Planter 2010 Celebration
in Nova Scotia

250th Anniversary

New England Planters
Land Available in Nova Scotia

Governor Lawrence proclamation
1758 October 12

Home Governor's
1757  '58  '59

Land Available in Nova Scotia

This is an image of the nameplate for the Saint John Daily Sun newspaper, 19 July 1892.
The Saint John, New Brunswick, Daily Sun, 19 July 1892.

This is an image of an article, about events in the area now known as New Brunswick, associated with the official Proclamation issued by Nova Scotia Governor Lawrence on 12 October 1758, as published in the Saint John Daily Sun, 19 July 1892.

Above is an image of an article, published in the Saint John Daily Sun, 19 July 1892, about events – in the area now known as New Brunswick but then (1758) part of Nova Scotia – associated with the official Proclamation issued by Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence on 12 October 1758 announcing the availability of land for planters (settlers) in Nova Scotia.



After the removal of the French a proclamation was issued by the Nova Scotia council inviting English settlers to take possession of the lands vacated, and stating that there are

“More than 100,000 acres of upland, cleared and stocked with English grass, planted with orchards, gardens, etc.  The wild and unimproved lands adjoining are well timbered and wooded with beech, black birch, ash, oak, pine, fir, etc.  These lands are all situated about the Bay of Fundi, upon rivers navigable for ships of burthen. Proposals for settlement will be received by Mr. Hancock, at Boston, and by Messrs. DeLancie and Watts, at New York.”

A second proclamation of January 11th, 1759, gave fuller information as to the conditions on which lands might be taken up and a permanent title acquired.  The consequence of the efforts made by the United States government was quite an extensive immigration to the province from the old New England states, which is of interest as being a movement of population from west to east, and in marked contrast to the present order of things.  The accounts given of the advantages offered for settlers were doubtless highly colored, but as has been said, “immigration agencies do not aim at absolute accuracy of statement.”  In consequence of inducements offered, settlers rapidly poured in from Massachusetts and other New England colonies, and organized townships were soon established, not only on the site of the principal Acadian settlements, but elsewhere.  The chief townships which sprang up on the St. John river in consequence of this movement were Maugerville, Burton and Gage.

The principal information hitherto published in regard to the origin of these townships is contained in a lecture delivered by the late Moses H. Perley in St. John in the year 1841, from which it appears the governor of Massachusetts in the year 1761 sent an exploring party of 12 men under Israel Perley, a land surveyor, to ascertain the position of affairs and the state of the country on the St. John.  They proceeded to Machias by water in the month of February, and there shouldering their knapsacks steered their course through the woods to the head of the Oromocto, which they descended to the St. John.  Their course was doubtless much impeded by the multitude of fallen trees which had been torn up by the roots in the fierce galeNOTE 1 of Nov. 3, 1769 [sic: the date of this storm was Nov. 3, 1759, not 1769], which in severity rivalled the famous Saxby Gale of 1869.  The forests on the St. John below the Oromocto were for years afterwards much encumbered by fallen trees.  The explorers found the country promising, but wholly unsettled, and with this report they returned to Boston.  In consequence of the information thus obtained a number of persons from the county of Essex in Massachusetts presented a petition to the government of Nova Scotia for a grant of a township 12 miles square.  They received a favorable answer and in accordance with the instructions given, a surveying party proceeded to St. Ann's Point with the intention of surveying a township to extend 12 miles down the river from that spot.  The proceedings of the party were interrupted by the arrival from Auckpaque (Springhill) of a large number of Indians arrayed in their war paint, who compelled them to desist, alleging that in consequence of an agreement they had made with Governor Lawrence no settlements were to be made above Grimross.  The difficulty was subsequently adjusted, the Indians agreeing to the settlement of the townships at Maugerville, Burton and Gage.  The three townships were all more or less settled prior to 1770, but except in the case of the Maugerville immigration of 1763 it is difficult to determine the date of the arrival of the different settlers.  It is certain, however, that some of those who arrived with the Maugerville party settled at Gagetown, amongst others being Edward Coy, one of whose daughters is said to have been the first female child born of English speaking parents on the river St. John.

NOTE 1: This “fierce gale” was the memorable storm of the night of
3-4 November 1759, one of the most destructive storms to hit this region in the
eighteenth century.  It wreaked heavy damage along Nova Scotia's coast, from
the wharves at Halifax to the Bay of Fundy.  Seafarers have known for centuries
that the arrival of a strong (unusually-low barometric pressure) storm at a coast,
at the time of a high tide, is an event to be wary of – if this happens to coincide
with an astronomical perigean syzygy then serious consequences will occur.
This storm coincided with the exceptionally-strong Full Moon Perigean Syzygy
that peaked in the early afternoon of November 4, 1759, with perigee and syzygy
less than nine hours apart and the Moon's perigean distance only 356,850 km.
Of course, the extreme tidal effects that affected coastal areas during this
memorable storm did not extend inland, but there were severe winds throughout
what are now the Maritime Provinces that blew down “the multitude of fallen
trees which had been torn up by the roots” that “much impeded” Israel Perley's
1761 exploration team.  “The forests on the St. John below the Oromocto were
for years afterwards much encumbered by fallen trees.”

The number of land grants issued by the government of Nova Scotia and the magnitude of the grants was something prodigious.  Murdoch, in referring to the large land grants made by Gov. Montagu Wilmot and his council in 1765, terms it an "ugly" year and deplores the injurious effects of giving away the finest lands in such large blocks.  In the case of the river St. John, the pernicious effects of this policy were less apparent, however, than in the case of P.E.I. and elsewhere.  Nevertheless, in the case of several townships on the St. John very few of the original grantees became actual settlers.  The grants were taken out on speculation.  In many instances the conditions of settlement were not fulfilled and on the arrival of the Loyalists the lands were escheated and regranted to actual settlers.



“...But we must remember that to this day, immigration agencies do not aim at absolute accuracy of statement. Figurative amplification is considered one of their most natural and proper characteristics. Nor does there appear to have been anything intentionally misleading in the arithmetical exaggerations of the Proclamation. Good land there was, and an abundance of it, a fact to which many a New Englander who had served at Louisburg or Beau-Sejour or who had run trading ventures up the Chiganois or the Pisiquid, could positively testify, in answer to any inquiry from fellow-colonists into whose hands the Proclamation might fall...”
—Source:  Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society for the Years 1889-91 Volume VII, Halifax, 1891.  Morning Herald Printing and Publishing Company, 58 & 60 Granville Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia


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First uploaded to the WWW:   8 February 2010
Latest update:   05 June 2015