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Philip Francis Little

Philip Francis Little
1st Premier of Newfoundland
In office
7 May 1855 – 15 July 1858
Monarch Victoria
Lieutenant Governor Charles Henry Darling
Preceded by None
Succeeded by John Kent
Supreme Court of Newfoundland
Chief Justice
In office
29 November 1858 – 1868
Personal details
Born 1824 (1824)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Died October 21, 1897(1897-10-21) (aged 72–73)
Monkstown, Republic of Ireland
Political party Liberal Party
Religion Roman Catholic

Philip Francis Little (1824 – October 21, 1897) was the first Premier of Newfoundland Colony between 1855 and 1858. He was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Little studied law there with Charles Young and was admitted to the bar in 1844. He came to Newfoundland in 1846 and articled in law. He got involved in politics only a few years after. He helped lead the charge for responsible government along with John Kent. After it was granted in 1854, he went on to run a successful campaign as leader of the predominantly Roman Catholic Liberal Party. He became Newfoundland's first Premier in 1855 and served concurrently as the colony's Attorney-General.

Little only remained in office until July 15, 1858,[1] when he resigned to be succeeded by John Kent. In that time, he managed to secure Newfoundland's autonomy, in making sure Newfoundland had a say over its own destiny. Then Britain and France came with a plan involving the west coast of Newfoundland. Little objected and in a dispatch in 1857, the British cancelled the deal which would have been unfavourable to Newfoundland.

He resigned in 1858 saying "I go now before the milk of Human kindness goes sour for me". He was right in that Newfoundland was about to enter an era of sectarian strife. Little was appointed as appointed assistant justice on the Supreme Court of Newfoundland in September 1858 and became Chief Justice two months later. In 1861, riots broke out over disputed election results from Harbour Grace. Little, as Chief Justice, played a prominent role in dispersing and calming the crowds. He married into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family in 1864 and retired to Ireland in 1868 and did a great deal for the home rule movement there. He died at the age of 73 in 1897 while living in Monkstown, Ireland.

He married Mary Jane Holdright in 1864 and they had 13 children. Their youngest child Patrick Little was a senior Irish politician.


  1. ^
  • The Canadian EncyclopediaBiography at
  • The Government of Canada Commemorates Philip Francis Little as a Person of National Significance
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