The Nanfan Treaty 1701 – Hoax of History

With the Author’s permission, we are presenting, below, two documents meticulously researched and compiled by Thomas Kennedy, member of the Ontario Historical Society, St. Catherines Historical Society, Ontario Genealogical Society, and McMaster ’50.

Kennedy’s work clearly demonstrates that the so called “Nanfan Treaty” does not reflect true historical facts. It is, instead, a false term fabricated and used for fraudulent political reasons.

Based on this and on our earlier publications on this topic, we strongly recommend that the Hamilton Conservation Authority reviews and corrects its position on the annual deer hunting in Dundas Valley Conservation Area. “Nanfan Treaty” is historically flawed and should be legally invalid. All agreements and protocols based on this hoax should be immediately challenged and revoked.

The Nanfan Treaty 1701 – Hoax of History

Researched and compiled by Thomas Kennedy, St. Catharines, ON, May 11, 2008

Was  there ever a “Nanfan Treaty of 1701” signed by all parties at Albany, New York Colony  on 19th of July, 1701?    “Nanfan” refers to Lt. Governor John Nanfan who was temporary Governor of the Colony after the death of Governor Bellomont, on  March  5th, 1701.   Nanfan was in the Barbados on personal business and took office actively  on  May 19th. 1701,  and  held it until May 3rd. 1702, when the new Governor, Lord Cornbury arrived from England.  During his short term of office Nanfan dissolved the elected Legislative Assembly on June 1st. 1701, and there was no Assembly until a new one in August, 1701.  He announced five proclamations. One  was  the Treaty of Algiers re:  pirate ships, but not the so called “Nanfan Treaty of 1701”.

The writer cannot find a record of what we call a “treaty” in this period other than the above Treaty of Algiers with the Barbary Pirates for the Colony.  In 1700 Governor Bellomont was in conversation at Albany with members of the Five Nations (later called the Six Nations) prior to the Montreal Conference that produced the Great Peace of  Montreal of 1701, which the Five Nations attended,  and it included the totems (signatures) of the Five Nations. This peace ended the constant warfare of the prior 150 years between the French and the Aboriginal Tribes of the area of French and English settlements of the Atlantic/St .Lawrence/Lower Great Lakes. The Five Nations, most historians agree, had been gutted militarily (but still ferocious), by disease and  battle  casualties fighting the French and their aboriginal allies. The evidence of this is clear in the area of  Niagara.   About 1650  that area was cleansed, on both  sides of the Niagara River, of the Neutrals to the point of annihilation.  The Seneca occupied the Peninsula, and it became their ”Beaver Hunting Area”. Several of the  non- Iroquois Tribes banded together in 1696 and drove the Seneca back across the Niagara River, never to return as inhabitants. The Five Nations claimed that land as theirs by right of conquest however they neglected to modify their claim when they were driven out in 1696 by someone else’s sword.

The activity that Bellomont was involved in, eventually produced “The Albany Deed of 1701” in which the Five Nations deeded an area of 800 miles by 400 miles west of the New York Colony which included present day southern Ontario, past Fort Detroit to Illinois (an area of 204,800,000 acres) to the King of England in return for his protection against the French. The Deed did not mention the recent (1696) military eviction from the Niagara area or that in 1687 James II had assented to accept them as his subjects and give protection from their enemies. The Five Nations had petitioned in 1684 to James II for this.

The wording of the “Deed” notes that William III (who replaced James II in 1688) is their “Lord King”.  A subsequent Deed is produced on September 14th. 1726, deeding the same  land to George I, but only a 60 mile wide strip along the Lakes. The Seneca in 1720 allowed the French to build a trading post at Niagara and refused the English the same permission even though the land had been deeded to England in 1701. In 1726 the Seneca give permission to the French to build a stone fort, (the present day Fort Niagara). This was on land deeded to the English in 1701 and 1726.   Finally in 1764 the Seneca ( signers of  the 1701 and 1726 documents) ceded a 4 mile strip along both banks of the Niagara River to the Crown and ceded to Sir William Johnson personally Grand Island and other islands in the Niagara River. As late as 1808,  John Stedman, a survivor of the Devil’s Hole massacre of 1763 at Niagara Falls by Seneca Warriors, claimed the land between Devil’s Hole and Fort Schlosser as partial compensation given by the Seneca to him for the 1763 slaughter .

Joseph Brant attended the purchase from the Mississauga in 1784 of the “Land Between the Lakes” at Newark,  yet  no mention or objection was made by the Five (Six) Nations of “our land” or of  the  “Nanfan Treaty”.   Nor did the “Nanfan Treaty” surface at the 1781 treaty with the Mississauga for the purchase of the 4 mile strip on the western bank of the Niagara River which gave a written version of the 1764 Niagara (Wampum) Treaty done at Fort Niagara by Sir William Johnson.

It appears that the court was duped in the 1990 case of Regina vs. Ireland and Jamieson which relied on the existence of the “Nanfan Treaty of 1701”.  This writer contends no such Treaty exists. If there is such a document why is it not produced.   Mention “Nanfan’ and the “Albany Deed of 1701” is produced   Not a “Treaty” by any standard, but a unilateral “deeding” of  land which lost its virginity many times  over.

Peter A .Porter wrote in 1896 in his “A Short History of Old Fort Niagara” that Sir William Johnson said he had the same land deeded to him “3 or 4 times” by the Five Nations prior to 1764.  Johnson took 8 chiefs hostage to ensure compliance with the 1764 Treaty of Niagara.   Porter also noted that even the English in 1701 put little faith in the “take it to the bank” stability of the 1701 “Deed”.

William Tryon, Governor of  the New York Colony 1771-1780,  in his initial report to London  based on questions they had put to him  i.e. Question #2: “What are the reputed Boundaries, and are any parts disputed and by whom?”.  His reply was: “It is uncertain to this day to what extent the Five Nations carried out their claim to the Westward or Northwest…”.

Regardless of what the document is called,–a treaty,  protocol, covenant ,–the central principle of treaty law is  the maxim  – “pacta sunt servanda” –  which Wikopedia translates as:  “ pacts must be respected”.     Peter A. Porter noted this lack of respect for land deeding by the Five Nations. Sir William Johnson  in 1764  took hostages  and  he had  two thousand soldiers displayed to the Seneca at Niagara  to show his lack of respect from  his experiences with the Five Nations keeping  agreements.

The language of 300 years ago is unfortunately interpreted in terms of our use of the language, often a very different meaning.  Regardless, claims must be backed by supporting facts, not vague  memories in oral traditions.   Modern  Historians  who regard the “Albany Deed” as a spurious document far outnumber those who are ready to accept it at face value.


  • Indian Treaties and Surrenders-1681-1891-Queens Printer 1891-Vol I,II,III
  • The Valley of the Six Nations-Champlain Society 1964-Charles M. Johnston editor
  • A Short History of Old Fort Niagara-Peter A.Porter-1896
  • The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701-Gilles Havard-2001
  • Mohawk News Network- Nanfan Treaty of 1701-online
  • History of New York State-Book II-Lewis Publishing Company 1927
  • New York Times, January 28,1913-Forgotten Pact Throws New Light on Niagara Rights.
  • History of Five Nations-Cadwallader Colden-1922
  • Friends of the Red Valley-Nanfan Treaty-online
  • Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York-Vol. V-Weed Parsons & Company
  • The Great Law of the Long House : William N. Fenton 1998-online
  • “Treaty”-Wikipedia-online 2008
  • Report of his Excellency William Tyron, Governor  Colony  of New York,1771-1780-online
  • William Tyron, Governor of New York Colony,1771-1780-Biography-Wikipedia-online
  • Hendrick Peters(Theyanoguin)-Dictionary of Canadian Biography-online
  • The Colonial Laws  Of  New York from 1664 to 1776-The Eighth   Assembly-Historic Monographs-online
  • Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies: Cecil Headlane-British History Online
  • Maritime Indian Treaties in Historical Perspectives: W.E. Dougherty-Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada 1983-online
  • New York Colony 1701-American Social History-online
  • History of New York State 1523-1927: Dr .James Sullivan online
  • Treaty Traditions (Indian Treaties) –The Canadian   Encyclopedia   Historica -online
  • Her Majesty the Queen (appellant) vs. Jesse Hiram Ireland and David Jamieson(Respondents) 1990-online
  • Seneca Nation of Indians vs. State of New York-Supreme Court of the United States #05-905- online
  • Seneca Nations of Indians vs. State of New York-US court of Appeals Docket  02-6185(L),02-6195(XAP),02-6213© -online
  • History of New York State  ,Book XII, Chapter I-Sullivan-online
  • The Papers of Sir William Johnson prepared by  the  Division of Archives and History(university of the State of New York)
  • Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius- General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada-online
  • Johnson & Graham Lease vs. William McIntosh- U.S. Supreme Court 1823-21 U.S.543,5L,ED.681,8 Wheat.543-online
  • Line of Demarcation – Wikipedia-online
  • Land Claim and the Six Nations in Caledonia, Ontario: Graham Darling, Centre of Constitutional Studies-online
  • John Stedman: Coward for the Crown, Gallant Frontiersman  for bad Historians: Mike Hudson- Niagara Falls Reporter- online
  • Peace, Order and Good Government : Indian Treaties and Canadian Nation Building: Jean Paul Morin 2005-online
  • The Canadian Encyclopedia- Native People: Easter Woodlands-online

also known as the Nanfan Treaty

Collected and documented by Thomas Kennedy, St. Catharines , ON

(1)        The “Deed” purported to have been drawn by the Five Nations, says they had conquered   the lands west of Albany “four score years” ago prior to the “Deeding. That would make it about 1620. Historians of the period do not have the Five Nation invading until they had run out of beaver in the New York Colony about 1650, and invaded Huronia to steal. With pelts, you trade for firearms. The Huron were over run in 1649, the Petuan in 1650, the Neutral in 1651, the Erie in 1657, and the Susquehannock in 1680.

(2)        In 1696, the French and their Indian allies ejected the Five Nations from the lands that were later “deeded” with extreme prejudice, never to return until 1784, when British governor Haldimand asked the permission of the Mississauga to allow the Six Nations of Joseph Brant to settle on the lands of the Grand River that had been purchased by the British Crown from the Mississauga who controlled this land at that time.

(3)        The Beaver Wars came to an end in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick between England and France, in which the English Crown agreed that the land of the northern shores of the Great Lakes was French Territory. If the Five Nations had written the “Deed”, as they were English subjects since 1684 at their own request, would it not be treason to defy the Treaty signed by the King of  England? The French acknowledged that the Five Nations were English subjects.

(4)        Despite the “Deed”, the Five Nations allowed the French to build a fort at Detroit and trading posts and a fort at Niagara, while denying the English the same. In later years, the Five/Six Nations continued to “deed” lands in Niagara   although such land was in the purported Albany document, until the end of the 18th Century at least.

(5)        The military strength and population had dwindled by the end of the 17th Century, that the estimates of available warriors by 1689 was 1200 – to argue that  number could have military control over area 400 miles by 800 miles is absurd.

(6)        There is no evidence in the histories of the period that any significant occupation of the area discussed was done by the Five Nations. By the mid 1720’s, the lands of the New York Colony were the living and hunting homes of the Five/Six Nations.

(7)        In the two lower court decisions, R. v. Ireland-1990 and R. v. Barberstock-2003, where the learned judges ruled that the “Nanfan Treaty“ was a valid treaty in Canada as both judges stated that John Nanfan and Robert Livingston (secretary of Indian affairs), both signed the document. The copy of the “Albany Deed of 1701” in the writer’s possession (Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York – volume 4 – Edited by O’Callaghan -1854, pages 908 to 911 (Exhibit Number Two of the evidence presented at trial in R. v. Ireland lists Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York – Volume 3, pages 896 to 911)), does not show what the learned judges claim.[1] Livingston’s name is listed only, as was the custom for any meeting at that time, showing the people present, not their participation, unless specifically mentioned. Nanfan was signed only verifying the names of the colonists present, and not as the Lt. Gov. of the New York Colony. The legislature had been prorogued, hence could not ratify any agreements or acts of Nanfan.

(8)        In a listing of political and other important activities by Colonists and Indians at Albany from about 1650 to 1800, VIEW INDEX-GALE-PRIMARY SOURCE MEDIA-ARCHIVAL SOLUTIONS – micro film supplier of documents to Universities and Museums, the writer was unable to identify any of the “totemers” of the deed in question, although those who signed the Albany Treaty of 1722, and other historical names of Indians and Colonists of the time frame are listed.

(9)        The St. Catharines office of MP Rick Dykstra inquired on our behalf to their Ottawa office, to locate in the Parliamentary Library, a copy of the “Nanfan Treaty”, by that name or “Albany Deed of 1701”. The reply was “do not have”.

(10)    The Albany Deed of 1701,  located in the Colonial Papers above, pages 908 to 911, so starting at page 701, all Indians named, though not necessarily related to our subject, to page 988, did not uncover any activity by the “totemers” of 1701.

(11)    The Government of Canada official books of “Indian Surrenders & Treaties” dating from a French Treaty in 1680 ,  until 1890, did not show any “Nanfan Treaty” or “Albany Deed of 1701”.

(12)    The history of the Niagara Peninsula, with “deeding” by the Five/Six Nations, shows the deeding of land in Niagara to either English/British or the new American Government (Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1784, or is it Treaty of Fort Stanwix 1768). Historian Peter Porter, in his “Brief History of Old Fort Niagara”, comments on the use of deeding to solve a problem, but as an “Indian Giver”, you take it back as if it never was “deeded”.

(13)    W.J. Eccles, a noted   Canadian  Historian , suspected that the New York authorities fabricated documents behind the backs of the Iroquois chiefs. He commented in the Great Peace of Montreal 1701: ”The “Deed” is a spurious document contrived by Lieutenant Governor Nanfan and his Albany officials without the participation or sanction of the Five Nations.” Gilles Havard, author of The Great Peace of Montreal  1701, wrote: ”The territory in question, far from being under the Iroquois sovereignty, was in fact under the control of the Amerindians of the Great Lakes and their French allies.”  Francis Jennings wrote in his Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: ”This “deed” was a worthless piece of paper. It purported to set forth the rights of the Iroquois to vast hunting territories in the west by rights of conquest of the Hurons and other Indians during the beaver  wars , and it conveyed those asserted rights to the English Crown. But the conveyance was made precisely because the Iroquois had been driven out of the supposedly conquered lands.”

(14)  replied to a search for “Albany Deed of 1701” – no items found. To a search request for “Nanfan Treaty of 1701”- no items found.

[1] My initial directions in seeking the documents or valid copies came from the New York State Museum for colonial documents. It would appear the person handling the evidence in R.v.Ireland mishandled the evidence. There are 15 volumes of this work on Colonial papers.



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