This application is sponsored by the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick.
William Barry Phair was born on 17 March 1783 on Staten Island, Colony of New York. His father, Lieutenant Andrew Phair, was an officer in Major General Benedict Arnold’s Loyal American Legion. After the end of the Amercian Revolution, the family came to Fredericton, New Brunswick as Loyalists. Andrew Phair held government appointments such as Deputy Barrack Master and Postmaster, both at Fredericton.
William Barry Phair began his military career at the age of sixteen when, in 1799, he was commissioned into the King’s New Brunswick Regiment. He went on half pay when the regiment was disbanded in 1802. The successor unit, His Majesty’s New Brunswick Regiment of Fencible Infantry was raised in 1803 and Phair soon joined it. He was made a temporary Lieutenant in December 1804 but reverted to the permanent rank of Ensign on 9 July 1807. In 1810, he was promoted to Lieutenant in the 1st West Indian Regiment. He never served with them, as he remained in New Brunswick, and exchanged back into his old regiment on 9 August 1810. The following month, the regiment was raised to line status and became the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot.
Originally assigned to one of the battalion companies, Phair participated in the epic march of the 104th from Fredericton to Kingston, Upper Canada (Ontario) in February to April 1813. One account had him marching with the group led by Major William Drummond who later commanded the regiment and was killed during the attack on For Erie in 1814. Phair’s first baptism of fire occurred during the abortive attack on Sackets Harbor, New York that took place on 29 May 1813. He went on to serve along the Niagara frontier during the campaign seasons of 1813 and 1814. In 1813, he was present at the blockade of Fort George. The next year, it appears that he was part of the Grenadier Company under Captain Richard Leonard and, while with them, participated in the Battle of Lundy’s Lane (25 July 1814) and the attack on Fort Erie (15 August 1814).
Following the disbandment of the regiment in 1817, he returned to New Brunswick as a half pay officer and settled in Kingsclear. Soon afterwards, he married Rebecca Hannay Rainsford, the daughter of Andrew Rainsford, and they had six children. In 1825, he succeeded his father in the position of postmaster. He died at Fredericton on 12 March 1853 and was buried in the Old Burying Ground.
The Phair family has donated several of his military possessions to the York-Sunbury Historical Society and the New Brunswick Museum.
Isabel Louise Hill. The Old burying Ground, Volume III, Fredericton, N.B. (1981).
W. Austin Squires. The 104th Regiment of Foot (The New Brunswick Regiment) 1803-1817. Fredericton: Brunswick Press, 1962.
The St. John River Society. Report of the March of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot, accessed 18 June 2013.
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick:
MC 300 MS 15. Major G. Harold Markham fonds.
Veteran SummaryWilliam Barry Phair
Lieutenant, 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot
Place of Birth
Staten Island, New York, Coloney of New York
Place of Death
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Died on: 12 MAR 1853
Location of Grave
The Old Burying Ground, 500 Brunswick Street
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Latitude: 44.960011N Longitude: -66.64273