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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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PETERS, THOMAS HORSFIELD (1782-1860)

PETERS, THOMAS HORSFIELD, lawyer, judge of probate, customs officer, JP, and MLC; b. New York state, 15 Oct 1782, s/o James Peters and Margaret Lester; m. 1810, Mary Ann Sharman, of Sunbury Co., N.B.; d. Saint John, 30 Apr 1860.

Thomas H. Peters came to Queens County, N.B., with his Loyalist parents as a young child and grew up at Gagetown. He was baptized as an adult in 1805 in the Gagetown Anglican church and was married there in 1810. He and his family moved to the Miramichi in 1812 when he was appointed clerk of the peace and of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County. In 1813 he also became deputy treasurer of the port of Miramichi. In 1815 he was appointed a justice of the peace. Having studied law, he was admitted as an attorney in 1816 and barrister in 1819. In 1822 he was appointed county judge of probate. He continued as court clerk, deputy treasurer of the port, and judge of probate until the 1850s. He also practiced law on his own, and in partnership with William Carman between 1828 and 1833. At a later time he was also a ship brokerage agent. In 1844 he was appointed to the Legislative Council of New Brunswick, in which he held a seat for the remainder of his life.

Peters was an early Chatham parish school trustee. He was also among the founders of the County Grammar School in 1819 and sat on its board of trustees for nearly twenty years. He was one of the first wardens of St Paul's Anglican Church at Chatham Head, which was built in 1823, and president of the first local agricultural society, which was formed around 1824. In 1825 he was a member of the committee for the relief of victims of the Miramichi Fire. He was the provincial immigration agent on the Miramichi during the period in which he was deputy treasurer of the port.

Peters was one of the wealthiest residents of the county and was the owner of what Robert Cooney referred to in his history as the "most splendid" of several "handsome villas" along the Miramichi. The house, which was designed like the Cortland Manorhouse in New York state, was under construction at the time of the Fire. It was spared and served as the home of the Peters family until 1860. It was subsequently owned by William Wilkinson until his death in 1918, and since 1925 by the Miramichi Golf and Country Club.

Peters's wife, Mary Ann Sharman, a daughter of Dr Ambrose Sharman, surgeon of the Royal Fencible Americans in the Revolutionary War, died at Bushville in 1845. Peters died at the Waverley Hotel in Saint John in 1860 while visiting in the city. Their five children included Mary Peters, the wife of Joseph Cunard, and James Horsfield Peters, a legendary figure in the history of Prince Edward Island and longtime justice of the P.E.I. Supreme Court. The Island premiers Arthur Peters (1845-1908) and Frederick Peters (1852-1919) were sons of James H. Peters and his wife, Mary Cunard, who was a daughter of Sir Samuel Cunard.

Sources

[b] Peters family data [m] Royal Gazette 19 Feb 1810 [d] Head Quarters 2 May 1860 / Baxter; Can. Encycl. (re. Arthur Peters and Frederick Peters); Cooney (H); DCB (re. Charles J. Peters Sr, and James H. Peters); Gleaner 15 Sep 1829, 21 May 1833, 21 Feb 1844, 17 Mar 1855; Graves; Manny Collection (F22); Martin; NB Almanac & Reg.; NB Courier 11 Jan 1845; Spray (DK and ENC)


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