LCGS documents homepage
LCGS Online Resource Library
Transcribed Documents & Lanark County Research
Homepage for Genealogy Resource Centre | Visit LCGS Website

Articles - return to table of contents

THE DUEL OF 1833

As recalled by Mr. Cromwell
who was a member of the Wilson household at that time.

This undated typescript was probably written for the Perth Historical and Antiquarian Society, about 1900.

See also The Wilson-Lyon Duel on this website.



The Wilsons came to North Sherbrooke about 1817 with what were called the Radical settlers. The British Government sent about six hundred to Canada in a ship called "The Buchan."

Mr. Ebeneezer Wilson was Superintendent in a mill in the Old Land. He was a well educated man -- a reader and a thinker. He was also a man of very strong opinions and intolerant of any who differed from him. He had some knowledge of medicine and the people from far and near called on him at all hours of the day and night for anything from drawing a tooth to the most serious illness. He was superior to the men of the Settlement and asserted his superiority in a way the neighbors resented to such a degree that they would never make him a member of Council, although he offered himself several times. He was made Magistrate and for long attended to his duties at the Courts in Perth.

He was a forcible writer, often giving his opinions in letters to the paper of the time, "The Bathurst Courier." He was the sole subscriber to any foreign journal, and his copy of an American paper, "The Albion", went the rounds of the neighbors who cared to read.

Mr. Wilson was twice married. By the first marriage there were two children -- a daughter who never came to this country, and a son, David, who spent his life in North Sherbrooke. John, afterwards Judge Wilson, was the eldest of the second family. Another son, Andrew, was a very successful farmer and fruit grower at Maitland.

I remember as if it were yesterday the day of the duel. Porter, of Porter, Gemmell & Cameron, (merchants) came riding up early in the morning to tell Wilson's father and mother. They went to the gate to speak to him and his mother came back ringing her hands and crying "Oh! Johnnie has shot a man!" She was beside herself with grief. Porter had breakfast, and Ebeneezer Wilson and he left for Perth.

John Wilson was Law Clerk in the office of Mr. James Boulton, and boarded with the family, by whom he was made as one of themselves. Lyon was studying in Mr. Radenhurst's office and, being a cousin of Mrs. Radenhurst, lived with them. In these days the law business of the counties of Renfrew and Carleton was done in Perth, and Wilson and Lyon were sent by their respective masters to Bytown to pick up business. While there Lyon said something disparaging of Miss Hughes, an English lady who was governess in a school kept by Mrs. Ackland, with whom she had come to this country. The school was across the road from the English church, where Mrs. Baker now lives, and Mr. Boulton lived next door, in a large brick house built by him.

Wilson, in a letter to Mrs. Boulton, mentioned what Lyon had told him of Miss Hughes' allowing young men to indulge in little freedoms what were unbecoming. Mrs. Boulton told her sister, Miss Thom, of this, and as there was a very friendly feeling between Miss Thom and Miss Hughes, she was displeased with Lyon. He was her lover, and when he returned she visited her displeasure on him by being very cool to him. When this had gone on for some time, with questionings on his part as to the reason, he insisted on knowing, and she told him of the letter. Then he insisted on seeing the letter, which Mrs. Boulton, with Wilson's consent, showed.

Lyon met Wilson in front of the Court House and slapped his face. After consultation with friends, amongst them Mr. Boulton, Wilson challenged Lyon. Wilson chose Simon Robertson, another law student, as his second, and Lyon's second was Henry Le Lievre, a relative. The duel took place at break of day on the 13th of June 1833, just beyond the Town Line on the right bank of the Tay. There was a large elm tree on the spot, which is there yet. Each man fired but both missed, and both were willing to give up, but Le Lievre would not allow it. The pistols were reloaded and the principals were again place on the ground. At a word, both pistols exploded together, and Mr. Lyon fell, mortally wounded. Le Lievre fled, but Wilson and Lyon [sic -- should be Robertson] gave themselves up and were confined in the debtors' part of the Perth gaol until the assizes at Brockville. The duel was fought just beyond the line of the Bathurst District, in the Johnstown District. Wilson pleaded his own cause and they were acquitted.

At the time of the duel there was nothing whatever in the way of love-making between Wilson and Miss Hughes, whom he afterwards married. He was then engaged to Joanna Lees, and on his acquittal, went immediately to the house of her father, William Lees, at the Mississippi. Both father and mother bitterly opposed anything further between them.

Le Lievre was the oldest man concerned in the tragedy. The others were mere youths -- Lyon in his twentieth year, and Wilson a year or two older.


TOP of Page