Root Begin To Take Hold

Proprietors indifferent to their engagements--Extent to which

settlement was effected--Complaints of the People of

nonfulfilment of engagements--Character of the Reply--The

influence of the Proprietors with the Home Government--The Duke

of Kent--Proposal in 1780 to name the Island New Ireland--The name

adopted--Formation of Light Infantry, and Volunteer

Horse--Immigration of Highlanders--Memoir
f General Fanning.

As proof that the great body of the proprietors were utterly

indifferent to the engagements they contracted when they obtained their

lands, it is only necessary to state that in only ten of the sixty-seven

townships into which the island was divided were the terms of settlement

complied with, during the first ten years which had elapsed since

possession was granted. In nine townships settlement was partially

effected, and in forty-eight no attempt whatever at settlement seems to

have been made. In 1797, or thirty years after the grants were issued,

the house of assembly, sensible of the necessity of taking action for

the more effectual settlement of the island, passed a series of

resolutions,--founded on a deliberate and painstaking investigation of

all the townships,--which were embodied in a petition to the home

government, praying that measures should be taken to compel proprietors

to fulfil the conditions on which the land had been granted. The

assembly drew attention to the following facts: That, on twenty-three

specified townships, consisting of four hundred and fifty-eight thousand

five hundred and eighty acres, not one settler was resident; that on

twelve townships the population consisted only of thirty-six families,

which, on an average of six persons to each family, numbered in the

aggregate two hundred and sixteen souls, who thus constituted the entire

population of more than half of the island. On these and other grounds,

it appeared to the house that the failure of so many of the proprietors

in implementing the terms and conditions of their grants was highly

injurious to the growth and prosperity of the island, ruinous to its

inhabitants, and destructive of the just expectations and views of the

government in its settlement. The house contended that the long

forbearance of the government, towards the proprietors who had failed to

do their duty, had no other effect than to enable them to speculate on

the industry of the colony. The house was of opinion that the island, if

fully settled, was adequate for the maintenance of half a million of

inhabitants, and it prayed that the proprietors should be either

compelled to do their duty, or that their lands should be escheated, and

granted to actual settlers.

The petition embodying these views was forwarded to the Duke of

Portland,--the colonial secretary at the time,--and the force of its facts

and arguments seems to have been felt by the government, for a despatch

was sent to Governor Fanning, intimating that measures would be adopted

to rectify the grave evils enumerated in the petition. The process of

escheat was not, however, acceptable to the proprietors who had done

their duty by settling their lands, for the obvious reason, that in the

event of free grants being made of the forfeited property, the tenants

on the already-settled laud would prefer to give up their farms and

become proprietors. In conformity with the promise made by government,

Governor Fanning, in his speech to the assembly in November, 1802, said

that he had the satisfaction to inform them, on the highest authority,

that the public affairs of the island had been brought under the

consideration of His Majesty's ministers in a manner highly favorable to

the late humble and dutiful representations made on behalf of the

inhabitants, respecting the many large, unsettled, and uncultivated

tracts of land in the island. In order to give effect to the measures

which had been adopted by His Majesty's ministers, it would be necessary

that the government of the island should be prepared to adopt, when

circumstances should render it advisable, the requisite and legal steps

for effectually revesting in His Majesty such lands as might be liable

to be escheated. The house, in their reply to the address, requested a

more explicit statement from his excellency as to the information which

he had received on this important subject; to which his excellency

replied, that he had already presented all the information which it was

in his power to furnish. It does indeed seem strange that the governor

should have been instructed to refer officially to measures which "had

been adopted" by the home government for the rectification of an

admitted evil, and yet was apparently unable to explain the character of

these measures for the guidance of the assembly in a branch of

legislation which they were unequivocally invited to adopt. Such

mysterious reticence was in direct opposition to ordinary governmental

procedure in similar cases. But the local government, never dilatory in

business connected with escheat, prepared a bill entitled "An act for

effectually revesting in His Majesty, his heirs and successors, all such

lands as are, or may be, liable to forfeiture within this island," which

was passed by the assembly and assented to by the governor on the second

of April, 1803. It did seem a mockery of the assembly when that bill

was, contrary to the expectations of the people, disallowed by the home

government, without any reason assigned. A committee on the state of the

colony accordingly drew up a strong and spirited remonstrance, in which

they boldly said:

"It appears to the committee, and they have the strongest reason to

believe, that the royal assent to the said act for reinvesting His

Majesty with such lands as are or may be liable to forfeiture within

this island, has been graciously approved by His Majesty." They then

expressed their conviction, which was well founded, that the formal

royal allowance had been withheld by means of unfounded representations

of interested individuals in England. The committee sent these

resolutions to William and Thomas Knox, the agents for the island in

London, with instructions to use their utmost efforts to give effect to

the remonstrance; and the house of assembly also presented an address to

the lieutenant-governor, complaining of the efforts that had been made

to render His Majesty's intentions abortive, requesting him to transmit

their petition and resolutions to Lord Castlereagh, and duplicates to

the Earl of Liverpool, president of the Committee of the Privy Council

for Trade and Plantations. The house also appointed a committee,

consisting of Holland, Macgowan, Stewart, Palmer, and Macdonald, to draw

up a new bill, substantially the same as the former, which was duly

passed. Nothing was wanting on the part of the assembly to neutralize

the influence brought to bear in London in order to frustrate their

intentions; and if the British government had not on this occasion lost

its usual character for consistency and adherence to principles, so

explicitly enunciated, the royal intentions, as intimated by the

lieutenant-governor, would have been honestly carried out. The period

was one of great political excitement in London. Lord Hobart, through

whom the governor had received a solemn promise that the evil complained

of would be rectified, had given place in the colonial secretaryship to

the exciteable Castlereagh, and the solemn obligations of office appear

to have been forgotten in the political fermentation of the moment. It

would be difficult to point out, in the history of the British colonial

administration, another instance where the dictates of political

consistency and honor were so flagrantly disregarded as in the case

under review.

The influence exerted on government by the proprietors resident in

London seemed irresistible, and was such as no government of our time

could tolerate. The key to their power seems to be found in the

circumstances that they were, for the most part, men in intimate social

relations with parties in office, and, moreover, mainly consisted of

officers who were supposed to have rendered good service in time of war,

and whose complaints or representations, therefore, commanded at all

times the royal consideration and sympathy. The proprietors, besides,

cultivated the good-will and friendship of the under-secretaries, and

other secondary government officials, who kept them informed of what was

going on, and contributed in many indirect ways to promote their views.

Mr. Stuart, in his letters to Governor Patterson,--who was by no means

distinguished for the suaviter in modo,--frequently urged him to write

certain persons in the government offices in a conciliatory and friendly

manner, as he was convinced that they could exert no small influence in

behalf of his interests. The proprietors not only succeeded in

preventing the resolutions commended by the Duke of Portland from

leading to any practical result, but also in obtaining, in 1802, an

important reduction in the quitrents which remained unpaid, and which

now amounted to the large sum of fifty-nine thousand one hundred and

sixty-two pounds sterling; the sum due on some of the townships being

actually more than their estimated value. In order to discriminate

between the proprietors who had exerted themselves to carry out the

terms of their grants, and those who had not, the government divided the

commutation into four classes, requiring from the proprietors who had on

their property the necessary number of settlers only five years'

quitrents, instead of thirty-two years',--namely, from 1769 to 1801,--and

making a proportionate deduction in the case of the four other classes.

But as evidence of the determination of many of the landowners not to

conform to the law, and their confidence in their own power to set the

regulations of government at defiance,--as they had hitherto

systematically done,--it may be here stated, that even the reduced amount

does not seem to have been paid; and it was mainly in consequence of

such daring and long-continued violation of obligation that the people,

from time to time, in paroxysms of just indignation, demanded the

establishment of courts of escheat.

In 1794, Prince Edward--afterwards Duke of Kent, and father of Her

Majesty the Queen--arrived in Halifax. In that year two provincial

companies were raised for the protection of the island, and when His

Royal Highness became commander-in-chief of the forces in British North

America, he ordered new barracks to be erected at Charlottetown, and

defensive works for the protection of the harbor to be constructed. The

Duke never visited the island, but its inhabitants were duly sensible of

the practical interest he took in its welfare; and having determined

that its name should be changed, on account of the mistakes incident to

other towns bearing the same designation, a local act was introduced in

1798, which changed the name to Prince Edward Island, which act received

the royal allowance on the first of February, 1799. We find that in the

year 1780, an act for altering the name of the island from Saint John to

that of New Ireland was passed in the assembly with a suspending clause.

In a letter addressed by Mr. Stuart to governor Patterson, dated the

third of March, 1781, he says: "Your passing an act to change the name

of the island is considered as a most unprecedented instance of

irregularity. The reasons you give why it should be changed are admitted

to be of some force, but they insist upon it that you ought, in common

decency, to have set forth those reasons in a petition to the King,

instead of passing a presumptuous act which is neither warranted by law

nor usage." This act was, of course, disallowed; but the governor did

not lose sight of the hint as to petitioning, as appears from a passage

in another letter from Stuart to Governor Patterson, dated, October,

1783, in which he says: "I am not unmindful of your petition for

changing the name of the island, but I keep it back till we shall have

carried points of more importance. When they are accomplished, I shall

bring it forward." Had the first application been made by petition to

the King, it is extremely probable that the proposed change of name

would have been adopted.

Besides the two companies mentioned, a light infantry company and three

troops of volunteer horse were formed in the island, who were handsomely

clothed and mounted at their own expense, and armed at the expense of

the government; at this time every man from sixteen to sixty years of

age was subject to the militia laws. These wise precautions prevented

any hostile descent on the island during the war, and tended to infuse a

spirit of self-reliance and patriotic ardor into the community.

If the reduction of the quitrents failed as an inducement to the

proprietors to pay what was now really due to government, it did not

fail to lead to brisk business in the sale of property, for from the

commutation to the year 1806, nearly a third of the entire land in the

island had been transferred by purchase to persons, many of whom were

really determined, by industry and strict regard to law, to make the

venture permanently profitable.

The year 1803 was remarkable in the history of the island for a large

immigration of highlanders from Scotland. The Earl of Selkirk brought

out to his property about eight hundred souls. They were located on land

north and south of Point Prim, which had been previously occupied by

French settlers, but a large portion of which was now again covered with

wood, and thus rendered difficult of cultivation. Many of his lordship's

tenants became successful settlers.

Lieutenant-General Fanning's connection with the island, as governor,

terminated in 1804. During his administration the island did not make

any remarkable progress in its various interests; but Mr. John

McGregor,--a native of the island, and of whom we shall have more to say

by-and-bye,--in his work on British North America, has hardly done the

general justice, in representing him as of very "obscure origin, and

owing his future to circumstances, the advantages of which he had the

finesse to seize." General Edmund Fanning was a native of America, and

was born in the Province of New York, on the twenty-fourth of April,

1739. He was the son of James Fanning, a captain in the British service,

and of his second wife Mary Smith, daughter of Colonel William Smith,

who for some time administered the government of New York, and was sole

proprietor of Smith Town, on Long Island. The paternal grandfather of

General Fanning came to America, from Ireland, with Earl Bellemont, in


Captain James Fanning, having disposed of his commission while in

England, returned to New York in 1748, when his son Edmund, then in the

ninth year of his age, was sent to a preparatory school, and thence

removed to Yale College, New Haven, where, after going through the

regular course of collegiate studies, he received the degrees of

Bachelor and Master of Arts; and in 1774 he was honored by the

University of Oxford, England, with the degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

From college he proceeded to North Carolina, where, after studying two

years under the attorney general of that province, he was, in 1762,

admitted to the bar. He was successful in his profession; but the

troubles of the eventful period in America which followed the passing of

the Stamp Act by the British Parliament, induced him to enter the civil

and military service of his country. In 1765 he was appointed by

Governor Tryon of North Carolina one of the Judges of the Supreme Court

in that province in the room of Mr. Justice Moore, who was dismissed

from office upon the supposition of his favoring the public commotions

at the time existing in North Carolina. In 1768 he raised, at the

request of Governor Tryon, a corps of eight hundred provincials to

oppose and put down a body of insurgents who styled themselves

regulators, whose object was to rescue from trial and punishment leading

rebels. In 1771 he was again called upon by Governor Tryon to raise and

embody a corps of provincials to suppress an insurrection in North

Carolina, and was second to Governor Tryon at the battle of Allamance,

in which action, the insurgents, to the number of twelve thousand, were

totally defeated.

In the year 1773 Colonel Fanning went to England, strongly recommended

to His Majesty's ministers for his services in North Carolina. Having

applied for the office of Chief Justice of Jamaica, he received a letter

from Lord Dartmouth, then secretary of state for the American

department, stating that it was impossible in this case to comply with

his wishes, but that he should have the first vacant post that might be

deemed worthy of his services. Having received this assurance, he

returned to America. Two months after his arrival at New York, he was

appointed to the office of surveyor general of that province, the annual

fees of which were said to be worth two thousand two hundred pounds

sterling. But in the following year Colonel Fanning was driven from his

house in New York, and took refuge on board the Asia, ship of war. He

afterwards served in the army, having raised a regiment called "The

King's American Regiment." During the war he was twice wounded. There is

ample proof that he discharged his military duties with courage and


On the 24th of February, 1783, Colonel Fanning was appointed

Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, an appointment which he accepted

with a promise from Lords Sydney and North that it should lead to

something better. Subsequently John Parr was appointed

Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, and, as previously stated, Governor

Fanning was ordered to relieve Governor Patterson, of Prince Edward

Island, which he did in the confident expectation that he should succeed

to the government of Nova Scotia on the retirement or death of Parr. In

1791 Fanning was informed of the death of Parr by a letter from Richard

Buckeley, president of the council of Nova Scotia, who concluded by

saying, "as the government of this province, by His Majesty's late

instructions, devolves on you, as senior lieutenant-governor, I

accordingly give you early notice of the vacancy." This information was

received too late in the autumn to admit of Governor Fanning's

proceeding to Halifax, and while making preparations for going thither,

he was informed that the position was conferred on Mr.

Wentworth,--intelligence which caused him great disappointment, as he had

well-founded expectations of succeeding to the government of Nova

Scotia. The governor applied immediately for leave of absence, but was

politely refused, on the ground that his absence might, in time of war,

prove dangerous to the island. After repeated applications, he at last

received a letter from Lord Hobart, dated the 6th of May, 1804, granting

him liberty to return to England after the arrival of Colonel DesBarres,

and informing him that His Majesty had directed that, in consideration

of his long and faithful services, a provision at the rate of five

hundred pounds sterling should be made for him yearly in the estimates

of the island. Addresses were presented to the governor before his

departure, by the council, the respective counties, and the grand jury

of the Island. In 1816 General Fanning closed his accounts at the audit

office, when His Majesty's ministers, to mark their approval of his

administration of the government of the island, directed a retrospective

increase of his salary from the period of his appointment to the colony,

in 1786, to that of his retirement. General Fanning died at his

residence in Upper Seymore Street, London, on the 28th of February,

1818, in the seventy-ninth year of his age.

Here we introduce to our readers the Rev. Theophilus DesBrisay, who, by

royal warrant, dated the twenty-first day of September, 1774, was

appointed to "the parish of Charlotte." Mr. DesBrisay was the son of the

gentleman who has been mentioned as administrator of the island during

the absence of Governor Patterson. He was born in Thurles, in the County

of Tipperary, Ireland, on the ninth of October, 1754, arrived in the

island in the year 1775, and was rector of Charlotte Parish till his

death, which occurred on the fourteenth of March, 1823. He was the only

protestant clergyman on the island till the year 1820; was a man of

sterling character, and a faithful servant of the Divine Master. Like

Bishop McEachern and others, he was subjected, in the faithful discharge

of his sacred duty, to privations of which the present generation have

no adequate conception. [G]