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Zaccheus Burnham was born February 20, 1777 in Dunbarton, New Hampshire, son of Asa Burnham and Elizabeth Cutler. He was raised in New Hampshire and came to central Upper Canada in 1797, eventually settling in Hamilton Township, Newcastle District. Several of his brothers also settled in the same area.
On February 1, 1801, he married Elizabeth Choate, also of New Hampshire. Together they had six children, five daughters and one son. As soon as Burnham arrived in Upper Canada, he became interested in acquiring land and was eventually to become one of the largest land holders in the Newcastle District (he owned the land on which the village of Ashburnham is situated). He also carried out land surveys with his future son-in-law, land surveyor Richard Birdsall, which allowed Burnham to determine the best plots of land to acquire. As well, payment for land surveys was often in the form of land. By 1831, Burnham had a 1000 acre farm, plus thousands of acres of land scattered throughout the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham, and Peterborough County.
Burnham was also involved in the military. He joined the militia as a private in 1801. In the War of 1812 he was a captain. He remained active in the military as a member of the First Regiment of the Northumberland Militia, and as Colonel, led a large force to Toronto in response to the Rebellion of 1837. Burnham was also involved in many other activities and was a leading member in the community. He became a road commissioner for the Newcastle District in 1811. In 1813, he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace. He was also the Treasurer of the Newcastle District from 1815 to 1851, and he represented the riding of Northumberland and Durham in the House of Assembly from 1817 to 1820. In 1831 he was appointed to the Legislative Council by Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colbourne, and served there until 1841. In July 1839, he was made a Judge for the District court of Newcastle.
Zaccheus Burnham died February 25, 1857, at Cobourg, Upper Canada.
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Taken from: Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.