IN 1762: TROUBLED TIMES IN KINGS COUNTY (September 26/06)

Some seven years after the Expulsion, James Stuart Martell writes in his work on pre-Loyalist settlement in the Minas Basin, “the Acadian problem in Nova Scotia once more became acute.”

Since the Expulsion of 1755 removed most of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, it seems unlikely that problems with them arose nearly a decade later. A few Acadians avoided the Expulsion by hiding in the countryside, but historians tell us they soon surrendered after nearly perishing in the wilderness. Historians also say some Acadians found their way back into the province immediately after the Expulsion, but apparently not in any number to cause concern.

However, in preparing his thesis in 1933, Martell conducted a thorough search of provincial archives records regarding the Acadians. He found that the number of Acadians remaining in 1762 alarmed the relatively young settlements of New Englanders. To put it bluntly, the Planters simply didn’t trust the remaining Acadians and there were suspicions they were up to no good. Fueling this suspicion was the arrival of a French fleet off the coast.

Martell concludes that the Acadians may have been considering an uprising. “The number of ‘neutral French’ had been steadily increasing since 1756,” he writes, and the provincial government said, “they were incessant in their endeavors to break up the Indian peace treaties.” In 1762, as a result of pressure from settlers, Acadians residing in the province were forbidden “from carrying guns and going at large in the country.” At the highest level of government the removal of “troublesome Acadians” was seriously being considered; a second expulsion, in other words.

Apparently fear of Acadian support for French military action was not unfounded. “The province was ill prepared for internal revolt,” Martell writes, and in Kings County especially, the “numbers and attitude of the Acadians must have been exceptionally menacing.” Due to this perceived menace, some 70 settlers in Horton Township had already departed and more were expected to leave.

In Kings County and elsewhere in the province the militia had been marshaled and a general roundup of Acadians began. In Kings County, Martell writes, “able bodied Acadians numbering 130, under a guard of 100 militiamen, were taken from Kings County for the safety and security of the settlers” and marched to Halifax. After the Acadians were removed it was discovered that they had been “concealing in secret places a considerable quantity of ammunition for small arms.”

But even with the Acadians removed the unrest in Kings County remained. With most men serving in the militia, a new menace arose. From Martell: “The Indians gave the Kings County settlers further cause for worry, threatening destruction to the townships when most of the men were away on military duty. The return of the militiamen, sent back from Halifax to protect the (threatened) settlements, saved the situation. The savages were easily dispersed in the absence of the Acadians who originally incited them.”

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