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GILMORE (Gilmour), THOMAS, journalist and printer; buried on 3 Feb. 1773 in Quebec.

Thomas Gilmore is believed to have been born in 1741 either in Philadelphia or Stone, a village now in the suburbs of Dublin (Republic of Ireland). At 17 years of age he was hired by printer William Dunlop in Philadelphia, and he worked there for a time alongside William Brown. In 1763 Brown, who had returned from Barbados, met Gilmore again, and on 5 August the two signed a partnership contract to set up a printing-press in the province of Quebec. With difficulty Brown made his way to Quebec on horseback and there distributed a handbill announcing the publication of a weekly gazette. Gilmore sailed to London, where he bought type from founder William Caslon Sr, a press and ink, and paper from the shop of Kendrick Peck; he also subscribed to various newspapers. On 7 June 1764 he rejoined his partner Brown in Quebec. They had 143 subscribers, and on 21 June the first number of the Quebec Gazette/La Gazette de Québec was published. The subscriptions and the £50 paid annually by the colonial authorities for official announcements were insufficient to meet the sundry expenses and the monthly rent of 14s. 6d. for their shop on Rue Saint-Louis, which belonged to a J. Thomson. The press therefore turned out announcements of sales, blank certificates, calendars, and the first books printed in the province. For example, in 1765 they published for James Johnston, foreman of the Grand Jury of Quebec, 300 copies of a bilingual brochure known under the title of Presentments to the Grand Jury. In November 1765 Le catéchisme du diocèse de Sens, a 180-page work in octavo by Mgr Jean-Joseph Languet de Gergy, was printed in 2,000 copies (eight or nine are extant) and delivered to Louis Langlois, dit Germain, at a price of £91 16s. A French translation of the Stamp Act was published in 1766, followed in 1767 by a work in Montagnais by Jean-Baptiste de La Brosse, Nehiro-Iriniui; Aiamihe Massinahigan . . . (96 pages), as well as by Ordinances, made for the Province of Quebec . . . (81 pages in folio) and The Trial of Daniel Disney . . . , a work on the Thomas Walker affair, probably by Francis Maseres*.

Because the Gazette was published in two languages Gilmore and Brown had difficulty finding suitable staff, and they regularly advertised positions. On 29 April 1768 they wrote their former employer, Dunlop, to ask him to send them a young black who knew English, French, and printing techniques, who was honest, and who had had smallpox. Joe, the young black, evidently did not meet all these criteria; the firm’s account book records amounts paid on 19 Aug. 1771 to get Joe out of prison and on 21 Jan. 1777 to Dr James Davidson for treatment of Joe’s smallpox.

Growing disagreement between the two partners was perhaps not unconnected with Gilmore’s marriage to Mary Lillicoe on 6 Nov. 1768 in Quebec. On 4 Oct. 1770 Gilmore signed a promissory note for £250 in favour of Brown, who through his lawyer, Arthur Davidson*, demanded payment of the debt before the Court of Common Pleas on 4 Feb. 1771 and on 6 July 1772. Gilmore died an alcoholic early in 1773 at 32 years of age. During that summer there was more wrangling between his widow and Brown, who accused each other of dishonesty in the Quebec Gazette on 12 and 19 August and 2 September. The issue of 27 Jan. 1774 announced the dissolution of the partnership between Gilmore (in the person of his widow) and Brown, who remained sole owner of the newspaper.

Although Brown was certainly the dominant figure, Gilmore was also a pioneer in the development of printing in Quebec.

Jean-Francis Gervais

ASQ, Polygraphie, XXXV, 6e; Séminaire, 152, no. 182. Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Anglican) (Quebec), Registers of baptisms, burials, and marriages, 6 Nov. 1768, 3 Feb. 1773. PAC, MG 24, B1, 49. Beaulieu et Hamelin, La presse québécoise, I, 2. Tremaine, Bibliography of Canadian imprints. Æ. Fauteux, Introduction of printing into Canada. H. P. Gundy, Canada (Amsterdam, 1972), 29–31. F.-J. Audet, “William Brown (1737–1789), premier imprimeur, journaliste et libraire de Québec; sa vie et ses œuvres,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., XXVI (1932), sect.i, 97–112. Raoul Renault, “Les débuts de l’imprimerie au Canada,” BRH, XII (1906), 86–88.

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Cite This Article

Jean-Francis Gervais, “GILMORE, THOMAS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 25, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gilmore_thomas_4E.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/gilmore_thomas_4E.html
Author of Article:   Jean-Francis Gervais
Title of Article:   GILMORE, THOMAS
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1979
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   May 25, 2024