Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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QUIGLEY, RICHARD FRANCIS, native son; scholar and lawyer; b. Newcastle, 15 Nov 1848 (bap. 21 Jan 1849, 2 mos.), s/o Richard Quigley and Joanna Bergin; brother of Thomas Quigley; unmarried; d. Saint John, 13 Jun 1918.

A son of pious Catholic parents who raised their family in a modest farm home at Newcastle, Richard F. Quigley was educated at the Newcastle Grammar School under John Hardie, at St Michael's male academy, and at the universities of Harvard (LLB 1874), Boston (BCL 1875), and the Sorbonne (1901-02). In Boston he studied with the famous lawyer Richard Henry Dana Jr, author of Two Years Before the Mast. When he returned to Newcastle he entered the office of Samuel Thomson.

Quigley also studied with Saint John lawyer Charles Duff, and when he was admitted to the bar in 1876 he took up the practice of law in that city, as well as the post of commissioner for the state of Massachusetts. He was soon recognized as an able lawyer, but not all of his political ambitions were fulfilled. He was elected to Saint John Common Council in 1885 but failed to win the mayoralty in 1887. He was also unsuccessful in 1886 in a bid to capture a seat in the provincial assembly.

Quigley made his intellectual mark in the late 1880s in a theological debate which he carried on in the pages of the Saint John daily Globe with the Rev. John M. Davenport, priest of the Anglican Mission Church in Saint John. When his letters were later published as a book entitled Ipse, Ipsa; Ipse, Ipsa, Ipsum; Which? (New York, 1890), the Catholic world was so enthralled that Pope Leo XIII conferred a PhD on him in 1891. This was the highest honor which the Vatican could bestow on a layman and the first such degree awarded to a North American. In the same year, Laval University honored him with an LLD.

Quigley, who had been appointed QC in 1894, suspended his law practice in 1901 and went to Paris for a year of study. After he came back he settled in Montreal, but he returned to Saint John and reopened an office in 1905. He continued to live in the city until his death in 1918, at age seventy. His most cherished possession was his library, which his executors gave to St Thomas College in 1924.

Quigley had several talented sisters and brothers, including Thomas Quigley and Michael A. Quigley, who may have been the first Irish Catholic student from the Miramichi to graduate from the University of New Brunswick (BA 1884). Michael A. Quigley was an outstanding scholar and athlete and a successful businessman in Kansas, where he and his New Brunswick-born wife raised a family.


[b] Globe 9 Apr 1887 (day and month) [d] Leader 21 Jun 1918 / Advance 23 Jul 1891; Advocate 15 Jul 1874, 23 Jun 1875, 1 Jul 1891, 22 Jul 1891, 21 Nov 1900, 3 Sep 1902, 1 Mar 1905; Fraser (STC); McAlpine's (Saint John city directories); Macmillan DCB; NB Elections; World 10 May 1905