House of Assembly adopted the County incorporation Act in 1879.”].

“In Virginia, “town” means any existing town or an incorporated community within one or more counties that became a town before noon, July 1, 1971. Interestingly, the Code of Virginia allows for a process known as reversion. This process allows a city with a population of less than 50,000 to become a town. Two former cities, South Boston and Clifton Forge, have reverted.

Both cities and towns operate under charters (little constitutions) granted by the Virginia General Assembly. Unless state law says otherwise, charter provisions take precedent over state law. To amend or replace its charter, a city or town has to obtain General Assembly approval.

Unlike cities, which are independent geographically, incorporated towns are territorial subdivisions of the counties within which they are situated. Town residents are subject to county ordinances. They pay taxes to the county as well as the town, and they vote in county elections. Towns cannot levy a sales tax, but they do share in county sales tax revenue. Town annexations, unlike city annexations, do not remove territory from the county.

Until 1887 no formal distinction was made in law between cities and towns. Today, towns perform many of the same functions as cities, except they do not have courts, constitutional officers, or electoral boards. They do not supply social services, public and mental health services, community corrections and juvenile justice services, and (with a couple of exceptions) they do not operate schools. Instead, towns receive those services from the county of which they are a part.”

“Civics Education”, Local Government in Virginia. Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education. https://www.civiceducationva.org/valocal3.php

“Virginia’s thirty-eight incorporated cities are politically and administratively independent of the counties with which they share borders, just as counties are politically and administratively independent of each other. This separation of counties and independent cities evolved slowly beginning with the incorporation of the first city, Williamsburg, in 1722 and has no statewide parallel anywhere else in the United States.

From 1722 until 1892, towns became cities only by act of the General Assembly, which issued a city charter in the form of a statute; after 1892 a town could also incorporate as a city by petition to the circuit court. The first state constitutional mention of separate cities and counties came in the Constitution of 1869 and in the enabling legislation passed in the 1869–1870 General Assembly session. The constitution required that each county be divided into townships, and the enabling act stipulated that the commissioners appointed to lay off the townships (later changed to magisterial districts) should not include therein any town or city with a population of 5,000 or more. The Constitution of 1902 made no specific reference to independent cities but included provisions recognizing the principle that Virginia’s cities were independent of their neighboring counties. The Constitution of 1971 codified the independent status of Virginia’s cities.”

“Cities of Virginia”, Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/cities-of-virginia/

This was very much the situation of Nova Scotia as well until the unitary revisions to Nova Scotia’s (unwritten and therefore forever fungible) constitution which were made quite recently.

That the establishment of Dartmouth Township (among others) predated Halifax County, that the incorporated Municipality of the Town of Dartmouth inherited the constitutional machinery of Dartmouth Township, preceding the incorporation of a municipalized “Halifax County”, which was later integrated into what became the chartered city of Dartmouth, is a further example as to the constitutional order as it relates to local government.

Some interesting features are included, including the Ferryhouse located at the bottom of Old Ferry Road, the flour mill just outside of the town plot, as well as the “three hills above Dartmouth”, (which I believe is in reference to “Mt. Amelia” at the top of Old Ferry Road, “Silver’s Hill” in the Sinclair neighborhood and “Mt. Thom” aka Brightwood).

“The Harbour of Halifax”, Backhouse, Th. 1798. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53090052z, https://archives.novascotia.ca/maps/archives/?ID=226