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Home / Speaker Biographies / Nathanial B. Boileau

House Speaker Biographies

Photo credit:

"Boileau's Legacy." Friends of Boileau Farmstead.  www.friendsofboileau.org

Photo credit:

"Boileau's Legacy." Friends of Boileau Farmstead.  www.friendsofboileau.org


Nathaniel B. Boileau

Born: 1763, Hatboro, Montgomery County, PA.  Died: March 16, 1850, Montgomery County, PA.  Member of the House: Montgomery County, 1797-1802, 1803-1805, 1806-1809.  Affiliation: Democratic-Republican.

Nathaniel Britton Boileau (alternatively spelled Brittan Billew) was raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Boileau attended Princeton University, graduating with an A.B. in 1789 and an A.M. in 1795.  As a student, he took an interest in navigation, and assisted the inventor John Fitch with construction of an early model of one of the first steamboats.  He began farming in Bucks County after his graduation, and entered politics shortly thereafter. Boileau was engaged to the former Charlotte Leech, daughter of former Speaker Thomas Leech, but she passed away prior to their nuptials. He later married her sister, Hester Leech, in 1795.  The couple had one child, Thomas Leech, who practiced law in Philadelphia.  After Hester’s death in 1797, he married another sister, Ann Leech.  The couple had no children.

Boileau was first elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Pennsylvania House for the 1797-1798 session.  He was re-elected to serve in 9 more sessions.  On Tuesday, December 6, 1808, Boileau was elected the 44th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House.  During his brief tenure as Speaker, he was engaged in legislative efforts to clarify legal distinctions between English and state laws.  On December 20, 1808, Boileau was appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth, also referred to as Secretary of State, by Governor Simon Snyder, a position he held for 9 years.  Boileau resigned the Speakership on December 21, 1808.  

From 1803-1806, Boileau was involved with the Montgomery County Volunteer Militia as paymaster.  In the War of 1812, Boileau served as Aide-de-Camp with the rank of lieutenant-colonel under Governor Snyder.  He used his private resources to aid the American Militia, leveraging his property to provide supplies to the troops nearby.  Boileau then served as acting Adjutant-General from May of 1816 to January of 1817.  In 1817 he was favored as a candidate for the Democratic-Republican ticket for Governor, but the campaign was unsuccessful. After this loss, which Boileau contested under the grounds that he believed corrupt influences had led to the nomination of William Findlay over himself, Boileau stepped back from public service for many years.  He became involved in anti-Masonic efforts from 1829-1834, serving as an elector of William Wirt for the Anti-Masonic Presidential ticket in 1832.  He was appointed as Montgomery County’s Register of Wills in January of 1836, an office he held for 3 years until his retirement to his nearby farm.

Boileau and his family are noted for their participation in assisting fugitives fleeing southern plantations at their property in Hatboro, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Nathanial Boileau died on March 16, 1850, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He is interred at Abington Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Member Biography

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