BUSBY, THOMAS, soldier and innkeeper; b. 1735, apparently in Ireland; m. before 1768; d. 22 Oct. 1798 at Montreal (Que.).
Thomas Busby enlisted in the 27th Foot in 1756 at Cork, Ireland, and came out with the regiment the next year to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to take part in Lord Loudoun’s planned expedition against Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). Although the expedition was cancelled, Busby soon saw considerable action. In 1758 he participated in James Abercromby’s frontal attack on Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.), where, he claimed, his grenadier company left more than half its number dead and he had “seven Bullets through his Hat and seven thro’ his Clothes.” In 1759 he was present at the capture of Carillon and Fort Saint-Frédéric (near Crown Point, N.Y.). He took part that year in building the great stone fort with which Amherst replaced the latter French stronghold, and he returned the following year as a “Miner” (probably a quarryman). After serving at Île aux Noix in 1760, he saw action in the West Indies in 1761 at Grenada and Fort-Royal (Fort-de-France), Martinique, and in 1762 at Havana, Cuba.
Most of Busby’s remaining time with the 27th Foot was spent in Canada, where he was “on duty at nearly every Post in the Province” of Quebec. He took his discharge at Quebec on 26 July 1767, just before the regiment returned to Cork. He had not attained commissioned rank and was left with only a disabled arm as souvenir of his campaigns. In 1775 he was again in action, this time in the militia at Longue-Pointe, Montreal.
On 7 Dec. 1768 Busby was appointed assistant barrack-master at Montreal, a position he held until 1796 when his employment was abruptly terminated, effective 24 December. His dismissal was coupled with the appointment of William Stanton to relieve Barrack-Master James Hughes of several functions, as Hughes had requested; the appropriations apparently did not cover the salaries of both Stanton and Busby. Hughes later protested that he had not anticipated Busby’s removal and had unsuccessfully requested his reinstatement, praising him as “an Honest Man, and a faithful Servant.”
Busby was not left destitute; like several other Irish soldiers in Canada he had been operating an inn. Between 1769 and 1780 he repeatedly secured inn and liquor licences, and his inn may have been strategically located near the Quebec-gate barracks. In 1772 he bought a two-storey stone dwelling there, and by 1781 he had absorbed the neighbouring house and lot. At the time of his death Busby also owned three buildings in the faubourg Sainte-Marie nearby, one of them a bark mill, two town lots in William Henry (Sorel), and 300 acres in Upper Canada. There is some indication that he may have been in trade, but it was his son Thomas, not he, who was the business agent of the barons of Longueuil.
ANQ-M, État civil, Anglicans, Christ Church (Montréal), 24 Oct. 1798. PAC, RG 8, 1 (C series), 187, pp.9–10; 505, p.89; 546, p.64. John Askin papers (Quaife), II, 593. Montréal en 1781 . . . , Claude Perrault, édit. (Montréal, 1969), 32. PAC Rapport, 1885, lxxvii-lxxviii. Quebec Gazette, 24 Aug. 1769, 23 July, 13 Aug. 1772, 27 May 1779, 24 May 1781, 28 Feb. 1799. Cameron Nish, Inventaire sommaire des documents historiques de la Société historique de Montréal (Montréal, 1968). Service of British regiments (Stewart), 157. W. H. Atherton, Montreal, 1535–1914 (3v., Montreal and Vancouver, 1914), III, 566. Campbell, History of Scotch Presbyterian Church, 120.