With the influx of settlers in the St. John River valley, it soon became apparent that Halifax was simply too far away to effectively govern the swelling population of Loyalists. In 1784 the Province of New Brunswick was established. The British authorities in London were careful not to repeat the mistakes of the recent past. It was felt that the American colonies had been lost because British authority was not strong enough or visible enough. To address this perceived problem, a strict hierarchical governing structure was created. The new province was divided into eight counties, of which Queens County was one. Each county was further subdivided into parishes, with local authorities in each parish responsible to county officials, represented physically by a shiretown in each county. The county was then responsible to the province which was in turn responsible to the Crown. Queens County was initially divided into four parishes: Hampstead and Gagetown west of the St. John River, Wickham and Waterborough to the east. By 1788 lists of county and parish officials began to appear with numerous Loyalists swearing oaths of allegiance to the King and filling various offices from Justices of the Peace to Tax Assessors.
In conjunction with a formal governing authority, the Church played an equally important role in creating stability and normalcy within the region. Evidence of strong religious ties is seen in the Case and Peters family Bibles; both dated before the Revolution and considered important enough to be brought to Queens County. Until well into the 19th century, the Anglican Church was the only religious authority that could baptize, marry or bury. Conversions and devoted church service were therefore common. When Quaker Daniel Babbit converted, he not only supplied the land upon which St. Johns Anglican Church at Gagetown was built in 1790, but also hosted church meetings and served as the church warden for decades.
For more information about the early county documents or to see them in person, visit the Loyalist Legacy exhibition on now at the Court House until 18 September.