John Coape Sherbrooke

Sir John Sherbrooke by Robert Field, The Halifax Club

General Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, GCB (baptised 29 April 1764 14 February 1830) was a British soldier and colonial administrator. After serving in the British army in Nova Scotia, the Netherlands, India, the Mediterranean (including Sicily), and Spain, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia in 1811. During the War of 1812, his policies and victory in the conquest of present-day Maine, renaming it the colony of New Ireland, led to significant prosperity in Nova Scotia.


He served under the Duke of Wellington as a Major General in the Peninsular War from 1807 until his reassignment to Nova Scotia. Simultaneously, he was a Lieutenant General of Portuguese forces.[1]

Nova Scotia

Sherbrooke arrived at Halifax on 16 October 1812 as commander of the forces in the Atlantic provinces. The five years of Sherbrooke’s administration were dominated by war with the United States, which broke out in June 1812, and matters relating to the colony’s defence. He mounted guns at harbour entrances across the colony and placed the militias in a state of readiness. The war proved to be profitable for Nova Scotia. Sherbrooke’s commercial policies turned the Atlantic provinces into a thriving entrepôt for international trade.[2]

From 1813–1830 Sherbrooke was Colonel of the 33rd Regiment of Foot.[3]

New Ireland

Deciding to strike at the long-disputed borderland between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Penobscot River, Sherbrooke led an expeditionary force that August which successfully landed at Castine and proceeded to subdue the entire region between the Penobscot and the St Croix. He renamed the region the colony of New Ireland. The eight-month occupation of Castine yielded customs revenues which were subsequently used to finance the Cambridge Military Library[4] in Halifax and found Dalhousie College.[5]

The financing of Dalhousie college, now Dalhousie University in Halifax had largely come from custom duties collected by Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, then lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia during the occupation of Castine, Maine during the War of 1812, investing £7000 as the initial endowment and £3000 reserved for the actual construction of the college.[6]

British North America

His active defence of the colony during the War of 1812 led to his appointment as Governor General of British North America in 1816. His talent as a mediator helped settle disputes, and he won the confidence of Louis-Joseph Papineau.

Ill health (probably a stroke) forced Sherbrooke to resign after only two years, and he retired to Nottinghamshire in England. However, his brief tenure was remembered as a period of calm before the coming storm (see Rebellions of 1837).

While he resided in Nova Scotia, his home was at Birch Cove on Bedford Basin, near Halifax.[7] Named Sherwood, it eventually lent its name to the neighbourhoods of Sherwood Park and Sherwood Heights. The community of Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia also bears his name.[8] Other honorific eponyms are listed below.

Honorific eponyms

Geographic locations

See also

External links


Government offices
Preceded by
Alexander Croke
Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia
Succeeded by
George Stracey Smyth
Preceded by
Sir George Prevost
Governor General of British North America
Succeeded by
The Duke of Richmond
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Trigge
Colonel of the 68th (Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Warde
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