Blinkhorn, Thomas
b. 1806-05-03
d. 1856-10-13
Thomas Blinkhorn was born on 3 May 1806 in Sawtry, England. Blinkhorn is notable for being one of the earliest settlers on Vancouver Island, independent of the Hudson's Bay Company.1
Blinkhorn arrived in Victoria, May 1851, after a farming career in Australia from 1837 to 1849.2 Blinkhorn travelled to Victoria from England with his friend, and previous HBC employee, James Cooper. Once in Victoria, Blinkhorn became the manager of Cooper's farmland in Metchosin, as Cooper often travelled.3 Under his management, 60 acres of farmland was cultivated, and the beginnings of a dairy farm established. James Douglas worried that the development would challenge the monopoly that the HBC held on the island. In response, thirteen independent settlers petitioned against Douglas becoming the next governor.4 The petitioners were concerned about Douglas's position as Chief Factor of the HBC in Victoria, and how this would affect his political decisions.5
Nonetheless, Douglas made Blinkhorn a Magistrate of the Peace in 1853, as he believed Blinkhorn to be qualified in point of character or education to fill the office.6 However, Douglas later complained that the magistrates were incompetent, and decided to establish a Supreme Court of Civil Justice on Vancouver Island under his brother-in-law, David Cameron. Blinkhorn joined another petition sent to Queen Victoria, complaining about Douglas's nepotism, but ultimately failed.7
Blinkhorn often travelled between Metchosin and Victoria by foot and canoe, as no roads had been built. On one such trip, he caught a cold when he fell into icy waters.8 Blinkhorn died on 13 October 1856 and was buried in Christ Church, Victoria.9
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