LAMBLY, JOHN ROBERT, sail-maker and registrar; b. 25 Jan. 1799 in Rochester, England, eldest child of Captain John Lambly, harbourmaster of Quebec, and Frances Richardson; d. 31 Jan. 1863 in Leeds, Canada East.
The parents of John Robert Lambly had been married at Quebec on 31 Aug. 1797, and lived in Rochester before coming back to Quebec on 18 May 1802. At age 14 John Robert, although hoping to become a sail-maker, began to study for the notarial profession. The boy’s wishes finally prevailed and in 1816 he was sent to London, England, to serve his apprenticeship as a sail-maker. Letters from his father in Quebec contained good advice for his son to “write French often and keep constant attention to that language,” to attend church, and especially to read the bible and prayer book. John Robert evidently completed his apprenticeship in the fall of 1819, and sailed for Quebec in the spring of 1820. An item in the Quebec Gazette of 1 Aug. 1820 announcing the opening of a sail loft on 12 June 1820 by John Robert Lambly confirms that he set up a business immediately upon his return from England.
Lambly did not continue long at the sailmaking trade. He became one of the first settlers in Halifax Township, in the Eastern Townships, moving there, it is believed, in 1827. He may not have relished the sail-making business as much as he had anticipated. Moreover, the building of Craig’s Road to connect Quebec with Richmond may have been an incentive to leave Quebec, especially since two of his future brothers-in-law were moving into the area on the northeast shore of Lake William. They established their families in forest clearings, as did Lambly, who married Ann Mackie of Quebec City on 23 April 1828. Seven children were born of this marriage. The Lambly family had thus settled in the region prior to the coming of the Scots from Arran in 1829.
On 30 May 1843 Ann Lambly died; on 15 Jan. 1845 John Robert married Elizabeth Pierce Bailey of the township of Ireland, and they had ten children. On 3 April 1844, he had been appointed registrar of Mégantic County by the government and had moved with his family to Leeds where the registry office was located. Thus at 45 John Robert returned to a type of notarial work for which he apparently had had some early training.
He remained registrar until 1862 when the county seat was moved to Inverness and his son William Harvard succeeded him. John Robert was also president of the Mégantic County Agricultural Society for many years, and first mayor of the municipality of Mégantic in 1854 and of Leeds Township in 1855.
Wesleyan Methodism in Mégantic County seems to have had its oldest organized existence in the Leeds circuit with preaching at various stations before 1864. John Robert Lambly was one of the local preachers who filled appointments in Ireland, Saint-Ferdinand-d’Halifax (Halifax), Inverness, and Saint-Sylvestre (Beaurivage), and he canvassed the county in the interest of temperance reform. In 1855 he became deputy grand worthy patriarch of the Society of Temperance. His religious influence was reflected in the careers of his children. Two sons, Osborn Richardson and James Bankier, became ministers, and William Harvard became internationally known for his work in prohibition.
John Robert Lambly died in Leeds on 31 Jan. 1863, having made a worthwhile contribution to the development of Mégantic County and the Eastern Townships.
ANQ-Q, État civil, Anglicans, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Québec), 23 April 1828. Private archives, Harry Lambly (San Francisco), “The Lamblys, lore and legend.” Christian Guardian, 11 March 1863. Men of today in the Eastern Townships, ed. V. E. Morrill and comp. E. G. Pierce (Sherbrooke, Que., 1917), 22. D. M. McKillop, Annals of Megantic County, Quebec (Lynn, Mass., 1902), 65.