Important acquisitions

Rules and regulations of the North-British Society in Halifax, Nova-Scotia.

Author North British Society (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Title Rules and regulations of the North-British Society in Halifax, Nova-Scotia.
Imprint Halifax, Nova Scotia: John Howe
Date of Publication 1791
Language English
Notes The Halifax North British Society was founded on 26 March 1768, making it the oldest Scottish charitable society formed in Canada. The Halifax society was the latest addition to a small number of ethnic Scottish associations established along the eastern seaboard of North America. The first one was the Charitable Society of Boston, which was set up as early as 1657 to provide relief for local Scottish people in need. By the mid-18th century St Andrew's Societies had been established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1729, in Philadelphia in 1747, and in New York in 1756. Canadian societies were slower to develop as Canada did not become the main destination of British emigrants until after the American Revolution. The town of Halifax in Nova Scotia had been founded in 1749 under the direction of the British Board of Trade and Plantations under the command of Governor Edward Cornwallis. The town was named after the British statesman the 2nd Earl of Halifax, who had played a major role in the founding of the settlement. The creation of the town was an attempt to bring European Protestant settlers to the region to counter-balance the presence of French Catholic settlers in Nova Scotia; it contravened existing treaties with the French and Native American tribes and subsequently triggered a war between the rival factions. Halifax in its early years was accordingly an important military and naval base for the British forces. As early as 1752 a local newspaper, The Halifax Gazette, was printed, the first newspaper to be printed in Canada, and only the third to be printed in North America. A measure of peace came to Nova Scotia in 1761, but life in this isolated frontier region was often a struggle for settlers due to the inhospitable environment and the long, harsh winters. The North British Society, also known as 'The Scots' and 'The Scots Club', was founded along the lines of the other Scottish societies in the American colonies. It was a national and patriotic association whose main objectives were to provide help to Scottish emigrants, to give financial and material assistance to those in distress, to maintain a patriotic, i.e. pro-British, sentiment among the Scottish emigre community, and to foster links between other similar societies elsewhere in North America. It also later helped to fund the passage home for Scots who wished to return to their homeland but could not afford to do so. A constitution was drawn up in 1768 and revised in 1786. In 1791, as the Society continued to grow in size and importance, a further revision was deemed necessary and a committee was appointed to improve the bye-laws. The result was captured in print in this small pamphlet, which was presumably distributed to all the members of the Society. The printer was the Boston-born John Howe (1754-1835), who had moved to Halifax during the American War of Independence because of his loyalist sympathies. He would later become the king's printer for Canada. The pamphlet provides some fascinating information about the operation of charitable societies in 18th century North America. It lists the entrance criteria for the Society  all members had to be Scottish or had to have Scottish parents or at least a Scottish father. An entrance fee of not less than four dollars had to be paid, followed by quarterly fees of three shillings. There were three categories of members: ordinary, perpetual and honorary; members who missed four consecutive quarterly meetings without a good excuse lost their membership. In addition to its other charitable functions, funds were made available through the various office holders for the care of sick members and also for the widows of deceased members. At the end is a list of current office bearers and of 100 members who had joined from the foundation of the Society onwards. In 1794, the Society had the honour of hosting Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn, at their annual St. Andrew's Day celebrations. Edward, the fourth son of George III, and father of Queen Victoria, was based in Canada between 1791 and 1800. From 1794 onwards he lived at the Royal Navy's base in Halifax and became a fixture of British North American society. Following on from the success of Halifax Scottish society, the St. Andrew's Society of St. John, New Brunswick, was established in 1798. However, other Scottish ethnic associations only emerged in Canada during the early 19th century, with the creation of major urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, all of which had St. Andrew's Societies by the 1840s. The North British Society in Halifax continues to this day; NLS has a few publications from the 19th and 20th centuries relating to its commemoration of Scotland and Scottish figures such as Burns and Scott in its collections. There is no recorded copy of this pamphlet in major North American or British libraries. This copy survives in its original marbled paper wrappers; on the front free endpaper is an inscription "Allan" in an 18th-century hand, which could imply that the former owner was relative or descendant of William Allan, one of the members listed at the back of the pamphlet. William Allan may be identified with Major William Allan (1720-1790), a Scottish officer in the British Army who was one of the original settlers of Halifax. He lived there for 10 years before relocating to Fort Lawrence in Nova Scotia, where he worked as a farmer and merchant.
Shelfmark RB.s.2881
Reference Sources Bookseller's notes
Acquired on 22/11/13
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