A Memorial Regarding Land Grants in Digby Township dated 1790|
Transcribed from the original by the staff at the Admiral Digby Museum
In pursuance of a Commision under the seal of His Excellency Sir John Wentworth Baronet
L.L.D. Lieutenant Governor and commander in Chief in and over His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia and its Dependancies
V',V',V', dated the 16th day of October 1790 to us whose names are herewith subscribed directed We have
proceded, agreeable to His Excellencys instructions accompanying the same, by public notifications to call on all persons interested in lands lying within the township of Digby, they themselves or their agents, to produce their respective titles or claims to us; and furthermore easy reception of such titles or claims we appointed a Clerk who kept an office for that purpose at Digby from the 6th day of June 1799 to 15th of August following, at which office we assembled together twice for the space of three weeks at each time to hear and examine. We found every person residing within the township of Digby ready to aid and assist us in getting at the truth of facts, and have reason to believe that no papers relating to the subject of our inquiry have by such persons been wilfully withheld from us.
After examining all the plans, titles, deeds and other public records relating to the land within the said Township and finding that no accurate plan of the several surveys of the same had been made, we used a plan of the township of Digby as it is now actually settled and proposed to be made by John Harris and John Moody, Deputy surveyor legally qualified and who had not heretofore been employed in the said township. The correctness of their plan has been ascertained of actual measurements, and after being subject to the public inspection of the settlers, has met their approbation.
Each lot or parcel of land delineated on the said plan; we have reported upon in order in which it is marked or numbered on the said plan: and have in that order entered on report in several books or lists signed by us.
This report we believe to be as free from error as the nature of the investigation (attended with many difficulties) would we admit. For though (owing to the inaccuracy of form surveys and plans,the hurry and irregularity of the first people in settling as well as conveying, and the confused manner in which the business of the late Governor Parrs agents at Digby was conducted) it has necessarily happened that some persons have titles of different kinds on paper without being able to find any corresponding lands; Yet, we believe that no person claiming by himself or under another, in consequence of lands actually and improved, has by us been overlooked or reported otherwise than for the identical lot is settled.
It has in some cases happened that special grants from Government have covered lots equitably improved by grantees of the general grant of the township of Digby or loyal settlers and disbanded soldiers who had the same asigned to them by Governor Barrs agents at Digby by reason of their being entitled to lands in this province under the Royal Proclamation. These cases are especially noted by us.
Such settlers as are now residents in the township of Digby are for the most part
purchasors, but for the most part also, the first occupiers and improvers of their respective lands some bought of the grantees of the general grant and others of the first asignees and special grantees. They are however all American Loyalists or disbanded soldiers who came to this province at the place of 1783. Many of them have had no lands ever given them by Government, owing to their distance from the place of application at Halifax and their want of ability to break the scene of confusion attending the first forming and settlement by the agents in order to propose their claimsin the consideration and County of Government. The cases of many are marked with peculiar circumstances of hardship.
Some settlers entitled in their own names only purchased under the general grant of Digby, but who possess no specific lands on that account, we have inserted in a list signed by us; as we have also, the names of some other loyalist settlers who have a claim under the Royal Proclamation as yet unsatisfied. They are humbly recommended to the notice of Government.
The great uncertainty of landed titles in Digby owing to its being by mistake located over the land before surveyed by the name of Conway and contained in a prior grant yet outstanding to John McNutt and others, and owing to the ill effects of the general grant the ?? and in some cases surreptitious obtaining of special grants as well as the disorders in the agents proceedings and in the mode
of locating and settling the lots occasioned many good families to leave the township before the managers of their first settlement did. Then managers have all long since disappeared. The present inhabitants are however under great anxiety, but hope for security from the asistance of Government, being all unsatisfied that their losses, expenses and disappointments hitherto have been wholly occasioned by designing or ignorant men who coming to this Country with them were owing to the hurry and confusion that then ?? and perhaps to the want of more suitable men amongst them, necessarily entrusted with the management between them and the public office of the good intentions of Government, in making the present investigation they maintain the most grateful sense.
As the expense attending this investigation as well as that which will ? perfecting the Titles to lands in the township of Digby, is necessarily of a general nature, we could not, except in some special cases of surveys. call on individuals to make it good. And as the major part of the inhabitants have already expended great sums in purchasing but the improvements made by Mr. Franklin's settlers and in paying office fees and other
disbursments, it is humbly submitted to Government to take into consideration the means of lightening as much as possible the expenses that must of necessity follow the pursuing this investigation to a perfecting of their titles.