Collection F00572 - Bidwell family

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Bidwell family

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  • 1800-1942 (Creation)
    Bidwell (family)

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0.13 m of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Barnabas Bidwell was born in Tyringham (now Monterey), Massachusetts, in 1763. In 1810, Barnabus fled to Canada to avoid prosecution when a large deficit, eventually repaid by Bidwell, was discovered in the account of the Bidwell County Treasurer, a position Barnabus had nominally held while serving in Boston and in Washington. Bidwell and his children (Mrs. Bidwell had died in 1809) settled first in Bath, Ontario, where he established a school, and later in Kingston. In 1821 he was elected to the House of Assembly as a Reform party member from the united counties of Lennox and Addington. He was excluded from the House, however, on the grounds that he was an alien, in spite of the fact that no such law existed. After Bidwell's exclusion, an act was passed which rendered him ineligible by forbidding anyone who had held public office in the U.S. to sit in the House of Assembly of Canada. The act was later repealed. As an alien Bidwell was also not allowed to practice law in the courts, but it appears that he did give office consultations and assisted his son in his legal career. Barnabus died in 1833.

Marshall Spring Bidwell (1799-1872) was the son of Barnabus Bidwell and Mary Gray Bidwell. In 1812, Marshall and his sister joined their father in Canada, where Baranabus had fled to avoid prosecution. Marshall studied law in Kingston and was admitted to the bar of Upper Canada in 1821. Marshall decided to become a candidate for the same seat in the House of Assembly that had been denied his father. Despite strong opposition from the Conservative party, he became a member of the House in 1824 after the Reform party managed to pass an act which allowed an alien to serve in the House after seven years of residence in Upper Canada. For the next eleven years Marshall served in the House as the representative from Lennox and Addington. In 1829, and again in 1835, he was elected Speaker of the House and was recognized as one of the leaders of the Reform party with William Lyon MacKenzie. Bidwell lost his seat in 1836 and in 1837 was asked to leave Upper Canada as a result of a failed rebellion staged by William Lyon MacKenzie, even though Bidwell had no part in the uprising. In 1842, with the return of the reform party to power, Bidwell was invited to return to Canada and was offered a seat on the court of Queen's Bench. He declined, preferring to stay in New York City, where he had settled and where he died in 1872.

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Scope and content

The fonds consists of correspondence, legal documents and printed material from 1800-1872, relating to politics in Upper Canada and the Upper Canada Rebellion. These records were predominantly created by Barnabus Bidwell and his son, Marshall Spring Bidwell. Also included is some correspondence to the decendants of Marshall Spring Bidwell, extending as far as 1942.

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Purchased from Yale University


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  • English

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Permission required from Yale University before publication or reproduction of any documents

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No further accruals are expected

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  • Shelf: 3141