Sir Guy Carleton served as
Governor of all the Canada's and oversaw two important
transitions in the character and rule of the colonies during
He was born in Ireland on
September 3, 1724 and was commissioned into the British army as
an ensign in the 25th Foot Regiment. By 1757 he had been
promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 72nd foot and
sailed up the St Lawrence with Wolfe in 1759. He fought in the
Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September and was wounded.
His friend and commander James Wolfe was killed in that same
Like many high ranking
military figures of the time, he was designated to be
commissioned a Lieutenant Governor at one of the colonies in the
British Empire, his being Quebec in 1766 and then in 1768 he was
made Governor. He got to know the French Canadian society and
leaders and became sympathique to their position. He helped with
the passage of the Quebec Act in 1774 which benefited the
seigniors and the Roman Catholic church in Quebec but held back
the development of representative government. (See Quebec Act)
He was also responsible for the preparation of the defence of
Canada and the defeat of Montgomery and Arnold when they led the
American forces against Quebec City in 1775-76. He did however
have differences with the British Secretary of State for the
Colonies, Lord George Germain and as a result, he was recalled
to England in 1778.
In 1782 as the American War of
Independence was finally closing, he was asked to come out of
retirement and take charge of al of the forces in British North
America in order to help British Loyalists and troops re-locate
to Canada and in the case of the troops return to England. In
particular he arranged for and oversaw the evacuation of New
York City which had been a loyalist strong hold through the war.
Due to the impressive manner
in which he carried out these duties, he was made Baron of
Dorchester and appointed Governor in Chief of British North
America. He served in this role until 1796 with one of the
highlights being the passing of the second major piece of
legislation during his term of office in the America's, the
Constitutional Act of 1791. His guidance began the opening up of
representative government in the colonies and helped maintain
the Canada's as a loyal, stable colony for Great Britain during
a time of great conflict against the French and Napoleon.
He retired again in 1796 to
Kempshot and later Stubbings near Maidenhead and lived to 1808.
In that year he died suddenly on November 10.
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