Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DES BARRES, Joseph Frederick Wallet, English soldier, born in 1722; died in Halifax, N. S., 24 October 1824. He came of a French family that fled to England on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. After studying" under the Bernoullis, he entered the Royal military College at Woolwich, and after graduation embarked, in March 1756, for America, as lieutenant in the 60th foot. He commanded for a time a corps of field artillery, which he had himself recruited in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and in 1757 led a volunteer detachment against Indians who had attacked Schenectady, captured the chiefs, and won them over to the English. He distinguished himself as an engineer at the siege of Louisburg, in 1758, and at the siege of Quebec was aide-de-camp to General Wolfe. That officer received his mortal wound while Des Barres was making a report, to him, and fell, dying, in the arms of his aide.
In 1760, and afterward, Des Barres conducted the engineering operations for the defense of Quebec and the reduction of Fort Jacques Cartier and other French strongholds, thus completing the conquest of Canada. He afterward made designs and estimates for fortifying Halifax, and in 1762 was directing engineer and quartermaster general in the expedition for retaking Newfoundland, receiving public thanks for his services. He was then sent to New York to report on the expediency of establishing a chain of military posts through the colonies, and from 1763 till 1773 was engaged in surveying the coast of Nova Scotia. He returned to England in 1774, was thanked by the king for his services, and was selected by Lord Howe to prepare charts of the North Atlantic coast. Having adapted the surveys of Holland, De Brahm, and others to nautical purposes, he published them under the title " The Atlantic Neptune " (2 vols., 1777). He was made governor of Cape Breton in 1784, and given the military command of that and Prince Edward Island, founded the town of Sydney, and opened and worked the valuable coalfields at the entrance of the river. In this office he was also engaged in aiding the royalists of the United States, and removing them from the country after the Revolution. He was made lieutenant governor and commander-in-chief of Prince Edward Island in 1804. Even in his ninety-fifth year he was lithe and active, and planned a five years' tour in Europe. He was Captain Cook's teacher in navigation. He wrote a work on " Cape Breton," which was printed privately (London, 1804), but afterward suppressed.
His grandson, William Frederick, Canadian jurist, born at the Elysian Fields, Cumberland, Nova Scotia, 14 February 1800; died in Halifax, N. S., 16 June 1885, was educated at the old Halifax grammar school, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1821. He settled at Guysboro', and soon attained a leading place in his profession. From 1836 till 1848 he represented Guvsboro' in the Nova Scotia assembly, and held the office of solicitor general in Howe's government. In 1848 he was appointed a puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, retaining his seat on the bench till 1881. He was the first liberal in politics appointed to a Supreme Court judgeship in Nova Scotia.
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