LUGRIN, GEORGE KILMAN, printer, office holder, and newspaperman; b. c. 1792 in Saint John, N.B., son of loyalist Peter Lugrin; m. there 5 Feb. 1815 Deborah Ann Smiler; d. 12 May 1835 in Fredericton.
By 1807 George Kilman Lugrin was a newsboy and apprentice printer in the Saint John office of Jacob S. Mott*, who the following year took over from John Ryan* both the post of king’s printer and the publication of the Royal Gazette, and New-Brunswick Advertiser. One of Lugrin’s early writings was a poem dated 1 Jan. 1808 in which “George as is usual with vendors of News, / Again wishes a Happy New Year.” By 1813 he was a freeman of the city and a full-fledged printer with Mott.
The death of his employer in January 1814 was the occasion for several changes. Mott’s wife, Ann, was denied permission to serve as king’s printer because of her sex, and that spring Lugrin was appointed to the post, apparently on condition that the operation be moved to Fredericton, which had no newspaper at the time. In April he announced that he would begin publishing there as soon as his press and types had arrived from England and that, in the mean time, with the permission of the president of the Council, Martin Hunter*, he was appropriating a page of William Durant’s City Gazette for the New-Brunswick Royal Gazette. It was not until 10 March 1815 that his journal, a combination of official government notices and general news, appeared in Fredericton. Having married a month earlier, Lugrin settled in the capital and established a newspaper tradition that was to last into the 20th century.
Lugrin was part of what has been called a “new generation in the printing fraternity,” one separated from the issues that surrounded the founding of New Brunswick and from the politics of the loyalists. Their interests were centred on the province of the day. Foreign news continued to appear in their papers, but matters of local interest predominated, including provincial and municipal politics, the courts, economic activities, births, marriages, and deaths. The doyen of this group was Henry Chubb*, who had apprenticed under Mott with Lugrin. Lugrin’s relationship with Chubb was more than professional for Chubb married Jane Lugrin, a sister, in 1816.
As the newspapers turned their attention to local items, they frequently offended one sensitivity or another. Lugrin was to have an increasingly stormy tenure as king’s printer and to be involved in several lawsuits, most connected with his business, though personal antagonisms often clouded the issues. One he brought against the aristocratic John Simcoe Saunders* in 1828 may have precipitated the loss of his office in 1829. Four years later, on 18 May 1833, he launched another paper, the Fredericton Watchman, which had as its motto: “Official oppression shall be exposed, and all the secret springs of government shall be closely inspected. A Watch shall be kept upon Public men, and Public measures shall receive censure or commendation as they may deserve, and the latter shall be fearlessly and independently dealt with.” Lugrin aligned himself with Lemuel Allan Wilmot*, an impassioned reformer and government critic, who wrote several articles for the paper; however, the fear of official reprisal forced Lugrin to abandon him. By then a “lingering illness” had begun its work. He died on 12 May 1835 and with him the Watchman. He was 43.
The Lugrin family remained in newspapers into the following century. Charles S. Lugrin, his son, was publisher and editor of the Fredericton Express in 1863 and the Colonial Farmer from 1863 to 1877. Charles’s son Charles Henry Lugrin worked for several newspapers, founded the Fredericton Herald in 1882, and was editor of the Victoria, B.C., Colonist from 1897 to 1902.
N.B. Museum, G. J. Dibblee papers; Saint John, reg. of voters, 1785–1869. City Gazette (Saint John, N.B.), 18 April 1814. New-Brunswick Courier, 11 Feb. 1815, 16 May 1835. Royal Gazette (Fredericton), 10 March 1815–21 July 1829, 13 May 1835. J. R. Harper, Historical directory of New Brunswick newspapers and periodicals (Fredericton, 1961). H. J. Morgan, The Canadian men and women of the time: a hand-book of Canadian biography of living characters (2nd ed., Toronto, 1912). Hannay, Hist. of N.B. Lawrence, Judges of N.B. (Stockton and Raymond). MacNutt, New Brunswick.