Johnson, John Merser

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                                                   PEOPLE OF THE PAST
                                    Hon. John Mercer Johnson - Father of Confederation
                                                    By Andrew Fraser


John Mercer Johnson was born in Liverpool, England in October, 1818. His father, a lumber merchant, immigrated to Miramichi and later became High Sheriff of Northumberland County.

John M. was educated at Chatham Grammar School and thereafter studied law in Chatham. He was called to the bar in 1840. While in his youth, Johnson took an active interest in politics. By 1854, at a mere 36 years of age, he was a member of the Executive Council of New Brunswick and was also Solicitor-General of the province. He kept his position until 1856 when he resigned over a difference of opinion with the Lieutenant-governor. Despite this set-back his political career flourished. From June 1857 to October 1858 he was Postmaster General of New Brunswick. From that time until February of 1859 he continued to serve as a minister without portfolio. He was Speaker of the House from that date until of October of 1862 when he was named Attorney-General of New Brunswick. He held this last position until the defeat of his party in the general elections of 1865. Even in that election he was returned and sat as a member of the opposition until 1867.

Altogether, Johnson served as a member of the New Brunswick House of Assembly from 1850 (when he was thirty two years old) until confederation in 1867. He actively supported the union of the Canadian provinces and is known as a “Father of Confederation”.

In 1840 John Mercer Johnson took for his wife Henrietta, third daughter of A.D. Shirreff. They had six children, all of whom were born in Chatham.

John was born on May 26, 1846. After being educated in local schools he entered the employ of his uncle, John Shirreff who ran a grocery business. In 1870 he married Louisa Harding, a daughter of George Harding of Montreal.

William C. Johnson was born in 1850. He became a conductor on the Maine Central Railway. William married Mary Fraser and they had four children: Verona, Alexander, Fraser and Fred.

Edward, born in 1852, worked for Hon. William Ulne & Co. in the mercantile and lumber business. He was a man of considerable initiative and in 1883 he established his own Book Store and Stationery business in Chatham. He was also express agent and railway ticket agent. Later he also dealt in coal. In 1881 he married Jessie, daughter of Dr. James Johnson.

In 1854 Andrew Johnson was born. He studied Law under Hon. L. J. Tweedie. After practicing in Chatham for a few years he moved to Iowa where he met and married Eva Barnes.

Campbell Johnson (wife unknown) had three children.

John M. Johnson’s youngest child, a daughter is believed to have died in infancy.


Source: Northumberland News

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