Jonathan Bliss

Born: October 1, 1742 in Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 1, 1822
Occupation: Jurist


Source Citation: Dictionary of American Biography and Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America.

Jonathan Bliss (Oct. 1, 1742 - Oct. 1, 1822), jurist, was born in Springfield, Mass. Descended from Thomas Bliss of England, he was the son of Capt. Luke and Mercy (Ely) Bliss. His parents were well-to-do, and he received a good education, entering Harvard College where he graduated in 1763. He then read law in the office of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, where he was a fellow student of Sampson Salter Blowers [q.v.], and on his admission to the provincial bar, commenced practice in Boston. He acquired a good connection and quickly came to the front. In 1768 he was elected to the General Court of Massachusetts from Springfield, and was one of the minority of seventeen who were in favor of acceding to a demand of the home Government that a certain obnoxious vote should be rescinded--hence the reproachful term "rescinder." He was a consistent supporter of the British Government throughout the pre-revolutionary troubles. At the outbreak of hostilities in April 1775, he accompanied Earl Percy on his march to Concord following the skirmish at Lexington. Later in the same year he removed to England and resided there for nine years, joining the New England Club of Loyalists in London. His name appeared in the Massachusetts Proscription Act, 1778, as an enemy of the State, and as such he was forbidden to return thither. In 1785 he was appointed by the Crown attorney-general of the newly formed province of New Brunswick, and leaving England, took up his residence at St. John, N. B., where he practiced for twenty-four years. The year of his arrival he was elected member for St. John in the House of Assembly, and was intimately associated with all the legislation of New Brunswick's formative period. His legal ability gave him a leading position at the bar, and he appeared as counsel in most of the important causes of his time. He was retained in 1790 by Benedict Arnold in the suit for slander which the latter brought against Manson Hart. In a test case on the subject of slavery heard in 1800 before the full bench, he appeared for the master. His speech "was divided into thirty-two heads" (J. W. Lawrence, post), despite which the court was divided in opinion. In 1809 he was appointed chief justice of New Brunswick and retained this position till his death at Fredericton, N. B. He married a daughter of Hon. John Worthington of Springfield, Mass. As a lawyer he ranked high in the estimation of his contemporaries, and in his public career he consistently adhered to the principles of loyalty to the Crown which he had imbibed in his youth. As attorney-general and chief justice he enjoyed the unreserved confidence and respect of the people of New Brunswick.


#00001 Thomas Bliss and Margaret Hulins of England and Springfield, MA
#00008 Lawrence Bliss and Lydia Wright of Springfield, MA
#00043 Pelatiah Bliss and Elizabeth Hitchcock of Springfield, MA
#00110 Capt. Luke Bliss and Mercy Ely of Springfield, MA
#00274 Hon. Jonathan Bliss and Mary Worthington of Springfield and New Brunswick, Canada (4 children)