The Honourable General Edmund Fanning,MA, D.D.C., LL.D.
Governor from 4 November 1786 to 10 May 1804
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General Edmund Fanning was the second Governor of the Island St. John, then later called Prince Edward Island since the creation of the Colony in 1763. Edmund Fanning was born in Long Island in 1737 and died in London, England, on 28 February 1818. He graduated from Yale in 1757 and settled as a lawyer in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where he was elected Colonel of Militia in 1763, Clerk of the Superior Court in 1765 and subsequently went to the Legislature. Among the offices held by him was that of Recorder of Deeds and it was alleged that to his abuses of this trust and his exorbitant charges was due to the rebellion of the regulators in Governor Tryon's administration. By his vicious character, "nearly all the estates in Orange County were loaded with doubts as to their titles and new and unnecessary deeds were demanded". Through his actions as Recorder, added to his zeal in quelling opposition to the severe exactions of the government and in bringing the leaders of that opposition to the scaffold, he became obnoxious to the people and, to escape the popular indignation, he accompanied Governor Tryon, who was his father-in-law, to New York as his Private Secretary in 1771.
He subsequently applied to the North Carolina Legislature, through Governor Martin, the successor of Governor Tryon, for reparation for losses from destruction of his property; but the petition was unanimously rejected and the governor was rebuked for presenting it and thus "trifling with the dignity of the House".
In 1774 Fanning received from the British government the lucrative office of Surveyor General as a reward for his services to the crown and his losses in North Carolina. In 1777, he raised and commanded a corps of 460 Loyalists, which bore the name of the "Associated Refugees" or "King's American Regiment". While his regiment was on Long Island, some of his men entered a house, tied the owner of it to a bedpost and held a candle under the ends of his fingers to force him to disclose the hiding place of his money. Fanning was equally severe towards all. During the war he was twice wounded and in 1779 his property was confiscated. He moved to Nova Scotia near the close of the war and was appointed Councilor and Lieutenant Governor on 23 September 1783. Three years later, on 4 November 1786, he was appointed Governor of St. John Island (Prince Edward Island). This office he held for 18 years.
Fanning was made Major General in the British army in 1793, Lieutenant General in 1799 and General in 1808. The degree of M.A. was given him by Harvard in 1764 and by Kings in 1772; the degree of D.C.L. by Oxford in 1774 and that of LL.D. by both Yale and Dartmouth in 1803. His brother, Thomas, of Suffolk County, New York, delivered the address before Governor Tryon in November, 1776 and was deputed to present the submission of the committee of that County. In June, 1778, Fanning was captured and carried off by a party of Whigs.
Photograph courtesy of PEI Public Archives and Records Office, Reference Number 2320/60-1