Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 395 pages of information about Canada under British Rule 1760-1900.
only with English jurisprudence, and not disposed to comply with the letter and intention of the imperial statute.  As a matter of practice, French law was only followed as equity suggested; and the consequence was great legal confusion in the province.  A question had also arisen as to the legality of the issue of writs of habeas corpus, and it was eventually necessary to pass an ordinance to remove all doubts on this important point.

The Loyalist settlers on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers sent a petition in 1785 to the home government, praying for the establishment of a new district west of the River Beaudette “with the blessings of British laws and British government, and of exemption from French tenure of property.”  While such matters were under the consideration of the imperial authorities, Sir Guy Carleton, once more governor-general of Canada, and lately raised to the peerage as Lord Dorchester, established, in 1788, five new districts for the express object of providing for the temporary government of the territory where the Loyalists had settled.  These districts were known as Luneburg, Mecklenburg, Nassau and Hesse, in the western country, and Gaspe in the extreme east of the province of Quebec, where a small number of the same class of people had also found new homes.  Townships, ranging from eighty to forty thousand acres each, were also surveyed within these districts and parcelled out with great liberality among the Loyalists.  Magistrates wore appointed to administer justice with the simplest possible machinery at a time when men trained in the law were not available.

The grants of land made to the Loyalists and their children were large, and in later years a considerable portion passed into the hands of speculators who bought them up at nominal sums.  It was in connection with these grants that the name of “United Empire Loyalists” originated.  An order-in-council was passed on the 9th of November, 1780, in accordance with the wish of Lord Dorchester “to put a mark of honour upon the families who had adhered to the unity of the empire and joined the royal standard in America before the treaty of separation in 1783.”  Accordingly the names of all persons falling under this designation were to be recorded as far as possible, in order that “their posterity may be discriminated from future settlers in the parish lists and rolls of militia of their respective districts, and other public remembrances of the province.”

The British cabinet, of which Mr. Pitt, the famous son of the Earl of Chatham, was first minister, now decided to divide the province of Quebec into two districts, with separate legislatures and governments.  Lord Grenville, while in charge of the department of colonial affairs, wrote in 1789 to Lord Dorchester that the “general object of the plan is to assimilate the constitution of the province to that of Great Britain as nearly as the differences arising from the names

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Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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