Fonds: 1646-1961; predominant 1702-1898

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .A45F3F6
Category: Family
Creator: Almon Family.
Description: 7 microfilm reels textual records (9 volumes) ; 35 mm.
            Almon Family: William James Almon (sometimes spelled Allmon) was well known loyalist physician, surgeon, and apothecary who started his medical career near the beginning of the American Revolution and served as a surgeon’s mate within the British forces.  He was born in Providence, Rhode Island to James Almon and Ruth Hollywood in 1754/5 and was married in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1785 to Rebecca Byles (b. 1762, New London, Connecticut, d. 1853), daughter of Rev. Dr. Mather Byles (1734-1814) and Rebecca Walter.  

Almon began his medical career as an apprentice to Andrew Anderson, a physician in New York, New York, then continued training with William Bruce.  It is said that in 1775 he provided medical aid at the Battle of Bunker Hill, then in 1776 went to Halifax, Nova Scotia with General William Howe.  In 1778, he was appointed surgeon’s mate to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Artillery, followed in 1780 by another appointment as Surgeon of Artillery and Ordnance at Halifax.  Upon entering civilian life around 1800, he was given the honourary position of Surgeon General of the Nova Scotia militia; he also went on to become a Justice of the Peace.   Almon had already established a private medical practice in Halifax during his military career, and had held the position of physician to the Alms House of the city.  He also acted as doctor for the royal household when members were in Halifax.  An academic and writer, Almon was known for using the latest scientific methods and making accurate diagnoses.  He was a prominent figure in Halifax in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Almon had six children with his wife: William Bruce (his first-born son who died in 1787 after a failed smallpox inoculation), Hon. William Bruce, M.D. (b. 1787, d. 1840, m. 1814 Laleah Peyton Johnstone), Amelia (d. infancy), Amelia Elizabeth (b. 1789, m. Hon. James William Johnstone), Sarah Ann (b. 1790, m. Major Charles Mosse), and Hon. Mather Byles (b. 1796, m. Sophia Pryor).  William James Almon’s last years were spent in medical and pharmaceutical practice with his son William Bruce Almon, who also became physician of the Halifax Alms House.  William James Almon died in 1817 at Bath, England after a prolonged illness.  Many of Almon’s descendants became medical practitioners in Nova Scotia and influential members of Nova Scotian society.

Byles Family: Rebecca (Byles) Almon’s father was Rev. Dr. Mather Byles (1734-1814), son of prominent Boston loyalist Mather Byles Senior (1707-1788). Mather Senior graduated from Harvard College in 1725 and worked as a minister of Hollis Street Church in Boston from which he was expelled for his loyalism. He had children with his first wife Anna (Noyes) Gale (d. 1744) which included Mather Jr., Elizabeth (1737-c.1763), Samuel (1743-1764), and three others who died in childhood.  With his second wife Rebecca Tailer, his children included Joseph (died in childhood), Mary (1750-1832) and Catherine (1753-1837), the latter two daughters remaining unmarried at the family home in Boston throughout the Revolution.  The son of Elizabeth (Byles) and Gawen Brown (Boston clockmaker and loyalist), Mather Brown (1761-1831), was placed in the care of his grandfather Mather Byles Senior at Boston when his mother died, and he went on to became a well-known painter under the tutelage of his aunt Catherine.  Mather Brown was also the childhood friend of cousin Rebecca (Byles) Almon. By the end of the American Revolution, three children survived, Mary and Catherine in America with their father who stayed in Boston, and Mather Junior who left for Nova Scotia. 

Mather Byles Junior was a graduate of both Harvard and Yale Colleges, and received a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford in 1770. He served as librarian of Harvard College, and then a congregational minister in New London, Connecticut, before his ordination in the Church of England, after which he took up his duties as minister of Christ Church in Boston. In 1776 he fled with his family from Boston to Halifax and served as garrison chaplain and assistant to the rectors of St. Paul’s Church until 1788, when he became rector of Trinity Church, Saint John, New Brunswick; his is buried at Fernhill Cemetery at Saint John.  He had three wives during his lifetime:  Rebecca Walter (m. 1761, Roxbury, Massachusetts), Sarah Lyde (m. 1777, Halifax, Nova Scotia), and Susanna (Lawlor) Reid (m. 1788, Halifax Nova Scotia).  Byles had thirteen children in total (nine children with Rebecca and four with Sarah) including Rebecca, Anna (1768-1830) married at Saint John to Thomas Desbrisay, Elizabeth (1767-1808) married to William Scovil of Saint John, Mather III (1764-1802), commissary general at Grenada where he died, Belcher (1780-1815 in England), and Sarah (1770-1855).	

            The collection documents many generations of the Almon family and related families, especially the Byles family, who lived in the Halifax area of Nova Scotia.  In addition to biographies and genealogies, the collection includes a large amount of personal correspondence, some containing poetry, and particularly pertaining to the loyalist family and descendants of Mather Byles. Personal papers include family correspondence, with much content between and about the Byles siblings Catherine and Mary at Boston and their aunt, Rebecca Byles Almon in Halifax, as well as Mather Byles Senior in Boston and Junior in Halifax, all  during the latter quarter of the 18th and into the early 19th century; financial papers relating to investments and households; estate papers; diary; and property records such as deeds. Business matters appear in letter books such as W.J. Almon & Son’s, 1813-1833, notebooks such as in Dr. William James Almon’s, c. 1780-c. 1800 (which includes things such as various medical conditions and their treatment, and a list of those inoculated against small pox), and account books as in Dr. Thomas R. Almon’s, 1888-1889. The collection of documents gathered into the Almon Scrapbook is even more vast in its content and its time frame and includes for example sketches, letters, and newspaper clippings. The subject matter relates to family history in Nova Scotia as well as in New Brunswick, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and to the health profession – doctors or physicians, medicine, and disease.  Also includes loyalists, literature and poetry, art, women and local history subject matter.

Additional surnames associated with the early years of family correspondence, includes Desbrisay, Mosse, Otis, Starr, Jones, Smith, and Stckney; places not already mentioned include New York, Bermuda, and London, England. 

The Almon Scrapbook more specifically contains the following types of documents, with some examples of content:  photographs (William Bruce Almon, William J. Almon); lithographs (William Martin Johnston, loyalist, and his wife Elizabeth Lichtenstein); engravings (Benedict Arnold, Fort Halifax, 1775); sketches, including cartoon sketches (silhouette of Rev. Mather Byles II, 1808); watercolours (landscape and soldiers); newspaper clippings; broadsides (poems, songs); letters (from Benjamin Franklin); maps (New England 1688, Madawaska Territory); images (men of confederate army, William Bruce Almon 1883); various documents pertaining to William B. Almon as surgeon to Confederate States Army Hospital during the American Civil War; recipes (pudding, etc. and nephritic disorders); and extracts from meetings of the commissioners of the poor concerning Dr. W.B. Almon (8 specific days 1801-24).
Originals: The originals are held at the Nova Scotia Archives.
Archival Ref. No.: NSA (formerly PANS) MG 1 volumes 10-17A
Finding Aids:
            Content Lists are available electronically:


1. A Content List providing information about each of the sections of documents is available digitally; see Electronic Finding Aid section.

2. Almon Scrapbook document list is available from the Nova Scotia Archives online catalogue record for the Almon Family Fonds,
Electronic Finding Aid Record: AlmonContentList.pdf

The Loyalist Collection holds a portion of this collection, it does not hold Nova Scotia Archives reels 10116-10117, Byles Family Papers, 1757-1837.

Related material: See The Loyalist Collection catalogue for additional papers and correspondence for the Byles Family.

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