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WHITE, THOMAS (1830-88) – Volume XI (1881-1890)

d. 21 April 1888 at Ottawa, Ont.


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STUDHOLME, GILFRED, army officer and office-holder; b. 1740 near Dublin (Republic of Ireland); d. unmarried 10 Oct. 1792 at Studville (Apohaqui, N.B.).

Gilfred Studholme was commissioned ensign in the 27th Foot in November 1756 and the following May was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In November 1761 he received a lieutenancy in the 40th Foot and served in what he described as “the Expensive Campaigns of Martonico [Martinique] and the Havanna.” When the 40th returned to Nova Scotia in 1763, Studholme was placed in command of a company stationed at Fort Frederick (Saint John, N.B.). In the summer of the same year, acting on orders from Lieutenant Governor Jonathan Belcher of Nova Scotia, Studholme ordered a group of Acadians living in the Sainte-Anne (Fredericton) area to leave for other parts of the province. He took no measures to force their departure, however, and the Acadians remained. In 1765 Studholme left with his regiment for Ireland.

It is uncertain when he returned to Nova Scotia. In September 1771 he transferred to the 24th Foot and three years later retired from active service. With the outbreak of the American revolution his military career quickly resumed. He was commissioned in the Loyal Nova Scotia Volunteers, later served as a captain in the Royal Fencible Americans, and in December 1775 was promoted brigade-major, a rank he held until his retirement in 1783. When rebel forces under Jonathan Eddy* attempted to capture Fort Cumberland (near Sackville, N.B.) in late 1776 [see Joseph Goreham], the timely arrival of reinforcements under Major Thomas Batt and Studholme forced their retreat. American privateers and Indians incited by rebel John Allan* continued, however, to threaten settlers on the Saint John River. As a result Studholme arrived in Saint John harbour in November 1777 with orders either to repair Fort Frederick or to build a new fort.

Because of the low-lying position of Fort Frederick and the damage done to it by the rebels the previous year, Studholme decided to erect a new fortification, and his 50 men, helped by local inhabitants, began the construction of Fort Howe. In the years after its completion both the fort and its commandant Studholme made important contributions to the British cause. The “comparative security” the fort brought to the inhabitants of the Saint John area is attributed by William Odber Raymond* to “the ability and zeal” of Studholme. Fort Howe also proved useful in the complicated Indian diplomacy of Michael Francklin, superintendent of Indian affairs in Nova Scotia. Studholme himself helped in the execution of Francklin’s policies and had a major role in the Indian conference of June 1780 at which the Micmacs and Malecites were neutralized. Shortly thereafter, with some satisfaction, Studholme mentioned to Lieutenant-General Frederick Haldimand, governor of Quebec, “The Friendship and good behaviour of the Indians in this District.” Studholme conducted a correspondence with Haldimand which was necessitated by another of Fort Howe’s functions, the maintenance of communications between Halifax and Quebec. He was especially attentive to this task and earned Haldimand’s repeated praise for his zeal and diligence.

As the war drew to a close Studholme involved himself in a number of civilian activities. He was already leasing lands and buildings belonging to James Simonds* at the mouth of the Saint John River, and in August 1782 he received 2,000 acres as a veteran of the Seven Years’ War. Shortly afterwards he acquired 5,000 acres on the Kennebecasis River, to which he gave the name Studville. The end of the war found him active in procuring land for loyalist refugees as well. In September 1783 Governor John Parr of Nova Scotia appointed him to “The care and superintending” of the loyalist settlers on the Saint John, and under his direction they were given “a hearty welcome,” assigned their land, and issued materials for the construction of their homes. Surprisingly, despite the divisions among the settlers and their dislike of Parr, Studholme maintained a good relationship with both the leading loyalists and the governor. Parr turned to Studholme for advice concerning communications between Halifax and Quebec, and Studholme’s acceptability to the loyalist leaders was demonstrated when he was named to the first Executive Council of the new province of New Brunswick. He remained a Council member, although never a very active one, until his death.

It might have been assumed that Studholme, a respected retired military officer with considerable property, a Council seat, and influential friends such as Ward Chipman* and Edward Winslow*, was assured a prosperous and tranquil existence. Such was not to be the case. As an agent for absentee landowners he was involved in considerable litigation; at the same time he was embroiled in disputes over his own lands and faced with a number of unpaid notes. His health, which he described as “at all times precarious and easily Shook,” broke and he was a frequent invalid. He was constantly forced to beg creditors for more time in the hope that his lumber sales or hemp production would improve his financial position. By 1790 he was “very hard drove for money” and could only hope “by the sale of my Lands to get out of Debt.” He retained his Kennebecasis holdings, however, and lived there until his death “with neither child nor wife to cheer his solitude.” The obituary notice in the Royal Gazette and the New Brunswick Advertiser paid tribute to his “amiable manners, universal benevolence and liberal spirit” which “most justly endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance.” His wartime services and aid to the loyalists were deservedly remembered and appreciated by his contemporaries while his peacetime failures and difficulties were forgotten.

W. G. Godfrey

BL, Add. mss 21723, pp.108–9; 21724, p.240; 21809, pp.57, 67, 88, 113, 139, 144–45, 160–61, 179–80, 186–89, 203, 209, 214–15, 219–22, 226–27, 230–31, 233, 235–36, 242–47, 259–60, 284, 286, 288, 293, 306–7, 309–10; 21810, pp.16, 31, 58, 76, 87, 107, 125, 134–36, 140–41, 145–46, 154–55, 171, 176, 202, 208 (PAC transcripts). PAC, MG 23, D1, 3, ff.1169–86; 6, ff.275, 296–97, 705, 727–29, 731–32, 738, 742; 18, ff.71–73, 108–9; 23, ff.76–110, 113–17; MG 23, D5, ff.14–17, 19–24, 61–67. PANB, “New Brunswick political biography,” comp. J. C. and H. B. Graves (11v., typescript), IV, 40. PRO, WO 1/6, pt.2, ff.344–46. PAC Report, 1894, 362. “Royal commission and instructions to Governor Thomas Carleton,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., II (1899–1905), no.6, 406. “Sunbury County documents,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., I (1894–97), no.1, 100–18. “The James White papers,” ed. W. O. Raymond, N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., II (1899–1905), no.4, 45–46, 64–65. Winslow papers, A.D. 1776–1826, ed. W. O. Raymond (Saint John, N.B., 1901), 119, 147, 162, 204–6, 217, 346–47, 379–80.

James Hannay, History of New Brunswick (2v., Saint John, 1909), I, 145–46. W. B. Kerr, The maritime provinces of British North America and the American revolution (Sackville, N.B., [1941?]; repr. New York, [1970]), 80–81, 91–94, 100–3. MacNutt, New Brunswick, 34–35, 52. L. M. B. Maxwell, An outline of the history of central New Brunswick to the time of confederation (Sackville, 1937), 31–33, 64, 99, 120–21. Murdoch, History of N.S., III, 19–20. Raymond, River StJohn (1943), 133, 138, 191, 216–23, 228–30, 237, 248–49, 254–55, 279. R. H. R. Smythies, Historical records of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment . . . (Devonport, Eng., 1894), 553–54. E. C. Wright, The Saint John River (Toronto, 1949), 25, 35, 69–70. Garnet Basque, “Major Studholm’s treasure,” Canadian Treasure (Vancouver), 2, (1974), no.1, 4–9. Robert Fellows, “The loyalists and land settlement in New Brunswick, 1783–1790; a study in colonial administration,” Canadian Archivist (Calgary), II (1971), 5–15. Neil MacKinnon, “Nova Scotia loyalists, 1783–1785,” Social History, no.4 (1969), 17–48. W. G. Power, “Fort Howe (1777–1821),” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., no.19 (1966), 7–16. W. O. Raymond, “Brigadier General Monckton’s expedition to the River Saint John in September, 1758 . . . ,” N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., III (1907–14), no.8, 113–65.

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Cite This Article

W. G. Godfrey, “STUDHOLME, GILFRED,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 21, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/studholme_gilfred_4E.html.

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Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/studholme_gilfred_4E.html
Author of Article:   W. G. Godfrey
Title of Article:   STUDHOLME, GILFRED
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1979
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   April 21, 2024