Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tilley, Samuel Leonard
TILLEY, Sir SAMUEL LEONARD (1818–1896), Canadian statesman, born at Gagetown, New Brunswick, on 8 May 1818, was the son of Thomas Morgan Tilley (d. 1870), a storekeeper at Gagetown, by his wife, Susan Ann, daughter of William Peters, a farmer of Queen's County. Thomas Morgan's grandfather, Samuel Tilley, a lineal descendant of Thomas Tilley, one of the ‘pilgrim fathers,’ was a farmer on Long Island, and, remaining a royalist at the time of the revolution, was obliged to take refuge in Nova Scotia.
Samuel Leonard was educated at the county grammar school, and, after serving a full term of apprenticeship to a pharmaceutical chemist, began business in the city of St. John. He took an early and active part in temperance and railway questions, and entered the New Brunswick legislature as liberal member for St. John in 1850, but soon retired owing to a split in his party. Entering the house again in 1854, he became a member of the ministry under Charles Fisher which suffered defeat on a prohibitory liquor measure (1856). As leader of the liberals he carried the elections of 1860 on the strength of his railway policy, and continued premier till 1865. He represented New Brunswick at the Charlottetown conference (1864), where the project of union for the maritime provinces was discussed, and at the later conference of Quebec, where the larger scheme of British American union was considered, and the Quebec resolutions framed (10–25 Oct. 1864). The Quebec scheme was rejected by the New Brunswick assembly (1865), but on appeal to the constituencies Tilley carried the union cause by an overwhelming majority (1866). He took part likewise in the Westminster conference (1867), where the terms of federation were finally settled as they now stand in the British North America Act (1867). On the proclamation of the Dominion on 1 July of that year, Tilley was made C.B. Resigning his seat in the New Brunswick legislature, he was elected for the Dominion House of Commons, took the portfolio of customs in the Macdonald government (1868), and became member of Queen Victoria's privy council for Canada. He acted later as minister of public works, and, on the retirement of Sir Francis Hincks, took over the department of finance (1873). In that year the Macdonald government resigned, and he was appointed lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick. He continued in that office till 1878, when he was again elected to the commons for St. John, entered the second Macdonald administration as minister of finance, and formulated what is known as the ‘national policy,’ a tariff scheme at once protective and national, the best exposition of which is found in his budget speeches from 1879 to 1885. In 1879 he was created K.C.M.G., and in 1885 resigned his seat in the cabinet and the house owing to ill-health. For a third of a century he had represented St. John city. On his withdrawal from active political life he received the appointment of lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick for the second time, and his term of office was prolonged till 21 Sept. 1893. He died at St. John on 24 June 1896.
Tilley was twice married, his first wife being Julia Ann, daughter of James T. Hanford of St. John; and his second, Alice Starr, eldest daughter of Zachariah Chipman, St. Stephen, N.B. He had issue by both marriages.[Hannay's Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley (1897); Sabine's Amer. Loyalists, ii. 183, 356; Dent's Canadian Port. Gall. i. 54–8; Pope's Life of Sir John Macdonald, i. 296–7, 305–9, ii. 27–8; Hansard, Canada, Budget Speeches, 1879–85; John Maclean's Tariff Handbook, 1880; S. J. Maclean's Tariff Hist. of Canada, pp. 19–33; Gemmell's Parliamentary Comp. (annual); Burke's Colonial Gentry, i. 35.]