A Blupete Biography Page

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Lawyer, politician, judge, writer, Thomas Chandler Haliburton is one of Nova Scotia's best known native sons. He was widely known thoughout the English speaking world during the 19th century as the creator of the literary character, Sam Slick.

Haliburton was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia of "Blue Blood" (on both sides of his family there were lawyers and soldiers). He was possessed of Tory sentiment and aristocratic breeding ("Fear God and Honour the King"). After subscribing to the 39 articles of the Church of England, he attended Kings College, Windsor. Finding a young bride in England, Louisa Neville, daughter of a Captain in the 19th Light Dragoons, Haliburton brought her back to Windsor; and, there, he settled down; he had two sons and five daughters, but all were at the end of the line: there are no Haliburton descendants.

Haliburton began his law practice at Annapolis Royal in 1821. He sat in the legislative assembly from 1826 to 1829. (It was in 1829 that his History of Nova Scotia was printed by Joseph Howe.) In 1841, Haliburton was appointed a Judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Haliburton wrote satiric sketches for the Novascotian during the years 1835-1836, which, in 1837, were collected up by his friend, Joe Howe, and publish as a book, The Clockmaker.

In 1856, Haliburton moved permanently to Great Britain, where (Louisa having died in 1840) in the same year, he married Sarah Harriet Williams. He had an honorary degree bestowed on him by Oxford, and sat in the British parliament for awhile. He died at his home, Gordon House, in Isleworth on the banks of the Thames; he was buried in the Isleworth churchyard (next to Capt. Geo. Vancouver).

As a history writer -- though he published only two history books, History of Nova Scotia (1829) and Rule and Misrule of The English in America (1851) -- Haliburton was one of the first writers of history to employ the romantic method, viz., the Parkmanian method (it is speculated that Francis Parkman read Haliburton). Haliburton, however, will be best remembered as a writer of humour; and, in particular, his Sam Slick books, of which he wrote a number.


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)