Petitions, Reports, Resolutions, and Miscellaneous Papers: 1760-1841

Call Number: MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6L4P4
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Legislative Council.
Description: 12 microfilm textual records (14 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 petitions, reports, and resolutions are part of the documents created by the Council in their legislative capacity as the upper house of Nova Scotia's bicameral legislature. Included are addresses and speeches by various Lieutenant Governors to the Council and the House of Assembly, as well as the responses of the bodies; the Lieutenant Governor's responses to addresses made by members of the House of Assembly and Council; committee reports such as on non-attendance of members; letters such as from particular townships (such as Cumberland, Horton, Liverpool, Truro, Newport, and Sydney); provincial accounts and expenditures: estimates and approvals of provincial government expenses; payments made to individuals for public service, audits of public account; acts: lists of acts passed by the General Assembly, discussion of acts to regulate trade, and petitions such as from inhabitants, merchants and local officials. General subject areas included in the record are politics, economics, colonial administration, the history of Nova Scotia, the War of 1812, transportation, agriculture, privateering, currency, lumber industry, public finance, religion, mining, education, trade, fisheries, ships, shipping, and seafaring.

Individual documents which are part of the record concern the reserving of timber lands for the production of masts for the Royal Navy; bounties on fish; discussions of a postal system and support for education (including Dalhousie College and Pictou Academy); enumeration of schools in the province; construction of a new legislative building; an address from the House of Assembly to the Prince of Wales regarding border disputes with the United States; details of the distribution of relief money to those impacted by the War of 1812 in Upper Canada; and the Lieutenant Governor’s concern over smallpox outbreaks among the poor in Nova Scotia and their vaccination.

Examples of petitions include memorials from cod fisherman regarding setting of nets; the keeper of the lighthouse at Sambro; merchants complaining about import duties; inhabitants of King’s County against the construction of a bridge over the Cornwallis River; a number of memorials from the Chamber of Commerce of Halifax on topics such as the whale fishery; and from the Magistrates of Halifax requesting the implementation of a police force. Committee reports in response to petitions are often included.

Documents are arranged generally, but not strictly, in chronological order and each document is numbered.

Other unrelated title microfilmed by the Nova Scotia Archives with this collection:

Also as part of this record is a ship expense book from Miscellaneous Documents 1748-1780; (volume 285). This outlines accounts for outfitting four vessels (the brig John, snow Lord Stanley, brig Nancy, and sloop Sir James Wallace) employed in government service from March 1777 to 1780. Items recorded in the ledger book include supply lists, tradesmen's bills, wages paid to sailors, cargo lists with markings, and an account of prize goods.

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) PANS RG 4 Vols. 286-298

Finding Aids:

A Shelf List with volume numbers and date ranges is available in the Loyalist red binders and electronically; (see Electronic Finding Aid section).

A partial Document List is available in the Loyalist red binders and electronically for volume 289 (reel 3, February 1816 - February 1823); see Electronic Finding Aid section.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: NS Legislative Council Petitions Document List vol 289.pdf
NS Legislative Council Petitions Shelf List.pdf

Documents in this record are handwritten and vary in quality.

Volume 285, the government ship expense book, has writing going in several directions.

Related material

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

Nova Scotia. Legislative Council. Journals: 1758 - 1835. MIC-Loyalist FC LPR .N6L4J6

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