Nova Scotia’s Charter

“In the Royal Charter granted in 1621 to Sir William Alexander lies the origin of Nova Scotia as a Province and of the name it bears. It is with the conditions leading up to this grant and consequent upon it, as well as with the Charter itself, that the present article is concerned.”

“The grant was to Sir William, his heirs, and assigns, or “to any other that will join with him in the whole or in any part thereof,” to be held of the crown as part of Scotland. The royal warrant was signed by the King at Windsor on the tenth of September, 1621, and was registered on the 29th of that month. The land thus conveyed was of large extent, though of course much smaller than the original grant to New England, of which it formed but a surrendered part.”

“The rights and privileges conferred on Sir William Alexander by the Charter have been, generally speaking, considered as almost unlimited. This, undoubtedly, is true, but if the usages of the time ·be taken into account the concessions will not appear excessive or exceptionally generous.”

“Among the rights conferred were:-all minerals, which (except a tenth royalty on gold and silver) were untaxable, the more easily to bear the large expense of operating and of reducing and refining the ores: forests without restrictions; the fisheries in fresh and salt waters, and pearls; the spoils of the chase, hunting etc. Any of these things that might be sold or inherited were granted with full powers, privileges and jurisdiction of free royalty for ever. There were also granted :-the patronage by which clergymen were appointed to churches; the offices of justiciary and admiralty; the authority to establish free ports, markets, and fairs, to regulate fees and trade revenues, to hold courts of justice, to represent the Crown on the coasts and within the bounds as hereditary Lieutenant -Governor of New Scotland …… and in that capacity to erect civil and municipal jurisdictions, to make ordinances for government and for administration of justice in civil and criminal cases. The laws and their interpretation were to be as consistent as possible with those of Scotland. In case of sedition or rebellion the Governor could invoke martial law as might be done by any other Lieutenant of the King in an overseas Dominion. To encourage settlement honours could be bestowed on deserving persons, power was given to enforce the fulfillment of contracts, to make grants of land, to use the necessary means for the protection of life and property, and to carry on overseas trade and commerce, on which after three years exemption the Crown became entitled to an impost of five per cent. Emigrants to New Scotland were required to take the oath of allegiance to the King before embarking; settlers, their children and posterity were entitled to enjoy all the liberties, rights and privileges of free and native subjects of Scotland, or of other English Dominions “as if they had been born there.” The power to regulate and coin money was granted in the interest of a free movement of; trade and commerce. These were the main points in the Charter from a business point of view.”

“For the purpose of taking possession of lands after the feudal fashion then prevailing, Nova Scotia was made a part of the county of Edinburgh, and at Edinburgh Castle the ceremony of Sasine was performed.”

See also:

Fraser, Alexander. "Nova Scotia's Charter" Dalhousie Review, Volume 01, Number 4, 1922