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Description found in Archives

Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island [textual record]. 

Series consists of



Place of creation


ca. 3.5 m of textual records.

Scope and content

Series consists of records created and/or maintained by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island between 1769 and 1873. Numbered, circular, military and private or confidential despatches, with their enclosures, from the Colonial Office to the Lieutenant Governor, 1771-1850 and 1859-1873, were filed as one series (volumes 1-19 and 28-42). Entry books of despatches sent to the Colonial Office survive for 1813-1873 (volumes 44-53 and 58-61). Registers of despatches received were maintained separately for 1771-1789 (volumes 74-75). A series of registers recorded despatches sent, 1851-1873, and received, 1868-1873 (volumes 62-67). A separate series was maintained for Imperial Orders-in-Council, 1769-1866 (volumes 72-73). Despatches received from or sent to the British Minister at Washington and colleagues in other colonies were sometimes filed together and sometimes separately; the surviving despatches and entry books cover 1836-1873 (volumes 20-27, 43 and 68-71). Despatches received from the Colonial Office and copies of despatches sent were filed and preserved in each Lieutenant Governor's office, although customs in recording and filing varied from province to province, and over time. The surviving records exhibit many similarities: chronological sequences, the use of entry books and the preparation of schedules or registers to provide ready access. While many of the surviving series of records from the Lieutenant Governors' offices are incomplete, the practice of recording the text of outgoing despatches in entry books, and of providing reference copies for interested parties, has created certain overlaps between the records preserved by the governors and by the Colonial Office. Taken together, the various series provide a comprehensive record.

Textual records
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown.
In order to protect the fragile originals, records in this series have been microfilmed and the originals withdrawn from circulation. The microfilm must be used for consultation and copying rather than the originals. Further details are provided in the relevant sub-series descriptions.

The CAB RG 7 Shelf List (see RG 7 G8D section) is a typed volume level description which provides volume titles and inclusive dates and corresponding microfilm reel number. Finding aids that relate to the contents of specific sub-series are described in the entries for those lower levels. CAB RG 7 Shelf List (Paper)

David W. Parker's description of "G" Series volumes 266 to 334 in his Guide to the Documents in the Manuscript Room at the Public Archives of Canada, volume 1, pages 47 to 57, provides a volume by volume description of this series. (Paper)

Finding Aid MSS690 provides a conversion list for all of Parker's now obsolete "G" Series references. MSS690 (Paper)

Finding aid 7-4 is a volume list relating to volumes 1-75. 7-4 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Administered by a Governor from 1770 to 1787 and thereafter by a Lieutenant Governor, the Island of St. John was renamed Prince Edward Island in 1799. From 1786 until Confederation, the Governor-in-Chief of Quebec or Lower Canada held a Commission as Governor-in-Chief for the provinces in British North America. While the Royal Instructions were addressed to the Governor-in-Chief, they were carried out by the Lieutenant Governor.

The Governor or Lieutenant Governor of each colony in British North America may be seen to have maintained three levels of communication, which are reflected in the structure of the record-keeping systems in their offices. At the first level were despatches exchanged with the Colonial Office (for which see the description of despatches in the Correspondence with the Colonial Office series, elsewhere within this fonds). At the second level were despatches exchanged with fellow governors and senior officials who might be categorized as colleagues. The entry books demonstrate substantial variations in place and time as to who was considered a colleague. At both levels, the despatches were prepared for the governor's signature (though rarely in his own hand). At the third level were letters addressed to and received from subordinates (for which see the description of the Secretaries' correspondence in the Civil Secretary's correspondence received sub-series in the Office of the Governor-in-Chief of the Province of Canada, elsewhere within this fonds). Responsibility for preparing and signing correspondence at this level was delegated to the Private, Civil or Military Secretaries. Great consistency is evident in the segregation of despatches prepared in the Governor's name (first and second levels) from letters prepared at his orders but signed by his Secretaries (third level).

As a representative of the Crown in and for the colonies of British North America, each Governor or Lieutenant Governor undertook certain responsibilities for external relations and was obliged to maintain a close degree of co-operation with the British Minister at Washington. Filing practices demonstrate that the despatches were considered as communications with colleagues. The same may be said of correspondence with the Commander of the Forces.

Governors, lieutenant-governors and administrators of Prince Edward Island between 1770 and 1873 include: Walter Patterson, Governor, 19 September, 1770; went to England 2 August, 1775; returned 28 June, 1780; recalled and replaced by Edmund Fanning who arrived 4 November, 1786, but Patterson did not surrender the government until June, 1787. The Administrators during his absence in England were Philips Calbeck, 3 August, 1775-10 October, 1779 and Thomas DesBrisay, Lieutenant-Governor, 10 October, 1779-28 June, 1780. Edmund Fanning, Lieutenant-Governor, June, 1787-1 July, 1805. Fanning arrived 4 November, 1786 and published his commission on 10 April, 1787 but Patterson did not surrender control of the Government until June, 1787. Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres, Lieutenant-Governor, 1 July, 1805-4 October, 1812; William Townshend, Administrator, 5 October, 1812-24 July, 1813; Charles D. Smith, Lieutenant-Governor, 24 July, 1813-21 October, 1824; John Ready, Lieutenant-Governor, 21 October, 1824-27 September, 1831. Aretas William Young (knighted 9 July, 1834), Lieutenant-Governor, 27 September, 1831; on leave 18 May-29 September, 1834 during which time George Wright was Administrator; died 1 December, 1835. George Wright, Administrator, 1 December, 1835-30 August, 1836; Sir John Harvey, Lieutenant-Governor 30 August 1836-25 May 1837; George Wright, Administrator, 25 May-25 June 1837; Sir Charles Fitzroy, Lieutenant-Governor, 25 June 1837-2 November 1841; George Wright, Administrator, 3 November-13 November 1841; Sir Henry Vere Huntley, Lieutenant-Governor, 13 November 1841-1 November 1847; Sir Donald Campbell, Lieutenant-Governor, 9 December 1847-10 October 1850; Ambrose Lane, Administrator, 10 October 1850-9 March 1851; Sir Alexander Bannerman, Lieutenant-Governor, 10 March 1851-11 July 1854; Dominick Daly (knighted in 1857), Lieutenant-Governor, 11 July 1854-25 May 1859; Charles Young, Administrator, 26 May-7 June 1859; George Dundas, Lieutenant-Governor, 8 June 1859-6 October 1870; Sir Robert Hodgson, Administrator, 22 October 1868-6 October 1870; William Cleaver Francis Robinson, Lieutenant-Governor, 7 October 1870-30 July 1873. Prince Edward Island entered Confederation end of July. Upon his retirement Sir Robert Hodgson became Administrator and later Lieutenant-Governor. RG7 General Inventory

Additional information

Custodial and reference questions related to these records should be directed to the Canadian Archives Branch (CAB).

The term letter book has been used generally to describe volumes in which the text of documents was recorded. Entry book is the more correct generic term for such volumes, when all manner of documents are recorded therein; letter book should be reserved for volumes in which only correspondence was recorded.

The index to an entry book can facilitate access to records outside the series in which it is located and to which it immediately relates. Incoming correspondence can be traced and identified through the dates and other clues provided in the replies.

Entry books customarily were prefaced with a table of contents or schedule listing the despatch number and date, the addressee, the subject, and details respecting enclosures. At various times, a separate register or index of despatches received or sent was compiled, but practices varied substantially over time and from province to province.

Custodial history
When Prince Edward Island joined the Dominion in 1873 the governor turned over the records of his office to the Office of the Governor General of Canada. These records were subsequently transferred to the National Archives in 1904.
One additional volume (Registers of despatches received sub-series, vol. 75) was among the duplicates from CO 412 that the Public Record Office (UK) transferred to the National Archives following the PRO reorganization in 1908-1910.

No further accruals are expected.

Related materials
Related records may also be found elsewhere within this fonds in the series Despatches received by the Governor-in-Chief from the Lieutenant Governors. The texts of despatches exchanged with authorities in London are also found in Colonial Office records, as CO 226 (for National Archives copies of which see the series CO 226, Prince Edward Island, Original Correspondence - MG11-CO226 - in the Colonial Office fonds) and CO 227 (for National Archives copies of which see the series CO 227, Prince Edward Island, Entry Books - MG11-CO227 - in the Colonial Office fonds). Despatches exchanged with fellow governors and with the British Minister at Washington were generally preserved with the Colonial Office despatches.

Arrangement note
Many of the records in this series were inherited as a historical collection of dormant records from a defunct colony by the Office of the Governor General of the Dominion of Canada. These records were originally created and/or accumulated in the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island as part of the business functions within that colony. Others were acquired by the National Archives of Canada by transfer from the Public Record Office, London. As such, the records in this series are different in terms of the context of their creation and use and in terms of their provenance from those found elsewhere within this fonds, in the Despatches from the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island sub-series in the Despatches received by the Governor-in-Chief from the Lieutenant Governors series.

Availability of other formats note
Records in this series are available on microfilm. Microfilming was completed in 1981. Further details are provided in the relevant sub-series descriptions.

Associated material note
Correspondence in the governors' name, carried out by the Private or Civil and Military Secretaries, must be sought in the Provincial Archives of Prince Edward Island at Charlottetown.