Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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GUBBINS, JOSEPH (1776-1832)

GUBBINS, JOSEPH, visiting military officer; b. Co. Limerick, Ireland, c1776; married; d. Southampton, England, 23 Apr 1832.

Lieut. Col. Joseph Gubbins, one of the most senior British officers to be posted in New Brunswick during the second decade of the 19th century, arrived in 1810, accompanied by his wife and three children, a governess, and a number of servants. During the next six years he travelled about the province as inspecting field officer of militia. His diary, in which he recorded his observations and impressions of people and events, is one of the most colorful personal journals to survive from that period.

In July 1813 Gubbins made a visit to Northumberland County, during which he inspected the several battalions of militia and came into contact with persons in different walks of life. On 20 July he reviewed the 1st Battalion, which was under the command of Maj. Alexander McDonald, and he accepted an invitation to stay the night at McDonald's home near Black River. Having left some old London newspapers lying on the table, he observed that his host "perused them with the greatest curiosity and interest, exclaiming from time to time, 'What a bustle the world seems to be in!'"

The following day, Gubbins arrived at the home of James Davidson Sr on the north side of the river, near The Willows. "Here I remained the night," he stated, "but did not rest. The mosquitoes were driven from the apartment by smoke, but there was no dislodging the host of bugs by which I was assailed as soon as I laid down. The Captain was married to a French woman [his second wife] and cleanliness cannot be placed among the good qualities of these people."

Gubbins was invited next to spend some time at the home of Francis Peabody in Chatham. He found this residence to be "excellent, well furnished and appointed and abounding with every description of comfort." Peabody's wife he described as an English gentlewoman. From both host and hostess, he "met with the most hospitable reception." On the way back to Fredericton he spent a night at an inn which was conducted by Capt. John Astle several miles south of Blackville. "The whole house," he stated, "consisted of one large room, but he had partitioned off a corner of it with a curtain for my accommodation." The next night he reached Maj. Ephraim Betts's settlement, from which he took his leave in the morning for the Nashwaak.

The Gubbins family and their entourage returned to England in 1816.


[d] Gubbins / Daily Gleaner 1 May 1976