Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Sir John Colborne


Colborne, Sir John, first Baron Seaton (1778-1863), lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (1829-1836), was born at Lyndhurst, Hants. England, on February 16, 1778, the only son of Samuel Colborne. He entered the British army as an ensign in the 20th Regiment in 1794; and fought throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. At the battle of Waterloo, where he commanded the 52nd Regiment, he was chiefly responsible for the defeat and rout of Napoleon's Old Guard. In 1825 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Guernsey, and in 1829 lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. He administered the affairs of Upper Canada with much prudence under several colonial secretaries until, 1836, when he was allowed to retire. In 1835, however, he had been appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Canada ; and it fell to him therefore, to deal with the rebellions of 1837 and 1838. Both before and after Lord Durham's period of office, he was administrator of the government; and in 1839 he was appointed governor-in-chief of British North America. At the end of the year, however, he gave place to Poulett Thomson, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Seaton of Seaton. From 1843 to 1849 he was lord high commissioner of the Ionian islands ; and from 1855 to 1860 he was commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland, with the rank of general. In 1860, on his retirement, he was promoted to be a field-marshal; and he died at Torquay, England, on April 17, 1863. In 1813 he married Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. J. Yonge, rector of Newton Ferrers, Devonshire ; and by her he had several children, including two sons who rose to the rank of general. In 1814 he was created a K.C.B., in 1838 a G.C.B., and in 1843 a G.C.M.G. See Rev. Win. Leeke, The history of Lord Seaton's regiment (2 vols., London, 1866; suppl., London, 1871). [For a long time, after the Rebellions of 1837-1838, Colborne was known, in Quebec, as "le vieux brulot" -   the old firebreather - in recognition of the many farms of suspected patriotes that were vengefully burned by his troops.]

Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 99.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College