HALHEAD, EDWARD, schoolmaster; fl. 1749–52.
On 6 April 1749, in London, a letter was forwarded by the Lords of Trade and Plantations to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel recommending that clergymen and schoolmasters be named to serve in the settlements and townships to be established in Nova Scotia. The society accepted the proposal and appointed Edward Halhead “schoolmaster to Nova Scotia with a salary of £15 per year to commence from Lady Day last [25 March 1749]” and ordered “that a gratuity of £10 be immediately paid to him.” Halhead, having learned of the British government’s plan to settle the province, had already volunteered for such service. Highly recommended by Bishop Richard Trevor of St David’s, Pembrokeshire, Wales, as “a proper person for that purpose being well skilled in accounts, mathematics and mensuration,” Halhead arrived in Halifax in September 1749. From the beginning he was appalled by the primitive conditions in the new colony. The first winter was particularly difficult as numerous settlers died from the cold. Halhead along with many others fell ill and mere survival rather than education became his primary objective. According to William Tutty, the SPG missionary at Halifax, construction of a schoolhouse was delayed “owing to the fortification of the town against the Indians and the building of a hospital and other government works.” Eventually, Halhead was assigned a room in the orphanage; however, this proved unsatisfactory and on 12 Oct. 1752 he tendered his resignation. Once described by Tutty as “a very regular and sober man” Halhead lacked the drive and initiative required to establish a school effectively under the primitive conditions of early Halifax. Nothing is known of Halhead’s career following his departure from Nova Scotia in the autumn of 1752.
[Halhead’s career in Nova Scotia was traced through his letters in USPG, B (mfm in PAC, MG 17, B1). Further information on conditions in early Halifax was gleaned from PAC, MG 11, Nova Scotia A, 33. Unfortunately, the SPG did not keep records on lay missionaries in the 18th century. Consequently the USPG archives contains information only on Halhead’s three-year sojourn in Halifax. See also: James Bingay, Public education in Nova Scotia; a history and commentary (Kingston, Ont., 1919). P. W. Thibeau, Education in Nova Scotia before 1811 (Washington, 1922). T. B. Akins, “History of Halifax City,” N.S. Hist. Soc. Coll., VIII (1895). w.b.h.]