HOWARD, JAMES SCOTT, public servant; b. 2 Sept. 1798 in Bandon, County Cork (Republic of Ireland), son of John Howard and Mary Scott; m. 8 June 1822 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Salome, daughter of New Brunswick mla Archibald McLean*, and they had three children; d. 1 March 1866 in Toronto, Canada West.
James Scott Howard left Ireland in 1819. He settled briefly in Fredericton but moved on to York (Toronto) in 1820. Shortly after his arrival he was appointed to the staff of the York post office. He was later to describe his position as that of “chief and only assistant to . . . [William Allan*] in his respective offices of Postmaster, Collector of Customs, Inspector of Licences, and Treasurer of the [Home] District.” When Howard succeeded Allan as postmaster on 2 July 1828, Allan wrote officially that the department was fortunate to have a person so well acquainted with the duties and so faithful in all respects. Thomas Stayner, who was his chief, consulted him on many postal problems such as franking and the transport of mail through the United States, and also praised his service.
Consequently it was with surprise that Howard found himself removed from his post by Lieutenant Governor Francis Bond Head* on 13 Dec. 1837 during the Upper Canada rebellion. Howard, aware of suspicion against him, had written on 9 December to Charles Berczy*, surveyor of the post office, asking for an investigation. Assured that there was nothing against him except that he had associated too much with “those people,” Howard learned late in January 1838 from Stayner that Head suspected him of compliance with the aims and plans of the rebels because he had contact with John and Joseph Lesslie and of having appointed mostly sympathizers with the revolutionary party to the Toronto post office. Head’s doubts were reinforced by the fact that Howard did not take arms against the rebels.
In answering these accusations Howard stressed his political neutrality, stating that as postmaster he had never attended a political meeting or voted, and that he had proof of Stayner’s commendation of such a course. Nor had he been asked to leave his post and take up arms. Undoubtedly Howard’s defence was accurate enough, but Head could neither understand nor tolerate Howard’s neutrality; he wanted a zealously loyal man in charge of the post office. In February 1838 the case was brought before Lord Glenelg, the colonial secretary, who consulted both Head and Head’s successor in Upper Canada, George Arthur*. Head stood firm; Arthur, though agreeing, obtained a report from the Executive Council in May, signed by Robert Baldwin Sullivan*, Allan, and Augustus Baldwin, which granted Howard’s political neutrality, but upheld Head’s action. In the unsettled atmosphere of Upper Canada Glenelg let the matter rest.
There can be little doubt of Howard’s neutrality or his loyalty in the years of the rebellion. He may have had some friends with radical leanings, but they only demonstrated his impartiality. He certainly was not in league with William Lyon Mackenzie, a long-time critic of post office administration, who during the rebellion entered Howard’s house, harassed his wife, and commandeered provisions for the rebel troops. Howard was plainly a victim of Head’s precipitate action during the turbulence of the rising.
In the years that followed Howard continued his efforts to have himself returned to the post office or to have some recompense made. Nor was his case forgotten by others; in 1840 Francis Hincks* suggested in the Examiner that at least the government could have appointed the wronged Howard to the commission established that year to investigate the post office in the Canadas. However, a position was found for Howard in 1842 as treasurer of the Home District. He subsequently became treasurer of the united counties of York and Peel and held this office until his death. He was named to the General Board of Education at its formation by the Common School Act of 1846. When it became the Council of Public Instruction in 1850, Howard continued as a member and served until his death; he was cited for his valuable service, “especially in financial matters during and since the erection of the Toronto Normal School.” In 1828 Howard had been appointed to a committee established to superintend the publication of the Wesleyan Methodist Christian Guardian. He was treasurer of the Irish Relief Fund in 1847, secretary of the Upper Canada Bible Society from 1846 to 1860, and treasurer of the Upper Canada Tract Society.
MTCL, William Allan papers, 6. PAO, Howard (MacLean) papers; RG 2, B-3. PRO, CO 42/448, 42/454. Examiner (Toronto), 4 Nov. 1840. J. S. Howard, A statement of facts relative to the dismissal of James S. Howard, esq., late postmaster of the city of Toronto, U.C. (Toronto, 1839). Town of York, 1815–34 (Firth). Chadwick, Ontarian families, II, 188. Commemorative biographical record, county York. Dent, Upper Canadian rebellion.