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Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 8


Services of Sir John Johnson.-2oo.ooo Acres Abandoned by Him in the United States—Lord Dorchester Recommends Him as First Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada-Policy of Home Government Opposed to the appointment of Residents to the Government—Despatch of the Colonial Secretary.— First Reference to Glengarry Settlement. — Colonel John Macdonell (Aberchalder) and His Brother Hugh Macdonell Elected Members in First Parliament of Upper Canada—He. is Elected its Speaker—List of Members—Some Facts Relating to them—Acts Passed at First Session.

Sir John Johnson, who had been so intimately associated with those who became the first settlers of Glengarry, did not altogether sever his connection with them. Portion of the land which was allotted to him in consideration of his signal services to the Crown was situated in the County of Glengarry in the immediate vicinity of what is wknown as "Stone House Point." He had, I am told, selected a site for his residence, of which the foundation had been been laid, where the house now occupied by Colonel Alexander Fraser is built on the River St. Lawrence, on what is now known as Fraser's Point.

Judge Pringle states that what are locally known as "The Indian Lands," a narrow strip between the western townships of Glengarry and the eastern ones of Stormont, are said to have been intended for Sir John Johnson, and to have been held for the Indians on Sir John's declining to accept of them. This, of course, would have been a very extensive grant - many thousands of acres—yet it must be remembered that, as stated by Mr. Stone "he voluntarily gave up domains m what is now the United States larger and fairer than had ever belonged to a single proprietor in America, William Penn only excepted," and that of ail the eminent men among the Loyalists none were at all comparable to him, either as regards the extent of the sacrifices made or the importance of the services rendered through out the War from its commencement to its close. Two hundred thousand acres of valuable land was what he surrendered.

He also owned a large tract of land in the neighborhood of Williamstown, so named by him after his father, Sir William, and where he built the first mills. As showing the interest which Sir John Johnson took in the County of Glengarry, it may be mentioned that on the 25th of June, 1814, he presented to Neil McLean, then Sheriff of the Eastern District, and his successors in office, twelve acres of land in Williamstown for the purpose of a fair ground for the people of the Counties, being the site of the present Glengarry Agricultural Society grounds. He never, however, permanently resided in Glengarry, the nature of his occupation not permitting of it. He had been appointed at the close of the War Superintendent General and Inspector-General of the Six Nation Indians, his commission as such being dated March 14th, 1782. He was Colonel-in-Chief of the Six Battalions of Militia of the Eastern Townships, and a member of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, to which he was summoned 24th January, 1797. He had been knighted by the King in his father's lifetime, at St. James on the 22nd November, 1765, when but twenty-three years of age. The Rev. Mr. Campbell mentions in his "History of St. Gabriel Church, Montreal," that the Patent of Baronetcy, conferred upon his father, contains a most singular clause, which gives the title of "Knight" to the eldest son in this family on his attaining his majority. Sir John was always, in official documents, designated, after his father's death, as "Knight and Baronet," thus showing that the Knighthood did not merge in the Baronetcy. He owned the Seigniory of Argenteuil, and was for many years a. conspicuous figure in Canada. He was born on November 5th, 1742, and died at his residence, St. Mary's, in the County of Rouville, on January 4th, 1830, in the eighty-ninth year of his age, and was buried in the family vault at his seat on the south side of the St. Lawrence, near Montreal. He is described in Jones' "History of New York" as bold, resolute, spirited, brave and active, and his career undoubtedly proved it.

Mr. Morgan states in his "Celebrated Canadians" that Sir John's eldest son, William Johnson, entered the army, became a Colonel in the Service, and was killed at Waterloo. He was succeeded in the Baronetcy by his eldest surviving son, Sir Adam Gordon Johnson, who, dying without issue, was succeeded by the present Baronet. Sir William George Johnson, of Twickenham, England, son of John Johnson, of Point Oliver, Montreal, a younger brother of Sir Gordon, who died before the latter. A niece of Sir John's became Lady Clyde; a grand-daughter married Alexander, Count Bahnain, Russian Commissioner at St. Helena, and others of his descendants made distinguished alhances.

Lord Dorchester had on the 15th March, 1790, in a despatch to the Right Honourable William Wyndham Grenville, strongly recommended Sir John as the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada on the ground of his eminent services. The answer of the Secretary of State shows, however, that not only had the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe been decided upon previous to the receipt of Lord Dorchester's despatch, and that Simcoe had been duly notified of the fact, but it sets out fully and clearly the policy of the British Government then prevailing and ever since pursued in regard to the appointment of residents of the Colonies to the government of the same. No one can question its wisdom, however great may be his appreciation of Sir John's services, which rendered his claim paramount to that of Simcoe or any other individual whomsoever. It was, I believe, the. intention to have followed the same wise course in Canada at the time of Confederation in regard to the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governors of the Provinces, but local circumstances, the short tenure of office, and the comparatively circumscribed nature of their functions and powers, probably led to a different course being adopted with regard to these officers.

The following is the despatch referred to:

(Private and Confidential.)

Whitehall, 3rd June, 1790

My Lord,—

I think it right to take this mode of mentioning to Your Lordship rather than by an official despatch, that previous to the receipt of Your Lordship's despatch No. 20, I had submitted to His Majesty the name of Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe for the Lieutenant Government of Upper Canada, supposing the proposed division of the Province of Quebec to be carried into effect, and that I had been directed by His Majesty to express to that officer His Majesty's approbation of his appointment.

In making this selection, I had not overlooked the situation and services of Sir John Johnson, but motives of very considerable weight in my opinion induced me to think that the nomination of a person belonging to that Province, and possessing such large property in it, was not desirable, especially in the first formation of the new Government. The disadvantage to His Majesty's Service which might be expected from the effect of local habits, connections and interests appear to me to be more than sufficient to counterbalance those benefits which may be stated as arising from the same circumstances.

I mention this more particularly to Your Lordship because it is uncertain whether, in the event of hostilities with Spain, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe may not be employed on some different service. and because even in that event I think it right to apprize Your Lordship that great objections would, in my opinion, subsist against naming Sir John Johnson.

I have no positive information how far Sir John Johnson has been induced to look to this object, nor what his probable line of conduct would be in case of disappointment. Your Lordship will, of course, see that it is very material for me to receive confidentially your opinion on this point, on account of the great embarrassment which might be thrown in the way of Government at its first outset in the new Province, if all the members of the Legislative Council were appointed at the recommendation of any person, however distinguished in point of situation or services, who was not cordially and sincerely disposed to co-operation with the King's representative.

I have the honour to be,

With great truth and regard, My Lord, Your Lordship's moM faithful and Obedient humble servant,

W: W. Grenville,

The Right Hon'ble Lord Dorchester.

An unpublished MS diary of Major R. Mathews, of the Fifty Third Regiment, and Military Secretary to Lord Dorchester, the original of which is to be found in the Education Office, Toronto, contains the first reference I can find to the Loyalist settlement in Glengarry and west. It is a journal of a voyage made by him to Detroit in 1787. Under date of May 31 of that year, he notes, "General Hope spoke to me upon the situation of affairs at Detroit."

May 4th. Signified to Lord Dorchester my feelings at being absent from my Regiment at a time when the complexion of affairs in the Upper Country appears rather gloomy, and my regret at the necessity of relinquishing the honour of attending him. His Lord received and approved of my proposal to join my Regiment in the handsomest manner; would not allow of its making any alteration in my situation with him, and said he had business at Detroit, etc., to charge me with, on which he would expect me to return and report to him in the fall, provided the situation of affairs above would permit. I therefore prepared immediately to set off.

On the 17th May he arrived at Coteau du Lac, the next entry under date 18th May being as follows :---

Got on board the bateaux at 4 o'clock, and proceeded to Longueil, the entrance to the lake. Were there obliged to stop owing to a violent head wind, which made the lake impracticable. At 2 o'clock the wind moderated, and we pushed off. Got to Point au Baudet at 6, where one McGee, formerly in Sir John Johnson's Corps has a settlement, on which he has made very rapid progress. Halted about 15 minutes, and proceeded to Point l'Toroniere; arrived there at half after eight o'clock, and on my way passed Lieutenant Sutherland's settlement situated in a deep bay. We were not near enough to form any judgment of the land, but he seemed to have cleared a good deal. Halted for a few minutes, and was just pushing off for Sir J, Johnson's Point when a violent gust came on, which determined me to put up for the night in an uninhabited house.

May 19th. Set off at 4 o'clock, the wind still high and contrary, weather disagreeably cold. Passed Mr. Falconer's settlement at a distance, and landed at a small house within two miles of Captain Alexander Macdonell. Walked to his house and breakfasted. The situation here is delightful and the soil very fine. He has cleared a great deal of land, and bids fair for having a fine farm in a very short time. We proceed on foot to Mr. Wiikinson's. He is situated close to the river, by a fine creek, where he is erecting a potash and means to build a mill. There are two inconsiderable settlements above this, and then an interval of four miles belonging to St. Regis Indians, the points of which and situation are very favorable for settlement, and from the wood growing the soil must be very rich. The first settlement from this interval is strikingly beautiful, being situated upon an easy, regular slope, facing the south, and defended from the raking east and west winds. A fine island, richly clothed with wood, and some meadow ground before it. I believe it is the property of Major Gray. Got on this evening to the lot of one Natives of Sir John Johnson's Corps. He is married to a very young woman, and has a man who was taken prisoner at Quebec in '75 to assist him on his farm. He is married to a Canadian woman, and these two couples live together in the same house, consisting of a single room, but the neatest and most cleanly 1 ever saw. Here we lay.

20th. Proceeded at 4 this morning. Still unfortunate in our wind. Passed the Long Sault about 1 o'clock, and got to Captain Duncan's about six in the evening. Drank tea here with Captain J. Monro and Lieutenant McMartin. Walked from thence about two miles to Thompson's, who was in Sir J. Johnson's Corps. A sensible man, seemingly very industrious, having all materials ready to enlarge his house and much ground cleared. He is married to an old Dutch woman. It rained hard this whole day.

21st. Set off at half after four. Stopped at Captain J. Monro's, two miles from where we lay and breakfasted with him. His having been in England prevented him from building, nor has he yet cleared much. He lives at present in a hut belonging to one of the men. Halted here near two hours, and proceeded to Major Jessup's by 4 in the evening. Walked with him over the front of his lot, which is situated opposite the Fort of Oswegatchie. He has not yet built, but has most of the material collected and has cleared a great deal of land. I think this lot in point of situation, regularity of ground and goodness of the superior to any I have yet seen. The Major came on board and proceeded with us to Captain Sherwood's, about four miles further. He has built a very tolerable house upon his farm lot in New Oswegatchie, some distance from his farm, and has already a potash going forward. We did not find him at home, and after waiting about half an hour in hopes of seeing him we got on board.

Of the I,oyalist officers who settled in Glengarry, probably the most conspicuous m the future history of the Province was John Macdonell, then younger of Aberchalder. He shortly became one of the most leading men in Upper Canada. He had served during the whole Revolutionary War, first in the Eighty-Fourth or Royal Highland Emigrants, and for the last five years and ten months in command of a company of Butler's Rangers. His father, Captain Alexander Macdonell, and his brothers, who had also held commissions in the several Loyalist Regiments, likewise settled in the Township of Charlottenburgh (on the regiments being disbanded) on the banks of the River St. Lawrence about six miles east of Cornwall, where they drew a very large tract of land. The ruins of their seat, destroyed many years ago by fire (in 1813), but well known in its day as Glengarry House and renowned for its hospitality, are still to be seen on what is now called "Stone House Point." It was, I understand, the first stone and largest house in Upper Canada.

When writs were issued by Colonel Simcoe for the election of members for the first Parliament of Upper Canada, John Macdonell was, together with his brother, Hugh Macdonell, returned to represent the County of Glengarry, which extended from the St, Lawrence to the Ottawa River and which had two representatives. The proclamation of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe forming the Province into counties, and allotting the number of representatives was dated 10th July, 1792. Nineteen counties were formed, namely: Glengarry, Stormont, Dundas, Grenville, Leeds, Frontenac, Ontario, Addington, Lennox, Prince Edward, Hastings, Northumberland, Durham, York, Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent, Sixteen representatives were to be returned, and for the purpose of representation in the Legislature the following arrangements were made: Glengarry was divided into two ridings each to send a representative; Stormont one member, as also Dundas and Grenville, each; Leeds and Frontenac together were to have a representative; Ontario and Addington together one member; Prince Edward together with the late township of Adolphus, in the county of Lennox, one member; Lennox, except Adolphus, with Hastings and Northumberland together, to elect one member; Durham and York and the first riding of Lincoln were together to have but one member; the second riding of Lincoln one member; the third riding of Lincoln one member; the fourth riding of Lincoln and the county of Norfolk together one member; Suffolk and Essex together one member; Kent, which included all the west, not Indian territories, to the Hudson's Bay, to have two members.

I have had great difficulty in procuring the names of the members of the first Legislature of the Province, lt is remarkable how little can be ascertained with regard to these matters, and I believe ii is utterly impossible to obtain a correct list of the members and the constituencies for which they sat. The fact is, all the parliamentary records prior to 1813 were destroyed when York was taken by the Americans in April of that year. Copies of such of the journals as were transmitted to England have lately been procured, but do not contain the names of the members of the earlier Legislatures.

Dr Canniff, in his work "The Settlement of Upper Canada," after giving a list of the Districts into which the Province was first divided for the purposes of representation, mentions the names of the gentlemen who sat in the first House, but in answer to an enquiry he informs me that he is unable to assign their respective constituencies. I fancy, therefore, that it:s only from records in the possession of the families of people living in Canada at the time, or from other private sources, that a list can be compiled, and information thus afforded would, I am sure, be acceptable to all who are interested in the early history of the Province. I will mention such facts as I have been able to gather from books and papers within my reach regarding the gentlemen who composed the first Legislature, in the nope that others will throw further light upon the subject, as it is only by such means that we can arrive at what is of much historic interest, if not of importance.

Dr. Canniff mentions at page 534 that the following were elected members of the first House:

1. John Macdonell, Speaker.
2. Joshua Booth.
3. Mr. Baby.
4. Alexander Campbell
5. Philip Dorland.
6. Jeremiah French.
7. Ephraim Jones.
8. William Mocomb.
9. Hugh Macdonell.
10. Benjamin Pawling
11 Nathaniel Pettit.
12. David William Smith.
13. Hazelton Spencer
14. Isaac Swazy.
15. — Young.
16. John White.

Nos. 1 and 9.—The careers of Colonel John Macdonell, the Speaker,: and Mr. Hugh Macdonell, his brother, the members for Glengarry, are given in these pages at length.

2. Joshua Booth.—A U. E. Loyalist. His name is entered in Lord Dorchester's List with the note, " S. G. Sergeant," and his residence is there stated to have been Ernest-town. I can find nothing to show the constituency for which he set or any other facts relating to him.

3. Mr. Baby.—It will be observed the Christian name is not given by Dr. Canniff. This name was long, intimately and honourably associated with the County of Essex, and the presumption is that the gentleman referred to was a member of the family of that name resident there before the taking of Quebec by Wolfe, and that he represented "Suffolk" and Essex. I had at first assumed it must have been the Honourable James Baby who was appointed by Colonel Simcoe a member of the first Executive Council of Upper Canada at Kingston, on the 8th July, 1792, and who for many years was Inspector-General of the Province. I make this suggestion under correction, however, as Mr. Morgan states in his Biographies of Celebrated Canadians, that Mr. James Baby became a member of the Legislative as well as of the Executive Council at that time (1792), and continued in the regular and efficient discharge of the duties of those eminent stations until his death in 1833, and he could not well have been a member of both branches of the Legislature at the same time.

4. Alexander Campbell.—Mr. Croil in his work, H Dundas, or a Sketch of Canadian History, mentions that Alexander Campbell was the first member for the County of Dundas, and states that the little that is known of his history presents few inducements to prosecute the enquiry as to who or what he was, adding, his character is summed up in this, that he was familiarly known at the time by the unenviable soubriquet of "Lying Campbell". Possibly he may have made pledges to his constituents which he was unable to carry out, and it being the only instance of that kind which our political history affords, his name is handed down to posterity in this unfortunate manner! In Lord Dorchester's list there appears the name of "Alexander Campbell, Esquire," his residence being given as the Eastern District, and it is stated that he was a Lieutenant' in the Loyal Rangers. Probably the same person.

5. Philip Dorland.—This gentleman appears to have lived in Adolphustown, and the presumption is that he was elected to represent the County of Prince Edward, to which the Township of Adolphus was attached. Mr. Dorland, being a Quaker, refused to take the oaths, and the House unanimously passed a resolution that he was therefore incompetent to sit and vote in Parliament, whereupon a writ issued for a new election, and Peter Van Alstine was elected in his stead. Mr. Van Alstine also lived in Adolphustown, and was a U. E. Loyalist, as his name appears in Lord Dorchester's list, with die, to me, enigmatic note, "Cuylers, Captain."

6. Jeremiah French.—A U. E. Loyalist, in Lord Dorchester's list his residence being given as the Eastern District. He was a Lieutenant in the King's Royal Regiment of New York (Second Battalion), in which he served nine years. I presume Mr. French represented Grenville.

7. Ephram Jones.—A U. E. Loyalist who settled in the Township of Augusta, County of Leeds, and was the father of the late Mr. Justice Jonas Jones and grandfather of the late Mr. Ford Jones, M P., and other well-known gentlemen. Stated in Lord Dorchester's list to have been a Commissary. Mr. Read in "The Lives of the Judges" mentions that after the Revolutionary War Mr. Jones had charge of the supplies granted by the British Government to the settlers in Upper Canada. Mr. Jones living in the County of Leeds, the presumption would be that he represented that County; but it will be observed that Leeds and Frontenac were then united for purposes of representation, and Dr. Canniff quotes from a despatch of Colonel Simcoe, wherein he states, "it was by good fortune that the temporary residence I made at Kingston created sufficient influence to enable us to bring the Attorney-General White into the House"— from which the inference might be drawn that Mr. White was returned for Frontenac, in which County Kingston is situate, and which was joined to Leeds. Mr. Ephraiin Jones' son and grandson most worthily represented the County of Leeds at many different times and until a quite recent period.

8. William Mocomb.—- I can find no mention made of this gen tleman in any books to which I have access.

10. Benj. Pawling.—A U. K. Loyalist who was Captain-Lieutenant in Butler's Rangers. Lord Dorchester's list states he resided ;n the H^me District. No doubt he was member for one of the ridings of Lincoln, as Butler's Rangers settled in the Niagara District on the Regiment being disbanded.

11. Nathaniel Pettit.—Resided in the Home District; stated in Lord Dorchester's list to have been ''an active Loyalist."

12. David William. Smith.—Morgan's Celebrated Canadians gives an account of this distinguished gentleman. He was a Captain in the Fifth Foot, and was afterwards called to the Bar of Upper Canada, with precedence as Deputy Judge Advocate; was appointed Surveyor-General of Lands, one of the trustees for the Six Nations and a member of the Executive Council; sat in the three first Parliaments, and was Speaker of the second and third Parliaments. For his public services in Canada he was created a Baronet by patent August 30th, 1821. Died at Alnwick, England, 9th May, 1837 Mr. Bain, the Librarian at Toronto, lately procured all the valuable public documents relating to the Province which Mr. Smith took with him on his return to England. Probably Mr.. Smith represented Durham and York and the first riding of Lincoln.

13. Hazelton Spencer.—A U. E. Loyalist. I find from a return of the officers of the R. C.V. Regiment that he served eleven months with the Incorporated Loyalists, three years five months and two days as a Volunteer in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, two years' seven months and four days as a Lieutenant in the same Corps', and five years and seven months in the Second Battalion Royal Canadian Volunteer Regiment of Foot. In 1803 he was Lieutenant of the County of Lennox, and was also Colonel of the Lennox Militia Regiment. No doubt he sat for Lennox in the first Parliament.

14. Isaac Swazy (Query, Swayze).—A U. E. loyalist described in Lord Dorchester's list as Pilot to the New York Army, residing m the Home District. Mr. Swayze represented one of the ridings of Lincoln. In 1804, when the constituencies were rearranged (not then termed gerrymandered!) the same gentleman and Ralph Clench, Esq., represented the second, third and fourth ridings of Lincoln.

15. — Young.--Several of this name (twenty in all) were U. E. Loyalists, the most prominent being Lieutenant John Young, formerly of the Indian Department, who resided in the Home District, but whether or not he was the gentleman who sat in the House I am unable to state.

16. John White—'The first Attornisy-General of the Province who came to Canada in 1792, find was killed in a duel with Mr. Small, Clerk of the Executive Council, January 3rd, 1800. For which constituency he sat. I am unable to state, though from Colonel Simcoe's despatch, before referred to, it may possibly have been Leeds and Frontenac. Dr. Scadding, in "Toronto of Old,* page 246, quotes the remarks made by the "Oracle" and Niagara "Constellation" regarding Mr, White at the time of his death, both highly eulogistic.

Dr. Ryerson, in his bock, "The Loyalists of America and their Times," states that the members of this Assembly have been represented as "plain, home-spun clad farmers and merchants from the plough and the store." and very properly remarks that "the members of our Legislature have always, for the most part, been such from that day to this, but many of the members of the first Parliament of Upper Canada had possessed respectable and some of them luxurious homes, from which they had been exiled by narrow-minded and bitter enemies; they had fought on battle fields for the country whose forests they now burned and felled; their home-spun garments were some of the fruits of their own industry and that of their wives and daughters," remarks fully borne out by the few facts I have stated regarding these gentlemen, from which it will be seen they were largely composed of officers of the disbanded Regiments of the Revolutionary War. So far as our own County is concerned I can affirm with truth, that in the hundred years which have intervened the County has never been represented by gentlemen whose eminent public services and high station and character surpassed those of our two first members.

Three members of the Legislative Council and five members of the House of Assembly were present when the first Parliament assembled.

The House having met in a camp tent at Newark (now Niagara) on Monday, the 17th September, the first entries made in the Journals (copies of which have lately been procured from England, and are now to be found at the Parliamentary Libraries at Ottawa and Toronto) are as follows :-—

"The House having met, all the members were severally sworn in by William Jarvis, Esquire, who acted by special commission from His Excellency."

"The House having proceeded to the election of its Speaker, John Macdonell, Esquire, one of the members for the County of Glengarry, was unanimously elected to be Speaker."

He would appear to have served in that capacity during all that Parliament, and, as far as can be ascertained, during the first Session of the Second Parliament, as on the meeting of the House on the 9th June, 1798, being the second Session of the Second Parliament, it is stated in the Journals that—

"Mr. Speaker addressed the House in the following Words, co wit:—

"Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,

"As you have done me the honour to call me to the chair of this House, I feel it a duty I owe to the recollection of the services of Colonel Macdonell to move that in order to mark the sense I entertain of his former situation as Speaker, a place he considered appropriated to him during the present Session, being the first next to the chair on the right hand side.

"To which recommendation the House unanimously agreed, and it was ordered accordingly."

Eight Acts were passed at the first Session of the Legislature, the first and most important introducing the English Law in all matters relating to Property and Civil Rights. Chapter II. Established Trial by jury. Chapter III. established a Standard tor Weights and Measures. Chapter IV. Abolished the Summary Proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas in actions under Ten Pounds Sterling. Chapter V. Related to the Prevention of Accidents by Fire. Chapter VI. Established the Procedure for an Easy and Rapid Recovery of Small Debts. Chapter VII. Regulated the Toll to be taken in Mills; and Chapter VIII Provided for the building of a Gael and Court House in each of the four Districts of the Province, and altered the names of the Districts to the Eastern, Midland, Home and Western Districts respectively.

The first division which can be ascertained took place in the Legislature of this Province on the 20th June of that year. It is probable that divisions had previous taken place, but owing to the loss of so many of the Journals the first I can find is as follows. It is interesting as showing the members of the Second Parliament of the Province :—

"Mr. Speaker read the third Lime as engrossed the Bill to authorize and allow persons coming into this Province to bring with them their negro slaves.

"Mr. Solicitor-General" (Robert Isaac Dey Grey, who was then Member of the County of Stormont) "moved that the said Bill do not pass, and that the question be thereof put (sic), and the yeas and nays taken down in distinct columns; whereupon the question was put and the members were as follows :


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