DOGGETT, JOHN, mariner, merchant, officeholder, and militia officer; b. 6 Feb. 1723/24 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, son of Ebenezer Doggett and Elizabeth Rickard; m. 3 Nov. 1748 Abigail House, at Scituate, Massachusetts, and they had eight children; d. 20 March 1772 at Port Mouton Island (Mouton Island), Nova Scotia.
John Doggett had moved to Scituate by 1748, and he worked as a sea-captain and then as keeper of a ferry. His attention was turned towards Nova Scotia as early as 1757, for when Governor Charles Lawrence* went to Boston that year he urged Doggett to accept a grant of a Nova Scotia township for himself and others. Lawrence was eager to promote settlement of the lands formerly held by the Acadians and of the other vacant lands in the colony, but security and representative government had to be provided before New Englanders in substantial numbers would migrate to Nova Scotia. Shortly afterwards circumstances began to change. In 1758 Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), was captured, and the first elected legislature was convened in Nova Scotia.
By 1759 Doggett and other New Englanders were showing a keen interest in the colony, and the government developed a settlement scheme which projected 14 townships along the south shore, through the Annapolis valley, along Minas Basin, and across the Chignecto Isthmus. Doggett endeavoured to procure settlers by journeying throughout New England, and on behalf of themselves and others he, his brother Samuel, Elisha Freeman, and Thomas Foster applied for a tract of land. A grant of Liverpool Township was issued to them on 1 Sept. 1759. There were to be 41 grantees for the first settlement by the “last [of] September next” and a total of 164 families by the end of September 1762. In the spring of 1760 the first 50 families arrived in the township. Some came in their own fishing schooners; others were brought in provincial vessels such as the York and Halifax (Capt. Silvanus Cobb*). The local responsibility for the promotion of the settlement was largely Doggett’s. He hired ships to transport the immigrants and distributed relief to the needy. For his services he was afterwards paid £90 by the Nova Scotia government.
Although Liverpool had difficulties in its early days it made progress, and the energetic, able Doggett was a leading resident. The second town meeting was held at his house on Doggett’s Point on 8 July 1760. He had a store and in 1762 he purchased a half interest in a sawmill on Mill Brook. In 1761 he had received a licence to occupy and improve Port Mouton Island, and on 31 Dec. 1763 the Nova Scotia Council advised that it be granted to him.
Doggett held numerous offices in the township. On 26 May 1760 he was appointed one of its first two justices of the peace, and in July he became a member of the proprietors’ committee and of a committee to lay out a common for fish flakes. On 22 July 1761 he was made truckmaster for the management of trade with the Indians, a position he seems to have held until Simeon Perkins* was commissioned in 1766. Doggett’s appointment to a committee for dividing forfeited lands in the township and for admitting other settlers was authorized by the Nova Scotia Council on 15 Aug. 1761. He became collector of impost and excise for the township on 23 Nov. 1761 and major in the militia on 20 July 1762. On 6 Jan. 1764 he was appointed judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Queens County and in the same year he became the county’s first registrar of deeds.
When news of the repeal of the Stamp Act was received on 3 June 1766 there was a day of rejoicing in Liverpool. During the proceedings some of the militia marched to Major Doggett’s home, where they were entertained. In 1770 Doggett was elected to the House of Assembly and on 9 June of the following year he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel in the county militia. He died on 20 March 1772 “after a tedious and lingering illness” at Port Mouton Island, to which he may have been isolated on account of a contagious disease.
PANS, MG 1, 828 (T. B. Smith genealogy); MG 4, no.77 (Liverpool Township docs.); RG 1, 164, 165, 211, 359. Private archives, Seth Bartling (Liverpool, N.S.), R. J. Long, “The annals of Liverpool and Queen’s County, 1760–1867” (1926) (typescript at Dalhousie University Library, Halifax; mfm. at PANS). N.S., House of Assembly, Journal, 1770–71. Perkins, Diary, 1766–80 (Innis). “Vital records of Liverpool, N.S.,” New England Hist. and Geneal. Register, CXXVI (1972), 94–102. Directory of N.S. MLAs. S. B. Doggett, A history of the Doggett-Daggett family (Boston, 1894). C. B. Fergusson, Early Liverpool and its diarist (Halifax, 1961). J. F. More, The history of Queens County, N.S. (Halifax, 1873; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1972). F. E. Crowell, “New Englanders in Nova Scotia: no.39 – Doggett, Daggett,” Yarmouth Herald (Yarmouth, N. S.), 6 Nov. 1928.