William Lyon Mackenzie, a Canadian politician, born in Dundee, Scotland, March 12, 1795, died in Toronto, Canada, Aug. 28, 1861. He received a good English education, and commenced business at the age of 17 by keeping a circulating library in Ayleth, near his native town. Subsequently he went to England, and became a clerk in the employment of Lord Lonsdale. In 1820 he emigrated to Canada, and was made superintendent of the works of the Lachine canal, and afterward opened a drug and book store in Toronto. He entered political life about 1824, and from that time till 1833 edited the " Colonial Advocate," an opposition journal published at Niagara. In 1828 he was returned to the provincial parliament; but, for alleged libel upon the assembly, was expelled five times, only to be as often reelected, until the government at last refused to issue another writ of election. In 1832 he went to England with a petition of grievances from the reformers of Canada. In 1836 he was the first mayor of Toronto; and in 1837 he abandoned his journal, "The Constitution," started some time previously, and, believing the provinces ripe for revolt, appeared on Yonge street, near Toronto, at the head of an armed force, and demanded of the lieutenant governor, Sir F. B. Head, a settlement of all provincial difficulties by a convention, which demand was not acceded to.

He now determined to inarch on the city, secure a quantity of arms stored there, arrest the governor and the members of his cabinet, and declare Canada a republic; but the government was soon in the field with a superior hostile force. An encounter took place at Montgomery's hill, about 4 m. from the city, Dec. 7, 1837, when, after some skirmishing in which several lives were lost, the insurgents fled, and took up a position on Navy island in the Niagara river; whence Mackenzie, who had been already outlawed, issued a proclamation offering $100 and 300 acres of land to volunteers. Here he was joined by many American sympathizers; but owing to the exertions of Gen. Scott, the camp was broken up, and Mackenzie was taken prisoner and sentenced to 12 months1 confinement in Rochester jail. On being set at liberty he found employment on the press of the United States, and was for five or six years a contributor to the New York "Tribune." During that period he published some political pamphlets, one of which was compiled from papers found in the custom house, where he held a clerkship for a short time.

On the proclamation of amnesty in 1849 he returned to Canada, and was again speedily elected to parliament, where he sat till 1858. From his retirement almost up to the time of his death he published in Toronto " Mackenzie's Message," a weekly journal. Toward the close of his life his friends raised a sufficient sum to purchase for him an annuity and a homestead near the city.