CAMPBELL, STEWART, lawyer and politician; b. 5 May 1812 in Jamaica, son of Colonel John Campbell, a soldier and politician, and a Miss Stewart; m. in 1837 Georgina McIntosh Richardson of Halifax, N.S.; d. 20 Feb. 1885 in Guysborough, N.S.
Stewart Campbell received his early education and studied law in England. He completed his legal training in Halifax, probably under William Young, and was called to the bar in 1835. He practised law in Halifax prior to moving, some time before 1842, to Guysborough where he was associated with Judge Joseph Marshall*. During his residence in Guysborough he was a surrogate judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty of Nova Scotia and a lieutenant-colonel of the Guysborough reserve militia, and held the offices of judge of the court of probate and coroner for the county.
Having developed a large and varied legal practice, Campbell in 1851 successfully entered the political field as a Liberal candidate for the assembly in Guysborough, and was re-elected in 1855, 1859, and 1863. Considered a political moderate by his peers, he served from 31 March 1854 to 31 Jan. 1861 as speaker of the assembly under both Liberal and Conservative governments, and from 1863 to 1865 he was a commissioner for consolidating the statutes of Nova Scotia. Though he was speaker, Campbell was active in looking after his constituents’ interests and was necessarily involved in the distribution of patronage in Guysborough. The destitution facing the fishermen of his constituency during certain years deeply concerned him; in 1856, for example, he wrote Provincial Secretary William Alexander Henry that 150 families would be reduced to starvation unless measures were adopted for their relief. Campbell also sought improvements in the educational facilities in his county. He survived the bitter religious feuds which split the Liberal party during the late 1850s and the disputed election of 1859 to remain the representative for Guysborough until 1867.
Campbell was included among the moderates who during the debates of the mid 1860s opposed Nova Scotia’s entry into confederation. In September 1867 he was elected as Guysborough County’s first member of the House of Commons. Although elected as a moderate anti-confederate, once in Ottawa Campbell generally supported the government of Sir John A. Macdonald* and was the first member of parliament from Nova Scotia to quit the repeal and annexation movements when it became obvious in 1868 that these would fail. It was probably his support for Macdonald which provoked an Antigonish crowd to pelt Campbell with eggs at a social occasion in September 1868. Re-elected in 1872, Campbell’s 23 years in political office as an influential provincial and federal member ended with his defeat by John Angus Kirk in the 1874 general election.
Campbell had been named a qc in 1860 and in 1876 was appointed a county court judge for an area comprising the present-day counties of Antigonish, Guysborough, and Inverness; he served on the bench until his death in 1885. A local historian wrote in 1950 that Campbell was remembered in eastern Nova Scotia as “a scholarly and distinguished old gentleman, a devotee of cricket, which he had learned on the playing fields of Eton.”
PANS, MG 2, 733, nos.374, 379; 734, nos.911, 1022; 735, nos.1193, 1198; MG 4, 37; RG 1, 206; RG 5, E, 16; GP, 11; Vert. mss file, Campbell, Stewart. St Paul’s Anglican Church (Halifax), Marriage register, 1757–1863, 7 June 1837 (mfm. at PANS). Morning Herald (Halifax), 21 Feb. 1885. Novascotian, 14 Sept. 1868. Belcher’s farmer’s almanack, 1837. Canadian directory of parl. (J. K. Johnson). CPC, 1873. Directory of N.S. MLAs. Dominion annual register, 1885. Political appointments, 1841–65 (J.-O. Coté). H. C. Hart, History of the county of Guysborough, Nova Scotia (2nd ed., [Windsor, N.S., 1895?]). A. C. Jost, Guysborough sketches and essays (Guysborough, N.S., 1950).