Fonds MG H 10a - Samuel Leonard Tilley

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Samuel Leonard Tilley

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  • 1833-1870 (Creation)
    Tilley, Samuel Leonard, Sir

Physical description

12 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Samuel Leonard Tilley (known as Leonard), eldest son of loyalist Thomas Morgan Tilley and Susan Ann (Peters) Tilley, was born 8 May 1818 at Gagetown, New Brunswick. Tilley studied in Gagetown at the Church of England's Madras school and the county grammar school before taking up employment in 1831 as an apprentice druggist at Saint John, New Brunswick. In 1838 he became a certified pharmacist and opened a drugstore in partnership with his cousin, Thomas Peters. Tilley took over the business when his partner retired but sold the drugstore in 1860 after growing increasingly more occupied with politics. S.L. Tilley was married twice, first to Julia Ann Hanford on 6 May 1843 (d. 27 March 1862); they had eight children; and secondly to Alice Starr Chipman on 22 October 1867; they had two children.

Leonard Tilley's political life was closely linked to his low-church Anglican beliefs. A part-time Sunday-school teacher and lifelong temperance advocate, he was a member of the Smashers, a political faction that tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce prohibition to New Brunswick in the 1850s. He led the charge in the Church of England against Bishop John Medley's Tractarian beliefs, and fought for responsible government, which came to New Brunswick in 1854, and for an inter-colonial railway to link New Brunswick with the other colonies. Tilley was first elected as a Liberal member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly from 1850 - 1851. In 1854 he was sworn in as a member of the Executive Council, and served as the provincial secretary between 1854 - 1867. S.L. Tilley was also elected premier of New Brunswick serving from 1861 - 1865 and 1866 - 1877.

Leonard Tilley was a strong supporter of Confederation, and was a delegate to the conferences in Charlottetown (May 1864), Quebec (September 1864) and London (1866, 1867). Because of his work on the BNA Act, and his devotion to Canadian unity, Samuel Leonard Tilley is known as one of the Fathers of Confederation. On 1 July 1867, he entered federal politics as a Liberal-Conservative (representing a New Brunswick riding), became a member of the Queen's Privy Council of Canada, and was appointed Minister of Customs in Sir John A. Macdonald's cabinet. In 1873, when Macdonald was defeated, Leonard became Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, but returned to the federal cabinet as Minister of Finance in 1878; he was one of the architects of the National Policy, the general policy of tariff protection for Canadian industry. From 20 May 1879, Leonard Tilley was the ex-officio Receiver General of Canada. On 24 May 1879, he was created a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.). S.L. Tilley retired from federal politics in 1885, due to ill health, and again became Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, until 1893. Samuel Leonard Tilley continued to take an active interest in politics, at the provincial and federal levels, until his death on 25 June 1896 at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Custodial history

The fonds was possibly transferred to the archives with other material left in old Government House, Fredericton, when it ceased to be used by the Lieutenant-Governors as a residence. The Sir John Harvey fonds (MG H10b) came to the archives in the same accession.

Scope and content

This fonds consists of original material including letters and telegrams to and from Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley. The correspondents include: Sir John A. Macdonald, Charles Tupper, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, George Brown, Georges-Etienne Cartier, Alexander Galt, Reverend Ezekiel McLeod, Charles Fisher. The correspondence covers topics such as Confederation, the Inter-Colonial Railway, election results and temperance. The specific correspondence is indicated at item level. Also included is a statement of Canada's financial position between the years 1861 and 1864, two publications entitled Debates of Assembly 1867 and Correspondence Respecting the Proposed Union of the British North American Provinces 1867, a memorandum by Robert Jardine, a land deed (1837), a poem and a newspaper clipping.

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  • English

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A calendar of letters is available.

Associated materials

Reverend Ezekiel McLeod, MG H 16

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