Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk Thomas
b. 1771-06-20
d. 1820-04-08
Thomas Douglas, upon the successive deaths of his brothers, from 1794 to 1797, became Lord Daer and, following the death of his father in 1799, became the fifth earl of Selkirk.1 Douglas was a forceful promoter of colonial expansion in North America.2
After Douglas established a successful colony of Scottish immigrants on Prince Edward Island in 1803, he returned to England and was elected to the House of Lords in late 1806; however, his appointment to Parliament did not quell his colonial ambitions.3 In 1811, after Douglas and his brother-in-law Colvile, and Mackenzie, began to purchase HBC stock in 1808, Douglas proposed that the company the establish an agricultural settlement in the Red River valley.4 In June 1811 the HBC sold 186,683 square kilometres of land to Thomas Douglas for 10 shillings, and the first settlers arrived to the region in the summer of 1812.5
From the onset, a dearth of food supplies and suitable housing plagued the HBC's Red River Settlement.6 Furthermore, the settlement straddled the rival North West Company's access to their Athabasca territory;—thus, the Nor'Westers considered the settlement a threat to their operations.7 These problems led to ongoing legal and territorial battles, which resulted in the deaths 20 colonists, including Governor Semple.8
The strains of the Red River Settlement affected Douglas financially and took a toll on his health.9 Douglas returned to England in 1818, upon which his health improved; however, the improvement would be short-lived and doctors advised that Douglas travel to a more agreeable climate in southern Europe.10 Health concerns again forced Douglas to halt his journey in Pau, southern France, where he died on April 8, 1820.11
Mentions of this person in the documents