Pol­i­tics and map­ping

Hol­land wor­ries that a new boss might not be a good thing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/COMMUNITY -

Editor’s note: This is one of a se­ries by Earle Lockerby re­count­ing the de­tails of Capt. Hol­land’s Sur­vey in 1764/1765. This sub­mis­sion is for the week end­ing July 25.

On July 20, 250 years ago (1765), some­thing hap­pened in Lon­don that Cap­tain Sa­muel Hol­land found some­what dis­turb­ing, once he knew of it. Given the slow­ness of com­mu­ni­ca­tions across the At­lantic, three months would pass be­fore Hol­land would learn that on that day Lord Hills­bor­ough ceased to be the pres­i­dent of the Board of Trade and For­eign Plan­ta­tions, a body that played a ma­jor role in the con­duct of colo­nial af­fairs, in­clud­ing hav­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for Hol­land’s Gen­eral Sur­vey that be­gan on Saint John’s Is­land.

Lord Hills­bor­ough, born Wills Hill, and later styled the 1st Earl of Hills­bor­ough, was one per­son that Hol­land had cul­ti­vated in 1763 while in Lon­don. It was un­der Hills­bor­ough that Hol­land had been rec­om­mended to King Ge­orge III for the po­si­tion of surveyor gen­eral of the North­ern Dis­trict. By the time the news of Hills­bor­ough’s leav­ing the most se­nior po­si­tion in the Board of Trade reached Hol­land, he had com­pleted his large map of Saint John’s Is­land, hav­ing given Hills­bor­ough’s name to the largest river and bay on the Is­land, and had moved on to Cape Bre­ton.

In a let­ter from Louis­bourg on Oct. 27 to his Lon­don agent, Richard Cum­ber­land, Hol­land wrote: “A few days ago I was in­formed of a change in the Min­istry, and that Lord Hills­bor­ough had left the Board of Trade, which gives me no lit­tle con­cern.” The changes were oc­ca­sioned by a change in ad­min­is­tra­tion - the Mar­quis of Rock­ing­ham re­placed Lord Grenville as prime min­is­ter. While sur­vey­ing and map­ping on Saint John’s Is­land, Hol­land wrote sev­eral letters to Hills­bor­ough to ap­prise him of the progress of the sur­vey and map­ping. From these letters, and also letters to John Pow­nall, the sec­re­tary of the Board of Trade, we gain a con­sid­er­able amount of in­for­ma­tion about the Is­land and its res­i­dents, prin­ci­pally 30 fam­i­lies of Aca­di­ans, that is not re­flected in the large map it­self.

As it turned out, Hol­land needed not to have wor­ried. Hills­bor­ough was re­placed by Wil­liam Legge, 2nd Earl of Dart­mouth who stayed the course at the Board of Trade. Be­fore Hol­land fin­ished the sur­vey of Cape Bre­ton, Hills­bor­ough was back in his old job at the Board. Though this stint lasted less than half a year, Hills­bor­ough once more served as pres­i­dent of the Board of Trade from Jan­uary 1768 to Au­gust 1772, by which time Hol­land was well into his sur­vey of New Eng­land. In a fur­ther “mu­si­cal chairs” ro­ta­tion, Dart­mouth came back to the post at this time and served un­til De­cem­ber 1775.

As the gen­eral sur­vey pro­gressed in New Eng­land, it was not machi­na­tions in dis­tant Lon­don that Hol­land needed to keep an eye on. It was fer­ment and gath­er­ing storm clouds at his back door. The Bos­ton Tea Party oc­curred on Dec. 16, 1772. The first mil­i­tary en­gage­ments of the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion were the Bat­tles of Lex­ing­ton and Concord on April 19, 1775. Soon Hol­land’s per­sonal safety was in ques­tion. In the fall of that year he sailed for Lon­don, bring­ing the gen­eral sur­vey to a pre­ma­ture end.

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