The Maugerville Settlement The Maugerville Settlement
The Maugerville Settlement
1763 - 1824
Several years ago, through the courtesy of Judge Barker of St. John, there
came into my hands a number of papers which had originally been in the
possession of David Burpee, one of the first settlers of the township of
Maugerville, on the River St. John. These papers embraced a number of deeds,
an account book, a diary, copies of a number of letters and a pretty complete
record of the transactions of the Congregational church at Maugerville, from
the year 1773 to 1824. On perusing these papers I have been many times
forcibly impressed with their value from a historical point of view,
especially as illustrating the mode of life in this early Nova Scotia
settlement, and I propose here with their help to give some account of
Maugerville and its people, as well as of the County of Sunbury generally,
relying as little as possible on anything that has already been published on
The principal source of the published information which we possess in regard
to the Maugerville settlement, is a lecture which was delivered in St. John by
the late Moses H. Perley, about fifty years ago. This gentleman was a
descendant of one of the original settlers, and, having been born about the
beginning of the present century, he had the opportunity of learning much from
tradition and family documents in regard to the histroy of Sunbury. According
to the narrative of this gentleman the government of Massachusetts, in 1761 ,
sent an exploring party to ascertain the position of affairs and the state of
the country on the River St. John. The leader of the party was Israel Perley,
the grandfather of Moses H. Perley, and he was accompanied by twelve men in
the pay of Massachusetts. They proceeded to Machias by water, in the month of
February, and there shouldered their knapsacks and, he being a land surveyor,
steered by compass and succeeded in reaching the head waters of the River
Oromocto, and by it descended to the St. John. They found the country wholly
unsettled, and with this report they returned to Boston. If the statement that
this exploring expedition was paid for by Massachusetts is accurate, there is,
no doubt, some record of it in the archives of that state, and the fact would
seem to show that the old land-hunger of the Puritans, which involved them in
a disgraceful but unsuccessful attempt to steal the province of Maine from its
proprietors, was impelling them to endeavor to bring within the bounds of
Massachusetts the fine territory on the River St. John. This conjecture
derives additional force from the declaration made in 1776 by the settlers on
the St. John River that they desired to submit themselves to the government of
In 1760, James Simonds, who was engaged in business at Newburyport, Mass., was
at St. John Harbour in connection with the carrying of supplies to the
garrison of Fort Frederick and he became impressed with the advantages St.
John offered for trade. On the 28th August, 1762, he arrived at St. John from
Newburyport, in company with James White, Capt. Francis Peabody, Jonathan
Lovet, Hugh Quinton and about fifteen other persons intending to take up his
residence there. Mr. Simonds built his house on the ruins of Charnisay's old
fort, on Portland Point. Simonds and White were partners, and they did
business at St. John under that style, while a business at Newburyport in
which they were interested was conducted by Messrs. Hazen and Jarvis. The
nature of the trade they carried on and the difficulties they had to encounter
may be gathered from the following letter, written by the partners in St. John
to the partners at Newburyport, in 1770. The letter is addressed "Messrs.
Hazen and Jarvis, Merchants, Newbury Port." I have preserved the spelling of
St. Johnn River May 10th 1770.
The Slop St. John's Paquet arrived here the second inst. but the river was
so high and full of ice that we could not begin to unload until 3 days ago,
have taken out 200 Hhs. salt and 4t : 36:0 sugar and have left 650 Bushels
of salt on board and shipd all the lime that is burn and furrs that we
have yet rec'd.
This sp;ring has been so backward that there has been no possibility of
burning any lime. The piles of wood and stone are now frozen together we
have not more than half men enough to save the fish (seven in all the rest
have left us some time since) the first school is now running and the wires
wholy broken down with ice, have no help of the fishermen only abt. 10 days
work of two hands.
The mill could not go before the middle of April and the ice has been
continually breaking the dam ever since.
The saving the gundalo's from being lost at the places where they was left
last fall has taken a great deal of time, have got the last of them home
today but have not any body to caulk them have no nails to trim cases or
board the frames nor any hops but what is picked up at an amazing expence.
But what has been the most difficult and distressing was the want of
provisions and hay. Such a scene of misery of man and beast we never saw
before. There was not any thing of bread kind equal to a bushel of meal for
each person when the schr. sailed the 6th of February and less of meat and
roots in proportion the Indians and hogs had part of that little.
The flour that came in the schr. has been wet and much damaged and having no
Indian corn it will be mostly gone by the time the hunts are finished.
We meant by our memorandum to have the articles over and above what would
fit out the fishing vessels they will want 7 or 8 barrels of the pork and
all the bread for the whole season. They ought to have all their stores when
they leave this place about the first of June.
We have expected Capt. Newman for some time but begin to think he or you
have altered your minds about the trip.
There is a great uneasiness among the fisherman about coffe. They say you
promised them 5lb. each man the same as they had last year and a barrel of
molasses to each vessel. We have not had any of them articles nor any tea
except that of the spruce kind for three months past.
We beg that we may have the articles in our inclosed memorandum by our first
opportunity. If hands can be got to work on shore, we think it will be best
to send sloop back immediately and have her graved here there is part of
pitch enough that we shall not want at present, and if Newman do's not come
there will be no other way to bring the lumber down the river but in the
We have only to add that we shall do all in our powr to catch fish and burn
lime but cannot tell what quantitys we shall have as the few hands here are
sickly and not to be depended upon.
We are gentln. Yr. Humble Servts.
Simonds & White
William Hazen, one of the Newburyport firm, afterwards removed to St. John. In
1765, Simonds, White and Hazen received from the government of Nova Scotia a
grant of a very extensive tract of land at the mouth of the St. John River.
This grant embraced on the east side of the harbor all the land from Union
Street, St. John, north to the Kennebeccasis, and on the west side what is now
known as the Parish of Lancaster. This last tract was then designated the
Township of Conway. A return made to Major Studholm, who commanded at Fort
Howe, on the 8th July, 1783, gives the names of the settlers who had cleared
land and made improvements in the Township of Conway, under agreements with
the grantees up to that date. The return may be summarized as follows:
Name Amount Cleared
Hugh Quinton 15
Peter Smith 10
Thomas Jenkins 12
Samuel Peabody 55
Jonathan Lovet 60
William McKeene 45
Daniel Lovet 30
James Woodman 5
Elijah Esterbrook 7
John Bradley 4
Zebedee Ring 3
Gervis Say 10
Nearly all these people had been driven off their land by raiding parties from
Machias during the Revolutionary war, and compelled to seek shelter up the
river. These raids will partly serve to account for the extremely backward
state of the settlements at the mouth of the St. John, prior to the arrival of
The immediate result of Israel Perley's report of the state of the lands up
the St. John River was the removal of a large number of families to them from
Massachusetts in 1763. According to Moses H. Perley's statement, there were
about two hundred families, numbering eight hundred souls, in this band of
settlers and they were brought in four vessels under the charge of Israel
Perley. The number, however, is probably exaggerated and perhaps four hundred
would be nearer the truth. That at all events was the estimaed number of the
settlers on the St. John in 1764, and a census taken in 1767 showed that there
were but 261 persons in Maugerville, the principal township. This township had
been surveyed in 1762, at the instance of Capt. Francis Peabody, who was the
father-in-law of both Simonds and White and also of Jonathan Lovet. This man,
from his age and character, as well as from the active part he took in the
work of settling the River St. John, must be justly regarded as the founder of
Maugerville and Gagetown and the most prominent and influential person on the
river, while he lived.
The township of Maugerville was on the east side of the St. John River and
began at a point about five miles below Fredericton. Its northerly line was at
right angles with the river and its depth along the river was sixteen miles in
an air line. It embraced, therefore, the present parishes of Maugerville and
Sheffield. Opposite to it was the township of Burton and below the latter,
Gagetown. The three townships were all more or less settled prior to 1770,
but, except in the case of the Maugerville immigration of 1763, it is not now
possible to determine the date of the arrival of the settlers. It is certain,
however, that some of those who came with Perley in that year settled at
Gagetown, amongst others, Edward Coye, one of whose daughters was said to be
the first female child born of English speaking parents on the River St. John.
Nearly all the settlers on the river were from Massachusetts, and the vast
majority of them from a single county, Essex. Thus the Perleys were from
Boxford, the Burpees from Rowley, while other families were from Haverhill,
Newburyport, Ipswich, Gloucester, Salem and other towns of this ancient county
which antedates all others in Massachusetts with the single exception of
Plymouth. These settlers were therefore, for the most part of Puritan stock
and all, or nearly all, were members of the Congregationalist churches of New
England. The following list of surnmaes of settlers on the St. John, prior to
the landing of the Loyalists, is made up from documents in my possession:
In this list of names there are two or three that are probably French, two or
three, such as Anderson and Mitchell, which represent men from Halifax, and
three or four which belong to individuals who had come direct from England,
Scotland or Ireland, but the vast majority were names of the New England
stock. If this stock had reason to complain of having to face a second
emigration, there was abundant consolation in the fact that it was under very
different circumstances from those of their ancestors who settled Salem and
Newburyport. Instead of the barren soil of New England, they had their choice
of the noble intervale lands of the St. John River, which have their fertility
renewed every spring by the overflowing of that great stream. And this land
they received for a price so small as to be merely nominal.
The township of Maugerville was divided into one hundred lots, each with a
frontage on the river and a width of about fifty rods. Four of these lots were
reserved for public purposes: one for a glebe for the Church of England, one
for the Dissenting Protestants, one for the maintenance of a school and one
for the first settled minister. Nearly all the Maugerville lots were taken up
immediately after the first immigration, and the population of the township in
1767 was, as before stated, 261 souls. All these people were natives of
America, with the exception of six English, ten Irish, four Scotch and six
Germans. The enormous preponderance of the native New England element gave a
tone to the character of the settlement, which it never lost until the arrival
of the Loyalists.
Scarcely had the Maugerville people settled themselves in their new
possessions until they began the formation of a church. I have before me a
copy of the original church covenant attested to be correct by Humphry
Pickard, church clerk. It bears no date, but it probably was made in 1763, and
certainly not later than 1764; it is in the following terms:
"We whose name are hereto subscribed apprehending ourselves called of God
(for advancing of his Kingdon and edifying ourselves and posterity) to
combine and embody ourselves into a distinct Church Society and being for
that end orderly dismissed from the Churches to which we heretofore
belonged: do (as we hope) with some measure of seriousness and sincerity,
take upon us the following Covenant, viz:
"As to matters of faith we cordially adhere to the principles of religion
(at least the substance of them) contained in the Shorter Catechism of the
Westminister Assembly of Divines wherewith also the New England Confession
of Faith harmonizeth, not as supposing that there is any authority, much
less infallibility, in these human creeds or forms; but verily believing
that these pricnciples are drawn from and agreeable to the Holy Scripture,
which is the fountain and standard of truth; hereby declaring our utter
dislike of the pelagian Arminian principels, vulgarly so called.
"In a firm belief of the aforesaid doctrines from an earnest desire that we
and ours may receive the love of them and be saved with hopes that what we
are now doing may be a means of so great an happiness; we do now (under a
sense of our utter unworthiness of the honour and priviledges of God's
Covenant people) in solemn and yet free and cheerful manner give up
ourselves and offspring to God the Father, to the Son the Mediator, and the
Holy Ghost the instructor, sanctifier and comforter, to be henceforth the
people and servants of this God, to believe in all His revelations, to
accept of His method of reconciliation, to obey all His commands, and to
keep all His ordinances, to look to and depend upon Him to do all for us,
and work all in us, especially relating to our eternal salvation, being
sensible that of ourselves we can do nothing.
"And it is also our purpose and resolution (by Divine assistance) to
discharge the duties of Christian love and Brotherly watchfulness towards
each other, to train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord, Commanding them and our Household to keep the way of the Lord: to join
together in setting up and maintaining the Publick worship of God among us,
carefully and joyfully to attend upon Christ's Sacrament and institutions;
to yield all obedience and submission to Him or them that shall from time to
time in an orderly manner be made overseers of the flock, to submit to all
the regular administrations and censures of the Church and to contribute all
in our power unto the regularity and peaceableness of those administrations.
"And respecting Church discipline it is our purpose to adhere to the method
contained in the platform for the substance of it agreed upon by the synod
at Cambridge in New England Ano. Dom. 1648 as thinking these methods of
Church Discipline the nearest the Scripture and most likely to maintain and
promote Purity, order and peace of any.
"And we earnestly pray that God would be pleased to smile upon this our
undertaking for his Glory, that whilst we thus subscribe with our hands to
the Lord and sirname ourselves by the Name of Israel; we may through grace
given us become Israelites indeed in whom there is no Guile, that our hearts
may right with God and we be steadfast in His Covenant, that we who are now
combining together in a new church of Jesus Christ, may by the purity of our
faith and morals become one of those Golden Candlesticks among which the Son
of God in way of favor and protection will condescend to walk. And that
every member of it thro' imputed righteousness and inherent grace may
hereafter be found among that happy Multitude whom the glorious head of the
Church, the Heavenly Bridegroome shall present to Himself a glorious church
not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Jonathan Burpee, whose name heads the above list, was a deacon of the church
and at the head of all church movements in Maugerville up to the time of his
death in June, 1781. He was the grandfather of David Burpee, whose papers form
the basis of this account of Maugerville. Deacon Jonathan, judging from the
number and variety of the tools mentioned in the inventory of his estate, must
have been originally a carpenter. I have before me a deed, dated December
29th, 1735, by which Moses Braley, of Rowley, in the County of Essex, in the
Province of Massachusetts Bay, conveys to Jonathan Burpee a lot of land in
that place for a consideration of thirty pounds. Deacon Burpee was the
ancestor of the late Hon. Isaac Burpee, who was Minister of Customs in Mr.
For the first ten years of its existence the Maugerville church had no settled
minister, but the settlement was frequently visited by clergymen, and, in
their absence, the public worship of God was kept up by the deacons and elders
on the Sabbath, by praying and reading sermons and by singing. This fact is
stated by David Burpee, in a letter written by him, to the London Missionary
Society in 1814. In 1769, the Rev. Thomas Wood, who was for ten years Dr.
Brenton's assistant in St. Paul's church, Halifax, made a missionary tour on
the St. John river. On the 2nd July he conducted service and preached to the
English families at the mouth of the river and baptized four children. On the
following Sunday, July 9th, he read service at Maugerville to more than two
hundred persons. He stated in his report to the S. P. G., that owing to the
fact that the congregation was composed chiefly of Dissenters from New
England, and had had a Dissenting minister among them, only two baptisms took
place, but added, "if a prudent missionary could be settled among them I
believe all their prejudices against our forms of worship would vanish."
In 1770 David Burpee, then a young man of eighteeen, kept a diary in which he
briefly noted down the principal occurrences of his life from day to day. From
that we learn that Mr. Zephaniah Briggs was preaching in Maugerville from May
to August of that year. Mr. Briggs was, doubtless, a Congregationalist
minister from New England. I quote the following entries as to church services
from David Burpee's diary:
Friday, January 14th. Private meetings at Mr. Palmer's, and mother went
Sunday, January 14th. The meetwas was at Mr. Barker's, I went to meeting.
Sunday January 21st. Meeting at Mr. Palmer's, I went.
Friday, February 2nd. Private meeting was at our house.
Saturday 26th May. Mr. Zephaniah Briggs came here.
Sunday, 27th May. Mr Briggs preached at Mr. Smith's, his text was in
Ephesians 2nd, 8th verse.
Sunday, June 3rd. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Quinton's, from Isaiah 1st, 3rd
Sunday, 10 June. Mr. Briggs preached again at Mr. Quinton's, from John's
gospel, 3rd and 3rd.
Sunday 24th June. The meeting is at Mr. Elisha Nevers's. Mr. Briggs' text
was Matthew 5th, 15th.
Sunday, 1st July. To-day Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Nevers's, from
Corinthians 15th, 25th and 26th verses.
Sunday, 8th July. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Smith's, from Hebrews 11th
chapter and part of 14th and 15th verses, and from Titus 3rd and 8th verse.
Thursday, 12th July. Mr. Briggs preached from Ezekel 18th, 30th verse.
Sunday, 15th July, 1770. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Nevers's, from Romans
3rd and 19th verse.
July 22nd. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Anderson's, from Proverbs 15th and
Sunday, 29th July. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Quinton's, from 2nd
Corinthians 8th chap., 18, 19, 20th and 21st verses.
Sunday, 5th August, 1770. Mr. Briggs preached at Mr. Quinton's, from
Ephesians 2nd and 1st and 2nd verses.
These entries show that the people of Maugerville were very well supplied with
preaching during the summer of 1770 at least.
On the 30th April, 1765, all the townships on the St. John river were formed
into a county under the name of Subury. On the 29th of May, of that year, a
writ was issued to the inhabitants of the new County, directing them to choose
a fit person to represent them in the General Assembly of Nova Scotia. Their
choice was Charles Morris, son of the first Surveyor General of Nova Scotia.
In 1766, the people of Sunbury appear to have had all the machinery of
government in full operation.
It is therefore curious to find in that very year a marriage celebrated as
described in the following document:
Maugerville, February 23, 1766,
In the presence of Almighty God and this Congregation, Gervas Say and Anna
Russell, inhabitants of the above said township, enter into marriage
Covenant lawfully to dwell together in the fear of God the remaining part of
our lives, in order to perform all ye duties necessary betwixt husband and
wife as witness our hands.
Gervas Say, one of the principals in this affair, and three of the witnesses,
Richard Estey, Daniel Palmaer and Edward Coye, were signers of the original
Church Covenant, so it must be presumed that the marriage thus solemnized was
regarded as perfectly regular, and it is probable that, in the absence of a
minister competent to perform the ceremony, this was the ordinary mode of
The promise made by the members in the Church Covenant to discharge the duty
of "Brotherly watchfulness toward each other" seems to have been religiously
observed in Maugerville. A great many entries in the early records of the
Maugerville church are devoted to matters of discipline. A few examples will
suffice to illustrate this:
"August the 29th day, 1773. Then the Church appointed a meeting to be held
at the house of Mr. Moses Pickard on the 7th day of September and chose Mr.
Richard Estey, Daniel Palmer, Humphrey Pickard a committee to talk with
Israel Kenny concerning his being charged with scandalous sins.
"September the 7th day 1773. The church met at the house of Mr. Moses
Pickard to see if they could be satisfied concerning the crimes alleged
against our brother Israel Kenny but had no satisfaction. The meeting was
adjourned to the 22nd day of September.
"The Church met together on the adjournment of the meeting on the 22nd day
of September, 1773. Then Israel Kenny made his acknowledgement before the
Church for his offence and was restored to their charity again.
"On the 22nd of September, 1773, brother Benjamin Brown then having things
laid to his charge before the church, which caused him to be suspended till
they were satisfied.
"March the 15th day 1774. The the church met together at a legal meeting our
brother Benjamin Brown confessed his faults and was restored to their
It may be of interest to note that Israel Kenney, who acknowledged himself
before the church in September, 1773, as guilty of 'scandalous sins' was
elected a ruling elder of the church in June, 1775.
The year 1774 was a very important one for the Maugerville Church for it gave
them their first settled minister Rev. Seth Noble, a person whose acquaintance
the Halifax authorities were anxious to cultivate three years later. I
transcribe from the faded page written by Daniel Palmer, church clerk, the
minutes relating to Mr. Noble's selection and call.
"At a meeting held by the subscribers to a bond for the support of the
Preached gospil among us at the Hous of Mr. Hugh Quinton inholden on
Wednesday ye 15 of June 1774. 1ly Chose Jacob Barker Esq. Moderator in Sd.
2ly Gave Mr. Seth Noble a call to settle in the work of the ministry among
3ly to give Mr. Seth Noble as a settlement providing he accept of the call,
one hundred and twenty Pounds currency.
4ly Voted to give Mr. Seth Noble a yearly salery of sixty five pounds
currency so long as he shall continue our Minister to be in Cash or furs or
grain at cash price.
5ly. Chose Esqrs., Jacob Barker, Phinehas Nevers, Israel Pearly, Deacon
Jonathan Burpee and Messrs. Hugh Quinton, Daniel Palmer, Moses Coburn, Moses
Prickard a Committee to treat with Seth Noble.
6ly Adjourned the meeting to be held at the House of Mr. Hugh Quinton on
Wednesday ye 29 Instat, at four of the clock in the afternoon to hear the
report of the committee.
Met on the adjournment on Wednesday ye 29 of June 1774 and voted as an
addition to the salary of Mr. Seth Noble if he should except our Call, to
cut and haul twenty five cords of wood to his house yearly so long as he
shall continue to be our Minister. The meeting dissolved."
These terms were very liberal, considering the time and the circumstances of
the people, and Parson Noble accepted them. In addition to his settlement,
money and salary, there was also for him in prospect the grant of one of the
Maugerville lots, reserved for the first settled minister of the place, but
for certain excellent reasons, to be hereafter stated, the lot did not go to
Mr. Noble but to a minister of the Church of England. In 1775, the people of
Maugerville were busy erecting a meeting house which was also to serve as a
residence for their pastor. In January, 1776, it was so far advanced that it
was being clapboarded, for in David Burpee's account book, under that date, is
a charge against the meeting house for work done by Messrs. Plummer and
Bridges, for him, at clapboarding one-third of the east end. All would have
been well with Parson Noble and his flock if he had been content to attend
strictly to their religious welfare. But Noble was from New England, where the
clergy had always been accustomed to exercise a large share of authority in
secular affairs, and he was also what some pople in New England called a
"patriot" and the majority of those in Nova Scotia a "rebel."
Noble began to stir up his flock to join with their friends in New England in
throwing off the authority of Great Britain. He wrote a letter to General
Washington setting forth the great importance of the capture of western Nova
Scotia, and proposing to assist in such an enterprise if it should be
undertaken. At length, on the 24th of May, 1776, a meeting of the inhabitants
of the River St. John was held at Maugerville, at which a committee was
appointed "to make immediate application to the Congress or General Assembly
of the Massachusetts Bay for relief under their present distressed
circumstances." This rebel committee consisted of twelve persons, ten of whom
were prominent in the church. Jacob Barker, who presided at the meeting, was a
Justice of the Peace and a ruling elder of the church. Pheneas Nevers and
Israel Perley were also justices, and both were church members. Daniel Palmer,
Edward Coy, Israel Kinney and Asa Perley were ruling elders. Moses Pickard,
Thomas Hartt and Hugh Quinton were church members. The two remaining members
of the committee, Asa Kimbal and Oliver Perley were probably church members
also, but I have not been able to establish that fact. Without them the
connection between the church and the rebel movement is sufficiently clear.
This committee drafted several resolutions which were passed by the meeting,
the most important of which was "that it is our minds and desire to submit
ourselves to the government of Massachusetts Bay, and that we are ready with
our lives and fortunes to share with them the event of the present struggle
for Liberty however God in His Providence may order it." The meeting also
voted "that we will have no dealings or connection with any person or persons
for the future that shall refuse to enter into the foregoing or similar
resolutions." Under this threat these resolutions were hawked around the
country with a result which is thus stated by the rebel committee: "If it be
asked what proportion of the people signed the resolutions, it may be answered
there is 125 signed and about 12 or 13 that have not, 9 of whom are at the
river's mouth." I make up the roll of honor of those who refused to sign as
follows: William Hazen, Thomas Jenkins, James Simonds, Samuel Peabody, John
Bradley, James White, William McKeene, Zebedee Ring, Peter Smith, Gervas Say,
Lewis Mitchill, Darling, John Crabtree, John Hendrick, Zebulon Estey,
John Larlee, Joseph Howland, Thos. Jones and Benj. Atherton.
Perhaps to this list should be added the name of John Anderson, a merchant or
trader from Halifax. Francis Peabody whose name would have been upon this list
if he had lived, had died in 1773.
Two of the rebel committee, Asa Perley and Asa Kimbal went to Boston with the
resolutions and received from the Commissary General, by order of the General
Court, one barrel of gunpowder, three hundred and fifty flints and two hundred
and fifty weight of lead. They were also graciously permitted to purchase
forty stand of small arms for the use of their constituents. This was the
price of their allegiance.
Among the instructions given by the Committee to Perley and Kimbal is this
significant one: "Represent the conduct of the Indians that General
Washington's letter set them on fire and they are plundering all people they
think are torys and perhaps when that is done the others may share the same
fate." Washington's letter, a copy of which was sent to all the Eastern
Indians, was written in February, and was not by any means the only
communication they received from the same source. If Lord Chatham had been
favored with a perusal of these letters and had learned their effect on the
Indians that spouting piece of the American school boy, against the employment
of Indians in the war, would probably never have been spoken.
It was quite natural that the Indians should take to plundering Tories, in
view of the example that it was set them by their new found friends. A great
deal of the patriotism of New England at that time had its origin in downright
dishonesty and rapacity. If John Hancock had not been a smuggler, with suits
hanging over him to the extent of half a million dollars, he would probably
not have been a patriot. New England patriots found an easy way of paying
their debts and enriching themselves at the same time by driving their Tory
creditors out of the country and taking possession of their property. The
people of Machias who were all great patriots, made an easy living during the
war by plundering the farmers and fishermen of Nova Scotia. The settlers at
the mouth of the St. John were constatnly exposed to the depredations of these
raiders from the summer of 1775 until the garrison at Fort Howe was
established under Major Studholm, in the summer of 1778. The conduct of these
raiders must have been bad indeed to draw forth a remonstrance from so
notorious a rebel as Colonel John Allan, who, in a letter to the Massachusetts
Council, was constrained to say: "I am extremely sorry privateers are so
encouraged this way. Their horrid crimes is too notorious to pass unnoticed."
Most of the farmers settled at the mouth of the St. John were compelled to
abandon their homes and remove up the river in consequence of the visits of
the Rev. Seth Noble's friends, the thieves and plunderers of Machias.
The rebel proceedings at Maugerville formed only a part of a general movement
which was made about the same time all over Nova Scotia, by the settlers from
New England, to remove the Province from under the authority of the British
crown. In the latter part of 1776, Jonathan Eddy, a native of Norton, Mass.,
who had settled in Cumberland in 1763, made an attempt to capture Fort
Cumberland, then held by a weak garrison under Col. Gorham. The people on the
St. John River furnished a contingent of one captain, one lieutenant and
twenty-five men for this enterprise. Hugh Quinton, William McKeene, Elijah
Estabrooks, Edward Burpee, John Whitney, Benjamin Booby, Amasa Coy, Edward
Price, John Pritchard, John Mitchell, Richard Parsons and Daniel Lovet were of
this party, but I have not been able to ascertain the names of the others.
Sixteen of the St. John Indians also joined Eddy. Upwards of one hundred
residents of Cumberland took up arms under Eddy, but the attempt was a
ludicrous failure. Fort Cumberland was not taken, but more than sixty of the
misguided men of that county had to abandon their homes and families and fly
to escape the consequence of their treason. Eddy and his party, after a dismal
December journey, in which they came near perishing of cold and hunger, found
rest and shelter at Maugerville. The Cumberland people suffered severely for
their little rebellion. Many of them from comparative affluence were reduced
to dire poverty, and most of them did not return to Nova Scotia at all, but
were compelled to settle on the barren uplands of Maine.
The presence of so reckless a conspirator as Eddy on the St. John spurred the
Nova Scotia authorities to action, and in May, 1777, Col. Gould was sent to
the St. John River with a force to exact the submission of the inhabitants.
This was easily done; the miserable plight to which the Cumberland refugees
had been reduced had taken all the fight out of the valiant men, who only a
year before were ready with their lives and fortunes to share with the people
of Massachusetts, "the event of the present struggle for liberty." They all
took the oath of allegiance. Some of them broke it afterwards in a sneaking
way by secretly serving the rebel agents from Massachusetts, but as a
community they remained quiet and, to all outward appearance, loyal. Col.
Gould on leaving the River St. John carried with him to Halifax Israel Perley,
who had been clerk of the rebel committee on the river. Eddy, in company with
Parson Noble and Phineas Nevers, escaped and reached Machias by an inland
route. There Colonel John Allan was organizing an expedition for the purpose
of holding possession of the St. John River on behalf of the Continental
The history of Allan's expedition is very fully related in his diary and
letters, which have been printed in Kidder's book on the Military Operations
in Eastern Maine, which was published at Albany in 1867. The expedition left
Machias on the 30th May, 1777, and reached St. John on the 2nd June. Messrs
White and Hazen, who resided at the mouth of the river, and Lewis Mitchell,
who lived at Gageton, were made prisoners by Allan, and carried up to
Aukpaque, the Indian town, six miles above the site of the present city of
Fredericton, where Allan took up his abode. Allan hoped to be able to maintain
himself on the river with the help of the Indians, but the escape of Lewis
Mitchell carried the news of his arrival to Halifax, and brought a British
force down upon him which speedily drove him away. Allan and his party with
the remains of the Cumberland Contingent and the Indians were compelled to
retreat to Machias, going by way of Eel river and St. Croix lakes. Most of the
St. John Indians remained with Allan at the expense of the Massachusetts
authorities during the remainder of the war. They proved themselves very
valiant trencher men and kept Allan at his wits' end to provide for them, but
no new graveyards had to be started to accommodate the enemies they slew.
Parson Noble and Phineas Nevers were with Allan in his expedition and went
back with him to Machias. Noble never returned to the St. John River, but his
wife remained at Maugerville for more than two years after his hegira. Nevers
also appears to have remained in Maine. All the other rebels were allowed to
remain unmolested on their farms, and had their lands granted to them id due
time, while Loyalists in the revolted Provinces were being maltreated and
plundered, exiled and deprived of their estates. This generosity on the part
of the British Government towards its erring subjects was as creditable to
them as the ill treatment of the Loyalists was disgraceful to the States which
The troubles on the St. John River seem to have demoralized the church at
Maugerville, and it was found necessary to renew the church covenant which was
done in a document now before me, of which the following is a copy:
Maugerville, June ye 17, year 1779.
"We who through the exceeding riches of the grace and patience of God do
continue to be a professing church of Christ being now assembled in the holy
Presence of God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ after humble
confession of our manifold breaches of the Covenant, before the Lord our God
and earnest supplication for pardoning mercy through the blood of Christ and
deep acknowledgement of our great unworthiness to be the Lord's Covenant
People, also acknowledging our own inability to keep covenant with God or to
perform any spiritual duty unless the Lord Jesus do enable us thereto by his
spiritual dwelling in us, and being awfully sensible that it is a dreadful
thing for sinful dust and ashes personally to transact with the infinitely
glorious Majesty of Heaven and Earth.
"We do in humble confidence of his gracious assistance and acceptance
through Christ; each one of us for ourselves and jointly as the church of
the Living God explicetly renew our Covenant with God and one with another
and after perusing the Covenant on which this church was at first gathered,
we do cordially adhear to the same, both in matters of faith and discipline;
and whereas some provoking evils have crept in among us which has been the
procuring causes of the divisions and calamitys that God has sent or
permited in this place, especially the neglect of a close walk with God and
a watchfulness over our brother. We desire from our hearts to bewail it
before the Lord and humbly to entreat for pardoning mercy through the blood
of the Everlasting Covenant, and we do heartily desire by God's grace to
reform these evils or whatsoever else have provoked the eyes of God's glory
Daniel Palmer, jr.
jacob Barker, jr.
Female Members of the Church
Turning from political and religious affairs to the social condition of the
Maugerville settlers, the Burpee papers supply excellent material for a study
of the lives of those pioneers of Sunbury county. Deacon Jonathan Burpee died
in 1781; his will was proved June 26th, and his estate appraised on the 4th of
July, of that year, by Jacob Barker and Daniel Jewett. It was valued at
upwards of £525, of which £80 was in cash, or money due on notes and other
obligations, so that the deacon was probably the wealthiest farmer in the
settlement. His land was valued at £252 and his stock at £111.17s. The follow
extract from the appraisement paper will serve to show the prices of cattle at
1 pair of oxen £20, 1 dry cow, £5.10: 1 black cow, £4.10.
1 lop horned cow, £5.10s 2 cows at £5 1 pair of 3 year old steers,
£12.10s 2 two year old heifers, at £3.15s.
1 yearling steer, £2.15s 1 do heifer, £2.15s.
7 pair of sheep, at 20 s. 14 dry sheep, at 13s.
1 mare £10 1 colt, £2.5s.
Swine 1 at £3.5s 1 do £4 2 pigs at 7s.6d.
These prices are lower than those of the present day, but the prices of grain
were higher, for in the same appraisement corn is put down at 7s.6d. a bushel.
Deacon Burpee, according to the inventory of his estate, had no carriage or
wagon of any kind and no sleigh, but he owned the irons of a cart and half the
woodwork, the valuation of his share being £2,10s. The custom of neighbors
joining together to purchase a cart, grindstone or some other implement seems
to have been quite common. No doubt the roads were too bad to admit much use
of wheeled vehicles. The deacon, however, possessed a saddle valued at £3, and
a pillion for his better half valued at 6s.
It is when we come to the furniture of Deacon Burpee's house that the contrast
between that time and the present day becomes most marked. The total value of
this wealthy farmer's furniture was just £5 7s. 8d. The list in the inventory
is as follows:
1 bedstead and cord 7s. 6d. 1 do. 12s. 1 do. 8s. 6d. 1 do. 9s. 8d., 1
looking glass 35s., 1 table 5s., 1 do. 1s., 1 great chair 4s. 10 small
chairs at 2s., 1 large black do. 5s.
These articles with two chests, valued at 29s., make up the entire furniture
of the house, unless I should add one pair of andirons 28s., and fire shovel
and tongs 5s. The deacon's bedding comprised three good feather beds with
pillows, coverlets and blankets, all complete the whole valued at £16 11s. 3d.
All the cooking of those days was done at an old-fashioned fire place and the
deacon's cooking utensels were therefore few and simple, as will be seen by
the following list:
1 gridiron 6s., 1 toasting iron 6s. The largest iron pot 5s., 1 iron pot 7s.
6d., 1 do. 7s. 6d., 1 iron kettle 8s., 1 iron pan 5s., 1 do. 4s., 1 frying
pan 3s., 1 brass kettle 20s.
All the dishes used in the farm houses of Maugerville at that period were of
pewter, and their number was quite limited. Deacon Burpee was the possessor of
1 pewter dish 5s, 1 do. 4s., ½ doz. plates, marked H. P. 9s., 1 large do.
2s., 1 do. 1s., 3 deep plates at 2s., 1 quart pot, 4s. 2 pewter dishes
marked M. J. at 6s., 1 three pint basin 2s. 6d., 1 quart do. 2s., 1
porringer 1s. 6d., 1 do. 1s., 1 tea pot 3s. 6d., coffee pot and spoons 2s.
No mention is made of knives or forks, but perhaps the appraisers forgot them.
In Deacon Burpee's time the clothing of a deceased person was duly
inventoried, and plenty of people were found ready to buy the garments of the
dead. A broadcloth coat or a beaver hat was a valuable asset which might be
handed down to the second or even the third generation. Deacon Burpee's
wardrobe was thus valued and described. I preserve the spelling of the
1 Brown coat 55s., 1 black wescot 18s., 1 pare brown breeches 12s. 6d., 1
mixt coat 20s., 1 mixt jackoat 10s., 1 great coat 15s., 1 white 3s. 6d., 1
blew coat 12s. 6d., 1 old jackoat 5s., 2 pare old breakes 2s., 1 black
handkerchief 1s. 6d., 1 pare of toe shirts 3s., 1 shirt with fine sleeves
5s., 1 pair of do. 2s., 1 pair blew stockings 1s. 6d., 1 woosted do 1s., 1
pair of neebuckils 1s. 3d., 1 beavour hat 10s., 1 felt do. 2s., 1 pair of
The total value of these articles was £7 13s. 3d. The accounts of David
Burpee, the executor, show what became of some of them. Edward Burpee, a
grandson of the Deacon, and probably an older brother of David, purchased the
"mixt coat" for 20s., the mixt waistcoat for 10s., the black waistcoat for
10s., and one shirt for 5s. The beaver hat was sold to Jeremiah Burpee,
another grandson, and the felt hat to Thomas Burpee, who was probable a
grandson of the deceased deacon. No doubt the venerable beaver had figured at
church meetings in New England before the removal of its owner to Nova Scotia,
and it may have attended many a meeting with its new owner who was still
active in church work forty years after his purchase of the hat of his
In the inventory of Deacon Burpee's estate occurs the following item: "A
number of books £2 2s. 6d." No mention is made of the number or character of
these books, but it may be inferred that they were mainly religious works.
Reading for amusement was not much practiced in the rural districts of Nova
Scotia a century ago. It is somewhat remarkable in David Burpee's account
book, extending over a period of twelve years, there is only mention of the
purchase of a single book, although the sale of two is recorded. These were
purchased by his sister, Lydia Barker, and were part of the effects left by
her father. One was a Bible at 1s. 4d., and the other a sermon book at 1s. We
may gather from all this that life was somewhat hard and dry in the
Maugerville settlement, and that even the richest had a very few of those
things about them which a modern man regards as essential to his comfort.
David Burpee's "Book of Accounts," as he entitles it, contains his
transactions with fifty-seven different individuals between the year 1772 and
1784. When the first entries were made he was twenty-one years of age, and
when the accounts closed he had become a prominent member of the community,
sufficiently well thought of to be selected by his grandfather, the deacon, as
his executor. Every article purchased by David Burpee for twelve years is
entered here, and also every article sold by him in the same period. David
appears to have been a very exact man in his dealings and, no doubt, such
particularity was the custom of the time. This feature extends not only to his
dealings with strangers, but to his accounts with his brothers and sisters. Of
the latter he had three Lydia, Hephizibah and Esther, all married at or
before they had reached their majority, the first to Nathanial Barker, the
second to John Pickard, and the third to Jesse Cristy. Each of these young
women received £13 7s. 6d. as her share of her father's estate, the payments
being made, for the most part, in household goods at their appraised value.
This was in accordance with the custom of conducting business by barter and
making payments in kind. Thus the amount of cash in circulation was always
small. Corn and furs were the staple articles of trade, and corn was raised to
a greater extent than any other grain. David Burpee's accounts show that in
1778 he raised fifty bushels of corn, of which eighteen bushels were ground
and the remainder sold. The price seems to have varied greatly. In March,
1777, it was 4s. a bushel; in July, 1777, it was 5s.; in 1778 and 1779 the
price was 5s. In June, 1780, it was 7s.; in September, 7s. 6d.; in May, 1781,
6s. 2d.; in 1782, 6s., and May, 1784, it was 9s. a bushel. Corn was made the
basis of board as will be seen from the following transcript from David
"Corn that I have found for my board at Uncle Pickard's since the 11th of
2 bushels last till the 11th October, ½ bushel Indian.
Dec. 4th 1 3/8 bushels wheat.
" " 2 bushels of Indian, last till 4th December.
" 12th 6 bushels, ½ will last till the 4th of March, 1776.
1/8 bushel of Indian meal.
Feb. 7th ½ bushel Moses and I ground in the hand mill.
" 28th 1 7/8 bushels of Indian meal last till the 8th of April,
April 4th 1 bushel of wheat meal last till the 22nd of April, 1776.
June 1st 3 bushels of Indian meal, which make me even about meal"
It would appear from this that half a bushel of corn was the equivalent of a
week's board. In another part of the account book, mention is made of an
arrangement which David Burpee entered into in 1782, by which he agreed to
board Eliud Nickerson and Pyam Old at his house, in consideration of them each
working two days in the week for him. The ordinary rate of wages was 2s. day,
except for mowing, framing, hoeing corn and raking hay, for which the charge
was 2s. 6d. Board, therefore, must have been estimated at from 4s. to 5s. a
The wages of a woman servant were 10s. a month. This was what Hephzibah Burpee
received from her brother David during the fourteen months she worked with
him, ending Oct. 6th, 1777. A clear income of £6 a year was not calculated to
admit of much finery, but this young lady seems to have indulged her taste to
the full extent of her means, for she expended 10s. for a pair of stays, 25s.
for one gown and 7s. 6d. for another, 15s. for a quilted coat, 5s. 6d. for a
pair of silk mits, 7s. for a lawn handkerchief, 6s. 6d. for an Indian cotton
handkerchief, and 24s. for eight yards of striped camlet. All articles of
clothing were very dear, as compared with present prices, and excessively so
when the rate of wages was taken into account. In one place we find calico
charge at 6s. a yard, holland at 6s. 6d. and cotton wool at 3s. 6d. per lb.
When David Burpee, in December, 1777, went to buy himself the material for a
decent broadcloth suit his account at Mr. Joseph Dowset's stood as follows:
3 ¾ yards B. cloth at 20s £3 15 0
3 years shalloon at 4s 12 0
3 sticks twist at 1s., 2 skeins at 1s. 3d. 5 6
1 ½ dozen coat buttons at 2s. 6d 3 9
£4 16 3
I cannot find anywhere a record of what David paid the tailor, but there is
little doubt that the suit when made cost David Burpee as much as he could
earn in three months, at the current rate of wages, after paying his board.
This being so, it was necessary for the early settlers to indulge in a new
suit as seldom as possible. Leather breeches seem to have been universally
worn, and it is to be presumed that from their lasting qualities they were
considered an economical garment. In 1773 David Burpee paid John Wason 12s.
for the leather for a pair of breeches, and this was probably the common
price. I see among the goods charged in this account book certain articles not
now known to the dry goods trade, such as stroud at 10s. a yard and chenee at
As a rule, everything that had to be purchased out of a store was dear.
Molasses was 2s. 6d. a gallon in 1772, and 5s. in 1777; salt was 5s. a bushel
in 1771, and 10s. in 1778; sugar ranged from 1s. 3d. to 1s. 8d. per lb., the
higher being the prevailing price. I find 1s. 8d. charged for brown sugar in
1782; indigo was from 12s. to 20s. per lb.; tea varied in price from 6s. to
7s. 6d. per lb; coffee was 2s.; raisins, 2s.; gunpowder, from 2s. 6d. to 5s.;
tobacco, 3s. to 3s. 6d.; rum, of which a good deal seems to have been used,
ranged in price from 4s. to 5s. a gallon. It was however, 10s. in 1781, owing,
no doubt, to the war. One of the curious entries in David Burpee's account
book is the following charge against Edward Burpee:
"1776 Nov. For rum we drank coming up the river, 6d."
Why Edward, who was probably a brother of David, should be charged with the
rum "we" drank coming up the river is not apparent.
In the winter of 1778-9 David Burpee taught school, and this circumstance
enables us to ascertain that the rate of tuition was 3s. 11½d. per month for
each scholar. I can only find charges in the book for the tuition of seven
scholars. The tuition fees, as the accounts show, were paid in a variety of
goods, and in work, in grain, leather, musquash skins and rum, and in hauling
hay and making shoes. The schoolmaster appears to have handled only 10s. in
actual cash for his entire winter's work.
The prices of produce in Maugerville varied very considerably at different
times. In September, 1774, butter was sold for 6d. per lb., in July, 1778, for
10d.; in November, 1781, for 1s., and in September, 1784, for 1s. 3d. Lamb was
2½d. per lb. Beef ranged from 1½ in 1777 to 3d. in 1780, and 6d. in 1783.
Potatoes varied in price from 1s. 3d. a bushel, in 1779, to 2s. 6d. in 1781.
Geese cost from 3s. to 3s. 6d. each; fowls 1s.; pork from 5d. to 6d. per lb.
Wheat was as low as 5s. a bushel in 1773 and as high as 10s. in February,
1782. Cheese was sold at 7½d. per lb. in 1784.
Here is the record of a transaction which would be regarded as unusual at the
September 30th, 1778.
Took a hog of Mr. Joseph Howlin of Burton to fat, the hog weighs now 113
lbs. and I am to have as many pounds of pork as he weighs more when I kill
Dec. 1st, 1778, killed Mr. Howlin's hog.
Weighed before he was killed 181 lbs.
His weight before 113 lbs.
The arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 seems to have had rather an injurious
effect on the primitive ways of the original settlers. There was but little
sympathy between the new residents and the old and considering their
antecedents much was not to be expected. The new comers were loyal men who had
lost their all for their king and constitution, the old settlers had, as a
rule, been only kept from open rebellion by fear. Naturally, difficulties
arose about grants, for the Loyalists could hardly have been well pleased to
find the best lands on the St. John River occupied by men who were just as
much rebels as the Whigs of Massachusetts. The late George A. Perley, of
Fredericton, in a letter written to me in May, 1883, in which was enclosed a
list of the grantees of lots in Maugerville, said: "The grantees are not all
of the original settlers; some of them were Loyalists that came twenty years
after the 'old inhabitants.' All the Loyalists were not over honest nor
gentlemanly be it known to you and had more knowledge and were abler dealers
than some of the old inhabitants, for some of them visited Halifax and
examined the records of the Land Office, and wherever they found grants not
taken out, or where settlers had gone on without proper authority, they
applied for these lands got grants and dispossessed many of the early
settlers, so the names of the Loyalists and Refugees are intermingled in the
original grant with the old inhabitants."
The writer of the above was a grandson of Israel Perley, clerk of the rebel
committee on the St. John River in 1776, and also of Oliver Perley, another
member of the same committee, so that his views of the honesty or gentlemanly
conduct of the Loyalists were hardly those of an unbiased person. His two
grandfathers, however, got their grants all right, but whether they deserved
them or not may perhaps be open to doubt.
Some intimation of the friction between the old and new settlers on the St.
John River seems to have reached the Rev. Seth Noble, for, after many years,
he wrote on the 6th of September, 1784, to the Maugerville church. The
previous June he had become the minister of Brewer, Me., and he now made a
claim against the Maugerville people for his salary for the seven years he had
been absent, a fact which shows that Mr. Noble was never likely to lose
anything by his modesty. He also endeavoured to alarm his late flock in regard
to the growth of immorality, owing to the arrival of the new settlers, and to
persuade them to remove to Maine and live under Republican institutions. On
the 10th of November, of the same year, the Maugerville church answered
Noble's letter, utterly refusing to recognize any claim on his part against
them. They also declined to remove to Maine. On this last point they say:
"But with regard to the growth of immorality in this place we acknowledge
and lament it, and the gloomy prospect we have of future generations growing
up in the utmost dissipation fills us with grief and discontent, and would
willingly forego many of the conveniences of life for the sake of better
company or to see religion flourish here, as it once did. But are we to
throw away the fruits of many years of painful industry and leave (with
precipitation) the place where God in his providence had smiled upon us both
in our spiritual and temporal affairs and, destitute of support, cast
ourselves into a place where the necessaries of life are hardly to be
obtained, unless we could find a place where vice and immorality did not
thrive, or at least where vital piety did flourish more than here."
Those who are familiar with early New England history will recognize here the
same old cant about the degeneracy of the times which caused Hubbard the
Puritan historian to say that the golden age in Massachusetts only lasted ten
years. Yet in 1635 the first Grand Jury in Massachusetts presented one hundred
offences, and this in a population of not more than three thousand persons.
The same ratio of crime would give New Brunswick more than 10,000 indictable
offences annually. And in 1637 the Synod that was called to settle the
religious dispute in Massachusetts, which threatened to wreck the
Commonwealth, found that there were eighty erroneous opinions which had become
disseminated in New England.
If the golden age ceased in Maugerville when the Loyalists came, that event at
least gave the people better opportunities for public worship. In the winter
of 1783-4 the Rev. John Sayre, a Loyalist clergyman of the Church of England
from Fairfield, Conn., preached in the Congregationalist meeting house at
Maugerville, but he died in the summer of 1784. He was succeeded by the Rev.
John Beardsley, a New York clergyman, and under his ministry the Church of
England people erected a church for themselves.
On the 1st of June, 1788, two missionaries Messrs. James and Milton arrived
from England. They had been sent out by the Countess of Huntington and were
warmly welcomed. The Maugerville people made provision for their board and
lodging at once, until the following June, when the Rev. Mr. James became
their settled minister. On the 4th September, 1789, the church covenant was
renewed and signed by the following persons:
John Hames, Pastor
The last person on the list, Mary Coy, is the woman who as Mrs. Bradley, more
than forty years ago, published her religious biography, a very curious and
interesting volume, which throws a good deal of light on the lives of the
early settlers of the St. John River. It was owing to some charge brought by
Mary Coy against Mr. James, which is now rather obscure, that his ministry
closed in 1791. This, whoever may have been to blame, had a sinister indluence
on the church. There was some trouble in regard to the possession of a lot on
which the meeting house stood in 1793. In 1794 a Mr. Boyd was preaching at
Maugerville, and his ministry seems to have lasted until 1797. Then there is a
gap in the church records until 1805, and another gap between that year and
1811, when a Mr. Eastman was preaching at Maugerville. In 1814 the Maugerville
people were applying to the London Missionary Society for a minister, but this
application does not appear to have been successful. At length, after one or
two other failures to secure a suitable minister, application was made to
Scotland, and the Rev. Archibald McCallum was sent out. He appears to have
arrived at Maugerville in the latter part of 1820, or the beginning of 1821.
He was living in the county of Sunbury as late as the year 1842. The last
record I have of the Maugerville church in the handwriting of David Burpee
contains the two following entries:
"At a church meeting held on Saturday, the 3rd day of October, 1829, Jane,
the wife of Francis McEwen, and Sarah, the wife of Charles Stuart, were
received as members of the church."
"At a church meeting held at the meeting house since the last date, James
McLaughlin was received a member of the church."
This ends the record. David Burpee was then about 78 years of age, and
probably near the close of his useful and respectable life. His writing, once
so even and regular, had fallen into the tremulousness of age, and it may be
that these were the last lines he ever penned. The fact that there is no date
to the last entry tells of impaired memory and faculties grown weak. It is the
old story, as ancient as the days of Moses, of years whose strength had become
labor and sorrow. From the first line of his handwriting, which I have quoted,
until the last there is an interval of more than fifty-nine years. By the help
of his papers I have endeavored to relate something of the life and manners of
this pioneer settlement on the St. John, not so much for anything novel or
striking which they disclose, as to show the value of those materials which
may be found in every county in the maritime provinces for the purpose of
restoring its history. There is scarcely an ancient house in Nova Scotia or
New Brunswick which does not contain old letters and paper of priceless worth
for the uses of the historian, and the collection and preservation of such
materials must ever be one of the chief objects of such a society as this.
With their help we can reconstruct the past from which we are so far removed,
not so much by reason of the lapse of years, as because of the altered
condition of life, which the innumerable inventions of the present century
have brought about; with their help we can better appreciate the toils and
trials which our fathers had to endure, in laying the foundations upon which
we have built the fabric of our present civilization.
[Published in Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society Vol. 1, 1894]