A Man for All People
By Joseph Hannon
William End was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1798 and died in Bathurst, New Brunswick in December 1872.William End was a champion of French and Irish rights. He stood apart as a man of strong principles who was unafraid of the enemy. He was articulate, possessing the Irish gift of oratory. He was assiduous in his attention to duty and most conscientious in his deportment.
William End came to Canada from Ireland in 1820, when he was 22 years old. He articled with the Honorable William Botsford in Dorchester and became a lawyer by 1823. Governor Douglas appointed him as Clerk of the Peace for Bathurst in 1828. He was a “fair minded” and a well-educated Protestant. But he became the champion of the Catholics who lived in Gloucester County.
A year after he arrived in Bathurst in 1829, the Catholic Emancipation Act or Catholic Relief was passed at Westminster. According to Wikipedia:
‘The Catholic Relief Act 1829 (10 Geo IV c.7) was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 24 March 1829, and received the Royal Assent on 13 April. It was the culmination of the process of Catholic emancipation in the United Kingdom, and in Ireland it repealed the last of the Penal Laws. Its passage followed a campaign on the issue by Irish lawyer and newly elected Member of Pariliament, Daniel O’Connell.
The act allowed Catholics to have a seat in parliament. This condition was crucial as Daniel O’Connell had won a seat in a by-election in County Clare but under British law he was forbidden (because of his religion) to take his seat in Westminster.1
Officially speaking, the penal laws were very harsh, meaning a Catholic could not vote, nor hold public office, couldn’t win property, not practice his religion, could not be educated nor get a land grant, could not bequeath property nor serve in the army or navy. But there were fair-minded Protestants who protected their Catholic neighbours in as many ways as they could.
William End was one of these and he actually became a champion of Catholic rights when he encountered bigotry on the part of Gloucester’s first Minister of the Legislature Hugh Munro who served from 1827 to 1830.
Hugh Munro is described as a bigot, despotic, tyrannical, and arrogant. Munro behaved as though the penal laws were still in effect, and as though the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 was non-existent. He was against the French and the Irish and this showed in the fact that they were getting no share in the government jobs. He withheld from the citizens of the area the small sums allotted for work on the roads as though the money were his own. The grain bounty, a grant to encourage agriculture he withheld saying:
“Since I personally have voted against the grain bounty, it would be in bad taste for my constituents to accept it. They are better off without this money since they would only spend it foolishly when the vessels arrived for trade.”
He was offensive and arrogant and William End wanted to get even. In the provincial election of 1830 William End got his chance to attack. He entered his name as a candidate in opposition to Hugh Munro. As soon as the polls opened on election day, End addressed the assembled crowd with a long and violent speech. He called Munro:
“A tyrant that had tyrannized over the French people and their religion for a long time and ruled them with a rod of iron. The hour of liberty had come! The reign of tyranny is over!"
… he shouted. He went on to illustrate how Munro had shown prejudice against the Irish, considering them beneath his notice and treating them as second-rate citizens. He called Munro’s great friend, the county magistrate Robert Ferguson “a perjured old villain”. Of course, William End won the election by a large majority. Voters were impressed by his courage and conviction.
But End’s enemies tried to unseat him. Their first strategy was to embarrass him. The magistrates appointed by Munro deserted their posts. End coped with this crisis by swearing in new magistrates. Their second strategy was using the technicality of non-residency as End had never moved his place of residence from Newcastle to Bathurst. The authorities thereupon dismissed End from his office as Clerk of the Peace, because the terms of his appointment stipulated that he move to Bathurst. Lord Goderick of the Colonial Office upheld William End by stating that the non-residency clause was merely an excuse to get rid of End, and not a just case for dismissal. He was then re-instated to his position. He served four terms in New Brunswick politics until 1850.
William End was also a Trustee of the first school in Bathurst. On March 29th 1836, tenders were requested for the first public school, which was to measure 28 feet by 20 feet. It was to be called the Bathurst Grammar School. This little school house was built on the waterfront at the east end of St Andrew Street facing Indian Island.
End lived briefly in the United States until 1854 when he returned to Bathurst. He became the largest land owner in Bathurst holding 5 lots. In 1867 (Confederation), he became the first county clerk and then the local police magistrate.
William End’s office was located on the former George Gilbert property (where the Keystone Building now exists) on Douglas Street. There was a short street which was an extension of St George Street which led down to the waterside. This was always called William End Lane, but this name has unfortunately been lost to history although it can still be found on many old city maps. It is too bad because he was an extraordinary citizen. William End died tragically in his burning office on December 14, 1872. Circumstantial evidence indicated that he had been locked inside with the key left outside. End burnt to death. The young man who was accused of his murder, a member of one of the most prominent families here, had recently been sentenced to four months in jail by End.
Someone told the following story about the young man in question:
On the night of December 14th this young man came in a frenzied state to my grandmother’s home, just a few houses up the street from the William End office. He shouted “Mrs. McGinley, for God’s sake, give me a place to hide.” My grandmother did not know what had happened but she knew the young man very well. She sent him to an upstairs room, thinking he was being chased by a group of other young men. About an hour later, some men came to the door asking if she had seen the young man. She replied “I would have seen him, if he had come here.” The men then left to continue their search elsewhere. Later that night the young man escaped across the ice of the Bathurst Basin to the railroad tracks, and was never seen again.
A record of Judge William End’s funeral can be found in the register of St. George’s Anglican Church in Bathurst. It reads as follows:
“William End, aged 73, was burned to death in the conflagration of his own office. The portion of his remains which was recovered from the flames was interred in the graveyard of St. George’s Church, Bathurst on the 15th day of December 1872 by me, William B. McKiel, rector.”2
His wife, the former Lucy Morse Etter of Amherst, Nova Scotia, whom he had married in 1827 and an adopted daughter, Mary Stewart, the wife of Henry W Baldwin, High Sheriff of Gloucester County, were those who survived him. In one eulogy, Mr. End was called “ our ablest magistrate, our most efficient vindicator of public order.”
2. St. George’s Anglican Church Parish Register, 15 December 1872.