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SHERWOOD, ADIEL, United Empire Loyalist and sheriff; b. 16 May 1779 at Fort Edward, New York, son of Thomas Sherwood and Anna Brownson; m. on 11 Oct. 1801 Mary Baldwin by whom he had seven daughters and one son; d. 25 March 1874 in Brockville, Ont.

Adiel Sherwood’s parents were United Empire Loyalists who came to Quebec in 1779 when Adiel was an infant. In 1784 they settled in the future Leeds County, and Adiel later recalled that “I saw the first tree cut and the first hill of Corn and Potatoes planted by an actual settler.” He probably attended a private settlers’ school but had little formal education. He expressed himself well, however, and, as a young man, taught school near Elizabethtown (Brockville). About 1804, he built and operated the first tavern in Brockville. When he became sheriff he “brought [his] mercantile affairs to an end,” but it is not known what these affairs comprised.

Sherwood joined the 1st Regiment, Leeds militia, as ensign at 17. He was militia paymaster from June 1813 through 1814 for the Johnstown and Eastern districts (eastern Ontario between the St Lawrence and Ottawa rivers). Besides issuing pay, he purchased clothing and supplies for “all classes of Militia . . . Sedentary and Embodied, the Provincial Cavalry, and Incorporated Militia.” He became colonel in 1830 and retired in 1846.

In his long public career Sherwood served the Johnstown District, (present-day Leeds and Grenville, and parts of Lanark and Carleton counties) as deputy clerk of the crown, branch roads commissioner, land board member, commissioner of the peace (1818–28), treasurer (1814–41), and sheriff (1829–41). He continued as sheriff for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville from 1842 to 1864.

Sherwood was an upright and conscientious sheriff. His duties were to seize land and goods and chattels for tax arrears and to sell them at public auction, to attend the assizes and quarter sessions of the district courts, to select and summon juries for court hearings, to supervise the district (later the counties) jail and its inmates, and to bring the prisoners to court and to see that their sentences, including executions, were carried out.

After the rebellion in 1837, Sherwood investigated for the provincial government the activities of “Patriots” and of Hunter’s Lodges suspected of border raids across the St Lawrence (some led by the “pirate” William Johnston*) and of the invasion at Prescott in November 1838.

Sherwood, a devout man, helped found the First Presbyterian Church in Brockville in 1811 and was an elder in it for many years. He was the first superintendent of its Sunday school (the first in Upper Canada), president of the first Bible Society in Brockville, and a member of the first Religious Tract Society of Upper Canada. When the Brockville Temperance Society was formed in 1832, Adiel Sherwood was the first president.

He was a prominent freemason. After joining the order at 21, he rose rapidly to become a mark master mason, and helped organize the Sussex Royal Arch chapter which met in his house. He became provincial junior grand warden in 1825, and grand senior warden for the year 1827–28.

When Adiel Sherwood died at 95, he was mourned as the patriarch of the United Counties. He had contributed to their development in land settlement, municipal government, and the district courts. He had participated in the founding of Ontario, and had witnessed the confederation of Canada and its expansion from sea to sea.

Ruth McKenzie

Adiel Sherwood prepared a “Memorandum” in 1866, for William Canniff*, which the latter quoted in History of the settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario), with special reference to the bay Quinté (Toronto, 1869). An edited version entitled “Memoir” was printed in T. W. H. Leavitt, History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, from 1749 to 1879, with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers (Brockville, 1879), 18–20. The original “Memorandum” is in PAC, MG 24, 165 (Adiel Sherwood papers), which also contains a few letters. A “Memento” by Adiel Sherwood was published in the Brockville Recorder, 13 Feb. 1868, and reprinted 16 May 1873.

PAC, RG 5, A1, 16 Sept., 10 Nov. 1813; 21 Aug. 1821; 26 May, 26 June 1829; 19 Oct., 6, 11, 18 Dec. 1832; 18, 19, 20, 23, 30 Aug. 1833; 28 June, 17 Dec. 1838; 26 Feb. 1839; C1, 1839, no. 1782; 1841, nos.1638, 2372, 2460; 1843, no.6277; 1864, no.128; RG 9, I, B4, 26, 7 Jan. 1836; RG 68, 1. Brockville Recorder, 15 March 1832, 31 Aug. 1854, 2 April 1874. Recorder and Times (Brockville), 20 Dec. 1927. Can. biog. dict., I, 315–17. J. R. Robertson, The history of freemasonry in Canada from its introduction in 1749 . . . (2v., Toronto, 1899). H. S. Seaman, “The Rev. William Smart, Presbyterian minister of Elizabethtown, 1811–1876,” Ont. Hist., V (1904), 178–86.

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Cite This Article

Ruth McKenzie, “SHERWOOD, ADIEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 28, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/sherwood_adiel_10E.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:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/sherwood_adiel_10E.html
Author of Article:   Ruth McKenzie
Title of Article:   SHERWOOD, ADIEL
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1972
Year of revision:   1972
Access Date:   September 28, 2023