Thomas Talbot (Upper Canada)

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Thomas Talbot
Portrait of Colonel Thomas Talbot (cropped).png
Portrait of Colonel Thomas Talbot
Born(1771-07-19)July 19, 1771
DiedFebruary 5, 1853(1853-02-05) (aged 81)
Nationality United Kingdom
OccupationSoldier, settler, politician
Known forFounding the community of Port Talbot, Ontario

Colonel the Honourable Thomas Talbot (July 19, 1771 February 5, 1853) was an Irish-born Canadian soldier and politician.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable is an honorific style that is used before the names of certain classes of people.



Talbot was born at Malahide Castle near Dublin, Ireland. [1] He was the fourth son of Richard Talbot and Margaret Talbot, 1st Baroness Talbot of Malahide (see the Baron Talbot of Malahide). Richard Talbot, 2nd Baron Talbot de Malahide and Sir John Talbot were his elder brothers.

Malahide Castle Castle and demesne by the village of Malahide, County Dublin

Malahide Castle, parts of which date to the 12th century, lies close to the village of Malahide, nine miles (14 km) north of central Dublin in Ireland. It has over 260 acres (1.1 km2) of remaining parkland estate,

Dublin Capital of Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the province of Leinster. It is bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region as of 2016 was 1,347,359. The population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806 per the 2016 census.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Early military career

Talbot received a commission in the army as ensign before he was twelve years old, and was appointed at sixteen to aid his relative, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland [1] He saw active service in Holland and at Gibraltar. [1]


Talbot immigrated to Canada in 1791, where he became personal secretary to John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. After returning to England, Talbot convinced the government to allow him to implement a land settlement scheme along the shore of Lake Erie. [2] He chose property which today is in Elgin County in adjoining townships, Dunwich and Aldborough (today called West Elgin), when his petition for 5,000 acres (20 km2) was granted in 1803. [2] It was May 21, 1803 that he landed at a spot which has been called since Port Talbot, [2] and built a log cabin. [3] Nearby, he added a sawmill, a cooper shop, a blacksmith shop, and a poultry house along with a barn. When settlers began to arrive in 1809, Talbot added a gristmill as well. [3]

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

John Graves Simcoe British army officer

John Graves Simcoe was a British Army general and the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1791 until 1796 in southern Ontario and the watersheds of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior. He founded York and was instrumental in introducing institutions such as courts of law, trial by jury, English common law, and freehold land tenure, and also in the abolition of slavery in Canada.

Upper Canada 19th century British colony in present-day Ontario

The Province of Upper Canada was a part of British Canada established in 1791 by the Kingdom of Great Britain, to govern the central third of the lands in British North America, formerly part of the Province of Quebec since 1763. Upper Canada included all of modern-day Southern Ontario and all those areas of Northern Ontario in the Pays d'en Haut which had formed part of New France, essentially the watersheds of the Ottawa River or Lakes Huron and Superior, excluding any lands within the watershed of Hudson Bay. The "upper" prefix in the name reflects its geographic position along the Great Lakes, mostly above the headwaters of the Saint Lawrence River, contrasted with Lower Canada to the northeast.

Here he ruled as an absolute, if erratic, potentate, doling out strips of land to people of his choosing, a group that emphatically did not include supporters of the American Revolution, liberals or anyone insufficiently respectful. [4] For every settler he placed on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land, Talbot received an additional 200 acres (0.81 km2) for himself. [2] He wanted permanent and compact settlement. [2] One of the conditions attached to the free grant of 50 acres (200,000 m2), which he offered to settlers, was the right to purchase an additional hundred and 50 acres (200,000 m2) at $3 each, and the promise of a road in front of each farm within three and a half years. [5] The other condition was the building of a small house and the clearing and sowing of 10 acres (40,000 m2) of land. [5]

The result of the road-making provision was that the settlement became noted for its good roads, especially for that named Talbot Road. [5] By the late 1820s Colonel Thomas Talbot had organized the construction of a 300-mile (480 km)-long road linking the Detroit River and Lake Ontario as part of grand settlement enterprise in the south western peninsula. [6] By 1820, all of the land originally allotted to Talbot had been taken up. [2] From 1814 to 1837 he settled 50,000 people on 650,000 acres (2,600 km2) of land in the Thames River area. Many, if not most of the settlers, were American. [7] He had placed about 20,000 immigrants on the Talbot settlement by 1826. [2]

Because he had done his work so well, the government placed the southwestern part of the province under his charge. [2] This afforded Talbot the opportunity of extending the Talbot road from the Long Point region to the Detroit River. [2] [8] In 1823, Talbot decided to name the port after his friend Baron Edward George Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, whose son, Frederick Arthur Stanley would become Canada’s governor general and donate to the hockey world the elusive trophy, which still bears his name. [8] According to returns placed before the House of Assembly in 1836, title to some 5,280,000 acres (21,400 km2) located in twenty-nine townships had at one time gone through his hands. [2]

Thomas Talbot DENT(1881) 1.097 THOMAS TALBOT.jpg
Thomas Talbot

Talbot's administration was regarded as despotic.[ citation needed ] He was infamous for registering settlers' names on the local settlement map in pencil and if displeased, was alleged to have erased their entry. However, his insistence on provision of good roads (notably the eponymous Talbot Trail), maintenance of the roads by the settlers, and the removal of Crown and clergy reserves from main roads quickly resulted in the Talbot Settlement becoming the most prosperous part of the province. Eventually, however, he began to make political demands on the settlers, after which his power was reduced by the provincial government. Talbot's abuse of power was a contributing factor in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.

Talbot's home in Port Talbot was called Malahide (which was demolished in 1997, generating much public outcry from heritage preservationists). Talbot died in the home of George Macbeth at London, Ontario in 1853 and is interred in the cemetery of St. Peters Anglican Church near Tyrconnell, Ontario in Elgin County. Talbot eventually moved to London where he lived until his death in 1853. [3] When he died in 1853, at age 82, he had been visited at his historic home on Lake Erie by General Isaac Brock, Francis Gore, Mrs. Anna Jameson, Sir Peregrine Maitland, Sir John Colborne, Chief Justice Sir John Beverley Robinson, his brother the Honourable Peter Robinson, Dr. William Dunlop, Bishops Stuart and Strachan, Sir George Arthur, the Duke of Richmond, Lord Aylmer and many others. He lies buried at Port Talbot overlooking his beloved Lake Erie. [9]

Talbotville (a community in Southwold, Ontario) and the city of St. Thomas, Ontario were named after him, [10] as well as Colonel Talbot Road and Talbot Street in both London and St. Thomas.

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  1. 1 2 3 Weaver 1913, p. 195.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Humber 1991, p. 193.
  3. 1 2 3 Brown 2009, p. 135.
  4. Sobol & Sobol 2004, p. 81.
  5. 1 2 3 Weaver 1913, p. 196.
  6. White 1985, p. 84.
  7. Humber 1991, p. 154.
  8. 1 2 Brown 2009, p. 95.
  9. Humber 1991, p. 194.
  10. Rayburn 1997, pp. 304,336.