Davidson, William

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William was born in 1740 in Banffshire, Aberdeenshire Scotland. His original given family name was John Godsman, but he changed his name to William Davidson, after his grandmothers family name.

Twenty five years later he and John Corte applied for and were granted a huge track of land on the Miramichi River consisting of 100,000 acres. He spent several years and a large sum of money in developing several industries on the track. His first desire was to establish a viable community which would be self reliant. His plan was inturrupted by the American Revolutionary War. The Americans, who wanted independence from Britain tried to encourage the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, which included New Brunswick at the time, to join their efforts. They were not successful in their attempts but instead, the Americans encouraged the local native population to attack the settlements. Due to the settlements exposure to sea attacks from the Americans and from the local native groups, William moved his followers to Maugerville on the Saint John River.

On the completion of the American Revoluation War, William and his followers returned to the Miramichi. The sight they seen was discouraging, as all of their developments and shelters were destroyed by American raids and native attacks. Work began on restarting the settlements and supporting industries. Specicalist were brought over from the homeland and worked developing the lumber industry. Several saw mills were constructed and the products were used to build several structures. The lumber was also used to build sailing vessels of which a couple were lost on their maiden voyage loaded with produce from the settlements.

The fishing industry was a source of income for Davidson, catching first the famous salmon in the river and then the plentiful cod. These items were salted and shipped to overseas markets. Another source of income was the tanning of moose hides and other fur bearing animals and shipping them overseas. Timber production factured in Davidsons plans as the sawmills produced very good square timber. These products were shipped overseas and became a highly prized commody in building structures and ships. Later William secured a contract to supply the British navy with masts and spars, this contract was very lucrative and attracted some stiff competition.

When William was in Maugerville he met and married Sara Nevers. They produced five children

:Elizabeth b. 1779 : William b. 1780 " Phineas b. 1782 : Jane b. 1783 : Alexander b. 1788 .

Being the first settler on the Miramichi he is credited with several firsts.

1- First english speaking settler on the Miramichi.

2- Built the first sailing vessel on the Miramichi.

As William was returning from a trip downriver in February, he and his travelling companion, James Davidson, were overtaken with a sudden rain storm. They sought refuge in a haystack and had to spent the night. During the night the temperature fell and he became sick with exposure. Not recovering from this exposure William died in 1790 leavin a wife and five children.


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