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The subject of this sketch was a son of Zaccheus Burnham, and was born at Cobourg, county of Northumberland, July 12, 1804, his father being a pioneer in that county. Zaccheus Burnham was born in Dunbarton, N. H., February 10, 1777, while the American revolution was in progress, and immigrated to Canada, with his father, Asa Burnham, in 1798, reaching Haldimand in May of that year. In the autumn of 1800, he returned to New Hampshire, and on the first of February 1801, married Elizabeth Choate, reaching Canada again on the 28th of the same month. Zaccheus Burnham was a very prominent man in the county of Northumberland for many years. He was elected member of Provincial Parliament for Northumberland and Durham in May 1816, and for Northumberland alone in 1824; was called to the Legislative Council in 1831, and held that office until the union of the Provinces which was consummated in February, 1841. He was Treasurer of New Castle District for several years, commencing in 1814. As early as 1801, he entered the Northumberland regiment of militia as a private, and rose through every grade until he obtained the rank of Colonel, when he resigned his commission. He died about the year 1857.
Beside the subject of this sketch, Zaccheus Burnham had four daughters, Elizabeth, older than Mark, and Achsa, Maria, and Affa, younger. The son received his early education at Cobourg, under the late Bishop Strachan; completed his education at Queen’s College, Oxford, England, and choosing the clerical as his profession, was ordained in 1829, and appointed rector of St. Thomas in the western part of the Province of Ontario. There he labored with great faithfulness for twenty-three years, when in 1852, he was appointed to the Rectory of Peterborough, here serving in that position until 1858, when he retired from immediate parochial duties, continuing, however, to preach at Otonabee, Norwood and Warsaw, until about a year before his death, which occurred May 17, 1877. Before this sad event took place, as a result of his self imposed labors at the places just mentioned, he saw a parish formed, and an incumbent placed in its charge.
We learn from an obituary of the Rev. Mr. Burnham, in the Peterborough Examiner, May 24, 1877, that he inherited a large amount of property at his father’s death; that on that account “he had a great deal of business with people in this town and county, and in these relations was preeminently respected for honorable dealing and for a generous and obliging disposition.” We learn from the same source that he never put any person to extra costs in making settlements, however complicated; that he “was a wise counselor, cautious and pains taking in all his relations;” that he did much good work on the Peterborough grammar school board, and that he was “quiet, unassuming and beneficent, charitable and kind to the distressed, ever ready to bestow, when by so doing he could do good.”
Three sermons were preached at the time of the death of our subject, one of which we find in a copy of the Examiner of the date already given. It was preached in the church of St. Luke the Evangelist, Ashburnham, by Rev. W. C. Bradshaw, incumbent of Ashburnham. In that discourse the preacher pays a well merited tribute to the memory of the deceased to his eminent scholarship, his steadfast and warm attachment to the beloved church, on whose roll for nearly half a century his name appeared as “one of her faithful and devoted servants.” From this sermon we learn that Mr. Burnham was ordained by Bishop Stewart, “that saintly and venerated man, whose apostolic labors are gratefully remembered by the Canadian church.”
The widow of our subject was Miss Hetty Bostwick, daughter of Col. John Bostwick, of Port Stanley, Ontario, married January 4, 1831. She has five children living and has buried three. Zaccheus is a farmer at Otonabee; John is a barrister in Peterborough, now holding the offices of reeve, warden and member of the Dominion Parliament; George is a physician and surgeon in Peterborough; Charles resides in the county of Elgin, and Amelia is the wife of Robert Revell, of Woodstock, Ont.