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[b.1757 - d.1813]

History is the memory of life itself.

Hazelton Spencer's election in late August, 1792 to Upper Canada's first House of Assembly did not go uncontested. His victory in the riding of Lennox, Hastings and Northumberland was quickly disputed by his opponent, Ebenezer Washburn, a man of some wealth and influence in the colony. On September 2nd Washburn swore before a magistrate that Hazelton Spencer had won the election through "partiality of the Returning Officer." The two men had crossed swords before and Spencer decided that the best defence was a good offence. Spencer discredited his accuser by criticizing Washburn's character and denouncing him for earlier falsely accusing Spencer of usurping his property. Lack of proof and want of witnesses forced Washburn to withdrew his allegations. Spencer retained his seat.

Hazelton (Hugh) Spencer was born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, in 1757. On a list of Loyalists his occupation is given as a hatter. In 1777 he fled from American rebels and joined 'Gentleman Johnny' Burgoyne's British forces, serving as lieutenant in the King's Royal Regiment of New York. Spencer retired from the military on half pay in 1784 and settled in Fredericksburgh Township in eastern Ontario. Over the next few years, Spencer acquired a good deal of property, eventually accumulating some 5000 acres which extended across the counties of Lennox, Addington, Prince Edward, Northumberland & Durham, and the town of Kingston. He was among a group of prominent individuals who received an entire township from Governor John Graves Simcoe, a grant that was later rescinded.

Simcoe was obviously very impressed with Spencer, describing him to Lord Dorchester in 1794 as
In His Own Words

"one of the most respectable members of the House of Assembly."

While Spencer's activities in the House are not documented, Simcoe's high regard for him stemmed partly from Spencer's readiness to assist in forming companies for the proposed Royal Canadian Battalion. In September, 1794 Simcoe sent "beating orders" to "Hazelton Spencer, Esq.," for the raising of one of the battalion's four companies. In a letter Simcoe signed "with great esteem," Spencer was commissioned captain and authorized by Simcoe, because of "my regard for you" to name his own lieutenant and ensign. As major, Spencer served as commandant of the garrison at Kingston until 1798 and at Fort George at Niagara from 1800 to 1802.

When French emigres led by the royalist Le Comte Joseph de Puisaye wintered at the fort in Kingston, Spencer was asked to "afford them every civility and assistance" to which Spencer responded that he would do "everything in his power" to ensure their benevolent reception. Spencer also served as colonel of the 1st Lennox militia.

While details regarding Spencer's life and education are sketchy, he was considered a man of ability and stature in early Upper Canada, He served as justice of the peace, judge of the Court of Quarter Sessions and as a member of the land board for the counties of Lennox, Addington, Hastings and Prince Edward. His attendance at meetings was better than most. He attended 13 of the 25 sessions between 1807 and 1813.

In 1796 Simcoe asked Spencer to "take on certain duties of the most important nature to this Province." This involved serving as one of Upper Canada's three commissioners to meet with their Lower Canadian counterparts and decide on a method of sharing rum revenues, an important source of funds for the tiny colony. In 1806 Spencer was appointed a commissioner to administer the oath to officers on half pay and military allowances. Spencer's crowning appointment came on June 24th, 1794 when Simcoe named him Lieutenant of Lennox County. It reflected Simcoe's high regard, for he conferred this position only upon those "who seem most respectable, for their property, loyalty and abilities." Simcoe said these county lieutenants represented "that legal aristocracy which the experience of ages has proved necessary for the inestimable form of government." Spencer's primary duty involved appointing and overseeing magistrates and militia officers. When Simcoe left Upper Canada, these 'pastoral peers' quickly became obsolete.

Spencer, who married Margaret Richards, the daughter of a Loyalist, had six sons and three daughters. He died on February 6th, 1813 in Fredericksburgh Township in Lennox and Addington County, not far from Napanee.

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