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Title: Letter to Sir Joseph Banks, (President of the Royal Society of Great Britain) written by Lieut.-Governor Simcoe, in 1791, prior to his departure from England for the purpose of organizing the new province of Upper Canada; to which is added five official speeches delivered by him at the opening or closing of Parliament in the same province
Author: Simcoe, John Graves (1752-1806)
Editor: Scadding, Henry (1813-1901)
Date of first publication: 1890
Edition used as base for this ebook: Toronto: Copp Clark, 1890
Date first posted: 8 December 2009
Date last updated: 8 December 2009
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #428

This ebook was produced by: David T. Jones & the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

This file was produced from images generously made available by the Internet Archive






For Private Circulation.





The accompanying letter is printed from a manuscript copy furnished to me many years ago by a member of the Simcoe family in Devonshire; it was written by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe immediately after his appointment to the new Province of Upper Canada in 1791, and before his departure from England to undertake the duties of his governorship. He addressed it to Sir Joseph Banks, the then President of the Royal Society of Great Britain, in an informal and confidential manner, setting forth his own views in regard to what should be done by the introducer of the British Constitution and British habits of thought—into a region up to the moment of writing, an unbroken forest and a wilderness of lakes and rivers, frequented almost exclusively by the red Indian; asking for the ideas of that very eminent and intelligent scientist on the subject.

In the Parliamentary Library at Ottawa, many Simcoe papers are preserved, copied at the expense of the Canadian Government from the family archives in England, but this letter to Sir Joseph Banks does not appear amongst them, and I have preserved it with all the more care as it admits us to a view of the very first movements in several great and philanthropic minds, towards the establishment on the soil of North America of a new province on principles more enlightened and more constitutional in a political sense than any province that had been previously organized. From time to time I have elsewhere made use of portions of its contents. Rather curiously in a catalogue of autograph historical documents offered for sale by Mr. John Waller, in London, only a few months since, the original of this letter was named and described among innumerable other manuscripts from the library of Sir Joseph Banks, just broken up and dispersed. I endeavored to secure it, but failed. Mr. Waller could not remember to whom he had sold it.

The newly appointed governor's words in this letter respecting the Great Peninsula Region, surrounded by the Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Huron, have proved prophetic. From a priori considerations he asserted of it at this early period that, "it was destined by nature sooner or later to govern the interior world." He had evidently been examining his maps to some purpose, such maps as could then be procured of this portion of North America.

As a scholarly man, Governor Simcoe had probably often dwelt upon the ideal commonwealths of Plato and Bacon, and consequently he would be pleasantly excited at being called on to undertake the inauguration of a community of a somewhat similar description. He showed himself, however, sufficiently practical, proceeding as he did to base all his plans upon the well-tried constitution of England.

He felt deeply the loss to the Empire of the thirteen American colonies, a sentiment natural enough in a soldier, who had taken an active part in the endeavors [4] to prevent that catastrophy. He apparently considered that England had undergone a humiliation in the rending asunder of her Empire on the continent of North America. But how different after the lapse of a few years do such events appear.

That rupture was in reality no humiliation, but was destined to redound to the glory of England. The severance was not affected through the act of a foreign foe; it was the result of a dispute among the sons of the Great British Household, and a new nation was called thereby into being. As long as freedom of will and freedom of action are permitted to rational beings it is to be expected that an evolution of new communities will take place from time to time somewhat in this way.

At the time of writing his letter to Sir Joseph Banks, the new Governor seems to have been under the impression that the lost colonies would be recovered, the people themselves becoming dissatisfied with their new situation. To help forward such an event he purposed to establish in the new province of Upper Canada a political state of things which should contrast strongly with a republican constitution. In order to accomplish the noble object in view he was ready to undergo a species of banishment, as he expresses it, that is to say, an exile for a term of years from England and pleasant Devonshire, where his home and ample estates were situated. Non sibi sed patriæ—"Not for himself, but for his country," was the motto worthily appended to the coat-of-arms of his family.

He hoped to win back the revolted colonies by the sheer attraction of a better government. He seems to have expected that by a voluntary act on the part of the people of the United States, a return might take place to the protection and rule of the Mother Country.

All this seems to be implied in the expression, Volentes in Populos, a partial reminiscence of Virgil's "Volente per Populos in Georgics IX," where the poet boasts of Caesar's dispensing law throughout the willing nations on the banks of the far Euphrates.

Latin was in the air in those days, apt expressions in that language were constantly coming to the lips of statesmen. Another instance of this is to be found in the motto placed on the Public Seal of the Province of Upper Canada itself: "Imperii porrecta magestas, custode rerum Cesare,—"The greatness of the Empire extended, under the guardianship of Caesar."

The advance of the British system into a region previously unoccupied by the organization of a new province seems to be glanced at. Horace is here laid under contribution. See Ode 15, Book IV. The legend on the Seal for the Lower Province was, Ab ipso ducit opes animunque ferro—"From the sword itself come fresh sources of public wealth and vigour." This is from Horace's 4th Book, IV Ode. On the seal is seen the rock of Quebec, surmounted by the British flag; below is a forest of masts; in the foreground a sturdy oak tree, putting forth branches apparently in the direction of the fortress—imagery foreshadowing new developments of British "Ships, Colonies, and Commerce" on the Western Continent. There is a classical ring also in the reference to himself as a Romulus about to engage in the foundation of a great state. The name also of Georgina, which he proposed to affix to the capitol city of his new state has likewise a classical sound. Some such word as Pollis or Civitas being under [5]stood, being formed from Georgias, the name of the reigning king, somewhat as the local name Carolina was formed from Carolus, Charles also a reigning king. Had the name Georgina been actually applied to the town contemplated, it would probably have continued in use to this day, and although somewhat peculiar in form, it would have been at this time as familiar to us as Regina in the North West, which has become a now household word; but unhappily the name finally adopted for this city was London, giving rise in after times to innumerable ambiguities, and destined yet probably to be exchanged for the more definite appellation of Tecumseh. (The proposed Georgina has been curiously preserved to this day in the name of a Township on Lake Simcoe, the Township of Georgina.)

Governor Simcoe, in his letter to Sir Joseph Banks, throws a clear understanding of the real state of feeling existing in the minds of many citizens in the newly-formed United States. This arose from his intercourse with colonists of New England, Pennsylvania and Virginia during his lengthened presence there as a military commander in the war of the Revolution. The project of making a portion of the legislative body hereditary in the new Province of Upper Canada was probably not so much his own as that of Pitt, who in the debate on the Constitutional Act of 1791, had suggested such an arrangement regardless of the grave inconveniences likely to follow. Happily this idea was never carried into effect. (It was expected possibly also to be a kind of counterpoise to a certain grade of noblesse already existing in Lower Canada.)

Many years had to elapse before the Society for the Promotion of Science, similar to that over which Sir Joseph Banks presided which entered into the governor's plans, could be established. The idea was ultimately realized in our Canadian Institute, founded in 1849, incorporated in 1851; and as for the college contemplated, a delay of nearly fifty years was destined to take place, when the intention was grandly fulfilled by the institution of King's College, 1842, transformed now into the noble University of Toronto. A good beginning was made in regard to schools of a superior class as preparatory to a university in 1806, by the establishment of four Royal Grammar Schools at Kingston, Niagara, Cornwall, and Sandwich, respectively. As for schools of a humbler class they were for the most part left to the enterprise of private individuals, and were quite inadequate to the wants of the population until our present world-wide public school system came into operation, also in 1842. The Public Library which the new governor hoped to see founded actually came into existence on a very small scale in his own time, in connection apparently with his parliament. It included, as is shown by a brief contemporary catalogue, the encyclopedia suggested by the Marquis of Buckingham.

The expected bishop of whom Governor Simcoe speaks proved to be the Rev. Dr. Mountain, previously rector of Buckden in Huntingdonshire, and Holbeach, in Lincolnshire, he was appointed in 1793 to superintend the spiritual interests of both the new provinces, with the title of Anglican Bishop of Quebec. The high legal functionary with whom the province was to be provided was Chief Justice William Osgoode, from whom the well known Osgoode Hall, of Toronto, has its name.

The young surgeon to whom he alludes of scientific proclivities as about to be [6] attached to the governor's household and suite was Doctor Macaulay, eventually father of Chief Justice Sir James Macaulay, and the distinguished engineer officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John Simcoe Macaulay.

The letter to Sir Joseph Banks shows the newly appointed Governor of Upper Canada to have been a lover of the arts and sciences, a man of letters anxious to establish systems of education adapted to every class among the people committed to his charge: favoring the study of Botany with a view to the introduction of plants of an economic value; flax and hemp, for example, he probably suggests as being likely to render the empire less indebted to Russia and other countries for the cordage and canvas required for the equipment of its ships. The five official speeches which follow, the only ones at this time recoverable, delivered at the opening or closing of parliament, present him to us in another aspect. He is no longer enjoying the task imposed, simply as a thing in prospect, but now we see him in the midst of his work. With the hand of a wise master builder he is laying the foundation of a state.

The terrible French revolution which was convulsing all Europe at the period had deepened in his mind, as it had also done in that of Edmund Burke and many others, the conviction that Christianity and its precepts afforded the only true guarantees for the stability and happiness of human society. He guided himself accordingly; and the whole Anglo-Canadian nation extending now from the Atlantic to the Pacific feels to this day the moulding effect of measures suggested by Governor Simcoe and enacted under his eye into laws in Upper Canada during his ever memorable administration of that normal province, now the Province of Ontario, from 1791 to 1796.

As in the case of the journal of Major Littlehales, reprinted by me a few years since in pamphlet form, the purport of the present collection also is to suggest the propriety of the erection of a public monument to the memory of the first organizer of the Province of Upper Canada, and to point out as a fitting site for such monument the ground in front of the main entrance to the new Parliament Buildings now erecting in Toronto.



Sir,—I was much disappointed that the variety of business in which my good friend Sir George Yonge was engaged, and my own avocations, prevented me from having the honour of being introduced to you, as soon as it was generally made known that I was to be appointed to the Government in Upper Canada. But, sir, as it is possible that I may be hurried off, without having much time to spare, in endeavoring to procure in person such advantages for the community I am to superintend, as must necessarily result from the great encouragement this nation under His Majesty's auspices, affords to those arts and sciences which at once support and embellish our country. I am emboldened by letter to solicit that assistance from you, and on those subjects which I venture to point out, preparatory to my return to London, when I shall hope to have the honour of frequent communication with you, and to avail myself of your ideas and patronage.

The liberality of your character, the high station you fill and the public principles which I apprehend that you entertain, leave upon my mind no hesitation in communicating to you confidentially, my views, and the object which irresistibly impels me to undertake this species of banishment, in hopes that you will see its magnitude and in consequence afford your utmost support to the undertaking.

I am one of those who know all the consequence of our late American dominions, and do not attempt to hide from myself the impending calamity in case of future war, because neither in council nor in the field did I contribute to their dismemberment. I would die by more than Indian torture to restore my King and his family to their just inheritance and to give my country that fair and natural accession of power which an union with their brethren could not fail to bestow and render permanent. Though a soldier, it is not by arms that I hope for this result; it is volentes in populos only, that such a renewal of empire can be desirable to His Majesty—and I think even now, though (I hold that the last supine five years and [8] every hour that the Government is deferred detracts from our fair hopes) even now, this event may take place.

I mean to prepare for whatever convulsions may happen in the United States; and the method I propose is by establishing a free, honourable British Government, and a pure administration of its laws, which shall hold out to the solitary emigrant, and to the several states, advantages that the present form of Government doth not and cannot permit them to enjoy. There are inherent defects in the congressional form of Government, the absolute prohibition of any order of nobility is a glaring one. The true New England Americans have as strong an aristocratical spirit as is to be found in Great Britain; nor are they anti-monarchical. I hope to have a hereditary council with some mark of nobility.

For the purpose of commerce, union, and power, I propose that the site of the colony should be in that Great Peninsula between the Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario, a spot destined by nature, sooner or later, to govern the interior world.

I mean to establish a capital in the very heart of the country, upon the River La Tranche, which is navigable for batteauxs for 150 miles—and near to where the Grand River which falls into Erie, and others that communicate with Huron and Ontario, almost interlock. The capital I mean to call Georgina—and aim to settle in its vicinity Loyalists who are now in Connecticut, provided that Government approve of the system.

I am to have a Bishop, an English Chief Justice, etc.—This, sir, is the outline of my plan, and I trust it will force its way, notwithstanding what circumscribed men and self-interested monopolists may allege against it. It must stand on its own ground, for my extensive views are not what this country is yet prepared for, though the New England Provinces are by no means averse to them and they are the strength of America.

Now, sir, not to trespass on your time, you will see how highly important it will be, that this colony, (which I mean to show forth with all the advantages of British protection as a better Government than the United States can possibly obtain) should in its very foundations provide for every assistance that can possibly be procured for the arts and sciences, and for every embellishment that hereafter may decorate and attract notice, and may point it out to the neighbouring [9] States as a superior, more happy, and more polished form of Government. I would not in its infancy have a hut, nor in its maturity, a palace built without this design.

My friend, the Marquis of Buckingham, has suggested that Government ought to allow me a sum of money to be laid out for a Public Library, to be composed of such books as might be useful to the colony. He instanced the encyclopedia, extracts from which might occasionally be published in the newspapers. It is possible private donations might be obtained, and that it would become an object of Royal munificence.

If any Botanical arrangement could take place, I conceive it might be highly useful, and might lead to the introduction of some commodities in that country which Great Britain now procures from other nations. Hemp and flax should be encouraged by Romulus. In the literary way I should be glad to lay the foundation stone of some society that I trust might hereafter conduce to the extension of science. Schools have been shamefully neglected—a college of a higher class would be eminently useful, and would give a tone of principles and of manners that would be of infinite support to Government.

Sir George Yonge has promised me my old surgeon—a young man attached to his profession, and of that docile, patient and industrious turn, not without inquisitiveness, that will willingly direct itself to any pursuit which may be recommended as the object of enquiry.

I am sure, sir, of your full pardon for what I now offer to you from the design with which it is written, and I am anxious to profit from your enlarged ideas. I shall therefore beg leave to wait upon you when I return to London.

I am sir, with the utmost respect,

Your most obedient and faithful,

J. G. Simcoe.

Sir Joseph Banks, Bart,

President of the Royal Society.

January 8th, 1791.





Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

I have summoned you together, under the authority of an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, passed last year, which has established the British Constitution, and all the forms which secure and maintain it, in this distant country.

The wisdom and beneficence of our most gracious Sovereign and the British Parliament have been eminently proved, not only in imparting to us the same form of government, but also in securing the benefit by the many provisions that guard this memorable act: so that the blessings of our invaluable constitution thus protected and amplified, we may hope, will be extended to the remotest posterity.

The great and momentous trusts and duties which have been committed to the representatives of this province, in a degree infinitely beyond whatever, till this period, have distinguished any other colony have originated from the British nation, upon a just consideration of the energy and hazard with which its inhabitants have so conspicuously supported and defended the British Constitution.

It is from the same patriotism you are now called upon to exercise, with due deliberation and foresight, the various offices of civil administration, that your fellow subjects of the British Empire expect the foundations of that union of industry and wealth, of commerce and power, which may last through all succeeding ages.

The natural advantages of the Province of Upper Canada are inferior to none on this side of the Atlantic; there can be no separate interest through its whole extent. The British form of government has prepared the way for its speedy colonization, and I trust that your fostering care will improve the favorable situation; and that a numerous and agricultural people will speedily take possession of the soil and climate, which under the British Laws, and the munificence with which his Majesty has granted the lands of the Crown, offer such manifest and peculiar encouragement.




Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

It is with great satisfaction that I have considered the acts which you have found it expedient to frame and to which in consequence of the power delegated to me, have this day given my assent, that they shall become laws of the Province of Upper Canada.

As the division which his Majesty, in his wisdom, thought proper to make of the late Province of Quebec obviated all inconveniencies, and laid the foundation for an establishment of the English laws in the province, it is natural to presume that you would seize the first opportunity to impart that benefit to your fellow subjects, and by the act to establish trial by jury, and by that which makes the English law the rule of decision, in all matters of controversy, relative to property and civil rights, you have fully justified the public expectation. Your other acts seem calculated to promote the general welfare and convenience of the province.

His Majesty in his benevolence, having directed a seventh from such lands as shall be granted to be reserved to the Crown for the public benefit, it will become my duty to take those measures which shall appear to be necessary to fulfil his Majesty's gracious intentions; and I make no doubt, but as citizens and magistrates, you will give every assistance in your power to carry into full effect a system from which the public and posterity must derive such peculiar advantages.

Honourable Gentlemen and Gentlemen.

I cannot dismiss you without earnestly desiring you to promote by precept and example, among your respective counties, the regular habits of piety and morality, the surest foundations of all private and public felicity; and at this juncture, I particularly recommend to you to explain, that this province is singularly blest, not with a mutilated constitution, but with a constitution which has stood the test of experience, and is the very image and transcript of that of Great Britain; by which she has long established and secured to her subjects as much freedom and happiness as is possible to be enjoyed under the subordination necessary to civilized society.




Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

The persons who at present exercise the supreme authority in France having declared war against his Majesty, I think it proper to recommend to your early attention the new modelling of a Militia Bill, which the more urgent business of the last session prevented you from accomplishing.

I have the firmest reliance that it will be framed in a manner suitable to the principles of the British Constitution so as to unite the interest and convenience of individuals with an establishment necessary to the public protection.

It is with great satisfaction I am able to communicate to you that the insidious attempts of those who envy the prosperity of the British nation, or are avowedly disaffected to the principles of its Constitution, have been completely counteracted and defeated by the wisdom of his Majesty's counsels, and by the affectionate attachment and spirited resolves of all ranks and descriptions of his Majesty's subjects; and it is manifest that upon this important occasion Britons have acted with that unanimity and loyalty which might be expected from men who know how to estimate the vain assumptions of innovators, and from the virtue, the wisdom, the struggles and experiences of their ancestors inherit those civil and religious blessings which are derived under a free constitution, equally abhorrent of absolute monarchy, arbitrary aristocracy, or tyrannical democracy.

The principles on which those who exercise authority over the French nation support the war which they have so unjustly begun against his Majesty's allies cannot fail to call to your recollection how often it has been necessary for Great Britain to stand forth as the protector of the liberties of mankind, and we may entertain a pious confidence that under the guidance of the Almighty Giver of all victory, his Majesty's arms directed to the security of his allies, will ultimately be crowned with success, and that it will be the felicity of the British Empire to maintain the independence of Europe against all modern aggressions upon those equitable principles which our ancestors so wisely contributed to establish.

I am happy to congratulate you upon the success which has attended his Majesty's arms in the protection of his allies in the East Indies, and I am sure you will readily concur in the observation that[13] a war which has been carried on with consummate vigour and ability under the conduct of Marquis Cornwallis, so prosperous and decisive in its events should be terminated with such justice and moderation is a fresh proof to the universe of that magnanimity which has so long characterized the British nation.

Honourable Gentlemen and Gentlemen.

I have to recommend to you to proceed in that laudable course of unanimity with which you have begun your legislative functions, and to continue all your consultations to advance the interests and happiness of this colony by making those provisions for the due support of public justice, for the encouragement of morality, and the punishment of crime, which are necessary to the existence of society.

In all these measures that may promote the real welfare of his Majesty's subjects in this country, which may tend to the most intimate union with every part of the British Empire, you cannot fail of meeting with his Majesty's paternal and beneficent approbation, and you may be assured that my best endeavors will always be exerted to forward the public prosperity, not only from the duty which I owe to the King, but from the most sincere attachment which I bear to the inhabitants of this province.



Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

It gives me great satisfaction that by your unremitting diligence the public business of the session has been so far transacted that I am enabled to consult your personal convenience and to dismiss you at an early period to your respective residences.

It is with pleasure I perceive that agreeably to my recommendation you have modelled a Militia Bill, and have provided such salutary laws as are suitable to the present condition of the Province.

The act for the gradual abolition of slavery in this colony which it has been thought expedient to frame, in no respect meets from me a more cheerful concurrence than in that provision which repeals the power heretofore held by the Executive Branch of the Constitution and precludes it from giving sanction to the importation of slaves; and I cannot but anticipate with singular pleasure that such persons[14] as may be in that unhappy condition which sound policy and humanity unite to condemn, added to their own protection from all undue severity by the law of the land, may henceforth look forward with certainty to the emancipation of their offspring.

Honourable Gentlemen and Gentlemen.

Should the necessity of any further provision or amendments of the ordinances of the late Province of Quebec attract your notice during the recess, I doubt not but in the next session by carrying such improvements into execution you will exemplify that distinguished excellence in the British Constitution of which we daily experience the benefit and which has been transmitted to us by our ancestors as the firmest security of the public prosperity.



Honourable Gentlemen of the Legislative Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly.

The public business of the session being brought to a conclusion, it is with pleasure I consider your proceedings therein have been marked with the same attention to the welfare of the province which has distinguished your conduct throughout the whole of this, the first Provincial Parliament of Upper Canada; and which draws near to its termination agreeably to the law.

It is not possible for me, without emotion, to contemplate that we will have been called upon to execute the most important trust that can be delegated by the King and British Parliament during a period of awful and stupendous events, which still agitate the greater part of mankind, and which have threatened to involve all that is valuable in civil society in one promiscuous ruin. However remote we may have been happily placed from the scene of these events, we have not been without their influence; but by the blessing of God, it has only been sufficient to prove that this province, founded upon the rock of loyalty, demonstrates one common spirit in the defence of their King and their country.

In the civil provisions for the establishment and maintenance of our Constitution, and the benefits flowing therefrom, we shall, I trust, always recollect with great satisfaction, that we have been actuated and guided by a fair and upright desire to lay the foundation of private right and public prosperity.[15]

I humbly believe that his Majesty, the Father of his people, and the beneficent founder of this loyal province, will accept our endeavours to perpetuate these blessings, which it is his wish should attend his faithful subjects and their remotest posterity.

Honourable Gentlemen and Gentlemen.

It is our immediate duty to recommend our public acts to our fellow subjects by the efficiency of our private example; and to contribute in this tract of the British Empire, to form a nation, obedient to the laws, frugal, temperate, industrious;—impressed with a steadfast love of justice, of honour, of public good; with unshaken probity and fortitude amongst men, with Christian piety and gratitude to God.

Conscious of the intention of well-doing, I shall ever cherish, with reverence and humble acknowledgment, the remembrance that it is my singular happiness to have borne to this province the powers, the privileges, the principles and the practice of the British Constitution; this perpetual monument of the good will of the Empire, the reward of tried affection and loyalty, can best fulfil the just end of all government, as the experience of ages hath proved by communicating universally, protection and prosperity, to those who make a rightful use of its advantages.

It will be interesting to the Canadian people to have on record the two following inscriptions, taken from memorial tablets in England:—

(Inscription in Exeter Cathedral, Devon.)

Sacred to the memory of
Lieutenant-General in the Army,
And Colonel of the 22nd Regiment of Foot,
Who died on the 26th day of October, 1806,
Aged 54.
In whose life and character the virtues of the Hero, the
Patriot, and the Christian were so eminently conspicuous,
that it may justly be said he served
his King and his country with a zeal
exceeded only by his piety
towards his God.

This inscription is surmounted by a medallion of the General in high relief; and on the left and right, respectively, are full length figures of a soldier in the uniform of the Queen's Rangers, and of a North American Indian in native costume holding a tomahawk in his right hand.[16]

On the exterior wall of a private chapel at Wolford, the family residence of General Simcoe:—

Sacred to the memory of
Who died October 26th, 1806,
Aged 54.
His mortal remains were buried at the foot of this stone six
years after he had erected this chapel to the glory of
God, and the manifestation of the purpose in
which he lived and died.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—Joshua, xxiv, v. 15.
He left a widow and nine
children to lament
his loss.

This private chapel at Wolford is referred to in the following letter addressed by General Simcoe to the clergyman of the parish, on the subject of celebrating his fiftieth birthday:—

Dear Sir,—On the 22nd of this month I shall have lived half a century; you will, therefore, much oblige me if you will spend the day with me and will celebrate Divine service at 12 o'clock in our chapel. I should esteem it as a favor if you would take for your text, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth," etc.,—the advantages of being a Christian, of having been educated by a most pious and excellent mother, (my father dying whilst I was yet an infant, in the service of his country), assisted by the companions of my father's youth, and the protectors of my own—the advantages of being an Englishman, and of that church where Christianity is administered in its parent form—the advantages of being a member of that Government where laws are most equal, and I wish them to be recommended to my children: there is a text in Leviticus, I believe, that particularly enforces purity of heart to those who aspire to military command; as mine in all views is a military family, it may not be amiss in a more especial manner to inculcate the remembrance of the Creator to those who shall engage in the solemn duties of protecting their country, at these times, from foreign usurpation.

I am, truly yours,

J. G. S.

Feb. 14th, 1801.

In accordance with the anticipation expressed in this note, the General's eldest son became an officer in the army; a very brief career, however, as will be gathered from the following inscription on the south wall of the private chapel already spoken of:[17]

Sacred to the memory of
Lieutenant in the 27th Regiment of Foot,
Eldest son of
Lieut.-General John Graves Simcoe,
And Elizabeth, his wife.
At Wolford Lodge,
Fell in the breach at the siege of Badajoz,
April 6th, 1812,
In the 21st year of his age.

"Be of good courage, let us behave ourselves valiantly for our
people, and let the Lord do that which is good in
His sight." 1 Chron., xix, 13.

It will not be deemed out of place to add that the touching letter addressed by the Military Chaplain to the mother of the young soldier, breaking to her the sad intelligence of his fall in the trenches in Badajoz:—

"Though perfectly unknown, yet my feelings dictate that I should in the present melancholy season address you, as I am aware your anxiety must be great respecting the fate of my most esteemed friend, your son: sincerely lamented by all who knew him, he fell on the night of the 6th, in the midst of several others, his brother officers, and hundreds of his fellow-countrymen, while storming the town of Badajoz: to state the details of this circumstance would be needless. In him I have lost a promising young friend, an agreeable companion, and a good Christian; and allow me most sincerely to sympathize and condole with you in the great loss you have sustained by the death of an affectionate and dutiful son.

On the morning of the 7th, I went in search of my esteemed and valued young friend, and was so fortunate as to find him lying in the breach, where (as I am sure it will be satisfactory for a friend and parent to be informed), I performed the last offices over him, and got him as decently interred as the great confusion of our most melancholy situation would admit. He has left no memorandum behind him, though frequently entreated by me in case of accident; neither did he make any requests when I parted with him, but committed his fate entirely to Him who is the disposer of all events. Proffering to you and your afflicted family my future services in any way I can be useful, allow me to subscribe, etc.,

George Jenkins,

Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Division,
Badajoz Camp, April 9th, 1812.


A reminiscence of the young officer whose untimely but honourable fate is here referred to, remains in the name, "Castle Frank," very familiar still to the inhabitants of Toronto. Castle Frank was a rustic chateau, constructed entirely of wood, in the midst of a forest on a high ridge, commanding a view of the picturesque valley of the Don. It was situated in a parcel of ground afterwards known as the Castle Frank Farm, comprising 225 acres lying between the modern Parliament Street and the River Don, patented under the Governor's authority to his eldest son Francis. The building was never intended for public purposes, it was undertaken solely as a matter of recreation, it was never occupied by the family of the Governor, but was left in an unfinished state at the time of his departure in 1796. It survived down to 1829, when it was destroyed by fire. A depression clearly visible in the soil a few feet north of the wire fence forming the boundary of St. James' Cemetery shows to this day the exact site of Castle Frank.

Transcriber's Note:

Several instances of spelling, punctuation, and grammar have been preserved as in the original, although not in conformance with modern usage.

The following obvious typos were corrected:

1. page 8—'Goverment' changed to 'Government'

2. page 15—'conspicious' changed to 'conspicuous'

[End of Letter to Sir Joseph Banks by John Graves Simcoe]