Soldiers of the Atlantic Seaboard

Acadia And Newfoundland

Governed by the Military

In 1697, the English colonies in Newfoundland found themselves without a governor. At the same time that the king ordered a reduction in the garrison, he decreed that the commanding officer of the warships escorting the annual convoy of fishing vessels to St. John's should serve as governor and commander of the troops during his stay in Newfoundland. Therefore, from 1698 until the end of the eighteenth century, the island was administered by a commodore or admiral of the Royal Navy from on board his ship. There was nothing surprising about this. When colonization began, autocratic military governments were as firmly established in the English colonies as in the French ones. The British colonies of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were governed by soldiers and did not have legislative assemblies like those to the south. All that existed was a council consisting of a few officers and persons of distinction, presided over by the governor, who was always a high-ranking officer. A legislative assembly would not be established in Nova Scotia until the mid-eighteenth century.