ALDRIDGE, CHRISTOPHER, Sr, military officer, member of the Nova Scotia Council; b. c. 1690; d. 15 March 1745/46 in Boston.
Christopher Aldridge Sr was commissioned a lieutenant in the British army in April 1706. He probably participated in the attack on Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.) in 1710 [see Francis Nicholson*] and shortly became a captain in the independent company of foot stationed there. In October 1712 he was ordered to survey the “Works at Fort Annapolis Royal done by Major [John Livingston*].” Pay and provisions at this neglected outpost were inadequate, and by October 1715 he had personally spent over £700 “for necessaries” for his non-commissioned officers and men. He feared that the Acadians would desert Nova Scotia for Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), and wrote in May 1715 that they had reportedly built 40 or 50 sloops for that purpose and that “several of them slips away dayly.” In 1717 the independent companies serving at Annapolis Royal and Placentia, Newfoundland, were formed into Philipps’ Regiment of Foot (the 40th); Aldridge was a captain in the new unit. He remained at Annapolis Royal and in May 1727 was appointed to the Nova Scotia Council by Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Armstrong*. He was active on this body only until November 1727.
By 1732 Aldridge had assumed command of the company posted at Canso. That fall Edward How and other justices of the peace at Canso complained that Aldridge had licensed a “great number of taverns” and had misused his authority by taking “upon himself the entire management of civil as well as military affairs at Canso.” Aldridge might have taken this action to protect his men from the civil authorities, who were upset at violence resulting from the seizure of firewood by the troops. Armstrong warned Aldridge that a military form of government would frighten prospective settlers but also urged the justices to respect Aldridge “both as a commandant and member of the Council.” The aggressive conduct of Aldridge continued, however. In reply to a question from the Board of Trade in 1734 concerning officers trading out of Canso, his uncooperative response was that “he did not know that any Captn. of a ship of warr had any business with the officers there.” To Aldridge’s credit he was uneasy about the “defenceless Condition” of Canso and warned the council of the French menace to its fishery. In the summer of 1735 Armstrong visited Canso and was disturbed at what he saw: “I found that place in great confusion, and received and heard the complaints of the inhabitants and fishermen against Capt. Aldridge. . . .” Aldridge was removed from his command and given an eight-month leave of absence.
Aldridge retreated to England and appears to have spent most of the next eight years there. In November 1736 the London agent of Philipps’ regiment, King Gould, reported: “Capt. Aldridge has been at Deaths Door this fall” and although now recovered had no “Intention of returning to Canso.” In these years he won the support of both his regimental commander, Richard Philipps, and the regimental agent, Gould, which was a useful counterweight to the humiliation suffered at the hands of Armstrong. Aldridge arranged that his son, Christopher Jr, handle Gould’s trade goods at Canso, which naturally endeared him to the regimental agent. In April 1742, while giving Aldridge his orders, Philipps promised that “I shall not be unmindfull of you when any thing offers.” Aldridge was returned to “Duty at Canso” where “you will of Course have the Command of that Garrison.” Apparently completely vindicated, Aldridge was slow, nevertheless, in taking up his post. He reached Boston only in the late fall of 1743 and postponed his return to Canso until the following spring. In the interval, as promised, Gould and Philipps had not neglected his interests, and in March 1743/44 Aldridge learned of his promotion to the rank of major.
Aldridge had probably passed the 1743/44 winter at Annapolis Royal for Paul Mascarene, in command there, commented on his deteriorating health. Aldridge had suffered “a fitt of the palsie” and Mascarene gave him “leave to go to Boston.” Unable to return to Canso, Aldridge was not present when the post fell to the French in May 1744. However, his wife and family were among the prisoners taken there when Captain Patrick Heron capitulated. In May 1745 the French threatened Annapolis Royal and Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts decided to send the former Canso garrison, now at Castle William (Boston), to its defence. He and Heron disagreed about whether the period of the garrison’s commitment not to bear arms was over, and Shirley asked Aldridge, the senior officer on the spot, to order the troops to Annapolis. With some hesitation Aldridge did so and the troops sailed. The threat to Annapolis, however, had disappeared in the meantime.
At the time of this incident Shirley described Aldridge as “in a very weak Condition here,” and his sickness culminated in death on 15 March 1745/46. Aldridge had at least one son, Christopher Jr, and at least three daughters.
National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth), Tredegar Park collection, 128/1730; mss/262, pp.13, 14, 15; mss/284, pp.53, 81, 186, 252; mss/285, p.84; mss/287, pp.97, 219. PAC, MG 11, Nova Scotia A, 6, pp.22–23; 21, p.63; 26, p.101. PANS, RG 1, 8, pp.112–14; 9, p.53; 12, no.38; 13, no.7. PRO, Adm. 1/3817; CO 217/4, ff.362, 363, 364, 372. Correspondence of William Shirley (Lincoln), I. Documents relating to currency in Nova Scotia, 1675–1758 (Shortt), 63, 64, 70, 71, 78, 79, 93, 103–9, 147, 304. N.S. Archives, II; III, PRO, CSP, Col., 1714–15, 180; 1720–21, 158, 159, 349; 1734–35, 101, 397; 1735–36, 64, 65. English army lists (Dalton), IV. Dalton, George the first’s army, I.