Planter Links: Community and Culture in Colonial Nova Scotia


236 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919107-46-X
DDC 971.6'00413





Edited by Margaret Conrad and Barry Moody

Anthony A. MacKenzie is an associate professor of history at St. Francis
Xavier University in Nova Scotia.


This intriguing collection of historical essays begins with an
incongruity: a somewhat pompous discourse on the “manners of
gentility.” The remaining 13 monographs are concerned with New England
settlers in their first American homeland and in Nova Scotia to which
some of them went to fill the vacuum left by evicted Acadians. Also
studied are the relations between New England settlers and other peoples
they encountered, especially Loyalists, Lunenburg Germans, Pictou Scots,
and African slaves.

Someone once said that the Pilgrim Fathers came to America to worship
God in their own fashion and force others to do the same. So, quite
properly, three of the essays deal with spiritual leaders and religion
crops up frequently in others. David Jaffee tells of a minister in the
wealthy village of Harvard who was forced to leave New England for Nova
Scotia because his parishioners learned of his dalliance with a family
servant and with Henry Alline’s New Light activities. He took refuge
in Chester where his pro-rebel sentiments soon brought on him the
displeasure of the authorities in Halifax. Another dissenting minister
in Nova Scotia, Benajah Phelps, was forced to flee to Boston in fear for
his life after he expressed sympathy with the American Revolution.
Another preacher, James Murdoch, an Anglo-Irishman, led a most unhappy
life in Nova Scotia. Plagued by epilepsy, poverty, possible alcoholism,
and his own stubborn uncompromising ways, and rejected by other
Presbyterians, he perished alone on a riverbank where his body was found
on a cold November day. His family, however, came to terms with colonial
society; Beamish Murdoch, successful lawyer and historian, was his

It was not religion but the quest for political power and economic
security that made one-fourth of the people in Chatham, Massachusetts,
move to Nova Scotia. Many Planters in Nova Scotia enthusiastically took
up privateering. They fitted out armed vessels, raided French, Spanish,
and American vessels, and profited from the sale of captured ships and
cargoes. As for the keeping of African slaves by Presbyterian ministers
at Truro, Dr. MacGregor of Pictou, himself a Presbyterian minister,
declared that he would rather burn at the stake than keep communion with
a slaveholder.

Taken altogether, this commendable selection of essays effectively
describes the problems of New England settlers in their American
homeland, as well as in Nova Scotia, and their interaction with other


“Planter Links: Community and Culture in Colonial Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,