Scottish colonial schemes, 1620-1686

Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling

“The tale of effective English settlement begins in 1607 with the plantation of Jamestown in Virginia by the London Virginia Company. In 1612 the island of Bermuda, discovered three years previously by Sir George Somers, was added by a charter to Virginia, but was later formed into a separate colony. On the reorganization of the Plymouth Virginia Company as the New England Council, followed the gradual settlement of the coast well to the north of Virginia: the decade 1620-1630 saw in its opening year the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth; in its closing year it witnessed the migration of the Massachusetts Bay Company to Salem. In the Caribbean Islands English settlers had, within the same decade, made a joint occupation of St. Christopher’s with the French, and had begun the plantation of Nevis and Barbados. In the following decade, Connecticut and Rhode Island were established; Maine was granted to Sir Ferdinando Gorges; the foundation of New Hampshire was laid by Captain John Mason; and Leonard Calvert, brother of the second Lord Baltimore, conducted a band of emigrants to Maryland. Some of these settlements owed their origin to the political strife between the early Stuart Kings and those who opposed them either on political or on religious grounds: others, again, were founded by courtiers who saw in the undeveloped lands beyond the Atlantic an opportunity of establishing a new feudalism. By absorbing the energies of Cavalier and Parliamentarian the Civil War brought to a close the first epoch of English colonial progress. The second epoch opened with the capture of Jamaica in 1655 by the expedition under Admiral Penn and General Venables, sent out by Cromwell. The decade following the Restoration saw the grant of a Charter to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina; the capture of New Amsterdam from the Dutch, followed by the grant of New Jersey to Carteret and Berkeley; the founding of a company for the development of the Bahamas. The next two decades saw the development of East and West Jersey, under Proprietory governments, in which Quaker influence was latterly to become very strong, and this led up naturally to the establishment in 1681 of the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania. The establishment of Georgia in 1732 stands outside the general range of English colonial expansion ; it owed its origin partly to the nascent philanthropic tendencies of the eighteenth century, partly to political considerations; designed by Oglethorpe as a colony of refuge for men who had suffered imprisonment for debt, Georgia commended itself both to the American colonists and to the Imperial government as a barrier against Spanish aggression.

To the history of English colonial expansion during the seventeenth century the record of Scottish colonial enterprise in the days before the Union of 1707 offers a striking contrast. Virginia had struggled successfully through its critical early years, and the Pilgrims had crossed the Atlantic before Sir William Alexander received in 1621, from King James, the charter that conveyed to him the grant of Nova Scotia, to be holden of the Crown of Scotland. The expedition that sailed from Kirkcudbright in the summer of 1622 did not even reach the shores of Sir William’s new domain, but was obliged to winter at Newfoundland; the relief expedition dispatched in 1623 did indeed explore a part of the coast of Acadie, but did not effect a settlement. Thereafter the project languished for some years, but in 1629 a small Scottish colony was established at Port Royal on the Bay of Fundy : its brief and precarious existence was terminated by the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye in 1632. In 1629, too, a small Scottish colony was planted by Lord Ochiltree on one of the coves of the Cape Breton coast : after an existence of a few months it was broken up by a French raiding force. Half a century after these fruitless efforts to establish Scottish colonies, two attempts were made to form Scottish settlements within the territories occupied by the English colonists: the Quaker Scottish settlement of East Jersey met with considerable success; but after a very brief and very troubled existence the small Presbyterian colony of Stuart’s Town in South Carolina was destroyed by a Spanish force from St. Augustine. The ever-growing desire of the Scottish merchants to have a colony of their own, to have a market for the goods produced by the factories that began to spring up in Scotland during the closing decades of the seventeenth century, found expression in the eagerness with which Scottish investors entrusted their carefully garnered savings to the Directors of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies: and never was more tragic contrast than that between the anticipations roused by the Darien Scheme and the tale of disaster that is the record of the Darien expeditions.

Yet though the history of Scottish colonial enterprise reveals but a meagre record of actual achievements, that history is invested with a romantic interest that renders it more akin, in its essential aspects, to the story of French colonial activities in North America than to the somewhat prosaic annals of the English settlements along the Atlantic sea-board. When the Scots came into conflict in North America with their Ancient Ally, the course of events seemed to threaten the very existence of the French power, not only in Acadie, where Port Royal was effectively occupied by the Master of Stirling, but also along the St. Lawrence valley: the security of the ocean gateway to that region was menaced by Ochiltree’s fortalice on Cape Breton Island : in 1629 Champlain surrendered his fort and habitation of Quebec to Captain Kirke, who was operating in connection with the Scots: the thistle had for the moment triumphed over the fleur-de-lys. It is not wholly chimerical to imagine that if and the St. Lawrence valley had not been surrendered by Charles I. in 1632, the feudal organization designed for Sir William Alexander’s province and the adventurous life that Canadian lake and forest and river opened up to the daring pioneer would have offered to the Scottish military adventurer a congenial sphere of activity and a life quite as attractive as that of a career of arms in Sweden or in Muscovy. And the student of military history who remembers that on the Cape Breton coast, near the spot where Ochiltree’s fortalice was razed to the ground, there was erected a French fort that grew ultimately into the mighty citadel of Louisbourg, will not be unwilling to concede that the Scottish station might well have played an important part in colonial naval and military strategy.”

“Scottish traditions, military, economic and religious—traditions deep-rooted and powerful—united, we have seen, to direct to the continent of Europe, Scotsmen who quitted their native shores to live by the sword, to find a competence in trade, or to seek a temporary shelter from the rigour of political-ecclesiastical persecution. When, indeed, the question of transatlantic enterprise was first brought to the notice of the scots privy council, the emotions which it excited were those of distrust and repugnance.

It must, however, be admitted that the suggested exodus from Scotland against which the lords of the privy council made a diplomatic but firm protest to King James, sixth and first, had been designed by that monarch not wholly in the interests of the prospective emigrants. Towards the close of the year 1617, the star chamber, in pursuance of the royal policy of establishing a lasting peace throughout the debatable land, had evolved a code of stringent regulations for the suppression of disorder there. This code was, of course, applicable only to those districts of the middle shires that belonged to England, but the king had sent a copy of it to the scots privy council with instructions to consider how far the measures designed to impart docility to the English borderers might be made to apply north of the tweed. “this question was dealt with by the scots privy council on the 8th January, 1618. To the line of policy suggested by the thirteenth section of the code, the council took decided exception. This section provided for a survey and information to be taken of the most notorious and leude persones and of their faultes within northumberland, cumberland, etc., and declared that the royal purpose was to send the most notorious leiveris of thame into Virginia or to sum remote parts, to serve in the wearris or in collonies. On the course of action implied in this section the comment of the council was discreet but unequivocal: sieing be the lawes of this kingdome and general band everie landislord in the middle schyres is bunded to be answerabil for all theis that dwell on his land, the counsell sees no necessitie that the course prescryveit in the xiij article be followed out here. On this judicious remonstrance the editors of the privy council records make the apposite remark, that Virginia and all the other available colonies of that time being English, the council probably disliked the idea of trusting even Scottish criminals to the tender mercies of English taskmasters.

Three months after the despatch of this diplomatic non placet, the sage of whitehall informed the Scottish council that their judgment seemed strange and unadvyse ” and insisted on their acceptance of the principle in dispute. Dutifully they deferred to the royal mandate. Yet the conciliar conscience was not altogether easy concerning the possible fate of kindly scots from the borders: at the beginning of 1619, the council instructed the commissioners of the middle shires to intimate to the transportation sub-committee that in the execution of that peece of servise concredit unto thame they use the advyse and opinoun of the lords of his majestie’s previe counsall.

It is perhaps more than a coincidence that almost at the very time when the king’s desire to employ Virginia as a convenient penitentiary for unruly scots was engaging the attention of the scots privy council, the lord mayor of London and sir thomas smyth, the treasurer of the Virginia company, should be not a little puzzled by a problem that had arisen from king james’ determination to send some of his English subjects to Virginia. It was on 8th January, 1618, that the scots privy council discussed the king’s plan for dealing with turbulent borderers. On 13th January, 1618, King James wrote thus from his “court att newmarkitt” to Sir Thomas Smyth:

Trustie and well beloved wee greet you well; whereas our court hath of late been troubled with divers idle yonge people, who although they have been twise punished still continue to followe the same havvinge noe ymployment; wee havvinge noe other course to cleer our court from them have thought fitt to send them unto you desiringe you att the next oportunitie to send them away to virginia and to take sure order that they may be sett to worke there, wherein you shall not only doe us good service but also doe a deed of charitie by employinge them who otherwise will never be reclaymed from the idle life of vagabonds. . . . “

This letter sir thomas smyth received on the evening of the 18th of January: some of the prospective deportees had already reached london. The perturbation of the worthy treasurer reveals itself clearly in the letter which he addressed to the lord mayor immediately on the receipt of the royal mandate:

Right honoble: I have this eveninge receaved a lice from his matie att newmarkitt requiring me to send to Virginia diverse younge people who wanting imployment doe live idle and followe the courte, notwithstanding they have been punished as by his highnes lres (which i send you lp. Here with to yo to see) more at large appeareth. Now for as much as some of thies by his mats royall comand are brought from newmarkitt to London alreadie and others more are consigned after, and for that the companie of Virginia hath not anie shipp att present readie to goe thither neither any means to imploy them or secure place to detain them in untill the next oportunitie to transport them (which i hope wilbee very shortlie) i have therefore thought fitt for the better accomplishing his highness pleasure therein to intreatyor l’ps favour and assistance that by yr. L’ps favour these persons may be detained in bridewill and there sett to worke untill our next shipp shall depte for Virginia, wherein yor lp. Shall doe an acceptable service to his maty and myself bee enabled to pforme that which is required of me. Soe i comend you to god and rest.

Yr lps. Assured louvinge friend

tho: smith. This Mundaie eveninge
18 januar 1618.”

Of the subsequent experiences of the young rufflers for whom the treasurer in his perturbation besought the temporary hospitality of the bridewill the london records give no account.

The deloraines of the debatable land were not the only scottish subjects of king james for whom the new world seemed to offer itself obligingly as a spacious and convenient penitentiary. In the spring of 1619, while the religious controversy aroused by the issue of the five articles of perth was still raging bitterly, one of the arguments by means of which archbishop spotswood sought to influence the recalcitrant ministers of midlothian was a threat of banishment to American ominous foreshadowing of the practice that was to become all too common in covenanting days.

At the very time when both king and archbishop were concerning themselves with the repressive efficacy of exile to Virginia, an obscure group of Scottish adventurers had found in the oldest of England’s transatlantic possessions an attractive, if somewhat exciting sphere of enterprise; and the claims of newfoundland as a place of settlement suitable for Scottish emigrants were soon to be urged with some degree of ostentation. It is, indeed, but a brief glimpse that we obtain from colonial records of the activities of these Scottish pioneers. In march, 1620, there was received by King James a petition from the treasurer and the companie with the Scottish undertakers of the plantations in newfoundland. After references to the growing prosperity of the country and to the magnitude of the fishing industry, the petitioners complain of the losses caused by the raids of pirates and by the turbulence of the fishermen. Steps, however, have been taken to combat these evils: and theirfor since your maties subjects of England and Scotland are now joyned togither in hopes of a happy time to make a more settled plantation in the newfoundland. Their humble petition is for establishing of good orders and preventing enormities among the fishers and for securing the sd. Plantations and fishers from pyrates. That your matie would be pleased to grant a power to john mason the present governor of our collonies (a man approved by us and fitting for that service) to be lieftenant for your matie in the sq. Parts. This petition is endorsed: the scottish undertakers of the plan tation in the new found land. “

Brief as is this glimpse of the activities of the early Scottish planters in newfoundland, and tantalising as is its lack of detail, the meagre information it yields is of no little interest to the historian of colonial enterprise, for it is the first evidence that has come down to us of Scottish colonising activity in the new world. Moreover, it affords an eminently reasonable explanation of why captain john mason should seek to stimulate Scottish interest in newfoundland by the compilation of his brief discourse of the new-found-land . . . Inciting our natione to go forward in the hopefulle plantation begunne. Fortunately we can gather from the general course of colonial development in Newfoundland a tolerably complete idea of the plantation in which the scots were undertakers: and it is possible to trace with some fulness both in Scottish and in colonial history the romantic career of captain John Mason.”

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“This slow progress in the development of Newfoundland was due less to lack of effort on the part of Englishmen interested in colonisation than to misdirection of effort. Soon after the annexation there was published A True Report of the Late Discoveries, by Sir George Peckhamthe first of a series of commendatory pamphlets that are useful guides to the early history of Newfoundland. In the retrospective light shed by the later history of the English plantations, it is instructive to consider the nature of the inducements held out, in the year of grace 1583, to prospective pioneers. Much is naturally made of the claims of the fishing industry; but the importance of Newfoundland as a base for a voyage to India by the North-West Passage is also urged; and any feudal instincts that may have survived the ungenial regime of the early Tudors are appealed to by the promise to 100 subscribers of a grant of 16,000 acres of land with authority to hold Court Leet and Court Baron.

It lies, of course, primarily within the province of the feudal lawyer to determine how these franchises were to be exercised when there were no vassals to assemble in Court Baron, and This slow progress in the development of Newfoundland was due less to lack of effort on the part of Englishmen interested in colonisation than to misdirection of effort. Soon after the annexation there was published A True Report of the Late Discoveries, by Sir George Peckhamthe first of a series of commendatory pamphlets that are useful guides to the early history of Newfoundland. In the retrospective light shed by the later history of the English plantations, it is instructive to consider the nature of the inducements held out, in the year of grace 1583, to prospective pioneers. Much is naturally made of the claims of the fishing industry; but the importance of Newfoundland as a base for a voyage to India by the North-West Passage is also urged; and any feudal instincts that may have survived the ungenial regime of the early Tudors are appealed to by the promise to 100 subscribers of a grant of 16,000 acres of land with authority to hold Court Leet and Court Baron.

It lies, of course, primarily within the province of the feudal lawyer to determine how these franchises were to be exercised when there were no vassals to assemble in Court Baron, and when such inhabitants of Newfoundland as might, by the potency of seal and parchment, find themselves transformed into customary tenants of a manor were by no means likely to accept with docility such a change of status. For the winter crews, whose scattered settlements fringed the southern and south-eastern shores of the island, belonged to a class of men long noted for turbulence and independence of spirit. The first effective plantation of Newfoundland was carried out early in the seventeenth century by a company imbued with a spirit differing widely from the feudal and romantic tendencies of Peckham. The Company of adventurers and planters of the cittie of London and Bristol for the colony or plantation in Newfoundland, which received its charter in 1611, had as one of its leading members Sir Francis Bacon, and it was probably through his influence that it obtained, despite the royal impecuniosity, a considerable subsidy from King James. Of the merchants identified with the company, the most prominent was Alderman John Guy of Bristol, who in 1611 conducted the first colonists from the Severn sea-port to Cupid’s Cove, a land-locked anchorage at the head of Harbour Grace. The prosperity that attended this settle ment from its earliest days may be ascribed almost with certainty to the guidance it received from the practical counsel of Bacon and the commercial acumen of Alderman Guy. It was with the activities of this settlement at Cupid’s Cove that the Scottish planters had identified themselves.

The only dangers that in any way threatened the success of the colony were the hostility shown towards the planters by the fishermen and the devastation caused by the raids of pirates, and when, in 1615, Guy was succeeded in the governor ship by Captain John Mason, the colonists might with reason feel confident that their destinies had been entrusted to a man well fitted, both by character and by experience, to protect them from their foes.”

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“By 1619 Virginia had safely weathered the storms of the early years of its existence. The grant in November, 1620, of the fresh charter to the Plymouth Company, remodelled as The Council established at Ply mouth in the County of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of New England in America, seemed to promise a more successful issue to the efforts to colonise the more northern part of the territory. The leading part in the reorganisation of the Plymouth company was taken by Sir Ferdinando GorgesThe Father of English Colonisation in North America. With Gorges Sir William was on terms of friendship. The colonising zeal of Gorges proved contagious. * Alexander’s mind was fired by the possibilities of colonial enterprise. His resolution to engage in such enterprise seems to have been strengthened by arguments adduced by Captain John Mason on his return to England in 1621. Alexander no longer hesitated : he, too, would play his part in colonial enterprise. Having sundry times exactly weighed that which I have already delivered, and being soe exceedingly enflamed to doe some goode in that kind, he declares in his Encouragement to Colonies, that I would rather bewray the weaknesse of my power than conceale the greatnesse of my desire, being much encouraged hereunto by Sir Ferdinando Gorge and some others of the undertakers of New England, I shew them that my countriemen would never adventure in such an Enterprise, unlesse it were as there was a New France, a New Spaine, and a New England, that they might likewise have a New Scotland, and for that effect they might have bounds with a correspondencie in proportion (as others had) with the Country thereof it should beare the name, which they might hold of their owne Crowne, and where they might be governed by their owne Lawes. “Sir William’s patriotic desires were respected. On August 5th, 1621, King James intimated to the Scots Privy Council that Sir William Alexander had a purpose to procure a forraine Plantation, haveing made choice of landes lying betweene our Colonies of New England and Newfoundland, both the Governors whereof have encouraged him thereunto ” and signified the royal desire that the Council would graunt unto the sayd Sir William . . . a Signatour under our Great Seale of the sayd lands lying between New England and Newfoundland, as he shall designe them particularly unto you. To be holden of us from our Kingdome of Scotland as a part thereof. . . .. A charter under the Great Seal was duly granted at Edinburgh on 29th September, 1621. ” For Alexander’s New Scotlandthe Nova Scotia in America of his Latin charterthe New England council had surrendered a territory comprising the modern Nova Scotia, New Bruns wick and the land lying between New Brunswick and the St. Lawrence. Over the province thus assigned to him Sir William Alexander was invested with wide and autocratic power. Some of the sweeping benefactions of the charter seem to contemplate the transference of Scottish home conditions across the Atlantic with almost too pedantic completeness. Along with many other strange and wonderful things Sir William was to hold and to possess free towns, free ports, towns, baronial villages, seaports, roadsteads, machines, mills, offices, and jurisdiction; . . . bogs, plains, and moors; marshes, roads, paths, waters, swamps, rivers, meadows, and pastures; mines, malt-houses and their refuse ; hawking, hunting, fisheries, peat-mosses, turf bogs, coal, coal-pits, coneys, warrens, doves, dove-cotes, workshops, malt-kilns, breweries and broom ; woods, groves, and thickets; wood, timber, quarries of stone and lime, with courts, fines, pleas, heriots, outlaws, . . . and with fork, foss, sac, theme, infang theiff, outfangtheiff, wrak, wair, veth, vert, venison, pit and gallows. . . . “

The colony which was to enjoy the quaint and multitudinous benefits of Scots feudalism as it then existed and was to exist for another century and a quarter occupied a definite place in the scheme of English colonial expansion, and the effort to found and to hold it was a definite strategic move in the triangular contest of Spain, France and Britain for the dominion of the continent of North America.

The Spanish conquest of Mexico and the establishment of the outpost of St. Augustine on the Florida coast had provided Spain not only with a valuable strategic base in America, but with a claim to the coast lying to the north of Florida. The voyages of Cartier to the St. Lawrence had given France pre-eminence in the North. The seaboard stretching from the St. Lawrence to the peninsula of Florida was claimed by England in virtue of Cabot’s discoveries. The foundation of the Virginia Company in 1606 was a definite effort to make good the English claim.

The Virginia Company had two branches. To the London Company, or southern colony, was given authority to settle the territory between the thirty-fourth and forty-first degrees of north latitude. The founding of the settlement of James town in 1607 by the expedition sent out by the London Company was regarded by the Spanish authorities as a challenge, but the Spanish disfavour did not find expression in open hostilities. A more serious menace than Spanish enmity was found in the life of hardship of the earliest colonists the struggle for subsistence, the hostility of the Indians, the harsh regime of Dale and Argall. But the recognition of the value of the tobacco crop soon brought economic security to the young colony, and the grant in 1619 of a certain measure of self-government to the colony by the establishment of the House of Burgesses, marked the beginning of a happier state of political affairs. In the Plymouth, or Northern Company, to which was given the right to plant lands between the thirty-eighth and forty fifth degrees of north latitude the most influential man was Sir William Alexander’s friend, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, one of the most interesting characters in early colonial history. Gorges belonged to an old Somerset family. He held the post of governor of the forts and islands of Plymouth, but varied his garrison duty with spells of service abroad. In I591, when about twenty-five years of age, he was knighted by the Earl of Essex for valiant service at the siege of Rouen. When Essex rose in revolt against Elizabeth, Gorges played a vacillating and not too creditable part towards his old commander. The active interest of Gorges in colonial affairs began in 1605 when Captain George Weymouth sailed into Plymouth Sound in the Archangell, a vessel that had been fitted out for trade and discovery by the Earl of Southampton and Lord Arundell of Wardour. From America Weymouth had brought home with him five Indians. Of these, three were quartered in Gorges’ house. As they became more proficient in the English tongue they had long talks with the Governor, who learned from them much concerning the climate, soil and harbours of their native land. And to the knowledge thus romantically acquired was due the desire on the part of Gorges to take some part in the colonising of these regions beyond the Atlantic. As a colonising agent the Plymouth Company, in which Gorges was interested, was less successful than the London Company. The expedition sent out in 1607 by the Plymouth Colony did indeed effect a settlement, the Popham Colony on the coast of Maine, but the rigours of the first winter spent on that bleak sea-board proved too much for the colonists. After the survivors of these settlers returned to England, the activities of the company were connected solely with trading voyages until, in 1620, it was remodelled as the Council for New England. To the Council was assigned the territory lying between the fortieth and forty-eighth degree of north latitude. Within those limits, too, fishing could be carried on only by permission of the Council for New England, who thus acquired what amounted to a monopoly of the lucrative American fisheries. Both from the rival company of London and from those who, on political grounds, were opposed to monopolies, the Council for New England met with determined opposition. During the meetings held prior to the autumn of 1621 the chief subjects under discussion were the settlement of the company’s territories and the prevention of the infringement of the company’s rights by interlopers trading within its territories or fishing the adjoining seas. It soon became evident that, for the time being, the company was more concerned with exploiting its privileges than with settling its territories, and soon a scheme was evolved for passing on to others the burden of colonisation. In September, 1621, Gorges himself laid before the Mayor of Bristol the Articles and Orders Concluded on by the President and Counsell for the affaires of New England for the better Government of the Trade and for the Advancement of the Plantation in those parts. . The salient features of this scheme are contained in Articles I, 2, 3, and 9:

I. First that, in the City of Bristol and Exon, and in the Townes of Plymouth, Dartmouth, Waymouth, and Barn stable, there shalbe a Treasauror in either of them, together wth certayne Commission chosen by the Adventurers. To all whome the Treasure, Government, and pollicye of Trade for New England shall bee Comitted; as alsoe such other officers as shall bee founde convenient for that Service shalbe designed to their particular charge.

2. And for the better Government of the said affaires : It is further ordered that there shalbee chosen xviij Commissioners out of the Adventurers of the Citty of Bristol and the parts thereunto adjoyning and xviij out of the citty of Exon and the parts thereunto adjoining, and xijout of the Towne of Plimouth and the parts thereunto adioyning, and xij out of the Towne of Dartmouth and the parts thereunto adioyning, and xij out of the Towne of Barnstable and the parts thereunto adioyning; out of wo” nomber they ar to choose their Treasouror for evry of the said places: And they soe chosen to nominate their Register, Auditors, Clarke, and other officers. And it is further ordered that the Treasourors and Commissioners (being so chosen by the Company of Adventures of the Seu’all cities and Townes Corporate or the greater parte of thim that shalbee present) shall receyve their commission for the Manadging of their affaires from us, the President and Counsell, according to his Mats authoritie in that behalfe granted unto us.

That ev’y yeere about Michaelmas and Easter, there shall be a Generall Meeting at Teuerton, in the County of Devon, of the said sev’all Citties and Townes, whither they are to send three out of either Cittie and twoe out of either Towne, to resolve uppon their Mutuall proceeding; as, namely, to what Porte or portes of those Territories they will send any shipp or shipps and what marketts are fittest to vent their commodities in, and what shipps are meetest to go into those marketts, as, alsoe, whether the whole shall proceed uppon a jointe stocke or that ev’y Cittie and Towne doe proceed upon their sevrall adventures, wo” by all meanes is conceyved to bee the worst, both for the publique and private good.

With this grandiose scheme the cautious Merchant Venturers of Bristol would have nothing to do. But the scheme brings out clearly the circumstances in which the Scottish venture had its origin, and reveals the exact significance, from the English standpoint, of the Nova Scotia scheme. By the reorganisation of 1620 the northern boundary of the Plymouth Company had been advanced two hundred miles farther north. This northern frontier had now reached the sphere of French influence on the lower St. Lawrence. Already in 1613 an attempt on the part of the French to extend their sphere of influence southward had evoked reprisals on the part of the Virginian colonists, and the French Jesuit settlement at Desert Island on the coast of Maine had been broken up by an expedition under Captain Argall; in the following year Argall sailed north again and sacked the French settlement at Port Royal in the Bay of Fundy. But the French settlers had not been wholly driven from these northern latitudes, and the hope that the occupation of the northern territory by the Scots would prove a barrier against French aggression was responsible for the cordiality with which the Nova Scotia scheme was urged on Alexander by Gorges and the others interested in English colonial projects.”

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“Despite the losses caused by the Nova Scotia voyages, however, Sir William was by no means inclined to abandon his enterprise. Ever sanguine and ever ingenious, he resolved to employ the learned pen which had attracted to him the royal favour, in an appeal to a wider circle of readers. In 1624 he published his Encouragement to Colonies, a treatise which is at once a tribute to the scholarly and magnanimous aspects of his personality and a convincing revelation of his inability to grasp the nature of the difficulties against which his scheme had to struggle. It is highly instructive to compare with the Encouragement Captain Mason’s Brief Discourse. Mason’s pamphlet opens with a clear, precise account of the geographical position and the climate con ditions of Newfoundland : the first six pages of the Encourage ment contain a sketch of the history of colonisation from the days of the Patriarchs down to those of the Roman Empire; the next twenty-five pages are devoted to a masterly resume of American history from the time of Columbus down to the settlement of New England. It will be remembered how definitely Mason set out the particular advantages New foundland offered to prospective settlers: Alexander’s appeal, if addressed to higher instincts, was correspondingly vaguer: Where was ever Ambition baited with greater hopes than here, or where ever had Virtue so large a field to reape the fruits of Glory, since any man, who doth goe thither of good qualitie, able at first to transport a hundred persons with him furnished with things necessary, shall have as much Bounds as may serve for a great man, whereupon he may build a Towne of his owne, giving it what forme or name he will, and being the first Founder of a new Estate, which a pleasing industry may quickly bring to a perfection, may leave a faire inheritance to his posteritie, who shall claime unto him as the author of their Nobilitie there. . . . . It is with little surprise that we learn that the only person who seems to have been encouraged by the publication of this treatise was Alexander himself. To the text of the Encouragement there was added a map of New Scotland. With the object of either satisfying an academic craving for patriotic consistency or of dispelling that dread of an unknown land which had proved such a deterrent to the peasants of Galloway, Alexander besprinkled his map with familiar names. And what Scot could persist in regarding as altogether alien, that land which was drained by a Forthe and a Clyde, and which was separated from New England by a Twede.

If the Encouragement did little to stimulate colonial enterprise in Scotland, it has an intrinsic interest as a literary production. To a modern reader Alexander’s verse, despite its great reputation in his own day, seems to be strangely lacking in vital interest. It may be that the themes of his Monarchicke Tragedies, and of his long poem on Doomesday, appealed to his intellect and not to his heart. But when he wrote of colonial enterprise, he was treating a theme that had fired his imagination, and his prose is vigorous and impressive. Now it is vivid with Elizabethan brightness and colour: his explorers discovered three very pleasant Harbours and went ashore in one of them which after the ship’s name they called St. Luke’s Bay, where they found a great way up a very pleasant river, being three fathoms deep at low water at the entry, and on every side they did see very delicate Medowes having roses red and white growing thereon with a kind of wild Lilly having a very daintie Smel. Again, it strikes a note of solemn grandeur that anticipates the stately cadences of Sir Thomas Browne : I am loth, says Alexander, in referring to Roman military colonisation, by disputable opinioun to dig up the Tombes of them that, more extenuated than the dust, are buried in oblivion, and will leave these disregarded relicts of greatnesse to continue as they are, the scorne of pride, witnessing the power of Time. entry, and on every side they did see very delicate Medowes having roses red and white growing thereon with a kind of wild Lilly having a very daintie Smel. Again, it strikes a note of solemn grandeur that anticipates the stately cadences of Sir Thomas Browne : I am loth, says Alexander, in referring to Roman military colonisation, by disputable opinioun to dig up the Tombes of them that, more extenuated than the dust, are buried in oblivion, and will leave these disregarded relicts of greatnesse to continue as they are, the scorne of pride, witnessing the power of Time.

But if Sir William Alexander’s appeal was made essentially to the higher emotions and interests of his countrymen, his friend the king was ready with a practical scheme designed to impart to either indifferent or reluctant Scots the necessary incentive to take part in colonial enterprsie. There is, indeed, in the closing lines of the Encouragement, a hint of the prospect of royal aid : And as no one man could accomplish such a Worke by his own private fortune, so it shall please his Majestie . . . to give his help accustomed for matters of less moment hereunto, making it appear to be a work of his own, that others of his subjects may be induced to concur in a common cause. . . . I must trust to be supplied by some publike helps, such as hath been had in other parts for the like cause. For the publike helps” the ingenious king, well exercised in all the arts of conjuring money from the coffers of unwilling subjects, had decided to have recourse to a device of proved efficiency the creation of an Order of Baronets. To the Plantation of Ulster welcome assistance had been furnished through the creation of the Order of Knights Baronets: the 205 English landowners who were advanced to the dignity of Baronets had contributed to the royal exchequer the total sum of 225,000. The Ulster creation formed the precedent that guided King James in his efforts to help Sir William Alexander.

In October, 1624, the king intimated to the Scots Privy Council that he proposed to make the colonisation of Nova Scotia a work of his own, and to assist the scheme by the creation of an Order of Baronets. Both in their reply to the king and in their proclamation of 30th November, 1624, the Council emphasised the necessity of sending out colonists to Nova Scotia. The terms on which Baronets were to be created were set forth with absolute precision in the proclamation. Only those were to be advanced to the dignity who would undertake To set furth sex sufficient men, artificers or labourers sufficientlie armeit, apparrelit, and victuallit for twa years . . . under the pane of two thousand merkis usual money of this realme. “. In addition, each Baronet so created was expected to pay Sir William Alexander one thousand merkis Scottish money only towards his past charges and endeavouris. But the Scottish gentry seemed as reluctant to become Nova Scotia Baronets as the Galloway peasants had been to embark on Sir William’s first expedition. When the first Baronets were created six months after the Proclamation of the Council, the conditions of the grant were modified in certain very essential respects. The terms on which, for example, the dignity was conferred on Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonston, the first of the Nova Scotia Baronets, make it clear that the main condition of the grant was now the pay ment to Sir William Alexander of three thousand merks, usual money of the Kingdom of Scotland, and that the interests of the colony were safeguarded only by an undertaking on the part of Sir William Alexander to devote two thousand merks of the purchase money towards the setting forth of a colonie of men furnished with necessaire provision, to be planted within the said countrie be the advice of the said Sir Robert Gordon and the remanent Barronets of Scotland, adventurers in the plantation of the same. “To render attractive the new dignity various devices were employed.

To enter upon possession of the broad acres of his Nova Scotia territory, the baronet did not require to cross the Atlantic : he could take seisin of it on the Castlehill of Edinburgh. The king urged the Privy Council to use their influence to induce the gentry to come forward. When the precedency accorded to the baronets evoked a complaint from the lesser Scottish barons and the cause of the complainers was espoused by the Earl of Melrose, principal Secretary of Scotland, Melrose was removed from his office and replaced by Sir William Alexander. Certain recalcitrant lairds were commanded by royal letter to offer themselves as candidates for baronetcies. Yet the number of baronets grew but slowly, and the growth of the funds available for fresh colonial efforts was correspondingly slow.”

“By the summer of 1626, Sir William appeared to have hit upon the desired means, for preparations were being made for the despatch of a colonising expedition in the following spring. The exact nature of these means is clearly revealed in a letter of Sir Robert Gordon, the premier Nova Scotia baronet, dated from London, the 25th May, 1626. At a meeting held at Wanstead some time previously certain of the baronets had covenanted to provide two thousand merks Scots apiece for buying and rigging furth of a shipp for the furtherance of the plantatione of New Scotland, and for carreing our men thither.”

“Early in 1627 Alexander, probably in order to dispel an uncharitable assumption that the share of the baronets’ money destined for colonial purpose was being diverted to his own use, let it be known publicly that he had fulfilled his share of the compact, ” having . . . prepared a schip, with ordinance, munition, and all other furnitour necessar for her, as lykwyse another schip of great burden which lyeth at Dumbartoune.” At the same time he made a requisition to the Master of the English Ordnance for sixteen minner, four saker and six falcor, which were to be forwarded to Dumbarton. Strenuous efforts, too, were made by King Charles to further Sir William’s plans. The Scottish Treasurer of Marine was instructed to pay Sir William the £6,000 which represented the losses incurred in the former Nova Scotia expeditions, and which, despite a royal warrant, the English Exchequer either could not or would not pay him : it does not appear, however, that in this matter the Scottish authorities proved in any way more complaisant than the English officials. A week after the issue of these instructions the Earl Marischal was directed to make a selection of persons ” fitt to be barronetts ” both among ” the ancient gentrie,” and also among ” these persones who had succeeded to good estates or acquyred them by their own industrie, and a r generouslie disposed to concurre with our said servand (Alexander) in this enterprise.” A month later the Privy Council were urged to use their influence ” both in private and publict ” to stimulate the demand for baronetcies.”

“The validity of the English claim to the region the French did not admit, and despite the destruction of the ” habitation ” at Port Royal by Argall, the French pioneers did not abandon Acadie.4 One section of these pioneers, under Claude de St. Etienne, Sieur de la Tour, and his son Charles, did indeed cross the Bay of Fundy and set up a fortified post at the mouth of the Penobscot River. But de Poutrincourt’s son, Biencourt, with the rest of his company, clung to the district round Port Royal, wandering at first amid the Acadian forest, and later succeeding in rendering habitable once more the buildings that had housed the Order of Good Cheer. The death of de Poutrincourt in France in 1615, during civil commotion, left his son in possession of the Acadian seignory.”

“Not only was the district around Port Royal in effective French occupation, but on the Atlantic coast, especially in the district around Canseau, there had sprung up a number of sporadic settlements, the homes principally of French and Dutch adventurers. In the presence of these adventurers one writer on Canadian history finds a convincing explanation of why Alexander’s second expedition did not attempt to form a settlement.”

“In the summer of 1629 Sir William Alexander’s eldest son, Sir William the younger, had in vessels belonging to the Anglo-Scotch Company carried a company of colonists to Acadie. On the 1st July, 1629, sixty colonists under Lord Ochiltree were landed on the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island : thereafter Alexander sailed for the Bay of Fundy and landed the remainder of the company of colonists at Port Royal. The first Scottish settlement of Nova Scotia was thus carried out in the summer of 1629.”

The history of the Scots settlement at Port Royal during the few years of its existence (1629-1632) is exceedingly obscure… Of the incidents connected with the visit to the shores of Nova Scotia we have what is practically an official account in the Egerton Manuscript, entitled ” William Alexander’s Information touching his Plantation at Cape Breton and Port Royal.” “… The said Sir William resolving to plant in that place sent out his son Sir William Alexander this spring with a colonie to inhabite the same who arriving first at Cap-britton did finde three shipps there, whereof one being a Barque of 6oTunnes it was found that the owner belonged to St. Sebastian in Portugall, and that they had traded there contrary to the power graunted by his Majestie for w ch and other reasons according to the process which was formallie led, he the said Sir William having chosen the Lord Oghiltrie and Monsieur de la Tour to be his assistants adjudged the barque to be lawfull prize and gave a Shallop and other necessaries to trans- port her Companie to other shipps upon that Coast, according to their owne desire, as for the other two which he found to be french shipps he did no wise trouble them.

“Thereafter having left the Lo. Oghiltree with some 60 or so English who went with him to inhabit there, at Cap-britton, the said Sir William went from thence directly to Port Royall w ch he found (as it had been a long time before) abandoned and without signe that ever people had been there, where he hath seated himself and his Companie according to the warrant granted unto him by his Matie of purpose to people that part.” 1 No opposition was encountered from the French. Claude de la Tour (son of Monsieur de la Tour, Alexander’s ” assistant “), to whom the seignory of Port Royal had passed on the death of Biencourt, had, after having been driven in 1626 from his fort at the mouth of the Penobscot River, concentrated the remainder of the Port Royal colony at a new station which he had established at the south-eastern extremity of Acadie, in the neighbourhood of Cape Sable. The Indians of Acadie entered into friendly relations with the new settlers, and during the summer Port Royal became the depot for a thriving trade in furs. When at the close of the season the company’s vessels sailed for home, Sir William Alexander remained at Port Royal to share with his colonists whatever trials the coming winter might have in store. To the hardships endured in the course of his colonial experiences has been attributed his death in the prime of manhood. With the fleet that sailed from Port Royal in the autumn of 1629 there travelled to Britain an Indian chief, the Saga- more Segipt, his wife, and his sons. The ostensible object of the chief’s journey was to do homage to the King of Britain and invoke his protection against the French. Landing at Plymouth, the Indian party broke their journey to the capital by a short stay in Somersetshire. There they were hospitably entertained. ” The savages took all in good part, but for thanks or acknowledgment made no sign or expression at all.”

“In the summer of 1630 the settlers at Port Royal received a useful reinforcement in the form of a party of colonists under the elder La Tour. Captured by Kirke in 1628, La Tour had been carried to England, and it may well have been his knowledge of Acadie combined with a complaisant dis- position that soon advanced him to high favour at Court. He had sailed with Sir William Alexander the Younger to Nova Scotia in 1629. His experiences during this expedition seem to have made him decide to throw in his lot with the Scots, for soon after his return to England there were drawn up, in rough outline, on 16th October, 1629, ” Articles d’accord entre le Chevalier Guillaume Alexandre, siegn de Menstrie Lieu de la Nouvelle Ecosse en Amerique par sa Majeste de la Grande Bretagne, et le Chevalier Claude de St. Etienne, sieg nr de la Tour et Claude de St. Etienne son filz et le Chevalier Guillaume Alexandre filz dud’ seig nr Alexandre cy dessus nome” . . . tant pour le merite de leur persones que pour leur assistance a la meilleure recognaissance du pays.”

It was not, however, till 30th April, 1630, that the agreement between Alexander and La Tour was definitely signed. ” The s d Sir Claud of Estienne being present accepting and stipulating by these presents for his s d son Charles now absent, so much for the merit of their persons as for their assistance in discovering better the said country.” La Tour obtained two baronies, the barony of St. Etienne and the barony of La Tour, ” which may be limited between the said Kl of La Tour and his son, if they find it meet, equally.”

Insh, George Pratt, 1883-. Scottish Colonial Schemes, 1620-1686. Glasgow: Maclehose, Jackson & co., 1922. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015012259795, https://www.tradeshouselibrary.org/uploads/4/7/7/2/47723681/scottish_colonial_schemes_1620-1686_~_1922.pdf