Headquarters Office Papers for Nova Scotia : 1774-1907

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LMR .G7A7H4N6
Category: Military
Creator: Great Britain. Army. Nova Scotia District.
Description: 20 microfilm reels textual records (47 volumes ) ; 35 mm
            As stated in The Inventory of Manuscripts in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia: This material contains the official record of the regiments and corps which have served in the Nova Scotia Command since May and October 1783 when the troops arrived from New York after the American Revolutionary War. Bermuda was struck off the command on 27 April 1868. Troops were withdrawn from New Brunswick in May and June 1869 and from Newfoundland on 4 October 1870. In 1871 all Imperial troops were withdrawn from Canada with the the exception of a garrison of 2000 at Halifax.

Also includes general orders issued by the commanders-in-chief of British Forces in North America (1774-1790), which includes the period of the American Revolution when the British military and its headquarters evacuated and removed from Boston to Halifax from April to June 1776. Commander-in-chief, North America was established in 1755 and was responsible for military activities on land. When the war for American Independence began, the roles were divided between the commander-in-chief, America, responsible for British troops from West Florida to Newfoundland, and commander-in-chief, Quebec, responsible for present-day Ontario and Quebec. At the end of this conflict (1783), the roles were still divided between two positions: commander-in-chief of the Canadas (Ontario and Quebec) and another officer posted at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The commanders-in-chief relevant to the period of the Headquarters Book of General Thomas Gage during the American Revolution and the decade thereafter include the following:
  • Commander-in-chief of North America: General Thomas Gage, Sept 1763-June 1775
  • Commander-in-chief, America (covering West Florida to Newfoundland): General William Howe (Sept 1775, departed May 1778); General Henry Clinton (arrived May 1778, departed May 1782); General Guy Carleton (arrived May 1782, departed Dec. 1783)
  • Commander-in-chief, Quebec (covering today’s Ontario and Quebec): General Guy Carleton (appointed August 1775, departed 1778); General Frederick Haldimand (arrived 1778, departed 1786); General Guy Carleton (appointed April 1786, continued 1791 as commander-in-chief of the Canadas)
            The British Army records contain District, General, and Garrison Order Books including orders from Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick, and from headquarters at Halifax, Nova Scotia; also contains memoranda chiefly from the Major of Brigade's Office in Halifax to officers commanding troops in New Brunswick (1825-1870), as well as compiled data pertaining to the regiments and corps that have served in the Nova Scotia Command, 1783-1907. In addition, includes the Headquarters Book of General Thomas Gage from 1774 to 1776, as commander-in-chief of North America for British Forces, and his predecessor as commander-in-chief of America, as well as, orders issued by commanders-in-chief of Quebec from 9 June 1783 to May 1790. Covers the periods of the American Revolution, French and Indian War or Napoleonic period, and the War of 1812.

These military documents provide an overview of the policies, procedures, daily routines, movements, structure and personnel of the British Army in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, particularly during the nineteenth century, as well as at Boston, Halifax, Staten Island, and Long Island during the American Revolution, and from Quebec headquarters in the decade thereafter. Additionally, there are 4 pages pertaining to animal health - recipes for dog diseases.


Reel 0, Vol. 0. Record of Regiments and Corps that have served in the Nova Scotia Command. (1783-1907)
Reel 0.1, Vol. Oa. Headquarter's Book of General Thomas Gage. (1 June 1774 - 14 September 1776)
Reel 0.2, Vols. 1, 2, 3 partial. General (now District) Orders issued from Head Quarters at Halifax. (18 May 1783- 21 April 1785; 28 August 1798-27 Nov. 1798)
Reel 0.3, Vols. 3 continued (A, B, C), 4, 5 partial. (18 Oct. 1798-20 Feb. 1805)
Reel 0.4, Vols. 5 continued, 6-8, 9 partial. (22 Feb. 1805-15 Sept. 1812)
Reel 0.5, Vols. 9 continued, 10-15, 16 partial. (15 Sept. 1812-9 Nov. 1816)
Reel 0.6, vols. 16 continued, 17-19, 20 partial (9 Nov. 1816-27 June 1821)
Reels 1-7, Vols. 171-186. Order Books kept at Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick; chiefly General Orders issued from Halifax, and Garrison Orders issued from Saint John that relate to Fredericton. (1825-1869)
Reel 7, Vols. 193-194. Memorandum Book A, 1865, and Memorandum Book B (1868)
Reels 7-8, Vols. 195-196. General Orders issued from Halifax. (1839-1845)
Reels 9-10, Vols. 187-192. District and Garrison Orders issued from Fredericton. (1845-1865)
Reels 11-16, Vols. 197-212. Order Books kept at Saint John, NB, mainly General Orders issued from Halifax, NS, and District Orders issued from Fredericton, NB. (1845-1870)
Reels 17-18, Vols. 213-216. Garrison Orders issued at Saint John, New Brunswick. (1830-1863) Some years missing.

Detailed Content

Reel 0, Vol. 0. Record of Regiments and Corps that have served in the Nova Scotia Command, 1783-1907; contains tabular data compiled by Harry Piers, with the headings - regiment, arrival date, departure date, and remarks or service years. Organised as follows: 
  • a) Regiments and Corps that have served in the Nova Scotian Command, and their term on the station, 1783-1881 (pp. 75-85); organised into sections such as Royal Engineers and Rifle Brigades, then organised by regiment number within each section; for the 18th century, includes the following regiments of foot:  4th (1787-94), 6th (1786-1791), 7th (1794-1802), 16th (1791-1792), 17th (1783-1786), 20th (1789-1792), 21st (1789-1793), 23rd (Oct. 1783-Nov. 1783), 24th (1799-1800), 33rd (1783-1786), 36th (1783-1789), 38th detachment (Oct.-Nov. 1783), 40th detachment (Oct.-Nov. 1783), 42nd (1783-1789), 47th (1798-1799), 54th (Oct 1783), 57th (1783-1791), 60th 1st Battalion (Oct. 1786-Nov. 1787),  63rd (Oct.-Nov. 1783), 64th detachment (Oct. - Nov 1783), 66th (1799-1800), 84th (1783 disbanded-Oct. 1783)
  • b) Territorial Regiments and Corps that have served in the Nova Scotian Command and their term on the Station, 1881-1900 (p. 95); arranged in sections such as Royal Artillery, etc.; example of an entry:  Royal Artillery 1st Brigade, North Division, no. 5 battery - arrival date15 Nov. 1885 - departure date 18 Oct. 1887 - service years 1 11/12
  • c) Arrivals and Departures of Regiments at Halifax and elsewhere in the Nova Scotian Command, 1783-1907; (pp. 5-59); indicates date and location of regiment if arrived or left Halifax; for example, 1838 - 73rd Foot - arrival from Mediterranean 21 May - departure 13 July to Canada; and in 1815 - 27th Foot, 3rd Battalion - arrival 6 May from Castine - departure 15 May for Canada; note: some of the remarks are found on the opposite side of the page;
Reel 0.1, Vol. Oa. Headquarter's Book of General Thomas Gage (1 June 1774 - 14 September 1776). Contains the Order book of the commander-in-chief of North America, thereafter of America; also includes recipes for dog diseases; and a second order book of commanders-in-chief at Quebec (9 June 1783 – 21 May 1790), includes some from Montreal; gap between 21 Sept and 26 Oct. 1786; legibility very poor after July 1789. Organisation: 1. Order Book 1; 2. Recipes for Dog Diseases; 3. Order Book 2 1. Order Book 1: First two entries in June 1774 are at Cambridge and Selim [Salem]. The book with its general and standing orders, follows troops at Boston and its movements as British headquarters was forced to relocate after the evacuation of Boston in March of 1776 - travel on the vessel “Chatham” (18 - 26 March), land and make temporary accommodations at Halifax, Nova Scotia (4 April - 10 June 1776), travel on the vessel “Greyhound” and write from Sandy Hook (29 - 30 June), stay at Staten Island (3 July - 21 August), and report from Long Island (Brooklyn area) - New Utrecht (22 - 25 August), Bedford (27 - 30 August), and Newton/NewTown (31 August - 14 Sept), where the record stops. Some remarks of note include:
  • 10 Oct. 1775 notice of replacement - Maj. Gen. Carleton now to command the forces in Canada and Maj. Gen. Howe to command from Nova Scotia to Florida.
  • 29 Oct. 1775 order - Royal North British Volunteers to be a company as merchants and adherents in town offered their services (dress included).
  • 17 Nov. 1775 notice of the formation of the Loyal American Associates under Hon. Timothy Ruggles – 3 companies under captains Abaca Willard, James Putnam and Francis Grean/Green (lieutenants also named).
  • 7 Dec. 1775 order for a company to be formed as the Loyal Irish Volunteers, after Irish merchants and adherents had offered themselves, under Capt. James Forrest (lieutenants also listed and dress); one of its roles was to patrol the streets and take into custody all suspicious persons.
  • 28 May 1776 notice that Edward Winslow, secretary to the Board of General Officers, arrived from Ireland on board the victuallers.
Subject Matters A. Boston: military interactions with locals – discipline, complaints against soldiers; desertion; camp women, and soldiers’ wives (eg. 30 Dec. 1775); “rebels” (19 Aug. 1775); alcohol – intoxication and sales; security – within camp, centries, and outside camp – street patrols and protocols for riotous behavior; health and hygiene (eg. spruce beer), small pox, scurvy (23 Dec. 1775), food rations (eg. 5 Jan. 1776), hospital and sick/invalids; lodging, winter quarters and soldier’s allowances; beating and regimental parade formations; encampments and placements of regiments/brigades; reporting structures (eg. 21 Jan. 1776); appointments; and camp duties. Some of those named: Colonels Earl Percy and Pigott, Lt. Col. Maddison (orders from), General Clinton, General Jones, Maj. Gen. Burgoyne, Gen. Robinson, Lt. Col. Cleveland concerning a brigade of guns, Lt. Baker of the 5th Regiment, Capt. Collett having raised a company, Maj. Musgrove to join troops on Charlestown Heights, Lt. Lindsay of the 22nd Regiment, Lt. Col. Birch to direct street patrols at night, Mr. Goldthwaite concerning distribution of spruce beer, Col. Gorham and his corps (ready to embark Sept. 1775). After Gen. Howe takes command – Lt. Col. Samuel Townshend concerning recruiting, Lt. Col. Clark (Light Infantry), Col. Smith of the 10th Regiment (aid-de-camp), Lt. Col. Agnew of the Grenadiers. Vessels named: before Gen. Howe’s command of 10 Oct. 1775 - transports Charming Nancy, Grand Duchess of Russia and Sea Venture; after Gen. Howe’s command – transports Lyon, Favourite, Kitty; Ballio (merchant vessel), Sea Venture, Venus, Spry, Success, and Chatham (evacuation from Boston). B. Evacuation and time at Halifax: formations, reformations, and distribution of troops in the province, order of battle and lists of majors of brigade (May 1776), distribution of transports (1st Light Infantry - James and William, Grand Duchess of Russia, William and 4th Regiment - Pacific), health on ship (eg. small pox of Marines landing May 1776), invalids, ship Renown (donation ship sent by the philanthropic Society for the Relief of the Soldiers with tobacco, socks and money), military crime - (eg. assault by Priv. John Brewing, 23rd Regiment on an officer) and stolen goods on board the Peggy from Boston. Loyalist regiments mentioned – Royal Highland Emigrants, Royal Fencible Americans, and Nova Scotia Volunteers. C. New York: Sandy Hook – order of landing (29 June 1776). D. Staten Island – distribution of cantonements (eg. Light Infantry are to locate from Dutch Church to Richmond 3 July 1776), market locations and rates for provisions from inhabitants (foodstuff, hiring horses and wagons), liquor (rum) rations, augmenting regiments with inhabitants, encampments ( eg. Light Dragoons, 42nd Regiment and detachments of 6th, and 28th regiments to be at Cole’s Ferry, 31 July 1776), battalion formations (eg. 42nd Regiment under Lt. Col. Sterling to have 2 battalions, and detachments of the 6th, 14th, 16th regiments to be formed under command of Lt. Col. Dalyrymple, Aug 1776), and military crime and punishment (eg. execution of John Hunter of the 42nd, Aug. 1776). E. Long Island – landing and formations (named – Lt. Gen. Clinton, B. Gen. Leslie, Commodore Hotham, Capt. Vandeput, Lt. Gen. Earl Cornwallis, Capt. Caldwell (Grenadiers), Lt. Gen. Earl Percy), list of engineers employed with the army (eg. Chief Engineer Major Dixon), health – sick and wounded, medicine - protocol for access, horse/cattle seizure, prisoners, value of money/currency; “enemy attack shortly intended” and use of bayonet recommended as combat style (Sept 1776). Store ships mentioned – Favourite, John and Elizabeth, and Fanny. 2. Recipes for dog diseases (4 pages): mange and red mange (skin diseases), shot wounds, canker in the ears, sore ears, soreness of feet, recover sense of smell, a purge if poisoned, and worms; also includes recipe for making shoes or boots waterproof. 3. Order Book 2: Centred in Quebec City as the war ends with some orders transmitted out of Montreal. Table of Contents (1784 to 21 Sept 1786) at the start. Inserted in the book are communications from the War Office and Secretary of War, namely Richard Fitz Patrick (Jan. 1748-April 1813), Charles Gould and George Younge (July 1731-Sept. 1812); also from Adjutant General William Fawcet conveying the commander-in-chief’s orders, Brig. Major A. P. [Andrew Philip] Skene (March 1753-Jan. 1826) to Captain Barnes, and regulations transmitted from King George; from 26 Oct. 1786 onward, orders are directed from Francis Le Maistre (c. 1743-1805), military secretary. At Montreal, Brig. General [Barrimore] St. Leger’s (1733-1789) signature is attached to orders. Subjects: Troop movements and disbandments at the end of war – processes, military establishment or complement after reductions, King’s instructions - land granting to provincial troops and refugee loyalists in the Province of Canada (includes distribution amounts for single men, non-commissioned officer, private, every person in a family, field officer, captain and subaltern (1783 & spring 1784), prices of commissions, etc. – instructions from the War Office, military crime pertaining to officers – instructions from the War Office (also court martials, eg. Lt. Tingling of 29th, 20 May 1786), dress, exercise/marching, general duties, victualling troops (June 1786), warrant for regulating recruiting and reviewing of regiments of foot at foreign stations (23 Aug 1784), warrant for regulating the attendance of officers belonging to regiments on foreign stations (Aug 1784), and list of officers, storekeepers, clerks, etc. of Quartermaster Generals Department victualled at garrison at Quebec or Montreal 25 May – 24 June 1786 (preceding p. 41). Reel 0.2, Vol. 1. 18 May 1783-13 December 1783. Pages are numbered (134 pp). Pages 1-42 are General Paterson's orders; page 43 onward are General Fox's orders. Reels 1-7, Vols. 171-186. Order Books kept at Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick; chiefly General Orders issued from Halifax, and Garrison Orders issued from Saint John that relate to Fredericton, 1825-1869.  (Note:  many of the orders from Fredericton can be found in the order books kept at Saint John).  Based on the contents in vol. 182 (May 1864-Feb 1865), the general orders were directed from the Major of Brigade at Headquarters in Halifax (Robert B. Stokes) to: the Town Major (Thomas Jones), or Officer Commanding the Troops in New Brunswick, or Acting Town Major ([Lt.] A. [Arthur] Kemmis of the 15th Regiment of Foot), and related mostly to orders or directions pertaining to the 15th Regiment of Foot, Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery. Topics included court martials (charge, verdict, sentence), personnel (discharges, promotions, leaves of absence, appointments, invalids, transfers, prisoners), administrative protocols, and stores or provisions such as fuel, lights and ammunitions. Reel 7, Vols. 193-194. Memorandum Book A, 1865, and Memorandum Book B, 1868 mainly from Major of Brigade's Office, Halifax to officers commanding troops in New Brunswick at Fredericton and Saint John, etc.; a few memos from Fredericton and Saint John are also included, mostly in Book B. Reels 7-8, Vols. 195-196. General Orders issued from Halifax, 1839-1845. Reels 9-10, Vols. 187-192. District and Garrison Orders issued from Fredericton, 1845-1865; District Orders sometimes contain Halifax General Orders reissued at Fredericton as District General Orders Reels 11-16, Vols. 197-212. Order Books kept at Saint John, NB, mainly General Orders issued from Halifax, NS, and District Orders issued from Fredericton, NB, 1845-1870. Reels 17-18, Vols. 213-216. Garrison Orders issued at Saint John, New Brunswick, 1830-1863 (some years missing); volumes 213-215 (May 1830-Nov. 1848), Town Major at Saint John was John Gallagher, except for 23 Feb. to 20 March 1833 when Captain G. Rexton of the 34th Regiment of Foot was Acting Town Major; includes also:
  • Vol. 214 (end) - Monthly Return of troops in garrison at Saint John 30 April 1839?; includes number of officers, sergeants, drummers, rank and file for - Royal Artillery, regiments of foot - 36th, 65th, 69th, 93rd and Militia
  • Vol. 215 (end) - 1.) Garrison Roster for captains and subalterns for garrison duties at Saint John, 1846-50 from Royal Regiment, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, and 33rd Regiment of Foot; 2.) Officers Roster for garrison or district court martials, Saint John, 1846-8; 3.) Garrison Roster for captains and subalterns on Boards of Survey, 1847-8; (note: shows dates of commision in the army for some of the officers listed)
  • Volume 216 (1862 - 30 Sept.1863) shows the Major of Brigade in Saint John was R.L.O. Pearson, and at Halifax, it was R. B. Stokes, and based on the first few months, much of the content revolves around the troops on march from New Brunswick to Riviere du Loup (or Canada), appointments and transfers of personnel, and general garrison duties such as working parties to help with supplies from specified vessels, etc..  The military units include the 1st Battery Rifle Brigade, Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, 2nd Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards, and regiments of foot - 1st Battalion 15th, 16th, 63rd, and 96th.
Other unrelated titles were microfilmed by the Nova Scotia Archives with this collection:
  • Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection (MG 100, volumes 93 nos. 1-29, 94 nos. 1-26, 199 nos. 1-21, 200 nos. 1-17); see separate catalogue record for more details.
  • Reel 18. St Paul's Home for Girls: Directors of Management Minute Books,1867-1892 (MG 20, volumes 1325 and 1326 no. 1).  The Minute Books of the Directors of Management for the St Paul's Home for Girls are organised chronologically, and also include a summary of the contents of the minutes, written by Frank Kempster in 1983.  The St. Paul's Alms House was originally founded in 1867 at the instigation of the Reverend G. Hill, Rector of St. Paul's Church in Halifax, for the 'protection, training, and instruction of poor or friendless female children' belonging to the parish who were generally between the ages of ten and fourteen.  Meant to be something similar to the Industrial School for Boys and fit girls to take positions as domestic servants. The name changed in 1903 to St. Paul's Home for Girls, in 1970 to St. Paul's Residence for Girls, and in 1982, St. Paul's Home for Girls. All pertaining to the topics of children and benevolent organisations.
Originals: The original records are held by the Nova Scotia Archives (NSA), previously known as the Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS).
Archival Ref. No.:

NSA MG 12 HQ series volumes 0; 0a; 1-20; 171-216

NSA MG 20 vol. 1325 numbers 1-5; MG 20 vol. 1326 no. 1

Finding Aids:
            List of Documents (available on the microfilm reels, and for some, electronically, see Electronic Finding Aid section):
  • Volume 0a
  • Volume 1
  • Volume 3C (Found at start of section.)
  • Volume 17
  • Volumes 182 and 184 (Available at the end of the volume.)
  • Volumes 187-192
  • Volume 216, Jan. to March 1862 only (Available at the start of the volume.)
Microfilm Shelf List is available to indicate the breakdown of material into specific volumes, dates and microfilm reel numbers, and is located in The Loyalist Collection red binders and electronically (see Electronic Finding Aid section).
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Document List Vols. 182 and 184.pdf
Document List Vol. 216 (partial).pdf
Document List. Vol. 1,18 May 1783-13 Dec.pdf
Document List. Vol. 3C cont'd.pdf
Document List. Vol. 3C, 23 Aug. 1802-29 Oct 1803.pdf
Document List. Vol. 17, 1816-1818.pdf
Microfilm Shelf List.pdf
Part Of: St. Paul's Home for Girls Records, Series A Directors of Management Minute Books is part of a larger collection entitled St. Paul's Home for Girls Fonds held at the Nova Scotia Archives, containing Series A to H for the years 1867 to 1976. The Loyalist Collection has two volumes from MG 20 Series A only: volume 1325 complete, and volume 1326 document number 1 only.
Other With:

For volume 3b  in MG 12 HQ series, see separate catalogue record.