On October 13, 1758, the Boston Gazette published a proclamation by Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence that, in effect, invited New Englanders to consider settling in the province.

The Governor’s proclamation informed New Englanders that “since the enemy (the French) which had formerly disturbed and harassed the province was no longer able to do so,” – they have been “compelled to retire and take refuge in Canada,” Lawrence said – it was time to people the land left vacant by deportation of the Acadians.

Governor Lawrence concluded his proclamation with the words that he was now ready to “receive any proposals that may be hereafter made to me, for effectually settling the said vacated, or any other lands, within the Province ….”

Although there had been at least one earlier proposal to settle New Englanders in Nova Scotia, the proclamation likely was the catalyst that spurred the Planter migration to the province. Historians tell us the Lawrence proclamation stirred much interest in New England, and Lawrence and his agents in Boston and New York soon received inquiries from groups and individuals asking for additional information.

To answer the questions being asked, Governor Lawrence felt compelled to issue a second proclamation, dated January 11, 1759. It is this document that is perhaps the most important of the two proclamations since it spelled out in detail land grant conditions and what was expected of each grantee. Thanks to Internet historian Ivan Smith, Canning, who provided the link, anyone wishing to read the proclamation in its entirety can find it at:

In this second proclamation (for those who have no access to computers) Lawrence stated that no person could receive a grant of more than 1000 acres. Grantees were required to plant, cultivate and improve one third of their holding each decade until all was under cultivation. Land was to be distributed so that each grantee would receive a share of upland, meadow and marsh. Townships containing 100,000 were being established.

Eventually every township would have the privilege of electing two members to the provincial Assembly. No quit rent would be charged for the first 10 years the grantee occupied his land; after that it would be a token amount of one shilling for each 50 acres.

An interesting aspect of the proclamation regards religion. Protestants taking up land grants would enjoy religious freedom and allowed to build their own meeting houses and choose their own ministers. However, in that part of the proclamation dealing with religious freedom one finds the words: “Papists excepted.”

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