FAMILY HISTORY: William Gillespy, Hamilton

From Hamilton Spectator Archives:

William Gillespie
“William Gillespy (1855-1864) was born at Little Corby, in Cumberland, England on Nov 26, 1824, and was, therefore, only 31 years old when he took up pen laid down by Smiley. He came to Canada in 1842, and four years later presented to the world a slim volume of poems. In 1846 he became contributor to the Liberal, a weekly paper, and afterwards to the Herald, both of Hamilton, we are told. The Herald by the way was an earlier newspaper. The Hamilton Herald whose demise took place this spring, was not founded until the year 1889.

During the rupture between the Governor-General, Sir Charles Metcalfe, and his ministers in 1847, Gillespy became connected with the periodical press, and entered upon a career of a political journalist. In this year Gillespy became a political writer for the Brantford Courier. The following year he joined the Hamilton Spectator as a bookkeeper for Mr Smiley.  Tiring of accounting, he left the Spectator and returned to the Courier, but soon took over the editorship of the London, Canada West Times. After filling the position for six months, he was invited to return to Hamilton, and reentered this office in 1850.

He was the founder and first president of the Canadian Press Association, organized at Kingston in 1859. The association met in Hamilton in 1860, but the convention was overshadowed by the presence of the great Queen’s son and heir, H. R. H .Albert Edward, Prince of Wales…..

The partnership between John Smiley and William Gillespy did not last long, the former moving to Chicago to push his fortune. Eventually Gillespy accepted, by way of relief from an unprofitable venture, the post of Deputy Collector at Dundas, and the newspaper passed into other hands in 1864.

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