Harris William Hailes
Canadian Fencibles

This application is sponsored by the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Harris William Hailes was born at Burton Park, Surrey, England on 13 September 1752.  He was first commissioned a Lieutenant Captaincy in the 1st Battalion British Grenadiers.  He served with this regiment during General Clinton’s campaign in the southern colonies and was present at the capture of Charleston, South Carolina.

In November of 1782, he was transferred to Halifax.  Then, in December 1784, he was appointed the Fort Major at Fort Howe in Saint John, New Brunswick.  Life in New Brunswick agreed with him and he remained there.  On 22 November 1787, he married his first wife, Sarah Miller, a granddaughter of Judge Edward Winslow.  They had one son and Sarah died soon afterwards, presumably as a result of childbirth.  Two years later, he married Isabella Cooke and they had eight children.  At least two of his sons followed a military career.  Hailes briefly held a seat in the Legislative Assembly from 1791 to 1792.  It would appear that he also received land grants in York County, New Brunswick.

Following this, he returned to the military life and, in 1793, was appointed the acting major of brigade to the forces in New Brunswick under the command of the Lieutenant Governor, Brigadier General Thomas Carleton.  He was promoted to Captain in the 38th Regiment of Foot in December 1794 and placed on half pay in the 106th Regiment of Foot in December 1797.  This coincided with his appointment as the brigade major to the forces in New Brunswick.  He held this appointment until 1815.  On 7 April 1804, he became a full pay Captain in His Majesty’s New Brunswick Regiment of Fencible Infantry.  A brevet of Major followed on 1 January 1805 and of Lieutenant Colonel on 1 January 1812.  In 1810, his regiment was elevated to line status and became the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot.  This meant that they could serve anywhere in the world.  In 1812, word was received that they were going to be sent to join Wellington’s army in Spain.  In order to retain his position, Hailes had to transfer to a regiment that would remain in British North America.  Fortunately there was a vacancy in the Canadian Fencibles and he was appointed to it.

Hailes continued in his post as brigade major throughout the War of 1812.  He performed important work as he helped to direct the defence of New Brunswick and administered the troops.  Hailes had a parallel role as he had also been appointed as the Adjutant General of Militia in 1809.  At the end of the war, the Canadian Fencibles were disbanded and Hailes was placed on the half pay list as a substantive Captain.

Lieutenant Governor Thomas Carleton left New Brunswick in 1803 and did not return.  Instead, the province was governed by a series of administrators who were appointed as the President of His Majesty’s Council.  The military succession was introduced in 1808 which meant that the senior military officer in the province served as both the President of the Council and the Commander in Chief of the military forces in the province.  Thus, when Major General George Stracy Smyth was called to Halifax in 1816, Hailes was the senior military officer in the province and became the President of the Council and the Commander in Chief.  He held this position from 25 June 1816 until 1 July 1817 when Smyth returned as Lieutenant Governor, Carleton having died on 2 February 1817.  Following this, Hailes served as Smyth’s Aide de Camp and briefly held the post of Surveyor General.  He died on 31 December 1819 and was buried in the Old Burying Ground in Fredericton.


The Hales Newsletter, Spring 2001, Vol. 6 No.1, accessed 30 July 2013.

Robert Henderson. Captains of the Canadian Fencibles in 1812. The War of 1812 Website, accessed 30 July 2013.

Isabel Louise Hill. The Old burying Ground, Fredericton, N.B. Volume II (1981).

Veteran Summary

Harris William Hailes
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel, Canadian Fencibles
Place of Birth
, , United Kingdom
Place of Death
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Died on: 31 DEC 1819
Reason: Unknown
Location of Grave
The Old Burying Ground, 500 Brunswick Street
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Latitude: 44.960011N Longitude: -66.64273

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