Sunday, November 13, 2011

More on George Simpson, the Governor's son

"Always great to read your posts," a regular reader wrote, "Ohhh, but where is the romance in you?
"You did not mention the wedding of young (or not so young) George Simpson to Isabella was shared with John D. Manson, who married another Yale daughter, Aurelia.
"It was a pageant on the Fraser attended by Governor Douglas."
And she (or he, but if some one is scolding me for not being romantic, I think its the she part of the couple) sent me the story from the book, Pioneer Women of Vancouver Island, which reads:
"The Brigade, their one hundred horses left at Hope, used to come to Langley with their chief Traders, Ogden, McLean, and their clerks.
"They brought rich loads of furs and stopped with us for a few days selecting their outfits for the year.
"My younger sister and I were married at the same time. She married Mr. G. Simpson, son of Sir George Simpson.
"He was much older than my husband [John D. Manson]...

"Our wedding ceremonies were performed by the Governor, Sir James Douglas, in the presence of his daughter, Miss Agnes, his niece, Miss Cameron, Mr. Dallas, Mr. Pemberton, and Mr. Golledge and Mr. Ogden of Stuart Lake.
"Captain Mouat gave the signal to the men who were waiting, and seven guns were fired from the fort to salute the weddings of the Chief Traders daughters.

"Mr. Ogden suggested a canoe ride after the ceremonies. So the boats were brought out, manned by the voyageurs.
"The Governor, the Chief Trader and bridal party took the first canoe.
"The remainder of the party followed in the other one.
"I can see it all still. We paddled up the Fraser River, the Canadiens singing their Boat Song.

"Those days are gone forever."

The person who mourned the loss of those days is, of course, Chief Trader James Murray Yale's daughter, Aurelia, who married Donald Manson's son, John D. Manson.
And I agree, it was a very romantic story.
I wonder if I can add anything to it, from young James R. Anderson's memoirs.
James knew everyone!

"It was in 1850 that I first saw Mr. Yale," James writes.
"He was then a man of about 50 years of age, of medium height, somewhat dark complexion, and of a rather taciturn demeanour, well-fitted for the post he was then in charge of as the Indians at that time were occasionally apt to be troublesome...

"I am not informed as to whom Mr.. Yale married, but at the time alluded to he had three daughters -- Eliza, who became the wife of Mr. Henry N.Peers, Aurelia, and Isabella.
"The two latter children were, at that time, pupils at the only school in the country, in the Hudson's Bay Company fort at Victoria, under the Rev. Robert John Staines, M.A. of Cambridge, and Mrs. Staines.
"The union of Miss Eliza Yale and Mr. Peers was productive of five children, the only ones that I ever knew being Minna and Brenda...
"The Misses Aurelia and Isabella Yale married respectively Mr. J. D. Manson, and Mr. George Simpson.
"Isabella died some years ago but Aurelia is still living, a widow, near Royal Oak, being about 90 years old."

Well, that explains it all -- James Robert Anderson is my great uncle.
He was clearly not a romantic man if he did not write about that marriage.
And I guess I didn't inherit the romantic gene either....
Too bad.

But James does go on to describe Henry Newsham Peers as a man of "quite a gay temperament, handsome and debonair."
Bruce Watson says that Peers was "hard drinking but worked competently in the dying days of the fur trade."
He was also "a fine violinist and good oil painter," and had some map-making skills even before he entered the fur trade.
Now the mystery -- According to Watson: "Upon his return [from London] he appeared to fall under the influence of friends and would do anything they told him.
"It was suspected he was being drugged by them.
"Henry Newsham Peers died there on the Colquitz farm on March 27, 1864 no doubt from the effects of a lifetime of drinking.
"When Peers died, his father in law, J. M. Yale, felt that he had been poisoned and got a local lawyer to threaten to charge Peers' friends with murder unless they immediately left the country, which they did."

I don't think this can have been a happy marriage for Eliza Yale; lets see if the other two daughters fared better.

I have already told you about Governor Simpson's son, George Stewart Simpson, in an earlier posting.
Let me see what Bruce Watson has to say about the marriage between Donald Manson's son, John Duncan, and Aurelia Yale.

John Duncan Manson was born to Donald Manson, probably at Fort Vancouver, in about 1836.
Watson writes: "He had a close call with death as a young man.
"A young John Manson was at the Whitman mission in Waiilatpu during the time of the measles outbreak, a pestilence which the local natives believed had been deliberately brought by the whites to wipe them out.
"Seeking revenge for what they thought was deliberate killing by the whites, the local natives on November 29, 1847, killed off the main principles of the mission, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and twelve others, but, somehow in the confusion, young John was smuggled upstairs and a trap door closed behind him.
"When he was found a few hours later, he threatened the power of revenge of the HBC should anyone lay a hand on him. No one did and he was saved."
Tough kid -- like his father.
"This sparing of a Company man (in this case, boy) prompted some Americans to believe that the HBC had had a hand in the massacre.
"Later in 1854, Manson began his service with the HBC.
"He was not exactly the model of meekness and in some ways emulated the somewhat tough actions of his father both verbally and physically...
"John Duncan Manson married Aurelia, the daughter of James Murray Yale.."

So I think the two younger daughters, who married on the same day at Fort Langley, had better marriages than their older sister.
I know of another story of John D. Manson barely escaping with his life, when on the brigade trail he shared a tent with Paul Fraser.
Fraser, as a young man had been a laughing, cheerful lad who acted as witness for Alexander Caulfield Anderson's marriage to Betsy Birnie.
But, like Peers, he was sometimes under a cloud of suspicion because of his drinking habits.
And he was a violent man -- As an enforcer for the fur trade he was somewhat excessive -- Bruce Watson says, "it was around 1855 that Fraser's disciplinary excess appear to have led to the death of Michel Fallardeau [one of Anderson's men at Fort Alexandria], although records supporting this are difficult to track.
"On July 28, 1855, while he was reading correspondence in his tent on Manson's Mountain (on the HBC trail between Fort Hope and Campement des Femmes), a tree fell on him killing him.
"He was buried on the trail the next day.
"Because he died soon after Fallardeau, an air of suspicion has hung over the circumstances of his own death but it appears to have been an accident."
I hope so -- I have been told, by a descendant, that John Duncan Manson was seated in the same tent, beside Fraser, when the tree fell.

Well, I am not sure the stories I have told you today are romantic stories....
But enjoy them anyway.


  1. I am a decedent of Sir George Simpson, great great grand daughter to Isabella Yale. Our records show Aurelia to be born in 1838 and died in 1931.

  2. Aurelia was born on March 13, 1839 and not in 1838. Graham Evan MacDonell, Principal Researcher, Fraser Valley Heritage Research Services, Abbotsford, B.C.

  3. Henry Newsham Peers was my g,g,grandfather and Eliza Yale was my g,g,grandmother their youngest daughter Maria was my g,grandmother she married Alexander McNaughton and had three children. Their oldest was my grandmother Jean Maria McNaughton.