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250th Anniversary

Home Governor’s
1757  ’58  ’59

Directory to
Historical Information
relevant to Nova Scotia
found in the records of the
Board of Trade and Plantations





Selected sample excerpts
from the Board of Trade records

Tuesday. January 31, 1758

…That with respect to the plan proposed by the Governor and Council for calling an Assembly in their declaration of the 3rd of January, 1757. Mr. Forrester observed that the freeholders are intitled to such an Assembly as other colonies have, namely to have a free Assembly to be elected by themselves; but the proposition is so framed that the Governor really and in substance may nominate more than two thirds of the members…

That as to the inhabitants of Lunenburg, they are foreigners, such as Germans, Swiss and French Roman Catholicks; the inhabitants at Lunenburg are more than all the other English inhabitants in the colony; many of them have been there seven years, and therefore under the Act of the 13th of his present Majesty, claim to be intitled to the privilege of subjects; but even freeholders, natural born subjects in their circumstances, it’s apprehended ought not yet to vote at all, in electing any members (more especially, not in electing 14 out of the 22 members) because they are upon the foot of poor persons subsisted by charity, indeed by the charity of this nation, though made to believe that they owe it to the Governor’s benevolence, so that to let them at present vote for 14 members would be effectually to give the Governor the power of nominating so many himself. Do you like to try your luck? Go to our website and play lucky pharao online. Increased odds for winning!

That as to the inhabitants of Lawrence Town, of Annapolis, and of Cumberland, it is proposed that each of these townships (as called) should elect one member for itself, and join in the election of 12 more, for the province at large; even now, while they are so inconsiderable, as that the inhabitants of Cumberland consist of five old serjeants and soldiers, all sutlers to the garrison there, and subject to military law (for none other was ever heard of in that place); Lawrence Town consists of three sutlers subject to the direction of the proprietors of that tract, and under their influence, and the town decaying every day; and Annapolis is a garrison, of the like sort of inhabitants and a place of no significancy to the Crown…

That as to the qualification and disqualification of the electors and elected, one of the qualifications of the electors and elected is the having a freehold in the place, where voted for, or where elected; but the value of such freehold in either person is not at all limited; so that persons of the very lowest condition, if they have but any such freehold, of ever so mean a value, may elect or be elected, which is conceived not to be agreeable to the British Constitution, nor to the practice in other colonies, and whereby the members may possibly consist of the lowest and most unfit persons to the exclusion of those of the best property and substance; and it is submitted how reasonable or proper it may be to confine the member’s qualification to a freehold in that particular district, for which he is to be chosen, since a more proper person might be chosen, who has a proper freehold though not in that district. It is therefore humbly submitted whether the yearly value of the freehold to intitle a freeholder to elect, and the yearly value of the member’s freehold to make him capable of being elected should not be ascertained, and whether the member’s having a freehold of such value in any part of the province is not a reasonable and proper qualification.

That the declaration excludes non-commissioned officers and private soldiers from voting, by virtue of any dwelling built upon sufferance or by virtue of any possession of freehold, unless the same be registered to him, but it does not exclude even such from being elected members.

That under this head it may be proper to pray that no soldier may at any rate be allowed to vote, there being 3,000 soldiers there, and the inhabitants not more than half that number, so that if soldiers were permitted to vote, and any the smallest freehold (were it but the hundredth part of an acre) was to be a qualification, the other inhabitants can have but little hopes of being represented.

That the declaration provides that the voters, if required, should take the usual State oaths, and declare and subscribe the Test, and take the oath therein mentioned, but, which is very wonderfull, requires no such matter of the candidates or persons to be elected…

With respect to the other matters complained of in the agent’s memorial, Mr. Forrester moved that their lordships would please to transmit the present petition, and the articles annexed thereto unto the several persons complained of, namely:–

Charles Lawrence, Esquire, the present Governor.

Captain William Cotterell, the Governor’s Secretary, the Overseer of the Works, the Clerk in Chancery, and the Collector of the Rum Duty.

Lieutenant Richard Bulkley, another Overseer of the King’s Works, the Commissary for Rum and Molasses, and a Disposer of Contracts for publick works there.

Benjamin Green, Esquire, one of his Majesty’s Council there, the Treasurer, the Naval Officer, the Receiver of the Rum Duty, and another Disposer of Contracts there, and to

Mr. Thomas Saul, Clerk or Agent to the Contractor, the Commissary of Provisions, the Commissary of Dry Stores and the Supplyer of Dollars,

and require them to return forthwith their answers thereto in writing to their lordships, and also to deliver a true copy of the same so soon as prepared to any agent there in behalf of the petitioners who shall request the same…

Thursday, March 13, 1760

Their lordships took into further consideration the subject matter of yesterday’s deliberation, respecting the disposition of the cattle and stock left in Nova Scotia by the French inhabitants upon their removal in 1755; and Mr. Grant, attending pursuant to order, was called in, whose information upon this matter was in substance as follows, viz.

That he never knew exactly what number of cattle the French inhabitants left behind them; that he had once seen an account of those left in the districts of Menis, Canard, Piziquid and the other adjacent settlements, by which they amounted to 10,000 head of horned cattle, exclusive of those at Annapolis; that he understood from information, that the troops in the out garrisons were victualled with these cattle, they having been caught by persons employed by Mr. Saul, the Commissary and agent for the contractors; that many would be lost by the severity of the winter; that a thousand head were driven to Halifax, some of which were sold; and that he bought of Mr. Saul about 60 or 100 head at about 4 pounds per head; that the Governor gave leave to particular persons to drive some down to Halifax (about two or three hundred) for their own private advantage; that Mr. Mauger, the Agent Victualler for the Fleet, brought down about seven hundred, and brought the publick in debt to him about twenty eight pounds for the expence of catching them; that he did not know what number of cattle there might have been in the whole, but that it was said, there was six thousand head in Annapolis district; that he cannot tell, what number of sheep was left; that a few were brought to Halifax, but not being properly taken care of, were wasted; that a person, who was sometime clerk to Mr. Saul, told him, that Saul had salted four or five thousand hogs at Piziquid; that upon an audit of Saul’s accounts by himself and another of the Council, he well remembers, that Saul had given credit to the publick for about two thousand pounds on account of these cattle and stock.

That the people of Lunenburg had some of the horses; and that many were now in use at Halifax; that he never heard of any cattle sold by others than Mauger and Saul, or those to whom they were given in charity.

It having appeared from an examination of the publick accounts of the colony, that a large sum was charged in the account of the year 1757 for flour bought of Mr. Saul, the Commissary, at fifteen shillings the hundred weight; Mr. Grant was desired to inform the Board, what the price of flour was in the years 1756, 1757 and 1758, whose information upon that matter was as follows, viz.

That from July, 1755, to October, 1758, flour at an average never exceeded eight shillings the hundred, or eight shillings and six pence at most; that this cheapness was owing to a large quantity of prize flour brought in; that Philadelphia flour has sold for twelve shillings and six pence to thirteen shillings; but scarce any of that came to market at Halifax within that period, or at least only a small quantity; that prize flour was in common use in the province, and that he had bought some of Mr. Saul for fifteen shillings the barrel, which is two hundred and five pounds; that notice was taken in the Council of the high price charged to the publick for flour; and a proposal was made, that they should have the contract, which would supply the cheapest; upon which Mr. Saul promised, that he would furnish it so cheap, that no fault should be found for the future…

Tuesday, March 18, 1760

Their lordships took into further consideration the subject matter under deliberation on the last day of meeting, respecting the disposition of the cattle and stock left in Nova Scotia upon the removal of the French inhabitants in 1755; and General Winslow, attending without pursuant to order, was called in; whose information upon this matter was in substance as follows, viz.

That the troops under his command in Nova Scotia, whilst at Beausejour, were victualled with salt provisions; that when he was sent with a detachment to Menis, they had only fourteen days’ provisions; that from the 14th of August, 1755, to the 13th of September following, his command at Menis in Nova Scotia, officers included, consisted of 313 men, till the 13th of September, when he received a reinforcement, which made them 363, continued at that number till the 11th of November, when he went with one part to Halifax, Captains Adams and Hobbs with one hundred men to Annapolis, the remains left with Captain Osgood at Menis; and that during the time that the troops were at that place, they were victualled about one half of that time with fresh provisions; that they killed out of the stock that did belong to the French inhabitants, which, together with their lands, was declared forfeited to the Crown; that he settled accounts with the agent for the contractor, in which credit was given to the Crown for the fresh provisions the troops had been supplied with.

That some of the cattle was drove over to Halifax by order of Mr. Mauger, the Agent Victualler for the Fleet, as he understood for the use of the fleet; that a great part was left upon the spot; many of which probably perished in the winter for want of fodder; that he never heard, that any cattle was disposed of by sale, not being fit for slaughter…

General Winslow being withdrawn, Mr. Sanderson, who also attended pursuant to order, was called in; whose information upon this matter was in substance as follows, viz.

That the general opinion at Halifax was, that there were large quantities of cattle left by the French inhabitants; it was said, twenty thousand head of horned cattle and ten thousand hogs; that they were not disposed of to the people; that they were taken by the Commissary, and that Mauger, the Agent Victualler, had a part; that he never heard, that any vessels went into the Bay of Fundy to purchase these cattle; that the people at Halifax were altogether ignorant of what passed or was done in that part of the province; that petitions were presented by the settlers for leave to catch some of these cattle, and that some few particular persons had been; and afterwards the cattle they caught were taken away from them; that he supposed the troops were victualled with these cattle, Mr. Saul having packed many thousand barrels of pork; and it was reported, that vessels had carried off salted provisions; that there was a proposal for victualling the people at Lunenburg with these cattle; but it did not take effect; for that cattle were brought for that purpose at a great expence from New England; that he supposes, if the cattle and stock had been sold, it would have produced twenty thousand pounds and upwards; that Mr. Saul, the agent for the contractor, had often spoke of the savings made to the contractor by supplying the troops with these provisions; and it was known, that the contractor had made Mr. Saul a present of three hundred pounds on that score.

That he thinks there must have been ten thousand head of these cattle taken by the Commissary and Agent Victualler; and that he is of opinion, there was a collusion between the Governor and Mr. Saul in this business…

Board of Trade
and Plantations

The Navigation Act of 1696, enacted by the British Parliament in April 1696, created a permanent office within the British Government at London, England, named the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, which became known as the Board of Trade.  The 1696 mandate empowered the Board to call upon the Attorney or Solicitor General or any of the King’s Counsel for advice on legal matters.  The Board’s 15 members provided centralized control of the British colonies.  The Board nominated colonial governors and other officials and recommended laws affecting the colonies to Parliament.  It heard complaints from the colonies about the administration of justice, handling of government funds, distribution of land grants, and other matters of concern to the colonial population including the conduct of the governor.  In the mid-1700s, it became the primary colonial policy-making body of the British government.

In 1750 there were 31 British colonies, no two exactly alike in any respect. No two colonies operated under the same legal constitution.  There were similarities of course, but each colony had its own individual characteristics – legal, geographic, economic, cultural, and historic – that distinguished it from all others, and at all times required careful attention to the local circumstances in formulating instructions to each individual governor.

The Board of Trade kept official records in England of the Acts of colonial legislatures, and informed itself thoroughly concerning all matters of colonial trade.  They received regular reports from, and issued instructions to, each colonial governor.

All operations of the Board of Trade had to be managed within the severe constraints imposed by the very slow communications of that time.  For example, before 1755 there was no regular mail service between England and North America.  All mail, including official reports and correspondence, would be held by the post office until a ship was ready to depart for a port located in the destination country.  In 1755 there was a big improvement, when a regular scheduled mail service, known as the “packet” service, began operating a sailing vessel once a month between Falmouth, England, and New York, but even then a governor sending letters or reports from a colony near to New York to the Board of Trade could normally not expect a response in less than four months, and five or six months was not uncommon given the ordinary delays in handling documents that exist within any bureaucracy.  For letters and reports from, and instructions to, governors of colonies at some distance from New York, such as Nova Scotia or South Carolina, there could be an additional delay of a few weeks each way for the travel time to/from the New York post office to connect with the North Atlantic packet service.  These unavoidable delays in communications meant that many matters had to be dealt with by the local governor acting as he saw fit within such local laws and regulations as existed at the time.

For an excellent example of the difficulties imposed by the slow communications of the time, consider the situation faced by each of the fourteen governors of the British colonies in Notrth America in August, September and October of 1755, following the disasterous defeat of General Edward Braddock at the Battle of the Monongahlea, on 9 July 1755.  Braddock was the highest-ranking British officer in North America, and his defeat, followed by his death from his wounds four days later, was an enormous blow to every citizen of each of the English colonies – Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – along the Atlantic coast.  The news of this defeat spread from the site of the battle, near what is now Pittsurgh in southwestern Pennsylvania, only at the speed of a man on horseback.  On July 11th the news reached Fort Cumberland at the confluence of Wills Creek and the Potomac River, at what is now the city of Cumberland, Maryland.  On July 25th, 1755, Captain Morris, from New York, sailed into the harbour at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in his brig, the Lily, bringing news that General Braddock had been defeated in the deep woods of Pennsylvania.  The news was carried across the Atlantic Ocean by His Majesty’s ship Seahorse to Portsmouth, England, and reached London in time to be published in the August 26th issue of the London Gazette.  Before the British government could assess the situation and decide on appropriate instructions for its North American governors, it would have to wait an additional few weeks for a few more ships to arrive from North America, to bring confirmation and additional details of the disaster – and of any further agressive behaviour by the French and their Indian allies anywhere along the thousands of miles of disputed territory between the French and English colonies.  By the time new instructions could be drafted and approved in London, and then carried across the Atlantic to New York, followed by local distribution northward and southward along the coast, it would be early November before the colonial governors could expect to receive instructions from London on how to deal with the grave military situation.  The governors well knew these inevitable delays in communications, and would have to manage their local resources as best they could in the interim.  Of course, the governors would have had to assume that all that time, since mid-July, the French governor at Quebec and his generals could have been actively pursuing military objectives at any of numerous locations in the interior of the continent, and that news of additional successes by the French military forces could arrive at any time.  This was a time when the fourteen governors would be severely tested in their abilities to conduct their official duties competently.

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