Dalhousie Law Journal


legal history, Cape Breton, Admiralty Court, Nova Scotia


The establishment of the "Admiralty Court", which was formally known as the Nova Scotia Court of Vice-Admiralty, had preceded Cornwallis's arrival by several years. In the late summer of 1720, when Richard Philipps was both Governor and Vice-Admiral at Nova Scotia's old royal capital of Annapolis, Daniel Henry was appointed as Judge, Arthur Savage as Register and Cypryan Southack as Marshal in vice-admiralty. Less than a decade later, during the winter of 1729, the principal offices of a court of vice-admiralty went to John Bradstreet as Judge, Erasmus James Philipps as Advocate General, James Gibson as Register and Archibald Rennie as Marshal. In the summer of 1737, a commission was granted to Edward How as Judge of the Court. How had moved from Massachusetts several years after Nova Scotia was conquered by the British in 1710 and had served the colony in various capacities. In 1736 he was appointed a member of the governing Council. At the time of Edward Cornwallis' s arrival, How still held the office of Judge of Vice-Admiralty. The Court's other offices were vacant, as indeed Cornwallis's instructions clearly indicated. Three years earlier, a court of vice-admiralty was established for Cape Breton, after which a judge and officials were appointed.