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[201] generality of the inhabitants should determine; and
chap. VIII.} 1755.
they merely entreated leave to return home and consult the body of their people.

The next day, the unhappy men, foreseeing the sorrows that menaced them, offered to swear allegiance unconditionally; but they were told that by a clause in a British statute1 persons who have once refused the oaths cannot be afterwards permitted to take them, but are to be considered as Popish Recusants; and as such they were imprisoned.

The Chief Justice, on whose opinion hung the fate of so many hundreds of innocent families, insisted that the French inhabitants were to be looked upon as confirmed ‘rebels;’ who had now collectively and without exception become ‘recusants.’ Besides: they still counted in their villages ‘eight thousand’ souls, and the English not more than ‘three thousand;’ they stood in the way of ‘the progress of the settlement;’ ‘by their non-compliance with the conditions of the treaty of Utrecht, they had forfeited their possessions to the crown;’ after the departure ‘of the fleet and troops the province would not be in a condition to drive them out.’ ‘Such a juncture as the present might never occur;’ so he advised ‘against receiving any of the French inhabitants to take the oath,’ and for the removal of ‘all’ of them from the province.2

That the cruelty might have no palliation, letters arrived, leaving no doubt, that the shores of the Bay of Fundy were entirely in the possession of the British;3 and yet at a council, at which Viceral

1 Geo. II. c. XIII.

2 Mr. Chief Justice Belcher's Opinion in Council as to the removal of the French Inhabitants in Nova Scotia, 28 July, 1755.

3 Council holden at the Governor's House in Halifax, on Thursday the 15th July, 1755.

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