Annapolis Heritage Society | Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

The Ritchie family of Annapolis Royal

by Ruth Ritchie, Genealogy Centre of the Annapolis Heritage Society

The Ritchie family is considered to be among the nine tribes of the Clan MacIntosh, though some accounts, notably Calnek’s History of the County of Annapolis, state that the affiliation is with Clan MacPherson. Both MacIntosh and MacPherson are among the seventeen tribes considered kin of Clan Chatten. There appears to be two groups of Ritchie families, one that settled in the Border area of Scotland and the other in the Highlands. Calnek believed that the Ritchie families who eventually settled in Annapolis Royal were from Ardoch in Perthshire, which is near the “fringe” area of the Highlands.

Andrew Ritchie was born about 1732 in Scotland. In 1754 he arrived in Boston with his wife Margaret McNeish and a child. It was in Boston that his other seven children were born. He established a business as a merchant and served with the volunteer militia. While in Boston he was joined by his nephew, John Ritchie, who eventually preceded him to Annapolis Royal where he set up a business and is believed to have been in partnership with his uncle for a time. Andrew Ritchie supported the British in the American Revolution and in November, 1755, he was captured in his own vessel while carrying provisions from Nova Scotia. He was held prisoner at Salem. After his release, he and his family joined other refugees in what was referred to as the Spring Fleet, composed of eleven ships carrying the exiles to the Bay of Fundy. Andrew Ritchie and his family arrived in Annapolis Royal on the “Spencer” in 1783. The other ten ships went to Saint John. In 1784 the Muster Rolls of Loyalists and Discharged Soldiers shows Andrew Ritchie as a Loyalist settled at Annapolis. He filed a claim for losses incurred due to his imprisonment and was awarded a fraction of the amount claimed. In Annapolis he took an interest in local affairs and was active in the community.

Many of Andrew Ritchie’s descendants settled in the area and followed such occupations as shoemaker, farmer, carpenter and seaman. One had the first taxi in Annapolis with his stand where Petite Park is now located. Some descendants left and settled in New Brunswick, Manitoba, the USA and beyond. Of these, one homesteaded in South Dakota and one became a millionaire, having invented the machinery and process for manufacturing a stronger type of conductor pipe. Many of Andrew’s descendants still live in Annapolis County.

His nephew John Ritchie married Alicia LeCain in Annapolis Royal and soon took a prominent part in the life of the town and country. In 1779 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and in 1782 was elected as a member of the Provincial Assembly. By 1785, however, his affairs were in a bad way and his shipping business had met with financial reverses. He was never to recover from this and died in 1790, suddenly it seems, as he left no will. Among his descendants were five Supreme Court Judges, a Church of England Minister, barristers, feminists fighting for women’s suffrage and a great granddaughter who received a PhD from Cornell University in 1889. Most of his descendants left the Annapolis Royal area, though there are a few remaining.

Some names connected to the Ritchie families are LeCain, Easson, Spurr, Elliott, Hindon, Copeland, Gormley, King and McClafferty.