(October 1, 1742 - October 1, 1822)
Biographies, p 374-5
Jonathan Bliss, jurist, was born in Springfield, MA. Descended from Thomas Bliss of Belstone,
Devon, he was the son of Captain 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, and
on his admission to the provincial bar, commenced practicing in Boston. He acquired a good
connection and quickly came to the front.
In 1768 he was elected to the General Court of MA 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rescinded -- hence the reproachful term "rescinder."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, New Brunswick, 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 appears 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 1809 he was appointed chief justiceof New Brunswick and retained this position till his death at
He married a daughter of Hon. John Worthington of Springfield, MA. 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.