Nova Scotia Constitutional Timeline

An expanded version of what’s put forth by the Nova Scotia legislature.

1493 – May 4, Alexander VI, Pope of Rome, issued a bull, granting the New World. Spain laid claim to the entire North American Coast from Cape Florida to Cape Breton, as part of its territory of Bacalaos.

1496 – March 5, Henry VII, King of England issued a commission to John Cabot and his sons to search for an unknown land

1498 – March 5,  Letters Patents of King Henry the Seventh Granted unto John Cabot and his Three Sonnes, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius for the “Discouerie of New and Unknowen Lands”

1502 – Henry VII commissioned Hugh Eliot and Thomas Ashurst to discover and take possession of the islands and continents in America; “and in his name and for his use, as his vassals, to enter upon, doss, conquer, govern, and hold any Mainland or Islands by them discovered.”

1524 – Francis I, King of France, said that he should like to see the clause in Adam’s will, which made the American continent the exclusive possession of his brothers of Spain and Portugal, is said to have sent out Verrazzano, a Florentine corsair, who, as has generally been believed, explored the entire coast from 30° to 50° North Latitude, and named the whole region New France.

1534 – King Francis commissioned Jacques Cartier to discover and take possession of Canada; “his successive voyages, within the six years following, opened the whole region of St. Lawrence and laid the foundation of French dominion on this continent.”

1578 – June 11, Letters patent granted by Elizabeth, Queen of England to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, knight, for “the inhabiting and planting of our people in America”.

1584 – March 25, Queen Elizabeth renewed Gilbert’s grant to Sir Walter Raleigh, his half-brother. Under this commission, Raleigh made an unsuccessful attempt to plant an English colony in Virginia, a name afterwards extended to the whole North Coast of America in honor of the “Virgin” Queen.

1603 – November 8, Henry IV, King of France, granted Sieur de Monts a royal patent conferring the possession of and sovereignty of the country between latitudes 40° and 46° (from Philadelphia as far north as Katahdin and Montreal). Samuel Champlain, geographer to the King, accompanied De Monts on his voyage, landing at the site of Liverpool, N.S., a region already known as “Acadia.”

1606 – April 10, King James claimed the whole of North America between 34° and 45° North latitude, granting it to the Plymouth and London Companies. This entire territory was placed under the management of one council, the Royal Council for Virginia. The Northern Colony encompassed the area from 38° to 45° North latitude.

1620 – November 3, Reorganization of the Plymouth Company in 1620 as the Council of Plymouth for New England, encompassing from 40° to 48° North latitude.

1621 – September 29, Charter granted to Sir William Alexander for Nova Scotia

1625 – July 12, A grant of the soil, barony, and domains of Nova Scotia to Sir Wm. Alexander of Minstrie

1630 – April 30, Conveyance of Nova-Scotia (Port-royal excepted) by Sir William Alexander to Sir Claude St. Etienne Lord of la Tour and of Uarre and to his son Sir Charles de St. Etienne Lord of St. Denniscourt, on condition that they continue subjects to the king of Scotland under the great seal of Scotland.

1632 – March 29, Treaty between King Louis XIII. and Charles King of England for the restitution of the New France, Cadia and Canada and ships and goods taken from both sides. Made in Saint Germain

1638 – Grant to Charnesay and La Tour

1654 – August 16, Capitulation of Port-Royal

1656 – August 9, A grant by Cromwell to Sir Charles de Saint Etienne, a baron of Scotland, Crowne and Temple

1667 – July 31, The treaty of peace and alliance between England and the United Provinces made at Breda

1668 – February 17, Act of cession of Acadia to the King of France

1689 – English Bill of Rights enacted

1691, October 7, A charter granted by king William and Queen Mary to the inhabitants of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England

1713 – March 31, Treaty of peace and friendship between Louis XIV. King of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, made in Utrecht

1713 – April 11, Treaty of navigation and commerce between Louis XIV, king of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain

1719 – June 19, Commission to Richard Philips to be Governor (including a copy of the 1715 Instructions given to the Governor of Virginia, by which he was to conduct himself)

1725 – August 26, Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay

1725 – December 15, A treaty with the Indians (Peace and Friendship Treaty, ratification at Annapolis)

1727 – July 25, Ratification at Casco Bay of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1728 – May 13, Ratification at Annapolis Royal of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1748, October 7–18, The general and definitive treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle

1749 – September 4, Renewal of the Peace and Friendship treaty of 1725

1752 – November 22, Treaty between Thomas Hopson, Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and Major Jean Baptiste Cope, Chief Sachem of the Tribe of the MickMack Indians inhabiting the Eastern Coast…

1758 – Nova Scotia Legislature established (consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, his Council and the newly established, elected legislative assembly called the House of Assembly)

1760 – March, Treaty of Peace and Friendship concluded by the Governor of Nova Scotia with Paul Laurent, Chief of the La Heve tribe of Indians

1761 – November 9, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis

1763 – February 10, France ceded, for the last time, the rest of Acadia, including Cape Breton Island (‘île Royale), the future New Brunswick and St John’s Island (later re-named Prince Edward Island), to British (Treaty of Paris) and it was joined to Nova Scotia

1763 – October 7, Royal Proclamation

1769 – Prince Edward Island established as a colony separate from Nova Scotia

1779 – September 22, Treaty signed at Windsor between John Julien, Chief and Michael Francklin, representing the Government of Nova Scotia

1784 – Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick established as colonies separate from Nova Scotia

1820 – Cape Breton Island re-joined to Nova Scotia

1838 – Separate Executive Council and Legislative Council established

1848 – Responsible government established in Nova Scotia (Members of the legislature had the ability to elect a majority of those in the Legislative council)

1867 – “Union” of provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the “self-governing” federal colony of the Dominion of Canada (British North America Act, 1867 — now known in Canada as Constitution Act, 1867) & the Parliament of Canada established (consisting of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons)

1928 – Abolition of the Legislative Council (leaving the Legislature consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and the House of Assembly)

1931 – Canadian independence legally recognized (Statute of Westminster, 1931)

1960 – Canadian Bill of Rights enacted

1982 – patriation of the amendment of the Constitution of Canada & adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada Act 1982)

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. J. Stockdale, 1787.

Legislature of the State of Maine. “The Revised Statutes of the State of Maine, Passed August 29, 1883, and Taking Effect January 1,1884.”, Portland, Loring, Short & Harmon and William M. Marks. 1884.

Kennedy, William P. Statutes, Treaties and Documents of the Canadian Constitution: 1713-1929. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1930.

Harvard Law School Library. “Description Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton,” ca. 1715? Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library., Accessed 07 June 2021

Thorpe, Francis Newton. “The Federal and State constitutions: colonial charters, and other organic laws of the States, territories, and Colonies, now or heretofore forming the United States of America” Washington : Govt. Print. Off. 1909.

Murdoch, Beamish. “Epitome of the laws of Nova-Scotia” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1832 (Halifax, N.S. : J. Howe) Volume One:, Volume Two:, Volume Three:, Volume Four:

Marshall, John G. “The justice of the peace, and county and township officer in the province of Nova Scotia : being a guide to such justice and officers in the discharge of their official duties” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1837 (Halifax [N.S.] : Gossip & Coade), Second Edition:

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930.

Bourinot, John George. “The constitution of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia” [S.l. : s.n., 1896?],

Laing, David, editor. “Royal letters, charters, and tracts, relating to the colonization of New Scotland, and the institution of the Order of knight baronets of Nova Scotia. -1638“. [Edinburgh Printed by G. Robb, 1867]

Labaree, Leonard Woods. “Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776“. Vol. I and Vol. II. The American Historical Association. (New York : D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935),

Beamish Murdoch, “On the origin and sources of the Law of Nova Scotia” (An essay on the Origin and Sources of the Law of Nova Scotia read before the Law Students Society, Halifax, N.S., 29 August 1863), (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197.

Shirley B. Elliott, “An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography”, Comment, (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197.

Commission and Instructions to the Earl of Orkney for the Government of Virginia, 1715

In 1719 the Board of Trade drew up instructions for their newly installed Governor Philipps. They directed him, in the absence of a civil government yet to be established in Nova Scotia, to follow the 1715 instructions to the Earl of Orkney as governor of Virginia, which are as follows.

George R.
Our Will and Pleasure is that you prepare a Bill for our Royal Signature to pass our great Seal of Great Britain in the Words or to the Effect following.
George by the Grace of God of great Britain, France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c to our right Well beloved Cousin George Earl of Orkney, Greeting, We reposing Special Trust and confidence in the Prudence, Courage and Loyalty of you the said Earl of Orkney of our Special Grace Certain Knowledge and Meer Motion have thought fit to constitute and appoint.

And by these Presents do constitute and Appoint you the said Earl of Orkney to be our Lieutenant and Governor Genll of our Colony and Dominion of Virginia in America with all the rights Members & Appurtenances whatsoever thereunto belonging, and we do hereby require & Command you to do and Execute all things in due Manner that shall belong unto your said Command & the Trust we have repos’d in you According to the Several Powers and Directions granted & Appointed you by the Present Commission, And the Instructions & Authority herewith given You Or by such further Powers Instructions & Authoritys as shall at any time hereafter be granted or appointed you under our Signet and Sign Manual or by our Order in our Privy Council and according to such reasonable Laws & Statutes as are now in force or hereafter Shall be made and agreed upon by you with the Advice & Consent of our Council and Assembly of our said Colony under Your Government in such form as is hereafter Express’d.

And Our Will and Pleasure is That you the said George Earl of Orkney (after the Publication of these our Letters Patents) do in the first Place take the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy & the Oaths mention’d in an Act pass’d in the Sixth Year of her late Majesty’s Reign Intitul’d an Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Government & of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also that you make and Subscribe the Declaration mention’d in an Act of Parliament made in the 25 Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second, Entituled an Act for Preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants And likewise that you take the usuall Oath for the due Execution of the Office and Trust of Our Lieuten’t and Governor Generall of our said Colony & Dominion for the due and Impartial Administration of Justice, and further that you take the Oath required to be taken by Governors of Plantations to do their utmost that the Several Laws relaing to Trade and the Plantations be observ’d, which said Oaths & Declaration our Council in our said Colony or any three of the Members thereof have hereby full Power and Authority and are required to tender and Administer unto you, & in your Absence to our Lieut Governor if there be any upon the Place all which being duly perform’d you shall Administer unto each of the Members of our said Council as also to our Lieut Governor if there be any upon the Place the Oaths appointed by Law, to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy, And the Oath mention’d in the said Act, Entituled an Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Governm’t and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also to Cause them to make and Subscribe the aforemention’d Declaration, And to Administer unto them the Oath for the due Execution of their Places & Trusts And we do hereby give and grant unto you full Power and Authority to suspend any of the Members of our said Council from Sitting, Voting & Assisting therein if you shall find just Cause for so doing, And if it shall at any time happen that by the Death, Departure out of our said Colony, Suspension of any of our said Councillors, or otherwise there shall be a Vacancy in Our said Council any three whereof we do hereby appoint to be a Quorum.

Our Will and Pleasure is, That you Signify the Same unto us by the first Opportunity, that we may under our Signet & Sign Manual Constitute & Appoint Others in their Stead-But that our Affairs may not Suffer (for want of a due Number of Councellors) at that distance if ever it shall happen that there be less than Nine of them residing in our said Colony-We do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power and Authority to chuse as many Persons out of the principal freeholders Inhabitants thereof As will make up the full Number of our said Council to be Nine & no more, which Persons so chosen & appointed by you, shall be to all intents and Purposes Councellors in our said Colony untill either they shall be confirmed by us, or that by the Nomination of others by us under our Sign Manual & Signet, our said Council shall have Nine or more Persons in it, and we do hereby give and grant unto you full Power and Authority with the advice and consent of our said Council from time to time as need shall require to Summon & call General Assemblys of the said freeholders & Planters within Your Government according to the Usage of our Colony and Dominion of Virginia, Our Will and Pleasure is, That the Persons thereupon duly Elected by the Major Part of the Freeholders of the respective Countys and Places, and so return’d shall before their Sitting take the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Oaths mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person & Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, As also make and Subscribe the foremention’d Declaration (Which Oaths & Declaration you shall Commissionate fit Persons under our Seal of Virginia to tender and Administer the same unto them, and untill the Same shall be so taken and Subscrib’d No Person shall be capable of Sitting tho’ Elected.

And we do hereby declare that the Persons so Elected & Qualify’d Shall be call’d & Deem’d the General Assembly of that Our Colony & Dominion. And that you the said George Earl of Orkney with the Consent of our said Council & Assembly or the Major Part of them respectively shall have full Power & Authority to make, Constitute, and Ordain Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances for the Publick Peace Welfare & good Government of our said Colony, & of the People and Inhabitants thereof, and such others who shall resort thereunto, and for the benefit of us our Heirs & Successors-Which said Laws Statutes & Ordinances are not to be repugnant but as near as may be agreeable to the Laws and Statutes of this our Kingdom of Great Britain- Provided that all such Laws Statutes & Ordinances of what Nature or duration soever be within three Months or Sooner after the making thereof, transmitted unto us under our Seal of Virginia for our Approbation or disallowance of the Same, as also duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance.

And in Case any or all of the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances not before confirm’d by us, shall at any time be disapprov’d & not allow’d, & so signify’d by Us our heirs and Successors, under our or their Sign Manual or Signet, or by Order of our or their Privy Council unto you the said George Earl of Orkney, or to the Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being then such and so many of the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances as shall be so disallow’d and disapprov’d, shall from thenceforth Cease determine and become utterly void, and of None Effect, anything to the Contrary thereof Notwithstanding.

And to the End that nothing may be pass’d or done by our said Council or Assembly to the Prejudice of us our Heirs & Successors, We will & Ordain that you the said George Earl of Orkney shall have & enjoy a Negative Voice in making & passing all Laws Statutes & Ordinances as aforesaid.
And you shall & may likewise from time to time as you shall Judge it Necessary Adjourn Prorogue & Dissolve all General Assemblys as aforesaid. Our farther Will & Pleasure is, That you shall and may keep and Use the Publick Seal of our

Colony of Virginia for Sealing all things whatsoever that pass the great Seal of our said Colony of Virginia. And we do further give & Grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney from time to time and at any time hereafter by your self or by any other to be Authorized by you in that behalf to Administer & give the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy to all and every such Person or Persons as you shall think fit, who shall at any time or times pass into our said Colony or shall be resident or abiding there.

And we do by these presents give & and grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power & Authority with the Advice & Consent of our said Council to erect Constitute & Establish such & so many Courts of Judicature & Publick Justice within our said Colony & Dominion, as you & they shall think fitt & Necessary for the hearing & Determining of all Causes as well Criminal as Civil according to Law & Equity & for awarding of Execution thereupon with all reasonable & Necessary Powers & Authoritys, fees, & Privileges belonging thereunto.

As also to Appoint & Commissionate fit Persons in the Several Parts of your Government to Administer the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy & the Oaths mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majestys Person & Government, and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line. And also to tender & Administer the aforesaid Declaration unto Such Persons belonging to the said Courts as shall be oblig’d to take the Same. And we do hereby Authorize & impower you to Constitute and Appoint Judges.

And in Cases requisite Commissioners of Oyer & Terminer Justices of the Peace & other Necessary Officers & Ministers in our said Colony for the better administration of Justice & putting the Laws in Execution And to Administer or Cause to be Administer’d unto them Such Oath or Oaths as are usually given for the due Execution & Performance of Officers & Places, and for the Clearing of truth in Judicial Cases. And we do hereby give & grant unto you full Power & Authority where you shall see Cause or shall

Judge any Offender or Offenders in Criminal Matters or for any fines or forfeitures due unto us, fit Objects of our Mercy to Pardon all such Offenders, and to remit all such Offences fines & forfeitures, Treason & Wilful Murder only Excepted, in which Cases you shall likewise have Power upon Extra- ordinary Occasions to grant Reprieves to the Offenders untill & to the Intent our Royal Pleasure may be known therein.

And we do by these Presents Authorize & Impower you to Collate any Person or Persons to any Churches, Chappels, or any other Ecclesiastical Benefices within Our said Colony as often as any of them shall happen to be void, And we do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney by Your Self or by your Captains & Commanders by you to be Authorized full Power & Authority to Levy, Arm, Muster, Command & Employ all Persons whatsoever residing within our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia, And as Occasion shall Serve to march from one Place to another, and to Embark them for the resisting & with standing of all Enemys, Pirates, & Rebels both at Sea & Land, And to Transport such Forces to any of our Plantations in America if Necessity shall require for the Defense of the same against the Invasion or Attempt of any of our Enemies, And such Enemies Pirates & Rebels (if there shall be Occasion) to Pursue & Prosecute in or out of the Limits of our said Colony & Plantations or any of them.

And if it shall Please God them to Vanquish Apprehend & take, & being taken according to Law to put to Death, or keep & preserve alive at your Discretion. And to Execute Martial Law in time of Invasion, Insurrection, or War. And to do & Execute all & every other thing & things, which to our Lieutenant & Governor General doth or ought of right to belong. And we do hereby give & grant unto you full Power & Authority by & with the Consent & Advice of our said Council of Virginia to erect raise & build in our said Colony & Dominion Such & so many Forts & Platforms, Castles, Cities, Burroughs, Towns & Fortifications as you by the Advice aforesaid shall Judge Necessary, And the same or any of them to Fortifie & furnish with Ordnance, Ammunition & all Sorts of Arms, fit & Necessary for the Security & Defence of our said Colony And by the Advice aforesaid the same again or any of them to demolish or dismantle as may be most Convenient.

And forasmuch as divers Mutinies & disorders may happen by Persons Ship’t & employ’d at Sea during the time of War. And to the End that Such as are Shipped & Employ’d at Sea during the time of War, may be better Govern’d & Order’d, we do hereby give & grant unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power & Authority, to Constitute and appoint Captains, Lieutenants, Masters of Ships and other Commanders and Officers. And to grant to such Captains, Lieut’s, Masters of Ships and other Commanders & Officers, Commissions to Execute the Law Martial during the time of War.

And to the Use such Proceedings, Authorities, Punishments, Corrections & Executions upon any Offender or Offenders, who shall be Mutinous, Seditious, disorderly, or unruly either at Sea, or during the time of their abode or residence in any of the Ports, Harbors, or Bays of our said Colony and Dominion as the Cause shall be found to require according to Martial Law during the time of War as aforesaid Provided that nothing herein contained shall be Construed to the Enabling you or any by Your Authority to hold Plea or have any Jurisdiction of any Offence, Cause, Matter, or thing Committed or done upon the high Seas or within any of the Havens, Rivers or Creeks of our said Colony and Dominion under your Government by any Captain, Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier or Person whatsoever, who shall be in Actual Service and Pay in or on board any of our Ships of War or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral, or from Our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being under the Seal of our Admiralty But that such Captain, Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier, or other Person so Offending shall be left to be proceeded against & try’d as their Offences shall require, either by Com- mission under our great Seal of Great Britain as the Statute of the 28th of Henry the 8th directs, or by Commission from our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral, or from our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being, According to the Act of Parliament passed in the 13th Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second Entituled an Act for the Establishing Articles & Orders for the Regulating & better Government of his Majesty’s Navys, Ships of War & forces by Sea and not otherwise.

Provided Nevertheless that all Misdemeanors & disorders committed on Shore by any Capt., Commander, Lieut, Master, Officer, Seaman, Soldier or other Person whatsoever, belonging to our Ships of War or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of high Admirall, or from our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being, under our Seal of our Admiralty, may be try’d and Punished according to the Law of the Place where any such Disorders, Offences or Misdemeanors shall be committed on Shore Notwithstanding such Offender be in our Actual Service and Born in our Pay, on board any such our Ships of War, or other Vessels Acting by immediate Commission or Warrant from our Commissioners for Executing the Office of high Admiral, or from our high Admiral of great Britain for the time being as aforesaid, So as he shall not receive any Protection for the avoiding of Justice for such Offences Com- mitted on Shore, from any Pretence of his being employ’d in our Service at Sea, And our further Will and Pleasure is, That all Publick Moneys rais’d or which shall be rais’d by any Act hereafter to be made within our said Colony be issued out by Warrant from You by and with the Advice and Consent of the Council and disposed of by you for the Support of the Government, And not otherwise And we do likewise give & grant unto you full Power and Authority, by and with the Advice & consent of our said Council to Settle and Agree with the Inhabitants of our Colony & Dominion aforesaid for such Lands Tenements & Hereditaments as now are, or hereafter shall be in our Power to dispose of And them to grant to any such Person or Persons, & upon such terms, & under such Moderate Quitrents, Services & Acknowledgments to be thereupon reserv’d unto us, as you by & with the Advice aforesaid shall think fit, which said Grants are to pass and be Seal’d with our Seal of Virginia, And being entered on Record by such Officer or Officers as shall be Appointed thereunto, shall be good & Effectual in Law against us our heirs & Successors And we do hereby Give unto you the said George Earl of Orkney full Power to Order & appoint Fairs, Marts, & Markets, as also such & so many Ports, harbors, Bays, Havens, & other Places for Conveniency & Security of Shipping, and for the better loading & unloading of Goods & Merchandize, as you with the Advice & Consent of the said Council shall think fit & Necessary.

And We do hereby require and Command all Officers & Ministers Civil & Military, and all other Inhabitants of our said Colony & Dominion to be obedient aiding & assisting unto you the said George Earl of Orkney in the Execution of this our Commission, and of the Powers & Authioities herein con- tain’d, & in Case of your Death or Absence out of our said Colony to be obedient aiding & Assisting unto such person as shall be appointed by us to be our Lieut Govemour or Commander in Chief of our said Colony To whom we do thereby these Presents Give & Grant all & Singular the Powers & Authorities herein granted to be by him Executed & Enjoy’d during our Pleasure, or untill your Arrival within our said Colony-If upon your Death or Absence out of our said Colony there be no Person upon the Place commissionated or appointed by us to be our Lieut Governor or Commander in Chief of the said Colony Our Will and Pleasure is, That the Eldest Councellor whose Name is first Plac’d in our said Instructions to you, and who shall be at the time of your Death or Absence, residing within our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia, shall take upon him the Administration of the Govemnent, and Execute our said Commission & Instructions, And the Several Powers & Authorities therein Contained, in the Same Manner, And to all Intents & Purposes as other our Governor or Commander in Chief shou’d or ought to do in Case of your Absence until your Return, or in all Cases untill our further Pleasure be known therein, And We do hereby declare, Ordain, and Appoint that You the said George Earl of Orkney, shall and may hold, Execute & Enjoy, the Office and Place of our Lieut & Governor General of our said Colony & Dominion with all its Rights Members & Appurtenances whatsoever together with all & Singular the Powers & Authoritys hereby Granted unto you, for & during our Will & Pleasure, Lastly we have revoked Determin’d & made Void

And by these Presents do revoke Determine & make Void certain Letters Patents Granted by her late Majesty Queen Anne unto you the said George Earl of Orkney for the Government of our said Colony & Dominion of Virginia under the Great Seal of Great Britain bearing Date at Westminster the day of in the Year of her said late Majesty’s Reign And every Clause, Article & thing therein Contain’d, In Witness whereof we have caused these our Letters to be made Patents.

Witness Our Self at Westminster the day of in the first Year of our Reign. And for so doing this shall be your Warrant Given at our Court at St. James the 15th day of January 1714 in the first Year of our Reign.

And in his Absence to the Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being, Given at our Court at St James’s the 15th day of April 1715 in the first Year of our Reign.

  1. With these our Instructions you will receive our Commission under our Great Seal of Great Britain, Constituting you our Lieutenant & Governour General of our Colony & Dominion of Virginia in America.
  2. You are therefore to fit your self with all convenient speed & to repair to our said Colony of Virginia, And being there Arriv’d, You are to take upon you the Execution of the Place & Trust we have repos’d in You. And forthwith to Call together the Members of Our Council for Our Colony and Do- minion, by Name, Viz. Edmund Jennings, Robt. Carter, James Blair, Phillip Ludwell, John Lewis, William Byrd, William Basset, Nat Harrison, Mann Page, Dudley Digges, Peter Beverley and John Robinson Esq”.
  3. And You are with due and Usual Solemnity to Cause our said Commission under our great Seal of Great Britain Constituting You our Lieutenant and Governor General of our said Colony & Dominion, to be read and Publish’d at the said meeting of our Council.
  4. Which being done you shall yourself take-and also Administer unto each of the Members of Our Councill, As well the Oaths Appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy, And the Oath mention’d in an Act pass’d in the Sixth Year of her late Majesty’s Reign Entituled An Act for the Security of her Majesty’s Person and Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, as also to make and Subscribe, & cause the Members of our Council to make and Subscribe the Declaration Mentioned in our Act of Parliament made in the 25th Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second, Entituled, an Act for Preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants, And you and every of them are likewise to take an Oath for the due Execution of Your and their Places and Trusts, as well with regard to your and their equal and Impartial Administration of Justice, and you are also to take the Oath required to be taken by Governors of Plantations to do their Utmost that the Laws relating to the Plantations be observ’d.
  5. You are forthwith to Communicate unto our said Council Such & so many of these our Instructions wherein their Advice and Consent are Mention’d to be requisite, as likewise all such others from time to time as you shall find Convenient for our Service to be imparted to them.
  6. You are to permit the Members of our Said Council of Virginia, to have and enjoy freedom of Debate, and Vote in all Affairs of Publick Concern, that may be Debated in Council.
  7. And also by our Commission aforesaid, we have thought fitt to direct that any three of our Councelors make a Quorum, It is Nevertheless Our Will and Pleasure that you do not Act without a Quorum of less than five Members unless upon Extraordinary Emergencies when a greater Number cannot be conveniently had..
  8. And that we may be always informed of the Names & Characters of Persons fit to Supply the Vacancies that shall happen in Our said Council, You are to transmit unto us by one of our Principal Secretarys of State And to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations with all Convenient Speed the Names and Characters of Twelve Persons Inhabitants of our said Colony, whom you shall esteem the best qualifi’d for that Trust, and so from time to time when any of them shall dye, depart out of our said Colony, or become otherwise unfit, You are to Nominate so many others in their Stead, that the list of twelve Persons fit to Supply the said Vacancys may be always Compleat.
  1. You are from time to time to send unto us as aforesaid & to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, the Name or Names and Quality’s of any Member or Members by you put into our said Council, by the first Conveniency after your so doing.
  2. And in the Choice and Nomination of the Members of our said Council, as also of the Chief Officers, Judges, Assistants, Justices and Sheriffs, You are always to take Care that they be Men of good Life & well Affected to our Government, and of Good Estates, and Abilities, and not Necessitous People, or much in debt.
  3. You are neither to Augment nor diminish the Number of our said Council as it is hereby Established, Nor to Suspend any of the Members thereof without good and Sufficient Cause nor without the Consent and Majority of the said Council, And in case of Suspension of any, You are to Cause your Reasons for so doing, together with the Charges and Proofs, against the said Persons, and their Answer thereunto, (Unless you have some Extraordinary Reason to the Contrary) to be duly enter’d upon the Council Books, And you are forthwith to transmit the same together with your Reasons for not Entring them upon the Council Books (in Case you do not Enter them) unto us, And to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid.
  4. You are to Signify our Pleasure unto the Members of our said Council, that if any of them shall hereafter absent themselves from our said Colony, and continue absent above the Space of Twelve Months together without leave from you, or from the Commander in Chief for the time being, first Obtain’d or shall remain absent for the Space of Two Years or the greater Part thereof Successively without our Leave given them under our Royal Sign Manual their Place or Places in our said Council shall immediately thereupon become Void, & that we will forthwith appoint others in their Stead.
  1. And whereas we Subscribe that Effectual care ought to be taken to Oblige the Members of Our said Council to a due Attendance therein, in order to prevent the many Inconveniences that may happen from the Want of a Quorum of the Council to Transact Business as Occasion may require IT IS OUR WILL AND PLEASURE that if any of the Members of the said Council shall hereafter Wilfully absent themselves when duly Summon’d without a just and Lawfull Cause, And shall persist therein after Admonition, You Suspend the said Councellors so absenting them till Our further Pleasure be known, Giving us timely Notice thereof, And We hereby Will and require you that this our Royall Pleasure be Signify’d to the Several Members of our Council aforesaid, and that it be enter’d in the Council Book of our said Colony as a standing Rule.
  2. You are to observe in the Passing of Laws that the Stile of Enacting the Same be by the Governor Council & Assembly and no other. You are as much as Possible to Observe in the Passing of all Laws that whatever may be requisite upon each different Matter be accordingly provided for by a different Law without intermixing in One & the Same Act such things as have no Proper relation to each other. And You are more Especially to take Care that no Clause or Clauses be Inserted in or Annext to any Act which shall be foreign to what the Title of such respective Act imports, & that no perpetual Clause be part of any Temporary Law, and that no Act whatever be Suspended, Alter’d, Reviv’d, Confirm’d or Repeal’d by General Words but that the Title & Date of such Act so Suspended, Alter’d, Reviv’d Confirm’d or Repealed be Par- ticularly Mention’d & Expressed.
  3. You are also to take Care that no Private Act be pass’d in which there is not a Saving Us Our Heirs & Successors all Bodys Politick or Corporate & of all other Persons except such as are mention’d in the Act.
  1. And Whereas great Mischief may Arise by Passing Bills of an Unusual & Extraordinary Nature & Importance in the Plantations which Bill remain in force there from the time of Enacting untill Our Pleasure be Signify’d to the Contrary, We do hereby Will and Require you not to Pass or give Your Consent hereafter to any Bill or Bills in the Assembly of our said Colony of unusual and Extraordinary Nature & Importance, Wherein our Prerogative or property of our Subjects may be prejudiced, without having either first Transmitted to us the Draught of such a Bill or Bills and our having Signinify’d our Royal Pleasure or that you take Care in the Passing of any Act of unusual and Extraordinary Nature that there be a Clause inserted therein Suspending and deferring the Execution thereof Untill our further Pleasure be known concerning the said Act to the End our Prerogative may not Suffer & that Our Subjects may not have reason to complain of hardships put upon them on the like Occasions.
  2. You are to transmit Authentick Copies of all Laws Statutes and Ordinances that are now made and in force which have not yet been sent, or which at any time hereafter shall be made or Enacted within our said Colony each of them Seperately under the Publick Seal unto Us & to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations within three Months or by the first Opportunity after their being Enacted together with Duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance upon Pain of our highest displeasure and of the forfeit of that Years Salary Wherein you shall at any time upon any Pretence Whatsoever omit to send over the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances aforesaid within the time above limitted as also of such other Penalty as we shall Please to inflict But if it shall happen that during the time of War No shipping shall come from our said Colony within three Months after the Making such Laws Statutes and Ordinances whereby the same may be transmit- ted as aforesaid then the said Laws Statutes & Ordinances are to be transmitted as aforesaid by the next conveyance after the making thereof whenever it may happen for our Approbation or disallowance of the same
  1. And Our further Will and Pleasure is That in every Act which shall be transmitted there be the Several Dates & Respective times when the Same Pass’d the Assembly The Council and receiv’d your Assent, And you are to be as Particular as may be in your Observations to be sent to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations upon every Act, that is to say whether the same is Introductive of a New Law Declaratory of a former Law, or does repeal a Law then before in being and you are likewise to send to our said Commissioners the Reasons for the Passing of such Law unless the same do fully appear in the Preamble of the said Act.
  2. And Whereas it hath been represented that the Taxes which have been levied by Poll within our said Colony have been heavy and burthensome unto our Subjects there, You are to recommend to the General Assembly the Consideration and Settling such a way for raising Money upon Necessary Occasions as shall be more equal and Acceptable to our subjects there than the Method of Levying by Poll and Titheables.
  3. And it having been further represented that a Duty to be raised upon Liquors Imported into our said Colony would be the most easy Means that can be found out for the better Support of that Government, You are therefore to recommend to the Assembly the raising of such Impost & continuance of the same, which you shall Permit them to Appropriate in such Manner that it be apply’d to the Uses of the Government and to None Other whatsoever.
  1. You are to take Care that in all Acts or Orders to be Pass’d within that our Colony in any Case for Levying Money or Imposing fines & Penalties express mention be made that the Same is Granted or reserv’d to Us Our Heirs and Successors for the Publick Uses of that Our Colony, and the Support of the Government thereof, as by the said Act or Order Shall be directed.
  2. Whereas we have been inform’d that during the late War Intelligence has been had in France of the State of our Plantations by letters from private Persons to their Correspondents in great Britain taken on board Ships coming from the Plantations and carry’d into France which may be of Dangerous consequence OUR WILL & PLEASURE is that you Signify to all Merchants Planters and Others that they be very Cautious in time of War whenever that shall happen in giving any Account by Letters of the Publick State and Condition of our Colony & Dominion of Virginia, and You are further to give directions to all Masters of Ships or Other Persons to whom you may Intrust your Letters that they put Such Letters into a Bagg, with Sufficient Weight to Sink the Same immediadiately in Case of Iminent Danger from the Enemy, and you are also to let the Merchants and Planters know how greatly it is for their Interest that their Letters shou’d not fall into the hands of the Enemy and therefore that they shou’d give the like Orders to the Masters of Ships in relation to their Letters; And you are further to advise all Masters of Ships that they do Sink all Letters in Case of Danger in the Manner aforesaid.
  3. And Whereas in the late War the Merchants and Planters in the West Indies did Correspond and Trade with the French and Carry Intelligence to them to the great Prejudice and Hazard of the British Plantations, You are therefore by all Possible Methods to endeavour to hinder all such Trade and Correspondence with the French whose Strength in the West Indies gives very Just Apprehensions of the Mischiefs that may ensue if the utmost Care be not taken to prevent them.
  4. And Whereas Several Inconveniencies have Arisen to Our Government in the Plantations by Gifts and Presents made to our Governors by the General Assembly IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that neither you our Govemor Lieutenant Governor Commander in Chief or President in the Council of our Colony of Virginia for the time being do give your or their Consent to the Passing any Law or Act for any Gift or Present to be made to you or them by the Assembly and that neither you nor they do receive any Gifts or Presents from the Assembly or others on any Account; or in any Manner whatsoever upon Pain of our highest displeasure and of being recall’d from that our Government.
  5. And we do further direct and require that this declaration of our Royal Will and Pleasure be Communicated to the Assembly at their first Meeting after your arrival in that Colony and Enter’d in the Registers of our Council and Assembly that all Persons whom it may concern may govern themselves accordingly.
  6. And Whereas we are Willing in the best Manner to provide for the Support of the Government in Virginia by Setting a Part a Sufficient allowance to such as shall be our Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief residing for the time being within the Same OUR WILL AND PLEASURE THERE FORE IS That when it shall happen that you shall absent yourself from Our said Colony, one full Moiety of the Salary & of all Perquisites & Emoluments whatsoever which wou’d otherwise become due unto you shall during the time of your Absence from the said Colony be paid and Satisfy’d unto Such Lieut. Governor, or Commander in Chief or President of our Council who shall be resident upon the place for the time being, which we do hereby Order and allot to him towards his Maintenance and for the better Support of the Dignity of our Government.
  7. And Whereas great Prejudice may happen to our Service and to the security of that Colony by your Absence from those Parts without Sufficient Cause & Especial Leave from us for Prevention thereof You are not upon any Pretence whatsoever to come to Europe from your Government without having first Obtain’d leave for so doing from us under Our Sign Manual and Signet or by our Order in our Privy Council, Yet Neverthe- less in Case of Sickness you may go to New York or any other of our Neighbouring Plantations and there stay for such a Space of time as the recovery of your Health may absolutely require.
  8. You are not to Permit any Clause whatsoever to be inserted in any Law for Levying Money or the Value of Money whereby the same shall not be made lyable to be accounted for unto us here in Great Britain and to our Commissioners of our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being.
  1. And We do particularly require and Enjoin you upon Pain of Our Highest displeasure to take care that fair Books of Accounts of all Receipts and Payments of all such Money be duly kept and the truth thereof Attested upon Oath, And that the said Book be transmitted every half Year or Oftener to our Commissioners of our Treasury or to our high Treasurer for the time being and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and Duplicates thereof by the next Conveyance in which Books shall be Specify’d every Particular Sum rais’d or dispos’d of together with the Names of the Persons to whom any Payment shall be made to the End we may be Satisfy’d of the Right and due Application of the Revenues of our Said Colony.
  2. You are not to Suffer any Publick money whatsoever to be issued or Dispos’d of otherways than by Warrant under your hand by and with the Advice of our said Council, But the Assembly may nevertheless be permitted from time to time to View & Examine the Accounts of Money or Value of Money dispos’d of by Vertue of Laws made by them, which you are to Signify unto them as there shall be Occasion.
  3. AND IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that no Law for raising any Imposition on Wines and other Strong Liquors be made to Continue for less than one whole Year as also that all other Laws whatsoever for the good Government and Support of the said Colony be made Indefinite and without Limitation of time except the Same be for a Temporary end and which shall expire and have its full Effect within a Certain time.
  4. AND THEREFORE you Shall not Re-Enact any Law which hath or Shall have been once Enacted there Except upon very Urgent Ocassions, but in no Case more than once without our Express consent.
  1. You shall take Care that an Act Pass’d here in the Sixth Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne for Ascertaining the Rates of foreign Coins in our Plantations in America be daily observ’d and put in Execution.
  2. And You are particularly not to pass any Law, or do any Act, by Grant Settlement or Otherwise whereby our Revenue may be lessen’d or Impair’d without our Especial leave or Command therein.
  3. You shall take Care that the Members of the Assembly be Elected only by Freeholders as being more agreeable to the Custom of this Kingdom to which you are as near as may be to Conform yourself.
  4. You shall reduce the Salary of the Members of the Assembly to such a Moderate Proportion as may be no grievence to the Country wherein Nevertheless you are to use your discretion, so as no inconvenience may arise thereby.
  5. Whereas an Act has been Pass’d in Virginia on 16 April in the Year 1684 Entitled an Act for Altering the time of holding General Courts, You are to Propose to the Next Assembly (if the Same be not already done) that a clause be added to the said Act whereby it may be provided that the Power of Appointing Courts to be held at any time whatsoever remain in you or the Commander in Chief of that our said Colony for the time being.
  6. You shall not remit any fines or forfeitures whatsoever above the Sum of Ten Pounds, nor dispose of any Escheats fines or forfeitures whatsoever until upon Signifying unto our Commissioners of our Treasury, or Our high Treasurer for the time being, and to our Commissoners for Trade and Plantations, the Nature of the Offence and the Occasion of such fines forfeitures or Escheats with the Particular Sums or Value thereof which you are to do with all Speed Until you shall have receiv’d our Directions therein, But you may in the mean time Suspend the Payment of the said Fines and Forfeitures.
  7. You are to require the Secretary of our Said Colony or his Deputy for the time being to furnish you with Transcripts of all such Acts and Publick Orders as shall be made from time to time together with a Copy of the Journals of the Council to the end the same transmitted Unto us, and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as above directed, which he is duly to perform upon Pain of incurring the Forfeiture of his Place.
  1. You are also to require from the Clerk of the Assembly or other Proper Officer Transcripts of all the Journals and other Proceedings of the said Assembly to the end the same may in like manner be transmitted as aforesaid.
  2. You are likewise to send a list of all Officers Employ’d under your Government together with all Publick Charges, and an Account of the Present Revenue with the Probability of the Increase or Diminution of it under every head or Article thereof.
  3. You shall not displace any of the Judges, Justices, Sherifs or other Officers or Ministers within our said Colony without good and Sufficient cause to be Signified to us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  4. And to prevent Arbitrary removals of Judges and Justices of the Peace You are not to express any Limitation of time in the Commissions which you are to Grant (with the Advice and Consent of our said Council) to Persons fit for those Employments nor shall you Execute by yourself or Deputy any of the said Offices nor Suffer any Person to Execute more Offices than One by Deputy.
  5. Whereas there are Several Offices within our said Colony Granted under our Great Seal of this Kingdom and that our Service may be very much prejudiced by reason of the absence of the Patentees and by their Appointing Deputies not fit to Officiate in their Stead You are therefore to Inspect the said Offices and to Enquire into the Capacity and behaviour of the Persons now Exercising them, and to Report thereupon to us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations what you think fit to be done or Alter’d in relation thereunto, & you are upon the Misbehaviour of any of the said Patentees or their Deputies to Suspend them from the Execution of their Places till you shall have represented the whole Matter and receive our Directions therein, and in Case of the Suspension of any such Officer IT IS OUR EXPRESS WILL AND PLEASURE that you take Care that the Person appointed to Execute the place during such Suspension do give Sufficient Security to the Person Suspended to be answerable to him for the Pro- fits accruing during such Suspension in Case we shall think fit to restore him to his Place again But you shall not by Colour of any Power or Authority hereby or Otherwise Granted or mention’d to be Granted unto you take upon you to give Grant Dispose of any Office or Place within our said Colony which now is or shall be Granted under the Great Seal of Great Britain any otherwise than that you may upon the Vacancy of any such Place or Office or Suspension of any such Officer by you as aforesaid put in any fit Person to Officiate in the Interval till you shall have represented the Matter unto us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid, which you are to do by the first Opportunity and till the said Office or Place be dispos’d of by Us, Our Heirs or Successors under the Great Seal of Great Britain, or that our further Directions be given therein And OUR WILL AND PLEASURE is that you do Countenance and give all due Encouragement to all our Patent Officers in the Enjoyment of their Legal and Accustomed Fees, Rights, Privileges, and Emoluments according to the true Intent and meaning of their Patents.
  1. Whereas We are above all things desirous that, all Our Subjects may enjoy their Legal Rights and Properties You are to take Especial Care that if any Person be Committed for any Criminal Matters unless for Treason & Felony, plainly and Especially expressed in the Warrant of Commitment to have free Liberty to Petition by himself or otherwise the Chief Barron or any one of the Judges of the Common Pleas for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which upon such Application shall be granted and Served on the Provost Marshall Goaler or other Officer having the Custody of such Prisoner, or shall be left at the Goal or Place where the Prisoner is confin’d and the said Provost Marshall or other Officer shall within three days after such service on the Petitioners Paying the Fees & Charges, and giving Security that he will not escape by the way make return of the Writ and Prisoner before the Judge who granted out the said Writ and there Certify the true Cause of the Imprisonment, and the said Baron or Judge shall Discharge such Prisoner taking his Recognizance and Sureties for his Appearance at the Court where the Offence is Cognizable, and Certifie the said Writ and Recognizance into the Court unless Such Offences appear to the said Baron or Judge not Bailable by the Law of England.
  1. And in Case the Said Baron or Judge shall refuse to grant a Writ of Habeas Corpus on View of the Copy of Commitment or upon Oath made of such Copy having been deny’d the Prisoner or any Person requiring the Same in his behalf or shall delay to discharge the Prisoner after the granting such Writ the said Baron or Judge shall incur the forfeiture of his Place.
  2. You are likewise to declare our Pleasure that in Case the Provost Marshal or other Officer shall Imprison any Person above Twelve Hours except by a Mittimus setting forth the Cause thereof he be removed from his said Office.
  3. And upon the Application of any Person wrongfully Committeed the Baron or Judge shall issue his Warrant to the Provost Marshall or other Officer to bring the Prisoner before him who shall be discharged without Bail or Paying Fees, & the Provost Marshall or other Officer refusing Obedience to such Warrant shall be thereupon removed, and if the said Baron or Judge denies the Warrant he shall likewise Incur the forfeit- ure of his Place.
  4. And You shall give directions that no Prisoner being set at large by an Habeas Corpus be recommitted for the said Offence but by the Court where he is bound to appear and if any Baron, Judge, Provost Marshall or other Officer contrary hereunto shall recommit such Person so Bail’d or deliver’d you are to remove him from his Place, and if the Provost Marshall or other Officer having the Custody of the Prisoner neglects to return the Habeas Corpus or refuses a Copy of the Committment within Six hours after demand made by the Prisoner or any other in his behalf shall likewise Incurr the forfeiture of his Place.
  1. And for the better Prevention of long Imprisonments you are to appoint two Courts of Oyer & Terminer to be held Yearly, Viz, on the Second Thursday in December and the Second Tuesday in June, the Charge whereof to be paid by the Publick Treasury of Our said Colony not exceeding One Hundred Pounds each Session.
  2. You are to take Care that all Prisoners in Case of Treason or Felony have free Liberty to Petition in Open Courts for their Tryals, that they be indicted at the first Court of Oyer and Terminer unless it appears upon Oath that the Witnesses against them cou’d not be produced and that they be try’d the Second Court or discharg’d and the Baron or Judge upon Motion made the last Day of the Sessions in Open Court is to Bail the Prisoners, or upon the refusal of the said Baron or Judge and Provost Marshal or Other Officer to do their respective Duties herein they shall be remov’d from their Places.
  1. Provided always that no Person be discharged out of Prison who stands Committed for Debt for any decree of Chan- cery or any Legal proceedings of any Court of Record.
  2. And for the preventing any Executions that may be made upon Prisoners, You are to declare Our Pleasure that no Baron or Judge shall receive for himself or Clerks for granting a Writ of Habeas Corpus more than Two Shillings and Six Pence and the like Sum for taking a Recognizance and that the Provost Marshall shall not receive more than five Shillings for every Commitment, One Shilling & three Pence for the Bond the Prisoner is to Sign, One Shilling & three Pence for every Copy of a Mittimus & one Shilling & three Pence for every Mile he bringeth Back the Prisoner.
  1. And further you are to Cause this our Royal Pleasure hereby Signify’d to you to be made Publick & Register’d in the Council Books of our said Colony.
  2. And Whereas Commissions have been granted unto Several Persons in our Respective Plantations in America for the trying of Pirates in those Parts pursuant to the Act for the more Effectual Suppression of Piracy and by a Commission sent to our Colony of Virginia You as our Lieutenant and Governor General of our said Colony are impower’d together with others therein mention’d to proceed accordingly in Reference to Our said Colony. Our Will and Pleasure is that in all Matters relating to Pirates You govern yourselves according to the intent of the Act and Commission aforemention’d. But as whereas Accessories in Cases of Piracy beyond the Seas are by the said Act left to be try’d in this Kingdom according to the Statute of the twenty Eighth of King Henry the Eighth we do hereby further direct and require you to send all such Accessories in Case of Piracy in Our foresaid Colony into this Kingdom with the Proper Evidences that you may have against them in Order to their being Try’d here.
    IT IS OUR FURTHER PLEASURE that no Person for the future be sent as Prisoners to this Kingdom from our said Colony and Dominion of Virginia without Sufficient Proof of their Crimes, and that Proof transmitted along with the said Prisoners.
  3. In Case any Goods Money or other Estate of Pirates or Piratically taken or brought or found within our said Colony of Virginia or taken on board any Ships or Vessels You are to Cause the same to be Seiz’d and Secur’d until You shall have given us an Account thereof and receiv’d our Pleasure Concerning the Disposal of the Same. But in Case such Goods or any Part of them are Perishable the Same shall be Publickly Sold and Disposed of, and the Produce thereof in like Manner secur’d until our further Order.
  1. You shall not Erect any Court or Office of Judicatory not before Erected or Established nor dissolve any Court or Office already Erected or Established without our especial Order: But in Regard we have been inform’d that there is a Want of a particular Court for determining of small Causes You are to recommend it to the Assembly of our said Colony that a Law be pass’d (if not already done) for the Constituting such Court or Courts for the ease of our Subjects there, and you are from time to time to transmit to our said Commissioners for Trade and Plantations an Exact Account of what Causes have been determin’d what shall be then Depending, as likewise an Abstract of all proceedings of the Several Courts of Justice within our said Government.
  2. You are to Transmit to Us & to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations with all convenient Speed a Particular Account of all Establishments of Jurisdictions Courts Offices and Officers Powers Authorities Fees and Priviledges Granted or Settled within our said Colony to the End you may receive our farther Directions therein.
  3. COMPLAINT having been made that the Members of our said Council in all Matters of Civil Right where any of them are Defendants claim a Priviledge of Exemption from the Ordinary forms of Process by Writ, so that they cannot be arrested, and that it being the Practice in all such Cases that the Secretary Summon them to an Appearance by a Letter, either Comply with the Same or Neglect it at their own Pleasure by which Means the Course of Justice is obstructed & the Plaintiffs who are not of the Council are left destitute of relief. You are therefore to take Special Care that according to the Order made in the said Council of Virginia the 27 March 1678 (by which the Members thereof claim’d the Aforesaid Priviledge) a Letter of Summons to any of the said Councelors Sign’d either by your self or by the Secretary of our said Colony be deem’d as binding and as Strict in Law for their Appearance as a Writ and that upon their Neglect to Comply with any such Summons (Except only in time of General Assembly) they be liable to the Ordinary forms of Common Process.
  1. And you are with the Advice and Consent of our said Council to take Especial Care to regulate all Salaries and Fees belonging to Places or Paid upon Emergencies that they be within the Bounds of moderation and that no Exaction be made upon any Occasion whatsoever, as also that Tables of all Fees be Publickly hung up in all Places where such Fees are to be paid and you are to transmit Copies of all such Tables of Fees to Us & to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid.
  2. WHEREAS it is necessary that our Rights & Dues be preserved and recover’d and that speedy and Effectual Justice be administer’d in all Cases relating to our Revenue, You are to take Care that a Court of Exchequer be call’d and do meet at all such times as shall be needfull and You are upon your Arrival to inform us and our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations whether Our Service may require that a constant Court of Exchequer be Settled & Established there.
  3. You are to take Care that no Man’s Life Member freehold or Goods be taken away or harm’d in our said Colony otherwise than by establish’d and known Laws, not repugnant but as near as may be agreeable to the Laws of this Kingdom.
  4. You shall administer or Cause to be administer’d the Oaths appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and the Oath Mention’d in the foresaid Act Entituled an Act for the Security of Her Majesty’s Person and Government and of the Succession to the Crown of Great Britain in the Protestant Line, to the Members and Officers of our Council & Assembly and to all Judges and Justices and all other Persons that hold any Office or Place of Trust or Profit in our said Colony whether by Vertue of any Patent under our Great Seal of this Kingdom or the Publick Seal of Virginia or otherwise and you shall also Cause them to make and Subscribe the aforesaid Declaration without the doing of all which you are not to admit any Person whatsoever into any Publick Office, nor Suffer those that have been admitted formerly to Continue therein.
  1. You are to Permit a Liberty of Conscience to all Persons except Papists, so they be contented with a quiet and peaceable Enjoyment of the Same not giving Offence or Scandal to the Government.
  2. You shall send to us & our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations by the Conveyance of our Ships of War, an Account of the present Number of Planters and Inhabitants-Men Women and Children as well Masters as Servants, Free and Unfree, And of the Slaves in our said Colony as also a Yearly account of the Increase and decrease of them and how many of them are fit to bear Arms in the Militia of our said Colony.
  3. You shall also Cause an Exact Account to be kept of all Persons born Christened and Buried and you shall Yearly send fair Abstracts thereof unto us and to Our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  4. You shall take Care that all Planters and Christian Servants be well and fitly provided with Arms, and that they be listed under good Officers and when and as often as shall be thought fit Muster’d and Train’d whereby they may be in a better readiness for the Defense of our said Colony and Dominion under your Government, and you are to use your utmost Endeavours that such Planters do each of them keep such Numbers of White Servants as by Law Directed and that they appear in Arms when thereunto required.
  5. You are to take especial Care that neither the frequency nor unreasonableness of the Marches Musters and Trainings be an unnecessary Impediment to the Affairs of the Inhabitants.
  6. And for the greater Security of that Our Colony You are to Appoint fit Officers and Commanders in the Several Parts of the Country bordering upon the Indians who upon any Invasion may raise Men and Arms to oppose them untill they shall receive your directions therein.
  7. You shall not upon any Occasion whatsoever Establish or put in Execution any Articles of War or other Law Martial upon any of Our Subjects Inhabitants of our said Colony of Virginia without the advise and Consent of our Council there.
  1. AND WHEREAS there is no Power given you by Our Commission to Execute Martial Law in time of Peace upon Soldiers in Pay and yet nevertheless it may be necessary that some Care be taken for the keeping good Discipline amongst those that we may at any time hereafter think fit to send into our said Colony (which may properly be provided for by the Legislative Power of the same) You are therefore to recommend unto the General Assembly of our said Colony that (if not already done) they Prepare such Act and Law for the Punishing Mutiny Desertions and fake Musters, and for the better pre- serving of good Discipline amongst the Said Soldiers as may best Answer those ends.
  2. AND WHEREAS together with other Powers of Vice Admiralty You will Receive Authority from our Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of great Britain and of our Plantations upon the refusal or Neglect of any Captain or Commander of any of our Ships of War to Execute the Written Order he shall receive from you for Our Service and the Service of our Colony under your Government, or upon his Neglect & undue Execution thereof to suspend such Captain or Commander from the Exercise of his said Office of Captain or Commander and to committ into Safe Custody either on Board his own Ship or elsewhere at Your Discretion in Order to his being brought to Answer for such refusal or Neglect by Commission either under Our great Seal of this Kingdom or from our Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being And whereas you will likewise receive directions from our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain and of our Plantations that the Captain or Commander so by you suspended shall during such his Suspension and Commitment be succeeded by such Commission or Warrant Officer of our said Ship ap- pointed by our said Commissioners for Executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain for the time being as by the known Practice and Discipline of our Navy does and ought next to Succeed as in case of Death, Sickness or any other ordinary disability happening to the Commander of any of our Ships of War and not otherwise You standing Accountable for the truth and Importance of the Crime & Misdemeanor for which you shall so proceed to the Suspending any such Captain or Commander You are not to Exercise the said Power of Suspending any such Captains or Commanders of our Ships of War otherwise than by Vertue of such Commission or Authority from our said Commissioners for executing the Office of our high Admiral of Great Britain any former Custom or usage Notwithstanding.
  1. You are to demand an Account from all Persons concern’d of the Arms Ammunition and Stores sent to our said Colony from our Office of Ordnance here as likewise what other Arms Ammunition and Stores have been bought with the Publick Money for the Service of our said Colony and how the Same have been employ’d, and whether any of them and how many of them have been sold, Spent, Lost, Decay’d or dispos’d of and to whom and to what use and to transmit the said Account to Us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations afore- said.
  2. You shall take an Inventory of all Arms Ammunition and Stores remaining in any of our Magazines or Garrisons in our Colony under your Government, and immediately after your Arrival to transmit the same unto Us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and the like Inventory afterwards half Yearly, as also a Duplicate thereof to our Master General or Principal Officers of our Ordnance, which Accounts are to express the Particulars of Ordnance Carriages, Powder, Balls, and all other Sorts of Arms and Ammunition in our Publick Stores at your said Arrival, and so from time to time of what shall be sent you or bought with the Publick Money and to specify the time of the disposal and the Occasion thereof.
  3. You are to take especial Care that fit Storehouses be Settled throughout our said Colony for receiving and keeping of Arms Ammunition and Publick Stores.
  4. You shall cause a Survey to be made of all the Considerable landing Places and Harbours in our said Colony, and with the Advice of our Council there Erect in any of them such Fortifications as shall be necessary for the Security and Advantage of that Colony which shall be done at the Publick Charges of the Country, in which we doubt not of the Chearfull concurrence of the Inhabitants, thereunto from the common Security and benefit they will receive thereby.
  5. OUR WILL AND PLEASURE IS that all Servants that shall come to be Transported to Our Colony of Virginia shall serve their respective Masters for the Terms prescrib’d by the Laws of our said Colony, and the said Servants shall at the end of the said Term have 50 Acres of Land Assign’d and set out to every of them respectively to Have and to Hold to them and every of them their Heirs and Assigns for ever under the Rules and Duties usually Paid and reserved.
  6. AND WHEREAS it has been represented that the Grant of King James the first heretofore made to that our Colony to Exempt the Planters from paying Quitrents for the first Seven ‘Years did tun to the great Prejudice of the same and that many took Occasion thereby to take and Create to themselves a Title of such Quantitys of Land which they never intended to or in truth cou’d Occupy or Cultivate but thereby only kept out others who would have Planted and manured the Same, and King Charles the Second having therefore by his Instructions given to Sir We, Berkly revok’d all such Grants as contrary to the Intention of the said King James the first and to the good of our Subjects there We do likewise give the same directions unto you, that if any Such Grants Shou’d be still Insisted on the ‘same be look’d on and taken to be void and of None Effect And you are likewise to restrain the unlimited practice of taking more Lands than can reasonably be Cultivated and to regulate all Abuses therein.
  7. You shall with the Advice of Our Council there take Care to appoint Men fitly Qualify’d to be Surveyors throughout all the Several Districts of Our said Colony, and that they be sworn to make true and exact Surveys of all Lands requir’d to be set out according to the best of their Skill 80. You shall likewise take Care that a General Survey be made of all the said Colony and Dominion, and of each County in it, and that an Exact Map or Maps be thereupon drawn, and ‘Transmitted to Us and to our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  8. You shall likewise take Care that a General Survey be made of all the said Colony and Dominion, and of each County in it, and that an Exact Map or Maps be thereupon drawn, and ‘Transmitted to Us and to our foresaid Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  1. And You are further to take Care that an Exact Account be forthwith drawn of all Arrears of Quitrents due unto Us ex- pressing from what Persons, for what Quantity of Land, and for what time those Arrears are due, and likewise an Account Specifying what Particular Persons throughout all our said Colony are possess’d above 20,000 Acres of Land a Piece, by what Titles they hold the said Lands, and how much each of them is possess’d of above that Quantity. Both which Accounts you are without Delay to transmit to Us and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  2. WHEREAS it was represented to her Late Majesty by the President and Council of our said Colony that the Method of Granting Lands as directed by the Instructions given to Robert Hunter Esq’ bearing Date at St. James’s the 30th of April 1707 is not agreeable to the Laws Constitution and Practice of our said Colony. OUR WILL AND PLEASURE THEREFORE IS That for the future the Method of Granting of Land be in such form and Manner, and under the like Conditions Covenants and Reservations of Quitrent as are by the Charter and Laws of that our Colony allow’d and Directed to be made and as were permitted to be made before the Instructions given to Robert Hunter Esq’ as aforesaid, PROVIDED due care be taken that in all such Grants hereafter to be made regard be had to the profitable and unprofitable Acres, and particularly that every Patentee be obliged in the best and most Effectual Manner to Cultivate & Improve three Acres part of every fifty Acres so granted within the term of three Years after the Passing of such Grant and in Case of failure thereof such Grant or Grants to be void and of None Effect.
  3. That we may be the better inform’d of the Trade of our said Colony, You are to take especial Care that Due enteries be made in all Ports of our said Colony of all Goods and Commodities their Species and Quantities Imported or Exported from thence, with the Names Burden and Guns of all Ships Exporting and Importing the same, also the Names of their Commanders and likewise expressing from and to what Place the said Ships do come and go (a Copy whereof the Naval Officer in each respective District is to furnish you with) and you are to transmit the Same unto us Our Commissioners of our Treasury or our high Treasurer for the time being, and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations Quarterly, and Duplicates thereof by the Next Conveyance.
  1. You are to take especial Care all Tobacco ship’d in Virginia from what part soever do come they pay Virginia Duties.
  2. You are likewise to Examine what Rates and Duties are Charged and Payable upon any Goods Imported and Exported within our Colony of Virginia, whether of the Growth or Manufacture of our said Colony or otherwise and to use your best Endeavours for the Improvement of the Trade in those Parts.
  3. AND WHEREAS Orders have been given for the Commissionating of fit Persons to be Officers of our Admiralty and Customs in our Several Plantations in America, and it is of great importance to the Trade of this Kingdom, and to the welfare of Our Plantations that illegal Trade be every where discouraged, you are therefore to take especial Care that the Acts of Trade and Navigation be duly put in execution, and in Order thereunto you are to give Constant Protection and all due Incouragement to the Officers of our Admiralty and Customs in the Execution of their Respective Offices and Trusts.
  4. AND WE FURTHER WILL AND REQUIRE You to be aiding and Assisting unto such Persons as are or shall be appointed by our Commissioners of Our Treasury to be Agent in the West Indies or such other Agent as shall be appointed in his Room in the discharge of his Office according to such Instructions as he hath receiv’d from our Principal Commissioners for that Purpose, also for preventing Imbezelments and Recovering of Prize Goods which may happen to be Imbezel’d or Conceal’d, as well as the Execution of all Orders to him or them directed in Relation to Prizes by any Court of Admiralty Legally Established by Our Commissioners of our Admiralty in our said Plantations And you are likewise to Transmit unto Our Commissioners of our Treasury from time to time exact Accounts of all Occurances concerning Prizes that happen to be brought into that our Colony of Virginia under your Government in the Same Manner as you are required to do in other Matters under your Care.
  1. AND WHEREAS We have been Inform’d that the Fees for the Condemnation of a Prize Ship in our Courts of Admiralty in the Plantations are considerably greater than those demanded on the like occasions in our High Court of Admiralty here, And Whereas we are willing that our Subjects in the Plantations shou’d have the same ease in the Obtaining Condemnations of Prizes there as in this Kingdom. You are to Signifie our Will and pleasure to the Officers of our Admiralty Court in Virginia that they do not presume to demand or Exact other Fees than what are taken in this Kingdom which amount to about Ten Pounds for the Condemnation of each Prize according to the List of Fees herewith deliver’d to you.
  2. You are from time to time to give an Account as before directed what Strength your bordering Neighbors have be they Indians or others, by Sea and Land, and of the Condition of their Plantations and what Correspondence you do keep with them.
  3. You shall take Especial Care that God Almighty be devoutly and duly served throughout your Government, the Book of Common Prayer as by Law established read each Sunday and Holy day and the Blessed Sacraments administer’d according to the rites of the Church of England.
  4. You shall be carefull that the Churches already built there be well and Orderly kept, and that more be built as the Colony shall by the Blessing of God be improved, and that besides a Competent Maintenance to be Assign’d to the Ministers of each Orthodox Church a convenient House be built at the Common charge for each Minister and a competent Portion of Glebe Assign’d him.
  5. And You are to take Care that the Parishes be so bounded and Settled as you shall find most convenient for the accomplishing this good Work.
  6. You are not to refer any Minister to any Ecclesiastical Business in that our Colony without a Certificate from the Right Reverend Father in God the Lord Bishop of London of his being conformable to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, and of a good Life and Conversation, and if any Person preferr’d already to a Benefice shall appear to you to give Scandal, either by his Doctrine or Manners, you are to use the proper and usual Means for removal of him and to supply the Vacancy in such Manner as we have directed.
  1. You are to give Order forthwith (if the same be not already done) that every Orthodox Minister within your Govern- ment be one of the Vestry in his respective Parish, and that no Vestry be held without him except in Case of Sickness, or that after Notice of a Vestry Summon’d he omit to come.
  2. You are to Enquire whether there be any Ministers within your Government, who Preaches and Administers the Sacraments in any Orthodox Church or Chappel without being in due Orders, and to give an Account thereof to the said Lord Bishop of London.
  3. And to the end the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the said Lord Bishop of London may take Place in that Our Colony so far as conveniently may be, We do think fit that you give all countenance and encouragement to the exercise of the same, excepting only the Collating to Benefices, granting Licences for Marriages and Probates of Wills, which we have reserved to you our Governor or Commander in Chief of our said Colony for the time being.
  4. We do Further direct that no School Master be henceforth Permitted to come from this Kingdom and to keep School within our said Colony without the Licence of the said Lord Bishop of London, and that no other Person now there or that Shall come from other Parts be admitted to keep School without your Licence first Obtain’d.
  5. And you are to take especial Care that a Table of Marriages Establish’d by the Cannons of the Church of England be hung up in every Orthodox Church, and duly observ’d & you are to Endeavour to get a Law pass’d in the Assembly of that Colony (if not already done) for the Strict Osbervation of the said Table.
  6. You are to take Care that Drunkenness and Debauchery, Swearing and Blasphemy be discountenanced and Punished. And for the further Discountenance of Vice and encouragement of Vertue and good living (that by such Examples the Infidels may be invited and desire to Partake of the Chris- tian Religion) You are not to Admit any Person to Publick Trusts and Employments in our said Colony whose ill fame and Conversation may Occasion Scandal.
  1. And you are to Suppress the Ingrossing of Commoditys as tending to the prejudice of that freedom which Trade and Commerce ought to have and to Settle Such Orders and Regulations therein with Advice of our said Council as may be most Acceptable to the generality of the Inhabitants.
  2. And Upon Several Representations made concerning a Trade with the Indian Natives, it has been thought fit to permit a free Trade between our Subjects of Virginia and the Indians, and We being willing to continue the same Permission to all our Subjects or that Colony, You are therefore to Signify the same to the next Assembly, and to give them to understand that out of our great Care for the Welfare of that Colony, We have preferr’d the Particular Benefit of our Subjects before any other Advantage that might accrue unto us by restraining that Trade with the Indians, Whereof we expect they shoul’d have a due Sence and provide by some Means for the better Support of the Government.
  3. You are to give all due Encouragement and Invitation to Merchants and others who shall bring Trade to our Colony or any way contribute to the Advantage thereof and in Particular to the Royal Affrican Company.
  4. And as we are willing to recommend unto the said Company that the said Colony may have a constant and Sufficient Supply of Merchantable Negroes at Moderate Rates in Money or Commodities so you are to take especial Care that Payment be duly made & within a competent time according to their Agreements.
  5. And whereas the said Company have frequently great Sums of Money owing to them in our Plantations in America, they have been much hindered in the recovery of their Just debts there, and discouraged in their Trade by the too frequent Adjournments of Courts, and it being absolutely necessary that all Obstructions in the Course of Justice be Effectually remov’d, You are to take Care that the Courts of Justice be duly and frequently held in our Colony and Dominion under your Government, so that all our Subjects in the said Colony, and Particularly the Royal African Company may enjoy the Benefit thereof, and not receive any undue hinderance in the recovery of their Just Debts.
  1. And you are to take care that there be no Trading from Virginia to any Place in Africa within the Charter of the Royal African Company otherwise than prescribed by Law.
  2. And we do further expressly Command and require you to give unto us, & to our Commissioners for Trade & Plantations an Account every half Year of what Number of Negroes the said Colony is Supply’d with, that is what Number by the African Company, and what by Seperate Traders, and at what rates Sold.
  3. You are likewise from time to time to give unto us and to our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations as aforesaid an Account of the Wants and Defects of our said Colony, what are the Chief Products thereof, new Improvements are made therein by the Industry of the Inhabitants or Planters, and what further Improvements you conceive may be made, or Advantages gain’d by Trade, & which way we may contribute thereunto.
  4. You are not to grant Commissions of Mark or Reprizal against any Prince or State or their Subjects in Amity with us, to any Person whatsoever without our Special Command.
  5. Whereas great Inconveniencies do happen by Merchants Ships and other Vessels in the Plantations wearing the Colours born by our Ships of War under Pretence of Commissions granted to them by the Governors of the said Plantations, and that by Trading under those Colours not only amongst our Own Subjects, but also those of other Princes and States and committing divers Irregularities, they do very much dishonour our Service, For prevention whereof you are to oblige the Commanders of all such Ships to which you shall grant Commissions to wear no other Jack than according to the Sample here described, that is to say, such as is worn by our Ships of War with a distinction of a White Escutcheon in the middle thereof and that the said Mark of distinction may ex- tend itself to one half of the Depth of the Jack and one third of the Fly thereof.
  1. Our Will and Pleasure is That Appeals be permitted to be made in Cases of Error from the Courts in our said Colony unto you and our Council there in General Court & in Your Absence from that our Colony to the Commander in Chief for the time being, and the said Council in Civil Causes, wherein such of our said Council as shall be at that time Judges of the Court from whence such Appeals shall be made to You our Governor and Council, or to the Commander in Chief for the time being, and Council in General Court as aforesaid shall not be admitted a vote upon the said Appeal, but they may Nevertheless be present at the hearing thereof to give the reasons of the Judgment given by them in the Cause wherein such Appeal shall be made.
  2. And Inasmuch as it may not be fit that Appeals be too frequently and for too Small a Value brought unto Our Governor and Council, as aforesaid, You shall therefore with the Advice of our said Council propose a Law to be pass’d wherein the Method and Limitation of Appeals unto Our Governor and Council may be Settled and Restrain’d in such Manner as shall be most Convenient and easy to Our Subjects in Virginia.
  3. And if either Party shall not rest Satisfy’d with the Judgement of you or the Commander in Chief for the time being & Council as aforesaid, they may then Appeal unto Us in Our Privy Council, provided the Sum or Value so appeal’d for unto us do exceed £300 Sterl and that such Appeal be made within one fortnight after Sentence and good Security given by the Appellant that he will Effectually prosecute the same, and Answer the Condemnation as also pay such Costs as shall be awarded by us in Case the Sentence of you the Governor or Commander in Chief for the time being and Council be Affirmed, & provided also that Execution be not Suspended by reason of any such Appeal unto Us.
  4. You are also to Permit Appeals unto Us in Council in all Cases of Fines imposed for Misdemeanors, provided the Fines so impos’d amount to, or Exceed the Value of £200 the Appellant first giving good Security that he will Effectually prosecute the same, and Answer the Condemnation of the Sentence by which such Fine was impos’d in Virginia in case the said Sentence shall be confirm’d.
  1. You are for the better Administration of Justice to Endeavour to get a Law pass’d (if not already done) wherein shall be Set the Value of Men’s Estates either in Goods or Lands under which they shall not be capable of Serving as Jurors.
  2. You are to take Care that no Courts of Judicature be adjourned but upon good Grounds, and whereas Complaint hath been made that the Orders of Court are entered in the Absence of the Magistrates and sometimes penn’d in Private at the Magistrates House, you are to take care to prevent the said abuses, and particularly that no Orders of any Court of Judicature be enter’d or allow’d which shall not be first read and approv’d of by the Magistrates in Open Court, which Rule you are in like manner to see observ’d with relation to the Proceedings in Our Council of Virginia and that all Orders there made be first read and approved in Council before they are enter’d in the Council Books.
  3. You shall Endeavour to get a Law pass’d (if not already done) for the restraining of any Inhuman Severities which by ill Masters or Overseers may be used towards their Christian Servants, and their Slaves, and that Provision be made therein that the Wilfull killing of Indians and Negroes may be punish’t with Death, and that a fit Penalty be impos’d for the Maiming of them. And you are also with the Assistance of the Council and Assembly to find out the best Means to facilitate and encourage the Conversion of Negroes and Indians to the Christian Religion.
  4. And whereas an Agreement has been formerly made with the Indians of Virginia and of New York for their Peaceable living with Our Subjects and Submission to Our Government, We do hereby approve the Same, and do require you to endeavour as much as in you lyes that the said Agreement be Punctually observ’d and renew’d if it shall be Necessary, as conducing to the Welfare of our Colony under your Government.
  1. You are to Endeavour with the Assistance of our Council to provide for the raising of Stocks and building Publick Warehouses in convenient places for the employing of Poor and indigent People.
  2. You are to propose an Act to be pass’d in the Assembly wherby the Creditors of Persons becoming Bankrupts in this Kingdom and having Estates in Virginia may be reliev’d and Satisfy’d for the Debts owing to them.
  3. In Case of Distress of any other of our Plantations You shall upon the Application of the Respective Governors thereof to you, Assist them with what Aid the Condition of Our Colony under Your Government can Spare.
  4. You are to take Care by and with the Advice and Assistance of our Council that such Prisons there as want Reparation be forthwith repair’d and put into and kept in such a Condition as may Sufficiently Secure the Prisoners that are or shall be there in Custody.
  5. And for as much as we have thought fit for the Dignity of the Government that a House be built for our Governor or Commander in Chief, for defraying of which Expence a Levy has been made, You are to hasten the Building and fitting up such a House if not already done.
  6. Our Will and Pleasure is, that you do take to yourself as Governor Two Thousand Pounds Sterl. per Annum by Quarterly Payments, and shall also Cause to be paid out of the Revenues of our said Colony to the Councelors & other Judges and Officers as well Civil as Military, and to the Mar- shal, Clerk of the Assembly Gunner and Matrosses the Several Salaries and allowances formerly paid, or such other reas- onable Ones as you with Advice of Our Council there shall think requisite a true Account whereof you shall from time to time transmit unto the Commissioners of Our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being, and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.
  7. Provided always that you do not dispose of any Part of our Quitrents, nor Suffer the same to be issued out upon any Occasion untill upon your Certifying to us the Value of what shall remain thereof from time to time in Our Treasury or be due Unto Us we shall Order the Same to be dispos’d of as we shall find Occasion for our Service.
  1. And for the better improving the Value of Our Quit-rents, You are to take Care they be not only duly Collected, but they be sold every Year Openly by Inch of Candle to the highest Bidder in the respective County Courts, and that due Notice be given of the time and Place of any such intended Sale in such Manner as may make it most Publickly known to all People a Competent time before hand.
  2. Whereas upon considering the Entries of our Custom house here in this Kingdom with the Payment of the two Shillings per Hogsh on Tobacco, and other Duties and Impositions due unto us in Virginia there has been certain Information given of great Frauds and Abuses both in Payment thereof by Masters of Ships and others, and in the Collection by Our Officers, You are to use all Lawfull Means for the Prevention there- of and for the Improvement of our said Revenues. And whereas such Abuses cannot be committed without apparent Negligence of the Collectors or their connivance with the said Masters of Ships and other Persons, You are to take great Care with the Advice of Our Council in appointing fit and duly Qualify’d Persons for the Collecting of those duties and the like for the Employment of Naval Officers.
  3. You shall not commit the Care of those different Employments to One and the same Person, nor any of them unto Persons much concern’d in Trade who may be apt thereby to be byassed from their respective Duties, nor unto the Members of our said Council.
  4. You shall take Care that each of the Persons appointed by you to the said Employments (as well Naval Officers as Collectors) be sworn to Execute faithfully and diligently their Respective Offices in their Own Persons and not by Deputies unless in Cases of Absolute Necessity, and that those Deputies be then likewise sworn to the faithfull and diligent execution of their respective Offices. And that each of the said Officers or their Deputies be required accordingly to give their Attendance at such certain times and Places as you with the Advice of our said Council shall direct.
  1. You are Strictly to charge and Command them and every of them in our Name to be more carefull and diligent for the future, under Penalty of the forfeiture of our respective Places by your putting others in their Stead on the first offence, and of our highest displeasure, and you are from time to time to give Us Our Commissioners of our Treasury or high Treasurer for the time being, and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations a Particular Account of your Proceedings therein, and of the Duties and Impositions Collected and dispos’d of pursuant to former directions in that behalf
  2. And whereas Complaints have been made of Several undue Practices in the Office of Secretary or Register of that Colony by the Clerks or other Persons employ’d therein, You are to make Inspection into what has been the State and Management of the said Office, and Report to Us and to Our Commissioners for Trade and Plantations how you find the Same, together with your opinion by what Methods any former Mismanagements may for the future be best Prevented and in the meanwhile to take all possible care that the Records of the said Office be well and faithfully kept, and in Order thereunto that not only the Secretary or Register himself but his Clerks also be under Oath for the due Execution of the trust repos’d in them, and that they accordingly give Sufficient Security for their faithful performance.
  3. Whereas Our Council of Virginia has formerly made Complaints that the Lord Baltimore hath insisted on a pre- tended Right to the whole River of Potomack, which did very much discourage the Merchants and Masters of Ships trading to that our Colony, You are to Assert our Rights in those Parts, & to take care that the Trade of our Subjects be not disturb’d by the said pretences, or any other whatsoever.
  4. Whereas We have been pleas’d by our Commission to direct that in Case of your Death or Absence from our said Colony, & in Case there be at that time no Person upon the Place Commission’d or appointed by us to be our Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief the Eldest Councellor whose Name is first placed in our Instructions to you, and who shall be at the time of your Death or Absence residing within our said Colony and Dominion of Virginia, shall take upon him the Administration of the Government and Execute our said Commission and Instructions and the Several Powers and Authorities therein contain’d, in the manner thereby directed. It is nevertheless Our Express Will and Pleasure that in such Case the said President shall forbear to pass any Acts but what are Immediately necessary for the Peace and Welfare of our said Colony without our Particular Order for that Purpose.

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1912). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 20(4), 337–346.

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(1), 1–8.

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(2), 113–121.

The Randolph Manuscript: Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(3), 225–233.

The Randolph Manuscript. Virginia Seventeenth Century Records (Continued). (1913). The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 21(4), 347–358.

“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.

An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography

This paper is an amazing resource, like a cheat sheet for Nova Scotian constitutional law. The sources contained within reveal a wealth of knowledge that I think would otherwise be contained within a written constitution. Instead it is buried in a byzantine labyrinth of instructions, commissions, legislation and other sources, a “feature” of “‘constitutional’ monarchy” that certainly works against the people in order to obfuscate, perhaps the main driving force behind a failure to digest the whole of Nova Scotia’s constitution in order to define the essentials within.

“Expressed in simplest terms Nova Scotia law, generally speaking, is an amalgamation of English common law, English statute law and the provincial statutes which evolved following the convening of the first representative government at Halifax on October 2, 1758.

From the capture of Port Royal in 1710 (which by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 guaranteed Acadia to the British), to the establishment of an elected assembly 48 years later, law and order were maintained at first by military law and, following the appointment of Richard Philipps as governor at Annapolis Royal, by the issue of royal instructions dated June 19, 1719.

When Halifax was founded in 1749 Governor Cornwallis’ instructions from the Lords of Trade, April 29, 1749, granted him more sweeping powers, with the result that the colonists were governed in large measure by executive acts and royal instructions until the first assembly was called nine years later.”

“In 1829 Thomas Chandler Haliburton, in An historical and statistical account of Nova Scotia, commented on the paucity of material relating to the origin of the laws of the province. “In England there are many books written on the constitution of the Country, but in Nova Scotia, the inquisitive reader, while he finds enacted laws, will search in vain for any work professedly treating the origin of the authority that enacts them.”

Three years later this deficiency was in some considerable measure eliminated when Beamish Murdoch published the first volume of his Epitome of the laws of Nova Scotia, that brilliant commentary on the then existing laws, presenting their substance ‘in the plainest terms, fresh from the technical language in which they were written’. Completed the following year, the Epitome holds a unique position within the province’s legal literature, since no modern counterpart has been produced, nor has any other Canadian province brought forth an equivalent.”

“The statutes of the Province of Nova Scotia have been issued annually since the first session of the House of Assembly in 1758, with the exception of the years 1788 and 1810, when there was no session.”

Primary Sources:

Campbell v. Hall (1774), 1 Cowper 204; 98 E.R. 1045, 1558-1774. All E.R. Rep. 25a.
Decision whereby an act of the Crown could not deny or deprive a conquered colony of its representative institutions once it had been granted or promised an assembly.

Great Britain. Board of Trade to Lords Justices, June 19, 1719. “Commission and set of instructions to Governor Philipps“.
Article 10 ordered Philipps to conform to those instructions originally given to the Governor of Virginia, wherever applicable and until such time as government by council and assembly was called. PAC C.O. 217, v. 32, pp. 417-28.

Great Britain. Laws, Statutes, etc., British North America Act, 1867,30-31 Victoria, ch. 3 (sec. 92).
Sets out the powers designated to the four provinces at Confederation.

Houston, William. “Documents illustrative of the Canadian constitution“, ed. with notes and appendices. Toronto: Carswell, 1891.

Labaree, Leonard W. “Royal instructions to British colonial governors, 1670-1776“. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1935.

Nova Scotia. Archives. “Selection from the public documents of the Province of Nova Scotia“, ed. by Thomas B. Akins. Halifax: Charles Annand, 1869.
Contains His Majesty’s Commission to His Excellency Governor Cornwallis, pp. 497-505. Also in PAC C.O. 218, v. 2, pp. 212 ff.

A calendar of two letter-books and one commission-book in the possession of the government of Nova Scotia, 1713-1741“, ed. by Archibald M. MacMechan. Halifax: Herald Printing House, 1900. (Nova Scotia Archives II).

Original minutes of His Majesty’s Council at Annapolis Royal, 1720-1739“, ed. by Archibald M. MacMechan. Halifax: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1908. (Nova Scotia Archives III).
Includes resolution of Governor Philipps on April 20, 1721 constituting H.M. Council a court, the first court of judicature administering the English common law within Canada. Also in RG1, v. 22, 1720-1736.

Nova Scotia. House of Assembly. Journals of the House of Assembly, 1758-
The Journals exist in manuscript only previous to 1761, the original held by the Nova Scotia Legislative Library. Before 1765 they were designated Votes of the House of Assembly and were thus indexed by Uniacke in 1789.

Nova Scotia. House of Assembly. Unpassed bills, 1762-1917. Originals. PANS RG5, Series 0.

Uniacke v. Dickson (1848), 2 NSR 287-302.
C.J. Halliburton ruled that English revenue laws are not applicable in Nova Scotia, except in so far as our legislature has seen fit to adopt their provision.

“The extent to which the infant Nova Scotia House of Assembly looked for guidance to the older American colonies in the drafting of legislation is an interesting and debatable subject. There is definite evidence that Massachusetts and Virginia played a role in this regard, notably with the former’s “Act for Preventing Trespasses“.

It is perhaps significant to point out that the Legislative Library has in its collection a number of worn, well thumbed volumes of American colonial statutes, including those of Massachusetts (1714, 1726, 1759, 1788); New Hampshire (1776); New York (1774); Rhode Island (1767); and Virginia (1752, 1769); as well as An abridgment of the laws of His Majesty’s Plantations in force (London, 1704).”

Secondary Sources

Beck, James Murray. The government of Nova Scotia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957. (Canadian government series).

Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the laws of England. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765.

Brebner, John Bartlet. The neutral Yankees of Nova Scotia: a marginal colony during the Revolutionary years. New York: Columbia University Press, 1937.
In particular chap. VIII, “Nova Scotia under Halifax rule”.

New England’s outpost: Acadia before the conquest of Canada. New York: Columbia University Press, 1927.

Calnek, W.A. History of the County of Annapolis, ed. and completed by A.W. Savary. Toronto: William Briggs, 1897.

Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. An historical and statistical account of Nova-Scotia in two volumes. Halifax: Joseph Howe, 1829.
Vol. II, chap. 5 gives a description of the courts in the Province and general observations on the laws.

Laskin, Bora. The British tradition in Canadian law. London: Stevens, 1969.

Manning, Helen Taft. British colonial government after the American Revolution, 1782-1820. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932.
Chap. II: The colonies and their constitutions; chap. V: Colonial assemblies; chap. VI: Colonial courts, with reference to the ignorance of judiciary and lack of books.

Member of Assembly [pseud.]. An essay on the present state of the Province of Nova-Scotia, with some strictures on the measure pursued by Government from its first settlement by the English in the year 1749. London, 1774.
Gives a telling account of conditions in the Province following the founding of Halifax, with particular stress on the form of government and the disposition of certain legislation.

Murdoch, Beamish. A history of Nova-Scotia, or Acadie. Halifax: James Barnes, 1865-67. 3v.

Pownall, Thomas. The administration of the colonies; 4th ed. London: J. Wilkie, 1768.

Sprague, Alan B. Some American influences on the law and the law courts of the Province of Nova Scotia from 1749 to 1853. Submitted for the William Inglis Morse History Prize, 1935-36. Halifax: Dalhousie University, 1936. Typed manuscript.

Stokes, Anthony. A view of the constitution of the British colonies in North America and the West Indies. London: B. White, 1783.

Shirley B. Elliott, “An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography”, Comment, (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197.

Nova Scotia in 1862: papers relating to the two great exhibitions in London of that year

“List of Contributors: … P. McNab, Dartmouth – barley and oats.”

“On the east side of the harbor is situated the town of Dartmouth, settled in 1750. The town is well situated, and is admirably adapted to the employment of ship-building. It is connected with the city by steamboats.”

“Prior to 1719 (at which time Annapolis was the seat of government) the management of the civil affairs of the province was vested solely in the Governor; and, in his absence, in the Lieutenant-Governor or the Commander-in-Chief. In 1719, Governor Phillips, who succeeded Mr. Nicholson, received instructions from the British Ministry to choose a Council from amongst the principal English inhabitants, and, until an Assembly could be formed, to regulate himself by the instructions of the Governor of Virginia. This Council was composed of twelve members, principally officers of the garrison and the public departments. The Governor and Council, from the necessity of the circumstances, combined both the legislative and judicial authority, which, except in so far as they were restrained by the general principles of law, was absolute in all cases. In 1749 the seat of government was transferred to Halifax, where Governor Cornwallis formed a Council somewhat similar in its functions to the one at Annapolis. This method of administration continued until after the conquest of Louisburg in 1758, when Governor Lawrence, who had before the sailing of the expedition, received an order to issue writs for the election of representatives, but which was delayed because of the unsettled state of public affairs, proceeded to constitute a House of Assembly. This Assembly was composed of 16 members, eleven of whom formed a quorum for the transaction of business. The province at this time was not divided into counties. Lunenburg township was allowed to send two representatives, and the township of Halifax four. The representatives entered upon their duties with zeal and intelligence. The most important manner which they adopted were the confirming the past proceedings of the Courts of Judicature, the establishing a form of religious worship, the granting the security of full liberty of conscience, …

The civil constitution which now existed, continued without any fundamental change, until the concession by the Crown, of the modern form of administration called “Responsible Government,” which Nova Scotia received in the year 1841. The way was in some measure prepared for this latest reform, in 1838, when two Councils were created, an Executive and a Legislative; and the deliberations of the Legislative Council were for the first time made open to the public.

The present political constitution of Nova Scotia may be briefly described as follows: The highest authority is vested in the Lieutenant Governor, who is styled His Excellency (as the Queen’s Representative.) The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia is nominally subordinate to the “Governor General of British North America.” It is, however, only a distinction of rank, as the administration of the respective colonies is in no respect connected.

The Lieutenant Governor is surrounded by an Executive Council, chosen from the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly, and appointed by the Crown, who are his sworn advisers in the exercise of his administrative and legislative duties, and who are responsible to the people for the acts of his administration. Five of the members of the Executive are, in accordance with the principles of Responsible Government, heads of public departments, viz : the Attorney General, Solicitor General, Provincial Secretary, Financial Secretary and Receiver General.

The Legislative Council, which is analogous in its legislative functions to the House of Lords, consists of twenty-one members, one of whom is President. They are appointed by the Crown, upon the recommendation of the Executive, and hold their seats for life. The House of Representatives, or more frequently called the House of Assembly, consists of fifty-five members, representing counties and townships, who are elected every four years. The elective franchise is granted to every male of twenty-one years of age, who is a natural-born or naturalized subject of the Queen of Great Britain, and who has been for one year a resident of the county or township in which he votes. In its mode of procedure the House of Assembly, ss far as possible, conforms to the usages of the lower house of the British Parliament.”

London International Exhibition. Nova Scotia In 1862: Papers Relating to the Two Great Exhibitions In London of That Year .. [Halifax, N.S.?: s.n.], 1864.

Cobham, Sir Richard Temple, viscount, 1669?-1749. MS.L.(copy) to [Col. ] Taylor; London, 18 Aug 1719


“Contains chiefly correspondence of British proprietor and governor of Nova Scotia Thomas Temple and his nephew John Nelson concerning land claims in Nova Scotia and the French role in Canada”

Temple, Thomas, 1614-1674. Thomas Temple correspondence concerning Nova Scotia, 1656-1768. Cobham, Sir Richard Temple, viscount, 1669?-1749. MS.L.(copy) to [Col. ] Taylor; London, 18 Aug 1719. MS Am 1249 (49). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton


Harvard Law School Library. “Description Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton,” ca. 1715? Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library., Accessed 07 June 2021

An historical and statistical account of Nova Scotia


A few interesting notes about initial attempts to settle Halifax are included here, as well as some details about the settlement of Dartmouth. The entirety of Chapter five is included also, a thorough overview of Nova Scotia’s legal and constitutional situation and its place outside the realm, some interesting observations on the constitutional nature within England itself, as well as the various institutions that were a part of life previous to the “paper revolution” that introduced “Responsible government” (previous to the overthrow of Nova Scotia’s constitution in an 1867 coup known as “confederation”).

“The beauty and the safety of this (Halifax) harbor attracted the notice of speculators at a very early period, and many applications were at different times made, for a grant of land in its vicinity. The famous projector, Captain Coram, was engaged in 1718, in a scheme for settling here; and a petition was presented by Sir Alexander Cairn, James Douglas, and Joshua Gee, in behalf of themselves and others, praying for a grant upon the sea coast, five leagues S.W. and five leagues N.W. of Chebucto, upon condition of building a town, improving the country around it, be raising hemp, making pitch, tar and turpentine, and of settling two hundred families upon it within three years. This petition received a favorable report from the Lords of Trade; but as it was opposed by the Massachusetts’s agents, on account of a clause restricting the fishery, it was rejected by the Council.”

View of Halifax from Dartmouth Cove

“Dartmouth – Opposite at Halifax, on the eastern side of the harbour, which is there about nine tenths of a mile wide, is situated the town of Dartmouth, which was laid out and settled in the year 1750. In the war of 1756, the [Mi’kmaq] collected in great force on the Bason of the Minas, ascended the Shubenacadie river in their canoes, and at night, surprising the guard, scalped or carried away most of the inhabitants. From this period, settlement was almost derelict, till Governor Parr, in 1784, encouraged 20 families to remove thither from Nantucket, to carry on the south sea fishery. The town was laid out in a new form, and £1,500 provided for the inhabitants to erect buildings. The spirit and activity of the new settlers created the most flattering expectations of success. Unfortunately, in 1792, the failure of a house in Halifax, extensively concerned in the whale fishery, gave a severe check to the Dartmouth establishment, which was soon after totally ruined. About this period, an agent was employed by the merchants of Milford, in England, to persuade the Nantucket settlers to remove thither; the offers were too liberal to be rejected, and the Province lost these orderly and industrious people.

During the late war the harbour became the general rendezvous of the navy and their prizes, which materially enriched the place, and extended the number of buildings. Between Dartmouth and Halifax a team boat constantly plies, for the accommodation of passengers. The whole of the eastern shore of the harbour, though by no means the first quality of soil, is much superior to the western… On the eastern passage there are some fine farms, chiefly settled by Germans, and every cove and indent contains a few families of fisherman, who supply Halifax with fresh and cured fish. A chain of lakes in this township, connected with the source of the Shubenacadie River, suggested the idea of uniting the waters of the Bason of Minas with Halifax harbour, by means of a canal. Of these lakes Charles, or the first Shubenacadie Lake, is distant from Halifax about three miles and a half.”

A close up of the map above, centered on the Dartmouth area.

Chapter V:

Various kinds of Colonial GovernmentsPower of GovernorNature of CouncilJurisdiction and power of House of AssemblyCourt of ChanceryCourt of ErrorSupreme CourtInferior Courts of Common PleasCourts of General SessionsJustices CourtsProbate CourtsSheriff and ProthonotaryCourt of Vice AdmiraltyCourt for the trial of PiraciesGeneral observations on the laws of Nova-Scotia

“A desire to know something of the Government under which we live is not only natural but commendable. In England there are many books written on the constitution of the Country, but in Nova Scotia, the inquisitive reader, while he finds enacted laws, will search in vain for any work professedly treating the origin of the authority that enacts them. The labor of examining the History of other colonies analogous to our own for this information is very great, and the means of doing so not always attainable. In a work of this kind, a brief outline is all that can be looked for, consistently with the space claimed by the other objects which it embraces; but it is hoped that it will be sufficient for the purpose of general information.

In British America there were originally several kinds of Governments, but they have been generally classed under three heads.

  • 1st. Proprietary governments, granted by the Crown to individuals, in the nature of feudatory principalities, with all the inferior regalities and feudatory powers of Legislation, which formerly belonged to Counties Palantine, on condition that the object for which the grant was made should be substantially pursued, and that nothing should be attempted in derogation of the authority of the King of England. Of this kind were Pennsylvania, Maryland and Carolina (now Louisiana.)
  • 2nd. Charter Governments, in the nature of civil corporations, with the power of making bye laws, for their own internal regulations, and with such rights and authorities as were especially given to them in their several acts of incorporation. The only charter Governments that remained at the commencement of the Civil War, were the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Providence and Connecticut.
  • 3rd. Provincial governments, the constitutions of which depended on the respective Commissions, issued by the Crown to the governors, and the instructions which accompanied those commissions -Under this authority Provincial Assemblies were constituted, with the power of making local ordinances not repugnant to the laws of England. Of the latter kind is Nova Scotia, which is sometimes called the Province and sometimes the Colony of Nova Scotia. For some time previous to the Revolution in America, the popular leaders affected to call the Provincial establishments, or King’s governments on the Continent, Colonies instead of Provinces, from an opinion they had conceived that the word Province implied a conquered Country. But whatever distinction there might once have been between the terms Province, Colony and Plantation, there seems now to be none whatever, and they are indiscriminately used in several acts of Parliament. A Provincial government is immediately dependent upon the Crown, and the King remains sovereign of the Country. He appoints the Governor and Officers of State, and the people elect the Representatives as in England. The orders of judicature in these establishments are similar to those of the mother country, and their legislatures consist of a governor, representing the crown, a council or upper house, and an assembly chosen by, and representing the people at large. The following is a short account of the powers and privileges exercised in Nova-Scotia, by these several branches respectively in their own systems:


The Provinces in British North America are in general comprised in one command, and the Captain General, Governor and Commander-in-Chief, resides in Canada. The Governors of the several Provinces are styled Lieutenant-Governors, and have the title of Excellency, in consequence of being the King’s immediate Representative. The Governor of Nova- Scotia has the rank of Lieut.-General, and is styled “Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief, in and over His Majesty’s Province of Nova-Scotia, and its dependencies, Chancellor and Vice-Admiral of the same”.

He is invested with the following powers:

  • 1st. As Commander-in-Chief he has the actual command of all the militia, and if a senior military officer, of all the army within his Government; and he commissions all officers of the militia. He appoints the Judges of all the different Courts of Common Law, he nominates and supersedes at will, the Custodes, Justices of the Peace, and other subordinate civil officers. With the advice of his Council he has authority to summon General Assemblies, which he may, from time to time, prorogue and dissolve as he alone shall judge needful. All such civil employments as the Crown does not dispose or are part of his patronage, and whenever vacancies happen in such offices as are usually filled up by the British Government, the Governor appoints pro-tempore, and the persons so appointed are entitled to all the emoluments till those who are nominated to supercede them arrive in the Colony. He has likewise authority, when he shall judge any offender in criminal matters a fit object of mercy, to extend the King’s pardon towards him, except in case of murder and high treason, and even in those cases he is permitted to reprieve until the signification of the Royal Pleasure.
  • 2d. The Governor has the custody of the Great Seal, presides in the High Court of Chancery, and in general exercises, within his jurisdiction, the same extensive powers as are possessed by the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, with the exception of those given by particular statutes.
  • 3d. The Governor has the power of granting probate of wills and administration of the effects of persons dying intestate, and, by statute, grants licences for marriages.
  • 4th. He presides in the Court of Error, of which he and the Council are Judges,to hear and determine all appeals, in the nature of writs of error, from the Superior Courts of Common Law.
  • 5th. The Governor is also Vice-Admiral within his Government, although he cannot, as such, issue his warrant to the Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty to grant commissions to privateers.
  • 6th. The Governor, besides various emoluments which arise from fees and forfeitures, has an honorable annual provision settled upon him, for the whole term of his administration in the Colony ; and that he may not be tempted to diminish the dignity of his station by improper condescensions, to leading men in the Assembly, he is in general restrained by his instructions from accepting any salary, unless the same be settled upon him by Law within the space of one year after his entrance into the Government, and expressly made irrevocable during the whole term of his residence in the administration, which appears to be a wise and necessary restriction.

A Governor, on his arrival in the Province, must (agreeably to the directions of his commission and his instructions – The Gazette has, in some instances, been held sufficient, when the Commission was not made out) in the first place, cause his commission as Governor and Commander-in-Chief, and also of Vice-Admiral, to be read and published at the first meeting of the Council, and also in such other manner as hath been usually observed on such occasions. In the next place, he must take the oaths to Government, and administer the same to each of the Council, and make and subscribe the declaration against transubstantiation, and cause the Council, unless they have previously done so, to do the same. He must then take the oath, for the due execution of the office and trust of Commander-in-Chief and Governor, and for the due and impartial administration of Justice; and he must also cause the oath of office to be administered to the Members of the Council.

— In the last place, he must take an oath to do his utmost, that the several laws relating to trade and the plantations be duly observed; which oaths and declaration, the Council, or any three of the members thereof, are empowered to administer.

Every Governor, together with his commission, receives a large body of instructions, for his guidance in the discharge of his various duties. In the event of his death, the next senior Counsellor, not being the Chief Justice or a Judge, takes the command of the Colony, until an appointment is made by His Majesty, and is required to take the same oaths, and make the same declaration as a Governor. Such are the powers and duties of a Governor, and the mode of redress for the violation of these duties, or any injuries committed by him upon the people, is prescribed with equal care. The party complaining has his choice of three modes

  • 1st. by application to Parliament.
  • 2d. by complaint to the Privy Council.
  • 3d. by action in the King’s Bench.

By statute 11 and 12th, William 3d, cap. 12, confirmed and extended by 42d Geo. 3d, cap. 85, all offences committed by Governors of plantations, or any other persons in the execution of their offices, in any public service abroad, may be prosecuted in the Court of King’s Bench in England. The indictment is to be laid in Middlesex, and the offenders are punishable, as if the offence had been committed in England, and are also incapacitated from holding any office under the Crown. The Court of King’s Bench is empowered to award a mandamus to any Court of Judicature, or to the Governor of the Colony, where the offence was committed, to obtain proof of the matter alleged, and the evidence is to be transmitted back to that Court, and admitted upon the trial.

The Council

The Council consists of twelve members, who arc appointed either by being named in the Governor’s instructions, by mandamus (A nomination by a Governor must be followed by a mandamus, but the person nominated acts until his mandamus arrives) or by the Governor. Their privileges, powers, and office, are as follow:

  • 1st. They are severally styled Honorable, they take precedency, next to the Commander in-Chief, and on his death or absence, the eldest member succeeds to the government,under the title of President.
  • 2d. They are a Council of State, the Governor or Commander-in-Chief, presiding in person, to whom they stand nearly in the same relation as the Privy Council in Great Britain does to the Sovereign.
  • 3d. They are named, in every commission of the peace, as Justices throughout the province.
  • 4th. The Council together with the Governor, sit as Judges in the Court of error, or Court of appeal, in civil causes, from the courts of Record, and constitute also a Court of Marriage and Divorce. It has, however, been lately decided, that if the Governor dissent from the Judgment of the Council or be in the minority, the judgment is nevertheless valid.
  • 5th. The Council is a constituent part of the legislature, as their consent is necessary to the enacting of Laws. In this capacity of legislators, they sit as the upper house, distinct from the Governor, and enter protests on their journals, after the manner of the House of Peers, and are attended by their Chaplain, Clerk, &c. As there was no order of hereditary nobility in the Colonies, out of which to constitute an intermediate body, like the Peers of England and Ireland, a legislative authority was doubtless, at an early period intrusted to the Governors and their Council acting conjointly, and forming a middle branch, between the Crown on the one hand, and the representatives of the people on the other. That this was formerly the case, the history of most of the colonies clearly evinces.

(In the Saxon times the Parliament did not consist of two distinct houses, the Peers being freeholders of large territory, were deemed the hereditary representatives of their vassals and tenants. In the Scotch Parliament there ever was one House, consisting of three estates, Peers, Representatives of Shires, and commissioners of Boroughs, they all voted together indifferently, but in Committees and the like, the proportion of Committee-men from each was limited).

The governor and council in legislative affairs, constitutes not two separate and distinct bodies independent of each other, but one constituent branch only, sitting and deliberating together. As it sometimes became necessary to reject popular bills, the Governors to divert the displeasure of the assembly from themselves to the Council, gradually declined attending on such occasions, leaving it to the board to settle matters as they could, without their interference. The council readily concurred with their designs, because their absence, removing a restraint, gave them the appearance of a distinct independent estate, and the crown perceiving the utility of the measure, gradually confirmed the practice in most of the British Colonies. This appears to be the plain origin which the Council enjoy of deliberating apart from the governors, on all bills sent up by the Assembly, of proposing amendments, to such bills, or of rejecting them entirely, without the concurrence of the governor.

The Councillors serve his Majesty without salary. In the grant of all patents, the Governor is bound to consult them, and they cannot regularly pass the seal without their advice. Though they deliberate as a distinct body, in their capacity as legislators, yet as a privy council, they are always convened by the Governor, who is present at their deliberations. As an upper house, their proceedings, though conducted with closed doors, are formal, and in imitation of the usage of the house of Lords, and although they cannot vote by proxy, they may enter the reasons of their dissent on their journals. Dissimilar as this body is in many important particulars to the house of Lords, any nearer approach to the original, appears from the state of the country, to be very difficult.

Mr. Pitt seems to have entertained the idea of creating an order of hereditary nobility in Canada, for the purpose of assimilating the constitution of that province, as nearly as possible to that of Great Britain; and accordingly a clause was introduced to that effect, in the act of the 31st. Geo. 3d. Chap. 31. “That whenever his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, shall think proper to confer upon any subject of the Crown of Great Britain, by letters patent, under the great seal of either of the said Provinces, any hereditary title of honor, rank or dignity of such Province descendable* according” to any course of descent therein limited, it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, to annex thereto, by the said letters patent of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall think fit an hereditary right of being summoned to the Legislative Council of such Province, descendable according to the course of descent so limited, with respect to such title rank or dignity, and that every person on whom such right shall be conferred, or to whom such right shall severally so descend, shall be entitled to demand of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Commander-in-Chief, or person administering the government of such province, his writ of summons to such Legislative Council, at any town, after he shall have attained the age of twenty one years, subject nevertheless to the provisions hereinafter contained.”

Rules of precedency compared and adjusted from the several acts and statutes, made and provided in England, for the settlement of the precedency of men and women in America

This power has never been exercised: it has been justly observed, that these honors might be very proper, and of great utility in countries where they have existed by long custom, but they are not fit to be introduced where they have no original existence; where there is no particular reason for introducing them, arising from the nature of the country, its extent, its state of improvement or its peculiar customs; and where instead of attracting respect they might excite envy. Lords, it was said, might be given to the Colonies, but there was no such thing as creating that reserve and respect for them, on which their dignity and weight in the view of both the popular and monarchical part of the Constitution depended, and which could alone give them that power of controul and support, which were the objects of their institution.

But although the introduction of titles is not desirable, this board is susceptible of great improvement, by a total separation of its duties as a Privy Council, and a branch of the Legislature. Experiments of all kinds in Government are undoubtedly much to be deprecated, but this plan has been adopted elsewhere, not only with safety but with mutual advantage to the interests of the Crown and the people. By making the Members of the Legislative Council independent of the Governor for their existence, (for at present he has not only the power of nomination, but of suspension – Stokes mentions an instance of a Governor of a Colony, suspending a Councillor, on the singular ground of having married his daughter without his consent) and investing them with no other powers than those necessary to a branch of the Legislature, much weight would be added to administration, on the confidence and extent of interest that it would thereby obtain, a much more perfect and political distribution of power would be given to the Legislature, and the strange anomaly avoided of the same persons passing a law, and then sitting in judgement on their own act, and advising the Governor to assent to it.

This could be effected in two ways, by making the Legislative Council elective, or leaving the nomination to the Crown. If the former were preferred, it could be constructed on the plan proposed by Mr. Fox, in his speech in Parliament on the Quebec Bill. He suggested that the Members of the Council should not be eligible to be elected, unless they possessed qualifications infinitely higher than those who were eligible to be chosen members of the House of Assembly, and in the like manner, that the electors of the members of the Council, should possess qualifications, also proportionally higher than those of the electors of Representatives. By this means this country would have a real aristocracy chosen from among persons of the highest property, by people possessed of large landed estate, who would thus necessarily have the weight, influence, and independency, from which alone can be derived a power of guarding against any innovations which might be made either by the people on the one side, or the Crown on the other; should this mode be objected to, as bordering too much on democracy, the election might be left with great safety to the Crown, with this express proviso, that every Councillor so named, should be possessed of landed estate in the Colony, to a certain given extent, and should hold his seat for life. In either mode it would be rendered a most respectable and useful body.

Whether the Council forms a Court for the trial of offences, by impeachment from the House of Assembly, upon analogy to the practice of Parliament, is a question which never having been agitated here, has not been judicially determined. As Councillors do not represent any particular body of people, like the House of Lords, nor assemble as hereditary Legislators, in support of their rights and dignities, equally independent of the Crown and the people, but are appointed at the discretion of the Governor (In 1791, the articles of impeachment against the Judges of Nova-Scotia, were ordered to be heard before the King in Council), it seems very questionable whether they possess the power. The reason assigned in England, for the peculiar propriety of prosecuting high crimes and misdemeanors, by impeachment, is that as the Constituents of the Commons, are the parties generally injured, they cannot judge with impartiality, and therefore prefer their accusations before the other branch, which consists of the nobility, who have neither the same interest nor the same passions as popular assemblies. This distinction not being so obvious in the Colonial Legislatures, it appears that a complaint in the nature of impeachment, should be addressed to the King in Council.

House Of Assembly

The Assembly resembles the lower house of Parliament in its formation, mode of procedure, and power within its jurisdiction, as far as the different circumstances of the country permit. The freeholders are are assembled in the several Counties and Towns entitled to representation by the king’s writ, and their suffrages taken by the Sheriff. The members thus elected, are required by the Governor to meet at Halifax, the capital of the province, at a certain day, when the usual oaths being administered, and a Speaker chosen and approved, the sessions is opened by a speech from the person administering the Government, in imitation of that usually delivered from the throne, in which after adverting to the state of the Province, he calls their attention to such local subjects, as seem to require their immediate consideration. Halifax chooses 4 county, and 2 town, members; all the other counties 2, and the towns mentioned in the subjoined Table one.

The qualifications for a vote or representation are either a yearly income of forty shillings, derived from real estate within the particular county or town for which the election is held, or a title in fee simple of a dwelling house, and the ground on which it stands, or one hundred acres of land, five of which must be under cultivation. It is requisite that the title be registered six months before the test of the writ, unless it be by descent or devise. The declaration against transubstantiation has hitherto proved an effectual bar to the admission of Catholics into the Assembly, but upon the re-annexation of Cape-Breton to the Government of the Province, a gentleman professing that faith was returned as a member for the Island, and a dispensation procured from his Majesty, for administering the declaration to him.

—When this was made known, the Assembly, after much debate, adopted the following resolution:

“Resolved, that this House, grateful to his Majesty for relieving his Roman Catholic subjects from the disability they were heretofore under, from sitting- in this House, do admit the said Lawrence Kavanagh to take his seat, and will in future permit Roman Catholics, who may be duly elected, and shall have the necessary qualifications for a seat in this House, to take such seat without making a declaration against popery and transubstantiation; and that a Committee be appointed to wait upon his Excellency the Governor, and communicate to him the Resolution of this House.”

In 1827, an address was voted to his Majesty, by the unanimous voice of the House, praying for the total removal of this obnoxious test, as far as regarded his Catholic subjects of Nova Scotia. The Assembly continues for the term of seven years, from the return day of the writs of election, subject nevertheless to be dissolved in the mean time by the Governor, who has the power of proroguing the Council and Assembly, and appointing the time and place of their Session; with this constitutional injunction, that they shall be called together once at least every year.

The Legislature meets generally in winter, and continues in Session from six to twelve weeks. The principal business consists in investigating the public accounts; in appropriating the Revenue; which, after the discharging of the civil list, is chiefly applied to the improvement of the roads and bridges, bounties for the encouragement of agriculture; and sometimes for promoting the fisheries. As its jurisdiction is confined to the limits of the Province, and as there are no direct taxes in the Country (poor and county rates and statute labour excepted) the above mentioned business, together with some few Laws, principally of a local nature, usually occupies their attention. Sometimes however, business of a more general interest comes before them, when the debates are often conducted with ability and spirit. In treating of the Assembly, it will be proper to investigate the origin of the claim of the Colonists to legislate for themselves; and to unfold the principles in which this claim was confirmed by the Mother Country.

—The constitution of England, as it stood at the discovery of America, had nothing in its nature providing for Colonies. They have therefore, at different periods of their growth, experienced very different treatment. At first they were considered lauds without the limits of the realm, and therefore, not being united to it, not the property of the Realm: as the people who settled upon these lands in partibus exteris, were liege subjects, the King assumed the right of property and Government, to the preclusion of the jurisdiction of the state. He called them his foreign dominions, his possessions abroad, not parts and parcels of the Realm, and “as not yet annexed to the crown.”

It was upon this principle, that in the year 1621, when the Commons asserted the right of Parliament to a jurisdiction over them, by attempting to pass a bill for establishing a free fishery on the coasts of Virginia, New England, and Newfoundland, they were told by the servants of the crown that it was not fit for them to make laws for those countries which were not yet annexed to the crown, and that the bill was not proper for that house, as it concerned America. Upon this assumption the Colonies were settled by the King’s license, and the Governments established by Royal Charters; while the people emigrating to the Provinces considered themselves out of the realm; and in their executive and legislative capacities, in immediate connection with the King as their only Sovereign Lord. These novel possessions requiring some form of government, it became an exceedingly difficult matter to select that form. At last an analogy was supposed to exist between the Colonies and the Dutchy of Normandy; and the same form of Government* was adopted as had been used for the Island of Jersey.

*It is however observable, that although it was evidently the intention of the mother country, to grant the power of election to the people of the Colonies, so soon as they should be in a situation to receive a representative form of Government, yet the people assumed the right themselves, as appears by the following extract from Hutchinson, 1 vol. 94. ‘”Virginia had been many years distracted, under the government of Presidents and Governors, with Councils, in whose nomination or removal of the people had no voice until in the year 1620, a house of Burgesses broke out in the Colony, the King nor the grand Council at home, not having given any powers or direction for it. The Governor and assistants of the Massachusetts, at first intended to rule the people, but this lasted two or three years only, and although there is no colour for it in the Charter, yet a house of deputies appeared suddenly in 1634, to the surprise of the Magistrates, and the disappointment of their schemes of power. Connecticut soon after followed the plan of Massachusetts. New Haven, although the people had the highest reverence for their leaders, yet on matters of legislation the people, from the beginning, would have their share by their representatives. New Hampshire, combined together under the same form with Massachusetts. Barbadoes or the Leeward Islands began in 1625, struggled under Governors and Councils, and contending proprietors, 20 years. At length in 1645, an Assembly was called and the only reason given was, that by the grant to the Earl of Carlisle, the inhabitants were to have all the liberties, privileges and franchises of English subjects. After the restoration, there is no instance on the American continent, of a colony settled without a representation of the people, nor any attempt to deprive the colonies of this privilege, except in the arbitrary reign of King James the 2d.

It was a most fortunate circumstance, that the Island had by its constitution, “a right to hold a convention or meeting of the three orders of the Islands, in imitation of those august bodies in great kingdoms, a shadow and resemblance of an English Parliament.”

The King having assumed a right to govern the Colonies, without the intervention of Parliament, so the two Houses of Lords and Commons, in the year 1643, exerted the same power, without the concurrence of the King. They appointed the Earl of Warwick Governor in Chief of all the Plantations of America,created a committee for their regulation, and passed several laws concerning them. (See Pownal on the Colonies, passim)

Upon the restoration of Monarchy, the constitution of the Colonies received a great change. Parliament asserted, that all His Majesty’s Foreign Dominions were part of the realm, and then, for the first time, in their proper capacity, interposed in the regulation and government of the Colonies. From that period sundry laws have been passed, regulating their commerce, and having, in other respects, a direct operation on the Colonies. But nothing emanating either from the power assumed by the King, independent of Parliament, or from the Parliament without the concurrence of the King, or from the union of both, establishing the right of legislation in the colonists. It may be asserted, that every British subject has an essential right to the enjoyment of such a form of government, as secures the unrestrained exercise of all those powers necessary for the preservation of his freedom and his rights, according to the constitution of England; and that no authority can contract it within a narrower compass than the subject is entitled to by the Great Charter. Hence the Charters and Proclamations of the Crown to the several Colonies, are considered as declaratory only of ancient rights, and not creative of new privileges.

It is worthy of remark, that when England was herself a Province, the Colonies of London, Colchester, &c. enjoyed the same privilege of being governed by a legislative magistracy, which the American Colonies always contended for. At a subsequent period, but before the discovery of the New World, and when the precedent was considered as not likely to be often followed, we find that when King Edward ordered the French inhabitants to leave Calais, and planted an English Colony there, that place sent Burgesses to Parliament.

To all this it has often been answered, that the Colonies are virtually represented in Parliament. A few words will suffice in reply to this position. It was well observed by the Earl of Chatham, (although he carried the doctrine of the power of Parliament over the Colonies, to every circumstance of legislation and government short of taxation) “that the idea of virtual representation, as regards America, is the most contemptible that ever entered the head of man.” Of England it is entirely true.

Although copyholders and even freeholders, within the precincts of boroughs (not being burgesses) have no vote, yet the property of the copy-holders is represented by its lord, and the property of the borough is represented by the corporation, who choose the member of Parliament; while those persons who are not actually freeholders, have the option of becoming so if they think proper. But the Colonies are neither within any county or borough of England. Few members of Parliament have ever seen them, and none have a very perfect knowledge of them. They can therefore neither be said to be actually, or virtually represented, in that august body.

Hence the Colonies have a right, either to a legislature of their own, or to participate in that of Great-Britain. To the latter there are many objections; and when suggested on a former occasion, the plan was not cordially received on either side of the water; the other, custom has sanctioned and experience approved. To what extent the British Parliament has a right to interpose its authority, or how far the power of the Colonial Assembly extends, it is impossible to ascertain with accuracy. The doctrine of the omnipotence of the one, and the independence of the other, has at different times been pushed to an extreme by the advocates of each.

The true distinction appears to be, that Parliament is supreme in all external, and the Colonial Assembly in all internal matters. The unalterable right of property has been guaranteed to the Colonists, by the act renouncing the claim of taxation, the 18th Geo. 3d, by which it is declared “that the King and Parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment, whether payable in any of his Majesty’s Colonies, Provinces or Plantations, in North America or the West Indies, except such duties as it may be expedient to impose, for the regulation of commerce; the net produce of such duties to be always paid and applied to, and for the use of the Colony, Province or Plantation, in which the same shall be respectively levied, in such manner as other duties, collected by the authority of the respective General Courts or General Assemblies of such Colonies, Provinces or Plantations, are ordinarily paid and applies.

Taxation is ours, commercial regulation is theirs; this distinction, says a distinguished statesman, is involved in the abstract nature of things. Property is private, individual, abstract; and it is contrary to the principles of natural and civil liberty, that a man should be divested of any part of his property without his consent. Trade is a complicated and extended consideration; to regulate the numberless movements of its several parts, and to combine them in one harmonious effect for the good of the whole, requires the superintending wisdom and energy of the supreme power of the Empire.

—The Colonist acknowledges this supremacy in all things, with the exception of taxation and of legislation in those matters of internal Government to which the Local Assemblies are competent. This may be said to be the “quam ultra contraque nequit consistere rectum.” But ever in matters of a local nature the regal control is well secured by the negative of the Governor; by his standing instructions not to give his assent to any law of a doubtful nature without a clause suspending its operation, until his Majesty’s pleasure be known, and by the power assumed and exercised, if disagreeing to any law within three years after it has passed the Colonial Legislature.

With these Provinces it is absurd to suppose, whatever may be said to the contrary, that the Local Assemblies are not supreme within their own jurisdiction; or that a people can be subject to two different Legislatures; exercising at the same time equal powers yet not communicating with each other, nor from their situation capable of being privy to each others proceedings. This whole state of commercial servitude and civil liberty when taken together, says Mr. Burke, is certainly not perfect freedom, but comparing it with the ordinary circumstances of human nature, a happy and liberal condition.

Court Of Chancery

The Governor is Chancellor in Office. The union of these two offices is filled with difficulties, and where the Governor is, as has been the case in almost all the Colonies of late years, a military man, they seem wholly incompatible. Mr. Pownal, a gentleman of great experience in colonial affairs, having been Governor of Massachusetts, South Carolina and New Jersey, thus expresses himself on this subject: “How unfit are Governors in general for this high office of law, and how improper it is, that they should be Judges, where perhaps the consequence of judgment may involve Government and the administration thereof, in the contentions of parties.— Indeed the fact is, that the general diffidence of the wisdom of this Court, thus constituted, the apprehension that reasons of state may be mingled with the grounds of the judgment, have had an effect that the coming to this Court is avoided as much as possible, so that it is almost in disuse, where the establishment of it is allowed.”

The Court of Chancery in this Colony, has never been conducted in a manner to create the dissatisfaction alluded to in other Provinces; but the increased business of the Court, the delicate nature of the appointment, and the difficulties attending the situation, induced our late Lieutenant Governor, Sir James Kempt, to request his Majesty’s Ministers to appoint a professional man, to fill the situation of the Master of the Rolls, and the Solicitor General has been appointed to that office, with a Provincial salary of £600 a year. This is the first appointment of the kind ever made in the Colonies. It may be still doubted, whether it would not have been more advantageous and convenient to the country at large, to have abolished the Court altogether, and to have empowered the Judges of the King’s Bench to sit as Judges in Equity, at stated and different terms from those of the Common Law Courts. The nature of the Court, as at present constituted, admits of great delays. An appeal lies from an interlocutory decretal order of a Chancellor to His Majesty in Council, and so toties quoties, by means of which the proceedings may be protracted by a litigious person to an indefinite length. The unnecessary prolixity of pleadings, which characterises the Chancery at home, has been introduced into practice here, and the expence and delay incidental to its proceedings, arc not at all calculated for the exigencies and means of the country.

Court Of Error And Appeals

The Governor and Council, conjointly, constitute a Court of Error, from which an appeal lies in the dernier resort to the King in Council. At the time of settling the Colonies, there was no precedent of a Judicatory besides those within the realm, except in the cases of Guernsey and Jersey. These remnants of the Dutchy of Normandy were not, according to the prevailing doctrine of those times, within the realm. According to the custom in Normandy, appeals lay to the Duke in Council; and upon the general precedent (without, perhaps, adverting to the peculiarity of the appeal, lying to the Duke of Normandy, and not to the King) was an appeal established from the Courts in the Colony to the King in Council. An appeal is under the following restrictions :

  • 1st. No appeal shall be allowed to the Governor in Council, in any civil cause, unless the debtor damage, or the sum or value appealed for, do exceed the sum of £300 sterling, except the matter in question relates to the taking or demanding any duty payable to the King, or to any fee of office, or annual rent, or other such-like matter or thing, where his rights in future may be bound ; in all which cases an appeal is admitted to the King, in his Privy Council, though the sum or value appealed for, be of less value. In all cases of fines for misdemeanours, no appeals are admitted to the King in Council, except the fines, so imposed, amount to or exceed the value of £200 sterling.
  • 2d. That every such appeal to the Governor in Council be made within fourteen days after Judgment or sentence is pronounced in the Court below ; and that the appellant or plaintiff in error, do give good security that he will effectually prosecute his appeal or writ of error, and answer the condemnation money, and also pay such costs and damages as shall be awarded, in case the judgment or sentence of the Court below shall be affirmed.
  • 3d. That no appeal be allowed from the judgment or sentence of the Governor in Council, or from the decree of the Court of Chancery, to the King in his Council, unless the debt, damages, or the sum or value so appealed for, do exceed the sum of £500 sterling, except where the matter in question relates to the taking or demanding any duty payable to the King, or to any fee of office, or an annual rent, as above mentioned.
  • 4th. That such appeal to His Majesty or his Privy Council, be made within fourteen days after judgment or sentence is pronounced by the Governor, in the Court of Chancery ; and that the appellant or plaintiff in error, do give good security, that he will effectually prosecute his appeal or writ of error, and answer the condemnation money ; and also pay such costs and damages as shall be awarded by his Majesty, in case the sentence of the Governor in Council, or decree of the Court of Chancery, be affirmed. There is no appeal allowed in criminal causes.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is invested with the powers of the King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. It is composed of a Chief Justice, three Assistants and a Circuit Associate. The Chief Justice receives from the English Government an annual salary oi £800 sterling, in addition to which he receives fees to a large amount. The assistants are paid by the Province, and are entitled, under a permanent act, to £600 a year, and a guinea a day additional, when travelling. This Court has a jurisdiction extending over the whole Province, including Cape Breton, in all matters criminal and civil; but cannot try any actions for the collection of debts, when the whole amount of dealings do not exceed five pounds, except on appeal, or when the parties reside in different counties. It sets four times a year at Halifax, and has two Circuits on the eastern and western districts —one at Cape Breton, and one on the south shore. The venerable Chief Justice, Hon. S.S. Blowers, has presided in this Court since the year 1798—the patient investigation which he gives every cause that is tried before him—the firmness, yet moderation of temper which he exhibits—the impartiality, integrity and profound legal knowledge, with which he dignifies the bench, have rendered him an object of affection, not only to the gentlemen of the bar, but to the public at large. Etiam contra quos statuit, tequos placates que dimisit.

The law regulating the admission of the Attorneys has been allowed to expire, and it is now governed by rule of Court. It is required, that every person applying for admission, shall have been duly articled as a clerk, to an Attorney of the Supreme Court, for the period of five years preceding such application; except graduates of King’s College, Windsor, who are eligible to admission at the expiration of four years. There is also a farther distinction made in favor of the College. The graduate signs the roll as an Attorney and Barrister at the same time, while the other student is required to practice as an Attorney for the space of one year, before he is entitled to the privileges of a Barrister. The conduct and discipline of the bar is regulated by an Institution, established in 1825, under the patronage of his Excellency Sir James Kempt, and denominated the Bar Society. It consists of the Judges of the Supreme Court and Common Pleas, the Crown Officers, and other members of the profession.

The legal acquirements of the Bench and Bar are highly respectable, but the decisions of the Court are not easily known for want of reports. There are a great variety of questions constantly arising upon our Provincial Statutes, which, from the novelty of the circumstances under which they were framed, are peculiar to the Country, and correct reports of these cases are alike important to the Judges, the Lawyers, and the public. Such a system would tend to produce an uniformity of decision, to check litigation, and to foster a laudable ambition in the Court, to administer law upon such principles of argument and construction, as may furnish rules which shall govern in all similar or analogous cases. At an early period of the Constitution of England, the reasons of a judgment were set forth in the record, but that practice has long been disused.

According to the modern practice, the greater number of important questions agitated in the Courts of Law come before them on motions for new trial; cases reserved on summary applications of different sorts. In neither of these cases does the record furnish the evidence, either of the facts, or the arguments of the Counsel and the Court, for which there is no other depositor} than reports, on the fidelity of which a great part of the Law almost entirely depends. The most ancient compilations of this sort are the year books, the works of persons appointed for that purpose. The special office of Reporter was discontinued so long ago as the reign of Henry VIII. and although, in the reign of James I., Lord Chancellor Bacon procured its revival, it was soon dropped again,and the proceedings of Westminster Hall, from that time till now, would have been lost in oblivion; had it not been for the voluntary industry of succeeding Reporters. As the demand for books of reports in the Province, would be chiefly confined to the Gentlemen of the profession, the sale of them would not only afford no remuneration for the labour of preparing them for the press, but would not even defray the expense of publication, which most unquestionably deserves to be borne by the public purse. It is hoped that the time is not far distant, when this subject will receive the attention of the Legislature, and that means will be found to remedy the evil so universally felt in the Province.

Inferior Courts Of Common Pleas

There is no separate Court of Common Pleas for the Province, but there are Courts in each County, bearing the same appellation, and resembling it in many of its powers. These Courts, when first constituted, had power to issue both mesne and final process to any part of the Province; and had a concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court in all civil causes. They were held in the several counties by Magistrates, or such other persons as were deemed best qualified to fill the situation of Judges; but there was no salary attached to the office, and fees, similar in their nature, but smaller in amount than those received by the Judges of the Supreme Court, were the only remuneration given them for their trouble.

As the King’s Bench was rising in reputation, from the ability and learning of its Judges, these Courts fell into disuse, and few causes of difficulty or importance were tried in them. It was even found necessary to limit their jurisdiction, and they were restrained from issuing mesne process out of the county in which they sat. The exigencies of the county requiring them to be put into a more efficient state, a law was passed in 1824, for dividing the Province into three Districts or Circuits, and the Governor empowered to appoint unprofessional man to each Circuit, as first Justice of the several Courts of Common Pleas within the District, and also President of the Courts of Sessions. The salary provided for their appointments was £450, inclusive of travelling and other fees, while the fees previously held by the former Judges, were made payable to them as long as they continued in office. The process and course of practice is the same in the Courts of King’s Bench and Common Pleas, and the jurisdiction of both limited to five pounds. All original process is issued by the Court of common law itself, and tested in the name of the Chief Justice; and the Chancellor issues no writ whatever, whereon to found the proceeding of these Courts.

Few real actions are in use in the Colony, except actions of Dower and Partition, as all titles to land are tried either by ejectment, trespass, or replevin. The writs of mesne process are of three kinds. A summons, or order to appear and defend suit, a capias by which the Sheriffis ordered to arrest the debtor, and on which bail may be put in, as in England, and an attachment, which is a mened writ, and both summonses the party,and attaches as much property as, by appraisement, will amount to the sum sworn to. Perishable property, thus attached, if not bailed or security given for its forth-coming after judgement is immediately sold. The operation of this writ has of late been restrained to the recovery of debts existing prior to the year 1821, and to securing the effects of absent or absconding debtors. After judgment an execution is issued, which, combining the four English writs of final process, directs the Sheriff to levy the amount thereof on the goods and chattles, lands and tenements of the defendant, and in default thereof to commit him to prison.

Court Of General Sessions

This Court is similar in its constitution, powers and practice, to the Courts of Quarter Sessions in England.

Justices Court

The collection of small debts is a subject every¬ where fraught with difficulties; and various modes have been adopted at different times, with a view to combine correctness of decision in the Judge, with a diminution of the expense of collection. At present any two Magistrates are authorised to hold a Court for the trial of all actions of debt, where the whole amount of dealings is not less than three, and does not exceed five pounds. All sums under three pounds may be collected by suit before a single Justice. From the decision of these Courts, an appeal lies to the Supreme and Inferior Courts of Common Pleas.

Hitherto local influence, and the intrigues of elections, have had great weight in too many of the recommendations which have been made to the Executive, for the appointment of Justices of the Peace; and the patronage, and the little emoluments of the office, which the collection of small debts has encreased, have occasioned the commission to be eagerly sought after; and to use the words of Lord Bacon—“There are many who account it an honor to be burdened with the office of Justice of the Peace.” The proceedings in these Courts are summary, and when judgment is given, an execution issues to a constable to levy the debt and costs, in the same manner as the Sheriff proceeds on a similar writ, from the higher Courts. Whether the evils incidental to these Courts are unavoidable, or whether a better system could not be devised, is a subject well worthy of serious consideration.

Probate Courts

The Governor, in his capacity of ordinary, formerly delegated his power to the Surrogate General, who resided at Halifax, and whose jurisdiction extended over the whole Province. Since that period, Surrogates have been appointed in the several counties, and the law requires probate to be granted in the county where the testator last dwelt. There is no Provincial system of law regulating these Probate Courts, and the Judges are left to find their way by the feeble light of analogy to the Ecclesiastical Courts of England. This, perhaps, will account for the irregularity and confusion prevailing in those districts where Lawyers do not preside in these Courts. There is no branch of the jurisprudence of the country which requires revision so much as this department. The statute of distribution, of Nova Scotia, directs the estate of an intestate to be divided in the following manner:

—One third, after the payment of debts, is allotted to the widow, both of personal and real estate, the former absolutely, the latter during her life. Of the other two thirds, two shares are given to the eldest son, and the residue equally distributed between the remaining children, or such as legally represent them. If the real estate cannot be divided without great injury, the Judge of Probate is required, upon evidence thereof, to order it to be appraised, and to offer it at such appraised value to the sons of the intestate successively, who have preference according to seniority. If either of the sons take the estate at the price offered, he is bound to pay, in a given time, the proportionable shares of the purchase money to the other heirs.

— After the widow’s death, her dower in land is divided in like manner. If there be no child, the widow is entitled to a moiety of the personal estate, and a life interest in one third of the real estate ; and if there be neither wife nor child, the whole is distributed among the next of kin to the intestate, in equal degree, and their legal representatives ; but representatives among collaterals, after the children of brothers and sisters, are not admitted. Where the estate is insolvent, an equal distribution takes place among the creditors, with the exception of the King, who takes precedence of all other mortgages, and those who have obtained judgment against the debtor in his life time.

The act of distribution was founded upon that in Massachusetts, and the reason given for deviating from the course of descent in England, and assigning only two shares of the real estate to the eldest son, is, that in a new country, the improvements necessary to be made upon land, and the expence of subduing the soil, constantly absorb the whole of the personal property ; and that if the real estate were inherited by the eldest, there would be nothing left to provide for the younger children. And it is on this ground that such an essential alteration in the Law of England has been approved of by the King in Council.

Sheriff And Prothonotary

The Sheriffs of the different Counties are appointed annually by the Governor, from a list made by the Chief Justice, proposing three persons for each county for his choice. This office being lucrative is always solicited, and the Sheriff is invariably continued from year to year, so long as he discharges the duties of his situation with diligence and fidelity.

—The offices of Prothonotory and clerk of the Court, are patent appointments held by the same officer. The person now holding them, notwithstanding the law on the subject of non residence, has lived for many years in England. He has a deputy in each county, who acts as clerk of the Supreme Court and Common Pleas.

Court Of Vice Admiralty

In the year 1801 his Majesty directed the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to revoke the prize Commissions, which had been granted to the Vice Admiralty Courts in the West Indies, and in the Colonies upon the American continent, except Jamaica and Martinique. An act of Parliament was then passed, 41. Geo. 3. c. 96. by which each and every of the Vice-Admiralty Courts, established in any two of the Islands in the West Indies and at Halifax, were empowered to issue their process to any other of his Majesty’s Colonies or Territories in the West Indies or America, including therein the Bahama and Bermuda Islands, as if the Court were established in the Island, Colony or Territory, within which its Junctions were to be exercised.

His Majesty was also authorised to fix salaries for Judges, not exceeding the sum of two thousand pounds per annum for each Judge, and it was enacted that the profits and emoluments of the said Judges should in no case exceed two thousand pounds each and every year, over and above the salary. Sir Alexander Croke, L.L.D. then an advocate of the Civil Law, had the first appointment upon this new establishment at Halifax, and presided in it from that period until the termination of the American War. He had not only distinguished himself as an advocate in Doctors Commons, but his vindication of the belligerent rights of Great Britain, in his celebrated answer to Schlegel, and his introduction to the case of Horner and Lydiard, brought his talents into that notice which added a value to his judicial decisions. The causes decided in that Court have been collected, and very ably reported, by the Hon. James Stewart. As the emoluments of the office terminated with the war, the duties of the situation are performed temporally by the Chief Justice. The Court of Vice Admiralty exercises three sorts of jurisdictions.

  • 1st. it is the proper Court for deciding all maritime causes.
  • 2d. it is the Court for the trial of prizes taken in time of war, between Great Britain and any other state, to deter¬ mine whether they be lawful prizes or not.
  • 3d. it exercises a concurrent jurisdiction with the Courts of Record in the cases of forfeiture and penalties,incurred by the breach of any act of Parliament, relating to the trade and revenue of the Colony.

The King’s Privy Council constitute a court of appeal, to which body, by 22 . Geo. 2 . c. 3. the Judges of the Court of Westminster Hall were added, with a proviso that no Judgment should be valid unless a majority of the Commissioners present were actually Privy Counsellors. In matters relating to the trade and revenues of the Colony, if the sum in question does not exceed £500 sterling, the party aggrieved must first prefer a petition to his Majesty, for leave to appeal from the judgment of this Court.

Court For The Trial Of Piracies

There is a Court of a peculiar construction established in the Colonies, for the trial of piracies. Formerly pirates were tried in England by the Court of Admiralty, which proceeded without Jury, but as the exercise of such an authority was not only repugnant to the feelings of Englishmen, but to the genius of the Laws of the country, a statute was passed in 28 Henry VIII. which enacted that all piracies, felonies and robberies, committed on the high seas, should be tried by Commissioners, to be nominated by the Lord Chancellor; the indictment being first found by a Grand Jury, and afterwards tried by a Petit Jury, and that the proceedings should be according to the Common Law.

Under this Law piracies have continued to be tried in England, but as the provisions of that statute did not extend to the Colonies, it became necessary, when offenders were apprehended in the Plantations, to send them to England, to take their trial. To remedy so great an inconvenience, the statute of William III. was passed, which enacts that all piracies, felonies and robberies,committed on the high seas, may be tried in any of the Colonies by Commissioners, to be appointed by the King’s Commission, directed to any of the Admirals, &c. and such persons, by name, for the time being, as his Majesty shall think fit; who shall have power jointly and severally to call a Court of Admiralty, which shall consist of seven persons at least, and shall proceed to the trial of said offenders.

The statute of Henry VIII. was also extended to the Colonies by the 4 Geo. I. c. 11. The mode hitherto adopted in the Colonies is, to collect the Court under the 11 and 12 of William III. and to proceed to the trial of the prisoners without the intervention of a Jury. But this practice seems very questionable; wherever, by any constitution of Law, a man may enjoy the privilege of trial by Jury, great care should be taken that he be not deprived of it. To obviate these difficulties, it has been thought that a Commission might issue under 11 and 12 of William III. and the proceedings be regulated by the statute of 2S Henry VIII.

When this Court assembled but once in several years, its extraordinary jurisdiction was in some measure excused by the rare exercise of its powers; but when it meets so often as it has of late years in the West Indies, it affords a just ground of Legislative interference. Having treated of the several Courts, it will now be necessary to make a few observations upon the Laws of the country.

Laws of Nova Scotia

The Law of the Province is divisible into three parts. Is. the Common Law of England. 2d. the Statute Law of England. 3d. the Statute Law of Nova-Scotia. A minute consideration of each would be foreign from the design of this work, but the subject is too interesting to be altogether passed over. I shall therefore show in what manner the two first were introduced, the extent to which they apply, and the alteration made in them by the Local Statute Law.

Upon the first settlement of this country, as there was no established system of jurisprudence, until a local one was legally constituted, the emigrants naturally continued subject and entitled to the benefit of all such Laws of the parent country, as were applicable to their new situation. As their allegiance continued, and travelled along with them according to those Laws, their co-relative right of protection necessarily accompanied them.

The common law, composed of long established customs, originating beyond what is technically called the memory of man, gradually crept into use as occasion and necessity dictated. The Statute Law, consisting of acts, regularly made and enacted by constituted authority, has increased as the nation has become more refined, and its relationship more intricate. As both these laws grew up with the local circumstances of the times, so it cannot be supposed that either of them, in every respect, ought to be in force in a new settled country ; because crimes that are the occasion of penalties, especially those arising out of political, instead of natural and moral relationship, are not equally crimes in every situation.

Of the two, the common law is much more likely to apply to an infant colony, because it is coeval with the earliest periods of the English history, and is mainly grounded on general moral principles, which are very similar in every situation and in every country. The common law of England, including those statutes which are in affirmance of it, contains all the fundamental principles of the British constitution, and is calculated to secure the most essential rights and liberties of the subject. It has therefore been considered by the highest jurisdictions in the parent country, and by the legislatures of every colony, to be the prevailing law in all cases not expressly altered by statute, or by an old local usage of the colonists, similarly situated; for there is a colonial common Law, common to a number of colonies, as there is a customary common Law, common to all the Realm of England.

With such exceptions, not only the civil but the penal part of it, as well as the rules of administering justice and expounding Laws, have been considered as binding in Nova-Scotia. In many instances, to avoid question, colonial statutes and rules of court have been made, expressly adopting them. Since the artificial refinements and distinctions incidental to the property of the mother country, the laws of police and revenue, such especially as are enforced by penalty, the modes of maintenance for the clergy, the Jurisdiction of the spiritual Courts, and a multitude of other provisions, are neither necessary nor convenient for such a colony, and therefore are not in force here.

The rule laid down by Blackstone is, that all Acts of Parliament, made in affirmance or amendment of the common law, and such as expressly include the colonies by name, are obligatory in this country. On the first part of this proposition there can be no difficulty, except as to determining whether a particular statute is in fact in amendment and affirmance of the common law or not, and whether any particular act of Parliament is applicable or not to the state of the Colony. The power of making this decision, a power little short of legislation, is and must be left with the Judges of our Local Courts, and on referring to the manner in which it has been exercised, there is little danger to be apprehended that an improper use will be made of it. Hence it is that the rights of the subject, as declared in the petition of rights, the limitation of the prerogative by the act for abolishing the Star Chamber, and regulating the Privy Council, the Habaes Corpus act and the Bill of rights, extend to the Colonies. In the same manner do all statutes respecting the general relation between the crown and the subject, such as the Laws relative to the succession, to treason, &e. extend throughout the Realm.

—The difference between the local and general laws, or clauses of a law, may be illustrated by 13 and 14 of Charles II. c. 2. By that act the supreme military power is vested in the King without limitation ; this part of the act extends to all the Colonies, but the enacting clause respecting the militia officers applies to England alone. The other part of the proposition of Blackstone, that act; of Parliament are binding upon such Colonies as are expressly named therein, is not expressed with his usual accuracy, and must be understood with some very material exceptions. It is true that Parliament has declared, by act 6. Geo. III. c. 12, that it has the power to make laws and statutes of sufficient validity to bind the Colonies in all cases whatever. But it is plain, if it had not the power before, it is impossible the mere declaration could invest it with it.

I have already observed that the true line is, that Parliament is supreme in all external, and the Colonial Assemblies in all internal legislation ; and that the Colonies have a right to be governed, within their own jurisdiction, by their own laws, made by their own internal will. But if the Colonies exceed their peculiar limits, form other alliances, or refuse obediance to the general laws for the regulation of Commerce or external Government, in these cases there must necessarily be a coercive power lodged somewhere : and cannot be lodged more safely for the Empire at large than in Parliament, which has an undoubted right to exercise it in such cases of necessity. It is in this manner the passage alluded to, in the commentaries, must be understood, which states those laws to be binding on the Colonies that include them by express words, and the English act of Parliament is generally received in the same sense.

The system of jurisprudence is, from these circumstances, very similar in both countries; and as it is a fundamental principle in all the Colonies not to enact laws repugnant to those of England, the deviation is less than might be supposed. The statute of distribution has been already alluded to and explained, and it may be added that, as respects wills, the same formality in execution, and the same rules of construction, as prevail in the parent state, are adopted here. For other peculiarities the reader is referred to various parts of this work, where they are incidentally mentioned.”

A note at the end of Volume II on behalf of publisher Joseph Howe.

Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. “An historical and statistical account of Nova-Scotia : in two volumes” Halifax [N.S.] : J. Howe, 1829. Volume I:, Volume II:

A Calendar of two letter-books and one commission-book in the possession of the government of Nova Scotia, 1713-1741

“The manuscript documents relating to the history of Nova Scotia were collected, arranged, bound, indexed and catalogued by the late Thomas Beamish Akins C. L., who was appointed Commissioner of Public Records, in accordance with a resolution passed by the House of Assembly on the thirtieth of April, 1857. According to the catalogue prepared by Dr. Akins in 1886, and now out of print, they number over 535 volumes ; and there are besides fifty-nine boxes of unbound papers, arranged and indexed. All these are preserved in the Province Building at Halifax, and form the materials for a complete history of the province.

The collection is twofold in character. It consists of original documents, and transcripts of papers from the Public Record Office in London and elsewhere. A selection from them was published at the expense of the province in 1868 by Dr. Akins. It was a stout volume of over 750 pages, and related to the Acadians, the encroachments of French Canada upon Nova Scotia, the Seven Years’ War, the founding of Halifax, and the establishment of representative government in 1758. The preface ends with the words, “There are yet many documents of value and interest among our archives worthy of publication.”

With this justification, the Nova Scotia Historical Society made representations to the Legislature, which resulted in my appointment to the task of editing another selection from the archives.

The documents chosen are among the very oldest in the possession of the Government. Like all papers not kept in a fire-proof room, they are in danger of destruction ; and MS. 20 was noted as in a “damaged condition from damp” when it was catalogued. In all the writing is often very faint; pages are patched and worn, and crumbled in the mere process of turning them over. It is doubtful if they will soon be read again.”

Most interesting to me, any note of settlement in and around Halifax Harbor, Dartmouth in a past life, “Chebuctou”:

“Harbors to the eastward from this place to the “Gutt of Canco, beginning at Pugmacou, Cape Sables, Port Rossway, La-Have, Marligash, Chebuctou, Bay of Vert, Restubuctou &c. to ye Gutt of Canco.” Masting to be had, with convenient water carriage; but few inhabitants in any of them.

They are accounted good harbors, resorted to by N. E. fishermen and ours on all occasions, and are capable of improvement, “especially La Have Port Rosway, and chebuctou, being most Convenient for trade and fortification.”

MacMechan, Archibald. “A Calendar of two letter-books and one commission-book in the possession of the government of Nova Scotia, 1713-1741” Halifax, N.S. : [s.n.], 1900.,

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