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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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NIVEN, JOHN (1828-1904)

NIVEN, JOHN, tanner and currier, immigration agent, harbormaster, shipping master, and police magistrate; b. Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland, 6 Aug 1828, s/o Colin Niven (or Nevin) and Mary Rankin; m. 1856, Jane Harris, a native of New Richmond, Canada East; d. Newcastle, 10 May 1904.

John Niven's parents came to the Miramichi in 1839 with their children and settled on a farm in North Esk parish. Six years later they moved to Newcastle. They may have been living in Scotland again in 1851, when they were not enumerated in the local census. In any event, John Niven was in Edinburgh that year finishing his apprenticeship as a tanner, and he subsequently followed that trade in Newcastle for many years with notable success.

In the 1860s Niven was a shareholder in the Newcastle Gas Co., and he was elected president in 1866. In 1872 he was back in Scotland as Canadian immigration agent. The following year he was appointed harbormaster at Newcastle. In 1893 he also became shipping master. He had been appointed a justice of the peace in 1862, and in 1877 he became the first regularly-appointed police magistrate for the town. His predecessors, William Masson and John Lawlor, were justices of the peace who presided over the police court on a supply basis. He retained the several appointments mentioned until his death in 1904. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees of St James Presbyterian Church and as president of the Highland Society from 1898 through 1901.

In his later years Niven, who spoke in a "rich Scottish accent," was regarded as "the grand old man of Newcastle." In 1902 he was predeceased by his wife, Jane Harris, who was "one of the best known and brightest ladies" of the town. They had no children.


[b] Biog. Review NB [m] church records [d] Advocate 18 May 1904 / Advance 8 May 1902; Advocate 13 Aug 1873, 9 May 1877; Gleaner 22 Dec 1866; Hist. Highland Soc.; Hoddinott