The Rhode Island emigration to Nova Scotia

“Rhode Islanders emigrating to Nova Scotia? How is that? …Ah Yes! They must have been a group of Tories… No! The colony of which I speak left the parent stock when all were alike loyal to the sovereign of Great Britain – indeed at just the juncture when it was the proudest boast of every New Englander that he was a British subject.

Jan. 11, 1759, Governor Lawrence sent forth from the Council Chamber at Halifax, a second proclamation:

“By his Excellency Charles Lawrence, Esq., Captain General and Governor-in-chief, in and over his Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia, or Acadia, in America, Vice Admiral of the same etc. etc.

“Whereas since the issuing of the proclamation dated the 12th., day of Oct. 1758, relative to settling the vacant lands in this Province, I have been informed by Thomas Hancock, Esq., Agent for the affairs of Nova Scotia, at Boston, that sundry applications have been made to him in consequence thereof, by persons who are desirous of settling the said lands, and of knowing what particular encouragement the Government will give them, whether any allowance of provisions will be given at their first settlement, what quantity of land will be given to each person, what quit rents they are to pay, what the constitution of Government is, whether any, and what taxes are to be paid, and whether they will be allowed the free exercise of religion? I have therefore thought fit, with the advice of his Majesty’s Council, to issue this proclamation, hereby declaring, in answer to the said enquiries, that by his Majesty’s Royal instructions, I am empowered to make grants on the following proportions:

That townships are to consist of one hundred thousand acres of land, that they do include the best and most profitable land, and also that they do comprehend such rivers as may be at or near such settlement and to extend as far up into the Country as conveniently may be, taking in a necessary part of the sea-coast. That the quantities of land granted will be in proportion to the abilities of the planter to settle, cultivate, and enclose, the same. That one hundred acres of wild wood land will be allowed to every person, being master or mistress of a family, for himself or herself, and fifty acres for every white or black man, woman, or child, of which such person’s family shall consist at the actual time of making the grant, subject to the payment of a quit rent of one shilling sterling per annum for every fifty acres; such quit rent to commence at the expiration of ten years from the date of each grant, and to be paid for his Majesty’s use to his receiver General, at Halifax, or to his Deputy on the spot.

“That the grantees will be obliged by their said grants to plant, cultivate, improve or enclose, one third part of their lands within the space of ten years, another third within the space of twenty years and the remaining third within the space of thirty years, from the date of their grants. That no one person can posses more than one thousand acres by grant, on his or their own name.

“That every grantee, upon giving proof that he or she has fulfilled the terms and conditions of his or her grants, shall be entitled to another grant in the proportion and upon the conditions above mentioned. That the Government of Nova Scotia is constituted like those in neighboring Colonies; the Legislature consisting of a Governor, Council and House of Assembly, and every township, as soon as it shall consist of fifty families, will be entitled to send two Representatives to the General Assembly. The Courts of Justice are also constituted in like manner with those of the Massachusetts, Connecticut and other Northern Colonies. That as to the article of religion full liberty of conscience, both of his Majesty’s royal instructions and a late act of the General Assembly of this Province, is secured to persons of all persuasions, Papists excepted, as may more fully appear by the following abstract of the said act, viz:-

‘Protestants dissenting from the Church of England, whether they be Calvinists, Lutherans, Quakers or under what denomination soever, shall have free liberty of conscience, and may erect and build Meeting Houses for public worship, and may choose and elect Ministers for the carrying on divine service, and administration of the sacrament, according to their several opinions, and all contracts made between their Ministers and congregationalists for the support of their Ministry, are hereby declared valid, and shall have their full force and effect according to the tenor and conditions thereof, and all such Dissenters shall be excused from any rates or taxes to be made or levied for the support of the Established Church of England.’

“That no taxes have hitherto been laid upon his Majesty’s subjects within this province, nor are there any fees of office taken upon issuing the grants of land.

“That I am not authorized to issue any bounty of provisions; and I do hereby declare that I am ready to lay out the lands and make grants immediately under the conditions above described, and to receive and transmit to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, in order that the same may be laid before his Majesty for approbation, such further proposals as may be offered by any body of people, for settling an entire township under other conditions that they may conceive more advantageous to the undertakers.

“That forts are established in the neighborhood of the lands proposed to be settled, and garrisoned by his Majesty’s troops, with a view of giving all manner of aid and protection to the settlers, if hereafter there should be need.

Given in the council Chamber at Halifax, this 11th., day of January, 1759, in the 32nd year of His Majesty’s reign.
(Signed) Charles Lawrence.”

“The significance of this document in one respect must have struck the attention of all who are Rhode Islanders in spirit; refer to its lofty sentiments with regard to liberty of conscience.”

Huling, Ray Greene, 1847-1915. The Rhode Island Emigration to Nova Scotia. [Providence, R.I.?: s.n., 1889.