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Re: Adam Bisset Thom (1843 - ?)
Posted by: Robert Thomas (ID *****7940) Date: April 08, 2005 at 22:28:47
In Reply to: Adam Bisset Thom (1843 - ?) by Gordon Goldsborough of 430

Hello Gordon,

The following article is was originally in an issue of the annual magazine of the Clan Macthomas Society. I hope it helps you. Please feel free to visit the MacThomas North America webiste at

The Clan, AYE!

Robert Thomas


About 380 miles to the North of Winnipeg, Manitoba, there is a lake called Thom Lake. This is named after Adam Thom, who was born at Brechin, Angus, on 3ISt August 1802; elder surviving son of Andrew Thom, of Leith. He graduated M. A. from King's College, Aberdeen, in 1824 and the following year left Scotland and became classical master at Woolwich. In 1832 he emmigrated to Canada, becoming a
journalist in Montreal, while simultaneously studying law. He founded and was Editor of The Settler in 1833, becoming Editor of the Montreal Herald in 1836 or '7, and was called to the Canadian bar in the latter year. Both in his papers and in a series of political pamphlets he pursued a vigorous pro-British, anti-French policy, and when Lord Durham became Governor General after the revolt of the French in Lower Canada in 1837, he took Adam Thom onto his staff in 1838, rather than risk having him as an antagonist. Thom assisted Charles Buller in drawing up Lord Durham's famous report on the state of Canada, and is widely believed to have been its chief author. He returned to England with Lord Durham later in 1838, but was almost
immediately appointed Recorder of Rupert's Land (i. e. President of the Red River Court) by Sir George Simpson, then Governor of the Hudson Bay Company (whose account of his journey round the World was largely written by Judge Thom), reaching Fort Garry, in the Red River Settlement, in
1839. He was also legal adviser to the Governor of Assiniboia and senior member of his Council, and in 1840 became an Honorary LL. D. of Aberdeen University. His competence is undoubted, but his anti-French views incurred the bitter resentment of the French half-breeds, whose constant complaints to the Governor finally led to the Recorder's removal from that office in 1851, when he was appointed to the 3-man Commission set up to report on
the laws of the colony. He afterwards continued to act as Clerk of the Court and Council of Assiniboia until 1854, when he returned to Scotland with his family.

Dr. Thom lived in Edinburgh until 1865, when he removed to London, and throughout his retirement published a number of legal and political works. He married twice; first a daughter of Rev. George Bisset, of Udny, by whom he had no issue, and secondly Anne Blanchford (who died in 1876) by whom he had one surviving son, Adam Bisset Thom (born 1843). In 1877 Dr. Thom became an Honorary Fellow of St. John's College, Manitoba. He died at the age of 87 at 49 Torrington Square, London, on 21St February 1890.

Note: The subject of the foregoing article (which is taken from The MacMillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography; Dictionary of Canadian History; Canadian Encyclopedia; Frederic Boase Modern English Biography, 1965; Times of 24. 2. 1890; The Western Law Times, June 1891; Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada for 1941List of Graduates of Aberdeen University; and Testimonials in favor of A. Thom, 1824 ) was brought to our notice by Mr. Herbert, Thom of Winnipeg.

It must be noted that Canada proper formerly comprised only what are now the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, then called Lower and Upper Canada respectively.
Following the Durham Report they united and remained so until Confederation in 1867, when they were again separated and given their present names. Virtually all
present-day Canada west of Ontario was then called Rupert's Land or the Hudson Bay Territory and was governed by the Hudson Bay Company (formed In 1670 by Prince Rupert and others ). The Red River Settlement was the first agricultural settlement in what is now Manitoba formed by a party of Highlanders in 1812 a little to the North of present-day Winnipeg.

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