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Who Were the Foreign Protestants?

For over a hundred years, Lunenburg was a Mi’kmaq / Acadian village named Mirligueche. Originally a Mi'kmaw encampment and clam harvesting site, Acadians under the command of Isaac de Razilly established kinship and trade relations with the local Mi'kmaq and settled among them in the first half of the seventeenth century. A 1688 census indicates there were 21 at Mirliguèche (ten Europeans and 11 Mi‟kmaq), in one house and two wigwams, with half an acre under cultivation. In 1745 there were reported to be only eight settlers in the village. Four years later, Cornwallis reported that there were a number of families that lived in comfortable wooden houses.

Despite the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, Nova Scotia remained primarily occupied by Catholic Acadians and Mi'kmaq. Father Le Loutre's War began when Governor Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports on June 21, 1749. By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.Upon the outbreak of Father Le Loutre's War, on October 5, 1749, Governor Edward Cornwallis sent Commander White with troops in the 20 gun sloop Sphinx to Mirligueche and had the village destroyed. By 1753 there still was only one family in the area – a Mi'kmaq man named "Old [Paul] Labrador" and his metis family.

After establishing Halifax, the British quickly began to build other settlements. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected inHalifax (1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), Lunenburg (1753) and Lawrencetown (1754). The Natives and Acadians raided the Lunenburg peninsula nine times in the first six years of its establishment.

Dissatisfied with the English colonists sent to Halifax in 1749, Cornwallis appealed to the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations (Board of Trade) in London to recruit more Germans and Swiss. Over 2,700 Foreign Protestants signed up for the passage and emigrated to Nova Scotia. Most came from the Upper Rhine area of present-day Germany, from the French and German-speaking Swiss cantons and from the French-speaking principality of Montbeliard. They stayed in Halifax under British protection while working on the fortifications to pay off the cost of their passage.

In 1753, three years into Father Le Loutre's War war, John Creighton led the group of Foreign Protestants stationed in Halifax to resettle Mirliguèche naming the new British colony Lunenburg. The town was named in honour of the King of Great Britain and Ireland, George August of Hanover who was also the duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. Like Halifax, the British established Lunenburg unilaterally, that is, without negotiating with the Mi'kmaq whose sovereign territory it had always been. In the spring, Governor Hopson received warnings from Fort Edward that as many as 300 natives nearby were prepared to oppose the settlement of Lunenburg and intended to attack upon the arrival of settlers. On June 7, 1753, supervised by Lawrence, escorted by several ships of the British Navy and accompanied by 160 Regular soldiers, 1,453 Foreign Protestants from Halifax landed at Rous' Brook.

Edward Cornwallis

Respected Source

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