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BADGLEY, FRANCIS, merchant, politician, militia officer, accountant, newspaper editor, and jp; b. 26 March 1767 in London; d. 7 Oct. 1841 in Montreal.

Francis Badgley was descended from a family of small landowners and farmers on the border of Derbyshire and Cheshire, but his parents may have been London fur dealers. About 1785 he immigrated to the province of Quebec, choosing to settle in Montreal, where he likely had family connections; a merchant named James Badgley was living there in 1784.

In 1788 Francis Badgley became the partner of Richard Dobie*, a prominent Montreal merchant, in a business which outfitted fur traders for the region southwest of Michilimackinac (Mackinac Island, Mich.) and the Great Lakes and which bought and sold furs. The partnership lasted until 1792. On 1 May of that year Badgley left with the annual spring brigade for the voyage to Grand Portage (near Grand Portage, Minn.). He had been hired to do a survey for the North West Company and during this trip he kept a diary in which he described the journey from Lachine, Lower Canada, up the Ottawa River to Lake Nipissing (Ont.) and from there to Georgian Bay and Grand Portage. The trip netted him and his former partner merely £71 but resulted in the naming of a small island near Manitoulin Island after him.

Badgley returned to Montreal in the fall of 1792 and sailed for England in late October, probably to negotiate the importation of brandy and other spirits. His Montreal connections were enhanced in 1795 when, on 27 November, he married Elizabeth Lilly, daughter of John Lilly, one of the town’s more prominent merchants. From 1796 until 1799 he was in partnership with Quebec merchant Louis Dunière* and James Badgley in the firm Dunière, Badgley and Company. In 1799 he set up his own business in Montreal, Francis Badgley and Company. In that year Badgley’s financial status was such that he could match his father-in-law’s contribution of £20 a year towards the subscription being raised in the colony to help defray Britain’s expenses in the war with France.

In 1800 Badgley contested the two-member riding of Montreal East for the House of Assembly. Both he and Pierre-Louis Panet* secured 178 votes, eliminating the third contestant. During his four years as a member of the assembly, Badgley supported the English party. He played an active role on the committee studying the demolition of Montreal’s walls, was president of the committee on the abolition of slavery in the province, and supported Joseph Frobisher* and his associates in securing the incorporation of the Company of Proprietors of the Montreal Water Works. He was instrumental in having a duty imposed upon American-grown tobacco. Badgley did not seek re-election in 1804, possibly for financial reasons since members were not paid and the business of a Montreal merchant was often neglected during his absence at Quebec. Indeed, in 1803, the severe financial difficulties of a “Mr Badgley” caused serious problems for merchant Henry Joseph* of Berthier-en-Haut (Berthierville). His single term in the assembly showed him to be an energetic and responsible member, anxious to promote Montreal’s commercial interests.

During the War of 1812 Badgley served as a captain in Montreal’s 1st Militia Battalion. His duties were primarily with the commissariat department at La Prairie, in which his experience as a merchant and his skill in accountancy made him particularly valuable. Thomas Doige’s directory of 1819 listed him as a merchant and accountant. In 1822 he became accountant for Molson’s Brewery. He probably owed this appointment to his son-in-law William Molson*, who had married his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, in 1819. Of his five other children, two sons became prominent in Montreal, William* as a judge and politician and Francis* as a medical doctor. Badgley continued to be active in a variety of fields during the early 1820s. Some time between 1816 and 1822 he acted as editor of the Montreal Gazette [see James Brown]. In 1821 he was appointed justice of the peace and was promoted major in the militia.

Elinor Kyte Senior

ANQ-M, CE1-63, 11 oct. 1841. AUM P 58. PAC, MG 11, [CO 42] Q, 24; MG 30, D1, 3: 156–95. Private arch., Mrs C. M. Badgley (Westmount, Que.), Badgley papers. Montreal Gazette, 3 May, 13 Dec. 1792; 30 Nov. 1795; 21 Nov. 1796; 7, 21 Oct., 2, 30 Dec. 1799; 25 June, 7, 10, 15 July 1800; 2 June 1819; 8 Oct. 1841. Quebec Gazette, 28 Nov. 1799. F.-J. Audet, Les députés de Montréal. Borthwick, Hist. and biog. gazetteer. E. [O.] Clark Watson, Loyalist Clarks, Badgleys and allied families . . . (2 parts in 1v., Rutland, Vt., [1954]). Desjardins, Guide parl. Montreal directory, 1819. Officers of British forces in Canada (Irving). W. H. Atherton, Montreal, 1535–1914 (3v., Montreal and Vancouver, 1914), 3: 20–22. Campbell, Hist. of Scotch Presbyterian Church. Christie, Hist. of L.C. (1848–55), vol.1. Merrill Denison, The barley and the stream: the Molson story; a footnote to Canadian history (Toronto, 1955).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Elinor Kyte Senior, “BADGLEY, FRANCIS (1767-1841),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 19, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/badgley_francis_1767_1841_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/badgley_francis_1767_1841_7E.html
Author of Article: Elinor Kyte Senior
Title of Article: BADGLEY, FRANCIS (1767-1841)
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: September 19, 2014