Mewburn, John Harriman

John Harriman Mewburn, died of wounds while in Fenian captivity during the Battle of Ridgeway, June 2, 1866

Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn served with the volunteer company (No. 9) of University of Toronto students that was part of The Queen’s Own Rifles. He had just completed his third year of studies. Mewburn was born c 1845, the only son of Emily Sutton and Harrison Chilton Mewburn from Stamford, near Niagara Falls, and had graduated from Upper Canada College in Toronto in 1863. His father had then scraped together nearly $400 ($10, 680 in 2005 dollars) to put him through a year of school, but his grades were so good that he was expected to win the annual University College Scholarship.

On June 1st, he was called out from his final exams to go to Ridgeway to defend Canada against the Fenian invaders. He sustained a head wound. He was left on the field and he died in Fenian custody. The Fenians behaved relatively gallantly everywhere, but in this one case, they treated him rather roughly. He was tied and thrown onto a floor of a cabin where he would eventually die.

A fellow student and soldier, Adam Wright, recalled that Mewburn had a beautiful singing voice and that one of his favourite songs was Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”.)

He was buried at St John’s Anglican Church Cemetery in Stamford, Niagara.

John’s first cousin, Sydney Chilton Mewburn, would rise to the rank of Major General and serve as Minster of Militia and Defence from 1917 to 1920.

Chief Warrant Officer Mark Shannon (left) and Lt.-Col. John Fotheringham, of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, examine the tombstone of Niagara Falls rifleman’s John Mewburn at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. Mewburn was one of nine members of the Queen’s Own who was killed during the Battle of Ridgeway on June 2, 1866.
New (November 12, 2011) gravemarker of Rifleman John Harriman Mewburn, killed at the Battle of Ridgeway, June 2, 1866

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"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"

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