HARDING, FRANCIS PYM, army officer and administrator; b. c. 1821 in England; d. at the Grove, Lymington, Hampshire, England, 25 Feb. 1875, aged 54 years.
As an officer of the 22nd Foot (Cheshire Regiment), Francis Pym Harding not only saw more active service than most of his contemporaries, but also distinguished himself on several occasions. Gazetted ensign in 1836, he was posted to India and, in 1850, was Persian interpreter to Sir Charles Napier. A major in 1854, Harding served in the Crimea as aide-de-camp to General John Lysaght Pennefather; there he took part in the battles of Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, when he was severely wounded and mentioned in dispatches. He was commandant of Balaklava from January 1855 until the evacuation of the Crimea. He received the cb and other decorations and was promoted colonel in 1858. By 1866 he was commanding the first battalion of the 22nd Foot in Malta.
At this time the Fenian threat was troubling New Brunswick and the governor, Arthur Hamilton Gordon*, had been energetically deploying the military resources at his disposal to counter it. Colonel Harding and the 22nd Foot were brought from Malta to stiffen the defence and reinforce the 15th Foot whose commander, Lieutenant-Colonel John Ambler Cole, did not have Harding’s experience. Harding and his men appear to have arrived in New Brunswick in April 1866 by which time Gordon had sailed for England. Major-General Charles Hastings Doyle*, administrator of the province, appointed Harding commanding officer of the exceptionally large garrison serving there at the time. Harding proved himself most efficient in his duties, worked well with the local militia, and was much concerned about the comfort of his troops, housed in the Fredericton Exhibition Building.
On 12 Oct. 1867, Hastings Doyle sent a telegram to Sir John A. Macdonald* stating that Harding was the senior military officer in New Brunswick. Sir John promptly recommended Harding’s appointment as lieutenant governor; it was confirmed on a provisional basis later the same month. Doyle himself was then appointed lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, which meant that these two experienced soldiers and administrators were able to provide effective continuity during the period of administrative transition and military reorganization caused by confederation.
In March 1868 Harding was promoted major general; in February of the following year, the garrison was reduced and the 22nd Foot transferred home. Harding sailed for England with his regiment and retired on half pay for the few remaining years of his life.
Lymington, England Registration District, entry of death, 1875, no.407. PAC, MG 26, A (Macdonald papers), 126070; RG 2, ser.2, 1, file 14A; RG 7, G1, 68, ff.351–52; G17, A, 9, f.20; RG 8, I, A1, 37, ff.25, 184; 186A; C18, 1681–88, 1690; C20, 1689. PANB, Lieutenant governor’s letter book, 1867–74. PRO, CO 42/663, 337–38. Hart, New army list, 1867; 1875.