Samuel Peters Jarvis (November 15, 1792 – September 6, 1857) was a
Canadian government official in the nineteenth century. He was the
Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for
Upper Canada (1837-1845),
and he was a member of the Family Compact.
Jarvis was born to William Jarvis and Hannah Owens Peters in Newark,
Upper Canada. He moved with his family to York, (Toronto) Upper Canada
in 1798. For a time he attended the school of
John Strachan in
Jarvis was a member of the 3rd Regiment of
York Militia during the War
of 1812, seeing action at the
Battle of Detroit
Battle of Detroit and the Battle of
Queenston Heights under Isaac Brock, and later action in the Battle of
Stoney Creek and Battle of Lundy's Lane. In 1814 he received two
positions in the government of Upper Canada, Assistant Secretary, and
Registrar of Upper Canada.
Jarvis was also appointed as a Clerk of the Legislative Council of
Upper Canada. Having studied law before the war, he was called to the
bar in 1815. In 1817 he was named Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.
In 1817 Jarvis killed John Ridout in a duel. John was the son of Upper
Canada's Surveyor General, Thomas Ridout. The Jarvis and Ridout
families carried a longstanding enmity; in 1817 John Ridout had been
ejected from Jarvis' office, and a few days later a chance encounter
led to a fistfight between the pair. They agreed to a duel, meeting on
July 12 at daybreak. The pair stood back to back, then took 8 steps,
turned to face each other, after which Jarvis' second counted to
three. The count of three was the signal permitting them to shoot.
Ridout shot on the count of two but missed. Jarvis was livid at this
violation of the agreement. Their seconds conferred, giving Ridout a
second gun, then taking it away and allowing Jarvis to take his shot.
He did, killing Ridout. Jarvis was charged with murder, but the
charge was reduced to manslaughter before trial. Jarvis was acquitted,
as all the formalities of a duel had been met, and the unspoken
practice of the day was to acquit duellers. It was the last such
quasi-legal duel in Toronto.
In October 1818 Jarvis married Mary Boyles Powell. She was the
daughter of William Dummer Powell, the judge who had presided over his
trial for the shooting of John Ridout. Around 1822 Jarvis moved
onto land which he had inherited from his father, Hazel Burn, a
100-acre (0.40 km2) lot between Queen Street and Bloor Street. He
cleared the southern part of the lot and erected an estate. On June
8, 1826, Jarvis and fourteen others, disguised as Indians, broke into
the offices of William Lyon Mackenzie's newspaper Colonial Advocate,
where they smashed his printing press and threw it into Toronto
Harbour. This act was in retaliation for negative editorials which
Mackenzie had run about members of the Family Compact. Mackenzie sued
and won £625, which was paid by donations from the Family Compact,
and Mackenzie was able to set up a larger operation.
Jarvis was named Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Upper
Canada in 1837, replacing James Givins, who was becoming senile.
During the Rebellion of 1837, Jarvis organised a group of volunteers
to fight on the government's side; the group was named the Queen's
Rangers in honour of his father's old unit, also called the Queen's
Rangers, which had disbanded in 1802. In 1845 he was removed from his
position as Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Upper
Canada. A three-man commission appointed to investigate complaints
about the Department of Indian Affairs found substantial problems
there. Witnesses to the commission testified about occurrences of
bribery, fraud, religious discrimination and lack of interest in the
welfare of the Indians under its supervision. To repay the
government the money he had stolen from the Indian Department, Jarvis
was forced to sell Hazel Burn to pay the £4000 that he owed the
government. The estate was divided into town lots with a street
through the tract. The street is now named Jarvis Street.
Jarvis and his wife had several children. A son, Samuel Peters Jarvis
Jr. CMG (1820-1905) was a
British Army officer (Major General) who
South Africa (and died in England).
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
^ a b c d "Loyalist Collection at the University of New Brunswick".
University of New Brunswick. March 2005.
^ a b "mean streets". The Rational Post. 8 June 2005.
^ William Renwick Riddell (July 1915). "The
Duel in Early Upper
Canada". Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and
Criminology. Northwestern University. 6 (2): 165–176.
doi:10.2307/1132814. JSTOR 1132814.
^ Mike Filey (2003).
Toronto Sketches 7: The Way We Were. Dundurn
Press Ltd. ISBN 1-55002-448-5. One other interesting fact about
Samuel Peters Jarvis is that he holds the distinction of being the
"winner" of Toronto's last duel.
^ Hugh A. Halliday (1 January 2005). "Hand Me My Pistol, Please".
^ "Samuel Jarvis's Estate, "Hazel Burn"".
Toronto District School
^ "The Baldwin/Mackenzie House".
Toronto Green Community and Toronto
^ "Introduction to William and
Samuel Jarvis Part 2".
^ Frederick H. Armstrong and Ronald J. Stagg. "MACKENZIE, WILLIAM
LYON". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of
^ a b Douglas Leighton and Robert J. Burns (1985). "Jarvis, Samuel
Peters". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto.
^ "Samuel Peter Jarvis's Career in Government Comes to an Unpleasant
Toronto District School Board.
Toronto Green Community &