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Canadian History
Sir William Alexander

William Alexander's first years were spent in the parish of Logie, but following his father's death he was brought up in Stirling by a granduncle who was a merchant there. He was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Leiden, and became tutor to the Earl of Argyle. He joined the court of James VI in Edinburgh as tutor to Prince Henry, and was one of a number of poets whom the King surrounded himself with, known as the Castalian Band. Following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, James moved his court to London. Alexander was one of the favoured courtiers who accompanied him, and his subsequent involvement in English politics made Alexander unpopular in Scotland. He was knighted in 1609, granted the plantation of Nova Scotia in 1621 and made Viscount of Canada. He was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland in 1626, and was created Earl of Stirling in 1633. Despite such political achievements, however, he met with severe financial difficulties during his last years, and he died in poverty. His literary work is now regarded as an historical curiosity; it includes sonnets and songs (collected in "Aurora"); four tragedies written for Prince Henry; and "Doomesday", a poem of over 10,000 lines.

At Windsor Castle on September 10, 1621 King James signed a grant in favour of Sir William Alexander covering all of the lands "between our Colonies of New England and Newfoundland, to be known as New Scotland " (Nova Scotia in Latin), an area larger than Great Britain and France combined. On October 18, 1624 the King announced his intention of creating a new order of baronets to Scottish "knichts and gentlemen of cheife respect for ther birth, place, or fortounes ". James I died on March 27, 1625 but his heir, Charles I, lost no time in implementing his father’s plan. By the end of 1625, the first 22 Baronets of Nova Scotia were created and, as inducements to settlement of his new colony of Nova Scotia, Sir William offered tracts of land totalling 11,520 acres "to all such principal knichts & esquires as will be pleased to be undertakers of the said plantations & who will promise to set forth 6 men, artificers or laborers, sufficiently armed, apparelled & victualled for 2 yrs ". Baronets could receive their patents in Edinburgh rather than London, and an area of Edinburgh Castle was declared Nova Scotian territory for this purpose. In return, they had to pay Sir William 1000 merks for his "past charges in discoverie of the said country ".

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