KELLY, FRANCIS, land surveyor, business agent, farmer, and politician; b. May 1803 in Mulloloughan, County Monaghan, Ireland; d. 19 April 1879 at Fort Augustus, P.E.I.
Francis Kelly completed his schooling in Dublin, where he worked as a teacher and law clerk. Sometime before he emigrated to Prince Edward Island in May 1835, he married Catherine Lennon of Tullycorbett. Upon arrival on the Island, Kelly settled at Fort Augustus in Lot 36. There a large landowner, the Reverend John McDonald, hired him to survey his estates and to serve as his business agent. This association lasted until 1 May 1846.
After two unsuccessful attempts in the 1840s, Kelly was elected to the House of Assembly for Queens County, Third District, in 1858 as a running mate of the Liberal premier, George Coles. With the exception of the 1872 session, Kelly held this seat until his death. A strong Catholic layman, he was often in the forefront of attempts by the church to gain educational concessions. In 1870 an internal crisis in the Liberal government over the granting of public funds to Catholic St Dunstan’s College caused Kelly and six other Catholic assemblymen to leave the party and join the Tories led by James Colledge Pope*. Such a shift in an assembly of 30 members was enough to bring the Tories to power, and as a reward Kelly was named chief commissioner of crown lands. He held the post until the government changed hands in 1872 and regained the position for 1875 and 1876.
On the other issues of his era Kelly took the position of most of his contemporaries. In the 1860s he ardently opposed confederation and voted for James Pope’s “no terms” resolution in 1866; when union became a financial imperative seven years later, however, Kelly joined Pope to seek “better terms.” On the land question he argued in favour of easier conditions for tenants wishing to purchase their farms.
Kelly’s importance as an Island politician stems from his longevity and from his constant and forthright support for the educational demands of his church. It is this cause which motivated him and explains both his change in party allegiance and his about-face on confederation.
PAPEI, Prince Edward Island, Executive Council, Minutes, 1858–79, especially 10 Sept. 1870. PRO, CO 226/82, 108–10; 226/106, 225–27. Prince Edward Island, House of Assembly, Debates, 1858–78, especially 1861, 126–27; 1871, 45–46, 57; 1872, Session 2, 237; 1875, 198, 359; Journals, 1858–79, especially 1860, 186–87; 1876, 86. Colonial Herald (Charlottetown), 9 July 1842. Examiner (Charlottetown), 4 Dec. 1871; 7 Aug. 1876; 19 April, 2 May 1879. Islander (Charlottetown), 15 July 1870. Patriot (Charlottetown), 21 July, 20, 25 Aug., 3, 17 Dec. 1870. Royal Gazette (Charlottetown), 21 April, 28 July 1846. Can. parl. comp., 1874; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879. Bolger, PEI and confederation.