Samuel Gale

From: "Montreal, Pictorial and Biographical"
Pub. by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal, 1914

Hon. Samuel Gale, one of the ablest members of the legal profession in his day, and a very prominent citizen of Montreal, died in that city on Saturday, April 15, 1865.  He was the son of a Mr. Samuel Gale who, born in Hampshire, England, came to America in 1770 as assistant paymaster to the forces.  He married there a Miss Wells, of Brattleboro, and soon after left the army, and took up his residence in the colony of New York.  During the Revolution he stood firmly by the old flag under which he had served, and was for some time imprisoned as a loyalist.  After the Revolution, he came to reside in Canada, upon an estate granted to his wife’s father by the Crown, as indemnification for the losses brought upon his as a loyalist in the Revolution.  He was subsequently secretary to Governor Prescott, whom he accompanied to England, and there assisted to defend him from the attacks made upon his administration.  While there he wrote an essay on Public Credit, addressed and submitted to Pitt.  The following is the inscription on his tombstone at Farnham, in Shefford county:
“Here rests Samuel Gale, Esq., formerly acting deputy paymaster general of  H. Majesty’s forces in the Southern Provinces, now the U.S. of America; subsequently Secretary to H.E. the Governor-in-chief of H.M. dominions in N.A.; Author of Essays on Public Credit, and other work, born at Kimpton Hants, England, October 14, 1748; died at Farnham, June 27, 1826.”

Samuel Gale of this review was born at St. Augustine, East Florida, in 1783.  He was educated at Quebec, while his father was secretary, and came to study law at Montreal under Chief Justice Sewell, in 1802, having Chief Justice Rolland and Mr. Papineau as fellow students.  Mr. Gale was admitted to the bar in 1808, and ere long secured a large practice.  In 1815 he was appointed a magistrate in the Indian territories, and accompanied Lord Selkirk when he went to the northwest.  Later, when Lord Dalhousie was attacked for his Canadian administration, Mr. Gale went home as bearer of memorials from the English-speaking Lower Canadians in the townships and elsewhere, defending his lordship’s conduct.  In 1829, he became chairman of the quarter sessions, and in 1834 was raised to the bench to replace Mr. Justice Uniacke, who preferred to resign the seat on the bench to which he had just been appointed rather than come back to Montreal during the cholera, then raging here.  Judge Gale retired from the bench in 1849, forced into retirement by continued ill health and the gradual coming on of the infirmities of old age.

He had married in 1839 a Miss Hawley, of  St. Armand West, by whom he had three daughters.  Mrs. Gale died  in  September, 1849.  Of  the daughters the only one  now  living  is Anna R. Gale, widow of  T. Sterry Hunt, of Montreal, who is mentioned elsewhere in this work; while of the other two, Agnes Logan Gale married Andrew Stuart of Quebec, a son of Chief Justice Stuart and of a very prominent family in that city, and the third became the Baroness von Friesen, who died December 10, 1875, in Berlin, Germany.

Born of parents who had both suffered for their loyal adherence to the British Crown during the American Revolution, and educated in their views Mr. Gale was, as long as he busied himself in politics, a stanch conservative and defender of British unity and British supremacy.  He wrote a series of letters to the Montreal Herald (in those days the organ of the stoutest conservatism) over the signature of  “Nerva” which produced a strong impression on the public mind at that time; and in espousing the cause of  Lord Dalhousie and upholding the old constitution (under the title constitutionalists taken by the conservatives of that day) against the advocates of democracy or responsible government, he was but consistently pursuing the course on which he first set out.  While upon the bench he maintained in an elaborate and very able judgment the right of the Crown to establish martial law here in 1837, refusing to theorize about what abstract rights man had or ought to have, declaring simply and firmly what the law, as he read it, established the prerogative of the sovereign to be in a colony.  Both as a lawyer and judge he won the respect of his confreres alike by his ability and learning.

For many years previous to his death he was deeply interested in the freedom of the slave.  He could not speak with patience of any compromise with slavery and waxed indignant in denunciation of all who in any way aided, abetted, or even countenanced it.  When the Anderson case was before the Upper Canada courts he was one of the most active among those who aroused agitation here.  When the Prince of Wales visited this country he got up a congratulatory address from the colored people of Canada which, however, was not received, as the prince was desired by the Duke of Newcastle, not to recognize differences of race and creed wherever it could be helped.

Judge Gale was a man of  high principle and ever bore an unblemished moral character.  Once in his early career at the bar he was forced by the then prevailing customs of society to fight a duel.  His antagonist was Sir James Stuart, who had quarreled with him in court and Mr. Gale was severely wounded.  It was an event which, we believe, he profoundly regretted, and gladly saw the better day dawn when men ran no risk of forfeiting their position as gentlemen by refusing to shoot, or be shot at, in order to redress real or fancied insults.  He was a scrupulously just man, most methodical and punctual in business matters.  There were in his writings great care, and precision and clearness of language.  In his letters, too, and even in signing his name, the same trait was observable.  He often used to condemn the stupid custom of men who signed their names with a flourish, yet so illegibly that no one could read, but only guess at, the word intended.  He was not ostentatious of his charities, yet they were not lacking.  Some years before his demise he made a gift of  land to Bishop’s College, Lennoxville, and during the last months of  his life, when age and illness were day by day wearing him out, he found relief for his own distress in aiding to relieve that of the needy and afflicted.

With him passed away one more of those men, who link the creative past, in which were laid the foundations of our civilization, with the bustling present and of whom the generation of today knows naught; of men more proud and precise in their manners than we are; and of such rectitude and sense of honor, that we feel deeply the loss of the influence of their example.  A loyal subject, a learned and upright judge, a kind, true, steadfast friend, was lost to the community in Judge Gale.

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