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John and Rachel Campbell of Marshfield in the parish of St. George, Charlotte County, New Brunswick


John and Rachel Campbell lived in the parish of St. George, near the mouth of the Magaguadavic River, in the early 1800s. They called their home Marshfield. It is likely that John was a member of the 74th Regiment as the roll of that regiment, dated May 20, 1784, listed a John Campbell among the men and a Rachel Campbell among the women. (See http://www.carensecord.ca/locations/NewBrunswick/Lists/74thRegiment_background.html for more information on this regiment.) There were a number of early Campbells in Charlotte County, several with the first name John, so it is very difficult to distinguish one from another. The other problem is that the early records are so incomplete. However, Rachel was not a common name for a Campbell, and so any record from this parish that involves a John and Rachel Campbell most likely relates to this couple. The 74th regiment spent some time in the area of Castine, Maine during the Revolutionary War, and it may be that John, a soldier from Scotland, married Rachel there before coming to what is now New Brunswick. My husband is a descendant of another Campbell couple from that regiment, and while it is possible that they were connected to John and Rachel Campbell, I don't know of any relationship. I also don't know if John and Rachel had any children.

Here is a land grant map for the part of St. George parish where John and Rachel lived.

In the Charlotte County land registry books (available on the LDS site https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list under New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780-1930), there are a number of registered land deeds involving this couple. Some of these deeds mention in the lot description a piece of land granted to Francis Weatherhold, spelled here variously as Wedderhold, Weatherate, and Wetherall. The land grant index at PANB indicates that Francis Weatherhold received two grants of land in the parish of St. George, and both can be seen in the above map. One is just above "Breadalbane" and the other is just below "Caithness" on the map. The former one contains 200 acres and the latter consists of three lots numbered 44, 45, and 46, apparently totalling less than 200 acres, judging by the size. The land grant index shows that Francis was granted the 200-acre lot in 1785 and a further 143 acres (which must be lots 44, 45, and 46) in 1797. Which grant was the one referred to by John and Rachel Campbell in their land sales? One of their deeds of sale contains the following in the decription of the land being sold: "butted and bounded as follows that is to say beginning at the rear line of a tract of land heretofore purchased by Colonel Hugh MacKay and the late Lieutenant William Grant of certain privates in the late Nova Scotia Fencible Regiment." That would be the Royal Fencible American Regiment, the roll of which, dated July 2, 1784, can be seen at http://www.carensecord.ca/locations/NewBrunswick/Lists/RoyalFencibleAmericans.html. The 1785 grant to Francis Weatherhold was part of a group of grants to individuals including close to 40 whose names, allowing for slight differences in spelling, also appear on the above roll of the Royal Fencible Americans. It must have been the 200-acre lot in the Breadalbane area that is referred to by the land deeds involving John and Rachel Campbell.

Here is a list of land records that appear to involve this couple:

1) purchase of land from John and Margaret Buckstaff by John Campbell: 150 acres for 10 pounds on May 1, 1793 (Book B, "old" page 198 and "new" page 391)

2) sale of land by John and Rachel Campbell to Roderick Morrison: 160 acres for 80 pounds on November 21, 1820 (Book F, page 312)

3) sale of land by John Campbell to Colin Campbell: 62 acres for 50 pounds on July 23, 1821 (Book F, page 463)

4) sale of land by John Campbell to John Cameron: unspecified number of acres for 30 pounds on September 28, 1821 (Book H, page 101)

5) mortgage of land by John Campbell to Miriam Pagan as Executrix of Robert Pagan: 350 acres for 96 pounds 2 shillings and fourpence on October 8, 1822 (Book G, page 381)

6) sale of land by John and Rachel Campbell to Peter McDiarmid: 120 acres for 100 pounds on April 11, 1825 (Book H, page 497)

7) sale of land by John and Rachel Campbell to John Cameron: [?] acres for 4 pounds on April 11, 1825 (Book I, page 71)

8) sale of land by John Campbell to Christopher Scott: 160 acres for 200 pounds on October 15, 1829 (Book M, page 544)

Clearly, John Campbell did not register all of his land purchases. I am not an expert on how these things worked but I think that the onus must have been on the buyer to register his deeds in the county land books. The deed itself could be lost in a variety of ways including by fire, and what evidence would the owner then have that the land was his? Apparently registering a deed meant a trip to St. Andrews and likely there was also a fee involved for copying it into the books, so that may explain why some deeds were not registered. (Note also that a man apparently could buy land without his wife's participation but for at least some sales of land - likely involving the land on which they actually lived - she had to be involved.) The first record above was the only purchase by this John Campbell that I have been able to find. Though the deed was signed on May 1, 1793, the registrar noted that it was brought to his office on January 17, 1795, but "being mislaid in office was not entered in its due course." The deed immediately before this one was registered on July 21, 1795, and the one immediately after was registered on July 27, 1795, so that is where this deed appears in the record book. It took John over a year and a half from the time of signing to get this deed to the registry office.

Here is the description of the piece of land purchased:

Known and distinguished in Block No 21 on the Maguagadavick River Clinch’s survey containing one hundred and fifty acres more or less with the appurtenances originally granted unto Ensign Samuel McDougall of the late Royal Garrison Battalion, and by him conveyed to me as by the said Grant and conveyance, reference being thereunto had may more fully and at large appear -

I can't see any record of a land transaction between John Buckstaff/Burkestaff and Samuel McDougall, so whatever arrangement was made was not registered. This seems to be a common situation in the early years of the county. A man would have the rights to a piece of land before the official grants were made and would sell or exchange those rights, and then the grant would appear in the new owner's name, with likely no record of the transaction.

In any case, the land bought by John Campbell in 1793 appears to have been the 150-acre lot on the map above with the name "John Burkestaff" on it, just under "Breadalbane."

There are a number of records of land sales by John and Rachel in the county registry books, but it is unlikely that all of their sales were registered. The first one that I have been able to find is the sale of 160 acres to Roderick Morrison on Nov. 28, 1820. Here is the description of the land sold:

...one hundred and sixty acres more or less situate lying and being on the western side of the Maguadavick River in the County of Charlotte and province aforesaid being the rear part of the tract of land now owned and occupied by us, and is butted and bounded as follows that is to say, beginning at the rear line of a tract of Land heretofore purchased by Colonel Hugh MacKay and the late Lieutenant William Grant of certain privates in the late Nova Scotia Fencible Regiment thence running a due West course taking the whole breadth of our said Lot far enough to give the above mentioned quantity of one hundred and sixty acres. The said lot thus bargained and sold to the said Roderick Morrison is bounded on the South by the said Colonel MacKay and Benjamin Dalton, on the West by the remaining or unsold part of the tract owned and occupied by us. On the North side by a Lot of Land formerly granted to Francis Wedderhold and on the east by the rear line of the tract owned by Colonel MacKay and the heirs of the late Lieutenant William Grant.

This record is quite confusing, especially as we don't know what lots John owned at that point, other than the one granted to John "Burkestaff." One part of the description that seems solid is that the piece of land was bounded on the north by land granted to Francis "Wedderhold." It appears that the piece sold was part of the John "Burkestaff" and John McCarthy lots as shown on the land grant map.

The next record of land sold was that of 65 acres to Colin Campbell on July 23, 1821 for 50 pounds. Rachel was not involved in this transaction. Here is the description:

...being part or parcel of Lots Number twenty-two and twenty-three in the Grant to Phillip Bailey and others, on which I now reside, commencing at a Maple Stake at the Western boundary of Land sold by me to Roderick Morrison thence extending North one hundred and sixty rods, or until it meets the Southerly Line of Lands granted to Francis Weatherate, thence along the said line sixty-five rods, thence South one hundred and sixty rods or until it meets the South line of Lot Number twenty-two aforesaid and thence East along the same to the bounds first mentioned containing sixty-five acres more or less.

This piece comes from lots 22 and 23, rather than 21 which was apparently John Buckstaff/Burkestaff's lot. Again, it is apparent that the piece of land sold was bounded on the north by land granted to Francis "Weatherate." It was also to the west of the piece sold earlier to Roderick Morrison.

A second piece of land was sold in 1821, and again Rachel was not involved. The date was September 28, 1821, and the purchaser was John Cameron. The purchase price was 30 pounds. This deed does not give the number of acres involved. The description of the land sold was:

...that lot or parcel of land being the southwest corner of my farm lots, and more particularly described as follows, viz commencing and beginning at a brook, inside of the sea wall, and running from the mouth of said brook, Northwest and southeast until it meets the line, betwixt Mrs. Mann and the said John Campbell, thence west until it enters the bay, thence following the water's edge to the first mentioned brook or boundary. 

The "sea wall" must refer to the wall that appears on the map above, just to the right of the words "Sherard Beach" and part of the John McCarthy and John "Burkestaff" lots. The piece of land described in this transaction evidently fronted on the water and may not have been very large.

In 1822 John mortgaged his property to the estate of Robert Pagan, through the executrix Miriam Pagan. Here is the description:

...all those certain lots of land, situate, lying and being, in the Parish of Saint George, aforesaid, in the County aforesaid, being numbered twenty two and twenty three containing three hundred and fifty acres more or less, and comprising all the lands at present owned, and occupied by the said John Campbell in the said Parish of Saint George...

This tells us what land he owned at that point, but it is not clear how he owned all of lots 22 and 23 after selling some of the pieces above. Had he perhaps bought back some or all of what he had sold? If so, he did not register the transaction(s). John did pay back the money he had borrowed in this transaction, though the date of Miriam Pagan's acknowledgement of that, June 20, 1825, suggests that he may have had to make the following sales of land in order to do so.

In April 1825 John and Rachel sold two more pieces of land. Here is the description of the 100-acre lot:

...commencing at the southwest corner of a lot, sold and conveyed by us to Colin Campbell Esquire of St. Andrews, running from thence west, one hundred and sixty rods, more or less, until it meets the County road, from thence north one hundred and twenty rods, or until it meets Francis Weatherall south line, from thence east till it strikes the north-west corner of the before mentioned lot, sold by us to the said mentioned Colin Campbell Esquire, which said piece, parcel or tract of land is in block No. 21 on the west side of the River Magagaudavic, and originally granted in part to John Buckstaff, John McCarthey (Clinch's survey) to us containing one hundred and twenty acres more or less.

The four-acre lot was apparently connected to the other small portion sold to John Cameron earlier, as is evident from the description:

...situated as follows viz commencing at the North west corner of land formerly sold by us to the said John Cameron running from thence North thirteen rods more or less to the Corner of our fence close by a Birch tree from thence South East till it meets James Manns line.

One final sale of land was made by John Campbell without Rachel's involvement in 1829. Perhaps Rachel had died by then. The record makes it clear that it was the last of their property. The piece of land was 160 acres in size and was sold to Christopher Scott. Here is the description:

...situate in the parish of Saint George, being the remaining or unsold part of the Tract of land originally conveyed to me commonly called Marshfield, commencing at a small White birch Tree marked four ways with witnesses on the Eastern Bank of Magaguadavic River, near its mouth, thence running South East by a spotted line seventeen chains fifty links, or to John Cameron's northern corner, thence East Twenty-seven chains to a Spruce tree spotted four ways Six feet East of a Birch Stake marked, on the North side of the Main Road thence North twenty-six and half chains, to a Spruce tree marked four ways thence West Seventy chains, to the salt water, at a Spruce tree spotted four ways, and marked FW for Francis Wetherall, situated on the north side of a long point of land, and thence following the several courses of the shore up Stream or southerly by said shore to the bounds first mentioned the said Tract containing one Hundred and Sixty acres, more or less, including the sea wall and pond, in front of the premises hereby sold and conveyed.

This makes it clear that their home was close to the sea wall and pond which can be seen on the above map, as part of the John "Burkestaff" and John McCarthy lots. I don't know if this sea wall was natural or man-made but in any case it still exists today as it's possible to see it on Google maps, outside St. George near Shore Rd.

If John and Rachel did not have any children and Rachel had died by the time the last piece of land was sold, then John was faced with the prospect of leaving his home and living off the proceeds of the last sale of land until the money ran out. At that point he would have little choice but the poorhouse. I hope it did not happen this way.