Thomas Baillie (1796-1863) was born in Hanwell, Middlesex, England, the son of Captain William Baillie, an officer of the 51st Regiment and a local magistrate. In 1915, Thomas Baillie joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a lieutenant. He was stationed in France and later in Ireland where he married Elizabeth Hall in 1824. That same year he entered the Colonial Office where his brother George held the position of First Clerk in the North American Department. Thomas Baillie was soon appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and Surveyor General of New Brunswick.
During the years prior to his arrival, the timber trade in New Brunswick had developed rapidly, with most of the timber coming from Crown lands. Baillie attempted to administer this operation more efficiently so that the Crown received larger revenues, and he advocated the selling of Crown lands to add funds to the provincial treasury. His measures were not popular with the merchants and the official families in Fredericton, especially since they came from an outsider who had been placed in a position of great power, and who was accumulating wealth from both an excessive salary and other sources of income.
The Crown Lands Office became so powerful that other public offices, including the receiver-general and auditor-general, were eclipsed by it, and for a time actually abolished. Baillie's ostentatious life style only added to the feelings of resentment in the community. Eventually, when the second delegation from the Legislative Assembly met with the new Colonial Secretary, Lord Glenelg, an agreement was reached in 1836 that all Crown lands and their revenues would come under the authority of the Assembly. Suddenly, Baillie had lost his power and his seat on the Executive Council, although he did remain surveyor-general. To add to his problems, a private company involved in the peat moss industry in which Baillie had invested heavily went bankrupt. Baillie lost not only his own money, but that of his second wife, Elizabeth Odell, the daughter of William Franklin Odell, the provincial secretary, whom he married in 1833.
While Baillie's administration was unacceptably autocratic, his methods did produce a full provincial treasury, and after a few years of legislative control over Crown lands and exploitation by the timber trade, which produced little return for the government, the provincial financial situation seriously deteriorated. During Baillie's last years in New Brunswick, he won election to the Assembly for York County in 1846 and retained the office of surveyor-general until 1851. In that year, he retired with a comfortable pension and returned to England where he died in 1863. His home in Fredericton was known as The Hermitage.