Saturday, November 12, 2011

Governor George Simpson's son, George Stewart Simpson

As I told you I have been in the midst of writing speeches for the author's celebration and for the Victoria Historical Society talk, both of them in November.
In order to write the speech for VHS, I re-read and quoted from "the Private Journal of Henry Peers from Fort Langley to thompson's River, Summer 1848," found in the British Columbia Archives under [its old number] E/A/P34A.
I had never particularly noticed before, but Alexander Caulfield Anderson travelled into Kamloops with a new clerk, named "Simpson."
Of course when I was consulting this journal years ago when I wrote the chapter, I had no way to check who this Simpson fellow was.
In fact I barely noticed him.
Now I have Bruce Watson's Lives Lived West of the Divide, and in volume 3 I find this biography:

Simpson, George Stewart (1827-1894) (probably Canadian: Scottish and probably Native)
Birth: possibly Red River Settlement -- 1827 (born to Sir George Simpson and Margaret Taylor)
Death: Victoria, March 13, 1894
HBC Apprentice, Fort Vancouver general charges (1841-1842); Apprentice and clerk, Honolulu (1842-1847); Clerk, Fort Colvile (1847-1848); Clerk, Thompson River (1848-1850); Clerk, Fort Victoria sales shop (1850-1857); Clerk disposable, Western department (1857-1858); Chief Trader, Western Department (1858-1860)

George Stewart Simpson came to Fort Victoria as a boy of eight with the 1836 brigade. In 1838, according to Reverend Herbert Beaver, young Simpson had arrived decently clothed but two years later, he was running about "in appearance like a beggar's child, and at one time suffered so much from sores, brought on entirely by the neglect of Chief Factor McLoughlin's woman, under whose charge he was placed" (Beaver, p. 84). Young Simpson had probably got his sores from flea bites from his beating furs in the large fur house at the fort, a job that young children often did. In 1841, he joined the HBC, likely at Fort Vancouver, and joined his father, Sir George Simpson, for a voyage to Honolulu where he spent the next four years in apprenticeship. He rose through the ranks and around 1858 became Chief Trader. He spent the last two years of his working career as chief Trader at Fort Dunvegan in the Athabasca Department but returned to the coast in 1864 when he pre-empted 320 acres in the Fraser Valley. George Stewart Simpson died on March 13, 1894, at his residence on Cook Street in Victoria, B. C.
On June 12, 1857, at Fort Langley, Simpson married Isabella Yale (c.1840-), daughter of James Murray Yale and together they had four children....

So there you go, if you are a descendant of this Simpson, then you will find more about him in Peers' journal in BC Archives.

Let's see what James Raffen says about this young man, in "Emperor of the North: Sir George Simpson and the Remarkable story of the Hudson's Bay Company:"

p. 233-34 -- While Simpson tended to these labours in Lachine, "the commodity" [Margaret Taylor] gave birth at York Factory in February 1827 to a bouncing baby boy, whom she named George Stewart Simpson. Simpson met the child for the first time that summer, during the Northern Council at the Depot, just before he hurried back south to make his way via Osnaburgh House, Martin Falls and Fort Albany to Moose Factory....On his way back upriver in September, to return to Lachine, he jotted off another quick private note to McTavish, in which his paternal responsibilities were given their usual shrug: "Pray keep a sharp look out upon Madam, if she behaves well let her be treated accordingly but on the contrary [be] sent about her business and the child taken from her. Should any accident happen to me and that the youngster lives until 4 or 5 years old he will in all probability be claimed by some of my friends in England or Scotland."

p. 264 -- [he arrived at Fort Alexander where Margaret Taylor was; he was travelling with his new wife] Not surprisingly, there was not time for a proper inspection stop at Fort Alexander at the mouth of the Winnipeg River. Their accounts say very little about this portion of the journey, but there cousin Thomas gives the impression of a very quick hello: "We arrived at Bas de la riviere [Fort Alexander] on the 5th of June. The Governor and Lady started the same evening for Red River. There was no time to stop -- they camped on the shore below Fort Alexander. ...In the rush to move on to Fort Garry there was no time at Fort Alexander to meet for the first time his new son James Mackenzie Simpson, or to pick up in his arms George Stewart Simpson, or to introduce his unsuspecting English wife to his half-Chipewyan wife, who had been counting the days until his return..."

Poor Margaret Taylor! But at least it looks as though George Simpson did not entirely abandon his son.


  1. Hi there,
    First off, let me say how much I enjoy reading your blog. I have several ancestors who were involved in the fur trade including James McMillan and John Warren Dease, Sr. Margaret/Marguerite Taylor is my great great grandmother through her marriage to Amable Hogue. Hogue was one of Gov. Simpson’s elite crew of voyageurs and the person the Governor picked to “take care” of Margaret once he had married Frances.
    According to Gail Morin’s Red River Settlement Censuses, in the 1835 Census of the Red River Settlement (which only names the head of the household), Amable is listed with a wife, 1 daughter under 15, and 3 sons under the age of 16. As Amable’s second son wasn’t born until 30 Dec 1835, I assume that Simpson’s sons, George and John were living in that household.
    In J.G. MacGregor’s book John Rowand: Czar of the Prairies, he states “...with a subsidy from George Simpson, Hogue reared the governor’s two sons.” I have found no documentation for this.
    On 1 Feb 1830 Chief Factor John Stuart (whose country wife was Margaret’s sister Mary), with whom Margaret and family were residing at Bas de la Riviere, wrote to the Governor and included glowing reports of how well the family was doing: “...he has a little brother born 29th August as fine a child as needs be, and nearly as true a picture of Geordy, as Geordy is to his father. They both continue in the enjoyment of perfect good health and they are both as lively as you could wish. We call the little fellow Geordy’s brother and he perfectly understands the name.” (HBC B.4/b/1) Little did Stuart know that only 24 days later, the Governor would be marrying Frances!
    This second son of the Governor’s was named John Mackenzie Simpson and he stayed in Manitoba. He died 19 Oct 1900 in Pilot Mound. marrying Amelia Fidler, a granddaughter of Peter Fidler, explorer and surveyor.
    There is a mention of A.C. Anderson in the footnotes (p 205) of Letters of Letitia Hargrave by Margaret Arnett MacLeod: “Letitia was evidently not aware that the Governor already had at least three sons in the service, George, James, and John. His son James had accompanied A.C. Anderson from York to the Columbia in 1842. In 1843 James and John were both at Fort Nisqually, in the Columbia Department (H.B.C. Arch. D. 5/9). In 1844 they recrossed the mountains. His son George was in Honolulu in 1844 (H.B.C. Arch. D. 5/10 and 12); and in 1861 a son named George, presumably the same one, took charge of Sir George and Lady Simpson’s daughters, Augusta and Margaret, on a journey from Quebec to London, England (H.B.C. arch. B. 134/b19 fo. 618).”
    I am interested in the reference to Margaret Taylor being half-Chipewyan, as I thought she was Cree. Can’t find those references right now, except that in the 1901 Census Margaret’s sons identify themselves Cree French.
    Congratulations on the book, and good luck with all your speeches!

  2. Hi, Jackie; I just caught this and thanks for your comments. Some of the other connections I didn't know or else had forgotten (which is what happens when you have tooooo much information).
    If you want to contact me directly I can put you in touch with another James McMillan descendant; and if you wish you can join the Descendants of David Thompson's men Facebook page -- is that the James McMillan you are descended from?
    Thanks for following the blog.

  3. Hi, Marguerite Taylor would be my Great 3X grand mother.
    1. Great grandmother - Sara Hogue, daughter of Joseph Hogue, son of Marguerite Taylor.

    Robert Daigneault - my grandfather is Philippe Daigneault son of Sara Hogue and Émilien Daigneault.

  4. Hi I am descended from Sir George and Marguerite, I have some records but not enough official to apply to the Media Nation. We loose some of our records at my Great Grandmother, born Helen Hilda Simpson' I think Marguerite was her Great Grandmother. how do we get the tribal councils to help with research or are there other forms of official proof? Thank you Vandeleur

    1. My Great Grandmother was also Helen Hilda Simpson. I would love to see what you have. Thank you, Mike