Charlotte Taylor Her Life and Times
The Diary of Simeon Perkins
Excerpt from Page 5 to 7
" other relics of that old wild time are still to be found in Liverpool flintlock pistol, boarding-pike made from whalerman's flensing-knife, battered pilot-book and one of the famous old 'pieces of eight'. In this Nova Scotia town you may still see the old Sloop Tavern, where captains and shipowners used to gather long ago to discuss their West Indian ventures. the white cottage of Simeon Perkins (the Pepys of Nova Scotia) still looks down his long lawn to street, preserved by the government of Nova Scotia. His famous diary is kept safely in a bank vault not far away. The memories of the fighting privateersmen themselves, handed down from generation to generation, are still told by their descendents many survived the wars, the fevers and the perils of the sea which were part of the West Indies trade and passed stories of their adventures to children and grandchildren"
Excerpt from Page 13
" when George III was King, most of the settlers in Nova Scotia found their land too rocky and poor for farming, while the sea around them was alive with fat codfish, so they turned their hands from hoe to fishhook. By salting and drying the fish they could keep enough for a winters' food and ship the rest away to a market and in those days people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean ate a lot of salt cod because it was cheap and it could not spoil in warmest weather. but there were few people in Canada in colonial times and the Nova Scotia fishermen had too look elsewhere for customers. Also they needed a cheap supply of salt. They found both in the West Indies. After a time the Nova Scotians found that they could sell pine timber and oak staves in those parts as well. Money was scarce in the north. Although Canadian merchants kept their ledger accounts in pounds, shillings and pence there was very little English money to be had. In colonial days Britain's whole trade with Canada was less than her trade with a single island (Jamaica) in the West Indies. In Canada itself trade was done mostly by barter, a business of swapping boards for cloth, fish for flour and so on. For that reason 'hard money' - actual cash - had great value."
Excerpt from Page 46
" In those days the captain of a merchant ship, especially a Nova Scotia ship, had to be Jack-of-all-trades and an expert at each. Had to know how to build a ship and how to rig it with masts, yards and sails. He had to know how to sail a ship to any part of the world and how to handle every sort of crew. When his ship reached foreign port he had to make a good bargain in selling cargo, and he had to hunt about for a return cargo and make a good bargain for that also. In these affairs, he had to deal with foreign merchants, ship-chandlers, and officials of many kinds, and this required him to have at least a good working knowledge of French and Spanish languages."
Excerpt from Pages 64 and 65
" Those who liked strong drink found plenty of it in taverns. The waterfront became a bedlam. Mr. Perkins wrote in his diary, 'The Privateersmen were very Noisey at night about the wharves. Some fiting or Rangling'. The next day, however, he was able to note that they were 'very Peaceable to-day and evening'. For it was Sunday. In Nova Scotia towns of that time the Sabbath was strictly kept, and strangers were wise to keep it so."
Excerpt from Page 135
" most of Liverpool settlers had come from Cape Cod, and there were some from Nantucket and a few (like Simeon Perkins) from Connecticut."
Excerpt from Pages 17 to 49
" before 1761 Liverpool's inhabitants consisted of 90 families - 504 persons total - subsisting chiefly by fishery and by trade in lumber. this was the community to which Simeon Perkins, the author of this diary came on May 4, 1762. Simeon Perkins was active in the performance of his duties as Commissioner of roads in 1773. as the time of troubles in America brought depredations from privateers as well as other menaces new fortifications were built. During 1777 privateers frequented coast and were reported at Barrington, Port Roseway, Ragged Islands, Port Mouton and Liverpool where a schooner was taken from Perkins' wharf. A young man of 27 was one of the passengers bound from New England in spring 1762 this was Simeon Perkins .. he was coming as a member of a partnership, formed by his father-in-law, Ebenezer Backus, a relative named Jabez Perkins, and himself, to establish the business of the company in the new town of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. As the schooner ran past the Western Head and Moose Harbour on the way up Liverpool Bay, on May 4, 1762, Perkins scanned shores Black Point was passed and soon Fort Point was reached. The vessel sailed over the bar and into the river, and the town came into full view. Anchor was dropped, a boat lowered, and Perkins was soon quickly rowed ashore. Perkins was an enterprising merchant, not only concerned with catering to needs of fellow-townsmen, but actively interested in fishing, lumbering and trading in West Indian, American, Newfoundland, Gulf of St. Lawrence and European markets, in shipbuilding and privateering and in multitudinous related operations. prominent in public affairs held a number of important offices for a good many years."
Excerpt from Page 274
" On July 2, 1776 Nova Scotians were informed of repeal of Stamp Act. Appropriate thanks were forwarded by the legislature although the Yankees who had so recently carved out homes in Liverpool expressed themselves in a more forthright manner. Simeon Perkins recorded their reaction in his famous diary.
"Days of rejoicing over rejoicing over repeal of Stamp Act. Cannon at Fort Lawrence fired, colours flown on shipping. In evening the Company (of militia) marched to home of Major Doggett, and were entertained. People made a bonfire out of old house of Captain Mayhew, a settler here, and continued all night and part of next, carousing'.
Perkins and Doggett were both Justices of the Peace in Liverpool Township, suggesting that dissatisfaction with the Stamp Act ran from top to bottom in the outport society."
Excerpt from Page 301
" In these attacks on Liverpool, Annapolis, and Lunenburg, Nova Scotians witnessed some of the worst depredations carried out by American privateers in the name of liberty. Many other communities too, felt heavy hand of these patriots, for Chester etc. were similarly harassed. Even Charlottetown fell momentarily to rebels in 1775. Although it may not have been the intention of the privateering captains, their actions only served to drive Nova Scotia further away from America."
There are three volumes: 1766 - 1780, 1797 - 1803, and 1804 - 1812
Excerpt from Introduction
" the diary of Simeon Perkins is based herein in part on a typescript, copies of which are in possession of Public Archives of Ottawa and the Public Archives in Halifax, and in part, following February 18, 1777 on original manuscript in possession of municipality of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Original diary prior to that point has disappeared."
Excerpt from Introduction Pages XII to XXXIV
" In spite of difficulties in trading of goods, he was engaged in a great number of activities incidental to an interest in fishing and lumbering. In January 1767 the poorer grades of fish were sent to West Indies in schooners which had been fishing on the Banks during preceding season. In March the schooners returned with salt, sugar, and molasses. The round of activities continued in 1767 and 1768. Vessels are sent on trading expeditions for beaver, fish and feathers, to Chaleur Bay, and cast along coast for fish. The company, as it is called, secured capital through a wide range of connections in Halifax and the New England ports. Perkins sent Jamaica fish for the West Indies market. the Brig Olive arrived
March 31, 1772 from Liverpool, England with 92 T. salt. Unloaded and immediately took on cargo of at least 50,000 boards and 10,000 shingles and left for the West Indies April 27. sloop Delight was sent with lumber to West Indies to be exchanged for salt. the Royal George sent with fish to West Indies and returned after long voyage . After January, 1773 the diary is kept with greater regularity.
Trade to West Indies was encouraged by an act, of which news arrived November 2, 1774, 'to lay a duty on molasses, and sugar, from the Colonies, and to allow West India rum to be imported duty free'. As the effects of the Revolution became more evident, people began returning to New England. Late in 1775 New England privateers began to embarrass seriously the ships of Nova Scotia and to retaliate for intervention of British authorities in New England. As a result of the Revolution, business interests shifted from Boston and New England ports to Halifax. From the diary of Perkins, the vast complex of Atlantic trade can be traced and to some extent understood. The trade of Liverpool, as a marginal frontier port between Halifax and Boston, a stopping place for New England vessels proceeding to the whale fisheries, the Banks, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a source of trade to Newfoundland, Bermuda, and West Indies and Great Britain in fish, lumber, timber, and staves, is of particular importance to an understanding of American Revolution. behind the social, economic and political problems described in the diary lay the overwhelming influence of the Atlantic. The loss of life is evident in references to widows and remarriages. The diary of Simeon Perkins in a report from a listening post in the Atlantic struggle."
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Last Revised: October 09, 2000