John Simpson, Queen’s Printer: first Mayor of Fredericton

Simpson

Sacred to the memory of John Simpson, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, 14th March 1795, died 22nd February, 1863, aged 68 years. "I HAVE WAITED FOR THY INTENTION O LORD." Also Rebecca Coy his wife died April 10th, 1844, aged 40 years.

John Duncan Simpson 1840-1841.

Julia Black, beloved wife of W.A. Balloch and daughter of John and Rebecca Simpson, died April 13th, 1876 aged 40 years.

This tall monument stands alone in a lot once surrounded by a cast iron fence with a gate on the north side facing Brunswick Street.

John Simpson came to New Brunswick in 1815 and established himself as a merchant. On 30 November 1825, John Simpson and other Scots of the capital formed the Fredericton Society of St. Andrews, to which he gave many years of service from 1825 until 1853 as Secretary, 1st Vice President, and President.

In 1829 he was appointed Queen’s Printer and remained in that position until his death in 1863. In 1851 he entered into an agreement with Edward Yardy and Charles S. Lugrin to print the Royal Gazette and attend to the routine business of the Gazette office. It was published from a small building that stood just above his home at 776 King Street.

John Simpson was director of the Bank of British North America and had been President of the Central Bank of New Brunswick. He was Vice-President of the Fredericton Auxiliary Bible Society in 1840 and assisted the Ladies’ Benevolent Society in 1845. In 1847, the Legislature incorporated the Fredericton Gas Company, and John Simpson was appointed a director.

When the City of Fredericton was incorporated in 1848, John Simpson became Fredericton’s first Mayor. He was reappointed and remained in that office for five years until his appointment on 23 June 1853 as Justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas. Mayor Simpson and his Council became responsible for law and order. The Mayor was Chief Magistrate, and by 1851 a police force was appointed. He served on the Committee of the newly formed Dispensary to provide medical assistance to the poor. It was while he was Mayor that the Council let a contract to build a market house.

John Simpson’s first marriage, 23 February 1825, was to Rebecca Bunnell Coy, second daughter of Amasa Coy and his first wife, Elizabeth Holly. Amasa Coy, a pre-Loyalist settler of Maugerville, had moved to Fredericton where he opened a private bank and became one of the promoters of the Bank of New Brunswick.

John and Rebecca Simpson had a large family: the eldest, John Wesley, born 21 December 1825, died 8 February 1828. Mary Elizabeth, born 1829, married Rev. John Lathern, formerly of Alston, England, at the Wesleyan Chapel in Fredericton on 20 July 1859. He was Minister of the Exmouth Street Chapel, Saint John. Sarah Louise, born 10 September 1831, died 13 October 1834. Catherine Garden, born 1834, married Oliver Jones, of Moncton, at Saint Anne’s Chapel in Fredericton. Isabella Browning, born 1835, married William J. M. Hanington, eldest son of the Hon. D. Hanington, late Speaker of the House, on 29 October 1856, at the Cathedral. Both died sometime before 1886, leaving five children. Joseph Gugnor, born 1835, moved to Huron, Michigan. Julia Black, born 1836, married W.A. Balloch, a dentist. She died in the Saint John Mental Asylum and is buried here. John Sinclair was born in 1840. John Duncan, also born in 1840, died 12 February 1841 at the age of 6 months and 13 days. He is buried here. Emma Colebrook was born close to the time of her mother’s death. Baptismal records give her as Emma Rebecca, but her father’s will names her as Emma Colebrook. She married Rev. Thomas Neales, Woodstock, on 27 October 1868.

On 7 January 1845, John Simpson married, secondly, Alicia Wallace of Saint John at the Centenary Chapel. She was of Irish descent. She died in Saint John, 22 March 1886, twenty-three years after the death of her husband, and was interred here in an unmarked grave. Although there were no children from this union, she was a loving and caring stepmother.

John Simpson died 22 February 1863, at his Fredericton home. Prior to his death, "he had frequently intimated that he was drawing near his end and, in his last moments, when he felt the hand of death was upon him, hopefully, peacefully, triumphantly, he exclaimed ‘all’s well’ and fell asleep in Jesus." A cross of St. Andrew marks his grave.

Royal Gazette, Fredericton, NB, 25 February 1863:

On Sunday evening last at 7 o’clock, February 22, 1863. John Simpson, Esquire, Queen’s Printer, for nearly 34 years Proprietor and Publisher of this paper, died at his residence in this city, aged 68 years.

"This event has deprived the community of one of its most valuable citizens. The poor — the widow — and the fatherless, have lost a kind and generous friend — his widow, a devoted partner — his family a loving and affectionate Parent — the Public a faithful officer, — and his Staff of Workmen and Apprentices, an Employer and a Master beloved by them all. In all the varied offices he has been called to fill, he has performed his duty to the best of his ability, and with a ready mind." …Whether as Captain of a volunteer Company, Mayor of the City, Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, or Queen’s Printer, his constant aim was to do his duty and do it well… the Volumes of Province Laws, the Legislative Journals, and all other work executed at his office will show, — as they can compare most favourably with the same kind of work in any part of the Empire. He united himself with the Wesleyan Church before he left his native country and has always been a liberal contributor towards its support in this city."