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Robert Lyon 1812-1833

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Robert Lyon - last fatal duel in Canada - 13th June 1833
Robert Lyon was born in Inverurie and emigrated to Canada. He was a law student working for his uncle, Mr WM Radenhurst, in Perth, Canada. He was involved in a fatal duel with John Wilson (who later became a Judge).
see links about the duel
see Heritage Plaque details (Ontario Heritage Foundation)
The Wilson - Lyon duel
The Last Fatal Duel
The Duel of 1833
A Matter of Honour - a film about the last fatal duel
The book "Duel" by David Mulholland
The story of the "Last Duel"
Featured on a Canadian
postal franking in 2003.
170 years later.
On Thursday, October 3, 1957 a provincial plaque commemorating the last fatal duel fought in Ontario was unveiled in front of the Inderwick House (“Inge-Va”) at 66 Craig Street, Perth. This plaque is one in a series erected throughout the province by what was then the Department of Travel and Publicity, now the Ontario Heritage Foundation, on the advice of the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario.
Speakers at the unveiling ceremony included the Honourable Louis Breithaupt, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Dr G.F.G. Stanley of the Royal Military College of Canada and a member of the province’s Historic Sites Board, and His Worship E.S. Burchall, Mayor of Perth. The bilingual plaque reads:
Duel plaque
Here died the victim of the last fatal duel fought in this province, June 13, 1833.
Two law students and former friends, John Wilson and Robert Lyon, quarrelled over remarks made by the latter concerning a local school teacher, Elizabeth Hughes. The dispute was aggravated by the prompting of Lyon’s second, Henry Le Lievre, a bellicose army veteran. Lyon was killed in the second exchange of shots, while Wilson was acquitted of a charge of murder, married Miss Hughes, and became a member of parliament and a judge.
Last Fatal Duel 1833 Featured Plaque of the Month, December 2001
Plaque at 66 Craig Street, Perth - the home of Thomas Radenhurst
Historical background
The last fatal duel fought in the province of Ontario took place in Perth in 1833. The participants were two young law students, Robert Lyon and John Wilson, who at one time had been close friends. There are varying accounts of what precipitated the conflict, but the consensus seems to be that Wilson thought Lyon had made certain slighting remarks about Miss Elizabeth Hughes whom Wilson regarded very highly. Miss Hughes was at the time a teacher in Miss Acland’s Select School for Young Ladies in Perth. One account relates that after harsh words had been exchanged, Lyon, the stronger of the two, struck Wilson and knocked him down.
duelling pistols
Duelling pistols at Perth Museum
The duel was arranged for the morning of June 13, 1833. Neither of the participants were particularly anxious to proceed and Wilson’s second, Simon Fraser Robertson, tried to avert the confrontation. However, matters proceeded on the insistence of Henry La Lievre, a bellicose army veteran who was acting as Lyon’s second. Lievre had apparently urged the duel from the beginning and was, according to at least one source, an unsuccessful suitor for Miss Hughes’ hand.
The duel was held in a glade beside the Tay River, just outside what were then the town limits, and after an exchange of shots, Lyon fell mortally wounded. He was carried to the home of his relative, Mr. Radenhurst, (today, 66 Craig Street) and died at the age of twenty. Wilson remained in the local jail for three months before being transferred to Brockville for trial. He defended himself capably and was acquitted.
Two years later he (John Wilson) was called to the Bar of Upper Canada and with his wife, the former Betty Hughes, moved to London in the southwestern region of the province. He was elected to the Assembly of the Province of Canada in 1847 and sat until defeated in 1851; he won again in 1854, sitting until 1863 when he was elected to the Legislative Council. That same year he was appointed a Judge of Common Pleas. He died in 1869.
© Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1957, 1989, 2000, 2001
John Wilson
See Perth Manor Hotel - Robert Lyon Suite
The set of duelling pistols used in the duel are on permanent display at the Perth Museum, Ontario.
House of Thomas Radenhurst
66 Craig Street, Perth, Ontario - the home of Thomas Radenhurst, and site of the plaque
Duelling pistols at Perth Museum
Duelling pistols on display at the Perth Museum, Ontario
Some information provided and based upon research by Jim McTavish, Barbara Gibson, Reg Lyon, George Mackenzie and Cynthia Milligan.
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