Friday 3 February 2017

Record of the Week: Lord Lisgar

Sir John Young, 2nd Baronet and 1st Baron Lisgar, was sworn in as Canada’s second Governor General on February 2, 1869, officially replacing Lord Monck. Lord Lisgar’s time in office was full of growth and upheaval. The Red River Rebellion led by Louis Riel began in his first year, and a Fenian raid occurred six months later. After the Rebellion, Rupert’s Land was finally transferred from the Hudson's Bay Company to the Crown, and Manitoba and British Columbia both joined Canada.

This letter, a copy made at the time of the original, is the only record that the Archives has that relates to Lisgar. In addition to many large national issues, Lisgar dealt with individual ones as well. Here, Archbishop Lynch is requesting clemency for a man named Clifford:

St. Michael's Palace
Toronto March 15, 1872

To His Excellency 
The Right Honorable Baron Lisgar 
Governor General of Canada
&c &c &c

My Lord

I beg to add my recommendation to your Excellency’s clemency in favor of Clifford in the Penitentiary of Kingston. The young man was of exemplary conduct and was remarkable for his simple affection and obedience to his parents. This affection carried too far proved his ruin. His father was accustomed to smuggle and these operations blunted his conscience and hence planned without remorse the burning of his house to get the Insurance money. His Son in an hour of weakness was accessory to the crime of his father, though very much against his will, for, a few moments before the deed was committed he threw himself upon his bed crying and sobbing and saying to his wife “this job will be my death”. The old man, the principal of the plot died in the Penitentiary and his Son’s forebodings will prove true if he be not soon released from prison. He has an aged mother on the brink of the grave who was once very respectable. Your Excellency could hardily exercise your clemency upon a more deserving object than this Clifford.

I have the honor to be
Your Excellency’s most obt servant

L AH17.07
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Due to poor health, Lisgar resigned his position early, only a few months after this letter. He left Canada with his wife shortly afterwards and died in Ireland on October 6, 1876.

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