Our Genealogy - Person Sheet
Our Genealogy - Person Sheet
NameJohn Givan , GGG Grandfather, M
Birth1793, County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland
Death10 Aug 1865, Harbourville (formerly Givan Wharf), Cornwallis Townhsip, Kings County, Nova Scotia53
MemoInformant: James Givan
BurialCovenanter Cemetery, Grafton, Nova Scotia
OccupationMerchant, Entrepreneur
FatherWilliam Givan Sr. , M (ca1769-1828)
MotherOlivia Unknown , F (1764-1838)
1Frances (Fanny) Hamilton , GGG Grandmother, F
Birth1800, County Tyrone, Ireland
Memoson David’s 1900 U.S. census record confirms his mother was born in Ireland
Death28 Feb 1870, Harbourville (formerly Givan Wharf), Cornwallis Townhsip, Kings County, Nova Scotia53
MemoInformant: James Givan
Burialprobably Covenanter Cemetery, Grafton, Nova Scotia
Memono gravestone apparent
FatherRobert Hamilton , M (1752-1839)
MarriageMay 1828, Omagh, Ireland (but possibly Waterville, NS?)
ChildrenOlivia Ann , F (1828-1862)
 John , M (ca1833-1850)
 Alexander H. , M (1834-1918)
 Henry Peel , M (1837-1918)
 David , M (1840-)
 William Roger , M (1841-1893)
 James , M (1842->1884)
 Mary Grear , F (1844-1939)
Notes for John Givan
The following narrative was obtained from Nina Givan Purton (John’s granddaughter) and written by her daughter Catherine Purton on Sept. 28, 1951:

“Dr. John Givan, M.D. [sic] came to Saint John in or around the year 1825. He went into the wholesale and retail merchandise business on Water Street, Saint John.
After spending several years in Saint John he returned to Omagh, Ireland, and married Frances Hamilton in May 1828, and then returned to Saint John, N.B.
He then chartered ships, bought lumber which he sent to England, and brought out settlers. Then in order to find employment for these settlers, he bought eight hundred acres of timberland on the other side of the Bay of Fundy and named the site “Givan Wharf” - now called Harbourville - built roads eastward and westward, and also up over the mountain to give access to the Annapolis Valley. At Givan Wharf he lumbered, built ships, and sent the lumber to the Old Country.
The coat-of-arms is supposed to have been given to our great-great-great-grandfather Givan when knighted for winning some battle. Mother says she cannot remember anything more closely than as shown above.
There was also another brother, Dr. William Givan, M.D., who is supposed to have come to Canada in 1828, settled and practiced at Wolfville, N.S., died suddenly of pneumonia. His name is shown on the gate of the family burial lot in the Covenanter churchyard at Grafton (near Berwick). The names of other members of the family buried there are shown on separate stones.
Several sons of Dr. John Givan removed at various times to the New England States and their descendants are still found there. Two other sons, William and Henry, are buried with members of their families in Elmwood Cemetery, Moncton, N.B.”55

The above narrative is the only reference to John Givan having an M.D. and this, we believe, is incorrect, although his brother William certainly was a physician. Although he was a merchant in St. John City, N.B. by 1827, it appears from land deeds that he and his family first settled in Horton, Kings County.

- bought land in St John City, NB Feb 18, 1820 according to Ham Givan (not yet verified from deed).12 At that time St. John was a busy port town with a population of 8488.
- he was the first Givan on record to purchase land in Kings County, Nova Scotia in 1824 when he and James Owens (both described as merchants of Horton) purchased the land at present-day Harbourville. At some point John attained sole title since he was the sole owner at the time of his death in 1865. His father and his brother William bought land in Cornwallis and Horton townships respectively in 1825 and John and his father bought land in Horton in 1826. He sold land in Horton to his brother in 1827 and is described as “John Givan of St. John City, New Brunswick, merchant” at that time.56 The likely chain of events is as follows: The Givans came from Ireland to Horton Township at first; John bought the land of Harbourville and then established his merchant's shop at St. John, NB which was the port he used for his business and to bring folks from Ireland. This he closed in 1829 and became a fulltime resident and developer of "Givan Wharf".
- ads from the New Brunswick Courier from 1827-9 confirm he was a merchant in St. John and sold off his stock in 1829.
- founded Givan Wharf, (the name was later changed to Harbourville in 1860). Givan Brook and Givan Road also bore his name.
- John and his wife Frances sold the land of the west wharf area to James Hamilton, Aug 4 1832.56 This appears to be the first land sold by a Givan to a Hamilton.
- He was treasurer and a major shareholder in the Givan Wharf Co. as verified in documents from the Kings County Books for Cornwallis Township.
- In 1847 he was “Collector of Colonial Duties for the district comprehending all the Bay Shore in the county westward of Hall’s Harbor” and also a “Seizing Officer” (in Belcher’s Almanac of 1847)
- In 1851 he was registered full owner of a 20 ton schooner called “Sophia” (built in 1848 in Granville, NS)45
- In 1856 he was appointed the first wayoffice keeper and a regular weekly mail service was established. (A "way office" is what a rural post office in Nova Scotia was called back then). He was succeeded by his son, James Givan, in the office.57

From some handwritten notes with no stated source in the Harbourville file at Kings County Museum archives subsequently attributed to Marguerite Ayer (in a different hand it was annotated “Hope this helps [signed] Wallace Morton”):
“First settlers the Hamiltons, the Givans, the Ayers... Hamiltons and Givans were Brothers-in-laws. lived on an island in the Harbour. It’s the best sheltered harbour, one of the best in N.S.”
This is the only clue we have as to how the two Harbourville families, Hamilton and Givan are related (although there is no evidence of any island in the harbour).

- There is a painting dated 1874 by G. Marsh of the Coat of Arms bearing the name “John Givan” on display in the Moncton Museum. The museum tag reads: Coat of Arms borne by John Givan”32 There was a George Marsh listed in Kentville, Nova Scotia in the 1871 census - could this have been the artist?
- The Givans often sailed to Boston on the schooner “Fanny Givan”12
- Kings County Death records say he died in Cornwallis, Kings County and son James is listed as the informant.53 These same records are consistent with the date of death on his grave stone but claim his age at death was 67 instead of age 72 as carved in his gravestone.
Gravestone inscription:
In Memory of John Givan, A native of the County Tyrone Ireland, who died 10th of August 1865, age 72 years58,32 Also engraved in the stone is the Givan coat-of-arms with a banner across it bearing the name “John Given” in cursive script. It’s unclear if the spelling is a typo or reflects an ancestral Given with that spelling who earned the crest.
- The gate from the Givan family plot is in the possession of Jim Givan in Connecticut (Ham’s nephew) as of 2003.12
- Buried in the Givan plot in Covenanter cemetery at Grafton are John, his daughter Olivia Ann, Olivia’s son David Randolph Charlton, and John’s son John Jr. Supposedly wife Frances is buried there although there is no stone evident.

Two sons, William and Henry moved to St. John, NB and later to Moncton and daughter Mary moved to Moncton as well. Also son James with wife Hallah lived in Moncton for a time later on (evident from land deeds in Moncton).
Land Deeds notes for John Givan
[From Cornwallis Book 7 Page 440 in the year 1824, this land transaction records the purchase of the lands upon which Givan Wharf, later Harbourville, was founded]:56

“No. 3839
This Indenture made the Fourth day of October in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-four and in the Fifth Year of His Majesty’s Reign
Between William Best of Horton in Kings County in the Province of Nova Scotia, Yeoman and Jemima his Wife of the one part and James Owen and John Givan both of Horton aforesaid Merchants of the other part Witnesseth that the said William Best and Jemima his Wife for and in consideration of the sum of Three Hundred Pounds of lawful Money of the Province to them the said William Best and Jemima his Wife in hand well and truly paid by the said James Owen and John Given at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have granted bargained lots aliened released and confirmed and by these presents do grant bargain sell alien release and confirm unto the said James Owen and John Given [sic] and to their heirs and assigns a certain Tract or Lot of land situate lying and being on the north Mountain in Cornwallis aforesaid adjoining the Bay of Fundy and bounded as follows:
Beginning at a Birch–tree standing on a Cliff near – a Brook thence south Eighty-eight chains Seventy-five links to a Spruce-tree thence East One Hundred and Two Chains and Fifty-links thence South Twenty-eight Chains and Fifty links to a Beech-tree thence West One Hundred and Fifty-two Chains to a yellow Birch-tree thence North One Hundred and Twenty-six Chains to a Fir-tree standing on the Bay shore and on the West bank of the Brook known by the name of Shingle-Log-Brook and thence by the Bayshore to the bounds first mentioned containing Seven Hundred and Fifty acres be the same more or less: together with all and singular the lands woodways waters water-courses privileges profits and advantages with the appurtenances to the said Tract or Lot of land belonging or in any wise appertaining and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders rents issued and profits thereof and also all and singular the Estate right title dower interest claim and demand whatever at Law or in Equity of them the said William Best and Jamima [sic] in to or out of the same to have and to hold the said Tract or Lot of land and all and singular other the premises hereby released and confirmed or intended so to be and every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances unto the said James Owen and John Given [sic] their Heirs and assigns to the sole and only proper use and behoof of the said James Own and John Givan their Heirs and assigns for ever not as joint Tenants but as Tenants in Common and the said William Best for himself his Heirs Executors and Administrators doth hereby covenant grant provide and agree to and with the said James Owen and John Given [sic] their Heirs and assigns that at the time of the sealing and delivery of these presents he the said William Best is lawfully and rightfully seized in his own right of a good sure perfect absolute and indefeasible Estate of Inheritance in Fee simple of and in all and singular the said Tract or Lot of land and premises aforesaid with the appurtenances without any manner of condition limitation of use or uses encumbrance or any Mortgage as other cause to alter change or deterrence the same and also that he the said William Best the quiet and peaceable profession of the said Tract or Lot of land and premises and every part and parcel thereof with the said James Owen and John Given their Heirs and assigns shall and will warrant and for ever deferred by these presents – In Witness whereof the parties to these presents have hereunto set their Hands and Seals the day and year first herein written-
Sealed and delivered in presence of William Best (L:S.) – James D. Harris. William Best Junior – Jemima Best – L:S)-
Received on the day of the date of this Indenture from the said James Owen and John Givan the sum of Three Hundred Pounds of lawful Money aforesaid being the consideration Money therein mentioned-
Signed, in presence of James D. Harris-
Kings County – Be it remembered that on the day of the date of this Indenture personally appeared before me the Subscriber One of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County aforesaid the afore named Jemima the Wife of the afore named William Best who being by me examined separate and apart from her said Husband acknowledged that she sealed and delivered this Indenture for the uses and purposes therein mentioned without any fear threat or compulsion of from or by her said Husband-
Received. Augst. 26th 1825 at the Hour of Nine A.M. proved by James D. Harris and entered on the Records for Cornwallis, Oct 12th, 1825 at the Hour of eleven A.M.
W. Campbell, Deputy Reg.”

transcribed by Norman A. Franke, 2003.
Newspaper clipping notes for John Givan
[from Christian Messenger, 28 March 1860, p. 101. NSARM, Halifax, NS mfm# 8355]:


A public meeting was held in this place on the 13th. inst. Pursuant to previous notice, for the purpose of defining the limits, and establishing a name for the district, hitherto known as Givan Wharf.

The meeting was called to order by appointing Mr. Johnson Turner, Chairman. Henry Morris, junr., Secretary. Moved by Mr. Henry Morris and Seconded by Mr. Daniel B. Parker, that the bound of the district be as follows : Commencing at the Turner’s Brook , on the Bay Shore; thence south by said brook to the Base Line Road, then east by said road to the brook on the east side of John Givan’s land; thence North by the Bay shore to the place of beginning.

Resolved: By a majority of votes that the district described in the foregoing resolution shall be hereafter called" Harbourville".

Moved by Mr. D.B. Parker , Seconded by Capt. I. Morris, that publishers of newspapers, and all persons corresponding with the inhabitants of this place are respectfully requested to direct their papers and letters to "Harbourville".

Moved by Mr. S. Dodge, Seconded by Mr. I.A. Cahill. That copies of the proceedings of this meeting be forwarded by insertion in the Christian Messenger, Provincial Wesleyan, and Presbyterian Witness, and the secular papers are respectfully requested to copy.

Signed Johnson Turner, Chairman Henry Morris, junr., Secretary

Harbourville Cornwallis West
March 4th. 1860”

Transcribed by John Parker, B.A., B.Ed., G.R.S.(C).
Research notes for John Givan

When we visit the little community of Harbourville today (1999), it is difficult for us to imagine why an immigrant from Ireland or any other country who left his homeland looking for a brighter tomorrow, would ever choose this site. However, Harbourville was not always as it is now.

Nova Scotia, at one time, was divided into townships. Harbourville was part of Cornwallis Township.

From the book "Place Names of Nova Scotia" by Bruce Ferguson, we are told that Harbourville, in its early stages, was once called "Shingle Log Brook". Others say it was called "Shingle Mill Brook". However, we do know that the village later became known as "Givan’s Wharf" or "Givan’s Harbour" after John Givan, an early settler. On March 13, 1860, the present name was chosen. Settlement of the village probably began about 1829 by two families named Givan and Hamilton.

Because of the fine harbour, the village became a very busy port. At one time there were two shipyards, plus several businesses and hotels and a resident doctor. Ships were loaded with cargoes of potatoes and other vegetables, cord wood and other commodities for shipment to ports such as Saint John and Boston – much of which was transported from the Valley to the shore. There was probably ample opportunity for employment, either loading or unloading the ships or as crew aboard them. Most of the little ports along the Fundy Shore were busy, i.e. Margaretsville, Morden, Ogilvie’s Wharf, Halls Harbour, Scotts Bay, etc. but Harbourville was more of a complete town than just a port.

According to Eaton’s History of Kings County, it is interesting to note that the population of Harbourville in 1871 was 1557, which was greater than the town of Berwick and only slightly less than that of Kentville, which was 1779. However, by 1881 the population of Harbourville had dropped to 1444; by 1891 it was 1252 and by 1901 it was down to 345 people. This decline came about with the advent of the railroad (Windsor to Annapolis in 1869) at which time the movement of goods reversed. Prior to the coming of the railroad, people from the Valley brought their goods to the shore for transport by ship. With the railroad, people from the shore had to take their goods to the Valley for shipment by train. The age of sail was over.

I believe this might explain why our ancestors might have chosen Harbourville and area as a place to take permanent roots.

Pearl Saunders
September, 1999
Notes for John & Frances (Fanny) (Family)
Ham Givan believed they were married in Waterville, Nova Scotia (which is in Kings County) on Dec 28, 1828; however this is unverified. Family lore passed down through Nina Givan states the marriage was in May, 1828 in Omagh, Ireland.
Last Modified 23 Sep 2007Created 18 Feb 2019 using Reunion for Macintosh