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b. 24 Feb. 1853 in Halifax


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STUART, ANDREW, lawyer, politician, office holder, and author; b. 25 Nov. 1785 in Cataraqui (Kingston, Ont.), fifth son of John Stuart*, a Church of England clergyman, and Jane Okill; m. first Marguerite Dumoulin, and they had two sons, one of them Andrew*; m. secondly Jane Smith, and they had three daughters and a son; d. 21 Feb. 1840 at Quebec.

The Stuarts, a large family, lived at Cataraqui from 1785 and had a place in the local élite through the influence of the Reverend Mr Stuart, rather than through their wealth. Andrew Stuart was privileged to have John Strachan* as a tutor for several years, and then went to Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. He studied law in Lower Canada and was called to the bar on 5 Nov. 1807. Like his brother James*, he went into practice.

Within a few years Stuart carved out an enviable place in the legal field, and despite stiff competition became one of the most sought-after and best-paid lawyers in the Quebec region. He was, in fact, involved in all the major cases. Early in his career, for example, he conducted a spirited defence of Pierre-Stanislas Bédard*, who had been imprisoned in March 1810 on the orders of Governor Sir James Henry Craig*. He did not, however, succeed in obtaining a writ of habeas corpus for him from the Court of King’s Bench. Like François Blanchet* and Jean-Thomas Taschereau*, who were arrested at the same time, Bédard was involved in publishing Le Canadien. Stuart was chosen as counsel for the defence because he was on close terms with Bédard, who considered the Stuart brothers “friends of the Canadians.” In addition, Stuart served as the lawyer for the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice in Montreal, which had to defend the title to its assets against the crown’s claims [see Jean-Henry-Auguste Roux*]. His clients also included Quebec financiers and wealthy merchants, in particular those who had founded the Quebec Bank in 1818 [see John William Woolsey*]. Stuart was legal adviser for the bank directors and on several occasions was able to get them out of difficulty. They certainly were not inexperienced in business, but they had every reason to congratulate themselves for having made an ally of such a renowned jurist.

Young lawyers found it interesting to be associated with Stuart. This was the experience of Henry Black*. Called to the bar in 1820, he practised in partnership with Stuart for a good many years. A number of young men who subsequently distinguished themselves articled with them. Joseph Bouchette, a friend of Stuart’s, entrusted his son Robert-Shore-Milnes* to him early in the 1820s, and William Locker Pickmore Felton*, later a Liberal-Conservative assemblyman, also articled in the office of Stuart and Black. It was to them that the Irish community of the town turned in 1831 when seeking to buy land on which to build a Catholic church for the English-speaking population [see John Cannon*].

In his Souvenirs dun demi-siècle Joseph-Guillaume Barthe* tells of the trial of an Indian accused by the Hudson’s Bay Company of murder and armed robbery. Andrew Stuart, with several colleagues, acted for the defence, James Stuart for the crown. The week-long trial gave the brothers a chance to exchange many arguments. The skirmishes between the two were not meant to amuse the spectators, but to some extent they were indeed part of a game. In another case, between Toussaint Pothier and Marie-Amable Foretier*, Andrew had the opportunity to replace his brother; James apparently had had enough of confronting Joseph-Rémi Vallières de Saint-Réal, who was given to flamboyant courtroom speeches.

Stuart also expended considerable energy in the counterpart to his legal career, politics. He became involved at a time when the colony’s political life was in process of transformation. He was first elected to the House of Assembly for Lower Town Quebec as a candidate of the Canadian party. He represented this riding from 13 May 1814 till 9 Feb. 1820, and then that of Upper Town from 25 July 1820 till 2 Sept. 1830. In its early years the Canadian party had a few English-speaking members, in particular John Neilson and Andrew and James Stuart, for whom the rights of the assembly were of greater significance than the prerogatives of the crown. The two Stuarts came to have real influence on the party, whose leading members in the period before 1815 lived at Quebec. The colonial link and British institutions were not yet being challenged (as they would be around 1830), and it was the famous question of supply that became the Stuarts’ favourite issue.

Andrew Stuart ran in Upper Town in the 1834 elections but was beaten. He had left the Canadian party a short time before to join the government camp. This change of direction can be attributed to his own intellectual consistency rather than to any struggle for influence within the Canadian party, which in 1826 had become the Patriote party. Louis-Joseph Papineau*, its leader, had hardened his stance and, although there were not many of them, the assemblymen who, like Stuart, were committed only to administrative reform chose to leave the party.

Subsequently Stuart proved a fierce adversary of Papineau. He sat once more for Upper Town Quebec from 26 March 1836 till 27 March 1838, replacing René-Édouard Caron*, who had resigned the seat. He came to support the planned union of Upper and Lower Canada, and as president of the Constitutional Association, which had in its ranks William Bristow*, Thomas Cushing Aylwin*, George Pemberton, and John Neilson, he went to England in 1838 to promote the scheme. On 25 October of that year he was appointed solicitor general of Lower Canada, an office he held until his death.

Stuart’s talents as a jurist, combined with his political involvement, no doubt helped to open doors for him. He also acquired an undeniable distinction through frequenting the literary circles and learned societies of his time. With his brother James he belonged to the coterie of Louise-Amélie Panet, who held a salon in her manor-house at Sainte-Mélanie which they attended along with Jacques Viger*, Denis-Benjamin Viger*, and Louis-Joseph Papineau

Stuart’s interest in literature, history, and science led him to write several articles and works that show a detailed knowledge of the topics. Elected president of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec in 1832, he gave a number of lectures before its members on subjects as varied as classical poetry and Roman history. In addition he produced several interesting essays that were published by the society.

On 23 Feb. 1828 Andrew and David Stuart had been appointed commissioners for exploring the tract of country known as the king’s posts. Accompanied by geologist Frederick Henry Baddeley*, who was also a member of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, they visited that region, located north of the river and gulf of St Lawrence, and made a study of it. Their report, which Andrew wrote, was published by the society in 1831 under the title Report of the commissioners for exploring the country lying between the rivers Saguenay, Saint Maurice and Saint Lawrence. He contributed in a more tangible fashion to the development of the organization by helping it to obtain an initial government grant for the publication of its transactions. On several occasions he made personal donations to its library and museum.

Stuart also belonged to the Société pour l’Encouragement des Sciences et des Arts en Canada, of which he became vice-president. This association, which was founded at Quebec in 1827, pursued aims similar to those of the Literary and Historical Society. The most active members of one were often indeed leaders in the other. Sir James Kempt* finally intervened to encourage their amalgamation in 1829. Needless to say, these learned societies brought together the town’s intellectual élite. At their meetings Andrew met his colleague Henry Black and his friends Joseph Bouchette and John Charlton Fisher. Stuart also contributed regularly to the Star and Commercial Advertiser/ LÉtoile et Journal de Commerce, which was published at Quebec from 1827 till 1830. Then, with Fisher, he gathered together the information that was used by Alfred Hawkins* in writing Hawkinss picture of Quebec; with historical recollections (Quebec, 1834).

Andrew and James Stuart became well known in the field of law, where they excelled, although they did not acquire quite the same reputation. Both were renowned for their eloquence, but Andrew, it seems, showed more compassion in the practice of his profession, and his speeches in court more often contained pleas for leniency. A man of many and varied interests, he frequently won praise from his political adversaries, which, after all, is rather exceptional.

Ginette Bernatchez

Andrew Stuart wrote a number of articles for the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec. Appearing in its Trans., I (182429): 5261, 16781, and I 98218 respectively are “Notes on the Saguenay country,” “Of the ancient Etruscans, Tyrrhenians or Tuscans,” and “Journey across the continent of North America by an Indian chief, about the middle of the last century, as taken from his own mouth, and reduced to writing by M. Le Page du Pratz”; and, in Trans., 3 (183237): 26170 and 36586, “Canadian etymologies” and “Detached thoughts upon the history of civilization.”

Stuart is also the author of Notes upon the south western boundary line of the British provinces of Lower Canada and New Brunswick, and the United States of America (Quebec, 1830); Review of the proceedings of the legislature of Lower Canada in the session of 1831 . . . (Montreal, 1832); An account of the endowments for education in Lower Canada, and of the legislative and other public acts for the advancement thereof, from the cession of the country in 1763 to the present time (London, 1838); Succinct account of the treaties and negociations between Great Britain and the United States of America, relating to the boundary between the British possessions of Lower Canada and New Brunswick, in North America, and the United States of America (London, 1838).

ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 24 févr. 1840; P-294. PAC, MG 24, B12; MG 30, D1, 28: 493517; RG 68, General index, 16511841: 9, 199, 202, 214, 272, 661. Docs. relating to constitutional hist., 1819–28 (Doughty and Story), 383. Literary and Hist. Soc. of Quebec, Index of the lectures, papers and historical documents . . . , comp. F. C. Würtele and J. C. Strachan (Quebec, 1927), v, vii, ix-x, xiv, xx, xxiv, xxviii, xl, xlii. P.-G. Roy, Les avocats de la région de Québec, 41317. Barthe, Souvenirs dun demi-siècle (1885), 29298, 31417. Ginette Bernatchez, “La Société littéraire et historique de Québec (the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec), 1824–1890” (thèse de ma, univ. Laval, Québec, 1979), 6, 67, 138. J. M. LeMoine, Picturesque Quebec: a sequel toQuebec past and present” (Montreal, 1882); Quebec past and present, a history of Quebec, 1608–1876 (Quebec, 1876), 276, 415. Marianna O’Gallagher, Saint Patricks, Quebec: the building of a church and of a parish, 1827 to 1833 (Quebec, 1981). Benjamin Sulte, Histoire des Canadiens français, 1608–1880 . . . (8v., Montréal, 1882–84), 8. A. H. Young, The Revd. John Stuart, D D., U.E.L., of Kingston, U.C., and his family: a genealogical study (Kingston, Ont., [1920]).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Ginette Bernatchez, “STUART, ANDREW,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 24, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/stuart_andrew_7E.html.

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Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/stuart_andrew_7E.html
Author of Article:   Ginette Bernatchez
Title of Article:   STUART, ANDREW
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1988
Year of revision:   1988
Access Date:   February 24, 2024