Sir Samuel Argall: the First Englishman at Mount Desert

The missionary work among the French, undertaken simultaneously with settlement, was so associated with political and commercial interests, that the Virginia Company might well look with apprehension upon the contemplated activities of the Jesuits, of which it was informed when the Grace de Dieu with Fathers Biard and Masse on board, en route to Port Royal, was driven by stress of weather into Newport Harbor, Isle of Wight, in 1611. As a result of this important information, the Trinity term of the Virginia Court, July 11, 1612, commissioned Captain Samuel Argall as Admiral of Virginia, with instructions to prevent the French from obtaining a foothold in North Virginia. Argall, therefore, sailed from England on August 12, 1612, in his ship the Treasurer, in which he was part owner with Sir Robert Rich, afterwards Earl of Warwick, and arrived at Point Comfort on September 27; spent the fall and winter in trading, fishing and exploring and in the spring made his preparations for the trip northward to Saint Croix and Port Royal.
It was sometime in July, 1613, that Argall sailing northward, under orders from Sir Thomas Dale, happened to be in the Mount Desert region. Here he chanced upon the Jesuit settlement at Fernald’s Point, but recently removed by orders from the French sovereign, from Port Royal; made a furious attack upon the colony which should have been better defended, and after a short but sharp conflict, came off an easy victor. The colonists were removed and never again in Eastern Maine did the French make any serious attempt at colonization.

In a “New England Relation,” printed in 1625, mention is made of the abandonment of the Popham colony at the mouth of the Kennebec and that “the Frenchmen immediately tooke the opportunity to settle themselves within our limits, which being heard by those of Virginia, that discreetly tooke to their consideration that the inconvenience that might arise, by suffering them to harbour there, dispatched Sir Samuel Argall, with Commission to displace them, which he performed with much discretion, judgment, valour, and dexterity …. And hereby hee hath made away for the present hopefull Plantation to be made in Nova Scotia, which we heare his Majesty hath lately granted to Sir William Alexander*, Knight.

*Afterwards first Earl of Stirling. An echo of this grant is to be found in the records of Sir Francis Bernard’s attempts to obtain validation of the grant of Mount Desert, made to Bernard by the General Court of Massachusetts, 1762, When Charles I, at the instigation of his Queen , Henrietta Marie, gave Acadia back to France, the Earl of Stirling, to compensate him for the loss of Nova Scotia, was given the County of Canada, extending from the St. Croix to Pemaquid, together with other territory. Complications arising from these facts, prevented approval of the Bernard grant until 1771. See my Sir Francis Bernard and His Grant of Mount Desert, Publications of the Colonial Society of Mass”.

With reference to Popham’s deserted fort on the Kennebec, there is a statement made by the Jesuit Father, Pierre Biard, in a letter to the Provincial, of date January 31, 1612, which makes it clear that one of the reasons which induced Biencourt, the commander of Port Royal, to undertake a trip to the westward, accompanied by Father Biard, was “in order to have news of the English, and to find out if it would be possible to obtain satisfaction from them” (si on pourroit avoir raison d’eux).
Noting certain inherent defects in the plan and defenses of the fort, the Frenchmen evidently concluded that it would be possible to get the better of the English, even if this fortification were well garrisoned; but they were reckoning without Captain Argall, to whom Father Biard was soon to have an introduction at Saint Sauveur. Here at Mount Desert, even if the improvident commander, La Saussaye, in spite of the vehement protestations of the militant members of the colony, set up fruit trees instead of cannon, and laid out gardens rather than fortifications, had listened to Captain Fleury, Lieutenant La Motte and the Jesuits, the English Captain Argall, in his strongly armed ship of some two hundred and fifty tons, with her complement of sixty fighting men, would have proved far too powerful. Argall, by rescuing the grant of North Virginia from the French, most certainly got the better of a movement, which, as Alexander Brown has said, had it not been stopped in the beginning, it is interesting to think what might have been the history of this nation.

As sometimes related, the story of Argall’s dealings with the Jesuits at Mount Desert, leaves nothing to his credit. His stealing of La Saussaye’s commission when that chickenhearted commander, at the first signs of trouble, discreetly took to the woods in the region of Valley Cove, was a senseless bit of villainy; his turning adrift in an open boat, well provisioned to be sure, of many colonists, seems, judged by modern standards, an inhuman act; but it is to be noted that upon the arrival in Virginia, with the remnant of the Saint Sauveur colony, when Marshall Dale threatened hanging, Argall came to the rescue, confessed his duplicity and zealously argued against any such proceedings.
Father Pierre Biard, Superior of Saint Sauveur, was perhaps the greatest sufferer as the result of Argall’s conquest, in body as well as. in mind, and his estimation of a former enemy, written after he was safely back in Europe, is an encomium worthy of remark; for the Jesuit Father has said:
“Certainly this Argall has shown himself such a person that we have reason to wish for him, that from now on, he may serve a better cause and one in which his nobility of heart may appear, not in the ruin, but in the preservation of honest men.”
Turning next to an English contemporary, let us note what Ralph Hamor, one time secretary of the Virginia Company, has to say of Admiral Argall at Mount Desert: “His Norward discoveries towards Sacadehoc, and beyond to Port Royal, Sancta Crux, and thereabout may not be concealed: In which his adventure if he had brought home no commodity to the colony (which yet he did very much both of apparrell, victualls, and many other necessaries) the honour which he hath done unto our Nation, by displanting the French there beginning to seat and fortefie within our limits, and taking of their Ship and Pinnas, which he brought to James Towne, which would have rewarded enough for his paines, and will ever speake loud his honour and approved valour.”

In the investigation which followed the destruction of Saint Sauveur, Argall was vindicated. The average reader of early American history will, however, find but few references to this important detail. On the other hand many of the older histories speak of Captain Argall as a freebooter, pirate, buccaneer or marauder because he attacked the French at a time when England and France were at peace, ignoring two very important points to which attention may now be turned.
There is a clause in the Virginia Charter which conferred upon the colonies of both North and South Virginia the right “to encounter, expulse, repel and resist, as well by sea as by land,” by all ways and means whatsoever, all and every such person and persons, as without especial license of the several said colonies and plantations, shall attempt to inhabit within the said several precincts and limits of the said several colonies and plantations, or any of them.”

The second point is this: On July 11, 1612, at the Trinity term of the Virginia court, Captain Samuel Argall was commissioned as Admiral of Virginia and specially instructed to prevent the French from establishing colonies in North Virginia, and under this authority of the Virginia court, backed by the clause in the Virginia Charter, the French Jesuit settlement at Mount Desert was obliterated. Dr. Burrage, in his Beginnings of Colonial Maine has ably discussed the Saint Sauveur episode in all its various phases and it is not here necessary to go further into detail, for the above mentioned facts are quite sufficient to show that Argall by carrying out instructions should not be anathematized as a pirate or marauder, but ought to be considered an English naval officer who, from the standpoint of British interests in America, performed an act at Mount Desert, the importance of which, in Colonial history, cannot be overestimated.

Sawtelle, William Otis, “Sir Samuel Argall: the First Englishman at Mount Desert” (1923). Maine History Documents. 82. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistory/82

An historical geography of the United States

1606:

King James’ Patent of 1606, Dividing Virginia into two parts.

The patents of the Plymouth and London companies in 1606 extended 100 miles from the coast and overlapped each other three degrees of latitude (from 38° to 41°.) Neither company however was to make a settlement within 100 miles of one already made by the other.”

[Norumbega noted on this map].

[Reading the patent itself it states “situate, lying, and being all along the Sea Coasts, between four and thirty (34°) Degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctial Line, and five and forty (45°) Degrees of the same Latitude, and in the main Land between the same four and thirty and five and forty Degrees, and the Islands thereunto adjacent, or within one hundred Miles of the Coast thereof”.

Hinted on the map, though not shaded along with the rest of the Plymouth Company lands unlike in earlier works, is the fact that 45° latitude also traverses across Nova Scotia, which, despite being a peninsula, is undoubtedly a part of the mainland. Is this revision meant to satiate those to the north, or their proprietors, after their “Confederation”? If this were a one-off I’d more less likely to attribute it to any kind of an arrangement, but there are other sources which confirm this earlier view. Even if Nova Scotia were an island and not connected to the mainland, it would still be within 50 miles of the seacoast of the shaded area, let alone 100 miles.]

[This might provide insight into the rationale behind naming conventions used for certain communities in Nova Scotia, such as “Virginia East”.]

Virginia East, Nova Scotia
Virginia East, Nova Scotia

1609-1620:

“Reorganization of the Plymouth Company in 1620 as the Council of Plymouth for New England.

The Virginia charter of 1609 bounded the London Company to the land between points 200 miles north and 200 miles south of Point Comfort, throughout from sea to sea, “west and northwest.” The Plymouth charter of 1620 fixed the limits of Plymouth Company between 40° and 48°.”

1640:

“French claims”

1655:

“French claims”

1660:

“Barony of New Scotland”

“Council of Plymouth, of New England. Grants by the Council:

1621 To Sir W. Alexander, Lordship and Barony of New Scotland (Nova Scotia)

1635 To Sir W. Alexander, Pemaquid and Islands of Long, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.”

1664:

“Grants to the Duke of York”

1763:

“Massachusetts until 1696”

[There were other English colonies that existed in 1763 not included in this map. While they did not go on to become part of the United States, they were fellow colonies, at least up until ‘the commencement of hostilities’.]

Maccoun, Townsend. An historical geography of the United States. [New York, Boston etc. Silver, Burdett & company, 1911] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/11031776/

Geographical Map of New France

There’s a few settlements noted on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia here, “sesembre” being Sambro helps orient Halifax harbor. The settlement between “S” and “R” is of interest, S being “River sainte Margrite” and R “baye senne”.

Watch out for this guy

Champlain, Samuel De, Creator, and David Engraver Pelletier. “Geographical Map of New France Made by Mr. de Champlain of Saintonge, Ordinary Captain for the King’s Navy.” Paris: Jean Berjon, 1612. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/2021668652/.

History of Nova Scotia for schools

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of any “firsts” listed here but it’s interesting to see what was expected to merit the attention of students around the time of “confederation”, at least compared to the kind of history I was exposed to in school a little more than a century later. We certainly never delved into Cromwell’s conquest of Nova Scotia or the proprietary regimes, perhaps because it gives perspective to the here and now of arbitrary “Canadian governance”.


“Chapter 1-2: Early settlement
Chapter 3: Sir W. Alexander, and La Tour
Chapter 4: Oliver Cromwell, and Sir Wm. Phips
Chapter 5: Louisburg – The Acadians
Chapter 6: Settlement of Halifax
Chapter 7: The Expulsion of the Acadians
Chapter 8: First Assembly in Nova Scotia – Lousibourg destroyed
Chapter 9: War with America – The Duke of Kent
Chapter 10: The Maroons, and the Chesapeake and Shannon
Chapter 11: Agricola – Colleges
Chapter 12: The Brandy Dispute – Mr. Howe and the Magistracy
Chapter 13: Steam communication, Responsible Government
Chapter 14: The Heroes of Sebastopol – Coal Mines
Chapter 15: The Indian mutiny – Telegraph, etc
Chapter 16: International exhibition, Education Bill
Chapter 17-18: Union of the Provinces
Chapter 19: Opposition to Confederation – Loss of City of Boston – Death of Mr. Howe
Chapter 20: Sketch of the life of S.G.W. Archibald
Chapter 21: Sketch of the life of Thomas C. Haliburton, M.P.
Chapter 22, Sketch of the Life of Dr. Gesner
Chapter 23: Sketch of the Life of Judge Blowers
Chapter 24: Sketch of the Life of Judge J.W. Johnston
Chapter 25: The Steamship “England”
Chapter 26: General description of Nova Scotia, etc.
Chapter 27-28: A trip to the fruit show at Somerset.

Resources of Nova Scotia:
Chapter 29: Coal and Iron
Chapter 30: The Gold mines of Nova Scotia
Chapter 31: The Fisheries of Nova Scotia
Chapter 32: Population of Nova Scotia – Manufactures – Shipbuilding
Chapter 33: The dominion of Canada, Appendix: Sable Island, La Tribune.”

“The first attempt on the part of Europeans to settle on the eastern portion of the Continent was by the Baron de Lery in the year 1518. But he arrived on the coast too late in the season, and after leaving a part of his live stock at Canso, and the remainder on Sable Island he returned to France. The animals left at Canso either perished or were destroyed by the [Mi’kmaq], while a few of those left on Sable Island survived and multiplied.

Several other attempts were made to effect a settlement, the most remarkable of which was an English expedition, at the head of which was a Mr. Hore. It was fitted out in the year 1536, under the patronage of King Henry the Eighth, and consisted of one hundred persons — of whom thirty were men of birth and education — who embarked in two ships. Two months after starting, the expedition arrived at the Island of Cape Breton.

They afterwards sailed for Newfoundland, where they failed in opening communication with the natives. They were reduced to a state of absolute starvation, depending for sustenance on roots, and such fish as the parent birds brought to their nests. In the frenzy produced by hunger one or two men were murdered by their companions, when searching for food on the Island, and their flesh devoured. That evening, some of the company agreed to cast lots who should be killed, rather than that all should perish, when lo ! a sail was seen in the distance which proved to be that of a French ship amply supplied with provisions. But to the disgrace of the English they took forcible possession of her, and sailed for England, leaving the Frenchmen, who rescued them from the very jaws of death, in possession of their dilapidated vessel.

The reckless voyagers had returned to England about the end of October, and were in a few weeks, followed by the Frenchmen whom they had robbed, and who lost no time in making a formal complaint to the King as to the injuries inflicted on them by his subjects. The King, after an examination into the facts made full reparation to the complainants, and pardoned his subjects on account of the miseries they had already endured. For forty years after the expedition of Mr. Hore no effort was made in prosecuting further discoveries in America.

In the year 1578 Sir Humphrey Gilbert got a patent from Queen Elizabeth for the discovery and settlement of new lands. Gilbert was a brave and generous man. His first voyage was unfortunate, for he lost one of the two ships with which he started, which obliged him to return to England. Determined to fit out another expedition, he sold his estate, and with the money thus obtained he fitted out five small vessels in the year 1583. He made for Newfoundland where he arrived in August. In returning to England in a vessel called the Squirrel he and all on board were lost, the vessel having foundered.”

“The English Governor of Virginia having resolved to destroy the French settlements in Acadia sent Captain Argal with several armed vessels to effect his purpose, when the son of Poutrincourt fled to the forest and lived with the [Mi’kmaq]. In the mean time Poutrincourt visited Port Royal where he found a scene of desolation. He accordingly resolved to leave it forever, which he did, returning to France, and fell fighting bravely in the service of his country, in December, 1615. His son seems to have remained in Acadia till his death, which occurred in the year 1624.”

“In the month of August, 1750, the ship Alderney arrived in Halifax with about three hundred and fifty emigrants, who were sent to the opposite side of the harbor, and founded the town of Dartmouth in the autumn of that year. In December following, the first ferry was established, and John Connor appointed ferry-man by order in Council. In the following year the [Mi’kmaq] surprised the little village at night, scalped a number of settlers, and carried off several prisoners. The inhabitants, fearing an attack, had cut down the spruce trees near the settlement, which, instead of a protection as was intended, served as a cover for the enemy.

Captain Clapham and his company of Rangers were stationed on the Blackburn Hill, and, it is said, remained within his block-house firing from the loop-holes during the whole affair. The light of the torches and the firing of musketry alarmed the inhabitants of Halifax, some of whom put off to their assistance, but did not arrive in any force till after the [Mi’kmaq] had retired. The night was calm, and the cries of the settlers and the whoops of the [Mi’kmaq] were distinctly heard on the western side of the harbor. On the following morning several bodies were brought over — [Mi’kmaq] having carried off the scalps.”

“Mr. Campbell, of Dartmouth, had panned gold in 1859, and was the first to advocate the existence of gold in quantity in the Province… Silver ore has not been discovered in the Province in any considerable quantity. Mr. Campbell, of Dartmouth, was the first to discover it in small quantity.”

“The success of the Marine Slips at Dartmouth, which is capable of accommodating only the smallest class of vessels, should inspire capitalists with confidence.”

Campbell, Duncan. History of Nova Scotia: for Schools. Montreal: Lovell, 1874. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/aeu.ark:/13960/t6m04g264

“American history: comprising historical sketches of the [indigenous] tribes”

“The [Mi’kmaq], first called by the French Souriqu’ois, held possession of Nova Scotia and the adjacent isles, and were early known as the active allies of the French.

Marquis de la Roche
In 1598, the Marquis de la Roche, a French nobleman, received from the King of France a commission for founding a French colony in America. Having equipped several vessels, he sailed with a considerable number of settlers, most of whom, however, he was obliged to draw from the prisons of Paris. On Sable island, a barren spot near the coast of Nova Scotia, forty men were left to form a settlement.

La Roche dying soon after his return, the colonists Fate were neglected; and when, after seven years, a vessel was sent to inquire after them, only twelve of them were living. The dungeons from which they had been liberated were preferable to the hardships which they had suffered. The emaciated exiles were carried back to France, where they were kindly received by the king, who pardoned their crimes, and made them a liberal donation.

De Monts
In 1603, the king of France granted to De Monts, a gentleman of distinction, the sovereignty of the country from the 40th to the 46th degree of north latitude; that is, from one degree south of New York city, to one north of Montreal. Sailing with two vessels, in the spring of 1604, he arrived at Nova Scotia in May, and spent the summer in trafficking with the natives, and examining the coasts preparatory to a settlement.

Selecting an island near the mouth of the river St. Croix, on the coast of New Brunswick, he there erected a fort and passed a rigorous winter, his men suffering much from the want of suitable provisions. ‘In the following spring, 1605, De Monts removed to a place on the Bay of Fundy; and here was formed the first permanent French settlement in America. The settlement was named Port Royal, and the whole country, embracing the present New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the adjacent islands, was called Acadia.

North and South Virginia
In 1606 James the 1st, of England, claiming all that portion of North America which lies between the 34th and the 45th degrees of north latitude, embracing the country from Cape Fear to Halifax, divided this territory into two nearly equal districts; the one, called North Virginia, extending from the 41st to the 45th degree; and the other, called South Virginia, from the 34th to the 38th.

The former he granted to a company of “Knights, gentlemen, and merchants,” of the west of England, called the Plymouth Company; and the latter to a company of “noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants,” mostly resident in London, and called the London Company. The intermediate district, from the 38th to the 41st degree, was open to both companies; but neither was to form a settlement within one hundred miles of the other.


…Early in the following year, 1690, Schenectady was burned; the settlement at Salmon Falls, on the Piscataqua, was destroyed; and a successful attack was made on the fort and settlement at Casco Bay. In anticipation of the inroads of the French, Massachusetts had hastily fitted out an expedition, under Sir William Phipps, against Nova Scotia, which resulted in the easy conquest of Port Royal.

Early in 1692 Sir William Phipps returned with a new charter, which vested the appointment of governor in the king, and united Plymouth, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nova Scotia, in one royal government. Plymouth lost her separate government contrary to her wishes; while New Hampshire, which had recently placed herself under the protection of Massachusetts, was now forcibly severed from her.

In 1707 Massachusetts attempted the reduction of Port Royal; and a fleet conveying one thousand soldiers was sent against the place; but the assailants were twice obliged to raise the siege with considerable loss. Not disheartened by the repulse, Massachusetts spent two years more in preparation, and aided by a fleet from England, in 1710 again demanded the surrender of Port Royal. The garrison, weak and dispirited, capitulated after a brief resistance; the name of the place was changed to Annapolis, in honor of Queen Anne; and Acadia, or Nova Scotia, was permanently annexed to the British crown.

The most important event of (King George’s War) in America, was the siege and capture of Louisburg. This place, situated on the island of Cape Breton, had been fortified by France at great expense, and was regarded by her as the key to her American possessions, William Shirley the governor of Massachusetts, perceiving the importance of the place, and the danger to which its possession by the French subjected the British province of Nova Scotia, laid before the legislature of the colony a plan for its capture. Although Strong objections wore urged, the govenor’s proposals were assented to; Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, furnished their quotas of men; New York sent a supply of artillery, and Pennsylvania of provisions. Commodore Warren, then in the West Indies with an English fleet, was invited to co-operate in the enterprise, but he declined doing so without orders from England. This unexpected intelligence was kept a secret, and in April, 1745, the New England forces alone, under William Pepperell, commander-in-chief, and Roger Wolcott, second in command, sailed for Louisburg.

At Causcau they were unexpectedly met by the fleet of Commodore Warren, who had recently received orders to repair to Boston, and concert measures with Governor Shirley for his majesty’s service in North America. On the 11th of May the combined forces, numbering more than 4000 land troops, came in sight of Louisburg, and effected a landing at Gabarus Bay, which was the first intimation the French had of their danger. On the day after the landing a detachment of four hundred men marched by the city and approached the royal battery, setting fire to the houses and stores on the way. The French, imagining that the whole army was coming upon them, spiked the guns and abandoned the battery, which was immediately seized by the New England troops. Its guns were then turned upon the town, and against the island battery at the entrance of the harbor.

As it was necessary to transport the guns over a morass, where oxen and horses could not be used, they were placed on sledges constructed for the purpose, and the men with ropes, sinking to their knees in the mud, drew them safely over. Trenches were then thrown up within two hundred yards of the city,—a battery was erected on the opposite side of the harbor, at the Light House Point and the fleet of Warren captured a French gunship, with five hundred and sixty men, and a great quantity of military stores designed for the supply of the garrison. A combined attack by sea and land was planned for the 29th of June, but, on the day previous, the city, fort, and batteries, and the whole island, were surrendered. This was the most important acquisition which England made during the war, and, for its recovery, and the desolation of the English colonies, a powerful naval armament under the Duke d’Anville was sent out by France in the following year. But storms, shipwrecks, and disease, enfeebled the fleet, and blasted the hopes of the enemy.

In 1748 the war was terminated by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle. The result proved that neither party had gained any thing by the contest; for all acquisitions made by either were mutually restored. But the causes of a future and more important war still remained in the disputes about boundaries, which were left unsettled; and the “French and Indian War” soon followed, which was the last struggle of the French for dominion in America.

Expeditions of Monckton, Braddock, Shirley, and Sir William Johnson.
Early in 1755, General Braddock arrived from Ireland, with two regiments of British troops, and with the authority of commander-in-chief of the British and colonial forces. At a convention of the colonial governors, assembled at his request in Virginia, three expeditions were resolved upon; one against the French at Fort du Quesne, to be led by General Braddock himself; a second against Niagara, and a third against Crown Point, a French post on the western shore of Lake Champlain.

While preparations were making for these expeditions, an enterprise, that had been previously determined undertaken. upon, was prosecuted with success in another quarter. About the last of May, Colonel Monckton sailed from Boston, with three thousand troops, against the French settlements at the head of the Bay of Fundy, which were considered as encroachments upon the English province of Nova Scotia. Landing at Fort Lawrence, on the eastern shore of Chignecto, a branch of the Bay of Fundy, a French block-house was carried by assault, and Fort Beausejour surrendered, after an investment of four days. The name of the fort was then changed to Cumberland. Fort Gaspereau, on Bay Verte, or Green Bay, was next taken; and the forts on the New Brunswick coast were abandoned. In accordance with the views of the governor of Nova Scotia, the plantations of the French settlers were laid waste; and several thousands of the hapless fugitives, ardently attached to their mother country, and refusing to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain, were driven on board the British shipping, at the point of the bayonet, and dispersed, in poverty, through the English colonies.


Nova Scotia, according to its present limits, forms a large peninsula, separated from the continent by the Bay of Fundy, and its branch Chignecto, and connected with it by a narrow isthmus between the latter bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The peninsula is about 385 miles in length from northeast to southwest, and contains an area of nearly sixteen thousand square miles. The surface of the country is broken, and the Atlantic coast is generally barren, but some portions of the interior are fertile.

The settlement of Port Royal, (now Annapolis) by De Monts, in 1605, and also the conquest of the country by Argall, in 1614, have already been mentioned. France made no complaint of Argall’s aggression, beyond demanding the restoration of the prisoners, nor did Britain take any immediate measures for retaining her conquests. But in 1621 Sir William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Stirling, obtained from the king, James I, a grant of Nova Scotia and the adjacent islands, and in 1625 the patent was renewed by Charles I., and extended so as to embrace all Canada, and the northern portions of the United States. In 1623 a vessel was despatched with settlers, but they found the whole country in the possession of the French, and were obliged to return to England without effecting a settlement.

In 1628, during a war with France, Sir David Kirk, who had been sent out by Alexander, succeeded in reducing Nova Scotia, and in the following year he completed the conquest of Canada, but the whole country was restored by treaty in 1632.

The French court now divided Nova Scotia among three individuals, La Tour, Denys, and Razillai, and appointed Razillai commander-in-chief of the country. The latter was succeeded by Charnise, between whom and La Tour a deadly feud arose, and violent hostilities were for some time carried on between the rivals. At length, Charnise dying, the controversy was for a time settled by La Tour’s marrying the widow of his deadly enemy, but soon after La Borgne appeared, a creditor of Charnise, and with an armed force endeavored to crush at once Denys and La Tour. But after having subdued several important places, and while preparing to attack St. John, a more formidable competitor presented himself.

Cromwell, having assumed the reins of power in England, declared war against France, and, in 1654, despatched an expedition against Nova Scotia, which soon succeeded in reducing the rival parties, and the whole country submitted to his authority. La Tour, accommodating himself to circumstances, and making his submission to the English, obtained, in conjunction with Sir Thomas Temple, a grant of the greater part of the country. Sir Thomas bought up the share of La Tour, spent nearly 30,000 dollars in fortifications, and greatly improved the commerce of the country; but all his prospects were blasted by the treaty of Breda in 1667, by which Nova Scotia was again ceded to France

The French now resumed possession of the colony, which as yet contained only a few unpromising settlements, the whole population in 1680 not exceeding nine hundred individuals. The fisheries, the only productive branch of business, were carried on by the English. There were but few forts, and these so weak that two of them were taken and plundered by a small piratical vessel. In this situation, after the breaking out of the war with France in 1689, Acadia appeared an easy conquest. The achievement was assigned to Massachusetts, In May, 1690, Sir William Phipps, with 700 men, appeared before Port Royal, which soon surrendered; but he merely dismantled the fortress, and then left the country a prey to pirates. A French commander arriving in November of the following year, the country was reconquered, simply by pulling down the English and hoisting the French flag.

Soon after, the Bostonians, aroused by the depredations of the French and [indigenous] on the frontiers, sent a body of 500 men, who soon regained the whole country, with the exception of one fort on the river St. John. Acadia now remained in possession of the English until the treaty of Ryswick in 1697, when it was again restored to France.

It was again resolved to reduce Nova Scotia, and the achievement was again left to Massachusetts, with the assurance that what should be gained by arms would not again be sacrificed by treaty.

The peace of 1697 was speedily succeeded by a declaration of war against France and Spain in 1702. It was again resolved to reduce Nova Scotia, and the achievement was again left to Massachusetts, with the assurance that what should be gained by arms would not again be sacrificed by treaty. The first expedition, despatched in 1704, met with little resistance, but did little more than ravage the country. In 1707 a force of 1000 soldiers was sent against Port-Royal, but the French commandant conducted the defence of the place with so much ability, that the assailants were obliged to retire with considerable loss. In 1710 a much larger force, under the command of General Nicholson, appeared before Port Royal, but the French commandant, having but a feeble garrison, and declining to attempt a resistance, obtained an honorable capitulation. Port Royal was now named Annapolis. From this period Nova Scotia has been permanently annexed to the British crown.

The [Mi’kmaq] of Nova Scotia, who were warmly attached to the French, were greatly astonished on being informed that they had become the subjects of Great Britain. Determined, however, on preserving their independence, they carried on a long and vigorous war against the English. In 1720 they plundered a large establishment at Canseau, carrying off fish and merchandise to the amount of 10,000 dollars; and in 1723 they captured at the same place, seventeen sail of vessels, with numerous prisoners, nine of whom they deliberately and cruelly put to death.

As the [Mi’kmaq] still continued hostile, the British inhabitants of Nova Scotia were obliged to solicit aid from Massachusetts, and in 1728 that province sent a body of troops against the principal village of the Norridgewocks, on the Kennebec. ‘The enemy were surprised, and defeated with great slaughter, and among the slain was Father Ralle, their missionary, a man of considerable literary attainments, who had resided among the [Mi’kmaq] forty years. By this severe stroke the [Mi’kmaq] were overawed, and for many years did not again disturb the tranquility of the English settlements.

In 1744 war broke out anew between England and France. The French governor of Cape Breton immediately attempted the reduction of Nova Scotia, took Canseau, and twice laid siege to Annapolis, but without effect. The English, on the other hand, succeeded in capturing Louisburg, the Gibraltar of America, but when peace was concluded, by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle, in 1748, the island of Cape Breton was restored to France.

After the treaty, Great Britain began to pay more attention to Nova Scotia, which had hitherto been settled relation almost exclusively by the French, who, upon every rupture between the two countries, were accused of violating their neutrality. In order to introduce a greater proportion of English settlers, it was now proposed to colonize there a large number of the soldiers who had been discharged in consequence of the disbanding of the army, and in the latter part of June, 1749, a company of nearly 4000 adventurers of this class was added to the population of the colony.

To every private was given fifty acres of land, with ten additional acres for each member of his family. A higher allowance was granted to officers, till it amounted to six hundred acres for every person above the degree of captain, with proportionable allowances for the number and increase of every family. The settlers were to be conveyed free of expense, to be furnished with arms and ammunition, and with materials and utensils for clearing their lands and erecting habitations, and to be maintained twelve months after their arrival, at the expense of the government.

The emigrants having been landed at Chebucto harbor, under the charge of the Honorable Edward Cornwallis, whom the king had appointed their governor, they immediately commenced the building of a town, on a regular plan, to which the name of Halifax was given, in honor of the nobleman who had the greatest share in funding the colony. The place selected for the settlement possessed a cold, sterile and rocky soil, yet it was preferred to Annapolis, as it was considered more favorable for trade and fishery, and it likewise possessed one of the finest harbors in America. “Of so great importance to England was the colony deemed, that Parliament” continued to make annual grants for it, which, in 1755, had amounted to the enormous sum of nearly two millions of dollars.

But although the English settlers were thus firmly established, they soon found themselves unpleasantly situated. The limits of Nova Scotia had never been defined, by the treaties between France and England, with sufficient clearness to prevent disputes about boundaries, and each party was now striving to obtain possession of a territory claimed by the other. The government of France contended that the British dominion, according to the treaty which ceded Nova Scotia, extended only over the present peninsula of the same name; while, according to the English, it extended over all that large tract of country formerly known as Acadia, including the present province of New Brunswick. Admitting the English claim, France would be deprived of a portion of territory of great value to her, materially affecting her control over the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and greatly endangering the security of her Canadian possessions.

When, therefore, the English government showed a disposition effectually to colonize the country, the French settlers began to be alarmed; and though they did not think proper to make an open avowal of their jealousy, they employed their emissaries in exciting the [Mi’kmaq] to hostilities in the hope of effectually preventing the English from extending their plantations, and, perhaps, of inducing them to abandon their settlements entirely. The [Mi’kmaq] even made attacks upon Halifax, and the colonists could not move into the adjoining woods, singly or in small parties, without danger of being shot and scalped, or taken prisoners.

In support of the French claims, the governor of Canada sent detachments, which, aided by strong bodies of [Mi’kmaq] and a few French Acadians, erected the fort of Beau Sejour on the neck of the peninsula of Nova Scotia, and another on the river St. John, on pretence that these places were within the government of Canada. Encouraged by these demonstrations, the French inhabitants around the bay of Chignecto rose in open rebellion against the English government, and in the spring of 1750 the governor of Nova Scotia sent Major Lawrence with a few men to reduce them to obedience. At his approach, the French abandoned their dwellings, and placed themselves under the protection of the commandant of Fort Beau Sejour, when Lawrence, finding the enemy too strong for him, was obliged to retire without accomplishing his object.

Soon after, Major Lawrence was again detached with 1000 men, but after driving in the outposts of the enemy, he was a second time obliged to retire. To keep the French in check, however, the English built a fort on the neck of the peninsula, which, in honor of its founder, .was called Fort Lawrence.Still the depredations of the [Mi’kmaq] continued, the French erected additional forts in the disputed territory, and vessels of war, with troops and military stores, were sent to Canada and Cape Breton, until the forces in both these places became a source of great alarm to the English.

At length, in 1755, Admiral Boscawen commenced the war, which had long been anticipated by both parties, by capturing on the coast of Newfoundland two French vessels, having on board eight companies of soldiers and about 35,000 dollars in specie. Hostilities having thus begun, a force was immediately fitted out from New England, under Lieutenant Colonels Monckton and Winslow, to dislodge the enemy from their newly erected forts. The troops embarked at Boston on the 20th of May, and arrived at Annapolis on the 25th, whence they sailed on the 1st of June, in a fleet of forty-one vessels to Chignecto, and anchored about five miles from Fort Lawrence.

On their arrival at the river Massaguash, they found themselves opposed by a large number of regular forces, rebel Acadians, and [Mi’kmaq], 450 of whom occupied a block-house, while the remainder were posted within a strong outwork of timber. The latter were attacked by the English provincials with such spirit that they soon fled, when the garrison deserted the block-house, and left the passage of the river free. Thence Colonel Monckton advanced against Fort Beau Sejour, which he invested on the 12th of June, and after four days bombardment compelled it to surrender.

Having garrisoned the place, and changed its name to that of Cumberland, he next attacked and reduced another French fort near the mouth of the river Gaspereau, at the head of Bay Verte or Green Bay, where he found a large quantity of provisions and stores, which had been collected for the use of the [Mi’kmaq] and Acadians. A squadron sent against the post on the St. John, found it abandoned and destroyed. The success of the expedition secured the tranquility of all French Acadia, then claimed by the English under the name of Nova Scotia.

The peculiar situation of the Acadians, however, was a subject of great embarrassment to the local government of the province. In Europe, the war had begun unfavorably to the English, while General Braddock, sent with a large force to invade Canada, had been defeated with the loss of nearly his whole army. Powerful reenforcements had been sent by the French to Louisburg and other posts in America, and serious apprehensions were entertained that the enemy would next invade Nova Scotia, where they would find a friendly population, both European and [Mi’kmaq].

The French Acadians at that period amounted to Seventeen or eighteen thousand. They had cultivated a considerable extent of land, possessed about 60,000 head of cattle, had neat and comfortable dwellings, and lived in a state of plenty, but of great simplicity. They were a peaceful, industrious, and amiable race, governed mostly by their pastors, who exercised a parental authority over them; they cherished a deep attachment to their native country, they had resisted every invitation to bear arms against it, and had invariably refused to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain. Although the great body of these people remained tranquilly occupied in the cultivation of their lands, yet a few individuals had joined the [Mi’kmaq], and about 300 were taken in the forts, in open rebellion against the government of the country.

Under these circumstances, Governor Lawrence and his council, aided by Admirals Boscawen and Mostyn, assembled to consider what disposal of the Acadians the security of the country required. Their decision resulted in the determination to tear the whole of this people from their homes, and disperse them through the different British colonies, where they would be unable to unite in any offensive measures, and where they might in time be-come naturalized to the government. Their lands, houses, and cattle, were, without any alleged crime, declared to be forfeited; and they were allowed to carry with them only their money and household furniture, both of extremely small amount.

Treachery was necessary to render this tyrannical scheme effective. The inhabitants of each district were commanded to meet at a certain place and day on urgent business, the nature of which was carefully concealed from them; and when they were all assembled, the dreadful mandate was pronounced,—and only small parties of-them were allowed to return for a short time to make the necessary preparations. They appear to have listened to their doom with unexpected resignation, making only mournful and solemn appeals, which were wholly disregarded. When, however, the moment of embarkation arrived, the young men, who were placed in front, absolutely refused to move and it required files of soldiers, with fixed bayonets, to secure obedience.

No arrangements had been made for their location elsewhere, nor was any compensation offered for the property of which they were deprived. They were merely thrown on the coast at different points, and compelled to trust to the charity of the inhabitants, who did not allow any of them to be absolutely starved. Still, through hardships, distress, and change of climate, a great proportion of them perished. So eager was their desire to return, that those sent to Georgia had set out, and actually reached New York, when they were arrested.

They addressed a pathetic representation to the English government, in which, quoting the most solemn treaties and declarations, they proved that their treatment had been as faithless as it was cruel. No attention, however, was paid to this document, and so guarded a silence government was preserved by the government of Nova Scotia, upon the subject of the removal of the Acadians, that the records of the province make no allusion whatever to the event.

Notwithstanding the barbarous diligence with which this mandate was executed, it is supposed that the banished number actually removed from the province did not exceed 7000. The rest fled into the depths of the forests, or to the nearest French settlements, enduring incredible hardships. To guard against the return of the hapless fugitives, the government reduced to ashes their habitations and property, laying waste even their own lands, with a fury exceeding that of the most savage enemy.

In one district, 236 houses were at once in a blaze. The Acadians, from the heart of the woods, beheld all they their homes possessed consigned to destruction; yet they made no movement till the devastators wantonly set their chapel on fire. They then rushed forward in desperation, killed about thirty of the incendaries, and then hastened back to their hiding-places.

But few events of importance occurred in Nova Scotia during the remainder of the French and Indian War, at the close of which, France was compelled to the transfer to her victorious rival, all her possessions on the American continent. Relieved from any farther apprehensions from the few French remaining in the country, the provincial government of the province made all the efforts of which it was Capable to extend the progress of cultivation and settlement, though all that could be done was insufficient to fill Up the dreadful blank that had already been made.

After the peace, the case of the Acadians naturally came Under the view of the government. No advantage had been derived from their barbarous treatment, and there remained no longer a pretext for continuing the persecution. They were, therefore, allowed to return, and to receive lands on taking the customary oaths, but no compensation was offered them for the property of which had been plundered. Nevertheless, a few did return, although, in 1772, out of a French population of seventeen or eighteen thousand which once composed the colony, there were only about two thousand remaining.

In 1758, during the administration of Governor Lawrence, a legislative assembly was given to the people of Nova Scotia. In 1761 an important [indigenous] treaty was concluded when the natives agreed finally to bury the hatchet, and to accept George III, instead of the king formerly owned by them, as their great father and friend. The province remained loyal to the crown during the war of the American Revolution, at the close of which, its population was greatly augmented by the arrival of a large number of loyalist refugees from the United States. Many of the new settlers directed their course to the region beyond peninsula, which, thereby acquiring a great increase of importance, was, in 1784, erected into a distinct government, under the title of New Brunswick. At the same time, the island of Cape Breton, which had been united with Nova Scotia since the capture of Louisburg in 1748, was erected into a separate government, in which it remained until 1820, when it was re-annexed to Nova Scotia.

The most interesting portions of the history of Nova Scotia, it will be observed, are found previous to the peace of 1763, which put a final termination to the colonial wars between France and England. Since that period the tranquillity of the province has been seldom interrupted, and, under a succession of popular governors, the country has continued steadily to advance in wealth and prosperity.

In 1729 the colony (of Newfoundland) was withdrawn from its nominal dependence on Nova Scotia, from which period until 1827 the government of the island was administered by naval commanders appointed to cruise on the fishing station, but who returned to England during the winter. Since 1827 the government has been administered by resident governors; and in 1832, at the earnest solicitation of the inhabitants, a representative assembly was granted them.”

Willson, Marcius. “American history: comprising historical sketches of the Indian tribes”. Cincinnati, W. H. Moore & co.; 1847. https://www.loc.gov/item/02003669/

“Expedition of Captain Samuel Argall, afterwards governor of Virginia, knight,…to the French settlements in Acadia…1613”

Argall’s expedition, commissioned from Virginia, aimed to assert English territorial claims and encountered French colonists in Nova Scotia. They plundered French settlements and briefly visited Manhattan, encountering Dutch traders. However, English accounts downplayed the expedition’s significance, likely due to its aggressive nature and potential diplomatic repercussions.

Subsequent historians relied on accounts from Heylin’s Cosmography, which described Argall disputing Dutch possession of Manhattan. French accounts noted Argall’s attack on a French vessel, resulting in plunder and imprisonment. This raid disrupted French colonization efforts in Acadia and furthered English territorial ambitions.

The expedition’s success spurred further English action against French settlements in Nova Scotia, culminating in the destruction of Port Royal. Accusations of Jesuit involvement in guiding the English to French settlements sparked controversy. Despite storms dispersing Argall’s fleet, his actions significantly impacted French and Dutch colonial efforts in North America.

These events, though initially underreported or misrepresented, played a pivotal role in shaping early colonial dynamics in the region, impacting subsequent European colonization efforts and territorial disputes.


“The earliest indication of a permanent settlement within the present limits of New-York has been generally traced by historical writers to the alleged erection of a fort near Albany, in 1614. On a small alluvial island, one hundred and fifty miles above the mouth of the river, the foundations not only of a flourishing city, but of a great commonwealth, are supposed to have been laid by a few Dutch adventurers whose only aim was a gainful traffic with the natives of the country. Such a settlement was indeed made, but there seems to have been an error in regarding it as prior to all others.

It is known that the Dutch visited the river the year after its discovery, and that they continued to frequent it from year to year for the purposes of trade, until it was found necessary to erect forts for their protection. What their establishments were before the building of the forts, is not stated by any of the Dutch writers with in our knowledge but undoubted though incidental authority enables us to form a correct idea of the state of things on Manhattan Island in 1613, or four years after the discovery of the river. We refer to the accounts of the expedition of Captain Samuel Argall against the French colonists of Acadia, who, as he was returning to Virginia, made a passing visit to the Dutch on Manhattan Isle.

The following brief notice of this event is taken from an English publication, containing a description of the country granted by Charles I. to Sir Edmund Ployden, under the name of the Province of New Albion, in 1634, embracing an extensive territory north of Maryland.”

“Twede” (and “Argals Bay”, a reference to Samuel Argall) seen in this reproduction of the map accompanying Sir William Alexander’s pamphlet: “Encouragement to Colonies” 1630.

“Then Virginia being granted, settled, and all that part now called Maryland, New Albion, and New Scotland, (Nova-Scotia,) being part of Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale, and Sir Samuel Argall, Captains and Counsellors of Virginia, hearing of divers aliens and intruders, and traders without license, with a vessel and forty soldiers, landed at a place called Mount Desert in Nova-Scotia, near St. John’s river, or Tweed, possessed by the French there killed some French, took away their guns and dismantled the Fort, and in their return landed at Manhatas Isle in Hudson’s river, where they found four houses built, and a pretended Dutch governor under the West India Company of Amsterdam share or part, who kept trading boats and trucking with the [indigenous] but the said Knights told him their commission was to expel him and all alien intruders on his Majesty’s dominion and territories this being part of Virginia, and this river an English discovery of Hudson, an Englishman.

As the expedition was fitted out from the Virginia colony, for the purpose of vindicating the English title to the country, it would be natural to look to that quarter for a particular account of it. But there seems to have been a studied concealment on the part of the early writers upon the affairs of that colony in relation to this matter, which can only be explained on the ground that the wanton and destructive attack in a time of profound peace, without notice of any kind, on the infant settlements of the French colonists in Acadia, was viewed as at least impolitic, and likely to lead to serious consequences between the two governments, if openly proclaimed or justified. For this, or some other reason, only incidental or meagre notices of the expedition occur in the Virginia writers. Purchas has the following reference to the enterprise without date Captain Argall ‘s northward discoveries towards Sacadehoc, and beyond to Port Royal, Sancta Crux, and thereabout, may not be concealed; in which his adventures, if he had brought home no commodity to the colony, (which yet he did very much, both of apparel, victuals, and many other necessaries,) the honour which he hath done unto our nation by displanting the French, then beginning to seat and fortify within our limits, and taking of their ship and pinnace, which he brought to James town, would have been reward enough for his pains, and will ever speak loud his honor and approved valour.!

In another place the same author describes more at length the controversies with the French in respect to their title to the country, but nothing is said of the visit of Argall to our river! Smith, whose history of Virginia was published about the same period, is equally unsatisfactory he says— Sir Thomas Dale, understanding there was a plantation of Frenchmen in the north part of Virginia, about the degrees of 45, sent Captain Argall to Port Royal and Sancta Crux, where finding the Frenchmen abroad, dispersed in the woods, surprised their ship and pinnace, which was but newly come from France, wherein was much good apparel and other provision, which he brought to Jamestown, but the men escaped and lived among the [indigenous] of those countries.”

This is the only notice Smith takes of the expedition, and it will be seen that he is mistaken in supposing the French colonists to have escaped, as several of them were carried to Virginia. It may be likewise inferred from his statement, that the enterprise was undertaken during the administration of Sir Thomas Dale, as governor of Virginia, which would bring it within the year 1614 but this is equally erroneous, as the most conclusive evidence exists that it took place in the preceding year, under the administration of Sir Thomas Gates. Smith had no connection at that time with the Virginia colony, having left it several years before, and this portion of his his tory is compiled from the statements of others, instead of being the result of his own observation and knowledge, as is the case with the earlier part of it. It is remarked by a careful writer, that Smith is an unquestionable authority for what is related, whilst he staid in the country,” although vastly confused and perplexed but the latter part of his history is liable to some suspicion. No doubt is entertained of his integrity, but being himself absent in those times upon other projects, he depended upon others for his account of things.

The work from which subsequent historians seem to have chiefly taken their accounts of Argall’s visit to the Hudson, is Heylin’s Cosmography, published in 1652,—a work of great learning and of high reputation at that period. After mentioning the discovery of the river and its subsequent occupation by the Dutch, he adds—“ But they were hardly warm in their new habitations, when Sir Samuel Argall, governor of Virginia, specially so called, (having dispossessed the French of that part of Canada, now called Nova-Scotia, An. 1613,) disputed the possession with them alleging that Hudson, under whose sale they claimed that country, being an Englishman, could not alienate or dismember it, (being but a part or province of Virginia,) from the crown thereof. Hereupon the Dutch governor submits himself and his plantation to his Majesty of England, and the governor of Virginia, for and under him. But a new governor being sent from Amsterdam, in the year next following, not only failed in paying the conditioned tributes, but began to fortify himself, and entitle those of Amsterdam to a just propriety!

A contemporary French author, Champlain, (the founder of Quebec,) states that the English of Virginia were accustomed at that period to pursue the cod fishery sixteen leagues from the island of Monts Deserts, and that a party arrived there for that purpose in the year 1613, commanded by Samuel Argall , who being overtaken by a storm were driven on shore Small light vessels were then termed frigates, the present use of the word being of more recent origin.

Here they were told by the [indigenous] that a French ship was at the island of Monts Deserts, whereupon Argall, being in want of provisions, and his men in a shattered, half-naked condition, resolved after ascertaining the strength of the intruders to attack them. The French seeing a ship approaching under full sail, and discovering it to be an armed Englishman, without being aware that ten others were following, prepared to defend themselves. After a short resistance, being overpowered by a superior force, the French yielded, with the loss of a Jesuit father, Gilbert du Thet, who was killed by a musket ball. Several others were wounded, and all but five were made prisoners. The English then took possession of the French ship, and plundered it of whatever they could find, not excepting the commission from the king of France which the commander, La Saussaye, had in his cabin.

Such is the statement of Champlain.

Another French writer of the same period, Lescarbot, relates the affair in a manner less favourable to his countrymen. He says that the French vessel having recently arrived at Pemptegoet, information was given by the natives to some Englishmen who happened to be on the coast, and that the latter going to ascertain whether it was friend or foe, Gilbert du Thet, the Jesuit, on discovering them, cried out, Arm, arm; it is the English and there upon opened a fire upon them, which was vigorously returned, and with such effect that the English, having killed three persons, (of which number was Gilbert du Thet,) and wounded five, boarded the ship, and having plundered it, landed upon the island, where they met with no resistance.

The French commander who was on shore at the time of the at tack, had fled with fourteen of his men to a remote part of the island, but the next day came and surrendered himself on receiving an assurance of safety. On being required to show the commission under which he sailed, he failed to produce it, and the English therefore adjudged him to be a pirate, and caused his effects to be distributed among the soldiers. The English captain, continues Lescarbot, was named Samuel Argall , and his lieutenant, William Tumel. Having put the greater part of the prisoners on board a fishing vessel, and set them at liber ty, Argall returned to Virginia, taking with him three Jesuit priests, and fifteen other persons, among whom are named le Capitaine de wiarwie, Charles Fleuri d’Abbeville, and M. La Motte.

The party thus summarily dispersed by Argall , had left France for the purpose of establishing a colony within the limits of Acadia, under the auspices of the Jesuits, at the expense of Madame de Guercheville, a wealthy French lady, who was zealous for the conversion of the American natives lo Christianity. They had arrived at La Heve, a port in Nova-Scotia, on the 16th of May, 1613, and proceeded from thence to Port Royal, where they took on board two Jesuit missionaries who had incurred the displeasure of Biencourt, the governor of that colony. Leaving Port Royal, they went to the island of Monts Deserts, where they resolved to fix their settlement. The pilot conducted them to the east end of the island, where they set up a cross, celebrated mass, and named the place St. Sauveur. Scarcely, says Champlain, had they begun to provide themselves with accommodations in this retreat, and to clear the land for the purpose of improvement, when the English came, and frustrated their benevolent designs in the manner already described. The cross around which the faithful had gathered was thrown down,” and the liberal supplies which they had brought from France for the intended colony, the offerings of pious zeal, were plundered, and carried away to minister to the wants of the English heretics in Virginia.

The success of Argail, and the relief afforded by the booty he brought home to a starving colony, stimulated the authorities of Virginia to a fresh enterprise against their French neighbours, under the pretext of defending the English title to the country founded on the discovery of the Cabots. The settlements of St. Croix and Port Royal were commenced before the English had planted a single permanent colony in any part of the new world, although more than a century had elapsed since the discovery on which they based their claims to the whole North American continent north of Florida. To follow up the plunder and destruction of St. Sauveur by an immediate attack upon those places, was the policy of the Virginia government, and an armed expedition, consisting of three vessels, commanded by Argall, sailed forthwith for Acadia. Touching at the scene of their late outrage on the island of Monts Deserts, they set up there a cross bearing the name of the king of Great Britain, instead of the one erected by the Jesuits and then sailed to St. Croix, where they destroyed all the remains of a former settlement. Crossing the bay of Fundy, they next landed at Port Royal, (now Annapolis, Nova-Scotia,) and finding the town deserted, the governor being absent, and the people at work several miles from the fort, they met with no resistance in pillaging and stripping the place of whatever it contained, loading their ships with the spoil, and destroying what they could not carry away. The settlement had existed eight or nine years, and had cost its founders more than one hundred thousand crowns in money, beside the labour and anxiety that necessarily attended their efforts to plant civilization upon a desolate coast.

At the time of its destruction, Port Royal was under the government of Charles de Biencourt, as vice-admiral and lieu tenant-general of New-France, whose unkindness to the Jesuit missionaries excited their enmity to such a degree that they were accused of having piloted the English expedition on this occasion. The charge is denied by Champlain, but countenanced by Lescarbot, who publishes at length the formal complaint of the Sieur de Poutrincourt, (one of the founders of the colony and the father of Biencourt,) addressed to a French admiralty court, in which he distinctly charges Biart, one of the priests who accompanied Captain Argall to Virginia, with having plotted the destruction of Port Royal. This document is dated July 18, 1614 and an answer was put in by the accused two years after. Without entering into the merits of the controversy, it is sufficient for our purpose to refer to it as establishing the dates of the events described by the complain ant. Poutrincourt says, that he left Rochelle on the last day of the preceding December, [1613,] in a vessel of seventy tons or thereabout, for Port Royal, where he arrived on the seventeenth of March, and was informed by his son Biencourt, the lieutenant-general of New-France, that the governor of Virginia had sent thither a ship of two or three hundred tons, another of one hundred tons or thereabout, and a large bark, with a number of men, who, on the day of the feast of All saints last, [the 1st of November, 1613,] landed, and under the guidance of the said Biart, plundered the habitations of himself and the other French people who abode there, &c.

In was on his return from the last expedition, that Argall is stated by the English writers to have visited the Dutch settlement at the mouth of the Hudson and as, according to both Champlain and Lescarbot, he left Port Royal on the ninth of November, he probably arrived here during the same month. The three vessels composing the expedition sailed together from Port Royal, but a violent storm soon after dispersed them the bark was never again heard from the ship containing; the Jesuits arrived in England by the way of the Azores, while Argall reached Virginia in safety.”

Folsom, George. Expedition of Captain Samuel Argall, afterwards governor of Virginia, knight, etc. to the French settlements in Acadia and to Manhattan Island, A.D. 1613.  New York, New York, 1849. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/11022273

A Plan of National Colonization

dartmouth royal instructions 1749

More time is spent describing Dartmouth here than in many other similar books of its kind, yet another instance of 1756 being given as the date of Dartmouth’s “destruction” at the hands of the Mi’kmaq.

The timing of the attack, 1756, as it relates to the delay of the institution of representative government at Halifax until 1758; the requirement of a population of 25 electors in 1757 in order to qualify for a representative in the legislature, which become 50 electors by 1758; all these points, when put together, have always struck me as curious.

Earlier events, such as the arrival and settlement of various “wastrels” as well as the “King’s bad bargains” at Halifax not to mention French hostilities has led me to question whether it was really the Mi’kmaq who were to blame for the “destruction of Dartmouth” at all.

I’m not sure how far those intent on advancing their position would go — whether it would include the removal of people situated across the harbor by any means necessary, to prevent any additional representation which would compete with Halifax — or in furtherance to claims for land located there. That the imposition of the BNA and “amalgamation” were repeats of this scenario in many ways, at least in terms of administrative capture and the furtherance of land claims, means that I can’t help but give the possibility of this scenario credence, especially considering differing descriptions of these events in various sources and the revisionism that has taken place since.

Of further interest in this “Plan for National Colonization” was that the partisan affiliations of each of the newspapers published in Halifax at the time are listed, the disdainful attitude of the author towards the black people settled here (perhaps due primarily to their American origin) is also apparent. Whether that was the prevailing attitude of the British more broadly at the time is an interesting question, especially with respect to today’s 1619 project era of presentism which operates as if British attitudes towards blacks were more benevolent in nature in comparison to Americans, when it was British law that served as the basis for slavery to begin with.

In earlier chapters especially, but even when describing the people of Nova Scotia, we see many attempts to extol the virtues of Anti-Americanism, to showcase the loyalty of Nova Scotians towards the crown and to stress they weren’t disaffected; no chance is wasted to cast Americans as uncivilized throughout.

Page 342: “(Nova Scotians) are entirely British in their feelings, and loyal to a degree that reminds one of the reign of George the Third, and the threatened invasion of England by Napoleon, when it was not enough to be loyal, but every one was expected to make constant profession of his being so, to prevent his being classed among the disaffected.

Following there is a note about Joseph Howe and his compatriots efforts at reform.

Here, as in Canada there is a large class of Reformers, who contend for the necessity of Responsible Government; — by which is simply meant, that while the Sovereign at home shall have the appointment of the Governor, and the nomination of the Legislative Council— the members of the Executive Council, corresponding to our Cabinet Ministers in England, shall be selected from that party which has the majority in the House of Representatives, so that the acts of the Executive shall be somewhat in harmony with the public opinion, as expressed by the choice of their delegates.”

Also included here is the book’s timeline of historical events concerning Nova Scotian colonization, since it delves into the Baronets and baronetcies in a manner I haven’t seen in other sources — an institution that I’m not at all sure has actually faded into the history books. The anecdote shared by the author which attempts to rationalize the ad hoc and arbitrary nature of the British monarchy (“for ever”) is revealing, where it was thought at first it must have been an issue with translation and not the totalitarianism of the British crown that led to a “misunderstanding”. The crown’s perpetual redefinition of words and terms as it suits the crown as an institutional affect, the “royal prerogative”, is something which might seem familiar to Canadians today — it’s a story that helps to explain some of the impetus for the American revolution, from the perspective of American colonists in terms of rule of law and the desire for a written Constitution.

It helps to explain the feelings of the New Englanders who formed the majority of settlers in the province initially. Almost all were dissenters, until a push of loyalists in the 1780s changed the political landscape. Those New Englanders had settled in Nova Scotia thanks in large part to assurances that they could enjoy local self government — township government in the New England form — and that their rights to enjoy religious liberties would be respected, that which would otherwise serve as the basis for the Bill of rights a few miles away. Both were yanked out from underneath them in order to concentrate even more power within the Halifax establishment.

Over the generations what was an initial radical Whig interpretation and reaction to the revolution, and in some cases republican sympathies, has been morphed into what’s derisively called “conservatism” by those who aren’t. This can be seen in Wilkie and Howe’s time as they were more finely tuned against the magistrates in what was still being governed as Virginia had been a century earlier, by quarter session, a process which wasn’t interrupted in the slightest, regardless of the many protestations and prayers of the people until 1841. The effort to recast “conservatism” as “Tory’s” exclusively is in my opinion a way to prevent any kind of fusion like that which John Adams’ identified as the basis for the spirit of the revolution. A regime of philosophical intoxication against republicanism by proxy exists today, as any number of thought crimes against woke intersectionality, gender and/or climate confusion. It’s present regardless of party and in many ways identifies the uni-party, used to assuage anything other than the default government orthodoxy of “global equity” and “diversity”, in everything but political ideology.


Opposite to Halifax, on the eastern shore of its harbour, is the small town of Dartmouth, the soil around which is more fertile than on the west, and is advantageously cultivated chiefly by German settlers. The breadth of the harbour here is about a mile and half, and a steam ferry-boat goes across every half hour. It is of nearly as early a date as Halifax, having been founded in 1750; but about six years after its foundation it was destroyed by [Mi’kmaq], and the greater number of its inhabitants massacred. It was revived in 1784 by some families from Nantucket, among whom were some of the Quebec family of the Roches, related to the wealthy merchants of that name in New Bedford. They carried on the whale-fishery here with great success till 1792, when a branch of them removed to Milford Haven in Wales. The town has now a population of 1,500 only; but if the projected canal, called the Shubenacadie – intended to pass through a chain of small lakes behind the town towards the river Shubenacadie, which falls into the Bay of Fundy – should ever be completed, it would no doubt greatly advance the prosperity of Dartmouth.

It is from this point of view that the town of Halifax, with its crowning hill and fortifications, its busy wharves lined with shipping below, the spires of its churches and the general mass of dwellings, is seen to the greatest advantage.


Newspapers appear to be as numerous here, as in any town of a similar size in America. None of them are published daily; but there are large weekly papers-the Times, Conservative; the Nova Scotian, Reformer; the Royal Gazette, official; the Journal and the Acadian Reporter, neutral. These are all conducted with great care, and respectable talent. There is also a religious paper in the Baptist interest, called the Christian Messenger; and another in the Methodist interest, called the Guardian. Besides these, there are three penny papers published twice and thrice a week – the Herald, the Morning Post, and the Hailgonian, which furnish only the heads of news, without exercising much influence on public opinion.

There is a Theatre in Halifax; but, like most of these establishments in the Colonies, it is so little frequented by the higher and even middle classes, that its support is left to strangers, and the lowest class of the population, so that it is constantly in debt and embarrassment, and will ultimately, no doubt, be abandoned.

The Commerce of Halifax is confined chiefly to the United States, the West Indies, and the Brazils, in America; and to Great Britain and the Mediterranean, in Europe. It consists chiefly of the export of timber, dried fish, wheat, flour, oats, salted pork, butter, and fish-oil; and in the import of manufactured goods from England, wines from the Mediterranean, and sugar, molasses, logwood, mahogany, coffee, cigars, and rum, from the West Indies. The aggregate amount of exports and imports on an average of several years past, is about £750,000 annually for each; though for the whole Province of Nova Scotia, including the few other ports, it is about £1,000,000.

The population of Halifax is estimated at 16,000 persons, including at least 1,000 black people], and a few [Mi’kmaq] of the [Mi’kmaq] tribe. These last are rather occasional visitors than permanent residents; but, like the black people], being seen frequently in the streets, and attracting attention from their fantastic dress and colours, they give an impression to the stranger of their being more numerous than they really are. The black people] settled here are chiefly from the United States and the West Indies. During the American war, the British squadron, under Sir Alexander Cochrane, after ravaging the shores of the Chesapeake, and going up to Washington to burn the Capitol, and destroy the public records there, brought away a great many black people] from Maryland and Virginia, as prisoners of war; and these becoming free as soon as they were landed here, had no disposition to return. Ships arriving from the West Indies also brought, from time to time, runaway slaves, who sometimes secreted themselves in the shipsholds, till they got to sea, and sometimes entered on board vessels as cooks or stewards, and finding many of their own colour here, joined them as residents. The greater number of them appear to have made little or no improvement in their condition, being poor, ignorant, dirty, and indolent; while no pains seems to be taken, either by the Government or by any Benevolent Society, to elevate them, by education and training, above their present state.


The history of Nova Scotia may be briefly told. It was first discovered by the Cabots in 1497; was visited by the Marquis de la Roche in 1598; and was first colonized by the French, under De Monts, in 1604, when it was called Acadia. In 1613, however; the English sent a small expedition [–Argal, from Virginia] to expel the French, and take possession of Acadia, on the ground of their navigators having been the first to discover the territory. This practice of claiming a property in every land discovered, as if there were no higher title, is happily ridiculed by one of the writers of the day, in this quaint couplet-

“For these were the days – to all men be it known, That all a man sailed by, or saw, was his own.”

But even this was not literally true, for it was rather the monarchs of the hardy navigators, than the territories because their subjects had discovered them. Accordingly in 1621, King James the First granted the whole of this country of Acadia to Sir William Alexander, and changed its name to Nova Scotia. The boundary line then fixed for the territory was one drawn from the river St. Croix to the St. Lawrence, so that it included all the present colony of New Brunswick, as well as a part of Lower Canada from Bic Island to Gaspe. In conformity with the usage of the times, this grant was made on the royal word “for ever;” but in treaties, grants, and diplomatic documents, the words “eternal peace and amity,” and “perpetual and undisturbed possession,” have a very limited meaning; their true signification being only just as long as may suit the convenience or interest of the parties to let this “eternity” continue, which may be twenty years, or ten, or only one, as circumstances may render expedient.*

* I remember an anecdote so strictly in point to illustrate this, that I cannot refrain from mentioning it. When I was at Shiraz, in Persia, in 1816, I lived in the house of an exiled Indian prince, named Jaffier Ali Khan, who was very much attached to the English, and who had, before this kindly entertained the estimable Henry Martyn, the lamented Church of England Missionary, under the same roof, and was delighted to hear that we were both natives of the same county, Cornwall. The father of Jaffier Ali Khan had ceded some territory among the Northern Circars, under the Presidency of Madras, to the East India Company; in consideration of which, the Company, through the Madras government, undertook to pay, to himself and the dependent members of his family, certain fixed annuities, which were to be guaranteed to them “in perpetuity for ever.” After a few years had elapsed, however, the Prince found his annuity considerably reduced in amount; and no reason being assigned for this, he wrote, first to India, and then to England, but could get no satisfactory explanation on the subject. He then thought it possible that the words “perpetuity” and ”for ever” might have a different meaning in English, from their equivalents in Persian, or that some change had taken place in the general acceptation of the terms; as words sometimes grow obsolete and change their meaning. He therefore sent to England for one of the latest and best editions of the most generally approved dictionary of the English language, which he spoke imperfectly, but which he could read pretty well; and on turning, with great eagerness and anxiety, to the words in question, he found that ”perpetuity” meant exactly as he had supposed, “without change or cessation;” and that “for ever” was only another and stronger mode of expressing the same “continual duration.” But he found that at the India House, as in the courts of other monarchs, “perpetual and everlasting” meant only “as long as might be expedient, and no longer.”

Charles the First, therefore, soon put an end to the “for ever” of his predecessor James; and shortly after his accession, this monarch sold what his royal parent had previously given away. This was done by the institution of a new order of Nova Scotia baronets, which were limited to 150 in number. To each of these baronetcies, a grant of land in the province was attached, and the titles and territory were sold to such persons as would undertake to make certain payments to the crown, in aid of settlement, as it was called, but in reality to replenish the King’s privy purse.

Many of the original French settlers, however, remained in Acadia; when Cromwell, in 1654, sent a force to dislodge them, and was successful. In the reign of Charles the Second, it was again ceded to France, by the treaty of Breda, in 1667, and remained in her possession till 1689, when it was taken by the English, with an expedition from Massachusetts, then a British Colony, under the command of Sir William Phipps. The leader of this expedition was one of the most remarkable men of his day. He was the son of a very humble blacksmith, and was brought up as a shepherd’s boy. At the age of eighteen, he was first apprenticed to a shipwright; and before he was twenty-one, he built a small vessel, with which he offered to raise some treasure, sunk in a Spanish ship, that was wrecked some years before at the Bahamas. His offer was made to the English court, and was accepted; and with the assistance he received from thence, he succeeded in recovering 300,000l. from the wreck. Of this he retained a portion sufficient to enrich himself, and the rest was given to his patron, the Duke of Albermale, who had assisted him in the equipment of the ship in which he performed this expedition. He was afterwards made a knight by King James the Second; and subsequently Governor of Massachusetts, in 1691, by the authority of William the Third.

Another change took place in the possession of Nova Scotia, when it was ceded a second time, by the Treaty of Ryswick, in 1696, to France, who held it till 1710, when it was again captured by the English, with an expedition from Boston; it was finally ceded to the British in the reign of Queen Anne, in 1713, since which it has remained in our undisturbed possession.

Halifax from Dartmouth
Halifax from Dartmouth near the gazebo on the bluff at Dartmouth Common, the church with steeple at left is undoubtedly the first St. Peter’s at the corner of Ochterloney and Edward Streets.

 

Buckingham, James Silk, 1786-1855; Bartlett, W.H. (William Henry), 1809-1854. “Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the other British provinces in North America : with a plan of national colonization”. 1843. https://archive.org/details/McGillLibrary-130149-5095

Baronia anglica concentrata, or, A concentrated account of all the baronies commonly called baronies in fee

“The pages of this work are … compiled to show the origin of every barony, from its first commencement by writ of summons to parliament, to the time it became (as presumed) extinct, or terminated in an heir general in dormancy; or in coheirs general in abeyance between them; accompanied with such remarks as appear explanatory of their course of descent.”

“Heralds and critics, that abusive throng; May as they please, speak of me right or wrong; Their praise will never give me any pride, Their spite, I heed not, and their snarls deride.”

“In the Appendix to the second volume is an account of the first settlement of the Scots in Nova Scotia, the occupation of the country by them, and the institution of the Order of Knights Baronets therein. No similar account has ever before been published; and, indeed, the several writers who have attempted to show the said first settlement, have made most erroneous representations in asserting that Sir William Alexander, after his grant from the crown, ever sold the country to the French, and that king Charles I, by the treaty of St. Germains, ceded it to them. The contrary of all this will be substantiated by the Documents herein set forth.”


“After this institution, and not long before his death, king James formed the idea of founding a similar order of rank for his Scottish subjects; and inasmuch as the one just mentioned, was for the security and defence of the kingdom of Ireland, and for encouraging persons of ambition, wealth, and consideration to make settlement therein, so the institution of Nova Scotia; baronets was intended for the advancing the plantation of that district of country in America, which he had recently annexed to his kingdom of Scotland, and for establishing a colony there, to the aid of which these knights were designed. His majesty, by charter dated at Windsor the 10th day of September, 1621, made a grant to Sir William Alexander, of Menstrie, knight, his favorite counsellor and secretary of state for Scotland, of a certain extent of territory in America, contained within particular boundaries recited in a copy of the said charter, set forth in No. I. of the appendix hereto attached, which territory in all time therefrom, and thence ensuing, was to be denominated Nova Scotia; and annexed to his majesty’s kingdom of Scotland; the said name being given in contradistinction to that other territory of country, which had theretofore been granted by special charter (situate also in America), to certain persons incorporated by the name of the Plymouth company, and which territory was then designated new England.

King James having deceased shortly after this grant to Sir William Alexander—and his son Charles having succeeded to the throne, he was pleased to carry out the intententions of his royal father; and for that purpose, by another charter, called de Novo Damus, dated at Oatlands, the 12th day of July, 1625, re-gave and confirmed to Sir William Alexander, his heirs and assignees all the said territory of Nova Scotia;, to be enjoyed by him and them in full regality, hereditarily for ever; with very special previleges, rights, and immunities, as detailed in a copy of the charter printed in No. 2, of the appendix hereto.

And Sir William had seisin under the said charter given to him at the castle of Edinburgh, soon after, as therein mentioned No. 15. and ordained. On reference to the first charter, in 1611, it will appear that notice is therein made of the knights baronets of Nova Scotia; but in the subsequent charter of Nova Scotia, in 1625, they will be found particularly alluded to; and that the groundwork of the by agreeing with Sir William Alexander, for a certain district of land in that country, to be erected into a barony, to be holden either of Sir William, or of the king, as might be agreed on by the party; and having thus qualified, a patent of creation should be then passed free of any compensation to be made by the said baronet, for the obtainment thereof from the crown: for this purpose the charter thus recites, viz.:

“And that men of honorable birth may be incited to the undertaking of that expedition, and the settling of planters in the said lands, We for us and our heirs and successors, with advice and consent aforesaid, in virtue of our present charter, give and grant free and full power to the said Sir William Alexander, and his foresaids, of conferring favors, privileges, offices, and honours on the deserving, with plenary power of disponing and overgiving to them, or any of them, who shall happen to make the aforesaid agreements or contracts for the said lands, with him, Sir William, and his aforesaids, under his subscription, or theirs, and their seal, any portion or portions of the said lands, &c., as to him shall seem fit, &c.”

Further, the charter recites, viz. : “Therefore that this our present charter, may be more effectual, and that seisin thereupon may be more conveniently taken, it is necessary that seisin of all and sundry the aforesaid lands, of the said country and lordship of Nova Scotia; be taken within our said kingdom of Scotland, and on the grounds and lands of the same in the most eminent place thereof, which can neither conveniently nor lawfully be done without an express union of the said country and lordship of Nova Scotia; to the said kingdom of Scotland. Wherefore for the advantage and readier convenience of the aforesaid seisin, we with the advice aforesaid, have annexed, united and incorporated, and by our present charter, unite, annex, and incorporate with our said kingdom of Scotland, all and sundry the aforesaid country and lordship of Nova Scotia;, with the teinds and teind sheaves thereof included, and all and sundry parts, purtinents, privileges, jurisdictions, and liberties of the same, and others generally, and specially above mentioned; and by our present charter, will, declare, decern, and ordain, that one seisin now to be taken at our castle of Edinburgh, as the most eminent and principal place of our said kingdom of Scotland, of all and sundry the said lands, country, and lordship of Nova Scotia;, or any part of the same, with the teinds and teind sheaves thereof included, respectively, is, and shall be sufficient seisin for all and whole the aforesaid lands, country, and lordship of Nova Scotia;, notwithstanding the said lands, country, and lordship of Nova Scotia; are far distant, and lie discontiguous from our said kingdom of Scotland, as to which, we, with advice and consent aforesaid have dispensed, and by our present charter for ever dispense, without prejudice and derogation always to the said privilege and prerogative granted to the aforesaid Sir William Alexander, and his heirs, and assignees, of making and establishing laws, acts, and statutes concerning all and sundry the aforesaid lands, country, and lordship of Nova Scotia;, as well by sea as by land; and by our present charter we declare, that notwithstanding the said union, which is declared to be granted solely for the advantage and convenience of seisin, the said country and lordship of Nova Scotia; shall be judged, ruled, and governed by the laws, and statutes made, and to be made, constituted and established, by the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs and assignees, relating to the said country and lordship of Nova Scotia;, in like manner, and as freely in that respect as if the said union had never been made, or hitherto granted.”

“And further, notwithstanding the aforesaid union, it shall be lawful to the aforesaid Sir William Alexander and his heirs, and assignees, to give, grant, and dispone any parts, or portions of the said lands, country, and lordship of Nova Scotia;, heritably belonging to them, to and in favour of whatsoever persons, their heirs and assignees, heritably, with the teinds, and teind sheaves thereof included (provided they are our subjects) to be holden of the said Sir William Alexander, or of us, and our successors, either in blench farm, fee farm, or in ward and relief, at their pleasure, and to intitle and denominate the said parts and portions by whatsoever stiles, titles, and designations shall seem to them fit, or be in the will and option of the said Sir William Alexander and his aforesaids, which infeftments and dispositions shall be approved and confirmed by us, or our successors, freely, without any composition to be made therefor. ”

“Moreover we and our Successors shall receive whatsoever resignations shall be made by the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs and assignees, of all and whole the aforesaid Lands and Lordship of Nova Scotia;, or of any part thereof in our hands and (those) of our successors, and commissioners aforesaid, with the teinds and teind sheaves thereof included, and others generally and specially above mentioned, to and in favour of whatsoever person or persons (provided they are our subjects, and live under our obedience) and they shall pass infeftments thereon, to be holden in free blench farm of us, our heirs and successors, in manner above mentioned, freely without any composition.”

“Further we for us, and our successors, with advice aforesaid, have given, granted, ratified, and confirmed, and by our present charter, give, grant, ratify, and confirm to the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs and assignees, all places, privileges, prerogatives, preeminences, and precedencies whatsoever, given, granted, and reserved to the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs and assignees, and his successors, lieutenants of the said country, and lordship of Nova Scotia;, on behalf of the Knights Baronets, and remanent portioners, and associates of the said plantation, so as the said Sir William Alexander, and his heirs male descending of his body, as lieutenants aforesaid, shall and may take place, prerogative, preeminence, and precedence, as well before all Esquires, Lairds, and Gentlemen of our said kingdom of Scotland, as before all the aforesaid Knights Baronets of our said kingdom, and all others, before whom the said Knights Baronets in virtue of the privilege granted to them, can have place and precedency, for the advancement of which plantation and colony of Nova Scotia;, and in respect of it, especially the said Knights Baronets were, with advice aforesaid, created in our said kingdom of Scotland, with their state and dignity, as a special token of our favour conferred upon such gentlemen, and honourably born persons, portioners of the aforesaid plantation and colony; with this express provision always, that the number of the aforesaid never exceed one hundred and fifty.”

Thus far the charter, under which the Nova Scotia; Baronets were primarily created, and grants of lands conceded to be made to them, to constitute their respective qualifications, and to enable them to further out the intention of colonizing the plantation, and of sustaining their title and dignity. The repugnance to recognise the order, may account for the few persons who came forward to accept of it; so that Sir William Alexander was left chiefly to his own means, and the king’s countenance, to carry on his undertaking: In 1629, however, Sir William had so far succeeded, as to have a thriving colony in Nova Scotia;, and his eldest son and heir apparent, Sir William Alexander, had gone there as his lieutenant. This being the case, his majesty king Charles, to give stronger encouragement to persons of honour and character to join their assistance; and also to render the dignity of baronet more inviting to seek, was pleased to confer upon the order the special distinction, that the said baronets and their heirs male, should thenceforth wear, and carry about their necks, an orange tawny silk ribbon, whereon shall hang pendant in an Escutcheon Argent, a Saltier Azure, thereon, an Escutcheon of the Arms of Scotland, with an imperial crown above the Escutcheon and encircled with this motto, “Fax mentis honeste gloria.”

It is here to be observed that the right of creating the baronets, did not rest in the king, but in his grantee, Sir William Alexander,—the institution of them was not like a peerage flowing from the grace of the crown for the mere purpose of conferring honour; but it was specially erected to carry into effect a particular object, which object was made a stipulation to give an interest to the baronet thereupon created, to promote it;—thus the king having granted away the whole country of Nova Scotia; had divested himself of the lands and territories comprehended in his charter, and this charter was confirmed (as before mentioned) by the parliament of Scotland, his majesty himself being present therein.”

Banks, T. C. (Thomas Christopher), 1765-1854. Baronia Anglica Concentrata, Or, A Concentrated Account of All the Baronies Commonly Called Baronies In Fee: Deriving Their Origin From Writ of Summons, And Not From Any Specific Limited Creation, Shewing the Descent And Line of Heirship As Well of Those Families Mentioned by Sir William Dugdale, As of Those Whom That Celebrated Author Has Omitted to Notice, (interspersed With Interesting Notes And Explanatory Remarks), Whereto Is Added the Proofs of Parliamentary Sitting, From the Reign of Edw. I to That of Queen Anne, Also, a Glossary of Dormant English, Scotch And Irish Peerage Titles, With Reference to Presumed Existing Heirs. [England]: The author, 1843-4. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015025951651, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015025951867

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. https://archive.org/details/McGillLibrary-108341-122

Scottish colonial schemes, 1620-1686

Sir William Alexander

This traces the early English colonial ventures in North America, commencing with the establishment of Jamestown in Virginia by the London Virginia Company in 1607. This initial settlement led to further expansions, such as the addition of Bermuda in 1612 and the gradual settlement of the New England coast, including Plymouth and Salem, in the early 17th century. English settlers also began occupying Caribbean islands like St. Christopher’s, Nevis, and Barbados.

The motivations behind these settlements varied, ranging from political and religious strife in England to opportunities for establishing new feudal systems. The English Civil War marked a pause in colonial progress, but the capture of Jamaica in 1655 under Cromwell initiated a new phase of expansion.

In the following decades, territories like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire were established, while proprietary governments emerged in East and West Jersey, heavily influenced by Quaker ideals. Pennsylvania, founded by Quakers, and Georgia, established as a philanthropic and strategic barrier against Spanish aggression, were significant developments in the early 18th century.

The narrative contrasts English colonial endeavors with Scottish efforts, particularly in Newfoundland, where Scottish adventurers attempted settlements in the early 17th century. Despite facing challenges and disasters, Scottish interest in colonial ventures persisted, although with limited success compared to English counterparts.

The text also highlights the influence of individuals like Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Sir William Alexander in shaping colonial policies and ventures. The Nova Scotia scheme, initiated by Alexander, aimed to create a Scottish colony between New England and Newfoundland, strategically countering French influence in the region.

Despite setbacks in his Nova Scotia voyages, Sir William Alexander remained determined to pursue his colonial enterprise. In 1624, he published “Encouragement to Colonies,” aiming to attract more readers and support. However, while his treatise showcased his scholarly and magnanimous personality, it revealed his misunderstanding of the challenges his scheme faced. A comparison with Captain Mason’s “Brief Discourse” highlights Alexander’s focus on historical narrative rather than practical advantages.

His appeal for colonial support centered on idealistic notions of ambition and virtue, lacking the practical incentives Mason provided. Despite this, Alexander’s prose showed both vivid Elizabethan imagery and a tone reminiscent of Sir Thomas Browne’s solemn grandeur.

To boost colonial interest, King James proposed creating an Order of Baronets, mimicking previous successful efforts in Ulster. By 1624, preparations for a colonizing expedition were underway, financed partly by the baronets’ contributions. Yet, the Scottish gentry showed reluctance, leading to modifications in grant conditions.

In 1629, Sir William’s son led the first Scottish settlement in Nova Scotia, facing minimal French opposition. However, the colony’s history is murky, with sparse records detailing its existence from 1629 to 1632. La Tour’s arrival in 1630 brought reinforcement, but tensions with the French persisted.

Royal support continued, with promises of baronetcies for assistance in the colony. Yet, in 1631, King Charles ordered the abandonment of Port Royal due to French claims. Despite this setback, Sir William’s interest in colonial affairs endured, as evidenced by his involvement in the New England Company and the grant of land in present-day Maine.

Ultimately, Sir William’s colonial ambitions were overshadowed by political turmoil in Scotland, and he did not send out more colonists. Long Island, granted to him, retained its name despite his lack of direct involvement in its settlement.


“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 Proprietary 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 rigors 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 leud persons and of their faults within Northumberland, Cumberland, etc., and declared that the royal purpose was to send the most notorious leiveris of them into Virginia or to sum remote parts, to serve in the wearris or in colonies. On the course of action implied in this section the comment of the council was discreet but unequivocal: seeing be the laws of this kingdom and general band every landlord in the middle shires is bounded to be answerable for all these that dwell on his land, the counsel sees no necessity that the course prescribed in the article be followed out here. On this judicious remonstrance the editors of the privy council records make the opposite 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 dispatch of this diplomatic non placet, the sage of Whitehall informed the Scottish council that their judgment seemed strange and unadvised 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 piece of service concredit unto them they use the advise and opinion of the lords of his majesty’s privy council.

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 at Newmarkitt” to Sir Thomas Smyth:

Trusty and well beloved we greet you well; whereas our court hath of late been troubled with divers idle young people, who although they have been twice punished still continue to follow the same having no employment; wee having no other course to clear our court from them have thought fit to send them unto you desiring you at the next opportunity to send them away to Virginia and to take sure order that they may be set to work there, wherein you shall not only do us good service but also do a deed of charity by employing them who otherwise will never be reclaimed 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 Honorable: I have this evening received a lice from his Majesty at Newmarkit requiring me to send to Virginia diverse young people who wanting employment do live idle and follow the court, notwithstanding they have been punished as by his highness lres (which I send your lordship Here with to you to see) more at large appeareth. Now for as much as some of these by his mats royal command are brought from Newmarkit to London already and others more are consigned after, and for that the company of Virginia hath not any ship at present ready to go thither neither any means to employ them or secure place to detain them in until the next opportunity to transport them (which I hope will be very shortly) I have therefore thought fit for the better accomplishing his highness pleasure therein to intreat your lordships favor and assistance that by your Lordship’s favor these persons may be detained in bridewell and there set to work until our next ship shall depart for Virginia, wherein your lordship Shall doe an acceptable service to his majesty and myself be enabled to perform that which is required of me. So I commend you to God and rest.

Your lordships Assured loving friend

Tho. Smith. This Monday evening, 18 January 1618.

Of the subsequent experiences of the young rufflers for whom the treasurer in his perturbation besought the temporary hospitality of the Bridewell 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 company 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 therefor since your majesties subjects of England and Scotland are now joined together 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 pirates. That your majesties would be pleased to grant a power to john mason the present governor of our colonies (a man approved by us and fitting for that service) to be lieutenant for your Majesty in the sq. Parts. This petition is endorsed: the Scottish undertakers of the plantation in the New-found-land.”

Brief as is this glimpse of the activities of the early Scottish planters in Newfoundland, and tantalizing 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 colonizing 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 nation to go forward in the hopefully plantation begun. 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.

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 colonization 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.

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 City 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 Harbor Grace. The prosperity that attended this settlement 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.”

“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, remodeled 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 colonize the more northern part of the territory. The leading part in the reorganization of the Plymouth company was taken by Sir Ferdinando Gorges The Father of English Colonization in North America. With Gorges Sir William was on terms of friendship. The colonizing 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 so exceedingly enflamed to doe some good in that kind, he declares in his Encouragement to Colonies, that I would rather bewray the weaknesses of my power than conceal the greatness 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 countrymen would never adventure in such an Enterprise, unless it were as there was a New France, a New Spain, and a New England, that they might likewise have a New Scotland, and for that effect they might have bounds with a correspondence in proportion (as others had) with the Country thereof it should bear the name, which they might hold of their own Crowne, and where they might be governed by their own 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 foreign Plantation, having made choice of lands lying between our Colonies of New England and Newfoundland, both the Governors whereof have encouraged him thereunto “and signified the royal desire that the Council would grant unto the said Sir William … a Signatour under our Great Seale of the said lands lying between New England and Newfoundland, as he shall design 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 Scotland the Nova Scotia in America of his Latin charter the New England council had surrendered a territory comprising the modern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick 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 disfavor 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 Archangel, a vessel that had been fitted out for trade and discovery by the Earl of Southampton and Lord Arundel 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 harbors 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 colonizing of these regions beyond the Atlantic. As a colonizing 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 rigors 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 remodeled 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 colonization. In September, 1621, Gorges himself laid before the Mayor of Bristol the Articles and Orders Concluded on by the President and Counsel 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 shall be a Treasurer in either of them, together with certain Commission chosen by the Adventurers. To all whom the Treasure, Government, and policy of Trade for New England shall bee Committed; as also such other officers as shall bee found convenient for that Service shall be designed to their particular charge.
  • And for the better Government of the said affaires : It is further ordered that there shall be chosen Commissioners out of the Adventurers of the City of Bristol and the parts thereunto adjoining and out of the City of Exon and the parts thereunto adjoining, and out of the Towne of Plymouth and the parts thereunto adjoining, and out of the Towne of Dartmouth and the parts thereunto adjoining, and out of the Towne of Barnstable and the parts thereunto adjoining; out of wo number they are to choose their Treasurer for every of the said places: And they so chosen to nominate their Register, Auditors, Clarke, and other officers.
  • And it is further ordered that the Treasurers and Commissioners (being so chosen by the Company of Adventures of the Several cities and Townes Corporate or the greater part of them that shall be present) shall receive their commission for the Managing of their affaires from us, the President and Counsel, according to his Mats authority in that behalf granted unto us.
  • That every year about Michaelmas and Easter, there shall be a General Meeting at Teuerton, in the County of Devon, of the said several Cities and Townes, whither they are to send three out of either City and two out of either Towne, to resolve upon their Mutual proceeding; as, namely, to what Port or ports of those Territories they will send any ship or ships and what markets are fittest to vent their commodities in, and what ships are meetest to go into those markets, as, also, whether the whole shall proceed upon a joint stock or that sever City and Town do proceed upon their several adventures, wo by all means is conceived to be the worst, both for the public 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 reorganization 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.”

“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 favor, 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 conditions of Newfoundland: the first six pages of the Encouragement contain a sketch of the history of colonization 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 Newfoundland 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 reap the fruits of Glory, since any man, who doth go thither of good quality, 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 own, giving it what form 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 posterity, who shall claim unto him as the author of their Nobility 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 Forth 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 Monarchic 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 Harbors 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 Meadows having roses red and white growing thereon with a kind of wild Lilly having a very dainty Smell. 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 colonization, by disputable opinion to dig up the Tombs of them that, more extenuated than the dust, are buried in oblivion, and will leave these disregarded relicts of greatness to continue as they are, the scorn 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 enterprise. 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 Work by his own private fortune, so it shall please his Majesty… 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 public helps, such as hath been had in other parts for the like cause. For the public 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 colonization 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 emphasized 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 forth “six sufficient men, artificers or laborers sufficiently armeit, apparrelit, and victuallit for two years . . . under the pane of two thousand merkis usual money of this realm.

In addition, each Baronet so created was expected to pay Sir William Alexander one thousand merks Scottish money only towards his past charges and endeavors. 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 payment 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 colony of men furnished with necessaire provision, to be planted within the said country be the advice of the said Sir Robert Gordon and the remnant 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 dispatch of a colonizing 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 forth of a ship for the furtherance of the plantation of New Scotland, and for caring 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 ship, with ordinance, munition, and all other furniture necessary for her, as likewise another ship of great burden which lyeth at Dumbartoune.” At the same time he made a requisition to the Master of the English Ordnance for sixteen miner, 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 “fit to be baronets” both among “the ancient gentry,” and also among “these persons who had succeeded to good estates or acquired them by their own industry, and are generously disposed to concur with our said servant (Alexander) in this enterprise.” A month later the Privy Council were urged to use their influence “both in private and public” 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. 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 Canso, 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 colony to inhabit the same who arriving first at Cap-britton did find three ships there, whereof one being a Barque of 60 Tunnes it was found that the owner belonged to St. Sebastian in Portugal, and that they had traded there contrary to the power granted by his Majesty for which and other reasons according to the process which was formally 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 lawful prize and gave a Shallop and other necessaries to trans- port her Company to other ships upon that Coast, according to their own desire, as for the other two which he found to be French ships 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 which he found (as it had been a long time before) abandoned and without sign that ever people had been there, where he hath seated himself and his Company according to the warrant granted unto him by his Majesty of purpose to people that part.” 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 neighborhood 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 Sagamore 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 [indigenous] 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 disposition that soon advanced him to high favor 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, siegnr de Menstrie Lieut de la Nouvelle Ecosse en Amerique par sa Majeste de la Grande Bretagne, et le Chevalier Claude de St. Etienne, siegnr de la Tour et Claude de St. Etienne son filz et le Chevalier Guillaume Alexandre filz dudt seignr Alexandre cy dessus nome … tant 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 said Sir Claud of Estienne being present accepting and stipulating by these presents for his said 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 Kt of La Tour and his son, if they find it meet, equally.”

But neither the dignity conferred on him nor the wide stretch of territory that accompanied it appealed particularly to the said son Charles now absent. When the two ships that carried La Tour and his party to Acadie anchored off Fort St. Louis in the neighborhood of Cape Sable, La Tour found his son staunch in allegiance to France. The paternal arguments having failed to influence the Commandant of Fort St. Louis, La Tour made an attempt to storm the Fort, but was repulsed. He then sailed on to Port Royal. In the autumn of 1630 Sir William Alexander sailed for Britain, leaving in command at Port Royal Sir George Home, who in the early summer of that year had ” conveyed himself and wife and children to Nova Scotia animo remanendi.

In the summer of 1631 a fleet dispatched by the Anglo-Scottish Company landed a band of colonists and some head of cattle at Port Royal. Nor were continued evidences of royal support lacking: in the spring of 1631 the Scots Privy Council had received an assurance from the king that he was solicitous for the welfare of the Nova Scotia colony; a little later intimation was received that the furnishing of assistance to the colony would be rewarded by the grant of baronetcies.

Yet on the 10th July, 1631, Sir William Alexander, now Viscount Stirling, received from King Charles instructions to arrange for the abandonment of Port Royal: the fort built by his son was to be demolished, and the colonists and their belongings were to be removed, “leaving the bounds altogether waist and unpeopled as it was at the time when your said son landed first to plant there.

This claim on the part of the French to Port Royal stirred the Scots to remonstrance. “We have understood,” wrote the Privy Council to King Charles on 9th September, 1630, “by your Majesty’s Letter of the title pretended by the French to the Land of New Scotland : which being communicated to the states at their last meeting and they considering the benefit arising to this kingdom by the accession of these lands to this Crown and that your Majesty is bound in honor carefully to provide that none of your Majesties subjects doe suffer in that which for your Majestys service and to their great charge they have warrantably undertaken and successfully followed out, Wee have thereupon presumed by order from the States to make remonstrance thereof to your Majesty, And on their behalf to be humble supplicants, desiring your Majesty that your Majesty would be graciously pleased seriously to take to hart the maintenance of your royal right to these lands, And to protect the undertakers in the peaceable possession of the same, as being a businesses which touch your Majesty honor; the credit of this your native kingdom, and the good of your subjects interested therein, Remitting the particular reasons fit to be used for defense of your Majesty’s right to the relation of Sir William Alexander your Mas Secretary who is entrusted therewith. . .

Despite the failure of his Nova Scotia scheme, Sir William Alexander did not abandon his interest in colonial problems. In January, 1634- 1635, Sir William, now Earl of Stirling, and his son the Master of Stirling, were admitted Councilors and Patentees of the New England Company. On the 22nd April, 1635, the Earl of Stirling received from the “Council of New England in America being assembled in public Court a grant of “All that part of the Maine Land of New England aforesaid, beginning from a certain place called or known by the name of Saint Croix next adjoining to New Scotland in America aforesaid, and from thence extending along the Sea Coast into a certain place called Pemaquid, and so up the River thereof to the furthest head of the same as it tended northward, and extending from thence at the nearest unto the River of Kinebequi, and so upwards along by the shortest course which tended unto the River of Canada, from henceforth to be called and known by the name of the County of Canada. And also all that Island or Islands heretofore commonly called by the several name or names of Matowack or Long Island, and hereafter to be called by the name of the Isle of Stirling...” Sir William sent out no more colonists: he was fully occupied with the stormy politics of Old Scotland. Long Island did not change its name. But the earliest settlers on Long Island bought their lands from James Farrell, who acted as Deputy for the Earl of Stirling.

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