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CHANDLER, SAMUEL, waggon maker, farmer, miller, and rebel; b. 8 Oct. 1791 at Enfield, Conn., son of Joseph Chandler and Lydia Hawkins; m. first Hannah Chapin (d. 1815), and they had two children; m. secondly in 1818 Ann McKelsey, and they had 11 children. d. 25 March 1866, at Colesburg, Iowa.

In 1818 Samuel Chandler was living in Albany, N.Y., but he moved to near Lundy’s Lane, Upper Canada, before 1820. Within two years he had established a waggon making business at St Johns (St Johns West) in Welland County. A radical in politics, he was suspected by the local authorities of treasonable activities prior to the 1837 rebellion. On 10 Dec. 1837 the fleeing rebel chieftain, William Lyon Mackenzie, came to him, and Chandler led him to safety in the United States. Chandler was later present at the rebel occupation of Navy Island, and despite the failure of this venture remained an enthusiastic Patriot. He helped form the Canadian Refugee Relief Association in March 1838.

On 20 June 1838 Chandler was a guide for a band of Patriots who raided the Short Hills area of the Niagara District. Led by James Morreau and joined by Linus W. Miller*, they entered St Johns, robbed a few inhabitants, then set fire to an inn in order to capture ten Lancers. Although Chandler may have opposed the attack initially and did secure the release of two of his neighbours from the raiders, during the raid itself he reportedly advised the robbery of an elderly resident and wanted the execution of the Lancers. The latter, however, were freed.

Chandler and most of those implicated were quickly arrested. Morreau was executed on 30 July, and Chandler himself was tried on 2 August. He was sentenced to death, but was instead banished to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) for life. In December 1841 he and a Short Hills comrade, Benjamin Wait, escaped and made their way to the United States. Settling first near Jackson, Mich., Chandler and his family moved to Iowa in 1843. Here he lived out his days as a farmer and miller.

Colin Read

[L. W. Miller, Notes of an exile to Van Dieman’s Land: comprising incidents of the Canadian rebellion in 1838, trial of the author in Canada, and subsequent appearance before her majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench, in London, imprisonment in England, and transportation to Van Dieman’s Land . . . (Fredonia, N.Y., 1846; repr. East Ardsley, Eng., 1968), 17–30, 94, contains a highly coloured account of the Short Hills raid and of the roles played in it by Miller and the other participants. A comprehensive account of the raid can be obtained from PAC, RG 5, A1, 179–221; StCatharines Journal (St Catharines, [Ont.]), 7 Dec. 1837–1 Nov. 1838; E. C. Guillet, The lives and times of the Patriots: an account of the rebellion in Upper Canada, 1837–1838, and the Patriot agitation in the United States, 1837–1842 (Toronto, 1938; repr.1968), 32, 84, 104–13, 206, 209–10, 221–22; and E. A. Cruikshank, “A twice-told tale (the insurrection in the Short Hills in 1838),” OH, XXIII (1926), 180–222. PAC, MG 24, I26, 65, report by Robert Laidlaw, contains a transcript of the trials of the raiders, and Benjamin Wait, Letters from Van Dieman’s Land, written during four years imprisonment for political offences committed in Upper Canada (Buffalo, N.Y., 1843), 60–61, 268, 354–55, is valuable for its description of the escape by Chandler and Wait from Van Diemen’s Land, as well as for the information it contains on the attempts made in England to prevent the transportation of Chandler, Wait, and others to the penal colony. Harvey Reid, In the shadow of the gallows: a true story of an Iowa pioneer (Maquoketa, Iowa, 1902), consisting of articles reprinted from the Jackson Republican (Maquoketa, Iowa), deals mainly with Chandler’s fortunes after his capture and draws heavily on Wait’s work. L. B. Duff, “Samuel Chandler of St. Johns,” Welland County Hist. Soc., Papers and Records, V (1938), 115–49, is the best source on Chandler.  c.r.]

PAO, Mackenzie-Lindsey papers, Mackenzie papers, box 1835 to March 1838, “Navy Island memoranda, 1837,” [18 Dec. 1837]; box April to December 1838, Nelson Gorham to W. L. Mackenzie, 29 July [1838]; letter [M. A. Reynolds] to W. L. Mackenzie, 28 Aug. 1838; clippings, item 4682. Lindsey, Life and times of Mackenzie, II, 118–21.

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Cite This Article

Colin Read, “CHANDLER, SAMUEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 24, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chandler_samuel_9E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/chandler_samuel_9E.html
Author of Article:   Colin Read
Title of Article:   CHANDLER, SAMUEL
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1976
Year of revision:   1976
Access Date:   February 24, 2024