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David Glass born on the 20th July, 1829, at the township of Westminster, in the County of Middlesex, Province of Ontario. His parents are from the North of Ireland. He is a brother of Sheriff-Glass, mentioned in a preceding sketch of this volume. At the age of sixteen he, in partnership with his brother William, opened a branch of the grain business, in which their father had for many years been engaged.
At eighteen, having accumulated some money, he dissolved partnership with his brother, and for about a year attended the grammar school (of which Benjamin Bagley, M. A., was Principal), with a view to the study of the law. At this time, however, the discovery of gold in California having been made, he suddenly left school and set out for that distant El Dorado. This was in December, 1848. Upon reaching New York he, with twenty others formed a company, chartered the schooner “John Castiner,” and on the 10th January, 1849, sailed for Brazas Santiago, Texas. The party, after great privation and the loss of some of their number, managed to cross the continent on horesback and on foot through Mexico, and to reach the Pacific Coast at Saul Blass, where they separated, young Glass with two others arriving at San Francisco on the 16th July, 1849. In the winter of the same year he returned to Canada where he has since remained.
On the 22nd of December, 1852, Mr. Glass was married to Sarah Dixon Dalton, second daughter of the late Henry Dalton, Esq., by whom he has two children, a daughter and a son.
After his marriage, following up the cherished ambition of his life, he studied law, and was called to the Bar in Easter term, 1864, when he at once entered upon a large and lucrative practice, holding many important briefs, including the defense of Thomas Coyle, in the celebrated Campbell murder case; the trial lasted five days; Mr. Glass’s defense was a very earnest and able effort. Coyle was acquitted. Amongst other similar cases he defended Smith in the celebrated Finley murder trial at Sarnia, this case was finally disposed of upon an application to the Privy Council in England. Mr. Glass was created a Queen’s Counsel in the Spring of 1866, and continues to practice his profession in partnership with his son, Chester Glass, barrister at law.
In 1865, he published a pamphlet and caused a vote to be taken in the old Parliament of Canada, on the subject of the Canada Company. He pointed out the injustice inflicted upon settlers, whereby considerable reduction was made in the price of their lands.
When quite young Mr. Glass took an active interest in municipal and political matters. In 1855, ’56, and ’57, he represented one of the wards in the city council of the city of London, Ontario, and in 1858 was elected mayor. During the year he also discharged the duties of Police Magistrate and Recorder without salary, the fees being given by him to the poor fund of the city. At the end of the year the Hon. Frank Smith and Alderman Flock, on behalf of the Corporation, made him a valuable presentation of silver plate. In 1864 he again contested the city with Mr. F. E. Cornish for the office of mayor, and was elected. The first day of the contest the voters’ booths were broken up, and Colonel Shanley’s battery called out to preserve order, which it did during the whole of the second day. In 1865 he was again elected mayor without opposition.
In 1867, as a supporter of Sir John Macdonald’s Government he contested the County of Bothwell for a seat in the House of Commons with the Hon. David Mills, and was defeated. In 1872, as a supporter of the same Government, he contested the East Riding of Middlesex and was elected for the term of five years, but during the first session the Government was charged with having been oribed by Sir Hugh Allan, the latter having paid the Government and others in their interest over $350,000. When the charges were first made Mr. Glass and other supporters treated them with contempt, and ridiculed the idea of their being true, but upon a commission of enquiry, made under oath, both Sir Hugh Allan and Sir John, in substance admitted the charges to be true, then it was that Mr. Glass and other former supporters of the Government refused to express confidence in the leaders of the Conservative party. After the holding of the commission of enquiry and the close of the evidence, the House of Commons convened on 23rd of October, 1873, when a motion was made disapproving of the conduct of the Government; the debate on the motion was very earnest, but not marked by much violence. The former supporters of the Government held consultations from day to day, and to the number of sixteen resolved to support the vote of want of confidence. Mr. Glass was the first to speak; this took place on the 28th October, and the Government resigned office the week following, viz., on the 5th November, 1873. The Hon. Alexander Mackenzie came into power, and the sixteen former supporters of the old Government continued to support the Reform party.
The Parliament had then four years more to run, while Mr. Glass and other supporters advised an immediate dissolution in order that the people might pronounce upon what was then known as the ” Pacific Scandal Resolutions; the House was dissolved, and a new election took place on the 29th January, 1874, when the new Government was sustained by a majority of over seventy out of a house of 206, whereas the former Government had a majority before the charges were made of over thirty, thus reversing about one quarter of the aggregate number of the constituencies. While Mr. Glass, representing a strong Conservative Riding, was defeated by a majority of forty-four. He was again unsuccessful in the same Riding in 1878. He is a member of the Masonic order of long standing; Past Master of Kilwinning Lodge, and in July, 1879, was elected by the Grand Lodge of Canada, a member of the Board of General Purposes.
Mr. Glass was one of the founders of the Agricultural Loan Company, and continued with it until he resigned his position there upon the formation of the English Loan Company.
In 1875, during the absence of Judge Elliott in England through ill health, Mr. Glass discharged the duties of his office.
In addition to his professional duties he is a Director of the English Loan Company.