The family of William Brydone Jack, President of the University of New Brunswick

Jack

Sacred to the memory of Marian Ellen, wife of William Brydone Jack, D.C.L., of King’s College, Fredericton and daughter of the late Charles D.J. Peters, who died at the College, March 20, 1858, aged 33 years.

Sacred to the memory of William Brydone Jack, A.M., D.C.L., President of the University of New Brunswick from 1861 to 1885, born at Tinwald, Scotland, Nov. 23, 1819, died at Fredericton, N.B. Nov. 23, 1886.

Charles Jeffrey, aged one year. William Glendenning, aged five years. Children of William Brydone and Marian Ellen Jack. Sacred to the memory of Hurd Augustus Brydone, third son of William and Marian Ellen Jack, born Oct. 1, 1856, died July 8, 1867. Also Mary Anne Elizabeth, eldest daughter March 22, 1846, died Oct. 17, 1878. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." 1 Thes. chapt. 4, verse 44.

This tombstone stands in the centre of a large lot surrounded with a wrought-iron fence.

Mary Anne Elizabeth Jack was thrown from a high gig driven by her father and killed. The accident happened on Queen Street near St. John Street. The three little sons who lie buried here were first buried together at the college but their remains were later removed to the Old Burying Ground.

Royal Gazette, Fredericton, NB, 25 December 1844:

Married, on Thursday, the 19th, by the Venerable Archdeacon, William Brydone Jack, M.A., Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, King’s College, Fredericton, to Marian Ellen, youngest daughter of the Hon. Charles Jeffrey Peters, H.M. Attorney General.

Royal Gazette, Fredericton, NB, 10 July 1861:

Provincial Appointments — William Brydone Jack D.C.L. to be President of the University of New Brunswick.

William Brydone Jack was the second President of the University of New Brunswick (1861-1885), having come to this university from Scotland in the autumn of 1840, and serving the college faithfully for forty-five years. In connection with the mathematical and physical studies, he installed the fine equatorial telescope, at the time the best in British North America. He was the initiator of surveying, which led to the department of engineering. Besides his administrative and scholastic ability, he was an admirable speaker. He was a strong and vigorous man, over six feet in height, and fond of open exercise, walking, gardening, curling and driving spirited horses. One of the early university maps indicates Jack’s Iris Field and Gardens.

He died in 1886, survived by his second wife, Caroline Disbrow, and their four children: William Disbrow, M.D., of Vancouver; Arthur of California; Mabel A., who married Louis B. Millidge of Saint John; and Robin E. Brydone, who was appointed Engineer of Public Works for Canada. Robin Jack lived in Vancouver and married a daughter of Frederick Fisher of Woodstock, New Brunswick.

Much credit is given to William Brydone Jack and his colleagues, Dr. Robb, who lies buried close by, and Marshall d’Avray, for the development of the University of New Brunswick. During their tenure, however, there was government criticism that college costs were out of proportion to the benefits received, that discipline was lax, and the curricula unrelated to local educational needs.

This brilliant man could have forsaken Fredericton and accepted any of the many invitations from leading world universities. He instead chose to remain in Fredericton. The last years of Jack’s life were plagued with ill health, but in the era of very small salaries and no pensions, he was forced to continue working. Eventually the university granted him a very small pension, the first of the University of New Brunswick to be so recognized. He did make one trip back to his beloved Scotland, in 1886, the year in which he died. He was elected President of the St. Andrews Society in 1832 and held that office until 1847.

Many children were baptised "Jack," in such high regard was William Brydone Jack held.

A plaque on the Old Arts Building, UNB, reads:

William Brydone Jack, 1819-1886. Born in Scotland and educated at St. Andrews, Jack came to Fredericton in 1840 as Professor of Maths, Natural Philosophy, and Astronomy at Kings College. In 1851 he built the first astronomical observatory in what is now Canada and equipped it with the best available instruments. In collaboration with Harvard University, he established the correct longitude of Fredericton and several other N.B. sites and corrected errors in the international boundary. President of the University, 1861-1865, he succeeded in establishing the young institution upon firm academic foundations. Jack put the university on a solid footing and it prospered and grew during his 24 years. But like Head, the preceding president, it was a matter of student discipline that eventually proved his undoing.

A St. Andrews Cross marks the grave of William Brydone Jack.

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