Ambrose Lane


It is believed that Ambrose Lane was born in 1791 in the County Tipperary (Republic of Ireland). He was the son of Colonel John Hamilton Lane. On August 9, 1817 he married Mary Smith, daughter of Lieutenant Governor Charles Douglass Smith and they had six children.

Ambrose Lane started his long military career in 1807, by joining the 99th Foot (renumbered 98th in 1815) as an ensign. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant in 1811 and in 1812 was posted to North America. Four years later he was given the command of a subaltern's detachment in Charlottetown. With the army reduction of 1812 he went on half pay and settled in Prince Edward Island where he took up his duties of captain in the militia and, in 1819, Charlottetown town major.

In December 1812 Lieutenant Governor Smith appointed Lane to the council and used him to provide his administration with the independence from political factions he desired. Local politicians objected to this nepotism, which not only reduced their own role in government but also confirmed their suspicions of executive corruption. For example, as Registrar (1818), Examiner (1818) and Master (1919) of the Court of Chancery, Lane was in the happy position of setting his own fees as Registrar and then, as Master, ruling on any complaints these fees aroused.

In 1825 he lost his post as Master of Chancery, but he retained his other military and judicial posts as well as his seat in Council. From August 1828 to May 1829 he acted as the Island's Colonial Secretary and was appointed as an unpaid Assistant Justice of the Supreme Court in November 1829 under James Edward Jarvis. In 1831 he was promoted to the temporary rank of Captain on half pay in the regular army and became Sub-Inspector and District Adjutant in the local militia, posts he held until his death.

In Council, Lane remained staunchly conservative, opposing advocates of escheat and responsible government and promoting proprietorial interests. When Lieutenant Governor Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy created separate Legislative and Executive Councils in March 1839, Lane was excluded from both bodies, but by September, at Fitzroy's express request, he regained a seat at the Executive Council without loss of rank. From 1842 to 1853 he was the Council's senior member and as such twice served as the Island's Administrator, in September and October 1847 and during the temporary absence of Lieutenant Governor Sir Henry Veer Huntley, and from October 1850 to May 1851 between the terms of Sir Donald Campbell and Sir Alexander Bannerman. He also served on the Central Board of Health; was a trustee of the Central Academy; and became a founding member of the Central Agricultural Society.

Ambrose Lane died on September 7, 1853 in Charlottetown.

Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online