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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CARMAN, WILLIAM (1804-1885)

CARMAN, WILLIAM, lawyer and MLA; b. Nova Scotia, 26 Sep 1804, s/o William Carman Sr and Ann Sharman; brother of Henry Charles Darling Carman and Richard Carman; m. 1st, 1829, Ann Elizabeth Dean, d/o Joseph Dean, comptroller of customs at Miramichi, and 2nd, 1859, Sophia Maria Bliss, of Fredericton; d. there, 2 Jan 1885.

William Carman's parents were from the St John River valley, but they were in Nova Scotia at the time of his birth. They returned to New Brunswick in 1812 and were living in Saint John in 1818. Carman was residing on the Miramichi at age nineteen, when he became an ensign in the 1st Battalion of militia. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1826, the year in which his father, William Carman Sr, was appointed as the first high sheriff of Gloucester County.

Carman{who may have studied law with Thomas H. Peters, was admitted to the bar in 1828 and practiced in Chatham for more than twenty years. Until 1833 he was in partnership with Peters. From 1836 to 1841 he was a partner of Edward Williston. At other times he practiced on his own. Like most 19th-century lawyers he was also an insurance company representative.

Carman had many community interests and involvements. In 1827 he was secretary and acting librarian of the Miramichi Subscription Library, which had been in existence as early as 1820. In 1830 he was a founder of the Chatham Reading Room, which held subscriptions to more than twenty newspapers and periodicals. He was a director of the Northumberland Agricultural & Emigrant Society in 1829 and a vice-president of the Chatham Fire Company when its sixth annual meeting was held in 1830. In 1837 he was appointed to the board of trustees of the County Grammar School. In 1840 he was a local director of the Bank of British North America. He was also a commissioner of the Seamen's Hospital, a local Indian commissioner, and a vestryman of St Paul's Anglican Church. He addressed the Miramichi Mechanics' Institute on "The Advantages of Knowledge" in 1848 and the Newcastle and Douglastown Institute on "The Constitution of Great Britain" in 1850.

Carman was unsuccessful in 1837 in a bid for election to the House of Assembly, but he won a seat in 1846. The Fredericton Loyalist, in commenting on the new members that year, observed that he had a "capacious forehead" and an "intelligent eye." His political philosophy was somewhat populist, which made Conservative politicians and voters feel uneasy, even though he was respected personally. He represented Northumberland County in Fredericton until 1850. When he failed to get re-elected that year, he retired from politics.

In 1851 Carman was appointed clerk of both the York County Court and the Supreme Court of New Brunswick and moved his family to Fredericton. In 1854, his first wife, Ann E. Dean, died, leaving seven children between six and twenty-two years of age. In 1859, Carman, at age fifty-five, was remarried, to Sophia M. Bliss, aged thirty-one. They had two children: Jean M. Carman, who married William F. Ganong, and W. Bliss Carman, the famous Canadian poet.


[b] Carman family data [m] NB Courier 31 Oct 1829; Manny index [d] Telegraph 5 Jan 1885 / Facey-Crowther; Fraser (C); Gleaner 15 Sep 1829, 19 Jan 1839, 31 Aug 1830, 21 May 1833, 14 Jun 1836, 23 May 1837, 4 Feb 1840, 22 Jun 1841, 6 May 1843, 15 Nov 1845, 30 May 1846, 16 Feb 1847, 18 Apr 1848; Graves; Hutchison papers (re. Mechanics' Institute); NB Almanac & Reg.; petition of William Carman, St John County (1818)