Alexander Bannerman Warburton

Steve Warburton recently sent me a link to the biography of Alexander Bannerman Warburton on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography site. You can see the full biography here.

Alexander Bannerman Warburton (1852-1929), a lawyer, politician, judge, and author, was briefly Premier of Prince Edward Island in 1897.

Alexander was a member of the Garryhinch clan. His parents, James Warburton and Martha Compton nee Green emigrated from the family’s Garryhinch Estate at Portarlington, Queens County (now County Laois) in Ireland in 1834. James was the ninth of fifteen children, the tenth being Robert, later Colonel Robert Warburton, whose exploits in the First Afghan War (1839-42) earned him an Afghan Princess (Begum) as his wife, and two sons who became John Paul Warburton, the Controller of Devils, and Colonel Sir Robert Warburton of the Khyber Pass.

James was himself a significant politician on Prince Edward Island, serving in the Island’s first Government as Provincial Secretary and Provincial Treasurer. He named Alexander after Sir Alexander bannerman, a Lieutenant Governor of the Island.

Alexander was a brilliant student, winning many prizes as he made his way to King’s College, Nova Scotia, Edinburgh University, and back to Prince Edward Island, before studying Law at the Inner Temple in London.

Back again in Prince Edward Island her pursued both Law and Politics. In politics he was a free trade Liberal, first getting elected to the Provincial legislature in 1891. In 1897, following the resignation of Frederick Peters, he found himself briefly leader of both his party and the Government. It seems his tenure was short and undistinguished as he struggled with ongoing problems of finance and dominion-provincial relations.

Alexander was a keen conservationist, serving on the Island’s three member Forestry Commission, and serving 2 terms as the provincial vice-president of the Canadian Forestry Association. He also had scholarly ambitions, and he published several historical and historical-literary studies in the Prince Edward Island Magazine  in the early 1900s.

He also worked on a history of Prince Edward Island and in 1923 he published A History of Prince Edward Island from its discovery in 1534 until the departure of Lieutenant-Governor Ready in A.D. 1831. He complained about the lack of historical sources. He used some transcripts at the Public Archives of Canada, but the book was based largely on contemporary accounts and secondary sources. He did not travel to London to examine the Colonial Office files in the Public Record Office where more relevant information was available. Nevertheless his book remained the fullest account of the Island’s early history until 1970.

Alexander stood again for the Island’s parliament in 1908, and was elected to the House of Commons, where he became chair of the committee on public accounts. His major honour was to head the parliamentary delegation to the coronation of King George and Queen Mary in 1911, at which time he was presented at Buckingham Palace. He was not re-elected later that year.

In 1920 he was appointed surrogate and judge of probate for the Island, and he served in this capacity until his death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.