Dalhousie Law Journal


Laws of this Kingdom, Legal Birthright, Legal Baggage, Chebucto, Old British Empire, greatest extent, height of grandeur


The Old British Empire at its greatest extent and the height of its grandeur, between 1763 and 1776, comprised thirty-three colonies, all but a few of them in North America and the Caribbean, none of them older than 1607. The most recently acquired colonies included the largest, Canada, and some of the smallest, Grenada and St. Vincent.1 The Empire was not a monolith. Differing geography, history, economics, social structure and dynamics, and ethnicity produced political societies of great variations and disparities, even between contiguous colonies. Historians of the Old Empire have found generalization difficult and dangerous, save when describing "imperial policy" (such as it was). The adjectives applied to the colonies as entities are preponderantly "unique, sui generis, extraordinary, remarkable, singular." Consequently, a claim for the remarkableness of any one colony seems supererogatory if not superfluous. Yet one colony stood out rather more than all the rest, marked by distinctions that were truly singular in comparison with the other major-and older-colonies, and in some instances unique in Britain's previous colonial experience. Nova Scotia was one of only five major colonies acquired by conquest from European powers