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STISTED, Sir HENRY WILLIAM, soldier and administrator; b. 1817 at Saint-Omer, Pas-de-Calais, France, son of Charles Stisted and Eliza Burn; m. in 1845 Maria, daughter of Colonel Joseph Netterville Burton and sister of Sir Richard Francis Burton; d. 10 Dec. 1875 at Upper Norwood. Eng.
Henry William Stisted was born into a military family and was educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He entered the British army in 1835 as an ensign and advanced rapidly, becoming a lieutenant-colonel in 1850 and a major-general in 1864. He commanded a brigade in the Persian War in 1856–57 (receiving the cb in 1858) and the advance guard at the relief of Lucknow, India, in 1857; he was later stationed on the northwest frontier of India.
Stisted was appointed to serve in Canada in November 1866 and in January 1867 he took over command of the 1st Military District at Toronto in Canada West. As the chief imperial officer in what was to become Ontario, he was appointed provisional lieutenant governor of the new province at confederation in 1867. Although his appointment was hailed with approval in Toronto military and social circles, where he had become popular, the politicians were not impressed and George Brown considered him “an old fool.”
His most important official act was the naming of John Sandfield Macdonald as premier. Although not in itself necessarily illogical, the choice was dictated to Stisted by Sir John A. Macdonald* in Ottawa with strong support from Senator David Lewis Macpherson*, the Conservative party organizer in Ontario. Macpherson considered Sandfield best able to form a coalition administration friendly to the dominion government. As he had written to Sir John A., he wanted it “first understood with that gentleman [Stisted] who he is to get to join him, letting him understand that if he attempts any tricks he will find his commission withdrawn.”
Stisted remained lieutenant governor only until the appointment of William Howland*, in July 1868. He remained in Toronto until June 1869 when he became the commanding officer at Quebec. Shortly thereafter, he returned to England. He was created a kcb in 1871 and promoted lieutenant-general in 1873.
PAC, MG 26, A (Macdonald papers), D. L. Macpherson to Macdonald, 3, 7 July 1867. DNB. D. B. Read, The lieutenant-governors of Upper Canada and Ontario, 1792–1899 (Toronto, 1900), 204–6. W. T. Barnard, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, 1860–1960: one hundred years of Canada (Don Mills, Ont., 1960), 33. B. W. Hodgins, John Sandfield Macdonald, 1812–1872 (Canadian Biographical Studies, Toronto, 1971).