Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

A History of the County of Yarmouth, N.S.
Chapter IV. Early English Settlers. The County known to American fishermen before settled. Government offers to intending Settlers. Grants

POPULARLY speaking, Yarmouth is said to have been settled on the 9th of June, 1761.

For on that day three families arrived on these shores, the parent stems of many fruitful boughs, which have since filled the land.

But I think the fact not unworthy of notice that this County was not, before that time, altogether an unknown land. Men go wherever there is a fair-prospect of reward for their labour, and especially is this true of a hardy seafaring people. For years before any families settled in this County, our harbours of Yarmouth and Chebogue were the resort of American fishermen. Whether they were in the habit of coming here before the French inhabitants were expelled may be a moot question; but one which I should feel inclined to answer in the affirmative.

Be that as it may, the proclamations which were issued by Governor Lawrence from time to time, were not made to people who knew nothing of the Province. One inference which has been made from the fact of the sufferings endured by the new-comers during the first season arose out of their ignorance of the requirements of the County during the winter season, as much as from their scanty supplies. However this was, there were among the original settlers those who knew the coast well; who came here for the fishing season each year, and who would not therefore have been wholly unacquainted with their new home.

But the amount of available information obtainable by those who intended to settle in this County is easily ascertained. After the French Acadians had been deported, many of them into New England, the fact that there was a vacant Province abounding with valuable lands, wild and cultivated, well supplied with water power, and whose rivers, harbours, bays and shores abounded with all kinds of fish, where nothing was wanted but inhabitants to take possession, could not have been long unknown or undesired when known. But, whatever may have been the amount of definite information generally diffused before, after the publication of Governor Lawrence’s proclamation dated Halifax, October 12, 1758, the position, though not altogether clear, was sufficiently well defined. That document is so pertinent to a number of questions, as well as another proclamation that followed, that I shall insert both:

“Whereas by the late suceese of his Majesty’s arras in the reduction of Cape Breton and its dependencies, as also by the demolition and entire destruction of Gaspee, Meremachi, and other French settlements on the Gulph of St. Lawrence, and in the Saint John River in the Bay of Funday, the enemy who have formerly disturbed and harrassed the Province of Nova Scotia, and much obtruded its progress, have been compelled to retire and to take refuge in Canada, a favourable opportunity now presents for the peopling and cultivating as well the land vacated by the French as every other part of this valuable Province. I have therefore thought fit, with the advice of his Majesty’s Council, to issue this proclamation, declaring that I shall be able to receive any proposals that may be made hereafter to me for effectually settling the said vacated or any other lands within the Province aforesaid, a description whereof, and of the advantages arising from their peculiar nature and situation, I have ordered to be published with this proclamation.”

I have been unable to find the “description” referred to; no copy has been preserved in the Record Office ; but it very probably supplied the 'leading facts of just such information as men intending to emigrate to a new country would require. The immediate result of this proclamation was, that companies of intending emigrants from different parts of New England, New York, Connecticut, and even from Philadelphia, were formed. The first intending settlers of this County were partly, if not principally, from Philadelphia. When those companies were formed, they appointed Agents to negotiate the business; and in all probability, they were also the Executive.

Whatever the extent of the information given by Gov. Lawrence was, it was deficient upon certain details, without the knowledge of which, intending settlers would not move. Within three months after issuing this invitation and “information,” there were numerous enquiries as to what encouragement the Government held out ? what quantity of land? what quit rent or taxes? what quantity, or if any provisions would be given at the first settlement? and something fuller with regard to the form of Government, and the question of Religion. The consequence was that on the 11th of January, 1759, a second proclamation was issued, which, inasmuch as it has not been included in the selection of public documents known as the Nova Scotia Archives, and is yet full of interesting matter otherwise generally inaccessible, I have inserted the latter part of it at full length:

“By his Majesty’s Royal instructions to me, I am empowered to make grants in the following proportions, viz: that Townships shall consist of 100,000 acres of land, or about 12 miles square; that they do include the best and most profitable land; and that they do comprehend such rivers as may he at or near such settlement, and do extend as far up into the Country as conveniently may he, taking in a, necessary part of the sea coast. That the quantities of land granted will be in proportion to the abilities to plant, cultivate, or enclose the same, viz: that 100 acres of wild wood lands will he 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.

“That the grantees will be obliged by their said grants to plant, cultivate, improve, or enclose one third part of their land in ten years, another third within twenty years, and the remaining third within a space of “thirty years from the date of their grants.

“That no person can possess more than 1000 acres grant in his or her own name.

“That as to government, it is constituted like to those of the neighbouring Colonies, and every township, as soon as it shall consist of fifty families, will be entitled to send two representatives to the Assembly.

“That as to the article of Religion, full liberty of conscience is secured to persons of all persuasions, Papists excepted, 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 sacraments, according to their several opinions.

“That no taxes have hitherto been laid upon his Majesty’s subjects in “this Province; nor are there any fees of office taken upon issuing the grants of land That I am not authorized to offer any bounty of provisions.”

This proclamation was issued on January 11th, 1759, and in about six months, parties to the number of one hundred and thirty-three, residing in different parts of New England, and Philadelphia, and Nova Scotia, applied for and obtained a grant of the Township of Yarmouth, which was recorded on the 1st of September of that year. For reasons which probably oan never be known,

THIS FIRST GRANT WAS NOT TAKEN UP, and, out of the one hundred and thirty-three names mentioned in it, not more than ten appear either in subsequent grants, or in the after history of the County. Evidently, some disagreement must have occurred which caused the grant practically to break through. In this respect, Yarmouth is not alone. The books in the Crown lands office show duplicate or triplicate whole separate grants of Townships made at different times to different parties. And a close examination into the causes would probably result in the opinion that speculation and land-jobbing were neither unknown nor unpractised in those early days of the Province any more than it is capable of proof that the art has . since been forgotten.

When it was evident to bonafide intending settlers that the grant of September 1st, 1759, could not be acted upon so us that the Government conditions upon which the lands were to be held, could be complied with, and their title be secured, those who really meant to emigrate to this part of the Province appear to have taken up a new grant, which was recorded (January 8th, 1760) only four months after the first. The terms in which the grant is expressed are similar to those in the first.

This second grant of the whole Township (100,000 acres), recorded on January 8th, is immediately followed by another, recorded on the same day, granting to several parties mentioned in the preceding grant of the whole, 27,000 acres. I confess when I read these several grants, and others with them, I had very, great difficulty in reconciling them. But I have come to the conclusion, that as grants cost nothing to take out, they were taken out at random, or on speculation; that intending settlers were baulked in their endeavours by being associated with parties who had no intention to settle; the terms of the grants being such as to make them valid only in the event of all the parties named in the body of the grant jointly, as well as severally, complying. I observe that in the grant of September 1st, 1759, one Thomas Anderson was a party,—-indeed his name is first on the list, although he is not mentioned in the preamble reciting the fact that an application had been made. And in the subsequent grant of the whole, dated January 8th, 1760, he is still at the head of the list. And in the partial grant of the same day and date, amounting to 27,000 acres, he is the first named. I am of opinion that Anderson saw that there was danger, as it actually happened, that the’ second grant might fall through; and, being in earnest, the smaller grant of the same date was a kind of a confirmatory grant, holding good to the several parties separately. Be that as it may, anxious though he seems to have been to settle in Yarmouth, he does not appear in the list of grantees of the Township made in 1767: nor does it appear that he ever came here.

I think it worth recording, that the name of the County, or Township, first appears in the grant made in September, 1759, in which it is provided that the tract of land hitherto known as Cape Eorcliue, shall be “a Township, to be called hereafter and known by the name of the Township of Yarmouth.” This fact is interesting, as it affords, from the circumstance that about one hundred out of the one hundred and thirty-three grantees of 1759 were inhabitants of New England, a presumption that the name was suggested by those who were already acquainted or identified with the Township and Town of Yarmouth, in Massachusetts. We know that numerous families who settled .early in this Township came from that neighbourhood. On the other hand, the opinion has been expressed by those entitled to respect, that the Township derived its name from a nobleman in the ministry of the day; a fashion of which we have numerous proofs in the Province.

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus