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CHIPMAN, WILLIAM ALLEN, politician, merchant, office holder, jp, and judge; b. 8 Nov. 1757 in Newport, R.I., the ninth of eleven children born to Handley Chipman and Jean Allen; m. 20 Nov. 1777 Ann Osborn, daughter of a Saint John merchant, and they had at least six children; d. 28 Dec. 1845 in Cornwallis, N.S.

William Allen Chipman was the son of a Rhode Island cabinet-maker, a devout man of “strong character and great intelligence” who in May 1761 brought his wife and children to Cornwallis Township. The family established a dominant place for itself in the economic, political, and religious life of Kings County, and William, who may have lived briefly at Annapolis Royal before returning to Cornwallis, became a wealthy merchant and reputedly one of the county’s largest landowners. He also held many public offices: clerk of Cornwallis Township and customs collector for the county, 1794–1845; justice of the peace, 1797–1845; judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, 1821–41; and custos rotulorum, 1841–45. The last three posts had been held for a time by his elder brother John, a member of the House of Assembly for Cornwallis Township from 1776 to 1785.

William was also a member of the assembly. He represented Kings County, 1799–1806; Sydney County, 1807–8; Cornwallis Township, 1811–18; Kings County, 1818–26 and 1828–30. His son Samuel* succeeded him in 1830 as the member for Kings. Although not a great orator, Chipman displayed independent opinions and, as Beamish Murdoch* put it, “good sense, firmness, and a readiness to defend the public interests.” In the house he opposed compulsory militia service, championed the cause of farmers, and supported free ports, tax assessments for public education, and economy in government. He espoused the cause of dissenters, but in 1823 voted against a successful motion which allowed the Roman Catholic Laurence Kavanagh* to sit in the assembly without taking the oath against transubstantiation. In his last session Chipman defended the rights of the assembly in the celebrated “Brandy Dispute” [see Enos Collins*]. In general he tended to support the reform coalition against the “church and state party”; indeed he played a part in bringing the coalition together, particularly through his efforts to deprive the Church of England of its special privileges and to secure public funding for Baptist and Presbyterian educational institutions, namely Horton and Pictou academies.

Chipman was a freemason who belonged to St George’s Lodge No.11, organized at his home on 22 Nov. 1784. He and his family helped to establish the Baptist denomination in Nova Scotia. His brother Thomas Handley and his son William were among the first ordained Baptist ministers in the colony. An immersed member of the Cornwallis New Light Congregational Church as early as 1799, and a strong supporter of the Reverend Edward Manning* in Cornwallis, Chipman served for 20 years as treasurer of the Nova Scotia Home Missionary Society, established to secure funds for Baptist missions at home and abroad. He was also on the Board of the Nova Scotia Baptist Education Society, which founded Horton Academy in 1828 and Queen’s (Acadia) College in 1838.

According to the Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill*, Chipman, “a host in himself,” was a man of “impetuous temperament” and one who prized his wife “above rubies.” He died at the age of 88, in the florid language of the Novascotian “meeting the King of Terrors with the calmness and serenity that can only spring from the consciousness of a well spent life, and a full assurance of the all sufficient nature of the sacrifice made by the blessed Redeemer.” As a member of what was to become known as the “Chipman compact,” he did much to establish the family’s ascendancy in Kings County. Its influence reached a peak with William Allen’s grandson William Henry*, a prominent merchant and opponent of confederation.

Carman Miller

PANS, MG 1, 184. Novascotian, 26 Jan. 1846. Sun (Halifax), 26 Jan. 1846. A Chipman genealogy, circa 1583–1969, beginning with John Chipman (1620–1708), first of that surname to arrive in the Massachusetts Bay colony . . . , comp. J. H. Chipman (Norwell, Mass., 1970). Directory of N.SMLAs. Esther Clark Wright, Planters and pioneers (Hantsport, N.S., 1978). A. W. H. Eaton, The history of Kings County, Nova Scotia . . . (Salem, Mass., 1910; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1972). Murdoch, Hist. of N.S., 3: 407, 433, 479, 494, 497, 531. G. A. Rawlyk, Ravished by the spirit: religious revivals, Baptists, and Henry Alline (Kingston, Ont., and Montreal, 1984). Saunders, Hist. of Baptists. Norah Story, “The church and state ‘party’ in Nova Scotia, 1749–1851,” N.S. Hist. Soc., Coll., 27 (1947): 33–57.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Carman Miller, “CHIPMAN, WILLIAM ALLEN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 24, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chipman_william_allen_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chipman_william_allen_7E.html
Author of Article: Carman Miller
Title of Article: CHIPMAN, WILLIAM ALLEN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: October 24, 2014