Colonel Thomas Talbot

 

The Talbot Family

The Talbot family lived in Malahide Castle, located north of Dublin, Ireland.  In 1185, the castle was granted to Richard de Talbot by Henry II and in 1475, Thomas Talbot Esq. was granted additional feudal privileges and rights from King Edward IV. In 1831 Thomas Talbot’s mother, Margaret O’Reilly, was given the title Baroness Talbot of Malahide. This title was passed down the family through the eldest child. Other than a brief period from 1649 to 1660 the Talbot family reigned and lived in Malahide Castle until 1975, the longest in Ireland’s history.

         

 


Talbot in his younger years

 

Thomas Talbot was born on July 19th 1771 to Richard Talbot and Margaret O’Reilly, he was their forth son.  Being a son of a family with status, he received a commission as an ensign in the 66th Regiment of Foot (a unit in the military) at the age of 11.  At the age of 12 he received lieutenancy and then retired at half pay at 13.  He was educated at Manchester Free School in England and at the age of 16 became active again in the military, as a lieutenant in the 24th Regiment of Foot.

From 1786 to 1788 the 1st Marquess of Buckingham, lord lieutenant of Ireland, (George Nugent-Temple-Grenville), had two Aides-de-camp, Arthur Wellesley “Lord Wellington” and Thomas Talbot.  This association with the Marquess provided Talbot with many connections in Ireland’s high society. In 1790 at the age of 21, he went with his regiment to Quebec.  It was here that he met the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, lieutenant-colonel John Graves Simcoe.  Simcoe was traveling west to establish the new province, and Talbot became his aide-de-camp and confidential secretary. He was employed in several transactions that included visits to Philadelphia and Detroit.  He remained with John Simcoe and his wife for four years.       
 

John Graves Simcoe

In 1794 he returned to England as a Major where the French Revolution took Thomas to the battlefields of Europe and Flanders.  The next  year he was promoted once again to lieutenant-colonel and after 5 years Talbot sold his commission on Christmas Day, 1800. 


Choosing the Land

In 1793, the beautiful and fertile region situated between the lakes was a vast wilderness.  When Talbot was travelling with Simcoe the idea of founding a colony formed in Col. Talbot’s mind, and became the ruling passion and sole interest of his future life. 

Simcoe offered him a piece of land for his dedication to the Simcoe family, but failed to make it official.  When Talbot came back from England in 1801 circumstances had changed and the land was no longer available. This did not discourage Talbot and he landed near Port Stanley and called it Skitteewaabaa (Ojibway for fire-water).

It would take more to receive his land, Talbot remained at Skittiewaaba for a time but went to London England the following year 1802.  He addressed the government in England with regards to soil, climate, and inhabitants of Upper Canada and praised the character of the country.  And said if his grant is made free of fees he will use his capital in establishment of agricultural works especially the cultivation of hemp. The Col. was content to ask for the usual grant to a field officer -5000 acres- , and he preferred to have the land in the township of Yarmouth, the Colonel had already received a grant of 1200 acres, the customary grant to officers settling in the Province. 

Col. Talbot sailed for Canada with a letter from Lord Hobart to the Provincial Governor, Lieut.-General Hunter containing the authority of His Majesty for a grant of 5,000 acres in Yarmouth, or, if that was taken in any other township which he might select.  Grants had already been made in Yarmouth to members of the Baby family of Detroit and Sandwich, therefore Talbot selected the southern part of Dunwich Township, west of Yarmouth. 

The settlers were to be either from the continent of Europe or from America and to be placed on Talbot’s original grant of 5000 acres.  This would provide for one hundred families.  This arrangement would call for a maximum grant of 20000 acres for Col. Talbots own benefit (he actually secured upwards of 65 thousand acres).


Settlement

According to the terms of Lord Hobart’s letter, the additional grant of 200 acres per family, to Col. Talbot, was to be made only upon his having surrendered 50 acres of his original grant to each family.  This condition was the subject of much future controversy.  Controversy – he kept the original 5000 acres (locating setters outside this land) and the hemp project was dropped. 

Reasons for not settling people around his own lots “I find too near Neighbours a great nuisance.”


Talbot in his later years

Talbot did not marry and had no children so in 1833 he asked his nephew Julius Airy to come live with him and take over the land when he past away.  Julius lived in Port Talbot for a time but found it isolating and not for him, so in 1843 Talbot asked Julius’ brother Colonel Richard Airey to come live with him, with the promise of transferring the land to him.  Airey arrived with his family in 1847, displacing Talbot in the process.  So in 1848 Talbot left for a long trip to England with George Macbeth (one time servant, now companion and estate manager).  He stayed in England for almost a year and upon returning to Port Talbot he had an argument with Airey and decided to only give him half of his estate, the other half going to Macbeth, with a small allowance of 20 pounds for the widow of a former servant Jeffrey Hunter.   

Talbot left again for England in the summer of 1850 and stayed over seas for another year.  During his time away he became sick and declined in health, and upon returning home found that that Airey’s had left and were renting the home to John Sanders. Macbeth invited Talbot to stay with him in London and that is where he remained until his death in the winter of 1853.

His grave at St. Peter’s Church in Tyrconnell simply states: “The Honorable Thomas Talbot, Founder of the Talbot Settlement”.