Nova Scotia Archives

The Charitable Irish Society of Halifax, Nova Scotia

[Robert P. Harvey], "The Charter Membership of the Charitable Irish Society," in Nova Scotia Historical Review, Vol. 6, No. 1(1986), pp. 11-15. Reprinted with the author's permission.

The Charter Membership of the Charitable Irish Society

On 17 January 1786, "a number of respectable Inhabitants" who were "natives of the Kingdom of Ireland", met at the Golden Ball tavern, on the southwest corner of Hollis and Sackville Streets in Halifax, to found the Charitable Irish Society. At that meeting it was resolved,

that as there are several Gentlemen, Merchants, and others, Inhabitants of this His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia, who from an affectionate and compassionate concern for any of the Irish Nation, who Shall be reduced by Sickness, Old age, Shipwreck or other misfortune, have thought fit to associate themselves for the relief of such of their poor and indigent Countrymen and their Descendants as may hereafter be found worthy of their countenance and protection. For the due accomplishment of such laudable purposes, It is agreed That we the Subscribers hereto, do associate ourselves together, by the name and title of The Charitable Irish Society, hoping and expecting that all Gentlemen, Merchants and others of the Irish nation, or of Irish Extraction, who are lovers of Charity, will cheerfully contribute according to their ability, to this undertaking, and that such as now are or hereafter may be admitted Members of this Society, will Strictly adhere to the following Articles,...

The last of the fourteen articles of association read, "These Articles are to be fairly wrote in the Society's Book, and the present Members, with Such as shall be hereafter admitted Members, shall subscribe their names to them in said Book, in token of their free consent to, and observation of them." The "present Members" were those who had attended that first meeting, or who joined the Society shortly afterwards, and were thus the original subscribers to the articles: here follows a list of their names, in alphabetical order and with a brief note of identification, wherever possible. An asterisk [*] denotes the original office-holding members of the Society.1

  1. Allen, John, a Shelburne loyalist; one of The Six Hundred.2
  2. Austen, Henry, ship chandler.
  3. Austen, Thomas, brazier/coppersmith.
  4. Bell, William, a Chester shopmaster.
  5. Blake, John, grocer; a loyalist.
  6. Boyd, John, surgeon; a Shelburne loyalist.
  7. Brien, David, loyalist grantee at Jeddore [?]
  8. Bulkeley, Edward; son of Richard.
  9. Bulkeley, J.M. Freke, comptroller of H.M. Customs; son of Richard.
  10. Bulkeley, Richard, secretary of Nova Scotia; member of H.M. Council; judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court; master of the rolls.
  11. Bulkeley, Richard, Junr.
  12. Bull, Matthew.
  13. Butler, Edmund, blacksmith
  14. Clancy, Roger.
  15. Cleary, John, farmer.
  16. Cleary, Richard, butcher.
  17. Cochran, James, merchant; brother of Thomas and William.
  18. Cochran*, Thomas, merchant; member of H.M. Council (vice-president).
  19. Cochran, William, merchant; MHA for Halifax Township.
  20. Cody, John, master mariner.
  21. Connor[s], Constant[ine], shopkeeper (son-in-law of John Cody).
  22. Culliton, Thomas.
  23. Cunningham, Benjamin.
  24. Cunningham, John, receiver-general of Quit Rents; justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Halifax County.
  25. Cunningham, John, Junr.
  26. Dwyer, Edmund, loyalist grantee at East Jeddore.
  27. Fawson, Jones, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal navy; commanded the armed schooner Revenge during the American Revolution.3
  28. Finucane, Andrew, merchant; younger brother of the late Chief Justice Bryan Finucane (died August 1785)
  29. Fitzgerald*, Gerald, barrister; supposed co-author–with Uniacke–of the articles of association (secretary).
  30. Frost, Henry.
  31. Frost, William.
  32. Hammill, Daniel, loyalist grantee of Clements Township in 1784; one of The Six Hundred.
  33. Head, Michael, surgeon; justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Hants County.
  34. Hickey, Michael, cooper.
  35. Hill*, Charles, auctioneer; supposed co-author–with Uniacke–of the articles of association (treasurer).
  36. Hill, Charles, Junr., tide-waiter for the District of Halifax
  37. Hogan, John, of Digby.
  38. Hussey, James.
  39. Johnson, Roger, deputy commissary-general.
  40. Jones, James, priest of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Chapel.
  41. Kavanagh, Edward, brother of James and Lawrence.
  42. Kavanagh*, James, merchant (1st assistant vice-president).
  43. Kavanagh, Lawrence, of Arichat; merchant.
  44. Kelly, Hugh, auctioneer; a loyalist grantee of Preston; one of The Six Hundred, at which time he was barrack-master at Brooklyn.
  45. Kelly, James, a Shelburne loyalist [?].
  46. Lawlor, William, painter.
  47. Lombard, Voster, of Lunenburg.
  48. Lynch, Peter, hatter; a Shelburne loyalist (and Port Roseway Associate).
  49. Lynch, Charles, town major.
  50. Maguire, John, loyalist grantee at the Halifax/Hants County boundary.
  51. McGory, Thomas, "gentleman".
  52. McMichael, Daniel, shipmaster.
  53. McMonagle, John, merchant; MHA for Windsor Township.
  54. Meany, James, cooper.
  55. Meany, John, mariner.
  56. Millet, William, auctioneer.
  57. Moncrieffe, Thomas (Major), formerly an officer in Gorham's Rangers and in the 59th Regiment of Foot.4
  58. Moore, H.
  59. Moran, John.
  60. Morris, Charles, surveyor-general; member of H.M. Council.
  61. Mullen, Mark, tobacconist.
  62. Mullen, Timothy, planter.
  63. Murphy, James, fisherman.
  64. Murphy, Timothy, employee of H.M. Fuel Yard.
  65. Noonan, Timothy, innkeeper.
  66. O'Brien, John, innkeeper; proprietor of the Golden Ball.
  67. O'Brien, Patrick, stone-cutter.
  68. O'Brien, Robert, loyalist grantee at Preston.
  69. O'Loghlen, Michael J.
  70. Parr, John, governor of Nova Scotia
  71. Phelan, William, Roman Catholic priest [arrived in Halifax, May 1786].5
  72. Phelon, Edmund, merchant; formerly proprietor of The Golden Ball.
  73. Phelon, Edmund, Junr., nephew of Edmund Phelon.
  74. Power, Manuel Lucas.
  75. Pyke, John George, ropemaker; MHA for Halifax County.
  76. Sherlock, Fo[r]ster, merchant.
  77. Sherlock*, George William, merchant and shipowner; brother of Forster (2nd assistant vice- president).
  78. Shields, John, shipmaster.
  79. Smithwick, John.
  80. Smyth, Robert, of Merigomish Harbour.
  81. Smyth, Walter, of Merigomish Harbour.
  82. Thetford, Henry, merchant.
  83. Tobin, Michael, butcher.
  84. Tonge, Winckworth, Naval Officer; MHA, colonel of militia and justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Hants County.
  85. Uniacke*, Richard John, barrister; solicitor-general; MHA for Halifax County; principal author of the articles of association (president).
  86. Watson, Thomas, merchant.
  87. Welsh, William, merchant.
  88. Whitty, William, yeoman.


1.     The list occurs near the beginning of the first minute book of the Charitable Irish Society (MG20, Vol. 65, PANS), just after the charter. It must have been drawn up later than November 1791, as the list contains the names of members who were admitted to the Society on the 17th of that month. The names of those members known to have joined the Society after 1786 have been excluded. With but one exception ("Robt. O'Brien"), the eighty-eight names transcribed above are of a single hand. Original signatures begin with the ninety-ninth name, and have not been transcribed. An earlier, literal, transcription of the charter with its list of names can be found in H.L. Stewart, The Irish in Nova Scotia: Annals of the Charitable Irish Society of Halifax, 1786-1836 (Halifax, 1949), pp. 27-31.

2.     A group of loyalists who in the summer of 1783 presented to the commander-in-chief at New York, Sir Guy Carleton, a counter-petition to that of "The Fifty-Five", another group of loyalists, who were seeking large individual grants of land in Nova Scotia.

3.     Fawson died on 19 February 1833, in his 82nd year. He was the longest surviving charter member to remain active in the Society.

4.     Richard Bulkeley Senr. excepted, Moncrieffe was the only charter member of the Society also to have come to Nova Scotia with Governor Edward Cornwallis in 1749.

5.     See articles by Phyllis Wagg and Cyril Byrne