TOOSEY, PHILIP, Church of England clergyman and agriculturist; baptized 18 March 1744/45, son of the Reverend John Toosey, rector of Hessett (Hetheringsett), Suffolk, England; m. Sarah Denton in 1770, and they had three children; d. 14 Sept. 1797 at Quebec.
Philip Toosey attended Winchester School and St Paul’s School, London, and he matriculated to Cambridge (Trinity Hall) in 1762. Ordained deacon in 1765 and priest in 1769, he became rector of Stonham, Suffolk, in the latter year and retained this living, to which another was later added, throughout his life. In 1784 the Reverend Lewis Guerry resigned as incumbent of Sorel (Que.), a parish from which he had been an absentee since 1775. The annual stipend of £200 which had been paid by the British government to Guerry was now transferred to Toosey, who immigrated to Quebec with his family in 1785. As he came without any definite ecclesiastical appointment, and as the rector of Quebec, the Reverend David-François De Montmollin*, did not require his assistance, he was able in 1786 to journey to Detroit, where he baptized Indian children. Much attracted by the land and climate of Detroit, he requested the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to station him there as a missionary, but his request was refused.
His manners and abilities commended him to Lord Dorchester [Carleton*], as well as to the bishop of Nova Scotia, Charles Inglis*, who in 1789 licensed Toosey to assist Montmollin at English services in Quebec and appointed him ecclesiastical commissary of the eastern district of Canada. When a Church of England bishop for Quebec was being proposed, Toosey went back to England in the spring of 1792 to submit a claim for the post. Disappointed in this endeavour, he returned to Quebec in 1794, resumed clerical duties, and was appointed ecclesiastical commissary for Lower Canada by Bishop Jacob Mountain. From July 1796 to August 1797 he was curate at Christ Church, Montreal. After his death the family returned to England. It is known that a son, James, educated under his father, had matriculated to Cambridge in 1794.
Toosey engages the interest of the historian more as a farmer than as a clergyman. His 70-acre farm in his Suffolk parish was described by the noted agriculturist Arthur Young, who found Toosey “a very accurate and ingenious cultivator.” After he arrived in Quebec he obtained, in concert with Kenelm Chandler*, title to a large tract of land 18 miles from the capital. In this new township, which he named Stoneham after his English parish, Toosey set about creating an estate in the forest. His property had to be approached by water since no road had been built. In September 1791 he wrote to Young, saying that he had “erected a very complete barn, lofty enough to give shade all round it for fifty cows or oxen, stables for twelve horses, and flanked by sheephouses and hog-sties.” Shortly before his death he had, according to Isaac Weld*, “a neat boarded little mansion,” a farmyard “exactly in the English style,” a barn, “the largest in all Canada,” and he had erected several log houses for people he had brought out from England to help clear and settle the land. He was one of the founders, and director, of the Quebec Agricultural Society in 1789.
Toosey appears to have been a superior squire-parson of the 18th-century type. He apparently had private means to augment his moderate professional income and hence was able to take financial risks. His few letters in Young’s Annals of Agriculture show him to have been an able writer with a tendency to romanticize, but also a practical, intelligent farmer and an enthusiastic promoter of settlement.