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

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6L4P4
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Legislative Council.
Description: 13 microfilm textual records (18 volumes) ; 35 mm
            The seat of government in Nova Scotia was initially located at Annapolis Royal beginning in 1720 and consisted of a Governor and a Council of twelve members. 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 speeches by lieutenant governors to council and the House of Assembly, and addresses and messages from the lieutenant governor, assembly, and council, as well as the responses; committee reports; letters; resolutions of the House of Assembly, and reasons for dissent; provincial accounts and expenditures; acts, proposals for, lists of acts passed, and discussions pertaining to; and petitions, memorials, and addresses to government from community members as a group, individuals, merchants, industry lobbyists, and officials. General subject areas include politics and government, political boundaries, economics, colonial administration, Nova Scotia history, the War of 1812, militia and defence, transportation, infrastructure, agriculture, maritime matters, currency, industries, commerce, public finance and revenue, public health, social history, education, trade, natives or indigenous people, and black history.

Arrangement: Documents are arranged in volumes (286-302), and except for the catalogues starting in volume 299, generally, but not strictly, in chronological order (each document is numbered).

Reel 1 (vol. 285) Ships' expenses book for government vessels (1777-1780); (vol. 286) Dec. 1760- Feb. 1790; (vol. 287) June 1791- Jan. 1808
Reel 2 (vol. 288) June 1809- Feb. 1816
Reel 3 (vol. 289) Feb. 1816- Feb. 1823
Reel 4 (vol. 290) Feb. 1823- March 1829
Reel 5 (vol. 291) Feb. 1830- March 1832
Reel 6 (vol. 292) Feb. 1833- April 1836
Reel 7 (vol. 293) Jan. 1837- Feb. 1838
Reel 8 (vol. 294) 1838
Reel 9 (vol. 295) 1839 Jan.-April
Reel 10 (vol. 296) 1840 Jan.-April
Reel 11 (vol. 297) 1841 Jan-March
Reel 12 (vol. 298) May 1763- Dec. 1833
Reel 13 (vol. 299-302) catalogues

Detailed Content (based on perusal of 1760-1816)

Examples of petitions include memorials from distillers about duties (1767); inhabitants of Newport asking for a new county with Windsor as shiretown (1773); cod fisherman near Halifax regarding setting of nets (1773); the keeper of the lighthouse at Sambro Island (1773); Colchester to divide county of Halifax (1787); inhabitants of Sissiboo for separation from Annapolis County (1790); inhabitants of Pictou to have court (1790); merchants complaining about import duties, such as John Butler Dight         (previously commissariat at Fort Cumberland during the war) concerning duty on goods imported from the United States for use of British forces (1790); officers on half pay against income tax; William Halliburton and others about lands in Douglas; inhabitants of Argyle requesting a representative; Grand Jury and inhabitants of Halifax about transient poor (1799); Edward Burke, Vicar General of Diocese of Quebec praying for incorporation for school purposes (1802); assistant judges of Supreme Court for increase in salary; merchants of Halifax for appointment of a special agent to look after their interests in London; magistrates and grand jury of Halifax County concerning markets; inhabitants of King's County against the construction of a bridge over the Cornwallis River; Michael Wallace requesting remuneration for past services; 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. There are addresses from inhabitants of the Township of Truro (1763), and of Chester, as well as from the towns of Cumberland, Liverpool, and Horton in the 1760s.

Other types of documents include, as examples, the following: draft proclamation in consequence of a declaration of war by the French Republic (1765); proposals by Anthony Henry for printing for the government (1773); amount of sundry accounts for dinner and ball (Nov. 1787); case for opinion and opinion of solicitor general concerning entrance and clearance at Naval Yard (1790); report of joint treasurers on the state of treasury on demise of Treasurer Green (1791); return of election writs; regulation and order by the governor in council for preventing the spreading of contagious disorders (1799); observations respecting Argyle Road (1800); papers referring to roads with sketch of road from Digby to Petite and Grand Passage; abstract of expenses etc. in building a new government house; list of claims for bounties on fish; list of persons entitled to compensation for taking account and making returns of live stock in counties and districts (1808); state of the Treasury; statement of appropriations made by lieutenant governor out of the Arms Fund; List of sufferers considered to have a claim on Nova Scotia Fund; circular about small pox vaccination; and a sketch of the state of light houses.

Letters from the following available: B. Danks, collector at Cumberland to Ben. Green concerning duties collected (1770); John Trenton at London (1781); despatch from governor to secretary of state about refugees (Oct. 1782); Richard Cumberland at St. James Square to the speaker (1794); Bishop of Nova Scotia to speaker; inhabitants of Town of Annapolis complaining of smuggling carried on there and resolutions on same; Thomas Williams and others at Annapolis to Thomas Millidge regarding taxation to maintain schools (1797); Samuel S. Blowers to lieutenant governor informing of certain proceedings in council (1799); Mr. Pagan respecting provincial aid to run a packet vessel from Digby to Saint John/St. John, dated at Fredericton (1814); Robinson enclosing report to Major Foster; Lt. Gen. Drummond enclosing report of commissioners for distributing sum ordered by Nova Scotia Legislature for relief of sufferers by late war in Upper Canada dated at Quebec (1815); Admiral Edward Griffith about defective nature of the light house on Briar Island; Hon. S. S. Blowers and Hon. Wilkins concerning carrying trade with the West Indies, Americans' rights to fish in our waters, and gypsum trade, dated at London (1815); and A. Lockwood (employed on survey of North America) concerning lighthouse on the coast dated on His Majesty's surveying sloop "Examiner" (1816).

Committee reports include the following subjects: public accounts; special agent in London; general state of province; agriculture, fishery, and trade; paper currency; out-port duties; public  buildings (1799); titles and claims to land of settlers in Township of Digby (1800); correspondence with provincial agent (1801); roads and bridges, fisheries, and agriculture (1807); state of old government house (1806 or 8?); and ways and means.

Content examples of messages from the lieutenant governor to council or assembly include: boundary between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts Bay (1762); trade with indigenous people, and recommending provisions and seeds to Onslow, Truro and Yarmouth (1762); reserve land for supply of timber for Royal Navy (1774); employing militia at Halifax, and king's dissent to bill taxing unimproved lands (1775); cost of erecting barracks at Cornwallis, with resolution of Assembly (1780); act for appointing sheriffs, and act against those persons who deserted from the province and joined rebels; desiring revision of militia law (1787); Revenue Bill (1790); appointment of George Leonard as superintendent of Trade and Fisheries (1798); relief of Indigenous people (1798); to confirm land titles of settlers in Digby (1800); to provide for militia; commissioners of the poor; small pox; draft militia law; repairs of government house; transient poor; defence of province; and peace with the United States.

Speeches of the lieutenant governor includes these topics: prorogation (1763 and 1766); disturbances in Cumberland (1777); declaration of war by the United States; granting money for Admiralty building; and black people (1815).

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 RG 4 Vols. 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298, and catalogues - vols. 299, 300, 301, 302.

Finding Aids:
            Electronic: A partial Document List available for vol. 289  (February 1816 - February 1823, documents numbered 1-94). Total documents for this volume is 154. See Electronic Finding Aid section.

Electronic: Catalogues of the Papers for volumes 286-290 are in volume 299; for volumes 291-297, in vol. 300; for vol. 298,in vol. 299 (vols. 299-300 on reel 13). These catalogues for volumes 286-288, Dec. 1760 - Feb. 1816 are available electronically; see Electronic finding Aid section. They are arranged by document number and include brief information for each document.

Electronic Finding Aid Record: NS Legislative Council Petitions Document List vol 289.pdf
Catalogue - v. 286, 1760 Dec-1790 Feb.pdf
Catalogue - v. 287, 1791 June-1808 Jan.pdf
Catalogue - v. 288, 1809 June-1816 Feb.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. MICL FC LPR .N6E9M5

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

Part Of:
Other With: