The richness of the Acadian homeland in Grand-Pré
The richness of the Acadian homeland in Grand-Pré (Courtesy of UNESCO, Tourisme Nova Scotia, without modification)

While the deportation of the Acadians was an ethnic cleansing of “undesirable subjects of His Majesty“, it is undeniable that the impregnated fertile lands of Grand-Pré and elsewhere in Nova Scotia (perceived as the 14th Anglo-American Colony) were also prized by the New England authorities for their abundant harvests. In 1755, Charles Lawrence was the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia and co-architect of the Acadian deportation with William Shirley, governor of Massachusetts. At that time in Virginia, lieutenant-governor Robert Dinwiddie was engaged in the military manu expulsion of the French presence in the Ohio Valley, that is, the forts Duquesne, Machault, Le Boeuf, and Presqu’île. Know that the population of Virginia, the most populous colony of British North America, was then about 340,000 citizens, almost five times the entire population of New France.

In a letter to the London Lords of Trade in Great Britain, dated October 18, 1755, Charles Lawrence wrote: “… As soon as the French are gone, I shall use my best endeavours to encourage People from the Continent to settle their lands… and the additional circumstances of the Inhabitants evacuating the Country will, I flatter myself, greatly hasten this event, as it furnishes us with a large Quantity of good Land ready for immediate Cultivation.

Three years later, in a proclamation published in the Boston Gazette, Charles Lawrence announced that vacant land was available in Nova Scotia and invited any interested farmer (Planter) to submit an application.

The abbreviated text read as follows: “Given the late success of His Majesty… the enemies have been compelled to retire… a favourable Opportunity now presents for peopling and cultivating… the lands vacated by the French… These have been cultivated for more than a Hundred Years, and never fail of Crops, nor need manuring.” See the Boston Gazette of Monday, November 6, 1758.

Over the next decade, more than 10,000 New England farmers invaded the “vacated” (seized) lands.

Twice deported

It was in November 1755 that 1,150 Acadian deportees, who had just been removed from their rich and fertile homeland, arrived unexpectedly in Virginia. The decision was made by the Executive Council to house them and feed them four pounds of flour and two pounds of meat per week per person until spring. They were then spread out into three coastal communities, namely, Norfolk, Hampton and Richmond. It is said that a hundred Acadian refugees fled into the woods.

Twice deported
Twice deported (Courtesy of Free Desktop Wallpapers)

Robert Dinwiddie pointed out in a letter to General William Shirley dated April 28, 1756, that in order to get rid of these “intestine enemies” within the province, the Legislature is ready to pay for their deportation to Britain. If Nova Scotia was able do it, Virginia could do the same. Such was the reasoning given behind the Virginian authority’s thinking. This decision was publicly announced in the Pennsylvania Gazette on May 6, 1756. See also the official records of the lieutenant-governor of the Colony of Virginia (1751-1758).

The subsequent deportation of Acadians from Virginia to Britain, numbering 1,044 persons, took place on May 10, 1756, on four tall ships which arrived at destination in mid-June 1756. The Fanny Bovey with some 220 Acadians on board arrived at Falmouth, the Virginia Packet (289) at Bristol, the Bobby Goodridge (293) at Portsmouth where it was redirected to Southampton, and the Industry (242) at Liverpool.