Friday, 8 May 2009

John Graves Simcoe


Military life was in the blood of John Graves Simcoe. His father was a naval officer who served with Wolfe in the Quebec Campaign of 1759 and died when John was still a child. John had the sort of education that was typical of boys of his class, attending Eton College and Oxford University, although John left Oxford after only one year. At the age of 18, John was given a commission in the army as an ensign, and five years later he went to war, shipping over to America to fight the revolutionaries. His regiment arrived in Boston in 1775 only two days after the Battle of Bunker Hill. While taking part in the siege of Boston, Simcoe purchased a captaincy (purchasing a commission was common in those days—it was how wealthy people made sure they rose through the ranks). During 1776-1777 Simcoe received three wounds as he fought in the Long Island campaign, the capture of New York and the New Jersey campaign. Earning a reputation during the war both as a commander and as a military theorist, Simcoe was eventually promoted to lieutenant, then to lieutenant-colonel.
On October 15, 1777 Simcoe was promoted to major and made regimental commander of the Queen's Rangers. After nearly six years of fighting, Simcoe was invalided home to Britain in 1781.
The Province of Upper Canada was created under the Constitutional Act of 1791 Simcoe was appointed lieutenant governor and made plans to move to Upper Canada with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Sophia, leaving three other daughters behind with their aunt. They left England in September and arrived on November 11. After working hard to establish Upper Canada beginning in 1792, he requested leave in 1796 to return to England for health reasons. He never returned.