The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley

I think my tongue was going a mile a minute as I told Dad about all the things we did and saw on our trip to Saint John. As I was describing the feeding of the pigeons in King’s Square and how one actually sat on Cliff’s finger and ate bread crumbs from the palm of his hand, Gramp strode into the kitchen and stopped to listen.

He asked, “Did your mother have you look at the Tilley monument and tell you about him?”

When we shook our heads, he continued, “Sir Leonard Tilley was one of the Father’s of Confederation.” “He and his wife were probably one of the few persons from New Brunswick who were ever invited to visit Queen Victoria at Osborne, in the Isle of Wright. They were even permitted to visit the private apartment of Her Majesty and the Prince Consort at the farm.”

Gramp neglected to tell us that Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, known as Leonard, was the son of Thomas Morgan Tilley and Susan Ann Peters and was born in Gagetown on May 8, 1818 in the parlour bedroom of the house built in 1786 by Dr. Frederick Stickles that was later purchased by Samuel Tilley and passed on to his grandson, Thomas Morgan Tilley in 1817.

Young Leonard Tilley attended  the Madras School and the Grammar School in Gagetown until 1831, when at the age of thirteen he came to Saint John to clerk in the drug store of Dr. Henry Cook. Four years later, he took up a position as a clerk in the drug store of W. O. Smith.

His first attempt at public speaking was after he became a member of the St. John Young Men’s Debating Society.       
Before he reached the age of twenty, he commenced business on his own account as a member of the firm of Peters & Tilley.  By the time he entered political life in 1850, he was quite wealthy.

He served in the Provincial Assembly, was Premier of New Brunswick from 1861-1865, held two different Cabinet posts in the Federal Parliaments, was twice Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1879.

He was first married in 1843 to Julia Ann Hanford and by her had two sons and five daughters. Their oldest son, the Rev. Harrison Tilley, who died in 1877, was at that time the assistant minister to the cathedral at Toronto. He had also been the rector of St. Luke’s Church, Portland (Saint John) which his father attended when he first came to the city. The other son, L. A. Tilley was engaged in business in Sherbroke, Quebec. The eldest daughter, the wife of A. F. Street of Fredericton died in 1894. The other daughters were Mrs. W. H. DeWolfe of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Mrs. Thomas Burpee of Winnipeg, Mrs. J. D. Chipman of St. Stephen and Miss Julia Tilley of Toronto.

In 1867, Sir Leonard married Alice Starr, the daughter of the late Z. Chipman of St. Stephen.  By this marriage, he had two sons, Herbert  and Leonard.  Lady Tilley took an active part in the Victoria Hospital in Fredericton, the Nurses’ Home in connection with the Public Hospital in Saint John and the Reformatory for the care of bad or neglected boys, who were in danger of becoming criminals.

Sir Leonard Tilley’s death occurred on June 25, 1896, in Saint John.

In 1897, James Hannay published a 400-page book, “The Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley - being a political history of New Brunswick for the past seventy years”, which leads one on a very interesting journey through the economic history of New Brunswick and its people as well as the ups and downs of Sir Leonard’s career.

The book is available in several research institutions in New Brunswick. It can also be viewed online at

By the way the Tilley House at 69 Front Street, Gagetown has been restored by the Queens County Historical Society. One of the interesting rooms is the parlour bedroom where Sir Leonard Tilley was born in 1818. As well as marking Tilley's birthplace, it is a museum dedicated to the preservation of Queens County History. Website

Query 1188
Hunter: Looking for information on the family of Dr. John Hunter, his wife Mary and their children, Mary, William, James, Francis, Robert H, Sarah Ann, and Isabella of Saint John, New Brunswick The family came from Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland on 23 May 1838 on the ship Prudence.
Ann Mueller
241 Wortham Dr.,
Raleigh, NC
27614, USA

Query 1189
Jeffery - Hamilton: Seeking date of death and place of burial for Andrew Jeffery who is listed in 1881 Canadian Census in Colborne, Restigouche, New Brunswick as age 59, widower, living in the household of Alexander Hamilton. All information on Andrew Jeffery and family would be greatly appreciated.
Arlene DeRagon
228 Penn Drive, West Hartford
CT, 06119, USA
E-mail Feb 17, 2005 changed to

Query 1190
Morgan - Lowes: I am looking for the descendants of Patrick Morgan whose brother Terrance Morgan married Mary Ann Lowes. She died before 1881.
Constance Sheffy,
750 Weaver Dairy Road, Apt. 145
Chapel Hill, N.C.
27514-1440, USA
Query 1191
Mooney - Crilly: Thomas Mooney, an Irish Catholic, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick on the ship ‘Elizabeth’ on 29 April 1962 with his son Bernard, daughter-in-law Sarah (nee Crilly) and three boys, Patrick James, Michael Francis and Edward. Thomas was living in Guy's Ward for the 1871 Canadian Census. I would like to know when he died and where he was buried?
Robert E. mac Dougall
85 Woodington Bay
Winnipeg, MB
Canada, R3P 1M9

Query 1192
Mason: William Mason is listed in the 1851 census for Studholm Parish, Kings County as being born in England in 1816 and arriving in New Brunswick in 1828.  I cannot locate any parents or siblings. Does anyone have information on others by the name of Mason who may be related?
Brian Mason
156 Foxfield Drive, Ottawa
Ontario, Canada
K2J 2T1
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