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First Responsible Executive Council Biographies

James Boyle Uniacke (Member of the Legslative Assembly - MLA)

Son of Richard John Uniacke (MLA and former member of His Majesty’s Council) and Martha Marie Delesdernier. Baptized January 19, 1800 in Halifax. Married December 18, 1832, Rosina Jane Black, daughter of Honorable John Black (former member of His Majesty's Council). Died March 26, 1858 in Halifax.

He was elected in Cape Breton in 1830, but due to a contested election he didn’t take his seat until January 25, 1832. He remained in Cape Breton until 1848.  He was a member of the Executive Council from January 23 – February 17, 1838 without portfolio. On February 17, 1838 he was appointed Provincial Treasurer and resigned that post on February 17, 1840. He was reappointed to the Executive Council without a portfolio on October 6, 1840 and held that postion until he was appointed Solicitor General on April 28, 1841. On December 21, 1843, he resigned that position out of protest over the appointment of Mather Byles Almon claiming that this action showed a change in policy, which he couldn’t condone. On February 2, 1843, he became the first Premier of a responsible government in Nova Scotia.

He was one of four Nova Scotians who met with Lord Durham in September 1838 in Quebec to present the Nova Scotia situation to him.

He was a barrister.

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Michael Tobin, Jr. (Member of the Legislative Council - MLC)

Not to be confused with his uncle, Michael Tobin, Sr., who was one of the members of the Executive Council who resigned in 1840 to allow the leaders of the Reform Party, along with Uniacke and Howe, to be appointed to the Council.

Son of James Tobin (MLC) and Eleanor Lanigan. Born January 31, 1804 in Halifax. Married August 17, 1830, Jean Teresa, daughter of George R. Grassie and Mary Elizabeth Shatford. Educated Jesuit College, Stonyhurst, England and College of St. Stanislaus in Paris. Died September 3, 1883 in Dartmouth.

He was sworn in to the Legislative Council on March 23, 1840 and was its President from 1848-1856.

He carried on his family’s merchant business.

Hugh Bell (MLC)

Son of Samuel Bell and Ann Cross. Born February 12, 1780 in Enniskillen, Ireland (now Northern Ireland). Married 1st, December 5, 1808, Elizabeth Lain; Married 2nd, June 14, 1815, Ann Allison (sister of Joseph Allison, a former Member of His Majesty’s Council). He died in Halifax May 16, 1860.

He was an MLA for Halifax Township from December 16, 1835 – 1840; Alderman on Halifax’s first council 1841-1844; Mayor of Halifax from 1844-1845. He was appointed to the Legislative Council on February 18, 1841.

Although he denied it, he was regarded by some Liberal Party Members as the father of the party.

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Joseph Howe (MLA)

Son of John Howe and Mary Edes. Born December 13, 1804 in Halifax. Married Feburary 2, 1828 Susan Ann McNab. He died in Halifax on june 1, 1873.

He was the editor of the Novascotian newspaper from 1828 to 1841 and is famous for his defence of a charge of criminal libel in March 1835. 

He was an MLA for Halifax County from 1836-1851; Speaker of the House of Assembly from February 3, 1841 – January 26, 1843; Member of the Executive Council from October 6, 1840 – December 21, 1843, when he resigned because of a perceived “change in policy” over the appointment of Mather Byles Almon.

He was a printer and journalist.

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James McNab (MLC)

Son of Honorable Peter McNab (member of His Majesty’s Council) and Joanna Culliton. Born November 30, 1792 on McNab’s Island.  Married December 9, 1815, Harriet A., daughter of Henry King and Esther Waldron. He died in Halifax on October 16, 1871.

He was first appointed to the Executive Council July 22, 1840, but resigned December 23, 1843. He was an MLA for Halifax Township from 1840-1848. He was appointed to the Legislative Council on February 12, 1848.

He was a banker,  merchant and Director of the Bank of British North America.

Herbert Huntington (MLA)

Son of Miner Huntington and Martha Walker. Born July 27, 1799 at Yarmouth. Married July 20, 1830, Mrs. Rebecca Russell, daughter of John Pinckney and Louisa Cook, widow of Lieutenant Thomas Russell. Died September 13, 1851 in Yarmouth.

He was an MLA for Shelbourne County from 1830-1836 and for Yarmouth County from 1836-1851.

He was a school teacher, shipowner, farmer, and surveyor of Crown lands.  He was considered to be one of the strongest advocates for Responsible Government.

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William Frederick DesBarres (MLA)

Son of John Frederick William DesBarres and grandson of Joseph Frederic Wallet DesBarres. Born February 14, 1800 at Elysian Fields (Minudie). Educated at Halifax Grammar School. Married July 19, 1825 Maria Sophia, daughter of Judge Thomas Cutler (MLA). He died in Halifax June 16, 1885.

He was a judge of the probate court for Sydney and then Guysborough and was the first judge appointed to the Supreme Court under responsible government. He was an MLA for Gusysborough County from 1836-1848.

Lawrence O’Connor Doyle (MLA)

Son of Laurence Doyle and Bridget O’Connor. Born February 27, 1804 in Halifax. Educated at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England. Married at Île Madame in October 1833 Sarah Ann Driscoll, daughter of James Driscoll, RN. He died in New York on October 28, 1864.

He served as MLA for Arichat Township from 1823-1840; Halifax County 1843-1847; and Halifax Township from 1847-1855. 

He was active in promoting the cause of Roman Catholics in the House of Assembly. He was known for his wit and sense of humour. He is also the person blamed for decapitating the decorative plaster birds in various rooms of Province House.

He was a barrister.

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George Renny Young (MLA)

Son of John Young (MLA) and Agnes Renny. Born July 4, 1802 in Falkirk, Scotland. Educated at Pictou Grammar School. Married April 19, 1838 Jane Frances, daughter of T.H. Brooking of London. Died in Halifax June 30, 1853.

He served as MLA for Pictou County from 1843-1851.

He was a journalist and founder of the Novascotian.

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