Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
January 2005

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


Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley

Father of Confederation



Tilley, Sir Samuel Leonard (1818-1896), statesman was born at Gagetown, New Brunswick, on May 18, 1818, the son of Thomas Morgan Tilley and Susan Ann Peters. He was educated at the Gagetown grammar school, and in 1831 began to earn his own livelihood as a clerk in an apothecary's office in Saint John, New Brunswick. In 1838 he went into business for himself, as a partner in the firm of Peters and Tilley. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick from 1850 to 1851, from 1854 to 1856, and from 1857 to 1865. In 1854 he became provincial secretary in the Fisher administration, and from 1861 to 1865 was leader of the government. In 1864 he was a delegate to the conferences at Charlottetown and Quebec to discuss Confederation; and in 1866 he was a delegate to the London Conference, at which the British North America Act was drafted. The ministry of which he was a member was defeated in 1865 on the issue of Confederation, but was returned to power in 1866. In 1867 Tilley resigned from the New Brunswick cabinet, and became minister of customs in the first cabinet of the Dominion of Canada. This portfolio he retained until 1873, when he became minister of finance in the Macdonald government. On the fall of the government a few months later, he was appointed lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick ; and his tenure of this office coincided with the period of office of the Mackenzie government. In 1878, therefore, he was free to become minister of finance in the second Macdonald government, and it fell to him to inaugurate the National Policy. Failing health compelled him to resign his portfolio in 1885, and he was then appointed lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick for a second term. This second term of office lasted until 1893 ; and on June 25, 1896, he died at Saint John, New Brunswick.


He was twice married, (1) to Julia Anna, daughter of James T. Hanford, of Saint John , and (2) in 1867 to Alice, daughter of Z. Chipman, of St. Stephen. He was created a C.B. (civil) in 1867, and a K.C.M.G. in 1879. See J. Hannay, The life and times of Sir Leonard Tilley (Saint John, New Brunswick, 1896), and Sir Leonard Tilley (Toronto, 1907).


Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., "Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley," The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., p. 145.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College