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NORTHUP, JEREMIAH, merchant, shipowner, and politician; b. at Falmouth, N.S., in 1816, son of John Northup and Agnes Harvey; m. Emily Cochran on 3 Oct. 1848; d. at Halifax, N.S., 10 April 1879.
Jeremiah Northup began his mercantile career as a clerk in the Halifax firm of Charles R. Fairbanks* and Joseph Allison. In 1837 he and his younger brother, Joseph, joined their father who operated a small grocery store in Halifax. Joseph Northup had a particular interest in agriculture. After the colony’s economy improved about 1853, Jeremiah Northup, acting through the family firm, became involved in shipbuilding in the Maitland area of Hants County. He bought his first shares in ships in 1854 and acquired an interest in at least six more during his lifetime. One of his vessels was the schooner Emily, of 334 tons built in 1863; others were the barque Eva, 517 tons built in 1869, the barque Lara, 948 tons built in 1872, and the Senator, 1,474 tons launched in 1878. Unlike Ezra Churchill or Thomas Killam, Northup did not build up a family fleet nor could he be considered a major shipowner of the period. His activities, however, provided connections not only with his fellow Halifax merchants but also with English firms. Thus the type of shipbuilding carried on by Northup maintained an important economic development and supported the general mercantile economy of the province.
Politically a supporter of Joseph Howe, Jeremiah Northup was elected to the provincial house for Halifax as an anti-confederate in 1867. He broke with the provincial government when he supported the “better terms” arranged by Howe in 1869; he also assisted Howe in the campaign which led to the tatter’s victory in a federal by-election of that year. On Howe’s recommendation Northup was appointed to the Senate in 1870. He did not make a major contribution to the Senate, perhaps because he was becoming increasingly hard of hearing. When he did appear in the chamber, he defended the commercial interests of Halifax and of the Maritimes. He was able to reconcile his political allegiance to the Conservative party and his interest in shipping to support the National Policy in 1878.
After 1870 Northup devoted himself to commercial affairs, particularly to the Ocean Marine Insurance Company, which he had helped establish in 1869. He was a partner in the private company that formed the Merchant’s Bank in 1864, joined its board of directors in 1870, and became a vice-president in 1872. The family firm, John Northup and Sons, began to decline after the death of his brother in 1874, and closed at Jeremiah’s death in 1879, perhaps because neither brother left children to carry on the business. Jeremiah Northup was reputed, probably with exaggeration, to be one of the richest men in the province, leaving an estate evaluated at $150,000. He ranks as one of the builders of the mercantile economy of Nova Scotia in the 19th century.
Royal Bank of Canada Archives (Montreal). Acadian Recorder (Halifax), 10 April 1879. Morning Chronicle (Halifax), 12 April 1879. Morning Herald (Halifax), 11 April 1879. Memorials of the Messrs Northup (father and sons) (Halifax, 1881). Directory of N.S. MLAs (Fergusson), 269. J. V. Duncanson, Falmouth – a New England township in Nova Scotia, 1760–1965 (Windsor, Ont., 1965), 334–36. G. A. White, Halifax and its business: historical sketch and description of the city and its institutions (Halifax, 1876).