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- Gillespie, Thomas Francis
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Foundry owner, insurance agent, and politician Thomas Francis Gillespie, son of John and Eliza (Sheehan) Gillespie, was born near Mallow, County Cork, Ireland on 15 December 1828. Educated at schools in Rathkeale, County Limerick, Gillespie emigrated to New Brunswick in 1848. Initially employed by Berton Bros., retail merchants, at Saint John, in the 1850s, he moved to the Miramichi to act as clerk of the company's new store in Chatham. When the store closed after only a few years, he went to work as bookkeeper for Hugh F. Bain. By 1865 he had accumulated enough capital to purchase an iron foundry from William Dunlop and William Johnston. The Chatham Foundry was recognized as a successful local business by 1871.
Gillespie was involved in other business enterprises. He launched the schooner Madoc in 1873 and for a number of years he operated a successful insurance business. In 1884 he was elected president of the Chatham Gas Light Co.
In 1867 Gillespie ran unsuccessfully for the Northumberland County seat in the House of Commons. In 1869 he failed to win a seat in the provincial House of Assembly in a by-election. He was successful, however, in 1870, but lost his seat in the Assembly in 1874. Elected again in 1878 and 1882, he sat in the Assembly until 1886. He was subsequently defeated in the general election of 1886 and in the by-election of 1887. During Andrew Blair's administration, he sat as president of the Executive Council and as a minister without portfolio (1883-1886).
Gillespie was also president of St. Patrick's Society of Miramichi and a founding director of the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick (Masonic). He was also an officer in the Chatham battery of the New Brunswick Regiment of Artillery and a trustee and secretary-treasurer of one of the Chatham school districts. An Anglican and church vestryman, Thomas F. Gillespie died at Chatham on 9 August 1893. Following his death, his daughter Frances Gillespie took over his insurance business, thereby being the first Miramichi woman to manage an insurance agency.
Source: Dictionary of Miramichi Biography, 1997.
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