Chesson, Frederick William
b. 1833-11-22
d. 1888-04-29
In 1858, Frederick William Chesson wrote this letter to Lytton on behalf of the Aborigines' Protection Society (APS), to address a collision between the Settlers and the Natives in the Fraser and Thompson River regions. He warned that without intervention by the colonial authorities, the conflict will soon ripen into a deadly war of races. He also suggested that Native title should be recognized in British Columbia, and that some reasonable adjustments of their claims should be made by the British Government. Chesson described First Peoples in the colony of BC's as acute and intelligent and keenly sensitive in regard to their own rights as the aborigines of the Country.
Chesson was born in Rochester, England, on November 22, 1833.1 He was an indigenous-rights activist and slavery abolitionist.2 Chesson's humanitarianism crystallized during his 1850 travels in the United States. He witnessed the capture and return of a fugitive slave, and wrote that the experience gave him a love of freedom. It was very natural that he should interest himself in the welfare of the four millions of slaves in the Southern States.3 Chesson organized and worked for a wide range of humanitarian organizations, from the Emancipation Society, which lobbied against British recognition of the Confederate States, to the APS.4 He was also a campaigner and supporter of the Liberal party. In 1855, Chesson became the assistant secretary of the APS and then its secretary in 1866.5 Because the position did not pay much, Chesson also worked as a journalist for the Morning Star and the South Australian Register.6
Chesson died unexpectedly from inflammation of the lungs in London on April 29, 1888. His death was mourned by many and eulogies were printed in multiple papers and magazines including the APS publication Aborigines' Friend. W. E. Gladstone said, Mr. Chesson will long be remembered in connection with the lifelong pursuit of the most honourable, philanthropic, and Christian object.7
  • 1. H. C. Swaisland, Chesson, Frederick William, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Henry Richard Fox Bourne, Frederick William Chesson, Aborigines' Friend, IX (1889): 515.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Swaisland, Chesson, Frederick William.
  • 7. Bourne, Frederick William Chesson.
Mentions of this person in the documents