Mention has already been made in
the columns of The Beaver of the fact that among three of the representatives
of this county to the early Upper Canada Legislatures were Timothy Thompson
and Wm. and Benjamin Fairfield. As they were all prominent and influential
residents of this county in their day, it may be well to give some facts in
regard to their histories, such as are now within the writer's reach. The men
who well did their part for laying the foundation of the future prosperity
and success of our county should be deemed well worthy of remembrance.
Not much is now heard or
known of Timothy Thompson, although he was a man of no mean importance in
this county at the commencement of the last century. That may be largely
owing to the fact that he left no children, and his name was, therefore, not
perpetuated in that way. He was among the U. E. L. pioneers of "Third
Town," or Fredericksburgh township, and settled on the Bay shore front
about Sandhurst, on the excellent farm later owned by the late Solomon
Wright, and now by his son Edward Wright. He was a man of considerable
military importance in the British ranks during the war of the American
Revolution, and was an ensign in the King's Royal Regiment of New York. Mr.
David Clute, near Sillsville, South Fredericksburgh, has now in his
possession an old box of drawers of his, on which is painted the name of
It is probable he came in
with the other officers and members of that celebrated regiment, who so
largely made up the early settlers of Fredericksburgh. His name appears on
the "old U. E. List" of that day, now preserved in the Government
Crown Lands Department at Toronto. He was on the regular British Government
Provision List in 1786, though he had no family at that time. In the Rev.
John Langhorn's early record of St. John's church, Bath, occurs the record of
his marriage in that church to Elizabeth Fraser, also of Third town, on the
6th of February, 1791. She was the widow of James Fraser, a Scotch officer,
who also served in the British ranks during the American revolution. He had a
leg broken after settling in Fredericksburgh, and went to Montreal for
treatment, and died there.
Mrs. Fraser had several
children at the time of her marriage to Ensign Thompson, but none after. One
of the daughters married John G. Clute who was also for years a leading and
well known citizen of front of Fredericksburgh, where he lived and died. He
had at one time, a large farm, a distillery and a store. He was a successor
in business in the store to Benjamin Seymour, one of the first store-keepers
west of Kingston. That store was located on the farm now owned by our
townsman, Allan Neilson. Several of Mr. Clute's descendants are yet living
among whom are Mr. David Clute, near Sillsville. Mrs. N. Murdoch, of Kingston
who died this week in her ninety-second year, was a daughter and so was Miss
Margaret Clute, of South Fredericksburgh, who died last week in her eighty-second
Another of Mrs. Fraser's
daughters married James McNabb, of "Meyers Creek", later on the
city of Belleville. He was an important man there and represented Hastings
County at one time in the Upper Canada Legislature. Another, Eliza Ellen,
married Dr. J. B. Ham, a man at one time well known in this county. He lived
at one time in Kingston and was in the law office with John A. Macdonald. He
afterward, studied medicine, and they moved to Whitby, where both lived and
died. Mr. Thompson made her his heir to the farm and other lands he had. In
after years a number of the farmers resident along the second concession -
the Vandewaters, Houghs, Sills's and others - had a long and expensive lawsuit
with the Hams about the possession of gores yet connected with their farms,
which, it was claimed, Thompson had obtained a title for from the Government.
The farmers held the land in the end, however, though the law costs cost them
THOMPSON IN PARLIAMENT
Timothy Thompson was
Hazelton Spencer's successor to the representation of Lennox, Hastings and
Northumberland, in the Upper Canada Legislature. Spencer appears to have
served during one Legislature only - the First, from 1792 to 1796. We have no
record now of those early elections. Mr. Thompson was three times elected, -
to the Second, Third and Sixth Legislatures, serving in all about twelve
years. Who were his opponents, or where the elections may have been held, we
know not. At that time there was but one polling place in all the electoral district
and the elections generally lasted an entire week, so as to give all a chance
to vote. It was the custom, too, for the candidates, on both sides to keep
"open houses" during all elections, -allowing every elector to have
as much as he desired to eat and drink at the candidate's expense. There is a
tradition that one or more of these elections were held at, or about, Mr.
Thompson's own home, and that James Mordoff was
once an opposing candidate. He also resided in Third Town. He was married to
Lois Charters, of the same township, by Rev. John Langhorn at the Bath
church, on 18th of June, 1798. Langhorn's register also records the baptism
of several of their children.
Thompson, it is said,
lived in a large frame house near the Bay shore, not one vestage
of which now remains. Like numbers of the other early families, they appear
to have had a number of negro slaves, who did all the work and managed pretty
generally the affairs. He was reported wealthy, enjoying a pension from the
government, and is reported to have received some large land grants from the
Government amounting to some thousands of acres in all. He and his family
were said to have had "very easy times" of it, in the eyes of their
neighbors. But the hardships and privations the easiest and wealthiest
families must have had then were by no means few or small.
Mr. Thompson's name often
occurs on the old store day-book of Benjamin Seymour of one hundred and ten
years ago, and though they appear for larger quantities of sugar, tea,
groceries and dry goods than most others of the neighbors, they would appear
a scant allowance for most fairly comfortable families of today. But, when
common brown sugar, and very common at that, compared with what we now have -
was 40 cents a pound, and a refined loaf at 50 cents, with common cotton at
80 cents, and cotton prints at 90c to $1, and
almost everything else at the same high rate, even well to do people were by
no means lavish in the quantities they consumed.
Another of Mrs. Thompson's
daughters married James Carpenter, who many years ago, was quite a prominent
citizen of Toronto, where some of the descendants still are living. A couple
of the grandchildren of Mrs. McNabb were Mrs. Willard, whose husband was one
of the first hardware merchants of Kingston, and another, Mrs. James Glass,
of Belleville, whose son was largely interested in the gold mining interests
of North Hastings years ago. The Glass family were prominent and well known
in Hastings County.
Ensign Thompson was a
member of the Church of England, and was connected with the first St. Paul's
church in Fredericksburgh as was also his neighbor, Hazelton Spencer, the
first M. P. P.
He was buried, however, in
the old Presbyterian burying ground at the McDowall memorial church;
Sandhurst, beside his wife and relatives. It would now be a matter of good
deal of interest, to be able to lay hand on more of the papers, or even
traditions of the business and domestic affairs of the days of these early
We believe that Mr.
Thompson became a leading officer of the militia in this county in his day,
and probably he was in the active service during the American war of 1812-14,
when the residents of this county responded so promptly and patriotically to
the call to defend it from threatened invasion. We have no particulars in
regard to that matter, however.
We have stated that Mr.
Thompson's name appears as a member of the Sixth Legislature as well as of
the Second and Third. Whether he was a defeated candidate for the Fourth and
Fifth or whether he was a candidate at all during that time, we have no means
of knowing. During the time of the Third legislature Lennox and Addington
were united into one electoral district and disconnected from both Prince
Edward and Hastings. William Fairfield who had previously represented
Addington, then dropped out. Of the brothers, William and Benjamin Fairfield,
we intend to write some particulars in a future issue of The Beaver.
For the Fourth Legislature
Thomas Dorland, of Adolphustown, was the member. Whether he defeated Mr.
Thompson we do not know. For the Fifth the county became entitled to two, and
as has been already stated in these columns, Thomas Dorland and John Roblin,
both of Adolphustown, were elected. John Roblin, was unseated because he was
a Methodist local preacher, and Willet Casey, also of Adolphustown, was
elected in his stead. We have now no record of Thompson's name in connection
with either of these elections. In the sixth Legislature Benjamin Fairfield
was Mr. Thompson's associate as the representative of Lennox and Addington.
His name does not again appear in that capacity.