Nova Scotia Archives

Spoils of War: Privateering in Nova Scotia

Guide to Primary Source Material on Privateering (1793-1815)
Held at the Nova Scotia Archives

Note. Archival holdings are grouped in the following manner: Government records are termed "Record Groups" and given the prefix RG, plus a group number, followed by a volume number and then further locator numbers within the collection. Private-sector records are termed "Manuscript Groups," and receive the prefix MG, followed by volume and locator numbers as above.

Additional material cited here consists of Halifax newspapers, along with a few miscellaneous items copied from the holdings of other archival facilities.

Much of this material is available to researchers only in microform, which means that access is available onsite at the Nova Scotia Archives, via the use of microfilm readers.

Researchers should always begin their work by examining the finding aids for particular collections which have been prepared by Archives' staff. Additional orientation can be obtained from the following: Margaret Ells, A Calendar of Official Correspondence and Legislative Papers Nova Scotia, 1802-1815 (Halifax: Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1936); and Margaret Ells, A Calendar of the White Collection of Manuscripts in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1940).

Government Records

Commissioner of Public Records collection

RG 1 vol. 164-173
Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor's Commission Books - includes a scattering of letters of marque issued to privateers 1793-1815.

RG 1 vol. 224-226
Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor's records - includes a scattering of letters of marque issued during the war of 1812).

RG 1 vol. 375
Halifax Court of Vice Admiralty records. Abstracts of property sold, 1811-1816 - adds little to what can be gleaned from Nichols' "Notes"

RG 1 vol. 497-501A
Records of the Halifax Court of Vice Admiralty, 1793-1815 - some useful detail on privateering but the bulk of this material deals with prize captures by the Royal Navy.


Treasury Papers

RG 31-105 vol. 1 nos. 16-39
Nova Scotia Light Duties, 1793-1815 - lists vessels, prizes included, coming into Halifax.


Court of Vice-Admiralty

RG 40 vol. 1-46
Halifax Court of Vice Admiralty records - disappointing for privateering; testimony involving prize seizures was removed to Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa) in 1916. For a catalogue of the transferred documents, see RG 1, v. 378.


Private-sector Records

Walter R. Copp collection

MG 1 vol. 233
Includes a manuscript on Nova Scotian privateering during the War of 1812.


White family collection

MG 1 vol. 947-953
Extremely good detail on privateers operating out of Shelburne, 1799-1804, particularly the Nelson.


Peleg Wiswall collection

MG 1 vol. 980
A few documents dealing with privateering during the late 1790s).


Nova Scotia Historical Society records

MG 20 vol. 215 no. 10
Consists of the Log book and crew list for the privateer Charles Mary Wentworth, 1799-1800 - reproduced in this exhibit.

MG 20 vol. 701 nos. 20-23
Letters of marque, 1805-1815 - some have been reproduced in this exhibit.


Miscellaneous papers

MG 100 vol. 16
Includes miscellaneous published items on privateering.

MG 100 vol. 96 no. 59
Includes a song on privateering.

MG 100 vol. 175 nos. 18-19.
Privateer letters of marque, 1803-1815 - consists of an 1804 letter issued to the Rover.

MG 100 vol. 210 nos. 1-6.
Miscellaneous published and manuscript items on privateering - some of this material is featured in this exhibit.


Other

Nova Scotia Archives microfilm #14006
Log book of the Annapolis Royal-owned privateer, Dart , 1813. The original of this document is held at the Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections. - reproduced in this exhibit.

Nova Scotia Archives / CO217 microfilm #13864-13876
Colonial Office (London) correspondence to and from Nova Scotia - useful mainly for exploring the larger wartime context for colonial privateering.

Nova Scotia Archives Halifax newspapers
Acadian Recorder (available beginning 16 January 1813)
Halifax Journal (scattered issues only)
Royal Gazette (nearly an entire run for 1793-1815)
Weekly Chronicle (fairly complete for 1794-99; 1805-13)
The newspapers offer detail on privateering in the form of advertisements, reports in the shipping news, reprints of reports in the American press, and reprints of local correspondence.