SECORD, DAVID, businessman, jp, politician, and militia officer; b. August 1759 in New York City, son of James Secord and Madelaine Badeau; m. first Jessie Millard; m. secondly Catharine Smith; m. thirdly Mary Page, widow of a Mr Dunn; he had 14 children; d. 9 Aug. 1844 in St Davids, Upper Canada.
David Secord’s family moved to Northumberland County in the Susquehanna valley of Pennsylvania in 1772. Five years later, during the American revolution, his father joined Butler’s Rangers [see John Butler*] and led 54 of his neighbours and 3 of his sons, including David, to Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.). James subsequently joined the Indian Department and David served as a corporal in the rangers from April 1777 to their disbandment in June 1784. He was wounded in the thigh, according to one account, at the battle of Oriskany. Following the war he settled with his father near Queenston, on the Niagara peninsula. David was instrumental in developing the community of St Davids on Four Mile Creek, where he built a sawmill in 1791; a grist-mill had been erected on the creek by Peter Secord (possibly an uncle) in 1789 and David’s brother James and his wife, Laura Ingersoll*, also settled there. By 1812 David owned three houses, a grist-mill, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and other property.
Secord also achieved a measure of official prominence: he was commissioned as a justice of the peace in 1796 and he represented 2nd Lincoln in the fifth parliament of Upper Canada (1809–12). He had been made a lieutenant of militia in 1788, a captain in 1794, and major in the 2nd Lincoln Militia in 1806. He claimed to have fought in every significant engagement in the Niagara District during the War of 1812 and he commanded his regiment at the battle of Lundy’s Lane on 25 July 1814 [see Sir Gordon Drummond*]. His buildings at St Davids, which he later valued at £3,796, were destroyed by American troops that month.
After the war Secord sat in the House of Assembly for 3rd Lincoln in the seventh parliament (1817–20). At this time he was closely associated with the agitation for reform stirred up by Robert Gourlay*. In April 1818 Secord chaired a meeting of inhabitants of Niagara Township which approved Gourlay’s third address and set up the mechanism for electing the representatives from other townships in the peninsula who were to petition the Prince Regent on the state of affairs in Upper Canada and to attend a provincial gathering. He attended the Upper Canadian Convention of Friends to Enquiry held at York (Toronto) in July. His support for Gourlay, however, probably did not indicate any deep-seated hostility to the government.
Secord received no payment on his war loss claims until 1837; in 1840 he was forced to petition for the interest, £1,296, due on his compensation. His war losses and his large family combined meant a rather indigent old age. He died in August 1844 and was buried in the Methodist cemetery at St Davids.
PAC, MG 11, [CO 42] Q, 427, pt.i: 3–16; RG 1, E3, 47: 3; L3, 448: S1/2; RG 19, E5(a), 3741, claim 50. Doc. hist. of campaign upon Niagara frontier (Cruikshank), 8: 72–73. Principles and proceedings of the inhabitants of the district of Niagara, for addressing His Royal Highness the Prince Regent respecting claims of sufferers in war, lands to militiamen, and the general benefit of Upper Canada (Niagara [Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.], 1818). [A substantial portion of this pamphlet is reproduced in Statistical account of U.C. (Gourlay; ed. Mealing; 1974).] Armstrong, Handbook of Upper Canadian chronology (1967). Chadwick, Ontarian families, 2: 84. Death notices of Ont. (Reid). “Loyalist and pioneer families of West Lincoln, 1783–1833,” comp. R. J. Powell, Annals of the Forty (Grimsby, Ont.), no.8 (1957): 26. Reid, Loyalists in Ont., 277. Darroch Milani, Robert Gourlay, gadfly, 177.