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Biography of Hon. Henry Ruttan

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The late Henry Ruttan was the son of a United Empire Loyalist, William Ruttan, who settled in Adolphustown, Upper Canada, about 1784, where Henry was born in 1792. He descended from a Huguenot family of Rochelle, France, the founder of the family being the Rev. Jean Baptiste Rotan, a prominent ecclesiastical writer and controversialist near the close of the sixteenth century.

His grandfather emigrated to America in 1734, and settled with other Huguenot families at New Rochelle, Manchester county, New York. His father and uncle Peter Ruttan, were in the 3rd Battalion Jersey Volunteers, on the Royalist side; each had a grant of twelve hundred acres of land in Adolphustown, Midland District, and there settled with other United Empire Loyalist families, and greatly suffered the first few years on account of the hardships and destitution attendant on frontier life, eighty-five and ninety years ago. During one or two of the severest winters starvation seemed at times to be staring them in the face.

At fourteen years of age (1806), our subject finished his education, and repairing to Kingston, became a clerk in a store. When war with the United States broke out in 1812, he joined the “Incorporated Militia,” held a Lieutenant’s commission, and received a serious wound at Lundy’s Lane, which laid him up for several months. When the war closed he went into business at Haldimand, Northumberland County, and not long afterwards was promoted to the rank of Major. A few years later he became Colonel.

In 1820 Col. Ruttan was elected to the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, for Northumberland; in October, 1827, was appointed sheriff of the Newcastle District, embracing Northumberland, Durham, and one or two other counties; in 1836 he was again elected to the Assembly, and in 1838 was the Speaker. His term of legislative service expired in 1840, and the last vote he cast was for the Union of Upper and Lower Canada, which was consummated on the 10th of February, 1841, though the Act had received the assent of Her Majesty the July before, a suspending clause causing the delay.

In 1857, when Col. Ruttan resigned the office of sheriff’, he was, with one exception, the senior Sheriff and Colonel of Militia in the Province. For some time he had command of the 9th Military District, into which Upper and Lower Canada were divided. At one time he was President of the Provincial Agricultural Association, and took great interest in such matters being a public spirited, enterprising man.
In 1860 he was thrown by accident from his buggy, and was seriously injured, recovering slowly and only partially.

In a short time he resumed his experimentings and writings on the theory of ventilation, on which he had been engaged several years, and continued them until 1866, when he was seized with apoplexy, and continued to gradually decline, until he expired, July 31, 1871. The Cobourg Star of the same week (August 2nd), from which we glean many of these facts, says that:

“Mr. Ruttan was a good man, an humble christian, and left a name of which his children and relatives may be justly proud. At the time of his death he was in his eightieth year.”

His funeral was attended by a large body of Masons, he being a member of that Order.

The wife of Col. Ruttan was Mary Jones, an estimable lady who died February 21, 1873. She was the mother of nine children, four of whom preceded her to the spirit world, and one son, Henry Jones, has since followed her (February 4, 1879). He was editor and proprietor of the Cobourg Star from 1846 to 1855, and was interested for years with his father in what is now widely known as Ruttan’s system of ventilation, which is largely in use and growing in popularity, as will be seen by Appleton’s New Cyclopaedia. Mary, the only daughter living, is the widow of Judge Robert M. Boucher, of Peterborough. Charles is rector of a church near Toronto; Richard is a barrister and attorney-at-law, residing in Cobourg, and William E. is a shorthand writer and reporter in New York city.

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