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Scotland - Baronets of Nova Scotia

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Baronets of Nova Scotia

As background to the creation it needs to be recalled that in Britain's American colonies at the time, c. 1620, there was a New England, a New France, and a New Spain. One of the Scottish nobility, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, proposed to King James (VI of Scotland and I of England), that the development and settling of New Scotland (Nova Scotia) might be encouraged if James were to offer a title. James had, in the past, Baronets of England, 1611, Baronets of Ireland, 1619, used this method to raise funds for his Government.

Thus, on 10 September 1621, James signed a grant in favour of Sir William Alexander that covered all of the lands "between our Colonies of New England and Newfoundland, to be known as New Scotland". This was an area larger than Great Britain and France combined.

To assist Alexander settle the colony, James signed, on 18 October 1624, the order to create a new order of baronets, limited to 100 Scottish "knichts and gentlemen of cheife respect for the birth, place, or fortounes".

James VI died on 27 March 1625 but his son and heir, Charles I, implemented the plan immediately. Under the implementation of the Baronetage an area of Edinburgh Castle was declared Nova Scotian territory for the purpose of distrubuting title and each applicant was required to pay Sir William Alexander 1000 merks and a pledge to support six colonists, fully equipped, for two years. In return they received the title and c. 11,000 acres, which, interestingly, was thought exorbitant. It was not a requirement that nobles actually go there.

The initial settlement did not go well with many killed through harsh weather and disease and then suffered a huge drawback when Charles, after losing a series of conflicts to the French, in reparation, ceded the lands to France and ordered the removal of the colony and destruction of Charles Fort at Port Royal. This was a fatal blow to the fledgling programme. Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling and Viscount of Canada, and often referred to as the "Founder of Nova Scotia", died bankrupt in London in 1644. His embalmed body is interred in the family vault in the High Kirk of Stirling. Lord Menstrie maintained, in his castle at Stirling the armorial roll of every noble that joined. This roll is still on display at Menstrie and managed by the National Trust of Scotland

The Order of Baronets, however, continued and grants of land were made until the end of 1639, by which time 122 baronetcies had been created, 113 of whom were granted lands in Nova Scotia. There were no grants of land after 1639. Charles, in order to entice nobles to join, allowed members the right to wear the badge of Nova Scotia around the neck suspended by an orange tawny ribbon. This right continues to this day. The badge of office consists of a silver shield with an azure saltire imposed upon it, together with an inescutcheon of the Arms of Scotland. There is an Imperial Crown above the inescutcheon and the motto Fax mentis Honestae Gloria encircles the whole badge. For wearing of the badge see The Standing Council of the Baronetage

The Order continued until 1707, by which time 329 baronetcies were made.



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