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The South of Scotland People
A year and a half after the arrival of the "Hector"
came the third and last band of those who may properly be called the
pioneers of Pictou. These were the south of Scotland people,
sometimes erroneously spoken of as the "Dumfries Settlers."
Their party was organized to take up lands in Prince Edward Island.
They chartered their own vessel; sailed from the port of Annan, in
Dumfriesshire, and arrived at Georgetown in the spring of 1773.
Although exceptionally well outfitted, they were immediately
overtaken by bad luck.
A great plague of mice destroyed their first season's crop. The
following spring they procured seed from Nova Scotia, and replanted;
but the mice ate the very seed in the ground. That autumn, to crown
their misfortunes, supplies which they had brought from Scotland and
stored at Georgetown Harbor were plundered by riotous New England
sailors and fishermen, who were ashore on a drunken orgy on the eve
of sailing for their homes. The settlers were left in dire straits
for food; and suffered intensely during the succeeding winter. In
the following spring, 1775, they removed in a body to Pictou. There
were thirteen families and one single man in the party. With one
exception they settled permanently in Pictou County.
Seven of the party located at West River. These were Anthony
Maclellan, William Clark, David Stewart, William Smith, Joseph
Richards, John McLean and Charles Blaikie. Four settled on the
Middle River, namely, John Crockett, Robert Marshall, Robert Brydone
and John Smith. Two, Thomas Turnbull and Anthony Culton, went to the
East River. One, Wellwood Waugh, remained in Pictou for a time, but
later removed to Colchester County where he gave his name to Waugh's
River. His half brother, William Campbell, the bachelor of the
party, settled at the Beaches, a mile below the present Town of
The members of this party added a new and specially valuable element
to the primitive Pictou settlement. They came from one of the best
agricultural districts in Scotland. They had been closely associated
with the land all their lives. Several of them were sons of land
owners; others had been tenant farmers. They knew how best to deal
with the soil, and they had the means to enable them to put their
knowledge into practice.
They lost no time in getting to work. Most of them prospered from
the beginning. This party, more than any of its predecessors,
directly and indirectly influenced the future of Pictou. They seem
to have been well satisfied with their new home; and at once, by
means of letters to those whom they had left behind, became the most
effective of immigration agents. Through their representations their
relatives and acquaintances in the South of Scotland were directed
to Pictou; and continued coming in increasing numbers, for many
The original members of the party were mostly from Galloway, that
famous, old Principality in the extreme southwest of Scotland, made
up of the Shires of Kirkcudbright and Wigton; but a few of them were
from Dumfriesshire and Ayr, or had connections in those counties. A
glance at the names of those most prominent in the early commercial,
industrial and political life of Pictou will show that a large
proportion of them were from one or other of the south Scottish
counties above mentioned. The monuments in the old Cemetery of
Pictou, and the still older Durham Cemetery reveal an overwhelming
preponderance of Galloway, Dumfries and Ayrshire names.
These south of Scotland settlers imported livestock, seeds and fruit
trees from the land of their birth. At West River traces of the
famous black cattle of Galloway were distinctly discernible not many
years ago; and quite possibly are yet to be found. The sturdy
Galloway breed of horses, too, left its mark in the county. But the
Galloway people made a far deeper and infinitely more valuable
impress on the social life of the county. From them, to mention an
outstanding name, came Rev. Thomas McCulloch, the founder of Pictou
Academy, who, although himself a native of Renfrewshire, was the
descendant of one of the oldest and most honorable of the baronial
families of Kirkcudbrightshire, with a history dating back almost to
the Norman invasion. The names of Thomas, Michael and William
McCulloch, so familiar in Pictou history, are distinctly traceable
through hundreds of years of the annals of Galloway. John Dawson,
another of Pictou's worthy early settlers, who, following the
southern pioneers, came to Pictou in 1791, and whose great grandson
Mr. Bonar Law is now leader of the Conservative party in Great
Britain, was also a Galloway man, a native of the Parish of Irongray
Of the members of the south of Scotland party, Wellwood Waugh, as
already stated, did not remain long in Pictou. He was of the Waughs,
Lairds of Barnbarroch, Kirkcudbrightshire. His father had married a
daughter of Dr. Wellwood, of London, hence the name "Wellwood."
After the death of her first husband, Mrs. Waugh married a Mr.
Campbell, and had a son, William Campbell, who came to Pictou with
his half brother Waugh, and settled at the Beaches. His sons, in
after years, went to Tatamagouche where they entered into commercial
and ship building enterprises, and became prominently identified
with the public life of Colchester County. Mrs. Patterson and Mrs.
John S. Maclean of Halifax are William Campbell's granddaughters, as
was also the late Mrs. Howard Primrose, Pictou.
Of the two members of this party, Thomas Turnbull, and Anthony
Culton, who settled on the East River, there are few descendants
bearing their names in the County. Dr. Albert Culton of Cumberland
County is a great grandson of Anthony Culton.
Of the four who settled on the Middle River, John Smith early lost
his life by drowning. His descendants if any are unknown. John
Crockett's descendants are still to be found on the Middle River and
a number of them in Upper Stewiacke, Colchester County, to which
place one of his sons removed. Most of Robert Marshall's descendants
bearing his name, have removed to the United States. David Marshall
and Robert Brown, merchants of Pictou, are his great grandsons.
There are few of the Brydone name now left in the County, but a
large number of Robert Brydone's descendants remain; among them have
been two clergymen, three lawyers and four physicians.
Of those who went to the West River, Anthony Maclellan settled at
Durham where he purchased a large block of land on the west side of
the River. In addition, he owned lands purchased from one of the
Blaikies on the east side of. the River opposite Durham, which were
reconveyed by his son Anthony Maclellan, junior, to James Blaikie by
deed dated February 23, 1800. It was out of this lot that Anthony
Maclellan set aside the site of the old West River Church and of the
older part of the West River Cemetery in which he was the first man
buried, in the year 1786. A Mrs. Gerard was interred there a year
earlier. With this exception, Anthony Maclellan's is the oldest
marked grave in Pictou County.
His eldest son James, was killed in 1793, by falling from a building
which was being erected near the Ten Mile bridge. His remaining son,
Anthony, succeeded to his property. Of his three daughters, Ann, was
married first to William Smith and after his death to Donald McLeod;
Catherine, to Joseph Richards, grandfather of the late Rev. John
Richards; and Janet to John Collie, whose grandson is Dr. J. R.
Collie, of River John and great grandson Dr. J. R. M. Collie of
London, England. A somewhat striking incident, in this connection,
was the marriage, at the same place and date, of the widowed Mrs.
Smith and her daughter to Donald McLeod and his son, who by these
marriages became respectively the forefathers of Judge John D.
McLeod of Pictou and Rev. John M. McLeod, formerly of Charlottetown,
and later of Vancouver, B. C.
Anthony Maclellan was of the Maclellans of Bombie,
Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway. He was born in 1720 and was
fifty-three years of age when he left Scotland. In the list of his
descendants are to be found the names of thirteen clergymen, six
barristers, seven physicians, one member of the Dominion Parliament,
many successful business men, among them the late John S. Maclean of
Halifax, the late Daniel Macdonald, Collector of Customs, Pictou,
the late Robert McConnell of the Finance Department, Ottawa, W. E.
Maclellan of Halifax, Post Office Inspector for Nova Scotia, and,
last but not least, Robert Maclellan, LL.D., the present honored
Principal of Pictou Academy.
On the east side of the River, opposite to Anthony Maclellan settled
Charles Blaikie. His lands were extensive, including at one time or
another all those now or lately occupied by his descendants on Green
Hill, and all of the David Matheson farm, opposite Durham, now owned
by Mr. Hamblin. Charles Blaikie, too, was in very comfortable
circumstances on his arrival. He was a skillful farmer, and the
family have always been prosperous. One of his early descendants was
the late Rev. Alexander Blaikie, D.D., long a prominent Clergyman in
Boston. Another is Mr.Blaikie of Londonderry, a wealthy retired
merchant, at one time a business partner of the late A. W. McLelan,
Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.
Next above Anthony Maclellan, on the west side of the River, settled
William Clark on lands all of which have ever since been
continuously held by his descendants. No farmers in the County have
been more enterprising and successful than they. Among the
descendants of William Clark have been three clergymen of the
Next above William Clark settled David Stewart on lands which are
now in the possession of his great grandson, Robert Stewart. The
Stewart name has at all times been synonymous with integrity. Among
Robert Stewart's descendants are the two Drs. Collie above named.
Next above Robert Stewart settled William Smith, where his grandson
Wilson Smith, now resides. He was descended from a Dumfriesshire
land owning family, members of which had borne titles of honor. He
too was possessed of considerable means. A milling industry was
early established at his place, which proved highly successful and
was of great benefit to the surrounding country. His son, the late
Anthony Smith, father of Wilson Smith and grandfather of James W.
Smith of Pictou, head of the Atlantic Milling Company, was long a
prominent and active member of the old Court of Sessions for Pictou
County. This family too, has contributed most generously to the
professional as well as to the business life of the Province. Among
William Smith's descendants have been one member of the Dominion
Parliament, six clergymen and three prominent barristers.
Next above William Smith settled Joseph Richards, on the lands
occupied by his descendants until Robert Richards removed some
thirty years ago to Manitoba, where he and his family now reside. A
brother of his, Rev. John Richards, a Presbyterian clergyman, was
called to Ontario, where he passed his life.
Above Joseph Richards settled John Maclean, the farthest south of
the members of this party. He was of Dumfriesshire family. Rev. John
Maclean of Richibucto, N. B., the father of the late John S. Maclean
of Halifax, was his grandson. John Maclean, arriving in July, 1775,
was one of the first chosen elders of the first Presbyterian
congregation organized in Pictou County, to which Rev. Dr. McGregor
was called to minister in the autumn of 1786. The family have ever
since been prominent in Church work. The late Howard Maclean, of
Halifax, one of the most promising young barristers in Nova Scotia
when his untimely death occurred was a great grandson of John
Maclean, as was also the late J. J. Maclean of Hopewell. Mrs. George
Arthur Bayne of Winnipeg is a great granddaughter.
With such settlers on its banks it is not surprising that the West
River should so long have been the ecclesiastical and educational
centre of the County. To Durham was early moved the first
Presbyterian Church, located originally at Loch Broom. Durham did
not receive its present name until the time of the late Lord Durham
in Canada. The name was the suggestion of the late William Graham,
merchant, and was confirmed at a public meeting held for the
purpose. The late Miss Margaret Cameron of Durham distinctly
remembered the meeting, and that it was on Mr. Graham's motion that
the name Durham was chosen. At the West River church all those
settled around the Harbor, including the people of the Town,
continued to worship until Rev. Thomas McCulloch arrived in 1803
when a separate congregation was organized in Pictou. In Durham
Cemetery most of the pioneer settlers of West Pictou are buried. To
Durham, at a later date, the Presbyterian Theological Seminary for
Nova Scotia was removed, and there established and conducted for a
number of years.
But Durham, as a village, did not start until 1822. The first lot
was sold on March 19, of that year, by Anthony Maclellan, junior, to
John Henderson, shoemaker. It was the half-acre lot, at the lower
end of the village, on which Waller's blacksmith shop stands. The
price paid was 14 pounds, 10 shillings not a bad price for a
beginning. But on April 13, 1824, two years later, Henderson bought
the adjacent half-acre lot, for which he paid 25 pounds. Henderson
must have been prospering, for on June 14, 1826, he bought 30 acres
of land in the rear of his first two purchases for which he paid 100
pounds. Durham seems to have been experiencing a "boom" at this
time. On May 16, 1830, Alexander MacDonald blacksmith, bought an
acre lot adjoining Henderson's lots, price 50 pounds. Two years
later, on August 15, 1832, a large lot, in the southern angle of the
Rogers Hill road was sold for 125 pounds. The following day it was
re-sold to J. R. Ritchie for 175 pounds.
From this time on, during a number of years, Durham grew and
prospered greatly, owing to the development of the timber trade of
which it was a large purchasing centre. At one time it had four inns
three of them "licensed," and many places of general business. It
had mechanical establishments of almost every kind; two churches,
and the Presbyterian Seminary. In 1849, Durham Post Office ranked
fifth in the Province in revenue collected, being, in this respect,
at that time ahead of New Glasgow. The Post Offices, with a larger
revenue than that of Durham were Halifax, Yarmouth, Truro and
Pictou. With the decay of the timber trade Durham fell into rapid
decline. But the surrounding country has lost none of its solid and
long established prosperity.
Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914