Family tree

Benjamin Marston's Journal

mentioning Stephen Binney


See Stephen Hall Binney.

Benjamin Marston's Journal describes the laying out of Port Roseway in 1783. Port Roseway was renamed Shelburne (in Nova Scotia) later in 1783. I have only given the first part of the journal.

On May 17, the journal describes "Mr. Stephen Binney, a deputy collector and impost officer" arriving from Halifax. There are a few more references to him, mostly uncomplimentary. He seems to have considered staying there, but the assumption is that he wasn't tough enough! It is tempting to consider that this Stephen Binney might one of my family, especially as he comes from Halifax, and is a Collector, which seems to run in the Binney family (see Jonathan Binney, Hon Hibbert Newton Binney, Edward Binney and Irwin Binney). If so, he must be Stephen Hall Binney and he would have been 23 years old at this time. Old enough to be shaved, anyway!


Monday, April 21st. This day Charles Morris, Esq., engaged me to go to Port Roseway to assist in laying out a new Township there. The same day Governor Parr approved of the plan of the town to be laid out at Port Roseway. The streets were to be fifty feet wide and laid out at right angles.

Port Roseway

Sunday, May 4, [1783]. Ashore in the morning. About 4 o'clock p.m. some of the fleet from New York hove in sight. Weather fair, wind north westerly, fresh.

Monday, 5. Last night the fleet got in below, upwards of thirty sail in all, in which there are three thousand souls (as an agent tells me). They all came up into the North East Harbour. Set up our Marquee on shore. At night we came up to our old anchoring place at the cove, having been down to the Fleet. Wind westerly, moderate, weather fair.

Tuesday, 6. Aboard all day. Mr. Pynchon and Morris absent all day advising about fixing the place for the town. Weather fair, wind easterly and southerly.

Wednesday, 7. After exploring both sides of the bay, the N.E. harbour is judged to be the most convenient situation for a town, and 'tis accordingly determined to fix it there. Weather fair, wind south easterly.

Thursday, 8. The multitude object to the place which the Captains and Chief men have chosen for the situation of their town because, say they, 'tis a rough uneven piece of land -- so they propose to mend the matter by choosing three men from every company to do the matter over again. That is to commit to a mere mob of sixty what a few judicious men found very difficult to transact with a lesser mob of twenty, so this day has been spent in much controversial nonsense. This cursed republican, town-meeting spirit has been the ruin of us already, and unless checked by some stricter form of government will overset the prospect which now presents itself of retrieving our affairs. Mankind are often slaves, and oftentimes they have too much liberty. Today surveyed the shore on the Eastern side of the N.E. harbour, where it was determined to fix the town. Fair weather, wind easterly.

Friday, 9. According to the determination of Thursday, laid out the centre street of the new town, and the people began very cheerfully to cut down the trees -- a new employment to many of them. Weather fair, wind easterly.

Saturday, 10. Ran the water street line and of four blocks, two on each side of the centre street. People at work as yesterday. Weather foggy and at times drizzly, wind south easterly.

Sunday, 11. Begins with plenty of rain, wind south westerly. Last night lodged in our tent for the first time,6 dined aboard the yacht. Weather foggy with frequent showers at night.

Monday, 12. Ashore at about five in the morning. Spent the day in running the lines of the streets. The yacht sailed for Halifax this morning. A Mr. Mason died today after an illness of three days only. Weather fair, wind south westerly.

Tuesday, 13. Running the lines for streets the best part of the day. This evening came in one of our fishing sloops with 800 cod fish, which 5 men caught -- they were out only 24 hours. Weather fair and fine, wind westerly.

Wednesday, 14. Ran one line today. People turning very indolent, some parties not at work till 11 o'clock. Many of the people who came in this fleet are of the lower class of great towns. During the war such employment's as would not cost them much labour afforded them a plentiful support. This has made them impatient of labour. They begin to be clamorous, and to have a thousand groundless rumors circulating among them to the prejudice of those to whom they ought to submit. Dined today with Lieutenant Lawson the Engineer. There were with us the Commissary (a Mr. Brinley) and a Mr. Miller, the Secretary of the Association. Weather fair, wind southwesterly.

Thursday, 15. At home most part of the day. Weather cloudy and misty till near sun down; it then cleared up very fine. Wind northeasterly and fresh till sunset, then fell calm.

Friday, 16. This day began to mark out some blocks into house lots. People inclining to be mutinous. They suspect their leaders to have private views, and not without some reason; in fact the Captains -- at least most of them -- are a set of fellows whom mere accident has placed in their present situations; much less worthy of it than many they command. Real authority can never be supported without some degree of real superiority. Weather fair, wind westerly.

Saturday, 17. Arrived a vessel from New York, also one from Halifax, in which came Mr. Stephen Binney, a deputy collector and impost officer. There has been a meeting of the people today; they have voted to seize all the boards, which some private saw pits have sawed and convert them to the public use. The people readily submit to Mr. Binney's authority, both as custom house and impost and excise officer. Weather rainy, wind easterly.

Sunday, 18. Mr. Morris gone to Green's Harbour across the country. Mr. Binney has put up his bed in our tent. Very much distressed all the morning to find a barber to shave him. At last he found one. The fellow was clumsy and cut him pretty much; he was all the rest of the day at times examining the wounds. He won't live long with us -- our fare is too hard, our apparatus too indelicate and coarse. Wind southerly, fair and pleasant. Very foggy below, but does not reach the head of the harbour.

Monday, 19. On shore marking off house lots and rectifying the Engineer's mistakes -- misty and rainy all day, wind southerly and south westerly.

Tuesday, 20. In tent today, not well. Mr. Binney was sent here to pick a little money out of the people's pockets under pretense of entering their vessels, but they have got to windward of him. Their vessels are all transports. 'Tis a low pitiful affair in the Collector [at Halifax] to send a deputy for no other purpose but to collect fees and return to Halifax again, for it seems the deputy was not to have remained here. Another body meeting today. I don't learn the purpose of it. This settlement must get into other kind of hands before it will flourish. Weather fair, wind west, fresh.

Wednesday, 21. All day ashore marking out house lots. Several people from Cape Perceu, originally from Marblehead, are an invaluable acquisition to this place. They are wanting to be admitted as settlers, and yet their value don't seem to be recognized. The Association from New York are a curious set, they take upon them to determine who are the proper subjects of the King's grant. They have chosen a committee of 16 who point out who are to be admitted to draw for lots. They say only 441. Weather fair and fine, wind north westerly.

Saturday, 24. Thursday last the people drew for their town lots. By indulging their cursed republican principles they committed an irregularity which cost them another day's work. Yesterday I was ashore all day apportioning people to their lots -- 'tis a task trying to humanity, for while those engaged in settling them are justly exasperated at the insolence and impertinence of one sort of people, they can't help they must feel for the distress of the sensible feeling part, who have come from easy situations to encounter all the hardships of a new plantation and who wish to submit cheerfully to the dispensations of Providence. Ashore again all today appointing people to their lots. Some grumble, some are pleased. They are upon the whole a collection of characters very unfit for the business they have undertaken. Barbers, Taylors, Shoemakers and all kinds of mechanics, bred and used to live in great towns, they are inured to habits very unfit for undertakings which require hardiness, resolution, industry and patience. Nothing so easy as to bear hardships in a good house by a good fireside, with good clothes, provisions, &c., &c. Seneca, with some thousands per annum, wrote very learnedly in praise of poverty. Master Stephen Binney thinks with a good house he could be very well content to stay here a little while and endure hardships.

Sunday, 25. Locating people the forepart of the day; afternoon at home. Weather very fine and pleasant.

Monday, 26. All the morning locating as usual. About noon there broke out a most furious fire among the dry stuff in the streets suspected by some to have been kindled on purpose. This is not improbable, tho' the ignorance, stupidity and carelessness of the bulk of the collection here is sufficient to produce any such disastrous event. It has ended with fewer serious consequences than might have been expected. One or two families have lost their all. Some others have met with considerable losses. There is now such a damned noise with singing in our tent 'tis impossible to recollect any other circumstance. Weather very fine, wind westerly.

Near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, 27. Ashore fixing people on their lands. Yesterday's fire out. People began to be sensible that they have acted very foolishly in more things than setting woods on fire in a high dry windy day. Things will come right by and by.

Thursday, 29. Yesterday at Town all day fixing people upon their lots. Many are pleased. The idea of owning land is some how or other exceedingly agreeable to the human mind. Some whose lots have fallen to them in not so pleasant places are much out of temper, and some designing ones, who have missed the advantageous situations, are likewise dissatisfied. Came home late in the afternoon smutty and fatigued.

Friday, 30. Employed again today laying out lots for new comers. The same occurrences daily present themselves in this business. Weather continues very fine, a very favourable circumstance to people who are as yet but slightly sheltered from its inconveniences.

Sunday, June 1. For two days past, I have been engaged from early to late fixing people on their lots. Have seen several Marblehead men in here. Poor fellows, neither they nor their vessels look as they used to.

Monday, 2. At home all day writing. The Boat for Halifax sailed this morning. Fog came in about an hour before sunset. Wind all day westerly.

Tuesday, 3. Today ashore in town; fixed the corners of a few blocks. Poor Master Stephen [Binney] had some unlucky tricks played on him, rather too illiberal, as he is our guest.