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Francis Barclay, one of the leading merchants in Georgetown, is a son of Matthew Francis.
Mary (Fleming) Barclay, and was born in Paisley, Scotland, May 15, 1822. His father in early life was a soldier in the British army under Sir John Moore in Spain, and was at the taking of Copenhagen in Denmark; and in middle life was a silk and muslin manufacturer, largely in the line of shawls. In 1832 the family, consisting of the parents and six children, came to Upper Canada, and the father was engaged in farming at Markham and Trafalgar, dying about 1867. His widow is still living, and is in her 84th year, and remarkably active for a person of so many winters.
Francis received a Common School education largely in the old country; farmed with his father until about eighteen years of age, and since that time has lived a mercantile life. He opened a store in Georgetown in 1848, and is the only merchant now living here who was in business at that time; he was for several years in company with William McLeod, the firm name being Barclay and McLeod, Mr. Barclay selling out to his partner in 1871, and removing to Toronto, where he was a manufacturer and wholesale dealer in boots and shoes, in the so called “Iron Block.” The next year that block was destroyed by fire and he lost about $20,000.
Soon after the fire Mr. Barclay went to Milton, the County town of Halton, and was in the dry goods trade there until 1876, when he returned to Georgetown, and continued the same line of mercantile business, doing a business from $25,000 to $30,000 a year. There is not a more straightforward, conscientious merchant in the County of Halton, or one that has a better reputation for fair dealing. Wherever known his reputation stands high. He has been a man of much usefulness in the county.
While Mr. Barclay was at Milton, he was in the village Council all the time, after the first year, and Reeve one term; and he was a member of the first Council of the village of Georgetown and its second Reeve. He is now a School Trustee, and seems to be willing to bear his share of municipal burdens for the sake of helping on the place. He held at one time the office of Captain of the Sedentary Militia.
He is a Liberal, always very decided in his political views, and ready to give a reason for cherishing them.
Mr. Barclay is a third degree Mason, a member of the Presbyterian Church, a man of benevolent impulses, and ready to help in any good cause.
He was first married in 1848, to Miss Isabella McKerlie, of the Township of Nelson, County of Halton, she dying in 1863, leaving four children; and the second time in 1864 to Miss Helen McKerlie (a relative of his first wife), of the Township of Westminster, County of Middlesex, Ontario, having by her three children.