Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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WILLISTON, EDWARD, lawyer, MLA, and judge; Newcastle postmaster, 1851-57; b. Bay du Vin, 18 Oct 1813, s/o John Bailey Williston and Phoebe Stymiest; brother of John Thomas Williston; m. 1845, Sarah Jane Mignowitz, of Halifax; d. Newcastle, 28 Jul 1889.

The youngest of twelve children, Edward Williston was educated at the Madras school under John Smith and at the County Grammar School under Archibald Gray. He studied law with Street & Kerr, and after being admitted as an attorney in 1836, entered into partnership with William Carman. He was admitted as a barrister in 1838. When Carman & Williston was dissolved in 1841, he continued in practice on his own.

Williston was enlisted as an ensign in the 2nd Battalion of militia in 1840 and was promoted to captain in 1842. He was named adjutant of the battalion in 1861. In 1846, he was appointed a fireward of Newcastle. He became a trustee of the Newcastle Grammar School in 1848 and an Indian commissioner for the county in 1849. In 1851, he succeeded Hugh Morell as Newcastle's second postmaster, much to the annoyance of most residents, who wanted Moses M. Sargeant for postmaster. He was also appointed county clerk of the peace, but he had to relinquish both the clerkship and postmastership in 1857 when he was elected to a seat in the provincial Assembly. He continued to practice law, and like most other lawyers, to sell fire and life insurance.

Williston sat in the assembly for the next ten years, and in 1866-67 he was solicitor general in the Confederation government headed by Peter Mitchell. In June 1867 he was appointed judge of the County Court of New Brunswick, with jurisdiction in the counties of Northumberland, Gloucester, and Restigouche. He held the judgeship until 1881, at which time he retired from all public duties because of failing health.

Prior to being appointed a judge, Williston had numerous community and business involvements. He was an organizer of the Newcastle and Douglastown Mechanics' Institute in 1849, its first treasurer, and a speaker on the 1849-50 lecture schedule. On several later occasions he addressed the society on the theme of education. In 1854, he was appointed secretary of the North West Bridge Co., which built the first highway bridge across that branch of the river. He was secretary of the South West Boom Co. from the time of its formation in 1854 until 1881, and of the North West Boom Co. from the time of its incorporation in 1862. For several years prior to his retirement, he was president of the Northumberland Agricultural Society.

Williston and his family were adherents of the Anglican church, but his wife, Sarah J. Mignowitz, was drawn to Methodism during the revival meetings held on the Miramichi. Through her influence "his home became the home of the Methodist ministers," and the whole family was finally identified with that denomination. He and his wife had twelve children. In addition to E. Perley Williston and Howard Williston, they included the Rev. Francis S. Williston, the husband of Dr Alma A. Lapham; Hedley V. Williston, a physician who made his home in California; and Maude E. Williston, the wife of Hedley S. V. Parker.


[b] Williston Collection [m] NB Courier 4 Oct 1845 [d] Advocate 31 Jul 1889 / Advance 9 Jan 1879; 9 Jun 1881; Advocate 9 Mar 1881, 7 Jun 1933; Arbuckle (re. North West Boom Co.); Biog. Review NB; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 14 Jun 1836, 22 Jun 1841, 17 Jul 1849, 3 Dec 1849, 14 Jul 1851, 21 Jan 1854, 21 Nov 1857, 12 Dec 1857, 30 Jan 1864, 22 Apr 1865; Graves; Hutchison papers (re. Mechanics' Institute); JHA 1864 (re. militia); Leyden; Williston family data