McNeill, Captain William Henry
b. 1801-07-07
d. 1875-09-04
McNeill was born in 1801 Boston, Massachusetts. By the year 1823 he was a competent sailor and captain on the west coast. Between 1823 and 1830, McNeill traded with South America, West Africa, and Hawaii but returned to the Pacific to work on the coast once again. He married twice: first to Matilda, a Kaiganee Haida who died in 1850 after giving birth to twins, and then Martha, a Kinnahwahlux Nass in 1866. He had 12 children in total.1
In 1834, McNeill was approved as Captain of the Lama (owned by Captain Thomas Sinclair) and rescued Japanese sailors stranded and held captive by First Nations.2 He was then convinced to trade for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He applied to become a British subject but did not become one until 1853.3
In 1838, McNeill’s crew committed mutiny against him which should have tarnished his reputation. Instead, he was promoted to chief trader in 1839.4
In 1849, McNeill established Fort Rupert. McNeill investigated gold mines in the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1851 and hoped to establish a trading post. He later withdrew from there due to tense relations with the First Nations. McNeill returned to trading furs, expressing frustrations with the American sailors who traded spirits with the First Nations.5
In 1851, McNeill became the officer in charge at Fort Simpson. By 1856, McNeill was appointed as Chief Factor due to his excellent trading and strong relations with the First Nations. Blanshard writes that McNeill was better acquainted with the Indian population than any other person.6
In 1855, McNeill purchased over 20 acres of land in Fort Victoria.7 He then returned to Fort Simpson in 1861 before retiring to Victoria in 1863. He died at Gonzales Point, Victoria, in 1875.8
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Blanshard, Richard

Vessels in this document

Lama

Places in this document

Fort Rupert, or T'sakis

Gonzales Point

Haida Gwaii

Lax Kw'alaams

Victoria

The Colonial Despatches Team. McNeill, Captain William Henry. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/mcneill_wh.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)