Fonds RG3 - Prince Edward Island House of Assembly fonds

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Prince Edward Island House of Assembly fonds

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  • 1773-1894 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. House of Assembly

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14.455 m of textual records
31 reels of 35 mm microfilm
2 reels 16 mm microfilm

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Prince Edward Island. House of Assembly

Biographical history

Provisions for the establishment of the Prince Edward Island House of Assembly were included in the instructions to Governor Walter Patterson dated 4 August 1769. The first general Assembly sat in 1773. Patterson had difficulty in locating 18 "respectable" people to sit as members of the Assembly in such a sparsely populated colony. Qualifications to sit as members of the assembly were Protestantism and local residency. Voting was Island wide for the full slate of candidates. The terms of both the session of the Assembly and for members were at the pleasure of the Governor which varied from one to 12 years until an 1807 statute set the term of the legislature to seven years. In 1833, the term was reduced to 4 years. Four members from each of the three counties and two from each of the three county towns were elected to the legislature, until 1838, when the Election Act increased the number of members to 24. The 1838 act changed the constituencies -- each county was divided into three districts with two members each, the three county towns continued to return two members each. In 1856, the Election Act again increased the number of members to 30 to correspond with Prince Edward Island's increasing population.

By 1830, Roman Catholics were permitted to vote, and hold civil and military offices. The evolution of political parties on P.E.I. helped to keep the Governor and the appointed Legislative Council in check. The Legislative and Executive Councils were one body until 1839 and seats were held during the pleasure of the Governor. General elections of members were occasionally held the same day, however, most often they were held over several days in various parts of the province. The one day election system was not adopted until 1848. The Loyal Electors were formed under the DesBarres regime in an effort to oppose the influence of cliques, compacts and proprietors on the Legislative Council and the Governor, and to gain control over the Assembly. The fight to establish political parties encouraged the implementation of responsible government which was realized in 1851. The functions and responsibilities of the House of Assembly include the passing of laws pertaining to provincial jurisdiction, the accountability of the government's management of provincial affairs, approval of Government spending and revenue, provides a forum for debate on public issues, and upholds the principles of parliamentary law. The Executive council or cabinet of the legislature consisted of nine members of the House of Assembly. The Premier most often is the President of the Executive Council.

Until 1887, the Lieutenant Governor also attended the meetings of the Executive which met regularly to discuss government matters. Unique to the government of Prince Edward Island is the body of minutes kept by the secretary or Clerk of the Executive Council since 1770 which provide insight to the process and functions of government.

In 1893 an act regarding the legislature abolished both the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly and created one house of legislature, the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of records created by the process and functions of the legislature of Prince Edward Island for the period 1773 through to 1893 when the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council were combined to form the Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. The fonds consists of 11 series of records. The journals of the House of Assembly, printed annually, provide opening speeches of the House of Assembly, record the proceedings of the House, include references to resolutions passed, acts discussed, petitions, reports and correspondence received by the House. Often copies of these documents are included in the appendices. The journals range from 1785-1893 and the series divides into three sub-series: manuscript journals, printed journals and appendices to the journals. The acts of the P.E.I. legislature comprise the second series of the fonds and cover the years 1773 through 1894. The series includes both bills and statutes of the House of Assembly. Debates and proceedings of the House of Assembly for the years 1855-1893 comprise the third series of the fonds. Election papers comprise a series which includes 3 sub-series: writs for election, poll books, and revised voters lists. The election papers series dates from 1779 through 1891. Petitions to the House of Assembly from individuals and groups regarding matters of public concern form the 5th series of the fonds. Petitions span the years 1805-1879. A series of correspondence divides into two sub-series: committee of correspondence and general correspondence. This material dates 1790-1841 and 1877. The fonds includes a series termed public accounts which includes reports of government revenue and expenditure for the years 1795 through 1837 and a volume of resolutions of supply 1881-1893 recording resolutions of the House for payments for services and supply. Communications with the Lieutenant Governor form a series. This series includes copies of the speeches from the throne, messages and despatches regarding acts, and addresses. These records date from 1790 through 1862. Eight file folders of House of Assembly committee reports, dating between 1792 and 1876, to the House of Assembly comprise a series. Order books or agendas recording subjects of discussion to be introduced in the House of Assembly, maintained by the Clerk of the House of Assembly form a series. The two volumes cover 1881 to 1893. A series of resolutions include two file folders of resolutions passed by the House of Assembly in 1825 and 1846.

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  • English

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See also: Similar types of records may be found in RG4, Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island fonds; RG2, Legislative Council of P.E.I. fonds; RG1, Lieutenant Governor fonds; RG5, Executive Council fonds; RG7, Provincial Secretary fonds; The government of Prince Edward Island by Frank MacKinnon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951)

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General note

The House of Assembly was also known as the Lower House

Located in sequence in stacks. Microfilm is in microfilm cabinets in Reading Room

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  • English

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