England Reclaims Canada

In 1620, France was in the midst of a civil war. Exploration and colonization in New France came to a stand-still, and King James I of England was quick to take advantage. Over 100 years earlier, John Cabot had claimed the New World for England and now it was occupied and controlled by the French. King James thought that it would be a good time to reclaim that land.

At that time, the Company for New England, under the leadership of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, was put in charge of parcelling out land between present-day Philidelphia to north of the Great Lakes. This included most of the land claimed by France and all the French settlements in Acadia and along the St. Lawrence River. The cost to reclaim New France would be enormous and Gorges did not want to spend the Company's money to do it. This, he thought, would be an excellent task for someone else.

In September, 1620, King James I granted all of Canada (which, at that time, was comprised of Ontario and Quebec) and Acadia, to William Alexander, a Scottish poet and tutor to the King's eldest son, Prince Henry. Ferdinando Gorges was left in charge to settle and parcel out the lands disputed by England and France.

Alexander was granted the authority to colonize as he saw fit. He was to set up a system of justice and to parcel out the land. All that Alexander needed was the funds to do so.

William Alexander created the Knights Baronet of Nova Scotia ('Nova Scotia' is latin for 'New Scotland') and began recruiting investors. Anyone who would put up money or would settle in Nova Scotia was given a title and granted a parcel of land 10 kilometres (6 miles) by 5 kilometres (3 miles).

Settlement began slowly at first, with only a few small settlements along the Bay of Fundy, much to the chagrin of the Acadians who already lived there. However, 1625 saw the death of King James I and the beginnings of yet another religious war in France.

Alexander surged ahead with his enterprise and recruited more aristocrats into the Knights Baronet of Nova Scotia. Merchants and financiers in London joined the enterprize and gathered together £60,000 - enough to purchase, crew and supply 3 ships which would be used against the French. The ships were captained by the three Kirke brothers; David, Louis and Thomas - sons of one of the investors, Gervase Kirke.

The Kirke brothers would, almost single-handedly, conquer New France, culminating with the surrender of Quebec to the British. (see 1628)