Journals: 1758 – 1835

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6L4J6
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Legislative Council.
Description: 7 microfilm textual records (4 volumes) ; 35 mm
            The seat of government in Nova Scotia was initially located at Annapolis Royal beginning in 1720 and consisted of a Governor (Richard Philipps) and a Council of twelve members. The Council members were appointed by the Lords of the Board of Trade and Plantations in London and acted as the British administrative and judicial body for the colony. The Board of Trade was supplied with a list of recommended nominees for members by the Governor. The appointed Council was termed the Council of Twelve; or Annapolis Council. The seat of government moved to Halifax upon the founding of the city in 1749 under Governor Edward Cornwallis, and thereafter the Council was commonly called the Halifax Council. 

In 1758 the first legislative assembly in Canada was elected in Nova Scotia, partially with the aim of attracting new settlers. The House of Assembly convened in Halifax for the first time on October 2, 1758 under Governor Charles Lawrence. The members of the Nova Scotia Council; or as it was contemporaneously called His Majesty's Council; remained advisors to the Governor in both legislative and executive matters, for which they held separate meetings and formed the upper house of the government. Most members of the Council were from the Halifax area, as travel during the period precluded members from further afield. During the years 1758 to 1838, the government of the province was composed of three branches: the Governor, the Nova Scotia Council with both legislative and executive functions, and the elected Assembly. This arrangement continued until 1838 when concerns regarding the legality of the powers of the Council came to a head and the executive and legislative functions of the Council were separated, creating the Executive Council and Legislative Council. With the coming of responsible government in 1848, the Executive Council was made responsible to the Legislative Assembly rather than to the Governor.             
            The Journals are the official minutes of the Council in their legislative capacity as the upper house of Nova Scotia’s bicameral legislature. Included are lists of counsellors present for each session, addresses, proposals of bills concerning a myriad of subjects, bills read and amended (with details often recorded), resolutions, approval of payments to officials and for government funded projects such as road building and repair, examination and approval of public accounts, breakdowns of allocations of funds, and committees formed to examine particular issues. Material covers many facets pertaining to the running of the province of Nova Scotia, which also, for the earlier period, included the area of New Brunswick, with major subjects including government administration and legislation, transportation, politics, finance, trade, social and local history, religion, crime and justice, maritime matters, education, and British - French relations.

Members of the Council and those present at particular sessions could include the Lieutenant Governor, Chief Justice (President of the Council), Judge of the Admiralty, Lord Bishop, Master of the Rolls, Attorney General, and Solicitor General. Journals from the period of the American Revolution and the settlement of the loyalists are particularly interesting. Many well-known individuals from the commercial and political spheres of Nova Scotia were Council members such as S.B. Robie, Charles R. Prescott, Enos Collins, Samuel Cunard, Henry H. Cogswell, Charles Morris, Jonathan Binney, Richard Bulkeley, John Creighton, Alexander Brymer, John Halliburton, Andrew Belcher, William Forsyth, Lawrence Hartshorne, Michael Wallace, and Richard J. Uniacke. 

Using some of the indexes available between 1827 and 1832, an idea of the topics covered appear, such as the following to illustrate: marriage and divorce, wills and estates, meat packing and weighing, police, West India trade, theatre, Pictou Academy, Shubenacadie Canal, methodist property, various schools, pedlars, emigrants, public houses (taverns and inns), physicians and surgery, stage coaches, contageous diseases and quarantine, Baptist Education Society, firewards, fisheries, ferries, votes for clearing of various rivers, steam boats, manufacturing/industry, local infrastructure (bridges, roads, canals), poor debtors and poor house, Bank of Nova Scotia, natives/indigenous people, light houses, census, militia and troops, black persons; as well as votes on miscellaneous services such as for an orphan house, sugar refinery, medical aid for passengers, Halifax Dispensary, and distressed labourers.

Arrangement: These are arranged in booklets, each of which covers a session of the Council.

Other titles were microfilmed by the Nova Scotia Archives with this collection:

Part of Miscellaneous Documents, 1748-1870; (vol. 219) has been included with the record. The combination of manuscripts accompanied by typed transcriptions were selected by the commissioner of public records from the files of various government departments. The documents included in this volume were mainly important government correspondence, particularly correspondence circa 1748 to the 1750s between various governors, military leaders, and foreign leaders concerning early British settlement in Nova Scotia and military conflicts (such as instructions to Colonel Monckton to attack Fort Beauséjour and the struggle over the Fortress of Louisbourg). Correspondents included Edward Cornwallis, William Shirley, Charles Lawrence, Jeffrey Amherst, Spencer Phips, James De Lancey, and Robert Monckton. Also included is the deposition of Anthony Casteel who was taken prisoner by native/indigenous people in 1753.            
Originals: The originals are held by the Nova Scotia Archives (NSA), previously known as the Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS).
Archival Ref. No.:

NSA RG 1 and RG 4 Vols. 215-219

Finding Aids:
            Electronic: A shelf list which correlates the reels numbers with volume numbers and date ranges is available in print and electronically; see Electronic Finding Aid section.

Electronic:A subject index (hand written) is available on the microfilm and digitally for volume 218, sub-volumes uu, ww, xx, zz, aaa, bbb, ccc, and ddd courtesy of the Nova Scotia Archives; (see Electronic Finding Aid section).

For the “Miscellaneous Documents” (volume 219, reel 7), a typescript summary of documents and page numbers is located at the beginning of the volume entitled “Catalogue of Contents”. <


From 1838 onwards, the Journals of the Nova Scotia Legislative Council are available freely online at
Electronic Finding Aid Record: NS Legislative Council Journals Shelf List.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 aaa.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 bbb.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 ccc.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 ddd.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 uu.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 ww.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 xx.pdf
NS Legislative Council Journal index v218 zz.pdf

Journals after 1835 were printed. Before this year, the Journals were handwritten.

Volume 219 contains originals and typescript transcriptions. Some of the original documents have been replaced with transcriptions due to the condition issues.

Variant title in the Nova Scotia Archives catalogue: “Journals of His Majesty’s Council in their legislative capacity in general assembly convened” by Nova Scotia, Commissioner of Public Records.

Related material:

Nova Scotia. Executive Council. Minutes: 1749-1841. MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6E9M5

Nova Scotia.  Legislative Council.  Petitions, Reports, Resolutions, and Misc. Papers:  1760-1841. MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6L4P4

Part Of: Miscellaneous Documents, 1748-1870 forms part of the records of the Commissioner of Public Records (RG 1).
Other With: