Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Haliburton School, according to Bill Barry, was named after one of Canada's first authors:

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Member of Parliament for Launceston

In office


Personal details

Born    17 December 1796

Windsor, Nova Scotia

Died    August 27, 1865 (aged 68)

Isleworth, England

Political party    Conservative Party (UK)


    Lord Haliburton

    Robert Grant Haliburton

Father    William Hersey Otis Haliburton


    James Burton (property developer) (cousin)

    James Burton (Egyptologist) (cousin)

    Henry Burton (physician) (cousin)

    Decimus Burton (cousin)

Thomas Chandler Haliburton (17 December 1796 – 27 August 1865) was a Nova Scotian politician, judge, and author. He made an important political contribution to the state of Nova Scotia before its entry into Confederation of Canada. He was the first international best-selling author of fiction from what is now Canada. In 1856, he emigrated to England, where he served as a Conservative Member of Parliament.

He was the father of the British civil servant Lord Haliburton and of the anthropologist Robert Grant Haliburton.



On 17 December 1796, Thomas Chandler Haliburton was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the son of William Hersey Otis Haliburton, a lawyer, judge and political figure, and Lucy Chandler Grant. As a small child, his mother died. At the age of seven his father remarried to Susanna Davis. Davis was the daughter of Michael Francklin, who had been Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor. As an adolescent, he attended University of King's College in Windsor. After graduating, he became a lawyer, opening a practice in Annapolis Royal, the former capital of the colony.

Haliburton attained distinction as a local businessman and as a judge, but his greatest fame came from his published writings. He wrote a number of books on history, politics, and farm improvement. He first rose to international fame with his Clockmaker serial, which first appeared in the Novascotian and later published as a book throughout the British Empire, becoming popular light reading. The work recounted the humorous adventures of the character Sam Slick.

In 1816, he married Lousia Nevill, daughter of Captain Laurence Neville, of the Eighth Light Dragoons.

Between 1826 and 1829, Haliburton represented Annapolis County in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

Relationship with English Burton family

Thomas Chandler Haliburton resided in England from 1837, where he was hosted and entertained in London by his cousins Decimus Burton, Jane Burton, James Burton, the Egyptologist, Septimus Burton, the solicitor, Octavia Burton, and Jessy Burton. Thomas asked James Burton, the Egyptologist, to check the proofs of his work Letter Bag of the Great Western, with which Burton was unimpressed, in 1839, and those of the third series of The Clockmaker in 1840. The pair travelled together to Scotland to investigate their common ancestry, and intended to tour Canada and the United States of America together. Thomas Chandler Haliburton's daughter, Susannah, was impressed by James Burton, the Egyptologist: she wrote, in 1839, "Mr James I admire very much. He is one of the most well-bred persons I saw &... decidedly the flower of the flock".

Retirement and subsequent life

In 1856, Thomas Chandler Haliburton retired from law and moved to England. In the same year, he married Sarah Harriet Owen Williams. In 1859, Haliburton was elected the Member of Parliament for Launceston, Cornwall as a member of the Conservative minority; he did not stand for re-election in 1865.

Haliburton received an honorary degree from Oxford for his services to literature. He continued writing until his death on 27 August 1865, at his home in Isleworth, near London.


Mrs Louisa Haliburton (née Neville) first wife of Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Daughter Amelia Gilpin by William Notman

While in England, Thomas Chandler Haliburton met Louisa Neville, daughter of Captain Laurence Neville, of the Eighth Light Dragoons. In 1816, he married her, soon thereafter returning to Nova Scotia with her. Louisa's story before marriage is related in the "Haliburton Chaplet," edited by their son, Robert Grant Haliburton (Toronto: 1899). The couple had two sons and five daughters:

    Susannah Lucy Anne, later Weldon, 1817–1899, ceramic collector

    Mrs. A. F. Haliburton

    Mrs. Bainbridge Smith

    Amelia (25 Jul 1829 – 14 Jan 1902), landscape artist, married the Rev. Edwin Gilpin, Dean of Nova Scotia, in 1849; the couple had four sons and one daughter, including Edwin Gilpin (1850–1907), a mining engineer and author

    Robert Grant Haliburton, Q.C., D.C.L., 1831–1901, lawyer, author, and anthropologist

    Arthur (1832–1907), later 1st Baron Haliburton, G.C.B., British civil servant

    Laura Charlotte, artist, married William Cunard, son of the shipping magnate Sir Samuel Cunard at Windsor, Nova Scotia, 30 December 1851; three sons, one daughter. Exhibited her pictures at the Royal Academy, the Gallery of British Artists, and at other institutions in London.

In 1840, Louisa died and was buried at Windsor.


Haliburton was eager to promote immigration to the colonies of British North America. One of his first written works was an emigrant's guide to Nova Scotia published in 1823, A General Description of Nova Scotia; Illustrated by a New and Correct Map The community of Haliburton, Nova Scotia was named after him. In Ontario, Haliburton County is named after Haliburton in recognition of his work as the first chair of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company.

In 1884, faculty and students at his alma mater founded a literary society in honour of the College's most celebrated man of letters. The Haliburton Society, still active at the University of King's College, Halifax, is the longest-standing collegial literary society throughout the Commonwealth of Nations and North America.

The mention "hurly on the long pond on the ice", which appears in the second volume of The Attaché, or Sam Slick in England, a work of fiction published in 1844, has been interpreted by some as a reference to a hockey-like game he may have played during his years at King's College. It is the basis of Windsor's disputed claim to being the town that fathered hockey.

In 1902, a memorial to Haliburton and his first wife was erected in Christ Church, Windsor, by four of their children: Laura Cunard, Lord Haliburton, and two surviving sisters.

Nova Scotian artist William Valentine painted Haliburton's portrait. His former home in Windsor is preserved as a museum.


    A General Description of Nova Scotia - 1823

    An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia - 1829

    The Clockmaker - 1836

    The Clockmaker, 2nd Series - 1838

    The Bubbles of Canada - 1839

    A Reply to the Report of the Earl of Durham - 1839

    The Letter-Bag of the Great Western - 1840

    The Clockmaker, 3rd Series - 1840

    The Attaché; or Sam Slick in England - 1843

    The Attaché; or Sam Slick in England, 2nd Series - 1844

    The Old Judge, Or Life in a Colony - 1849

    The English in America - 1851

    Rule and Misrule in English America - 1851 vol 1 vol 2

    Sam Slick's Wise Saws and Modern Instances - 1853

    The Americans at Home; or, Byways, Backwoods, and Prairies - 1855

    Nature and Human Nature - 1855

    The Season-Ticket* - 1860

    Maxims of an Old Stager Not by Haliburton, but pseudonym may be "Sam Slick"


Cogswell, F. (2000). Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. John English, Ed. (English version). Retrieved on: 2012-02-08.

Davies, Richard A. (2005). Inventing Sam Slick: A Biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton. University of Toronto Press. p. 71.

Davies, Richard A. (2005). Inventing Sam Slick: A Biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton. University of Toronto Press. p. 72.

Davies, Richard A. (2005). Inventing Sam Slick: A Biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton. University of Toronto Press. p. 73.

Richard A. Davies, Inventing Sam Slick: A Biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton (2005)

Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903)

Richard Davies, Inventing Sam Slick, pp. 28-29; Original online text: A General Description of Nova Scotia; Illustrated by a New and Correct Map (Halifax: Printed at the Royal Acadian School, 1823) Internet Archives

From wikipedia