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Dorchester, Guy Carleton

DORCHESTER, GUY CARLETON, 1st Baron (1724-1808), British general and administrator, was born at Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, on the 3rd of September 1724. He served with distinction on the continent under the duke of Cumberland, and in 1759 in America as quartermaster-general, under his friend Wolfe. He was wounded at the capture of Quebec, and promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. In 1766 he was appointed governor-general of Canada, which position he held till 1778. His justice and kindliness greatly endeared him to the recently conquered French-Canadians, and did much to hold them neutral during the War of American Independence. He ordered the first codification of the civil law of the province, and was largely responsible for the passing of the Quebec Act. On the American invasion of Canada in 1775 he was compelled to abandon Montreal and narrowly escaped capture, but defended Quebec (q.v.) with skill and success. In October of the same year he destroyed the American flotilla on Lake Champlain. In 1777 he was superseded in his command of the military forces by Major-General John Burgoyne, and asked to be recalled. He returned, however, to America in May 1782 as commander-in-chief, remaining till November 1783. In 1786 he was again sent to Canada as governor-general and commander of the forces, with the title of Baron Dorchester. Many important reforms marked his rule; he administered the country with tact and moderation, and kept it loyal to the British crown amid the ferment caused by the French Revolution, and by the attempts of American emissaries to arouse discontent. In 1791 the province was divided into Upper and Lower Canada by the Constitutional Act. Of this division Carleton disapproved, as he did also of a provision tending to create in the new colony an hereditary aristocracy. In 1796 he insisted on retiring, and returned to England. He died on the 10th of November 1808. He married in 1772 a daughter of the 2nd earl of Effingham, and had nine children, being succeeded in the title by his grandson Arthur. On the death in 1897 of the 4th baron (another grandson) the title became extinct, but was revived in 1899 for his cousin and co-heiress Henrietta Anne as Baroness Dorchester.

J. C. Dent's Canadian Portrait Gallery (Toronto, 1880) gives a sketch of Lord Dorchester's Canadian career. His life by A. G. Bradley is included in the Makers of Canada series (Toronto). Most of his letters and state papers, which are indispensable for a knowledge of the period, are in the archives department at Ottawa, and are calendared in Brymner's Reports on Canadian Archives (Ottawa, 1885, seq.).

(W. L. G.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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