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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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QUIGLEY, THOMAS (1841-1889)

QUIGLEY, THOMAS, athlete, rigger, and ship captain; b. Newcastle, 1841 (bap. 9 Sep 1841, 1 mo.), s/o Richard Quigley, a native of Cashel, Ireland, and Joanna Bergin, a native of Rathdowney, Ireland; brother of Richard Francis Quigley; unmarried; d. Newcastle, 18 Jul 1889.

As a youth, Thomas Quigley excelled at sports. He was stroke oar and captain of a Newcastle boat in races held on the river and was invariably successful, even against boats manned by expert rowers from the navy. His first work was as a rigger, installing and repairing sails on ships, and his most sensational athletic feat was performed on the mast of a ship during the Dominion Day festivities on 1 July 1867. "The celebration was held at Chatham," wrote Father William C. Gaynor, "and two or three of Her Majesty's frigates cast anchor for the occasion. After boat racing and other sports had been held, Tom Quigley mounted the main-trunk of the flagship of the squadron, and there, standing on one foot, a mere fly on the masthead, he waved the British flag thrice in the air while his picture was taken." To get down, "he simply let himself drop, and caught the masthead with both arms as he was passing it."

Quigley was the first captain of the New Era, the steam ferry placed in service on the Miramichi in 1872 by Call & Miller. The next year, he was in command of the Relief, a new steam tug belonging to Guy, Stewart & Co. In 1875 he received his master's papers, qualifying him to command ships at sea. In 1876 he was first mate on the huge barque Molilamo, which was owned by Alexander Morrison. In 1878 he was captain of William Muirhead's ship Eva.

In 1879 Quigley was engaged to rig the Clandeboye, a new ship built for Henry A. Muirhead, and after he finished the job he took command for the ship's maiden voyage across the Atlantic. The Clandeboye left Chatham in June, headed for Belfast, Ireland, with a cargo of deals, and with her owner and other passengers on board. She arrived at her destination but only after an extremely rough and dangerous passage, during which Quigley suffered a head injury that required him to spend a month in a Belfast hospital.

Quigley later commanded other Muirhead ships, as well as steam vessels owned by Troop & Son of Saint John. In 1886 he took charge of the Terror, a cruiser in the Canadian government's fishery protection fleet. After confronting a number of American fishing boats, he was accused by the Boston newspapers of using bullying tactics. However, the Montreal Star came to his defense and the Union Advocate hailed him as a hero of his town, his province, and his country. He was unintimidated by controversy. When the skipper of a New England schooner which he had captured and towed to Shelburne, N.S., refused to lower the Stars and Stripes, he pulled the flag down himself and put the vessel under armed guard.

The last command of "the famous Captain Quigley" was the fishery protection cruiser C. H. Tupper, which he brought up from Shelburne in the summer of 1888 for service in Miramichi Bay. He died the next year, at age forty-eight, following a serious illness. His constitution was said to have been weakened by hardships at sea and by injuries which he suffered in the summer of 1885, when this "prince of manly men" made a valiant attempt to stop a span of runaway horses, only to be run over and trampled by them.

At the time of his death the Miramichi Advance described Quigley as "an upright, honest man much vilified for faithfully performing his duties in the government service," and the poet Michael Whelan penned the following lines in his memory:

The helm no more his hand shall hold,

His voice no more shall give command,

On mainmast high this seaman bold

May take no more his dizzying stand.


[b] tombstone (family) [d] Advocate 24 Jul 1889 / Advance 11 Apr 1878, 22 May 1879, 25 Jul 1889; Advocate 1 May 1872, 4 Jun 1873, 21 Apr 1875, 24 May 1876, 28 May 1879, 17 Sep 1879, 26 May 1886, 1 Sep 1886, 15 Sep 1886, 13 Oct 1886, 13 Jun 1888, 20 Jun 1888, 15 Aug 1888; Memories; Quigley biog. data; Whelan (P&S); World 9 Sep 1885, 15 Nov 1913