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.

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Counties and Parishes on the Upper St. John


The boundaries of the original County of York are stated in a general way in the Royal Letter Patent issued under the great seal of this province the 18th day of May 1785. The territory included is there described as "a tract or district of land on both sides of the River St. John bounded on the south west by Charlotte County, on the north east by the County of Northumberland, on the north west by the Province of Quebec and on the south east by the north boundary line of the township of Maugerville." When the House of Assembly met for the first time at St. John on the 3rd of January 1786, the first act placed upon the statute book was intitled "An Act for the better ascertaining and confirming the boundaries of the several counties and for sub-dividing them into towns and parishes." Under this act seven parishes were established in the County of York, namely Fredericton, St. Mary's, Kingsclear, Prince William, Queensbury, Woodstock and Northampton, taking in both sides of the St. John and extending back about twelve miles. The seven parishes did not therefore include more than an eighth part of the entire county; the remainder was a wild untrodden wilderness, the home of the moose, the bear and the beaver. But as time went on new settlers forced their way into the unexplored regions and, as the population increased, new parishes were formed along the upper part of the river and also on the rear of the parishes first formed, and the original parishes were themselves divided or sub-divided until we now find forty parishes where once there were but seven.

Great and unwieldly as were the dimensions of the original County of York, the House of Assembly did not readily consent to its division. We learn from the journals of the House that as early as the year 1821, Peter Fraser, M. P. P., presented the petition of several inhabitants of the upper part of the county praying that it might be divided. No action apears to have been taken at that session. Two years later Mr. Slason, another M. P. P. for York, presented a petition "from a number of the inhabitants of the parishes of Woodstock, Northampton, Wakefield and Kent praying that the upper part of the County of York be formed into a separate county." Mr. Slason a few days later moved for leave to bring in a bill to erect the upper part of the county into a distinct and separate county but the motion was rejected on a division: yeas 5, nays 12. The promoters of the movement made another attempt after three years had passed and on the 20th of January, 1826, John Allen, M. P. P., presented a petition from the inhabitants of Woodstock, Northampton, Wakefield and Kent praying that the upper part of the County of York be erected into a separate and distinct county. On the 10th February a bill for the purpose brought in by Mr. Allen was read a first time and on Feb. 13th passed its second reading. But on the 22nd February the bill received the three months hoist by a vote of 12 to 10. This is the more surprising since all the York County members favored the division of the county.

The people of the upper St. John were becoming irritated at the action of the Assembly and when Mr. Fraser presented at the following session another petition for the erection of the parishes of Woodstock, Northampton, Wakefield and Kent into a new county and nothing came of it we need not wonder at their annoyance. The agitation however was still kept up, and finally, at the session of 1831 an act was passed by which the County of Carleton was formed. The act did not become law until it was confirmed by order of the King in Council, May 30, 1832, and published and declared in the province Sept. 19, 1832. The County of Carleton as first formed extended from Eel River to the province of Quebec. The portions of the parishes of Woodstock and Northampton that remained in the County of York were made new parishes in 1833 and called Dumfries and Southampton. Carleton County was to have had but one member in the House of Assembly, but in 1834 an act was passed giving it two members on account of "the great increase in population and the advancement of commerce and agriculture" within its borders.

In the year 1844 an act was passed by the House of Assembly by which the upper part of the County of Carleton was formed into the County of Victoria but this act did not become law until six years later as acts of this nature were in those days frequently reserved for the approval of the British government. However on the 30th January, 1850, the Act of Assembly under which the County of Victoria was set off from Carleton was "Confirmed, ratified and finally enacted by order of his Majesty in Council."

The County of Madawaska was constituted by Act of Assembly passed in the year 1873.

Having thus far shown the partition of the old County of York into four counties we will now consider the formation of the parishes. Woodstock and Northampton were constituted in 1786. In 1803 the district extending from these parishes to the White Marsh (three miles above the garrison of Presque Isle) was constituted the parish of Wakefield. In 1821 the territory from Wakefield north to the Canada line, including both sides of the St. John river, was formed into the parish of Kent. An immense parish truly, comprehending the present counties of Madawaska and Victoria and nearly one half of Carleton.

In 1830 that part of Wakefield east of the river St. John was made the parish of Brighton.

In 1833 Kent was divided into five parishes namely, (1) Wicklow, bounded north by River de Chute, east by river St. John, south by Wakefield and west by State of Maine; (2) Andover including the district west of the river from River de Chute to Grand Falls, (3) Kent including all of Carleton County north of Brighton east of the main river, (4) Perth including all of Victoria County east of the main river, and (5) Madawaska which included the present County of Madawaska. The same year the parishes of Southampton and Dumfries were set off from Northampton and Woodstock. In 1842 the upper part of Wakefield was made the parish of Simonds.

When the County of Victoria was established, it included but three parishes, namely Andover, Perth and Madawaska, but in the same year, the parish of Madawaska was parcelled out into four, namely, Madawaska, St. Francis, St. Basil and St. Leonard.

In the year 1852 the upper half of Andover was made the parish of Grand Falls. In 1853 the rear of the parish of Woodstock became the parish of Richmond. In 1859 the parish of Peel was formed out of Brighton. In 1863 the parish of Aberdeen was formed out of parts of Kent and Brighton. The same year the immense parish of Perth including all of the present County of Victoria east of the St. John river was divided and a new parish made of the upper part called Gordon. In 1869 the rear of the parish of Simonds became the parish of Wilmot. In 1871 the upper portion of the parish of Gordon was formed into a new parish called Lorne and the following year the parish of Drummond was constituted including the district on the east side of the main river opposite the parish of Grand Falls. In 1877 three additional parishes were formed in the County of Madawaska, namely St. Anns, St. Jacques and St. Hilaire.

For the convenience of any of the readers of The Dispatch who may care to preserve the foregoing information for reference the following summary is here given.

Dates of Formation of Counties

York 1785
Carleton 1832
Victoria 1850
Madawaska 1873

Dates of Formation of Parishes

Carleton County

Woodstock 1786
Northampton 1786
Wakefield 1803
Kent 1821
Brighton 1830
Wicklow 1833
Simonds 1842
Richmond 1853
Peel 1859
Aberdeen 1863
Wilmot 1869

Victoria County

Andover 1833
Perth 1833
Grand Falls 1852
Gordon 1863
Lorne 1871
Drummond 1872

Madawaska County

Madawaska 1833
St. Leonard 1850
St. Basil 1850
St. Francis 1850
St. Anns 1877
St. Jacques 1877
St. Hilaire 1877

It may be of interest while treating of the counties and parishes of the upper St. John to mention the fact that the to the County of Carleton belongs the honor of being the first county in the province to adopt the municipal form of government. This step was taken in the year 1852; the first Warden was Samuel Dickinson, Esq., and the first councillors for the parish of Woodstock were Henry E. Dibblee, Esq., and Hon. William Lindsay.

When the County of Carleton was formed its first officers were appointed as follows:— Bartholemew Crannell Beardsley, John Bedell and Col. Richard Ketchum, Justices of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. B. C. Beardsley, John Bedell, Col. Richard Ketchum, James Upham, George Morehouse, Josiah Brown, John Dibblee, Adam Sharp, Arthur B. Walsh, Francis Rice and Leonard R. Coombes, Justices of the Peace.

J. F. W. Winslow, Sheriff.

J. M. Robinson, Clerk of the Peace.

John Bedell, Registrar of Deeds and Wills.

J. Bedell, jr., and Hilkiah Kearney, Coroners.

Richard English and J. M. Connell, Licensed Auctioneers.

R. Ketchum, Josiah Brown and A. B. Walsh, Commissioners for solemnizing Marriages.


W. O. Raymond


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[Published 9 Sept. 1896]