STUART, Sir ANDREW, lawyer, seigneur, businessman, office holder, and judge; b. 16 June 1812 at Quebec, son of Andrew Stuart* and Marguerite Dumoulin; m. there 8 June 1842 Charlotte-Elmire Aubert de Gaspé, daughter of Philippe-Joseph Aubert* de Gaspé, and they had ten children, eight of whom reached adulthood; d. 9 June 1891 at Quebec.
Andrew Stuart was a descendant of a loyalist family that had come from Pennsylvania to Cataraqui (Kingston, Ont.). His grandfather John Stuart* had been the Anglican rector of Cataraqui and he had given his children a love of learning and a hatred of the “diabolical principles of equality.” Andrew’s father, a man of wide learning, was a prominent lawyer at Quebec; he and his brother James* were the pride of the legal profession there.
After Stuart finished his elementary schooling at Quebec, his father sent him to Chambly, where in 1821 Edward Parkin*, an Anglican priest, had opened a school attached to the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning [see Joseph Langley Mills*]. On his return to Quebec he was articled to his uncle James, and then to Henry Black*, who had long been a partner in his father’s law firm. Called to the bar on 7 May 1834, he practised in partnership with Robert Hunter Gairdner until the latter was appointed to the bench in 1844. He took Frederick Vannovous as a partner from 1850 to 1869, and then David Alexander Ross until 1885.
Stuart enjoyed rapid success, especially since he had inherited his father’s practice upon his death on 21 Feb. 1840. At the age of 28 he already had the leading merchants and capitalists of Quebec as clients. He was involved in arguing most of the important commercial cases in court. His marriage in 1842 to the daughter of a seigneur put a final stamp upon his swift rise in society. As befitted his social status, in 1846 he purchased the seigneury of La Martinière, which he administered with care.
With businessman John Porter, Stuart in 1851 acquired the Saint-Maurice ironworks from his brother Henry Stuart for £16,559. Henry had taken possession in 1846 but, lacking capital, was forced to lease the works the following year to James Ferrier*, a Montreal businessman, who kept them in operation until 1851 but neglected maintenance. The facilities were in an advanced state of disrepair when Porter and Stuart became the owners. In spite of government assistance and extensive renovations, such as the enlargement of the blast-furnace, Stuart and Porter had to abandon running the ironworks in 1857 or 1858, following a long court battle with former partners and serious financial reverses. The government, which acted as the principal creditor in the case, repossessed the works, which were sold to John McDougall* in 1862.
Throughout this period Stuart continued to practise law. In 1854, in recognition of his talent, he was made a qc and a member of the commission charged with revising the statutes of the province. Two years later he became bâtonnier of the bar and in 1859 he was appointed assistant judge in the Superior Court of Lower Canada. The following year he was named puisne judge of the same court. Thus began a long career on the bench which culminated in his appointment on 9 March 1885 to the chief justiceship of the Superior Court for the province of Quebec. In this capacity he acted as administrator of the province during the illness of Lieutenant Governor Louis-François-Rodrigue Masson* from 8 February to 24 March and from 7 September to 28 Oct. 1887. His tact, his sensitivity, and his impartiality in the discharge of this interim responsibility earned him the respect of all politicians. The queen honoured him with a knighthood on 9 May of that year.
Sir Andrew Stuart retired on 23 Nov. 1889. He was regarded at the time as one of the most eminent Canadian jurists. Three of his four sons chose careers in law and had already become active in this field. Stuart died at Quebec on 9 June 1891. He had converted to Roman Catholicism the previous year, and his funeral was held in St Patrick’s Church. His body was interred in Woodfield Cemetery.
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 8 juin 1842; P-294; ZQ6-120, 12 juin 1891. Le Courrier du Canada, 10 juin 1891. L’Événement, 10 juin 1891. F.-J. Audet, Les juges en chef de la province de Québec, 1764–1924 (Québec, 1927). Quebec directory, 1847–87. P.-G. Roy, Les avocats de la région de Québec; Les juges de la prov. de Québec. Michel Bédard, “La privatisation des forges du Saint-Maurice, 1846–1883: adaptation, spécialisation et fermeture” (thèse de ma, univ. Laval, Québec, 1986). P.-G. Roy, La famille Aubert de Gaspé (Lévis, Qué., 1907).