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Alexander, Sir William, 1580-1640

Patentee of Nova Scotia, and a poet and court favorite, to whom James I. and Charles I. were much attached. He was born at Menstrie, Scotland, in 1580. He became the author of verses when he was fourteen years old, and was cherished by Scotchmen as a descendant of the Macdonalds. His Aurora contained more than one hundred sonnets, songs, and elegies which displayed the effects of ill-requited love. When the Council for New England perceived the intention of the French beyond the St. Croix to push their settlements westward, they granted to Sir William (who had been knighted in 1614) all of the territory now known as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, excepting a part of Acadia proper; and the King confirmed it, and issued a patent Sept. 10, 1621. The territory granted was called Nova Scotia--New Scotland — and it was given to Sir William and his heirs in fee without conditions. It was erected into a royal palatinate, the proprietor being invested with the rights and powers of a count-palatine. It was designed to settle the territory with Scotch emigrants, who should form a barrier against French encroachments. A colony was accordingly planted, and Sir William held possession ten years before he was displaced by the French.

In 1625 Charles I. (who had just succeeded his deceased father), in order to help Sir William plant a successful colony or sell the domain in parcels, created the order of “Baronets of Nova Scotia,” the title to be conferred upon purchasers of large tracts of land there. He also gave the proprietor the privilege of coining base copper money. In 1626 Sir William was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland, Keeper of the Signet in 1627, Commissioner of the Exchequer in 1628, also Lord of Canada. In 1630 he was created Viscount Stirling, and in 1633 Earl of Stirling and Viscount of Canada. In 1628 the Council for New England gave him a grant of territory, which included a part of Long Island, opposite Connecticut; but he was not able to manage his colonization schemes in Nova Scotia, and he sold his domain to the French. He died in London, Sept. 12, 1640. Lord Stirling's title expired with the fifth earl (1739), but other claimants appeared afterwards. See Acadia.

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