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Colonial Cases

Nova Scotia

Texts have been transcribed literally, without correcting spelling or printing errors. Bruce Kercher.

The earliest newspaper records from Nova Scotia on the Paper of Record website are from the Halifax Gazette. There is an incomplete set of that paper online, dating from 1752 to 1780. Unfortunately, there are few records of court proceedings among those papers, though there is plenty of evidence of the activities of the Court of Common Pleas, the Supreme Court of Judicature and the Assize Court. [Paper of Record has now been absorbed into the Google News website.]

Among the best information about the operation of the court system comes from a report published in the Halifax Gazette on 21 April 1753, p. 1. The report does not give details of the complaints about the courts, but the general trend of the complaints is clear enough. Among the allegations was that the judges were applying the law of Massachusetts rather than the law of England.

On 29 August 1752, p. 1, the Halifax Gazette reprinted an English comment on the newly passed legislation governing capital punishment for murder. The reference was to (1752) 25 Geo. II c. 37, s. 5 (An Act for Better Preventing the Horrid Crime of Murder), under which the judge was empowered to order that the body of the murderer was to be hanged in chains. If he did not order that, then the Act required that the body was to be anatomised, that is, dissected by surgeons, before burial.

The Halifax Gazette occasionally gave reports of court decisions from other North American colonies and plantations, including many which subsequently formed the United States of America. Those cases are online under the names of the colonies concerned.

The other online newspaper is the Acadian Recorder, available through Google News. Google News contains a broken set from 1854 to 1861, all of which have been consulted for the following cases. (For a comment on the inefficient state of the Supreme Court, see Acadian Recorder, 21 November 1857, page 3, column 3).

Cases marked with an asterisk have not been transcribed, but are links to the relevant issues of online newspapers.

Borden v. Churchill, 1857* [carriage of goods] (Acadian Recorder, 28 November 1857, page 3, column 2)

Chisholm v. McDonald, 1857* [ejectment] (Acadian Recorder, 28 November 1857, page 3, column 2)

Conequid Marine Insurance Company v. Bartreaux, 1875 [insurance] Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

Crawley v. McIsaac, 1857* [ejectment] (Acadian Recorder, 28 November 1857, page 3, column 2)

Des Barres v. Shey, 1873 [ejectment] Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

Hill v. Fraser, 1857* (Acadian Recorder, 28 November 1857, p 3, column 2)

Minor cases Nova Scotia

R. v. Allen, 1753 [counterfeit - sodomy - pillory - whipping]

R. v. Kennedy, 1855* [sodomy] (Acadian Recorder, 9 December 1854, p 3)

R. v. Kennedy, 1857* [murder] (Acadian Recorder, 28 November 1857, p 3, column 2)

R. v. McNab, 1855 [stealing]

R. v. O'Donnell (1), 1854* [manslaughter] (Acadian Recorder, 9 December 1854, p 3)

R. v. O'Donnell (2), 1854* [stealing] (Acadian Recorder, 9 December 1854, p 3)

R. v. Street, 1754 [murder - manslaughter]

R. v. Wheldon, 1752 [burglary - capital punishment]

Robertson v. Grant, 1876 [shipping] Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The Creole, 1854 [admiralty - fishery - British vessel]

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School