Local Records : 1782-1860.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6T6S5L6
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Township Records (Shelburne County).
Description: 1 microfilm textual records (7 volumes) ; 35 mm

Formerly known as Port Roseway, Shelburne received American loyalist refugees at the end of the American Revolution (1783), which included a contingent of Black Loyalists who founded the neighbouring town of Birchtown, named in honour of General Samuel Birch.  The Port Roseway Associates had formed in the City of New York to organise immigration to Shelburne, a place that would become by the end of 1784 one of the largest cities in North America.  Due to many reasons, by the 1790s the economy was failing and the population dropped substantially.  In hope of a better future, many of the members of the Black Loyalists would leave for Sierra Leone, Africa in 1792.  Many settlers stayed with fishing and shipbuilding sustaining the economy.

            Online:  Some or all of this material is available electronically; see Electronic Finding Aids section.

The Records document the beginnings and early years of the people and places in Shelburne County, including within the settlements of Shelburne and Birchtown, starting with the preparations to emigrate by American refugees at the end of the American Revolution (1775-83). The types of documents include minute books of the Port Roseway Associates at New York City, musters or lists of people, petitions to the government, copies of correspondence, and court and estate records.  Some of the topics of interest include Loyalist refugees; black history; slavery; emigration, immigration and diaspora; local history; family; British military; demographics; law and justice; and to a lesser extent, maritime matters (privateering).  

Arrangement and Detailed Contents:

Volume 1. Minute book of proceedings of the Port Roseway Associates, New York, 1782-1783, with a list of the Associates (data for each associate contains - trade, family numbers related to men, women, children and servants), and some correspondence with officials (p. 1-106); muster book of free black settlement of Birchtown, 1784 (p. 107-207); persons victualled at Shelburne 8 Jan. 1784 (data:  totals for men/women/children/servants for the categories of Loyalists, Disbanded Soldiers, and Free Blacks); a petition from the overseers of the poor to the magistrates of Shelburne for the relief of "Negroes" whom they cannot afford to assist, 3 Feb. 1789; and the manuscript Sketch of Shelburnian Manners, 1787, attributed to a James Fraser of Miramichi, formerly a district judge of New Brunswick and afterwards established as a merchant in Halifax (vol. 1, p. 1-218). 

Muster Book stated above includes the following musters:  Colonel Blucke, Captains Hutchins, Nathaniel Snowball, Cesar Perth, York Lawrence, Francis Jones, Robert Nicholson, Adam Dixon, Scott Murray; Companies who have drawn provisions (at Port Mattoon [Mouton] with Colonel Mollison to the 30th Apr. 1784) from 1st May to 24 July 1784) - Captains Robert Bridges, James Read, George Fraction, Jacob With; Captain Levin Johnson- list of indented servants to the inhabitants of Shelburne who are located on lots at Birch Town by order of Mr. Marsden; Musters with additional data (families in area they lived in/companies belonged to, remarks for each name, eg. Daniel McLeod's family, indented for one and a half years at $50) - Captains John Cuthbert, George Travelle, William O'Neil, Cesar Williams (fewer remarks), Levin Johnson, Thomas Francis; Captain Francis Hamilton's Company (arrived from London 15 Aug. 1784) mustered at Birch Town 7 Sept. 1784, includes men only with ages and occupations. 

Volume 2. Memorial of Robert Ross, Samuel Campbell and Alexander Robertson (businessmen) to Governor Parr requesting better representation in the Assembly; concerned about Act to impose duty on importations without allowing drawback on exportations because it was hurtful to trade and commerce, c. 1785 (typescript, 4 pages, vol. 2). 

Volume 3. List of persons mustered at Shelburne, summer 1784, by William Porter, Deputy Commissary of Musters; table includes three headings (with accompanying data in brackets):  Military (list of British and provincial regiments or corps and the number of men/women/children for each), Loyalists (list of companies that came to Shelburne, eg. Lynch's company with the aforementioned data), and Negroes (list of companies, eg. Capt. Snowball's with aforementioned data); (typescript, 4 pages, vol. 3).

Volume 4. List of Loyalist land grants in Shelburne County, c. 1789.  Title at the top of document:  Locations in the District of Shelburne recommended by the Board of Agents.  Table of data includes three headings:  County of Shelburne (data includes names, where located eg. near Lake Rodney, number of acres, number of lot; organised alphabetically); Town of Shelburne (data includes town letter and lot number, water lot letter and number, and division) (typescripts, vol. 4). Transcribed from originals.

Volume 5. Questions put to Captain Thomas Bird of the schooner ELIZA out of New York, captured by the privateer Nelson for the Town of Shelburne, 4 July 1801; commander from New York City and told taken to Shelburne due to hands were Spaniards; gives information pertaining to vessel and cargo; Vice Admiralty Court?(typescripts, 5 pages; vol. 5). 

Volume 6. Records of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, 1784-1860 (organisation - 28 Mar. 1786-Nov. 1786; extracts from General Sessions 1787-Jan 1860, 3 Apr. 1784-Apr. 1785; extracts from the records of Special Sessions, Dec. 1784-June 1800); Some Early Wills of Shelburne, Sept. 1784-1787, for John Dearden, James Crawford, Johannis Ackerman, Thomas Robinson, and Abraham Jones (some depict slaves as property) (typescripts, 2 cm; vol. 6). Transcribed from originals in the custody of Shelburne County Council.

Volume 7. Register of writs issued by the Courts of Nova Scotia and served by the Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs of Shelburne County, 1787-1807, including an account of writs received from Halifax and other parts of the Province as well as writs received and served; table includes date of writs, parties (eg. John Blair v. Henry Ludlow), debt and damage amount, what court returnable (Inferior/Supreme), attorney's name, and remarks about the case (originals, vol. 7). 

Originals: Several of the original volumes are held by Library and Archives Canada (LAC). Other volumes were transcribed by the then known National Archives before being microfilmed and the original volumes are still in private hands.
Archival Ref. No.: LAC MG 9, B 9-14; PANS MG 4, Vol. 141.
Finding Aids:

Online: The Muster Book, 1784, vol. 1, is available digitally from the website of Library and Archives Canada; it includes a searchable name database and a link to the original document.

The Table of Contents has been microfilmed at the beginning of the reel; and is available in The Loyalist Collection red binders.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: Port Roseway Associates Minute Book Finding Aid.pdf



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