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Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

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Location: Yarmouth, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canadamap
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The original Mi'kmaq name for the region of Yarmouth meant "lands end", and the name for the Yarmouth River meant "crooked every which way"[1]. Modern surnames associated with Mi'kmaq families in the Yarmouth region[2] include Bartlett, Berry, Charles, Glade, Glode, Luxey, Muise, Pictou, Tarmey, and Toney

Some items preserved at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives are believed to be Viking artifacts[3], however this theory has not been proven.


In 1604, Samuel de Champlain named this place Cap Forchu, meaning "forked cape", and it was identified on European maps thenceforth[4]. Today, a small fishing community, a head of land, and a lighthouse bear the name.

In 1651, Philippe Muis d'Entremont became the first Baron of Pobomcoup, and was granted a region stretching from Cap Nègre (Barrington) to Cap Fourchu (Yarmouth). His feudal castle was built near the entry to the natural harbour of Pubnico[5]. These Acadian settlers used dykes to prevent the tides from flooding the salt marshes, while allowing rain and melted snow to drain. This expanded the arable farmlands, and greatly improved the quality of life for the settlers in this region, however there was not a dense population. In 1748, an Acadian census recorded 20 families at Peaubomcoup (Pubnico), and 25 at Tebok (possibly Tusket or Chebogue)[3]

The fall of Fort Beausejour to the British in 1755, marked the beginning of the Acadian expulsion, including at Peaubomcoup and Cap Forchu. The Acadian dwellings and outbuildings were destroyed, and livestock confiscated. Some families may have escaped into the woods and lived with the Mi'kmaq, others who had been deported from this area an Grand-Pré returned after pacification in 1763[6] [7]. The Acadian presence remains strong in this region today.

Modern surnames associated with Acadian families in the Yarmouth area region include: Amirault, Babin, Belliveau, Boudreau, Bourque, Comeau, Cottreau, d'Entremont, d'Eon, Doucet/Doucette, Gaudet, Jacquard, LeBlanc, Melanson, Moulaison, Muise, Pothier, Saulnier, Surette, et Vacon.

New England Planters

Starting with Halifax in 1749, the British government was trying to stabilize the region and control costs after nearly a century of war. They wanted to attract peaceful settlers with the skills to build an economy, but after a decade of effort the English were still outnumbered in Nova Scotia by the Mi'kmaq who had survived the smallpox and the Acadians who had escaped the expulsions. So they implemented a strategy that was designed to attract settlers from New England, with the vote.[8]

In October 1758, the first representative government in an English Colony was established in Nova Scotia, and recruiters went into New England to offer free land, and explain that each community with 50 eligible landowners could send two representatives to the legislature. Those who responded are referred to as New England Planters[9] [10] [11]

Fishermen and mariners from New England were attracted to the Cap Forchu area due it its proximity to George's Bank, and other convenient fishing grounds. In 1759 it was renamed Yarmouth after Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Initially it was used as a landing ground, then on June 9, 1761 the schooner Pompey, Moses Perry's ship, carried his family, the family of Sealed Landers and Ebenezer Ellis to Yarmouth to found a settlement. Elishama Eldridge and seven other families came later in the summer[12] [3] [13].

In 1767, the initial land grants of 1759 and 1761 were replaced by a general township, (which was in turn replaced in the redistribution of land after the influx of Loyalists following the American Revolution.) The 1767 system divided the land into lots of between 100 and 500 acres each, depending on the quality and accessibility of the land, and distributed in shares: John MacKinnon received 4 shares, eight settlers had 2 shares, thirty had 1 1/2 share, seventy had 1 share and nineteen had a half-share. These grants are the basis of this list of 128 early settlers, published by Brown[3]

"A list of early proprietors of the township of Yarmouth with their year of arrival
Name Number Name Number Name Number
Agard, Judah 1764 Allen, Jeremiah 1766 Allen, Jeremiah, jun 1766
Allen, Samuel 1766 Baker, Jonathan 1764 Barnes, Seth 1762
Beal, James  ? Beal, Josiah, jun 1761 Beal, Josiah, sen 1761
Bridgeo, George 1765 Brown, Adam  ? Brown, Benjamin 1763
Brown, James 1766 Brown, Nathan 1766 Bunker, Hezekiah 1765
Bunker, Paul ? Burgess, Joshua 1761 Butler, Eleazer 1762
Churchill, Lemuel 1762 Clark, Ebenezer 1766 Coggin, Henry 1762
Cook, Ephraim 1762 Coming, Ebenezer 1764 Corning, Jonathan 1764
Crawley, James  ? Crawley, John, jun 1762 Crawley, John, sen 1762
Crocker, Daniel 1765 Crosby, Edward 1763 Crosby, Jonathan 1761
Curtis, William  ? Darling, Benjamin 1763 Day, Solomon  ?
Dove, Samuel  ? Durkee, Phineas 1762 Eldridge, Barnabas 1766
Eldridge, Elisha 1761 Ellenwood, Benjamin 1764 Ellenwood, Benjamin, jun 1764
Ellenwood, Samuel 1767 Ellis, Ebenezer 1761 Elwell, Nathaniel 1765
Gilfillan, James Godfrey, Alexander 1763 Godfrey, Josiah 1763
Godfrey, Prince 1763 Godfrey, Samuel 1763 Gowen, Patrick 1762
Gullison, Stephen 1763 Haley, Ebenezer 1762 Hall,Abner 1762
Hammond, William 1782 Harris, David 1763 Harris, Samuel 1763
Haskell, Moses 1763 Haskell, Robert 1763 Haskell, William, jun 1763
Haskell, William, sen 1763 Hersey, David 1763 Hibbard, Eleazer 1763
Hilton, Amos 1765 Hilton, Stilson  ? Holmes, Peleg 1762
Hooper, Moses 1766 Kelley, James 1765 Killam, John 1766
Landers, Sealed 1761 Lovitt, Andrew 1766 MacKinnon, James ?
MacKinnon, John1762Marshall, William? Mattingly, James1764
Merrithew, Benjamin ? Merrithew, Roger 1764Moore, Thomas ?
Moore, William? Morgan, Benjamin? Moulton, Ebenezer1761
Nickerson, Nathan Pearl, David 1764 Pease, Job 1761
Perry, John 1762 Perry, Moses 1761 Pitman, Joseph 1762
Porter, Nathan 1767 Porter, Nehemiah, jun 1766 Porter, Nehemiah, sen 1766
Porter, Samuel ? Redding, Benjamin 1765 Richardson, John1762
Ring, George 1762 Robbins, Abigail1762 Robbins, James1762
Robinson, Timothy? Robinson, William? Rogers, Cornelius1762
Rogers, Thomas? Rose, Richard1765 Saher, Thomas  ?
Salter, William ?Saunders, Joseph1762Scott, Jonathan1765
Scott, Moses 1763 Sewell, Dominicus 1767Simmons, Cyrus ?
Sinnott, Thomas ? Soames Lydia 1767 Sollows,John 1764
Stewart, Joseph1763 Sullivan, Thomas?Symonds, John ?
Tinkham, Edward1762Trask, Elias1765Trefry, John 1766
Trefry, Joshua 1766 Verge, John 1767 Walker, John 1764
Weston, Nathan1766 Woodbury, Jonathan 1763

American Revolution

When the American Revolution broke out, many Yarmouth settlers still considered themselves to be New Englanders, and were reluctant to swear the new oath of allegiance to the English, which was also an oath against anyone in the territory ruled by the Revolutionary Government. The English were therefore hesitant to provide them with weapons. The undefended coastal settlements were then targetted by large numbers of American privateers (somewhere between 800[14] and 1700[15], depending on the source.)

In 1775, two armed American schooners with 80 men landed at Cape Forchu, took prisoners, and went well beyond their instructions from the Revolutionary Government. Their "depradations" raised sympathy among their American relatives and business associates. Historians note that this sympathy, plus the continued refusal of many Yarmouth settlers to swear the English oath appears to have given them some relief from the privateers.[12] [8] [16].

Loyalist settlers

In 1783-4, tens of thousands of Loyalists flooded Nova Scotia, many through the town of Shelburne, which was established for that purpose. A number of them settled in Yarmouth, including a number who settled along the Tusket River[12]:

"A list of petitioners proposing Franklin Town be established at Tusket, 1790
Gabriel Van NordenBenedict BymLewis Blanchard
James Van EmburghMatthias ByrnJacob Tooker
Nathaniel RichardsonDavid Van NordenDaniel Goddard
Job HatfieldPeter EarlAbraham M. Hatfield
Nicholas LawrenceAbraham SarventJohn Wood
James BlauveltJob SmithJohn Gavel
William Colsworthy James HatfieldJohn Purdy
James LentJacob Hatfield, Jr.Robert Symes
Thomas Ridgway Isaac DeckerJesse Grey
Jonathan HortonTitus HurlburtHugh Conner
William HalsteadJohn Van EmburghRobert King
Jacob HatfieldSamuel AndrewsJohn Ackerman
David OgdenStephen Van NordenJames Gisnone
Cornelius Van Norden, James SloaneGeorge Gavel
Gilbert Van Emburgh, Gilbert DaniellsSebastian Neall



  1. Nova Scotia Archives Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia, see pages 748-9 for Yarmouth
  2. A Canadian Family First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians; the Mi'kmaq in Canadian Census Records
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Brown, George Stayley. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, A Sequel to Campbell's History (Rand Avery Co., Boston, 1888)
  4. Historical Maps of Nova Scotia "A New Chart of the Coast of New England, Nova Scotia, New France or Canada" Date: 1745; Cartographer: N. Bellin; Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Map Collection: 200-1745: loc.3.5.2
  5. Clément Cormier, “MIUS (Muis) D’ENTREMONT, PHILIPPE, first Baron de Pobomcoup,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 17, 2019, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mius_d_entremont_philippe_1E.html.
  6. Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos et Centre de recherche
  7. Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association explanation of the local culture.
  8. 8.0 8.1 A History of Nova Scotia, Or Acadie by Beamish Murdoch; Publication date 1866; Publisher J. Barnes
  9. "New England Planters at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia" by Barry Cahill, Margaret Conrad, ed. ‘’They Planted Well: New England Planters in Maritime Canada; (Fredericton, 1988) pp. 120-131. Abridged and reprinted with the permission of the author.
  10. Nova Scotia Legislature  About the Legislature »History
  11. Wright, Esther Clark, 1895-. Planters And Pioneers. rev. ed. [Canada: s.n.], 1982.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Campbell, John Roy. A History of the County of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (J. & A. McMillan, Saint John, N.B., 1876)
  13. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Genealogies : Transcribed from the Yarmouth Herald], by George S. Brown; prepared for publication by Martha & William Reamy, assisted by John McDonald Hilton ... et al.; published in Baltimore : Genealogical Pub. Co., c1993. ISBN: 0806313722 (Under copyright; also available on Ancestry.ca)
  14. Stories from the Revolution by by John Frayler, Salem Maritime National Historic Site
  15. American Merchant Marine at War, published in 2012
  16. Notes on Nova Scotia Privateers by George E.E. Nichols, 1904; from the 'Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, for the year 1908,' Vol. XIII, pp. 111-152

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