Nova Scotia Archives

Acadian Heartland

Records of the Deportation and Le Grand Dérangement, 1714-1768


      “ Inasmuch as a report is in circulation among us, the French inhabitants of this province, that His Excellency the Governor demands of us an oath of obedience conformable, in some manner, to that of natural subjects of His Majesty King George the Second, and as, in consequence, we are morally certain that several of our inhabitants are detained and put to inconvenience at Halifax for that object; if the above are his intentions with respect to us, we all take the liberty of representing to His Excellency, and to all the inhabitants, that we and our fathers, having taken an oath of fidelity, which has been approved of several times in the name of the King, and under the privileges of which we have lived faithful and obedient, and protected by his Majesty the King of Great Britain, according to the letters and proclamation of his Excellency Governor Shirley, dated 16th of September 1746, and 21st of October 1747, we will never prove so fickle as to take an oath which changes, ever so little, the conditions and the privileges obtained for us by our sovereigns and our fathers in the past.  
      “ And as we are well aware that the king, our master, loves and protects only constant, faithful, and free subjects, and as it is only by virtue of his kindness, and of the fidelity which

were bound to take the Oath of allegiance to the Sovereign, when lawfully required.
    Governor Nicholson came to Annapolis in 1714, and then proposed to the French inhabitants of the whole province, the terms agreed on for them, which were, to keep their lands and have free exercise of the Roman Catholic Religion, on their becoming subjects of the British Crown, or to dispose of their property and withdraw from the country, if they chose, within one year. They all chose the latter, and prepared to leave the country; but the vessels promised them from Cape Breton, for the purpose of their removal, not being sent, they were compelled to remain. They, however, continued to refuse the Oath, alleging that they had been detained contrary to their desire, which, says Gov. Mascarene, "was partly true, as Gov. Nicholson had declared they should not depart in English vessels, and that the French from Cape Breton might come and fetch them in their own, which they would not do;" otherwise, it is probable, most of them would have retired to Isle Royal and the Island of St. John. See Mascarene's Letter at page 158.
    On the arrival of Gov. Philipps in 1720, proclamations, calling upon the people to take the Oath of Allegiance, with a promise of the free exercise of their religion and enjoyment of property, &c., were sent throughout the country; and in these proclamations, the oaths as taken after the capitulation, in the time of Sir Charles Hobby and Gov. Vetch were referred to, and no terms of neutrality offered; but they continued obstinately to refuse all solicitations to take the oath, as may be seen on reference to the letters of Governor Philipps to the plantation office about this time. This is confirmed by the assertion of the priest and his party who waited on the Governor in 1720, and stated that the people in Governor Nicholson's time, had set their hands unanimously to an obligation of continuing subjects of France, and retiring to Cape Breton.
    Philipps returned to England in 1722, leaving Armstrong in command, who, in the year 1725, obtained from the people of the Annapolis river, an oath of uncon-