Rooney, Captain Matthew
Letters from 1853 to 1858 place American Captain Rooney in the Queen Charlotte Islands. He was granted a lease in 1853 to look for gold, silver, and other metallic minerals in the Queen Charlotte Islands.1
A year before, Rooney hired Eda'nsa, a Haida chief, as a pilot for his ship Susan Sturges. Eda'nsa was baptized in 1884 by an Anglican Priest as Andrew Edward Edenshaw. He was an ideal pilot because he knew the local waters. In 1852, Rooney was warned by the Hudson's Bay Company officers to stay away from the Queen Charlotte Islands due to the bold and daring character of the natives.2
Rooney continued illicit trading with the First Nations on Queen Charlotte Islands, even after being advised to leave the coast by Kuper. On September 26, 1852, soon after Edenshaw was hired, while sailing with a small crew, Rooney's ship was seized, overpowered, and destroyed by the Masset First Nations.3
Douglas, in response to Rooney's behaviour wrote that Rooney displayed a lamentable want of judgment, and a total disregard of those precautions which reason and humanity should have taught him were necessary for the safety of the lives and property under his care.4
After his work on the coast of British Columbia, Rooney was sent to China and comissioned to protect harbours against pirates.5 In 1863, his ship, Caldera, was destroyed by Chinese pirates. A week after the attack, Rooney escaped; he reported the event to the French Vice-Consulat.6
  • 1. De la Becke to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary), 28 April 1853, 4655, CO 305/4, 281.
  • 2. Douglas to Newcastle, 8 June 1853, No. 2, Executive [Queen Charlotte Islands], 8062, CO 305/4, 45
  • 3. Tim Murray, The Archaeology of Contact in Settler Societies (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 58.
  • 4. Douglas to Newcastle, 8 June 1853, No. 2, Executive [Queen Charlotte Islands], 8062, CO 305/4, 45
  • 5. Douglas R. G. Sellick, Pirate Outrages: True Stories of Terror on the China Seas (Freemantle Press, 2010), 132-133.
  • 6. Angela Mia, Piracy of Intellectual Property in China. Journal of International Law and Practice (1995), 335; Relations, United States. Congress. Senate. Commitee on Foreign. Compilation of Reports of Committee. Vol 1. 1901. Reprint. (London: Forgotten Books, 2013), 468-469; United States Congress House, House Documents, Otherwise Published as Executive Documents: 13th congress, 2d session-49th congress, 1st session (1869), 195.
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Douglas, James

Edenshaw, Chief

Kuper, Augustus L.

Vessels in this document


Susan Sturges

Places in this document

Haida Gwaii