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John Barss (14 September 1778 – 12 May 1851) was from a large family in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, the son of Joseph Barss and Elizabeth Crowell. His early training was on his father's ships and he became an expert ship's captain with an intimate knowledge of the trade and the seas from Labrador to the West Indies.

Barss's trade involved the usual fare which centered around items such as fish, rum, sugar, lumber, coffee, etc. He lost his ship in 1811 to a French brig in the West Indies and turned to a career as a merchant. During the War of 1812, he was a shareholder in several privateers including one commanded by his brother Joseph.

The involvement with privateers was considered acceptable during that time in Nova Scotia history. John was a member of the House of Assembly (1813 to 1820} (1826 to 1830}. He also had the opportunity to serve on the Legislative Council but did not accept. In addition he served as a justice of the peace and as a judge of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. He was considered a leader within his community.

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