HAVILAND, THOMAS HEATH, office-holder, land agent and proprietor, banker, and politician; b. 30 April 1795 or 1796 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England; d. 18 June 1867 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
After holding a minor position in the Naval Victualling Office in Chatham, England, Thomas Heath Haviland immigrated in 1816 to Prince Edward Island. There he became provost marshal, a post he later described as “a sinecure.” In August 1817 he was appointed naval officer, another sinecure and a position which was abolished eight years later, leaving him with an imperial pension of £159 sterling. This was the starting point for an impressive accumulation of offices: in July 1823 he was named to the Council; in the following year, despite his lack of legal training, he became assistant judge of the Supreme Court, a largely honorary position with no fixed salary; in 1830 he was appointed colonial treasurer, and during his tenure he successfully collected the Island’s first land tax (on the average around £1,425 per annum, a sum which increased about 50 per cent the year after he left office); and in November 1839 he vacated the latter position to become colonial secretary, registrar, and clerk of the Executive and Legislative councils. As clerk of the Legislative Council he had to resign from that body; he had been its first president following its separation from the Executive Council in March 1839.
While in these strategic official positions Haviland had become local overseer of entrepreneur Thomas Burnard Chanter*’s various interests, and land agent to Sir George Seymour, Lord James Townshend, and the trustees of the Selkirk estate. Eventually he became a large landed proprietor in his own right; in 1852 he described himself as owner of Lot 56 and parts of Lots 8, 40, and 43. Thus most of his holdings were concentrated in rural Kings County, where one of his paying tenants was the Escheat politician William Cooper, whom he had succeeded in 1829 as agent for Lot 56, then owned by Townshend. At the time of his death he also owned a substantial amount of real estate in Charlottetown and Georgetown.
Because of his many public offices (executive, legislative, and judicial) and his vested interests in the leasehold system, Haviland became known as the perfect embodiment of the old régime before the arrival of responsible government in 1851 with the formation of George Coles*’ Reform administration. Edward Whelan in that year described his accumulation of offices as “an instance of monopoly that no other colony can parallel.” The interlocking nature of the local élite was illustrated in 1841 when the report of an assembly investigation revealed, among other things, that Haviland had family connections with seven of his eight fellow executive councillors. His influence and prestige appear to have grown over the years, to the point that Whelan believed him to have been “the master-mind of the cabinet” of Sir Donald Campbell*, the reactionary lieutenant governor in the late 1840s. When responsible government came, Haviland was forced to relinquish his offices (except for his assistant judgeship, which he retained until 1854). At the insistence of the Colonial Office he was granted a pension of £200, a sum which he complained was “so slender” as to be “Inadequate . . . to the pecuniary sacrifice which I am subjected to.” A few weeks earlier he had reported his income from salaries and emoluments for 1850 (excluding his pension as retired naval officer) as amounting to some £668.
Haviland was generally credited with the characteristic virtues usually ascribed to his social type: courtly manners and sound judgement in the discharge of his official duties. Whelan described him as “decidedly the ablest and best informed man of the party to which he belongs.” But, like many beneficiaries of the old régime, he did not make a rigid distinction between serving his own interests and those of the colony. An investigation in 1849 revealed that he was involved in questionable financial proceedings as accountant general in the Court of Chancery, a minor position he had held since 1831. Two years later the new Reform government conducted a well-publicized inquiry into his exaction and retention for his private purposes of fees for his services between 1840 and 1850 as “private secretary,” an office which had no official existence. After a report by the investigating committee demanding that Haviland be required to refund some £796 to the treasury, Lieutenant Governor Sir Alexander Bannerman referred the controversy to London. Although there had been significant substantive and procedural errors on Haviland’s part, which had resulted in his personal gain and a minimum of public scrutiny, Lord Grey [Henry George Grey], the colonial secretary, was more impressed by the fact that political motives appeared to lie behind the allegations. He declined to intervene against Haviland, and requested that the Reformers let the matter drop. After seeking legal advice, they decided to comply with Grey’s wishes. This unsavoury affair may have been a factor in Haviland’s decision in late 1852 to return to England for an extended period. Prior to his departure he appointed his son, Thomas Heath* Jr, his agent.
Yet Haviland’s extensive interests and connections on the Island brought him back after seven months, and he resumed a highly influential role in local politics. He entered the electoral arena in March 1854, and won a by-election for Princetown, the closest thing to a rotten borough in the colony, by a vote of 59 to 51. He was promptly appointed to the Tory Executive Council which had taken office in the previous month under John Myrie Holl. Despite a sweeping Liberal victory in June of that year, he was re-elected. He remained a member of the assembly through 1858, albeit attending irregularly and missing the session of 1856 because of a visit to England. In the later 1850s he and Thomas Heath Jr, also an assemblyman, both prominent Anglican laymen, played an important and forceful role in bringing forward the question of the use of the Bible in the schools, over which the Liberals would eventually be toppled from office [see Coles].
Haviland had been elected mayor of Charlottetown, traditionally a Tory stronghold, in 1857, and he was annually re-elected without serious opposition until his death owing to a disease of the kidneys and bladder. He was among the minority of Islanders who favoured confederation in the mid 1860s. At the time of his death Whelan wrote that “He was the representative man of the old conservative party. Without brilliant talents, his judgment was of the highest order; he filled every situation in the colony to which a colonist could aspire, short of the gubernatorial chair.” Thomas Heath Jr became lieutenant governor at the end of the 1870s. Haviland had married twice: on 8 Jan. 1822 to Jane Rebecca Brecken, who died on 28 March 1839; and on 4 Jan. 1848 to a widow, Amelia Janetta Emslie, née Boyd. In addition to Thomas Heath Jr, he had at least five daughters; each of these children received a substantial legacy.
As elder statesman of the old Family Compact, Haviland had wielded tremendous power and influence in the political and economic life of Prince Edward Island for most of his long career. He had been a central figure in every administration between 1823 and 1851, and for much of that time he was the most influential councillor. As well as being an extensive landowner, he was president of the Bank of Prince Edward Island from the second annual meeting of shareholders in 1858 until his death. William Henry Pope* stated in an obituary: “With two generations of the inhabitants of this Island, the name of the deceased gentleman has been a household word. He was more generally known to them than any other individual in the community.”
[Detailed information on T. H. Haviland’s business connections will be found in PAPEI, P.E.I., Land Registry Office, Land conveyance registers; for his agencies to Seymour, the Selkirk trustees, Townshend, and Chanter, his purchase of Lot 56, his marriage settlement of 1848, and his assignment of agency to T. H. Haviland Jr, see, respectively, liber 31, f.259; liber 34, f.637; liber 35, f.396; liber 43, f.297; liber 56, f.1; liber 63, f.467; and liber 65, f.428. For Haviland as land agent and landlord, see Abstract of the proceedings before the Land Commissioners’ Court, held during the summer of 1860, to inquire into the differences relative to the rights of landowners and tenants in Prince Edward Island, reporters J. D. Gordon and David Laird (Charlottetown, 1862), 7–8, 237–40; and PAPEI, T. H. Haviland Rent books, Lot 56 from 1845 (2v. and index). His will, dated 21 June 1865, will be found in P.E.I., Supreme Court, Estates Division, liber 7, f.330 (mfm. at PAPEI).
A wealth of information on Haviland’s administrative and political career can be found in PAPEI, P.E.I., Executive Council, Minutes, 24 July 1823, 20 March 1854; P.E.I., House of Assembly, Journal, 1834, 28; 1840, 70; 1841, 151, app.N; 1846, app.K; 1847, 128, 136; 1848, 61, 78; 1849, 18, 85, 105, 125–27, 131, 134–36, 142–45, apps.H, V, X; 1850 (1st session), 18, 22–23, 44–45; 1850 (2nd session), 14–15, app.G; 1851, 8, 19–21, 25–27, 30–31, 35–37, 49, 51–53, 119, 131, 136–42, apps.D, H; 1852, 31, 160–63, app.A; 1853, app.E; 1854, 24; 1856, 87, app.E; 1857, 35–36; P.E.I., House of Assembly, Debates and proc., 1857, 7, 42, 54, 91–92, 119; 1858, 7, 61; PAPEI, P.E.I., Lieutenant Governors’ record group, Commission book I, pp.120, 181, 192, 222, 228; Commission book II, pp.8–9, 62, 121–22; P.E.I., Legislative Council, Journal, 1839 (2nd session), 10; 1840, 6; P.E.I., Acts, 1851, c.3, s.4; PRO, CO 226/65, 5; 226/67, 44; 226/69, 326, 340, 427; 226/71, 251, 259–61, 288, 293–300; 226/79, 48, 84–86, 235–300; 226/80, 238; 226/82, 118, 225–31; 226/83, 87, 123, 182. Also see PAPEI, Bank of Prince Edward Island, minute book, 1856–82; Central Academy, minute book, 50–51; Henry Jones Cundall, letterbook, 27 March 1867 – 26 May 1871, p.20.
For newspaper sources on Haviland, see Examiner (Charlottetown), 14, 28 Aug. 1847; 8 Jan. 1848; 19 Jan., 13 April, 4 May, 26 June 1850; 19 May, 9, 23 June, 7 July 1851; 21 Jan., 4 Aug. 1856; 22, 29 June, 6 July, 10 Aug. 1857; 22 Feb., 1 March, 12 April, 9 Aug. 1858; 22 Aug. 1859; 7 Aug. 1860; 27 July 1863; 18 June, 2 July 1866; 24 June 1867 (obit); 12 Sept. 1895; Islander, 27 Aug. 1847; 7 June 1850; 3 Dec. 1852; 15 July 1853; 10, 17 Feb., 3, 10, 17, 24 March, 16, 23, 30 June, 21 July 1854; 3 April, 14 Aug. 1857; 21 June 1867 (obit.); Monitor (Charlottetown), 6 July 1858; Prince Edward Island Gazette (Charlottetown), 26 Jan. 1822; Prince Edward Island Register (Charlottetown), 19 Jan. 1830; Protestant and Evangelical Witness, 25 June 1864; Royal Gazette (Charlottetown), 2 April, 3 Dec. 1839; 8 May 1849; 14 July 1851; 26 Jan., 6 Dec. 1852; 21 Feb., 24 Oct. “Extra,” 14 Nov., 5 Dec. 1853.
Obituaries to Haviland are also found in Gazette (Montreal), 5 July 1867; Herald (Charlottetown), 19 June 1867; Summerside Journal (Summerside, P.E.I.), 20 June 1867; Summerside Progress (Summerside, P.E.I.), 24 June 1867.
Useful secondary sources are Duncan Campbell, History of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown, 1875), 194–96; Greenhill and Giffard, Westcountrymen in P.E.I., 70–71, 94, 98–99, 101, 107–9, 116–17, 137, 155, 189, 216; W. S. MacNutt, “Political advance and social reform, 1842–1861,” Canada’s smallest province (Bolger), 116–19; Report of the city of Charlottetown for the year ending 31st December, 1877 . . . and a synopsis of city affairs from the date of its organization to 31st December, 1876 (Charlottetown, 1878), 97; and Robertson, “Religion, politics, and education in P.E.I.,” 17, 19–23, 34–35, 47–49, 60. i.r.r.]
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Cite This Article
Ian Ross Robertson, “HAVILAND, THOMAS HEATH (d. 1867),” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/haviland_thomas_heath_1867_9E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Ian Ross Robertson|
|Title of Article:||HAVILAND, THOMAS HEATH (d. 1867)|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1976|
|Year of revision:||1976|
|Access Date:||June 1, 2023|