Canadians and Imperial Titles

J. MILLER McCONNELL April 1 1909

Canadians and Imperial Titles

J. MILLER McCONNELL April 1 1909

Canadians and Imperial Titles


THE question of the acceptance by Canadians of Imperial titles was much debated for some years following Confederation in 1867, but for the past twenty-five years little has been said on the subject and there seems to be a generally tacit consent to the principle that it is a highly proper thing to accept such honors at the hands of the Crown.

It may be that the flow of Imperial sentiment broadcast over the land has had to do with this acquiescence, but it is also attributable in a considerable measure to the high character and unquestioned standing of the men who have been honored in recent years. If there was any doubt in the minds of the general public that the honors would be worn other than honorably and with distinction, there might be another story.

Political sentiment has a way of veering about in a young and ambitious country which is truly amazing. There was a time in the history of Canada—and it is not so very long ago—when public men looked more to Washington than to Westminster. Democratic instincts were more firmly rooted while that spirit prevailed. The feeling respecting titles and other Imperial attractions was more inclined to

coincide with that of our American neighbors, and sneers at those who accepted titles were not uncommon. Much of that has been swept away on the flood tide of Imperialism, and there is a complete reversal of things. Washington may now look to Ottawa, but Canada looks to Britain.

In the early days of United Canada there was considerable bitterness displayed in the discussion as to whether Canadians should accept these titles or not. Many leading Canadians of that day plumed themselves on their democratic instincts, and they claimed that it was undesirable to accept honors which to them smacked of an Old World aristocracy. Others objected very strongly in some cases to the personality of the men who were so honored.

Objection chiefly rose from some leading men in the Liberal party, although. as claimed by the late Sir Oliver Mowat, the matter was never a plank in the Liberal policy. As a matter of fact, however. Liberals were the chief objectors, and such early leaders as Mackenzie, Brown and Blake never accepted knighthood, although they might have had the titles had they so wished.

A peculiar thing about the situation was that in later years some of those who had been prominent in the ranks of the objectprs-, accepted titles, and in consequence came in for a considerable amount.of ridicule. The late Sir Oliver Mowat ..thoughtit pecessary in 1892, in a’ public address* To devote considerable attention to the matter of the acceptance, of titles, jn virtue of having accepted one. himself after having been associated for many years with, public men wTo rvvere..uH terly opposed to the idea. ,

As recently as 1897 there was GonJ siderahle talk in some’sections'about the acceptance of a title by Sir WilJ frifl Laurier and many of his followers of ultra-democratic feelings were inclined to think that lie should not have accepted thehonor which was bestowed upon him at the late Oneen Victoria’s'Diamond JubileeBut the Premier accepted, a.s’hav'e many leadr ing Liberal’s since that clay, and; of late, there has been no question’ in the public mind on the matter There are

still, no doubt, many who regard titles with contempt and would not accept them if offered, but they are content to permit their feelings to remain quiescent. There are those who will readily recollect the discussions that frequently went on some years ago with respect to what were often called “tin-pot titles,” hut it is safe to assert that even the originator of that phrase now looks upon the matter in a more charitable light.

In looking over the list of Canadian Peers and Baronets, the highest and rarest titles, it is at once noticeable that not one of the Peerage honors was originally conferred on a Canadian-born, while hut few of our living baronets first saw the light of day in the Dominion. Lord Strathcona and Lord Mount Stephen, the two most widely known of our Canadian peers, were horn in the Old Country. Baroness Macdonald, the widow of the late Or John A. Macdonald, was born in Jamaica, and was honored since her distinguished husband’s death. Baron de Blaquiere was born in Canada, but inherited his title, as did Baron Aylmer. Reginald D'Iberville Charles Grant, Baron de Longueuil, inherited an old title of the French regime in Canada, which was afterwards recognized by the British Government, but appears to have been the only one that survived from that interesting period of Canadian history. That constitutes the sum total of the Canadian

peerage, and there is yet to appear the first Canadian-born to be created a peer of the realm.

Baronetcies are not quite so rare as peerages, but they are, nevertheless, uncommon. In a period extending over two hundred and fifty years (from 1755 to 1909t) only twelve Canadians have been’ made baronets. A period of twenty years elapsed between the time Sir Edward Clouston was given his high honor in November, 1908, and the preceding Canadian

was so honored, Sir Charles Tupper having been advanced from Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, to which he was appointed in 1879, 1° Knight Grand Cross of the same order in 1886, and thence to a baronetcy two years later. The only instance of a Canadian baronet being made a peer was that of Sir George Stephen, who was given his first title in 1886, and was elevated to the peerage in 1891.

Tt is an interesting fact that with but few exceptions, Canadian baronetcies have or will become extinct. Sir Edward Clouston, the newest of the rank, has daughters, but no son to whom to leave the title. Sir Charles Tupper’s title will go to his eldest son. Mr. Stewart Tupper, of Winnipeg. His second son, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, has a title of his own earning, having been created á K.C.M.G. in 1893. Had' Sir George Stephen remained a baronet the title would have died, as he has no heir. Sir John Rose (1872), Sir James Stuart (1840) and Sir Wm. Johnson (1755), left heirs and the titles are still in existence. Sir John Beverley Robinson, the fourth baronet of the line, left an heir, John Beverley, but it is understood that it is desired that the title be now obsolete, so that there are now only four successions in sight out of the twelve created.

Sir Edward Gordon Johnson, the fifth baronet, and the holder of the oldest Canadian title of that rank, is one of the staff in the general offices

of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Montreal. The title carried with it an estate of comparatively small value.

Sir Edward Gordon Johnson succeeded to the title on the death of his uncle, Sir William Johnson, the fourth baronet, about a year ago. The baronetcy was created in recognition of the skill and bravery of the ancestor of the family, Sir Wm. Johnson, in turning the tide of battle in favor of the British against the hrench at Lake George in the second half of the eighteenth century.

At the end of the war Sir Wil-

Ham’s vast estates on the Mohawk River were confiscated and property that would have to-day represented millions were lost to the family. The family came to Canada to settle after the War of Independence, but it never succeeded in re-establishing itself on a territorial basis.

The present baronet has been a resident of Montreal all his life, his father being the late Archibald Kennedy Johnson, of this city, youngest brother of the deceased baronet. He was born in 1867 and in 1902 married Miss Violet Evelyn Hayes, a daughter of the late Dr. Thomas Evelyn Hayes, of Dublin, Ireland. He has been connected with the Canadian Pacific now for six years. The family seat is at Woodland Grange, St. Matthias, Richelieu County, Quebec.

The present baronet has in his possession the Patent and Seal by King George II. creating the first Sir V illiam a baronet in 1755. It also carries with it a knighthood for the eldest son. The first baronet’s successor was his son, Sir John Johnson, who espoused the British cause in the War of Independence, and headed several raids from Canada into the United States. His headquarters were on the site in Montreal now occupied by Bonsecours Market, and on that building is a tablet with the following inscription : “Sir William Johnson, of Johnson Hall, on the Mohawk River, the celebrated superintendent of Indian Affairs and first American baronet, commanded the Indian allies of Amherst’s army in 1760. To them was issued in commemoration the first British Montreal medal. Here stood the house of his son, Sir John Johnson, Indian Commissioner.”

While none of the Canadian peerages were conferred on what might be recognized as purely political grounds, the majority of the baronetcies were, on the other hand, given to men who were conspicuous in the political history of Canada, before and after Confederation, but mostly prior to the union of 1867. Sir James Stuart (1840), Sir Louis Hypolite Lafontaine (1854), Sir John Beverley Robinson (1854), Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1858), Sir George Etienne Cartier (1868), Sir John Rose (1872), and Sir Charles Tupper ( 1888) were all men of prominence in the councils of the country. Sir W illiam Fenwick Williams (1856), the hero of Kars in the Turko-Russian War, was the greatest soldier Canada ever produced. Sir George Stephen (1886) was a successful business and railway man, while Sir Edward Clouston, the latest baronet, is a great financier, the brains of the Bank of Montreal. In the matter of rank it is worthy of mention that Sii Edward takes precedence over the president of the Bank of Montreal, Sir George A. Drummond, who is only a K.C.M.G.. C.V.O., though Sir Edward is only vice-president of the bank and general manager. It is considered highly probable that the Dominion Government, through the Crown, wished to bestow upon Sir Edward the highest honor possible as a reward for services to the Government of the day in connection with the financial matters, the Bank of Montreal having for a long time had intimate relations with the Finance Department.

Authorities, in undertaking to set forth an explanation of the British peerages, admit that there are so many complications that even an expert may be occasionally perplexed. There are two general classes of peers, those who are of the Blouse of Lords and the peerage outside of the Blouse. Of the first-class there are two divisions, those created and those elected. Of the created peers there are three sub-divisions (1) hereditary peers, (2) life peers, or otherwise law lords, and (3) official peers or lords spiritual. Of the elective peers there are two sub-divisions: (1) Irish repre-

sentative peers, elected for life, and (2) Scottish peers, elected for one Parliament.

The peerage outside of the House consists of Scottish and Irish peers, many of whom sit in the House of Lords, either under Imperial titles or as representatives. There are also peeresses in their own right ; Imperial peeresses, whose male heirs go to the House of Lords on succession, and Scottish peeresses, while it is said Irish peeresses are barely possible. Peers outside also include peers' issue

with courtesy titles, such as eldest sons of dukes, marquesses and earls, etc., and Scottish lords of session.

The peers in whom Canadians are more closely interested are “peers created," and who sit in the House of Lords. Peerages such as granted to Baroness Macdonald, of Earnscliffe, are occasionally granted to ladies of distinction or the widows of distinguished men. In her case, death will terminate the title. In the case of Lord Strathcona, who has no direct heir to the title to the barony, it will by special patent descend to his grandson, the son of the Hon. Mrs. Howard, who married Dr. Howard, whose father was at one time dean of the medical faculty of McGill University. Lord Mount Stephen has no heir.

The British baronetage in which, as has already been stated, only twelve Canadians have so far ranked, grew out of a lower division of the rank of barons and dates as far back as 1321. It is linked with the nobility by virtue of its being hereditary, and being conferred by patent alone, the early patents having closely resembled those of barons, but in other respects it lias much the appearance of a specialized order of knighthood. Every baronet is required to register his pedigree and to receive a certificate from one of the Colleges of Arms.

The peerages of the houses of De Blaquiere and De Longueuil are the least familiar to the general public of the Canadian peers. The holder of the former title, which is of Irish descent, was born in Canada, but is resident in England, while the second 28

was born in England and continues to reside there.

The present Baron De Blaquiere is the sixth holder of the title, it having originated with Lieut.-Col. John De Blaquiere. who was of noble French descent, but whose father had been driven to England by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, was appointed secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and was created baronet in 1784, and baron in 1800. The sixth baron was born in this country, his father being Charles De Blaquiere, of Woodstock, Ont., and his grandfather was Hon. Peter Boyle De Blaquiere, in his time a legislative councillor of Canada and chancellor of Toronto University. He was for a time a clerk in the Bank of Montreal, and married a Canadian lady, Miss Lucianne, daughter of George Desbarats, of Montreal. He has a son to inherit the title.

The Barony of De Longueuil was created by Louis XIV., when Canada belonged to France. It was recognized by the British Government in 1880. It is open to female succession, but the present heir presumptive is the baron’s brother, John Moore de Bienville Charles Grant, and the second heir the latter’s son.

The first Baron Aylmer was a distinguished naval officer in the reign of James II. The present baron is the eighth and has a distinguished military career to his credit, as did his father before him.

Among the least generally known of the Canadian baronets are Rev. Sir James Stuart and Sir Cyril S. Rose. The latter is a grandson of Sir John Rose, the first baronet, whose record in Canadian politics is well known. He is a young man, residing in England, and although he is married, the heir to the title as yet is his uncle, Mr. Charles Day Rose, M.P., the well-known London banker.

The second oldest Canadian baronetage, conferred on James Stuart in 1840, for his services in connection with the union of Upper and Lower Canada, is near to extinction. After the death of the original baronet, who was chief justice of Lower Canada, the title was for many years held by his second son, Major-General Edward Andrew Stuart, a Crimean veteran, who ended his days as Governor of Chelsea Hospital. The present baronet is the third son of Sir James, Rev. Sir James Stuart, rector of Portishead, Somerset, who has passed the allotted four-score-and-ten, and has no heir.

Titles in which colonials do not figure are the Orders of the Garter, the Thistle and St. Patrick, but when we get to the Knights Grand Cross of the Bath, it is found that Sir William Fenwick Williams (1871), and Sir John A. Macdonald (1884), were so honored, both gentlemen having been previously Knights Commander of the Bath. Of late years no Canadians have been given honors in those grades, while comparatively few have been created Knights Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George, the principal holders of that rank, since de-

ceased, being Sir Alexander Galt, Sir John Rose and Sir Oliver Mowat. Lord Strathcona, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir Richard Cartwright and Sir Wilfrid Laurier are the only living Canadians entitled to attach G.C.M.G. after their names.

The titles which are more numerously bestowed on Canadians are of the Orders of Knights Commander of St. Michael and St. George and Knights Bachelor. Down to this stage all the holders are entitled to prefix "Sir" to their names. Not wearing any title, but still giving the holders an established official and social standing, are Companions of the Bath and Companions of St. Michael and St. George, of whom it may be said in the stereotyped phrase, “their names are too numerous to mention,” the purpose of this article being to deal more particularly with the higher titles. Several Canadians have been lately created Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order, the last batch having been handed out at the time of the Quebec Centenarv last summer. when such men as Sir George Drummond, Mr. Byron E. Walker, Hon. Adelard Turgeon, Mr. Joseph Pope and General Otter, received the honor, Earl Grey receiving the higher decoration of Knight Grand Cross of the Order. There were also several knighthoods at that time.

The Victorian Order dates from 1896. and was designated as a recognition of personal service to Queen Victoria, but since her death it has been increased in numbers. There are five classes in the order.

The Order of St. Michael and St. George, out of which the greater number of Canadian honors are de-rived, dates back to 1818, having been originally established to commemorate the placing of the Ionian Islands under the protectorate of Great. Britain, but it was not made applicable to the colonies until about 1865. Originally small, the numbers of the order

were successively enlarged until it has 30

become assignable to any person who had rendered valuable services, either in colonial or foreign affairs.

Knights Bachelors do not strictly constitute an order, and the designation is the simple prefix “Sir.” There is no decoration attached, and there is no limit to the numbers, neither are there any officers.

Besides the above, there are the Order of Merit and the Imperial Service Order, instituted by King Edward in 1902, and a number of Canadians have of late come in for some of those decorations, the latter being intended to reward long service, particularly in the Civil Service, the former being applicable to any department whatever — war, science, literature or art.

Of late years, the conferring of honors has followed more in the lines of rewarding citizens who have made themselves shining marks in a philanthropic, social, judicial, administratire and social sense, rather than as political rewards. Thus it is that lieutenant-governors, judges of the higher courts, first ministers of provinces. extensive givers to educational and other worthy causes and leaders in commercial life, are frequently given titles. Among that class we find Sir George Drummond, Sir Louis Davies, Sir Sanford Fleming, Sir James Grant, Sir Louis Jette, Sir Percy Lake, Sir Daniel McMillan, Sir

William Van Horne, all K.C.M.G.’s, while in the ranks of Knights Bachelor are found, such men as Sir Montagu Allan, Sir Mortimer Clark, Sir Wm. Falconbridge, Sir George Garneau. Sir Lomer Gouin, Sir Hugh Graham, Sir William Macdonald, Sir Henry Pellatt, Sir William Meredith, Sir Charles Moss, Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, Sir Henry Strong, Sir Melbourne Tait, Sir Thomas Taylor and Sir James Whitney.