This application is sponsored by the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick
James A. MacLauchlan was a leading figure in the early history of the Upper St. John River. As both a government official and a militia officer, he helped to shape the outcome of the boundary dispute between Great Britain and the United States. To quote W. Austin Squires,
“He was one of the best known men in the upper valley.”
James A. MacLauchlan was born in Scotland on 12 April 1797 and died on 14 October 1865 at age 68 on his farm in Kingsclear, New Brunswick. He came to New Brunswick as a young man to join his father, Captain James MacLauchlan, who was an officer in the Royal Engineers (RE). James A. was commissioned into the 104th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign on 5 March 1812 and promoted to Lieutenant on 24 February 1814. He did not take part in the famous winter march from Fredericton to Kingston, Upper Canada (Ontario) in February to April 1813 but went to Canada by ship in the spring of 1813 with two companies of his regiment. While in Upper Canada, he participated in the operations along the Niagara Frontier in 1813 and 1814. He served in the Grenadier Company and was wounded during the attack on Fort Erie on 13 August 1814. After the end of the war, he was employed on engineer duties in Niagara in March 1815 where it is likely he learned his surveying skills. Following the disbandment of the 104th at Quebec in May 1817, he was placed on half-pay and was given a grant of land in the military settlement that was created between Grand Falls and the PresquIle military post (between Hartland and Florenceville-Bristol, NB) where he was also one of the surveyors of the land grants. In 1819, he was appointed as the Superintendent of the Military Settlement.
Following the cessation of government support for the military settlers and the closure of the PresquIle post circa 1823, James A. was in need of employment. He first applied for the position of Inspecting Officer of Militia on 8 April 1823 and then, in 1824, he was appointed as a Seizing Officer for the Crown Lands Office of New Brunswick. He continued in this capacity as a Deputy Seizing Officer until at least 1852. In 1829, he was appointed the Warden of the Disputed Territory with the task of preventing the illegal cutting of timber in the area of what is mainly Aroostook County, Maine and Madawaska County, NB. The 1783 Treaty of Paris poorly defined the ownership of this region and both the United States and Great Britain claimed it. The Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842 finally resolved the dispute. In addition to being the Warden of the Disputed Territory, James A. was a Justice of the Peace for York County (which initially included Carleton, Victoria and Madawaska Counties), a Commissioner for the Great Road from Fredericton to Canada, the Indian Agent for Madawaska. and a member of the New Brunswick militia.
James A. played a key role in the events leading up to the Aroostook War of 1839 as he attempted to maintain good relations with Maine by stopping the illegal cutting of timber and by reining in the Maine agents who were attempting to illegally exercise jurisdiction in the Madawaska Settlement. He conducted the 1833 Census of the Madawaska Settlement to determine who needed government relief following a series of poor harvests. In the fall of 1837, James A. opened the land route between Edmundston and Lake Temiscouata, which was soon used to rush reinforcements to Quebec following the outbreak of rebellion in December of that year.
Two years later, in the early phase of the Aroostook War, the Maine posse captured James A. in retaliation for the capture of Rufus McIntire, the Maine Land Agent. After his release, James A. deployed two companies of his militia battalion, the 2nd Carleton, along the border at the Mouth of the Aroostook and Andover and at Grand Falls to support the British regular army companies that were stationed there. Following the end of the war, Maine expanded further into the Disputed Territory than had been agreed and built a blockhouse, named Fort Kent, at the mouth of the Fish River just above the Madawaska Settlement. When Sir John Harvey, the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, failed to react to this challenge, James A. complained to the Governor General, Lord Sydenham, who sent troops from Quebec into the Madawaska Settlement. These events led to the partitioning and garrisoning of the Disputed Territory and to Harvey’s dismissal from office. The Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842 resolved the boundary dispute. MacLauchlan, along with two other New Brunswickers, was called to Washington in the summer of 1842 in order to provide expert advice to Lord Ashburton. Following ratification of the Treaty in 1843, James A. was employed on two commissions to settle the land claims of settlers, the first in the Madawaska area and the second in the Monument to Houlton areas of New Brunswick.
Later in life, James A. was President of the York County Agricultural Society from 1850-1854 and an active church member. Just prior to his death, Hutchinson’s Directory for 1865-1866 lists him as a farmer, living at Springhill, NB. James A. married Sarah, daughter of Deputy Commissary General William Plant on 26 December 1818. They had seven known children of which two sons and two daughters reached adulthood while two daughters and a son predeceased them. James A., his wife and five children are buried in the Loyalist Burying Ground in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Gary Campbell. The Road to Canada: The Grand Communications Route from Saint John to Quebec. (2005)
______. The Aroostook War of 1839. (2013)
Ernest A. Clarke. The Weary, The Famished and The Cold: Military Settlement Upper St. John River, 1814-1817 (1981) and The PresquiIle Military Post (1979 ).
David Facey-Crowther. The New Brunswick Militia Commissioned Officers List, 1787-1867 (1985).
Isabel Louise Hill. The Old burying Ground, Volume III, Fredericton, (1981).
Kings Landing Historical Settlement, MacLauchlan Family artefacts, M75.161.
Stuart Sutherland. His Majesty’s Gentlemen: A Directory of British Regular Army Officers of the War of 1812 (2000)
W. Austin Squires. The 104th Regiment of Foot (The New Brunswick Regiment) 1803-1817. (1962)
Veteran SummaryJames Augustus MacLauchlan
Lieutenant, 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
Place of Birth
, , Scotland
Place of Death
Kingsclear, NB, CAN
Died on: 14 OCT 1865
Location of Grave
The Old Burying Ground, 500 Brunswick Street
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Latitude: 44.960011N Longitude: -66.64273