Letter to Secretary of State for the Home Department regarding Settlers' Ability to Receive Grants of Land in Cape Breton, 20 March 1793

Transcribed by Janice Fralic-Brown


To the Right Honorable Henry Dundas His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department etc, etc etc etc

Island of Cape Breton
Sydney 20th of March



        I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Letter Number twenty two, dated the eighth of November last, signed by Lord Grenville in the absence of His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department; which arrived on the sixteenth Instant by the return of my Express from Halifax.

Agreeable to the minutes of His Majesty's Council for this Island of the eighth of June one thousand seven hundred and ninety lists were prepared showing all Persons who had petitioned for land or had obtained warrants of survey and other assurances previous to the receipt of Lord Grenville's Letter dated the tenth of March one thousand seven hundred and ninety. But the very extensive light in which His Majesty's Council viewed the Royal benevolence expressed in His Lordship's Letter caused me to transmit that minute of Council for the consideration of His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State.

I have now the Honor to enclose a List of such Persons as His Majesty's Council for this Island conceived to have equitable claims for grants of land agreeable to the gracious Intentions of His Majesty which appears by the Records of the Island, though I doubt not but some others may also have good pretensions and two lists shewing what Grants have been passed in this Government.

New applications for Land, made since the receipt of the restraining Instructions have been represented; as in the case of the application of the People of Saint Pierre - and of Mr. McKinnon's report of an expected emigration from Scotland.

The present list contains chiefly old settlers, native Acadians, old soldiers, and Loyalists; all of whom have obtained warrants of survey, votes of Council, or the Governor's promise; and have made in general considerable improvements on the lots they occupy, relying on the Faith and Justice of Government as they say that they shall never loose the lands they improved because they were not able to pay the Fees for Grants whilst they were industriously striving to cultivate them and maintain their families: besides they have ever entertained hopes (as they came to the Island in consequence of Lieutenant Governor DesBarres Proclamation on the first establishment of the Government) that the Crown would pay half fees for their Grants. In fact almost all the Settlers in the Harbor of Sydney, and in its neighbourhood, are in this predicament and included in this list and were very many of them settled on the Land prior to my arrival.

The great expense attending getting Land surveyed for Loyalists and disbanded soldiers, had always great consideration with me - and as the lists of half fees already transmitted were not paid the Officers of Government were fearful of proceeding any farther on that Plan. But Sir, so very long a time has elapsed since the date of the order and since the Proclamation was issued that I am anxious to be ascertained in what light I am to consider such old indigent settlers, and whether I may or may not gratify their Prayers by completion of their Grants when they come forward to take them out, notwithstanding this great delay which I verily believe has been occasioned in general by this inability?

It is nevertheless my Duty to report that there are some French Acadian Inhabitants on the Isle Madam or Richmond Island and in the neighbourhood thereof, who are in good circumstances, feeding large herd of cattle upon the Crown Lands, but seems by no means desirous to obtain Grants, or to fear any Power of a Governor over the Lands of the Crown.

This circumstance, together with the Proclamation received from Governor Wentworth, of a mutinous sedition having been discover'd in Canada amongst both the Military and Settlers, The consideration of the Sentiments prevailing at present; the danger of such a Spirit spreading; and the defenseless State of this Island, I hope will plead my excuse for being this particular and urgent for Instruction for any proceeding.

I have the Honor to be
with the utmost respect and submission
Your most obedient
and most humble Servant

Wm Macarmick
Lt. Govr of Cape Breton


By an ordinance of this Island a Penalty of Fifty Pounds is enacted on Persons seating themselves on Crown Lands without the Governor's permission. May I solicit to be informed whether I may grant permission to Applicants to sit down and remain until His Majesty's pleasure is known? Or must I consider the Restrictions requiring me to prevent Settlers from coming on the Island, by putting this Ordinance in force?

Source: Colonial Correspondence, Cape Breton : CO 217, Vol.109, pp. 36-38b



Contributed by Janice Fralic-Brown
Page written January 17, 2001


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