Fonds MC251 - Dixon family

Title proper

Dixon family

General material designation

  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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  • 1729-1939 (Creation)
    Dixon family (Descendants of Charles Dixon)(Sackville)

Physical description

20 cm of textual records

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(Branch begins in 1731)

Biographical history

Charles Dixon (1731-1817) was the son of a bricklayer in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Charles and his wife Susannah Coates emigrated to Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, and eventually settled at Sackville, in what is now New Brunswick, in 1772. They had eight children: Mary, Charles, Susannah, Elizabeth, Ruth, Martha, Edward and William. Charles, who found poor agricultural conditions in the area on his arrival, did much to improve farming practices in the Sackville area and encouraged the drainage of the Tantramar salt marshes. He bought 2,500 acres, some of which he farmed himself and the rest of which he rented to tenants.

Dixon had been converted to Methodism at age 43 and remained a devout believer, providing land for the erection of the first Methodist Church in Sackville. In spite of his religious beliefs and his relatively humble origins, Charles became a slave owner and was purchasing black slaves as late as 1795. He was opposed to the American Revolution but did not want to fight against the rebel elements in Cumberland County, "for Quietness Sake". Although he suffered personal losses when rebel supporters under Jonathan Eddy lay siege to Fort Cumberland, he was opposed to retaliation when British regulars returned.

His loyalty was rewarded by the colonial government, in 1776, when be became a justice of the peace and judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. After New Brunswick became a separate colony in 1784, the new administration made him collector of customs for Sackville. He served as a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1785 to 1792. At the county level he served as commissioner of highways, surveyor of highways, assessor, and overseer of the poor.

His eldest son, Charles Dixon, became a Mormon and moved to Kirkland, Ohio in 1837 with his seven youngest children. He died en route to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1854. Charles Dixon, a grandson of the original Charles, remained in New Brunswick and became a shipbuilder in Sackville from 1840 to 1865 in partnership with Mariner Wood.

His second son, Edward (1776-1861 or 1862) farmed the family land for most of his active life. He married Mary Smith, who, like him, was a devout Methodist. Their son James (1819-after 1900) married Eunice Black and had a large family. From 1855 to his retirement in 1881, James, an active Liberal, served as collector of customs as his grandfather had done. He was secretary of the Sackville and Westmorland Agricultural Society and was treasurer of the Sackville Rural Cemetery Company from 1883 to 1887 and possibly later. In the 1880s, James wrote to many of his relatives, assembling information about the history of the family.

Other members of the family were involved in a brewery on Bridge Street and the Enterprise Foundry. Although their ancestor had been one of the first Methodists in the area, some of the later descendants became Baptists.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. v
I. Allen Jack, Biographical Review

Custodial history

Part of this fonds was originally given to the Provincial Archives in 1975 by an individual who was not the owner. When the problem was discovered, they were returned to the Dixon family but not before part of the fonds was microfilmed. The fonds was officially donated to the Archives by Jean Dixon in 1976. Some of the records filmed in 1975 were not present in the 1976 donation, including the charter of the Methodist Chapel in Sackville, 1816. They can, however, be found on the microfilm.

Scope and content

This fonds consists of three main groups of records: the correspondence, memoirs and business records of Charles Dixon (1731-1817); the legal records and correspondence of Edward and James Dixon, with genealogical notes about the family, compiled by James in the 1880s and 1890s; and the records of several local organizations assembled by James while he was an officer of these organizations.

Charles Dixon's records contain a detailed memoir describing his arrival in Sackville with his family in 1772. Correspondence and legal records of Dixon's personal and family business are included, as are records created in his roles as justice of the peace, overseer of the poor, and other public positions. The records give insight into many of the political and religious issues of the time. They include three agreements to buy and sell negro or black slaves, 1792-1795. Also included is the petition of Moses Delesdernier (dated 1780) claiming for expenses incurred in settling and dividing the township of Hopewell from 1774 to 1776. This petition listed expenses incurred for aboriginal women who assisted him in his travels and expenses for housing a Negro in sickness. Dixon corresponded and did business with many of the important political and social figures of the day including Jonathan Odell, Governor Haldimand, Amos Botsford and Isaac Allen.

Edward and James' records consist largely of legal and land documents and family correspondence. James' genealogical notes and correspondence are also included.

There are accounts for the Sackville and Westmorland Agricultural Society, 1871-1872. Records of the Sackville Methodist Chapel, 1816-1890, consist of deeds and financial records about building the chapel and include a history of Methodism in Sackville, handwritten by James Dixon about 1890. There are also accounts of the Sackville Rural Cemetery, 1875-1935.

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick by Miss Jean Dixon, of Sackville N.B., on 13 December 1976.


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Microfilm of part of the fonds (F561) is available at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

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No restrictions

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Finding aids

An inventory and detailed family history is available.

Associated materials

The records of Mariner Wood can be found in MC218 Wood Family fonds. Additional information on the Dixon family of Westmorland County may be found on microfilm no. F561.

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