FULTON, JAMES, jp, judge, militia officer, surveyor, and politician; b. 1739 in Belfast, son of John Fulton and Ann Boggs; m. 1 Nov. 1770 Margaret Campbell in Nova Scotia, and they had seven sons and eight daughters; d. 25 Sept. 1826 in Bass River, N.S.
Tradition records that James Fulton immigrated to New England around 1760, one of the thousands of Ulstermen to settle in the Thirteen Colonies since the early 18th century. After working as a surveyor for several years he moved to Nova Scotia, joining the migration of New Englanders drawn north by Governor Charles Lawrence*’s settlement proclamations of 1758 and 1759. Fulton is said to have arrived in Nova Scotia in 1765 and was certainly resident in Londonderry Township by August 1767, when he was appointed a justice of the peace for the district of Colchester. One of the original grantees of the township (then part of Halifax County), he established his home at Bass River. Fulton remained a prominent figure in the local community throughout his life. In addition to his commission as a justice of the peace, he was appointed a judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the district of Colchester in 1791, and in 1793 was commissioned a captain in the local militia regiment. He also made the first complete survey of Londonderry Township and its small villages.
Fulton’s influential position in the Londonderry area was demonstrated in 1799 by his election to the House of Assembly. He joined with Edward Mortimer* of Pictou and William Cottnam Tonge of Halifax to contest the Halifax County seats previously held by powerful Halifax merchants allied with Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth* and the Council. The chief election issue was the conflict between the interests of the town and those of the country: more precisely, Fulton declared, between the policies of Wentworth’s friends, the “court party,” and measures that would benefit the province as a whole. The “country” candidates ran a well-organized campaign, taking full advantage of their opponents’ mistakes, while local committees, formed before the election had been called, rallied support throughout the constituency. Fulton in fact had been in Halifax when the assembly was dissolved and may have discussed strategy with Tonge at that time. Certainly he worked closely with Mortimer to consolidate support for the “country” ticket.
Their campaign strategy was a success: the “country party” took three of the four county seats. Fulton topped the poll in Onslow Township, where the four “court party” candidates could muster only 90 of the 1,600 votes cast. He placed second to Mortimer in Pictou and finished third of the four candidates elected. His record in the assembly illustrates, however, that cohesive political parties with effective discipline were still far in the future. Despite his close association with Tonge’s opposition party, Fulton frequently voted with those usually considered the lieutenant governor’s friends, even on questions that were a direct challenge to Wentworth’s policies. He attended sessions regularly and served on numerous committees, especially those dealing with the construction of roads and bridges.
Fulton does not appear to have run in the 1806 election. He spent the remainder of his life in Bass River, a prosperous farmer and respected local official.
PANS, RG 1, 167, 169. UCC-M, James MacGregor papers, letters LXXIX–LXXXV. N.S., House of Assembly, Journal and proc., 1800–6. Colonial Patriot (Pictou, N.S.), 6 Nov. 1830. The Fulton family of Atlantic Canada; sponsored by the Fulton Family Associates (Truro, N.S., 1979). Thomas Miller, Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County . . . (Halifax, 1873; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1972).