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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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ABRAMS, WILLIAM (1785-1844)

ABRAMS, WILLIAM, lumber and trading company head, shipbuilder, JP, and JCP; b. Plymouth, England, c1785; m.1807, Sarah Triglohon; d. Newcastle, 6 Feb 1844.

William Abrams was in business in Greenock, Scotland, before settling on the Miramichi in 1820. The previous year, William Abrams & Co., which included several Scottish partners, paid the substantial sum of £1325 for two properties at Rosebank on which to locate a ship building and merchandising business. The partners suffered huge losses in the Miramichi Fire of 1825, but trans-Atlantic trade was expanding, and they soon recovered.

William Abrams & Co. was dissolved in 1830, after which Abrams was the sole proprietor of the business. At his shipbuilding yard, before and after the dissolution of the partnership, a total of more than twenty-five sailing vessels were constructed, mostly under the supervision of the master builder John Harley.

Abrams was named a justice of the peace in 1821 and a justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in 1824. He was one of the first vestrymen of St Paul's Anglican Church, which was erected in 1823. He joined the 4th Battalion of militia in 1822 as a captain. He was treasurer of the first county agricultural society at its formation around 1824. He experienced personal tragedy in 1825, when two of his children died from burns received in the Miramichi Fire. Afterwards, he served with other leading merchants on the relief committee which was formed to aid sufferers.

Abrams was an organizer, in 1826, of the first Miramichi chamber of commerce. In 1827 he was an unsuccessful candidate for one of the two Northumberland County seats in the House of Assembly. He was a school trustee for Newcastle parish, a commissioner of the Seamen's Hospital, and a member of the Northumberland County Board of Health and other public bodies. He was harbormaster of the port from 1832 to 1835, as successor to Capt. John Charters, and was among those responsible for the establishment of a branch of the Bank of British North America at Newcastle in 1839. He was the keeper of a postal way office at his store at Rosebank in 1843.

Abrams was one of the most successful businessmen on the Miramichi in the first half of the 19th century and one of the province's leading shipbuilders. Portraits of him and his wife, Sarah Triglohon, which were painted by the Boston artist Albert Gallatin Hoit, are owned by the New Brunswick Museum. There were two sons and eight daughters in the family, among whom were the wives of Christopher Clarke, Henry B. Allison, and Dr John Thomson, as well as the first wife of George Kerr and the wife of William J. Berton of the firm of Berton Bros, of Saint John.


[m] Williston Collection [d] Gleaner 7 Feb 1844 / Advocate 2 Aug 1933; Cooney (H); DCB; Facey-Crowther; Fraser (D); Globe 14 Aug 1893; JHA 1844 (re. post offices); Manny Collection (F22); Manny (Ships); Rosenfeld; Spray (DK)