Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
November 10, 1892


Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.


The most interesting of the persons named in the last article as grantees of land in this region are Francis Bernard and associates, Boyd, the Owens and Ferrell.  All the others, excepting the Burton grantees, who had but a fishing station here, appear to have been only speculators in land, with no intention of bringing in settlers or of becoming permanent residents.

Sir Francis Bernard was governor of the province of Massachusetts Bay from 1760 to 1769.  He died in England in 1779.  His wish to place settlers at Schoodic falls has been already mentioned,1 and the failure of this plan was not due to him.  The political troubles which ended in the American Revolution no doubt prevented a renewal of the attempt.  After his death, one of his sons came to Pleasant Point, where he built for himself a house of logs, and lived for some months with no companion but a dog.  He cut down a few trees, became discouraged, and departed.2  This son afterwards became Sir John Bernard, baronet; held offices under the British crown in Barbadoes and St. Vincent; and died in 1809.

Thomas Pownal, one of Governor Bernard’s associates in this grant, was probably Governor Pownal, his predecessor; who, as governor of Massachusetts, did much to promote the settlement of the eastern districts, and who, after his recall to England, still continued to take an active interest in the affairs of the colony.

To find the name of John Mitchell among those of the grantees of this tract is certainly very strange, if the Mitchell intended is the surveyor in whose report of the previous year it was so confidently maintained that the Magaguadavic was the true St. Croix.3  There may be some ground for the opinion that, to him and his associates, the most convincing argument in favor of the boundary claimed by Nova Scotia was this grant of so large a portion of the disputed territory.

James Boyd, the Bocabec grantee, was not only the first resident trader in Passamaquoddy, but was connected with the development of the lumber trade and with some of the first successful attempts to bring in New England settlers.  His commission as a magistrate for Sunbury county, dated March 17, 1767, marks the establishment here of the civil authority of the province of Nova Scotia.  Boyd was a Scotchman by birth, and the rocky headland near the mouth of Chamcook harbor was called by him Kilmarnock head in honor of his native place.  In his journals4 he records his exploration of the region in 1763, and certain subsequent events.  He established his trading post at Indian Island in that year; and in 1770, or later, was still residing there.  A note in the boundary MSS. indicates that he lived at St. Andrews later; and says that Curry was at one time ‘a co-partner in trade’ with him.  He seems to have sympathized with the revolutionists, and probably abandoned the place and went to Massachusetts when the war interfered with his trade at Passamaquoddy.

The Owens, the four original grantees of Campobello, were cousins.  Their leader, Captain William Owen, afterwards Admiral Owen, was a personal friend of Lord William Campbell, governor of Nova Scotia, to whom he owed this grant of Passamaquoddy Outer Island, and in whose honor he gave to it the name it since has borne.  He had seen active service as a naval officer in the East Indies, and had lost his right arm at Pondicherry.  After taking possession of the island, and placing settlers upon it in fulfilment of a condition of the grant, he returned to England; and affairs on the island were entrusted to agents until after the close of the Revolutionary war.

David Owen came to Campobello in 1787, and lived and died on the island.  As resident proprietor, he did much to restore it to the prosperity and importance of its earlier days.

William Owen, jr., after the death of David Owen, sold the Campobello property to William Fitzwilliam, the second Admiral Owen.

A short sketch of the life of Capt. Thomas Ferrell, of Deer Island, is reserved for another article.

So far as the writer is aware, there is but little known of the other grantees of this period.

John Tucker, of the Schoodic grant, would seem to have been the Capt. Tucker mentioned among the early traders.  To obtain so large a grant, he must have been, we should suppose, a man of considerable influence, and it should not be very difficult, therefore, to learn something further about him.

Capt. Sheriff was, perhaps, Capt. William Shirreff, (or Sheriffe,) deputy quarter-master-general of the forces in America in the year 1768, and aide-de-camp to Gen. Gage.5

In the Collections of Massachusetts Historical Society for 1794, mention is made of John Mascarene, a citizen of Boston, who died in 1778.  He was the author of poetical and political essays.  There is nothing, however, to connect him with the Mascareen grant.

Lieut. Col. Joseph Gorham was a member of the council of Nova Scotia under Lord William Campbell in 1766.  He commanded the Royal Fencible Americans during the American revolution, and after the reduction of the regiment, October, 1784, went to England.

1Article XXXVII.

2Lorenzo Sabine, in Chapter III. of Kilby’s Eastport.

3Article XX.

4Article XX.; and Kilby’s Eastport, pp. 106-109.

5He was, I believe, a son of William Shirreff, Esq., of Annapolis Royal, long a member of the council and secretary of Nova Scotia, who died at Boston, May 5, 1768.  The son succeeded the father as Provincial Secretary in 1769.-W. O. Raymond.

Addition: Article LIII contains the following addition to this one: "Add to paragraph ending with the name of Gen. Gage: A list of army officials at New York in the year 1776 includes the names of Deputy Quarter Master General, Major Wm. Sheriff; Assistant Quarter Master General, Capt. Thomas Gamble.  No doubt they are the men referred to in the Tucker grant as Capt. Sheriff and Lieut. Gamble; both having been promoted in rank since 1768."