Fonds MG H 10a - Samuel Leonard Tilley

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Samuel Leonard Tilley

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  • Textual record

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12 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley (1818-1896) was born in Gagetown, New Brunswick, and died in Saint John. In 1838 he formed a partnership with his cousin, Thomas W. Peters in a pharmacy. On Peter's retirement in 1848, the pharmacy became Tilley's Drug Store.

Becoming increasingly involved in politics, Tilley sold the business in 1860. He became involved in the temperance movement, the Debating Society and the Mechanics' Institute. He was a founding member of the Railway League.

In the provincial election of 1854, Tilley became the provincial secretary and for over a decade worked as a proponent of Confederation, attending the Charlottetown, Québec, and London Conferences. Tilley is also credited with suggesting the name "dominion" for the official name of Canada, reading Psalm 72:8, "His dominion shall be also from sea to sea." The other attendees of the conferences, who already aspired to expand Canada westward to the Pacific, agreed that the name was appropriate.

In 1867 he began his federal political career as Customs Minister in Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservative government. He was appointed Finance Minister in 1873. With the defeat of the Macdonald government that fall, Tilley was appointed New Brunswick's Lieutenant Governor.

With the return of the Macdonald government in 1878, he again became the Finance Minister with responsibility for the National Policy, the Macdonald government's plan to expand the country's economy by developing its infrastructure and to protect Canadian manufacturers from lower priced American imports by imposing tariffs. Ill health forced Tilley to retire to St. Andrews in 1885. He was reappointed Lieutenant Governor and held this post until 1893.

Tilley had two marriages. In 1843 he married Julia Ann Hanford in Saint John, N.B., and they had eight children. Julia died in March of 1862 after a short illness. His second wife, whom he married in St. Stephen, N.B., in October of 1867, was Alice Starr Chipman, the daughter of a close friend. They had two children together. Alice became involved in numerous women's organizations and benevolent works.

Tilley's son Herbert was a Saint John insurance agent and his son Leonard P.D. Tilley was a Saint John lawyer.

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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