been before stated in the columns of The Beaver that during the first
Legislature of Upper Canada, from 1792 to 1796, Hazelton Spencer, J.P.,
represented Lennox, except Adolphustown, Hastings and Northumberland. The two
latter counties at that time were mere outlying districts, with but very few
inhabitants. As Mr. Spencer was a man of a good deal of prominence among the
pioneers of this county and numbers of his descendants are now among our much
respected citizens, we give some fuller particulars in regard to his history
than have been already furnished. For these we are much indebted to his
grandson, Rev. Canon Spencer, of Kingston, Clerical Secretary of the Synod of
the Diocese of Ontario, and his granddaughter, Mrs. Julia Phippen, of Conway,
South Fredericksburgh. Such records give us better ideas of the class of
earnest, intelligent and loyal men who pioneered this county, and from whom
its loyal descendants of today are descended. Their memories are well worth
HAZELTON SPENCER'S HISTORY
He was born at East
Greenwich, Rhode Island, August 29, 1757. Of course it was then a British
colony. He was the eldest son of Benjamin Spencer, who about ten years later
moved to Vermont, where he had received a grant of land upon the Winooski (or
Onion) River. Benjamin Spencer became a Justice of the Provincial Court of
Vermont, and at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary war, he was
elected a member of the Provisional Assembly or Congress, charged with the
duty of deciding the course which the Province should take in relation to the
rebellion. He was an uncompromising British loyalist, and soon found himself
in hopeless minority; he was obliged to flee for his life in consequence. Feeling
at that time ran very high. He took refuge with the army of Gen. Burgoyne,
the British commander at that time, and died at Ticonderoga on Lake
Champlain, shortly after the celebrated battle of Bennington, which was
fought 16th August 1777.
About that time young
Hazelton Spencer, then about twenty years of age, attached himself to the
"King's Royal Regiment of New York," a regiment that played a very
important part in many of the bloody scenes of those days. He was a
volunteer, and it was not long after that his name appeared at the foot of an
old American "List of the Prisoners with the rebels of the King's Royal
Regiment of New York," signed by "J. Valantine,
Adjutant." His name subsequently appears a number of times and in
various capacities in the "Haldimand
Papers" which contain so many important records of those times. Among
the rest his name appears among the "Officers recommended to His
Excellency, General Haldimand, for promotion in the
Second Battalion of the King's Royal Regiment. Later on occurs the name of
"Lieutenant Hazelton Spencer" whose length of service was stated to
be seven years.
CAME TO CANADA
At the final disbanding of
the Regiment, in 1784, Hazelton Spencer came to this country, in company with
a large number of his former comrades, and took up land and settled in
"Third Town", or Fredericksburgh, on the shores of Bay of Quinte,
west of what is known as Conway, and about on the farm now owned by Mr. Henry
Vandyck. There the most of his after days were
spent, and there he died and was buried, beside his wife and some of their
children. In about 1787 he married Miss Margaret Richards, by whom he had a
large family. The baptismal records of a number of their children appear in
the register of the Rev. John Langhorn, now published in the papers of the
Ontario Historical Society, Vol. 1, and also in the parish records of
Kingston. The record of his burial in 1813 also appears in the Langhorn
The sons were Benjamin,
John, Hazelton, Richard and Augustus, the daughters, Margaret, Julia, Anna, Cecilla. They were nearly all born in Fredericksburgh and
some of them spent all their days there. Benjamin, the eldest, inherited the
estate, as the father died suddenly and intestate. John was a physician; he
practiced and died at Carleton Place. He was father of Rev. Canon Spencer.
James went to Massachusetts, where he died. William resided in
Fredericksburgh, and was the father of Mrs. B.C. Lloyd, of Camden, and the
late Hazelton Spencer, who lived for years in this county and died at Trenton
a couple of years ago. Of the daughters, Margaret married a Mr. Conger,
Cecelia, a Mr. Werdon. Julia married Mr. John
Sloan, a well known resident of South Fredericksburgh years ago. She was the
mother of Mrs. Richard Phippin and Thomas Sloan,
now both well known residents near Conway. Of the other many descendants we
have no record at our disposal.
ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT
As we have already stated,
Hazleton Spencer was elected to represent Lennox in the First Legislature of
Upper Canada. That Legislature consisted of 16 members of the Legislative
Assembly and 7 members of the Legislative Council, and was first convened at
Newark - now Niagara - by Governor Simcoe, the first Lieut. Governor, on the
17th of September, 1792. Joshua Booth, of Ernesttown, was his associate,
representing Addington and Ontario, which consisted of the Islands of the Bay
and Upper St. Lawrence.
He sat during only one
Legislature from 1792 to 1796, and was then succeeded by Timothy Thompson, a
neighbor, who represented the county in several legislatures, and of whom
there will appear in these columns later on. We have no particulars in regard
to that election, whether there was any opponent, or where it was held. It is
probable, however, it was held somewhere on the Front of Fredericksburgh, as
there were no settlements of much importance then
in any other part of the electoral district.
The Addington election was
held, we believe at Bath.
It would be interesting to
know by what means he made his journey to the seat of government at that
time, unless it was made by sailing vessel or open boat, along the Lake
shore, it must have been by horse-back, through an almost unbroken
wilderness, almost all the way from Carrying Place, at the Head of the Bay,
round the head of the Lake, where the city of Hamilton now stands, attended
by an Indian guide. That was the route travelled by some of the M.P.P.'s and
Government officials for years later than that time.
IN MILITARY SERVICE
Hazelton Spencer also had
considerable experience in military service in this Province. In 1796 two
battalions of Royal Canadian volunteers were formed. Of the first battalion
J. Delongueil was the Lieut.-Col., and Louis DeSalaberry was Major. Of the second John Macdonell was Lieut.-Col., and Hazelton Spencer Major.
From about 1797 to 1803
Maj. Hazelton Spencer was commandant of garrison at Kingston. - then a very
important position. He lived in the Government House there and occupied the
Government pew in St. George's church. There are still traditional accounts
of the exchange of civilities between the two important Government officials;
-the Commodore of the Fleet stationed there, and the Military Commandant.
Those were days of strict military discipline; one of the penalties then inflicted
by the Commandant for breaches of discipline by his soldiers was to require
the man convicted to attend church with his tunic turned wrong side out!
At the time of Major
Spencer's residence in Kingston Mr. John Strachan, then a young man from Scotland,
was a resident there and taught a private school, principally the sons of the
Hon. Richard Cartwright. A close intimacy and a warm personal friendship
sprang up between them. Mr. Strachan, it may be remembered, though a
Presbyterian then and a strong Calvinist, in creed, and at one time a
candidate as pastor of a Presbyterian congregation at Montreal, later on
became a member of the Church of England and was the first Anglican Bishop in
this Province. Major Spencer was a strong anti - Calvinist, and it is said
there was many a tilt between the young Divinity student and the Commandant
on theological points.
The old Church Warden's
Register at St. John's church, now at Bath, records that at the vestry
meetings for years Hazelton Spencer was appointed a Church Warden of St.
Paul's church, Fredericksburgh. During all of Rev. John Langhorn's time, and
for years after, we believe, they were both of the same parish. Mr. Spencer
was a church warden there at the time of his death.
A COUNTY LIEUTENANT
It has been before
mentioned in these columns that, for years, the Government appointed a County
Lieutenant for each county in the Province. Whether their duties included
somewhat those of the Sheriff and County Attorney of today, or just what they
were, we are not very clear. Mr. Spencer was appointed to that position for
Lennox in 1804, which was we believe, the time the first appointments were
made. For the entire Midland district, the County Lieutenants were as
Frontenac, (including Kingston), Hon. R. Cartwright.
Lennox, Hazelton Spencer.
Prince Edward, Archibald Macdonell.
Hastings, John Ferguson.
Of his end Rev. Canon
Spencer writes as follows: "it was probably the excitement of the
exercise of the duties of his office, on the breaking out of the American war
of 1812 that brought on the illness of which my grandfather died, somewhat
suddenly in February, 1813, at the comparatively early age of fifty-five. My
father, (Dr. John), who had just acquired his profession and received an appointment
as Surgeon to a Regiment, was unable to reach home in time to see him alive.
It was probably due to the suddenness of his death that he died intestate; so
that under the law of primogeniture then in force all real estate went to the
eldest son. This caused a scattering of the family in consequence of which
there is no well preserved family tradition.
PROBABLY ANOTHER BRANCH
There died at Picton on
the 16th of February, Miss Matilda Spencer, at the ripe age of nearly 91
years, the last survivor of one of the earliest and most respected of the
pioneer families of Prince Edward County. Her father, Cory Spencer, was born
in East Greenwich, R.I., in February, 1760, and may have been a brother of
Hazelton Spencer. We have heard a family tradition to that purport. He was a
U.E. Loyalist and came to Canada, landing on the Bay shore, near where the
town of Picton now stands. The writer well remembers the comfortable old
homestead as it stood years ago, and the venerable and much respected lady
just deceased and other members of that well known family. They were a
leading family among the Quakers in Prince Edward. The Picton Times writes of
her; "Her reminiscences of olden times were most interesting. During
summer Miss Spencer's flower-garden was admired by all. She may be called the
pioneer florist of Picton, and in the early days of agricultural and
horticultural societies of Prince Edward she was one of their greatest prize
We have heard it stated
that the inventors of the "Spencerian system'
of writing and of the well known Spencerian steel
pens today, are also members of that family. The Spencers
are yet a well known and prominent family in Rhode Island.