Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Fort Havoc (Wallace Hale)

Info The language of the text is the original used by Wallace Hale. Records acquired by the Provincial Archives are not translated from the language in which they originate.

Introduction | Genealogies | Loyalist Reference Documents | Loyalist Reference Text | New Brunswick | W. O. Raymond Scrapbook | Ship Passenger Lists

New Brunswick Counties


On Friday, 17 August, 1759, by an act of the Legislature, the province of Nova Scotia was divided into five counties, Annapolis, King's, Cumberland, Lunenburg and Halifax.   Cumberland County, "to consist of all the lands in the province of Nova Scotia lying north of King's County,"1 thus included the entire area that later became the province of New Brunswick.

Settlement of the township of Sackville, by families from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, began about 1761; Cumberland township was settled about the same time, and Davidson and Court settled on the Miramichi in 1764. In the western part of the area, the first English settlement of the St. John River area began in 1762,2 and the first permanent settler in the Passamaquoddy district was Alexander Hodges in 1763.3   The division of Cumberland County was effected on 30 April, 1765 when Sunbury County was created, by the Council at Halifax,4 although the boundary between Sunbury and Cumberland was not defined until 24 May, 1770, when a minute of Council passed:

And the Boundary lines of Sunbury, to be as follows, Vizt., To begin at the head of the Western branch of the River Copscook (called the River St. Croix) Two Leagues above the Falls or Tide Rapids, and to run on the Meridian Line, or North fourteen Degrees East by the Needle, 'till it meets the River St. John, thence by the several Courses of the said River, to the Southern boundary of Canada, then to begin again Twenty miles above Point Mispeck up the Bay of Fundy being the Eastern point of Head Land of the Harbour at the Mouth of the said River Saint John, thence to run North by the needle till it meets Canada Southern Boundary aforesaid. To be bounded Northerly by the said Southern Boundary of Canada, Southerly by the Bay of Fundy & Passamaquoddy Bay, and to include all the Islands in said Bays, and lying within Six Leagues of the last mentioned boundary.5

The map of the townships on the river St. John, by Charles Morris et al., 1765, and the 1780 Des Barres maps of the townships in Sunbury and Cumberland (Westmorland), show only the townships and larger land grants. Dr. William F. Ganong (1864-1941) appears to have been the author of a map that clearly shows the boundaries of Cumberland and Sunbury Counties within the area that became New Brunswick.

The influx of Loyalist refugees in 1783 prompted the division of Nova Scotia into two provinces, "by drawing the line of separation from the Mouth of the Musquat River to its source and from thence across the Isthmus into the nearest part of the Bay Verte, and that the Tract of Country bounded by the Gulph of St. Lawrence on the East, the Province of Quebec on the North, the Territories of the United States on the West, and the Bay of Fundy on the South, should be erected into a Government under the Name of New Brunswick," as stated by Order of the King in Council, 18 June, 1784.

The position of Governor of New Brunswick having been declined by Brig. Gen. Henry E. Fox, Col. Thomas Musgrave and, on first offer, by Col. Thomas Carleton, Carleton subsequently accepted,6 receiving the royal appointment as "Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over" the province of New Brunswick, on 18 August, 1784. Carleton arrived at Parr (Saint John) 21 November of that year, and, with his appointed Council, assumed the government of the province the day following.

The division of the province into counties was not begun until 18 May, 1785, when St. John was erected as the first county. The following day, 19 May, Westmorland county was created; the third county, Charlotte, on 4 June, 1785, and the fourth, Northumberland, on 10 June. Governor Carleton, in a letter to the Secretary of State (England), dated 28 June, 1785, said, "The province will soon be divided into eight counties, three along the Bay of Fundy, four up the St. John River, and one at Miramichi."7

Kings was erected, as the fifth county, on 4 July, 1785. The sixth county, Queens, was created in July, exact date unknown; York, as the seventh county, 25 July, and Sunbury, the eighth and last of the original counties, created on 26 July, 1785. Suficient care and consideration had been exercised in the establishment of the county boundaries that they remained little changed over the ensuing years, save for the creation of additional counties as need and circumstances dictated.

At the first session of the New Brunswick Legislature, called by Governor Thomas Carleton, and held at Saint John, beginning on 3 January, 1786, the first legislation enacted, 26 Geo. III. C. 1., was entitled, "An Act for the better ascertaining and confirming the Boundaries of the Several Counties within this Province, and for subdividing them into Towns or Parishes."   This Act, passed in accordance with Section 15 of the Royal Instructions to Thomas Carleton, confirmed the division of New Brunswick into eight Counties by Letters Patent in 1785.

The second Act passed by the New Brunswick Legislature, to secure the rights of holders of grants made previously by the government of Nova Scotia, decreed, "That all Letters Patent and Grants heretofore made and passed under the Great Seal of the Province of Nova-Scotia, of Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, now situate, lying and being within this Province, shall and may be registered at full length by the several Grantees therein named, their several and respective heirs and assigns in the office of the Secretary and Register of the Records of this Province, within the space of one year."

However, it was not until 1791 that the New Brunswick Legislature deemed it necessary to pass an Act declaring that "no Law, passed in the General Assembly, of the Province of Nova Scotia, before the Erection of the Province of New Brunswick, shall be of force in this Province."

The Counties, with their respective Parishes, as created by the New Brunswick Act of 1786, were:—

  St. John County
St. Martin's
City of Saint John
St. Stephen
St. David
St. Andrews
St. Patrick
St. George
West Isles
Prince William
St. Mary's


As a matter of interest, an "ACT for the appointment of Town or Parish Officers, in the several Counties in this Province," was subsequently passed at the same session of the Legislature.

The 1786 map, by George Sproule, the Surveyor-General, and Mather Byles, deputy surveyor, covers only the south-west part of New Brunswick, six of the newly created counties, Westmorland and Northumberland being omitted, but it serves to illustrate those county boundaries, the parishes within the counties, as well as indicating the areas of settlement of several of the disbanded provincial regiments.

The great counties of Northumberland and York (see sketch map15) included vast tracts of wilderness, areas that were only divided into parishes as population and settlement dictated. Dr. Ganong remarks:8

"At first, in 1786, the parishes were in most counties simply erected of a certain size to enclose a settlement, leaving a great part, often (as in York and Northumberland), the greater part, unassigned to any parish, and it was not until 1826 that all the land of all the counties was finally assigned to parishes."

When the original eight counties and their parishes were created, only in St. John and Kings counties did the parishes include the entire county, "leaving no unassigned lands."9

Dr. Ganong also noted:10

"Although the original county lines were established in 1785, no attempt was made to survey and mark out any of them until 1832, a fact to be kept in mind in interpreting the peculiarities of all maps of the province prior to that date. Nor does any printed map of the province, known to me, attempt to mark the county and parish boundaries, until Bouchettes's map of 1831 and Baillie's of 1832. After 1832 the various lines were run from time to time as recorded on the accompanying map (No. 38)."
Dr. Ganong did not attempt to create a series of maps, illustrating the evolution of the counties and parishes of New Brunswick, but his map11 showing the county and parish boundaries as they existed in 1786 is most useful.

Evolution of the counties and parishes of the province has usually been presented on a county by county basis, notably by Ganong and Fellows.12   For the purpose of this work, possibly a chronological presentation of the changes between 1786 and 1835 may be of benefit:—

1787 Westmorland
Parish of Dorchester and
Parish of Salisbury created, effective 13 Feb., 1787.(see note)

Parish of Norton set off from the parishes of Sussex and Kingston;
Parish of Hampton set off from Sussex and Kingston;
Parish of Greenwich set off from Kingston, effective 3 Feb., 1795.(See Note.)

1801 Westmorland
Dorchester made Shire-town of the County.

1803 Northumberland
County boundaries established.

Parish of Campbello set off from parish of West Isles.
Parish of Wakefield created.
    NOTE: The parish of Wakefield, as originally created, included the land on both the East and West side of the St. John River, north of the parishes of Woodstock and Northampton.13

1805 Westmorland
Parish of Botsford created from parish of Sackville.

1812 Charlotte
Certain Grant lines incorrectly specified.

1813 Charlotte
Parish of St. Stephen enlarged.

1814 Charlotte
Parishes of St. Patrick and St. George enlarged.

Parish of Carleton created;
Parish of Wellington created;
Parish of Beresford created;
Parish of Chatham created;
Parish of Ludlow created;
Parish of Glenelg set off from Newcastle parish;
Parish of Nelson set off from Newcastle;
Parish of Northesk created from the parishes of Newcastle and Alnwick;
Parish of Saumarez set off from the parish of Alnwick, all by an Act passed 7 March, 1814.



Parish of Grand Manan set off from West Isles.

Parish of Brunswick created.

1821 York
Parish of Kent created.

1823 Charlotte
Parish of St. James set off from St. Stephen parish.



Division Line between the Parishes of Newcastle and Northesk altered.

Parish of Douglas created from parts of St. Mary's and Queensbury parishes.





The ninth County, created 7 March, 1826,14 from part of Northumberland, included the parishes of Carleton and Wellington.   Royal assent 5 Feb., 1827;   Proclaimed 22 May, 1827.

Parish of Dundas set off from the parish of Wellington.
Parish of Harcourt created from Wellington parish.
Parish of Huskisson created from the parish of Wellington.
Parish of Liverpool (later named Richibucto) set off from the parish of Carleton.



The tenth County, created 7 March, 1826,14 set off from Northumberland County, included the parishes of Beresford, Saumarez and part of Alnwick. (See sketch map.15)   Royal assent 5 Feb., 1827;   Proclaimed 22 May, 1827.
Parish of Bathurst created from part of Alnwick.
Parish of Addington created.
Parish of Eldon created.



Parish of Canning created from part of the parish of Waterborough.


Parish of Shediac created from parts of Dorchester, Sackville and Westmorland parishes.



Division line between the Parishes of Dundas and Wellington altered.

Parish of Coverdale set off from the parish of Hillsborough.



Parish of Brighton created from part of Wakefield parish.
Parish of Blackville set off from the parish of Ludlow;
Parish of Blissfield created from the parish of Ludlow.

1831 Gloucester
Parish of Caraquet set off from Saumarez parish;
Parish of New Bandon created from part of Saumarez.




Created 31 March, 1831,14 the eleventh County, set off from York County, included the parishes of Woodstock, Wakefield, Brighton, Kent and Northampton.   Act confirmed by the King in Council, 30th May 1832, and published and declared in the Province 19th September, 1832.

1832 Kent
Shire-town, Liverpool, renamed Richibucto.

Parish of Southampton set off from parish of Northampton;
Parish of Dumfries created from parts of Woodstock and Prince William parishes.

Parish of Andover created;
Parish of Perth created;
Parish of Madawaska created;
Parish of Wicklow set off from Kent parish.



Parish of Blissville created from parts of Burton and Lincoln parishes.
Boundary betwen York and Carleton altered.
  Carleton, Gloucester, Kent
Each allowed one additional representative in General Assembly due to population increase.



Parish of Chipman created from parts of the parishes of Brunswick and Canning.
Part of Dorchester annexed to Moncton parish.

Division between Douglas and Queensbury parishes altered.
Parish of Upham created from Hampton parish.
Parish of Weldford set off from Richibucto parish.

1836 York
Islands in front a part of Dumfries parish.

Subsequently, Restigouche County was set off from Gloucester, 1 March, 1837, as the twelfth county;   the thirteenth county, Victoria, was created from the upper part of Carleton County, 13 April, 1844;   Albert, the fourteenth county, was created from Westmorland, 27 March, 1845, and the fifteenth county, Madawaska, set off from Victoria County, 14 April, 1873.   Within the fifteen counties, parishes were divided until the present (2003) number, 155, was reached.   The details of these divisions are outside the intended scope of this work.



  1.   Murdoch, Beamish, A History of Nova-Scotia or Acadie, Vol. II., pp. 373-4, pub. James Barnes, Halifax, 1866.

  2.   Hannay, James, History of New Brunswick, 1909, Vol. 1, Chap. 5.

  3.   Ganong, William F., Ph.D., A Monograph of Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick, p. 323, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series, 1899-1900, Vol. V., Sec. II.

  4.   Ganong, William F., Ph.D., A Monograph of the Evolution of the Boundaries of the Province of New Brunswick, p. 226, Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series, 1901-1902, Vol. VII., Sec. II.

  5.   Ibid.

  6.   Winslow Papers, letter Brig. Gen. H. E. Fox to Edward Winslow, 5 Aug., 1784.

  7.   Ganong, William F., Ph.D., A Monograph of the Evolution of the Boundaries of the Province of New Brunswick, p. 417.

  8.   Ibid., p. 432.

  9.   Ibid., p. 433.

10.   Ibid., p. 421.

11.   Ibid., Map No. 35, insert, pp. 414-5.

12.  Fellows, Robert F., Researching Your Ancestors in New Brunswick, Canada, 1979, Fredericton, ISBN 0-9690830-2-5.

13.   Raymond, W. O., "The Old Parish of Wakefield," pub. 10 June, 1896, Woodstock, N.B. Dispatch.

14.   Date of creation of the County by the New Brunswick Legislature. Royal assent given the year following.   See Ganong, William F., Ph.D., A Monograph of the Evolution of the Boundaries of the Province of New Brunswick, pp. 426-7.

15.   Great accuracy is not claimed for these two sketch maps; they are intended to provide a rough comparison of the county boundaries in 1785 and 1826, in the absence of better representations.

x.   Ganong, William F., Ph.D., A Monograph of the Origins of the Settlements in New Brunswick, p. 42, pub. in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Second Series, 1904-1905, Vol. X., Sect. II.

Note:   Previous to the passage of an Act of the Legislature, in 1796, "every Act of the General Assembly, in which the commencement thereof is not directed to be from a specific time, doth commence from the first day of the Session of the General Assembly in which such Act is passed."