CHIPMAN, SAMUEL, farmer, businessman, politician, office holder, and militia officer; b. 18 Oct. 1790 in Cornwallis Township, N.S., fifth child of William Allen Chipman* and Ann Osborn; m. first 11 May 1815 Elizabeth Gesner, a sister of geologist Abraham Gesner*, and they had three daughters and one son; m. secondly 8 Dec. 1841 Jessie W. Hardy, and they had seven children; d. 10 Nov. 1891 in Kentville, N.S.
Samuel Chipman was born into a prominent Kings County family, sometimes known as the “Chipman compact.” Although his principal occupation was farming, which he pursued on a 100-acre farm in Canard, he was also a shipowner and merchant, trading in agricultural produce (such as the 1,200 bushels of potatoes raised on his farm in 1870), and a public servant.
In 1830 he succeeded his father as Reform member of the House of Assembly for Kings County, and he held this seat until 1843, when his party’s attempt to establish a non-sectarian provincial university led to his defeat. Although he was a Baptist and an advocate of public funding for Acadia College, recently established in Wolfville by the Baptists of Nova Scotia [see John Pryor] any of his constituents saw him as an enemy of the college. Chipman returned to the legislature in 1851 as the representative for Cornwallis Township and held this seat until 1859. Upon its abolition that year he was elected to represent the north division of Kings County, a position he retained until 1863, when he was appointed to the Legislative Council. In the assembly Chipman, like his father, was principally interested in agriculture and local affairs such as roads, dikes, breakwaters, and bridges. A staunch anti-confederate, in 1869 he supported Joseph Howe* and the “better terms” Howe was able to negotiate for Nova Scotia.
In 1856, when Chipman was financial secretary of the province, the Acadian Recorder described him as a self-serving man who knew nothing of finance but owed his position to “heredity right” and the “Freemasonry of Politics.” In physical appearance he was “a little, important looking man” who sat “with his arms folded, on the left of the Speaker’s chair, close up under the reporters’ gallery . . . his head . . . entirely bald and glossy, and his face a little wrinkled.” According to the paper, “Mr. Chipman scarcely ever attempts to speak except when some local matter is under discussion . . . but he does it like one in authority. He has a thin voice and a thick lisp which makes it rather difficult to catch the meaning of what he does say.” Although the description was unkind and somewhat unfair, Chipman’s enjoyment of patronage certainly made him appear venal. In 1842 the provincial government had appointed him commissioner of sewers for Kings County, and six years later he became a commissioner of the peace there. Twice he served as provincial commissioner to appraise railway damages, in 1868 for Annapolis County and in 1869 for Kings. When he retired from the Legislative Council in 1870, at the age of 80, he was appointed registrar of deeds for his native county, a position he held for 18 years, until blindness obliged him to retire. He did so only upon the condition that “his successor pay him 400 dollars a year during his lifetime.”
Like his father, Samuel Chipman was a militia officer and a freemason. When he died at the age of 101, he was believed to be the oldest mason in the world and the oldest man in Nova Scotia. He was buried with full masonic ceremonies, and his funeral drew 1,000 or more people to his home at Chipmans Corner. He was described by his admirers as a tranquil, gentle man of “sterling integrity” who was respected by his neighbours; others saw him as a self-serving politician. His career suggests the important and intimate relations between family and politics in the early history of Nova Scotia.
NA, RG 31, C1, Kings County, 1851; 1861, district 2, abstract 4, no.32; 1871, district 189, no.7. PANS, MG 20, 1015, no.12a; MG 100, 12, no.50; RG 3, 1, nos.2a, 15, 21, 159; RG 7, 6, no.59. N.S., House of Assembly, Journal and proc., 1851–59. Acadian Recorder, 14 June 1856, 10 Nov. 1891. Morning Chronicle (Halifax), 11 Nov. 1891. A Chipman genealogy, circa 1583–1969, beginning with John Chipman (1620–1708), first of that surname to arrive in the Massachusetts Bay colony . . . , comp. J. H. Chipman (Norwell, Mass., 1970), 81. Legislative Assembly of N.S. (Elliott). J. M. Beck, Joseph Howe (2v., Kingston, Ont., and Montreal, 1982–83). Eaton, Hist. of Kings County.