Armstrong was born in 1664 in Ireland. It is not known to which of the three branches of the Irish Armstrongs he belonged. Armstrong was a military man and became lieutenant-colonel of Philipps’ Regiment (later the 40th Foot). He arrived in the New World in 1711 as a ship-wreck victim along with troops headed to take Quebec. He and a contingent of men were dispatched to strengthen Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia. The garrison was impoverished and Armstrong spent until the appointment of Richard Philipps as governor in 1717, trying to improve their situation. Armstrong and his fellow captains had little choice but to use their own pay to support their companies.
Armstrong’s debts accumulated as the problems of supporting his company increased, and with his Boston creditors pressing him he went to England in 1715 to seek redress. In February 1715/16 he presented his case to the Lords of Trade, who arranged to reimburse him for his losses. He spent four years in England, living on his pay and compensation. He returned to Nova Scotia in 1720 where circumstances had markedly improved.
In 1725, he was appointed lieutenant-governor. His period as lieutenant-governor was marked by many difficulties and attempts to improve the lot of the colony. There was a mistrust and dislike between Armstrong and Governor Philipps, and ongoing problems with the governor's brother-in-law, Major Alexander Cosby, who had a great deal of influence in the colonies of Nova Scotia. Armstrong left Nova Scotia as soon as Philipps arrived in 1729, but was back in 1731 bearing a new commission, the orders for Philipps’ recall, and an entitlement to Philipps’ pay.
At age 75 and suffering from illness, on 6 December 1739 Lieutenant-governor Armstrong committed suicide at Annapolis Royal, N.S to end his stormy, and often frustrating, career.
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