Migration from Yorkshire to Nova Scotia

Migration from Yorkshire to Nova Scotia

Migration from Yorkshire to Nova Scotia occurred between 1772 and 1775 and involved an approximate one thousand migrants from mainly Yorkshire, England arriving in Nova Scotia to settle the colony some years following the expulsion of its Acadian population.

The immigration was the initiative of the Lieutenant Governor of the colony, Michael Francklin. The first settlers arrived in 1772 aboard the ship Duke of York. Between 1773 to 1775 several additional ships arrived, peaking in 1774 with the arrival of 9 vessels.

The immigrants were mostly tenant farmers in Yorkshire, although a few also came from Northumberland. They left for Nova Scotia "in order to seek a better livelihood". Rather than receiving land grants from the government, as had the previous immigrants, the New England Planters, the new arrivals came with money and purchased their lands from the government or from Planters who were at the time beginning to leave.

Many of the Yorkshire pioneers were Wesleyan Methodists and were responsible for establishing the earliest Methodist chapels in Canada (1790).

It has been argued that these pioneers were instrumental in preventing victory by American sympathisers during the Eddy Rebellion of 1776. Named for Jonathan Eddy, the Rebellion was an attempt to wrestle Nova Scotia from the British in order for it join the thirteen colonies in the newly created United States. Aiding British troops from Halifax, the Yorkshire pioneers helped subdue the rebels, including some New England Planters that supported the American Revolution, in a three-week siege of Fort Cumberland.


Further reading

  • Peter Penner, The Chignecto Connexion: The History of Sackville Methodist/United Church, 1772-1990, 1990.
  • Howard Trueman, The Chignecto Isthmus and its First Settlers (1903) (Available online)
  • Ernest Clarke, The Siege of Fort Cumberland, 1776, 1995. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press.
  • George A. Rawlyk, Nova Scotia's Massachusetts: A Study of Massachusetts-Nova Scotia Relations 1630-1784, 1973, Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press.

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