BOOTH, JOSHUA, miller, office holder, politician, and militia officer; b. 1758 or 1759 in Orange County, N.Y., son of Benjamin Booth; m. Margaret Fraser, daughter of a loyalist and former army officer, and they had six daughters and five sons; d. 27 Oct. 1813 in Ernestown Township, Upper Canada.
Little is known of Joshua Booth’s early life. He served with the British loyalist forces during the American revolution but details of his service are obscure. He was probably the Joshua Booth listed in 1780 as a private in De Lancey’s Brigade. Booth appears on the United Empire Loyalist list as a sergeant. After the revolution he immigrated to Upper Canada and was granted land in Ernestown Township. He acquired at least another 1,500 acres of land in Ernestown and Thurlow townships as a result of successful petitions on his own and his wife’s behalf. About 1793 he began to exploit the useful sites for grist-mills and sawmills within his Ernestown grants and what was then called “the Gore between Kingston and Ernestown.” In 1802 he was also granted a lease of the “King’s Mill” at Ernestown, a sawmill on lot 18, concession 5. On the basis of these activities a local historian concluded that by the time of his death, Booth was the most successful mill proprietor and landowner in the area.
Booth held several local offices which indicate a measure of regional prominence. In 1792, when the land board of the Mecklenburg District was abolished, Booth was named to the land board of Lennox and Addington, Hastings and Prince Edward along with Peter Van Alstine, Alexander Fisher, and Archibald McDonell*. In the same year he was elected to the House of Assembly for the riding of Ontario and Addington, serving until the first parliament was dissolved in 1796. It is not known whether Booth played a role of any importance in this early assembly. On 15 July 1796 he was appointed a justice of the peace for the Midland District and he received his last commission on 16 March 1808. As a justice, Booth was a member of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Midland District which met four times yearly, in both a judicial and an administrative capacity, alternating between Adolphustown and Kingston. At best Booth was an infrequent attender: 3 of 15 sessions between 8 July 1800 and 24 Jan. 1804, and 5 of 25 sessions from 27 Jan. 1807 to 26 Jan. 1813. On 2 Sept. 1797 and again on 21 July 1800 he had been named with Richard Cartwright, Hazelton Spencer, and Joseph Forsyth to the first Heir and Devisee Commission for the Midland District. Of four sessions between 16 Sept. 1802 and 3 Sept. 1803 Booth attended three.
During the War of 1812 Booth was a captain commanding a company of the 1st Addington Militia. His death occurred suddenly while he was leading a detachment of militia in search of militiamen absent from duty without leave and to retrieve a number of missing boats washed ashore along the front of Ernestown. His widow received from the province an annual pension of £20.
AO, RG 1, A-I-6: 328; A-II-1, 1: 218; A-II-5, 2; RG 22, ser.54, 2. Lennox and Addington County Museum (Napanee, Ont.), Lennox and Addington Hist. Soc. coll., T. W. Casey papers: 11849 (mfm. at PAC). PAC, RG 1, L3, 27: B1/9, 98, 135–36; 30: B3/183; 67: B misc., 1788–95/138; 184: E, Ernestown Mills/2; L7, 52A; RG 5, A1: 7781–87; RG 8, I (C ser.), 1881; RG 9, I, B4, 2: 2; 6: 216; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: ff.248–50, 405–6, 411, 419–20. PRO, CO 42/147: 150. “Board of land office, District of Hesse,” AO Report, 1905: 211. Corr. of Lieut. Governor Simcoe (Cruikshank), 5: 222. “Petitions for grants of land” (Cruikshank), OH, 24: 27. “Surveyors’ letters, etc.,” AO Report, 1905: 467. “U.C. land book C,” AO Report, 1931: 75. Armstrong, Handbook of Upper Canadian chronology, 58. Reid, Loyalists in Ont., 25. William Canniff, History of the settlement of Upper Canada Ontario with special reference to the Bay Quinte (Toronto, 1869; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1971), 442–43, 534, 642. W. S. Herrington, History of the county of Lennox and Addington (Toronto, 1913; repr. Belleville, 1972), 358–59. J. F. Pringle, Lunenburgh or the old Eastern District: its settlement and early progress . . . (Cornwall, Ont., 1890; repr. Belleville, 1972), 375. T. W. Casey, “Our first representatives in parliament,” Lennox and Addington Hist. Soc., Papers and Records (Napanee), 4 (1912): 28–29. C. C. James, “The first legislators of Upper Canada,” RSC Trans., 2nd ser., 8 (1902), sect.ii; 93–119.