Pei Given To Governor

Determination of the Home Government to dispose of the whole

Island--The manner in which it was effected--Conditions on which

grants were made--Appointment of Walter Patterson as

Governor--Novel duties imposed on him--Callbeck made prisoner by

Americans--Arrival of Hessian Troops--Sale of Land in

1781--Agitation in consequence--Complaints against the Governor,

and his tactics in defence--Governo
superceded, and Colonel

Fanning appointed--Disputes between them--Charges of immorality

against Patterson--His departure from the Island.

Although the government had resolutely opposed the scheme of settlement

proposed by Lord Egmont, yet it was disposed to divide the island among

persons who had claims on the ground of military or other public

services; and it was accordingly determined, in order to prevent

disputes, to make the various allotments by ballot. [C] The Board of

Trade and Plantations accordingly prepared certain conditions, under

which the various grants were to be made. On twenty-six specified lots

or townships a quitrent of six shillings on every hundred acres was

reserved, on twenty-nine lots four shillings, and on eleven lots two

shillings, payable annually on one half of the grant at the expiration

of five years, and on the whole at the expiration of ten years after the

date of the grants. A reservation of such parts of each lot as might

afterwards be found necessary for fortifications or public purposes, and

of a hundred acres for a church and glebe, and of fifty acres for a

schoolmaster, was made, five hundred feet from high-water mark being

reserved for the purpose of a free fishery. Deposits of gold, silver,

and coal were reserved for the Crown. It was stipulated that the grantee

of each township should settle the same within ten years from the date

of the grant, in the proportion of one person for every two hundred

acres; that such settlers should be European foreign protestants, or

such persons as had resided in British North America for two years

previous to the date of the grant; and, finally, that if one-third of

the land was not so settled within four years from the date of the

grant, the whole should be forfeited. Thus the whole island was, in

1767, disposed of in one day, with the exception of lot sixty-six,

reserved for the King, and lots forty and fifty-nine,--which had been

promised to Messrs. Spence, Muir, and Cathcart, and Messrs. Mill,

Cathcart, and Higgens, by the government, in 1764, in consideration of

their having established fisheries, and made improvements on the island,

[D]--and three small reservations, intended for three county towns. A

mandamus addressed to the Governor of Nova Scotia, the island being now

annexed to that province, was handed to each of the proprietors,

instructing the governor to issue the respective grants, on the

conditions specified. In the following year, 1768, a large majority of

the proprietors presented a petition to the King, praying that the

island should be erected into a separate government; that the quitrents

which would become payable, according to stipulation, in 1772, should

become payable from the first of May, 1769, and that the payment of the

remaining half should be deferred for the period of twenty years. This

proposition was accepted by the government, and accordingly Captain

Walter Patterson, one of the island proprietors, was appointed governor.

He, accompanied by other officers, arrived on the island in 1770, at

which period, notwithstanding the conditions of settlement attached to

the land grants, there were only one hundred and fifty families and five

proprietors residing on it. It was calculated by the government that the

quitrents would amount in the aggregate to fourteen hundred and seventy

pounds sterling. The governor was instructed to pay out of that fund the

following annual salaries, in sterling currency: to himself, as

governor, five hundred pounds, to the secretary and registrar, one

hundred and fifty pounds, to the chief justice, two hundred pounds, to

the attorney general, one hundred pounds, to the clerk of the crown and

coroner, eighty pounds, to the provost marshal, fifty pounds, and to a

minister of the Church of England, one hundred pounds. This arrangement

was to remain in force not more than ten years, and in the event of the

quitrents falling short, from any cause, of the required sum, the

salaries were to be diminished in proportion.

The governor was required to perform other duties, which were grossly

unjust, and in some cases beyond human capability. He was, for example,

enjoined by the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh articles of his

instructions to permit "liberty of conscience to all persons (except

Roman catholics), so they be contented with a quiet and peaceable

enjoyment of the same, not giving offence and scandal to the

government," and he was also "to take especial care that God Almighty

should be devoutly and duly served throughout his government." No

schoolmaster, coming from England, was permitted to teach without a

license from the Bishop of London; and it was assumed in his

instructions that all Christians, save those connected with the Church

of England, were heterodox. Some denominations were, indeed,

tolerated; but in conformity to the bigoted British policy of the

times, Roman catholics were not permitted to settle on the island. This

sectarian policy has borne bitter fruit in Ireland, in the alienation of

a great mass of the Irish people. So deeply has alienation struck its

roots, and so widely spread are its branches, that, notwithstanding

catholic emancipation, its effects are still painfully visible, not only

in Ireland, but also in the masses of the Irish people located in the

United States, as strikingly evinced in the election of the late John

Mitchell, for Tipperary, and in the honors which have been paid to his

memory in the States. More than one generation will pass away ere the

evil effects of unjust anti-catholic legislation are totally obliterated

from the continent of America.

The little progress made in the settlement of the island, from the time

it was granted until the year 1779, is indicated by the fact that no

step had been taken to introduce settlers into all the lots, ranging

from one to sixteen, besides other thirty-three which were in the same

condition. Thus, although more than ten years had elapsed since the

ballot took place, in scarcely a score of lots was there any attempt

made to conform to the conditions attached to the sixty-seven townships.

Notwithstanding the very small population of the island, it was resolved

to grant it a complete constitution. This step the governor was

commanded in his instructions to take as early as possible. "The forming

a lower house of representatives for our said Island of Saint John,"

said His Majesty, "is a consideration that cannot be too early taken up,

for until this object is attainable, the most important interests of the

inhabitants will necessarily remain without that advantage and

protection which can only arise out of the vigor and activity of a

complete constitution." In the year 1773, the first assembly was

convened. The first act passed was one confirming the past proceedings

of the governor and council, and rendering valid all manner of process

and proceedings in the several courts of judicature within the island,

from the first day of May, 1769, to the present session of assembly.

The proposal to pay the government officials in the island from the

amount realized from the quitrents completely failed, as but few of the

proprietors acted as if they had been under obligation to comply with

the conditions on which they obtained their grants. The sum realized

from the amount of quitrents paid was totally inadequate to pay the

official salaries. Hence it was necessary that some other arrangement

should be adopted. The governor was reduced to such straits for want of

money, that he was under the necessity of appropriating three thousand

pounds, granted by parliament for the erection of public buildings in

the island, for the maintenance of himself and the other government

officers. The governor went to England in 1775, when it was agreed that

the proprietors, in order to meet the difficulties of the case, should

present a memorial to the Secretary of State for the colonies, praying

that the civil establishment of the island should be provided for by an

annual parliamentary grant, as in the case of the other colonies. By a

minute of the seventh August, 1776, it was ordered by the government

that the arrears of the quitrents due should be enforced by legal

proceedings, and that the sum thus obtained should be devoted to the

refunding of the amount expended, in a manner incompatible with the

object for which it was voted. The power for the recovery of the

quitrents, with which the governor was thus invested, was not speedily

exercised, as he was anxious not to offend the proprietors, through

whose influence the payment of the civil establishment of the island was

placed on a more satisfactory footing.

During the governor's absence in England the Hon. Mr. Callbeck, being

the senior member of the council, was sworn in as administrator. In

November of that year, a ship from London, having on board a number of

settlers, and loaded with a valuable cargo, was unfortunately wrecked on

the north side of the island. All on board were saved, but the cargo was

either lost, or destroyed to such an extent as to be of little value,--an

accident which involved no small hardship to the inhabitants.

In this year too a memorable incident occurred. Whilst the good people

of Charlottetown were living in apparent security from hostile

aggression, two American armed vessels which had been sent to cruise in

the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, in order to intercept English ordnance

store-ships, supposed to be on the way to Quebec, entered the harbor,

and a landing was effected without any opposition, when the

administrator, Mr. Callbeck, Mr. Wright, the surveyor general, and other

officers of the government were made prisoners, and put with such

valuable booty as the Americans could lay hands on, on board ship, and

conveyed to New England. On arriving at the head-quarters of the

American army, then at Cambridge, General Washington disapproved of the

hostile act, dismissing the principal officers from their commands,

telling them that "they had done those things which they ought not to

have done, and left undone those things which it was their duty to have

done." At the same time he discharged the prisoners with expressions of

regret, and returned all the property.

In the following year the Diligent, an armed brig, was detached by the

admiral, commanding in America, to protect the island, which vessel was

replaced by the Hunter, sloop of war, towards the end of the year, and

which remained till November, 1777. The arrival of the latter vessel was

extremely opportune, as a hostile expedition to the island was being

organized by rebels from Machias, in Massachusetts, who had arrived at

Fort Cumberland, in Nova Scotia. These men paid a visit to Pictou, where

they seized on an armed merchant ship, then loading for Scotland.

Fearing resistance, which they were not in a condition to overcome

successfully, these rebels entered, with their prize, into the Bay of

Verte, for the purpose of receiving reinforcements. But not being

successful in this effort, on account of a defeat at Fort Cumberland,

the vessel was given up to one of the officers, the rebels escaping on

shore. The vessel then came to Charlottetown, where she remained during

the winter.

In 1777 the administrator received instructions from the secretary of

state for the colonies to raise an independent force for the defence of

the island; but from the small number of the male population, which had

been previously considerably reduced by recruiting officers, this force

was never completed. In the following year, however, four provincial

companies were sent from New York, under the command of Major Hierliky,

for whom barracks were erected, under the direction of an engineer from

Nova Scotia, and the island was thus placed in a defensive position,

which greatly reduced the chances of a successful attack during the

American war. With the exception of a few sheep, occasionally taken by

the men of privateers, and some valuable property seized at the harbor

of Saint George (now Georgetown), the inhabitants of the island

experienced no further annoyance from the Americans during the

continuance of the contest. The monotony of Charlottetown was betimes

enlivened during the summer by the presence of the British war vessels

employed in accompanying convoys to Quebec, and the occasional conduct

into the harbor of American privateers which had been captured at sea by

the British cruisers, and whose men were marched as prisoners through

the woods to Halifax.

An interesting trial took place in Charlottetown in 1779, in the case of

Thomas Mellish, v. the Convoy ship Dutchess of London, which Mr.

Mellish seized for smuggling. The trial lasted for several months. Mr.

Mellish was an officer in the First Troop of Horse Guards, and served

also in the colonial military service. He was a member of the house of

assembly, and held the office of collector of customs and other public

positions for many years. His son, Thomas Mellish, died at an advanced

age in 1859. Referring to his death, the Islander describes him as a

most loyal British subject, and a devoted adherent of the Church of


Towards the end of October, 1779, the town of Charlottetown received a

temporary accession to its inhabitants, by the arrival of the Hessian

regiment of Knyphansen, under convoy of the war ship Camilla. Severe

gales were encountered in the River Saint Lawrence, which compelled the

ship to take refuge in the island. The troops were landed, and there

being no barrack accommodation for them, some succeeded in hutting

themselves most comfortably. Some of the men were suffering from fever,

but speedily recovered, on account of the admirable character of the

climate. The town supply of provisions was utterly inadequate to meet

the demand occasioned by so large an addition to the population, but the

farmers soon made up the deficiency, and the Hessians remained till the

month of June, when they left for their destination. Not a few of the

men were so favorably impressed with the island, that they returned to

it from Germany, many years afterwards, and became industrious settlers.

Governor Patterson returned to the island in 1780, relieving the

Honorable T. DesBrisay, who had succeeded Mr. Callbeck as administrator;

and shortly after his arrival he appointed Mr. Nisbet, his

brother-in-law, then clerk of the council, to the office of the receiver

of quitrents. It was now determined by the governor to enforce a law

passed by the assembly in 1773, "for the effectual recovery of certain

of His Majesty's quitrents in the Island of Saint John," and in

conformity to the treasury minute of the seventh of August, 1776, to

which reference has already been made. Accordingly, early in 1781,

proceedings were commenced in the supreme court against the townships in

arrear of quitrents, as enumerated in the act of 1773, and the sale of a

number of townships was thus effected. These reasonable proceedings were

complained of to the British government, and powerful influence was

brought to bear for the purpose of counteracting them. As the act of

1773, which had been confirmed by His Majesty, only applied to a part of

the lands granted, it was deemed necessary to pass another act in 1781,

which was intended to take a wider scope, and to render the sale of all

lands in the island, where quitrents remained unpaid, legal. This act

had, however, a clause suspending its operation till the King's pleasure

should be known. It appears by a manuscript copy of a report, dated

tenth of July, 1783, by the lords of the committee of council for

plantations, now before us, that this act was referred to Andrew

Jackson, one of the King's council, who reported that, in point of law,

no objection could be made to it; and the same report also furnishes

interesting information as to the considerations by which the government

was influenced in its treatment of the action of the House of Assembly

in regard to land. An application was made in behalf of officers abroad

in the King's service, who were proprietors of land, praying that the

arrears of quitrent due on their lands should be remitted, and that no

proceedings should be taken to dispose of those lands for future arrears

until the conclusion of the war, when they might be enabled to settle

and improve the same. Thomas Townshend, the colonial secretary,

accordingly recommended that no action during the war should be taken

against the property of absent officers. A petition was about the same

time presented by other proprietors of land in the island, reciting the

difficulties peculiarly incident to the island, showing that their

expectations, mainly in consequence of the American war, had proved

abortive, and complaining that many of the allotments in the island had

been sold under the assembly act of 1774, and of the treasury order of

1776, to officers resident in the island, for little more than the

arrears and charges of confiscation. They further prayed for a remission

of the quitrents in arrear, and that in future they might have the

option of paying the quitrents either in London or the island. The

council proceeded, on the first of May, to take these matters into

consideration, when it was agreed "that all such as, on or before the

first of May, 1784, should have paid up all the arrears of quitrent due

upon their respective lots to the first of May, 1783, should, from the

said first of May, 1783, until the first of May, 1789, be exempted from

the payment of more than the quitrent now payable upon each of their

lots, and that, for and during the further term of ten years,--to

commence from the said first of May, 1789,--the same quitrent only as is

now payable on each of their lots should continue to be paid in lieu of

the advanced quitrent, which, by the terms of the grants, would have

become due and payable from the said first of May, 1789." In accordance

with this decision, a bill was prepared, which not only granted the

redress specified in the above quotation, but also disallowed the act of

1781, and repealed the act of 1774, and rendered all the sales effected

under it void, on the payment by the original proprietors of the

purchase-money, interest, and charges incurred by the present holders,

compensation being also required for any improvements made on the lands

since the date of sale. This bill was drawn out in London, and sent to

Governor Patterson in 1784, in order that it might be submitted to and

adopted by the house of assembly. But the governor, having been himself

a purchaser to a large extent of the confiscated property, assumed the

responsibility of postponing official action in the matter, on the

ground that the government was mistaken as to facts connected with the

sale of the land, and, on consulting with the council, it was resolved

to send to the home government a correct representation of the

circumstances under which confiscation took place, in justification of

delay in submitting the bill to the assembly for approval.

A Mr. John Stuart, [E] an intimate friend of Governor Patterson, and who

had resided in London for fourteen years, was in 1781 appointed by the

house of assembly as their London agent. We have been favored with the

perusal of a number of private and confidential letters which passed

between the governor and this gentleman. These throw considerable light

on the island history of this period. The sales of land recently made

excited intense indignation against the governor on the part of those

whose property had been confiscated, who were backed in their

applications for redress by the general body of proprietors. The act

sent to the governor, and which he failed to present to the house of

assembly, was the result of these applications. In the preamble of that

portion of the act which provided for relief to the complainants, it was

stated that the governor and council, on the first day of December,

1780, unanimously resolved, in order to give absent proprietors whose

lands were liable to be sold an opportunity of relieving their property,

that no sales should take place until the first Monday of November

following, and that in the meantime the colonial agent in London should

be instructed to inform the proprietors of the proposed sale; and

"whereas," runs the act, "notwithstanding such determination and

resolution, no such notice was given by the colonial agent to the

proprietors, it seems reasonable that they should obtain effectual

relief in the premises." It is only fair that the governor should be

allowed to reply in his own words, as contained in a letter now before

us, which he addressed to his friend Stuart on the twelfth of May, 1783.

In order that a portion of that letter may be understood, it is

necessary to say that Captain McDonald, one of the proprietors resident

in London, had written a pamphlet reflecting on the conduct of the

governor in disposing of the land, which contributed in no small degree,

as Mr. Stuart affirms, in causing the act of relief to be prepared.

After referring to business matters, which have no bearing on our story,

the governor says: "What appears most pressing at present is to say

something in answer to my friend Captain McDonald's proceedings. But

first I must express my astonishment at your not having received any

letters from me since December, 1781. I wrote and sent two by the

express, which went to the continent in February, 1782,--not to you,

indeed, because I thought you had sailed for India; but Mr. Townshend

received them, I am certain, for I have answers to them from you. I

wrote a long one to you in October, 1782, on a variety of subjects. If

this letter has not reached you, I am very unfortunate, as I have no

copy of it. I wrote you three others in the course of the winter, copies

of which shall accompany this, though they will be now, I fear, of

little use, except to show that I have not been idle, or negligent in my

attention to the interests of this government. If I succeed, I may be

rewarded by my own feelings, but as to any grateful returns, I expect

them not. In bodies of men there is no such virtue as gratitude, nor

indeed but very rarely in individuals. I feel this, and in few instances

more sensibly than in the behaviour of Captain McDonald. Believe me, my

friend, I have rendered him and his family many disinterested and

essential services; nor do I know that I can let an opportunity slip of

doing so, when in my power. But now, when he thinks his interest is in

the least affected, he becomes my enemy, and that, too, in a matter

where I am only a spectator, or rather, when I ought to have been only

such; for the fact is, I did step out of my line in the business of

forfeiting the lots, but then it was only to continue my wonted practice

to benefit the proprietors. For this purpose I advised sending the

advertisements to England, which the law did not require. I, by the

advice of council, postponed the sales from time to time, in hopes the

proprietors would take some steps in consequence of the advertisements,

and, with this view, prevented their taking place till the latter end of

November, when every hope was over. This the law did not require, and

the advertisements not reaching England in time was not my fault, as the

resolution of council directing their being sent is dated twenty-sixth

November, 1780, and the sales did not take place for a year afterwards.

I did more: I prevented all the lots from being sold belonging to

proprietors who I knew were inclined to improve their lands, and this I

did by taking the debt upon myself, which was not required by the law,

nor perhaps in justice to my own family; nor do I believe there is an

instance of such conduct in any other man. Among the number so saved is

the lot belonging to this same Captain McDonald, though I had no hopes

of his paying his quitrents, or of his doing any one thing relative to

the settling of it; for he has repeatedly told me himself that he would

not, as he thought he had engaged to pay too much money for it to the

chief baron from whom he bought it. What I did was out of tenderness to

his sisters, who live upon the lot, and to give him time to think

better. I saved Lord Townshend's, the chief baron's, etc., and, in

short, what I thought worth the saving,--and all at my own risk. I have

done still more, for I have prevented any further sales since the first.

This I also did for the benefit of the proprietors, knowing the lands

would not bring their value; and I did it at the risk of my commission,

for I did it in the face of a positive order from the treasury. So far,

I hope I am not to blame.

"As to the regularity and legality of the proceedings in other respects,

I am not accountable. The lands were seized in terms of a law passed

near ten years since, and the proceedings conducted by the law

officers,--I have no doubt properly.

"There is some idea, I find, of rescinding the purchases, and that

government will order it. Whoever has formed such an idea must have

strange notions of government. Government may order me; and, if I have a

mind to be laughed at, I may issue my orders to the purchasers; but can

anyone believe they will be obeyed? Surely not; nor would I be an

inhabitant of any country where such a power existed. My money may with

as much justice be ordered out of my pocket, or the bread out of my

mouth. A governor has just as much power to do the one as the other. I

should like to know what opinion you would have of a country where the

validity of public contracts depended on the will of the governor.

"The purchases were made in the very worst period of the war, when the

property was very precarious indeed, and when no man in England would

have given hardly a guinea for the whole island. It is now peace, and

fortunately we still remain a part of the British Empire. The lands are

consequently esteemed more valuable, and the proprietors have become

clamorous for their loss. Had the reverse taken place,--had the island

been ceded to France,--let me ask, what would have been the consequence?

Why, the purchasers would have lost their money, and the proprietors

would have been quiet, hugging themselves on their own better judgment.

There can be no restoring of the lots which were sold. There has not

been a lot sold on which a single shilling has been expended by way of

settlement, nor upon which there has been a settler placed; so that

those proprietors who have expended money in making settlements have no

cause of complaint."

Complaints had been made to the home government, of which Mr. Stuart had

informed the governor, that a large quantity of the land disposed of had

been bought for trifling sums by the governor and other officials of the

island. The truth of this charge was acknowledged by the governor, for

he says in the letter from which we have quoted so largely: "That the

officers of the government have made purchases is certain, and that I

have made some myself is also as certain; but I should be glad to know

who would be an officer of government if, by being such, he was deprived

of his privileges as a citizen."

Mr. Stuart writes the governor on the twenty-ninth of June, 1783, that

he received, on the twenty-second of April, three letters from him,

dated respectively, thirtieth November, first and seventh December,

1782, and in reference to the sales of land which had been effected,

remarks: "The time of the sale, in the midst of a distressful war, when

there could be neither money nor purchasers; the rigid condition of

obliging the proprietors to pay their quitrents in the island, and not

giving at least a twelvemonth's notice of the sale in England, as well

as in the island, are everywhere urged and admitted as sound arguments

against the confiscation of lands in an infant colony, and I must

frankly confess that they have too much force in them to be totally


Whilst it is impossible to deny that Governor Patterson had ample

governmental authority to dispose of the lands, yet his doing so before

he had any evidence whatever that the advertisements sent had obtained

the desired publicity, or even that his letters had reached their

destination, was, to say the least, a most unreasonable proceeding, and

constituted sufficient ground of grave complaint against his conduct.

That as an intending purchaser he had a material interest in bringing

the lands speedily to the hammer, cannot be denied; and that after so

many years had elapsed since the act and the treasury minute by which a

sale of the townships whose quitrents were in arrears was rendered

legal, he should have chosen a period for the sale when, according to

his own confession, capitalists might not be disposed to give a guinea

for the island, seems to import that the governor had, in the conduct of

the business, consulted his own interest rather than that of the

proprietors. This impression is deepened by the proceedings which


It has been already stated that, on receiving from England the act which

was intended to restore the property sold to the original holders, he

had delayed to submit it to the house of assembly. Believing that the

present house would pass the act in question, in the event of his being

again ordered to submit it for their approval, he resolved dissolution

of the house, and to exert his influence in obtaining one better suited

to his purpose. He accordingly carried out his resolution early in 1784,

and, in March following, a general election took place, and the

legislature met soon after. It is a most significant indication of the

state of public opinion at this time, in reference to the governor's

conduct in so hastily disposing of the lands, that the new house,

instead of approving of the governor's conduct, resolved to present a

complaint against him to the King, and was actually engaged in framing

it, when a dissolution, by command of the governor, again took place.

His Excellency, appreciating the importance of the crisis to himself

personally, determined to leave no means untried to secure an assembly

favorable to his views. The danger was imminent; for the recent

proceedings were adopted by the house in ignorance of the views of the

home government as to the governor's conduct, which he had carefully

concealed, and which were known only to the council, who were bound by

oath to secrecy. He expected an order from England to submit the dreaded

act to the house, and was most desirous that, before that could be done,

the forthcoming house should pledge itself to an approval of the sales

of 1781, and thus neutralize the effect which a knowledge of the

intended disapproval of the previous assembly might produce on the home


Circumstances favored his design. New York having been evacuated by the

British troops, many of them had resolved to settle in the island. A

large number of loyalists were now leaving the States and settling in

Nova Scotia. Efforts were made by the governor to induce some of them to

settle in the island. In addressing Mr. Stuart in 1783, he says, in

reference to this subject: "I do not as yet hear, notwithstanding my

efforts, of any of the loyalists coming this way. They have all gone to

Nova Scotia, through the influence of Mr. Watson. I will not, however,

as yet despair of having a part. I am sending a person among them on

purpose, and at my own expense, to carry our terms and to invite some of

the principal people to our lands. If they will but come,--and depend on

the evidence of their own senses,--I am certain they will prefer this

island to any of the uncultivated parts of Nova Scotia. It is

exceedingly unlucky that my despatches of last November did not reach

you in time. Had the proprietors sent an agent to New York, offering

liberal terms to the loyalists, they would have reaped more benefit

thereby than by all the memorials they will ever deliver to government."

We find, by a letter from Mr. Stuart to the governor, dated a month

later than that from which a quotation has just been given, that the

proprietors were sensible of the importance of presenting inducements to

the loyalists, for they subscribed liberally to a fund raised for the

purpose of conveying them to the island. Orders were issued to the

governor to apportion part of the land to the loyalists; the attorney

general was to make out the deeds of conveyance without any expense to

the proprietors, who were to be exonerated from the quitrents of such

shares of their land as were granted to the loyalists. In consequence of

these arrangements, a considerable number of loyalists were induced to

come to the island, to whom the governor paid due attention, and whose

votes he had no difficulty in securing at the coming election. In order

to complicate matters still more, and throw additional obstacles in the

way of the much dreaded act, he took care that not a few of the

allotments made to the refugees should be on the lands sold in 1781.

Being thus fortified for the coming battle, he determined to risk

another election in March, 1785, when he secured the return of a house

bound to his interests, which Mr. Stewart, of Mount Stewart--on whose

testimony implicit reliance can be placed--assures us "was not

accomplished without a severe struggle, much illegal conduct, and at an

expense to the governor and his friends of nearly two thousand pounds

sterling." The time of the assembly was, to a considerable extent, taken

up during the session by proceedings which had a tendency to produce a

favorable impression as to the governor's acts. Not a word was said in

the house regarding the proceedings of 1781; but, when the house met in

the following year, the governor determined that a measure should be

adopted which would frustrate any attempt to render the sales of 1781

futile. To effect this object, he caused a measure to be introduced

entitled "An act to render good and valid in law all and every of the

proceedings in the years one thousand seven hundred and eighty and one

thousand seven hundred and eighty-one, which in every respect related to

or concerned the suing, seizing, condemning, or selling of the lots or

townships hereinafter mentioned, or any part thereof." This act was

adopted without scruple by the assembly, but was disallowed by His

Majesty; and, affording as it did convincing proof of the governor's

determination to act in opposition to his instructions, led to his being

superceded in his office.

Mr. Stuart, the London agent for the island, fought at all times

resolutely for the governor, using all the means in his power to place

his character and transactions in a favorable light before the

government and proprietors. Having obtained information from reliable

sources as to the intentions of the government in reference to the

governor, he addressed a letter to him on the 19th of June, 1786,

informing him of the decision as to his recall. This manuscript

communication, now before us, is especially interesting and valuable, as

showing that, after its receipt, Governor Patterson could not have been

mistaken as to the nature of the recall, and as accounting for some of

his subsequent proceedings. Mr. Stuart says: "Your brother will have

acquainted you with the caballing and intrigueing of your opponents to

effect your removal, and of the invincible silence, or rather

sullenness, of office with regard to their real and ultimate intentions

towards you. Mr. Nepean, I think, has indeed opened himself at last, and

given a pretty plain clew to their disposition not to support you. He

told your brother very lately that Lord Sydney had sent you the King's

leave of absence. This is surely a plain indication, especially after

you were required to answer charges, and those answers still remain

unheard and undecided upon, although your brother has made repeated

application, and even memorialized the council for a hearing. The real

cause and design of this extraordinary and unfair step neither your

brother nor I has yet been able to develop. Mr. Nepean endeavored to

gloss it over by many specious assurances and declarations that it

proceeded from no hostile intentions, but was meant only to afford you

an opportunity of effectually vindicating your conduct, and refuting the

many accusations which had been sent home against you; in which event,

he said, you would return to your government with additional honor and

support. He may think these will pass as very plausible motives; but

what as to their reality? I can only construe it as a measure, of great

and unnecessary severity,--I might say injustice. It is not customary to

call home governors until their conduct has been investigated and

adjudged. They may put what construction they please upon the gentle

terms, 'leave of absence,' but if you think it incumbent to accept this

leave of absence, it must appear in the eyes of the world as an absolute

recall. This is an event, my dear friend, which I have long dreaded; and

what adds inexpressibly to the poignancy of my present feelings, is that

I know not how to offer you advice in a situation of so much delicacy;

for if you disobey this insidious order, your character may suffer in

the public estimation, and if you obey it, your fortune may eventually

be materially injured. It is indeed a cruel alternative, but it is a

case in which you alone can be a competent judge.

"This business has been managed with so much secrecy, or, at least, it

has been so studiously concealed from your friends, that we have not

been able to learn when your leave of absence was sent out, or whether,

indeed, it be yet gone. In case of your removal, your brother has picked

up some intimation that Colonel Fanning, Lieutenant Governor of Nova

Scotia, is likely to be your successor. In the present temper and

disposition of office, I fear that your brother's succession would be

more difficult than to sustain you in the government. I am exceedingly

anxious to learn the fate of the quitrent bill. I hope the assembly may

have passed it in some shape, and that the sales have been revoked. This

is intelligence which should have arrived ere this time. I fear that

your long silence and delay on this head is construed into contumacy and

resistance. Your enemies here are busy and fertile in their


Anxious to serve his friend the governor, Stuart, under pressure from

that gentleman's brother, addressed a letter on the twenty-sixth of

February, 1786, to Lord Sydney, though doubtful of the propriety and

policy of the act, in which he states that he received a letter from the

governor, intimating that he (the governor) was aware that reports had

been circulated in England grossly misrepresenting his motives in having

purchased some of the lots escheated under the quitrent act of 1774,--the

governor declaring that his sole motive in making these purchases was to

secure to himself a part of the very old arrears due to him for

salary,--an act which he conceived to be strictly legal,--and stating that

he had bought the lands at their full value. The governor was prepared,

as stated in his letter, to restore what he had bought on his being

reimbursed the amount of the purchase-money, with interest, agreeably to

their lordships' resolution in 1783.

Stuart's letter, from which we have quoted so largely, was received by

the governor on the tenth of October, 1786, and it is extremely probable

that it was by the same mail that he also received official information

of his having been superceded in the government of the island, and

commanded to submit to the assembly the act rendering the sales of 1781

voidable,--of which another copy was now sent,--which had come to his

hands two years previously, but with regard to which no action had been

yet taken. The governor, as if sensible of his extreme folly in

disregarding the royal instructions, submitted the measure to the house

of assembly; and the bill was read for the first time on the first of

November, and for the second, on the tenth of the same month; but it was

subsequently decently interred by a house which was guided by the

significant nods of the governor. But, in order to conciliate the home

government, his excellency caused a private bill to be introduced,

providing for the restoration of the escheated land to the proprietors,

but so contrived that, even if carried out, the heavy payments required

to be made counterbalanced any benefits that could be derived from its

adoption. When the character of this measure became known to the

proprietors, they brought a criminating complaint against the superceded

governor and the council, which, on being investigated by the committee

of privy council, led to the dismissal of the members of council

implicated, as well as that of the attorney general. No further action

against Governor Patterson was deemed necessary, as he had been already


Early in November, Lieutenant-Governor Fanning arrived from Nova Scotia

to assume the government of the island; but Mr. Patterson refused to

give up the reins of office, on the ground that the season was too far

advanced for his return to England,--the appointment of Fanning being

regarded by Patterson as only intended to supply his place during his

own temporary absence. Mr. Stewart, of Mount Stewart, asserts that

Patterson affected ignorance of the nature of the recall respecting

whose import, as being absolute and final, no reasonable doubt could

exist; but in this we can prove he was mistaken, from the terms in which

the appointment was conveyed to Fanning by Lord Sydney,--a document which

Mr. Stewart evidently had not seen, and which proves that Patterson was

not destitute of a very plausible if not solid reason for holding his

post till the weather admitted of his leaving the island. Lord Sydney,

addressing Fanning, in a despatch dated the thirtieth of June, 1786,

says: "The King having thought it necessary to recall

Lieutenant-Governor Patterson, of the Island of Saint John, in

consequence of some complaints which have been exhibited against him,

that an inquiry should be made into his conduct, His Majesty, from the

opinion which he is pleased to entertain of your ability and discretion,

and with a view to give you an early proof of his royal approbation of

your services, has been pleased to appoint you to carry on the public

service of the island during Lieutenant-Governor Patterson's absence,

or until some determination shall have taken place respecting his


"As it is His Majesty's desire that Lieutenant-Governor Patterson should

be relieved in time to enable him to return to England in the course of

the autumn, His Majesty trusts that you will lose no time in repairing

to Saint John, and in settling such arrangements with the said

lieutenant-governor, previous to his departure, as may be necessary for

your carrying on the business of the island." Thus Patterson's retention

of office till the spring does not seem in the circumstances

unreasonable; but Mr. Stewart, in his account of the island, informs us

that his continuance in it was contrary to the desire of the inhabitants

generally, who, during the winter, did not fail to present addresses to

Fanning, calling upon him to assume the government to which, according

to his commission, he had been appointed. On the arrival of Fanning,

Patterson addressed the following letter to Lord Sydney, the Colonial


"Island of Saint John, 5th November, 1786.

"My Lord,--Lieutenant-Governor Fanning arrived here yesterday,

and by him I have been honored by your lordship's letter of the

thirtieth June, saying that many representations have been made

to the King of improper proceedings in the exercise of the

powers with which I have been vested, and that it is His

Majesty's pleasure that I should repair to England as soon as

may be, to give an account of my conduct; also commanding me to

deliver to Lieutenant-Governor Fanning such papers and documents

as may be necessary to enable him to carry on the public service

during my absence.

"I have received His Majesty's commands with the utmost

veneration and respect, and nothing gives me so much pain as

when I have it not in my power to carry them into immediate


"Such papers and documents as appear in the least necessary

towards carrying on the present service shall be delivered

without loss of time; but there are unsurmountable reasons why I

cannot this winter quit this island. The season is too far

advanced to leave a possibility of arranging my little matters

so as to prevent total ruin in my absence. Besides, my lord, if

the charges are such as I have already answered, my ipse dixit

will add but little weight to my defence, and I have no further

proof to offer. If there have been any new charges sent from

hence, the evidence to disprove them cannot be had in England;

therefore, my going home without them would only prove a useless

trouble to your lordship and to myself. It is an unspeakable

grief of heart to me that I am under the necessity so long of

lying under the appearance of having proved unworthy of my

station. All my labors for thirty years have been in search of

reputation, and I have gained it everywhere but where most I

wished. Be assured, my lord, it will be my pride and glory if I

can restore confidence among the council of my royal master. I

hope and trust your lordship will feel my situation as I do

myself, and that in justice you will order me copies of my

crimes, so as to have them by the first of spring; and be

assured that I shall, as soon after the receipt of them as

possible, with every anxious and eager hope, pay instant

obedience to the royal mandate.

"Were it even possible for me, at so few days' notice, to quit

the island, even with the total ruin of my family, I should be

obliged to accumulate ruin on ruin by being obliged to stay a

whole season in England to wait for evidence from home, and in

place of expediting, it must delay my hearing. But if I cannot

go from hence prepared to answer my accusers, after my arrival

my fate may be soon decided; and if I have not been guilty of

what will deprive me of my liberty, I may return in the course

of the summer to cultivate my farm.

"His Majesty is full of justice. He is the father of his people,

and therefore cannot wish the ruin of a subject, much less of an

old and faithful servant. Then I doubtless shall have justice. I

wish no more. Afford me only an opportunity of clearing my

character, and I shall instantly resign. I have long and

anxiously wished to do it, and most certainly shall the moment I

can with honor.

"I cannot even guess at the nature of my present accusations;

but be they what they may, I wish to meet them; and I shall do

so, my lord, with a confidence and certain knowledge that they

are as unfounded as the last. I know I have done no wrong, and

therefore court inquiry; but I also know my enemies, and must go

prepared among them. A conscious rectitude of heart forms, my

lord, arms of adamant,--a shield which admits no fear.

"I am, my lord, &c.,

"Walter Patterson."

But Patterson had a large number of friends in the island who backed him

in his opposition to Fanning; and the council, consisting of men of his

own selection, and the assembly being ready to act according to his

dictation, he was in hopes that representations proceeding from these

sources would secure his restoration to a position to which he was now

clinging with tenacity. During the winter the government of the island

remained in this anomalous condition; but early in April following,

Governor Fanning issued a proclamation notifying his appointment, and

calling on all loyal inhabitants to recognize his title to the

governorship. But Patterson issued, on the following day, a counter

proclamation, declaring that he was the accredited representative of His

Majesty, and enjoining the people to pay no attention to the pretensions

of a usurper.

A correspondence passed between the rivals. From manuscript copies, now

before us, it appears that Patterson and Fanning had entered into an

agreement on the seventh of November, 1786, by which the latter

gentleman's appointment was to remain in abeyance for some time.

Patterson, on the arrival of Fanning, had intimated his intention of

meeting the assembly as governor; but Fanning contended that Patterson

had promised to give up the government after the legislative business

which he wished transacted was finished. This was emphatically denied by

Patterson, who asserted that the command was, by mutual consent, to

remain with him till the weather permitted his departure from the

island, or more distinct orders were received from England, to which

representations of the state of matters were forwarded by both parties.

On the 17th of February, Patterson addressed a bitter letter to Fanning,

complaining of his violation of the agreement solemnly made between

them, in which he wrote: "Was it consistent with that engagement that

your warrant was exhibited to a large company at your own table, and

afterwards to the public by one of that company, in order to prove your

right to the command? Was it consistent with that engagement that my

avowed and notorious enemies were almost constantly adopted as your

confidential friends? You will not be surprised at my faith in you being

put to a severe trial when I heard that the court of justice was

disturbed, and a copy of your warrant there read by a gentleman very

much in your confidence, questioning the judges as to your right of

command, and calling on all His Majesty's subjects on their allegiance

to assert your right; and when I have been told that the son of that

gentleman, in the same open court, said to the commanding officer that,

if it had not been for his detachment, you should long ago have had the

government,--meaning that he and his friends would by violence have

wrested it from me. I have also been informed that officers of the

government refuse paying any attention to my orders, and quote your

commission and yourself as the reason of such disobedience."

Notwithstanding the intense fermentation occasioned by this unseemly

dispute, the public peace was not disturbed. As was generally

anticipated, on the arrival of the spring mail, the conduct of Patterson

was rebuked by the home government, and he was peremptorily commanded to

transfer the permanent command to Fanning,--a change which, Mr. Stewart

says, was "agreeable to the island in general." [F] Patterson soon left

the island for Quebec, but returned in a few months, and exerted himself

to the utmost in obstructing the operations of the government; but,

after two years' residence, and bitter opposition to the administration

of his successor, he left the island and returned to England, cherishing

the hope of enlisting the sympathy and support of the proprietors

resident there,--a hope which was doomed to be disappointed.

Fidelity to historical accuracy compels us to say that a charge

affecting the moral character of the late governor had been made, in

which the wife of one of his friends was implicated. That charge,

whether true or false, was doubtless forwarded to English headquarters,

where, if supported by satisfactory evidence, it was certain to have no

small influence in determining the fate of Patterson as governor, and

may account for the mysterious silence of officials (as complained of by

Mr. Stuart) when pressed for information with regard to the reasons by

which government was influenced in dismissing him from a post which he

had held for sixteen years. In one of Patterson's private memorandum

books, now before us, there are some curious entries, in his own

handwriting, with regard to that charge, in which he summarises various

arguments which might be urged against the probability of its

truthfulness, but which neither affirm nor deny its validity. If these

notes had not been made by his own hand, and the pronoun I had not

been once inadvertently used, they might be supposed to have been the

production of one on whom was devolved the legal defence of the


When Patterson arrived in London, he found the friends who had formerly

used their influence in his favor extremely cool; and thus all hope of

his restoration to the governorship was blighted. The large sums he had

expended in the election of a house favorable to his views, and the

impossibility of saving any part of his annual income (five hundred

pounds sterling), without sacrificing the becoming dignity of his post,

added to the circumstance that his wife and family had to be maintained

in England during the whole period of his incumbency, rendered his means

extremely limited. Being pressed by his creditors, his extensive and

valuable property in the island was sold--under hard laws, which had been

enacted under his own administration--at nominal prices. It need

therefore excite no surprise that he never returned to a scene invested

with so many painful recollections.

But the question occurs: what became of the escheated lands which were

ordered to be restored to the original proprietors? After the

proceedings already recorded, no determined effort to obtain the

property was made by the original holders, with regard to whose claims

to restitution no doubt could now exist. The assembly did, indeed, pass

an act in 1792, by which the old proprietors were permitted to take

possession of their property; but eleven years having elapsed since the

sales took place, and complications of an almost insuperable nature

having in consequence ensued, the government deemed it inexpedient to

disturb the present holders, more particularly as not a few of them had

effected a compromise with the original grantees, which entitled them to

permanent possession. Hence the act referred to was disallowed, and thus

a subject which had for years agitated the community was permitted to

remain in continued abeyance.