New Brunswick Regions, Mirimachi and Davidson Settlers, Restigouche River (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors  by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

The Mirimichi and Davidson Settlers[edit | edit source]

Esther Clark Wright’s history of The Mirimichi details the French attempts to settle the Mirimichi region, where after their defeat a few Acadians remained, living fearfully along the river.

William Davidson, of Inverness and John Cort of Aberdeen received a grant of 100,000 acres on the Mirimichi in 1765. The grant extended from the forks of the Mirimichi, where the Northwest and the Southwest Branches unite, up both those rivers in a block some fourteen miles square. They intended to exploit the fisheries, and brought the first “English” settlers from Scotland. They hired some New Englanders, but most later returned home, while others from Scotland came on their own and settled downriver from the Davidson Grant and around the Bay.

All these settlers are named in The Mirimichi, pages 23-24, and in Planters and Pioneers. W.D. Hamilton’s books, Dictionary of Mirimichi Biography, and The Old North Esk Revised (1988), will be informative, though the latter book deals largely with settlers on the Northwest Branch and overlaps Doreen Menzies Arbuckle, whose The North West Miramichi: A History of the Locality with Genealogies and History of the Menziez, Sinclair, Curtis, and Mullin Families (privately published, 1978) deals with many of the same families. This has just been reprinted, in soft cover, see Generations, Summer 2001, page 32.

A biography by W.H. Davidson, William Davidson, 740-1790 (Newcastle, New Brunswick: Mirimichi Historical Society, 1967), is a reprint of An Account of the Life of William Davidson otherwise John Godsman of Banffshire and Aberdeenshire in Scotland and Miramichi in British North America by W.H. Davidson, B.C.L., Q.C. (Saint John, New Brunswick Museum, Historical Studies No. 6, 1947).

Louise Manny’s “Scenes From an Earlier Day; Historical Notes on Wilson’s Point” in Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society 19 (1996) pages 39-46, gives details of the first burial ground on Beaubair’s Point, and the attempt to read and restore stones, including that of Davidson.

During the American Revolution the Mirimichi settlements had a difficult time. There had been attacks by “the most warlike Indians of the Province”,[1] they were plundered by American privateers. Some left, some fled inland, and a few survived on their lots. Then the war ended, and the Loyalists arrived:

Nowhere throughout the province was there more bitterness and ill feeling between the old settlers and the new than on the Mirimichi, and nowhere did the feeling break out more often into acts of violence.[2]

In The Mirimichi, there is a copy of a map from the Crown Lands Office, Fredericton, showing lots along the River, some with owner’s names. Surveyed by Daniel Micheau in 1785 it appears to be a record of what lots were already occupied by old settlers, preparatory to granting land to the incoming Loyalists.

Restigouche River[edit | edit source]

Donald Whyte’s A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants, Volume I, on the first page, informs us that Robert Adams, and his brother John Adams, came from Aberdeen to Mission Point, Restigouche County, New Brunswick, about 1773-1774, and married sisters, daughters of Colonel Thomas Busteed, from Cork. Robert and Elizabeth’s daughter Mary, born April 14, 1790, was the first white child born on the Restigouche. In 1817, another Adams family, John A., his wife Elizabeth Gillespie and their sons Peter and John, came from Aberdeen to Campbellton, Restigouche County. Alexander Adams and Harvey Adams came to Matapedia, in Québec, but Alexander removed to Caraquet and then Restigouche, while Harvey was a pioneer British settler in Bonaventure County.

The sources given are George B. MacBeath, The Story of the Restigouche (Saint John, 1954), and D. Whyte’s personal correspondence October 17, 1981. Further Adams entries in Volume II suggest this is a case of chain migration, with families from Aberdeen joining others who had emigrated a generation earlier.

Whyte lists among his sources both correspondence with, and compilations of Scottish pioneers in the Restigouche and Bathurst areas, by Don W. MacLean, Fredericton, 1986-1991. One document he refers to is deposited at the PANB, so probably others are as well. If you are working in the north east corner of the province, Don W. MacLean’s fonds may prove helpful.

Use AMICUS[edit | edit source]

When you have pinned down your early settler to a specific place, go to LAC’s Union catalogue (AMICUS), search under “subject” using the place name. This should turn up most of the available local histories. Note the authors and double-check under their names for related works. Be sure to check the date of publication; be more cautious of 19th century works.

Map of Townships Along The St. John River
Details from copy of hand-drawn map, original source unknown, author’s collection.

Bay of Fundy map.jpg

Map of Townships In Chigecto Isthmus
“A Chart of the Peninsula of Nova Scotia by Chas. Morris. Chf. Surv. 1761,” copy, in author’s collection.

Chart of the Peninsula of Nova Scotia.jpg

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wright, Mirimichi, page 24,
  2. Ibid. The records of the early Courts of Quarter Session are filled with accounts of such quarrels not only between the English-speaking settlers, but with the local Indian bands and Acadians.


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