George Simpson of Ullapool

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George Simpson,
British Fisheries Society Agent

Sir George Simpson, "the Little Emperor", was Govenor of Rupert's Land for the Hudson's Bay Company in the 19th century, an area larger than most countries. Many biographies mistakedly note him as being from Ullapool. A good biography of Sir George Simpson is at

A great printed biography, by Dale T. Lahey, was published 2011. Some excerpts are at George Simpson: Blaze of Glory That book includes a three generation descent chart from Sir George on page 127.

Less well noted, and mostly in passing mentions of his son George, was George Simpson, Agent for the British Fisherys Society at Ullapool from 1805 to 1830.

The farm of Ullapool in Coigach, Parish of Lochbroom, was sold in 1788 by Lord MacLeod to the British Fishery Society, who founded a "model" village. After the first Local Agent there were a series of not so succesful ones, till in 1805 a young lawyer from Dingwall, George Simpson, was hired. During his 25 years as administrator of Ullapool he had two more illegitimate children born, and a grandson. The following charts a few points in his life and those of his three children. Of course his first child never lived at Ullapool and only had influence there through his father, and is well documented elsewhere, so this chart will only give a few highpoints from his own life. Though I do not like the expresions "senior" and "junior", the two George's having same names is confusing so I use those terms here.

1759 9 October, at Avoch, George Simpson, senior, was born. His father a Minister, his mother a grandaughter of President Duncan Forbes of Culloden, who had led the civic government of Scotland and whose influence prevented many Chiefs from supporting the Jacobites in the 1745 Rebellion.
1776 George Simpson, senior, is living at Dingwall as a lawyer.
1792 George Simpson, senior, has his first child born at Dingwall, George Simpson, junior, illegitimate, the mother has not been identified. George junior was raised at Dingwall by his aunt, Mary Simpson, whose husband was schoolmaster at Dingwall. The author D.T. Lahey suggests George senior may have been married by "cohabitation and repute" to the mother as there is no note in the Kirk Sessions. He also notes an 1851 letter to George junior where the writer remembers spending a fortnight with his father and mother, implying they were living together.
1805 George Simpson, senior, when living at Dingwall was appointed agent at Ullapool for the British Fisheries Society who then owned the village.
1808 George Simpson, junior, was sent to London to apprentice in sugar brokerage under his uncle, Geddes MacKenzie Simpson.
1808-1810 Second child of George Simpson, senior, Isabella Simpson, born illegitamate at Ullapool, to mother Isabella MacGregor.
1812 George Simpson, senior, consulted on suitability of Norman MacLeod for position of teacher at Ullapool, see LINK

Norman MacLeod is much noted as leader of a religious sect, who moved his people several times around the world, and founded Waipu, N.Z.

1815 22 October, first daughter of George Simpson, junior, Maria Louisa, was born at London, her mother was named Maria. On her father leaving for Canada in 1820 she and her sister Isabella (below) were sent to relatives in Scotland, likely at Dingwall. At her marriage she was given a 500 dowry and moved to Canada. She has at least 111 descendents, including C.B.C. radio host, Shelagh Rogers.
1819 George Simpson, junior, had his second child born at London, Isabella, possibly also to mother Maria. Except for three children to his later wife Frances, (those three from 1833 to 1843), the rest of George junior's children were born in Canada. Some histories note Isabella died young, however D.T. Lahey notes she married John Cook Gordon and names two sons. That family is shown to be at Inverness in the 1841 census, where John was a solicitor, and the IGI notes their marriage 30 January, 1837, at Inverness.
1820 4 March. George Simpson, junior, through connections in the sugar business, is appointed Govenor-in-Chief, Locum Tenens by the HBCo and departs this date to Canada. In just over a year D.T. Lahey notes he is Govenor of a quarter of the North American continent.
1823 About this year George Simpson, senior, has second daughter, Mary, born illegitimate at Ullapool (29 years old in 1851 census, 72 years old at 1896 death), her mother is not named in any documents, but she was referred to as "Mary Stewart Simpson", and as her sister had same name as her own mother it is likely the mother of Mary was a Mary Stewart. All the Coigach Stewarts were said to descend from brothers who fled with their families as refugees following the Battle of Culloden, see STEWART
1827 The Lochbroom Parish Register, notes marriage 24 January of Alexander J. Clarke of a place looks to read as "Maney Assynt" (probably "Oldany") to Miss Isabella Simson daughter of George Simson Esqr Ullapool. Registered same day in Assynt, the Assynt Parish Register gives Alexander youngest son Mr Hugh Clarke late Oldany and Isobel Simpson natural daughter George Simpson BF Agent Ullapool 24 Jan 1827.
1827 Colin Fraser was hired by George Simpson, senior, at Ullapool to go to Canada as Piper for his son.
1828 Hugh Clarke born to Isabella Simpson and Alexander Clarke at Ullapool.
1829 George Clarke born to Isabella Simpson and Alexander Clarke at Assynt, likely at Oldney.
1829 George Simpson, junior, returns from Canada to find a wife, in a letter to Roderick Mackenzie of Terrebonne he says he plans to stop at Ullapool a few weeks
1830 George Simpson, senior, was dismissed or resigned as BFS Agent for Ullapool, moved to Killearnan.
24 February, George Simpson, junior, married his 18 year old cousin, Frances Simpson, at London, a daughter of the uncle Wemys MacKenzie Simpson he had apprenticed under. A noted beauty, Fort Frances, Ontario was named to honour her. In the 10 years previous while in Canada George was married four times "a la facon du pays", or "in the fashion of the country" to first nation and Metis women, the last of whom being pregnant when he left to England looking for a European wife. Frances, though frail, bore George five children. In addition to the two illegitimate girls in London, and four children from his country marriages, that means George had eleven children, that are known of.

In 1978 the Canadian Film Board produced a one minute animated vignette about Lady Simpson bringing the first piano to the prairies (strictly speaking her title in 1830 was "Mrs" rather than "Lady", as George was not knighted till 1841). The vignette part of a series to encourage interest in Canadian history,

1832 About this year Alexander Clarke, first husband of Isabella Simpson, died.
1838 13 November, Isabella Simpson remarried at Killearnan to Kenneth MacKenzie, son of Hector MacKenzie and Ann Finlayson.
1840 Anne Finlayson MacKenzie born 1 March, 1840, at Killearnan and christened there 11 April, 1840. Her name clearly honours her paternal grandmother.
1841 January, George Simpson, junior, knighted at London. 3 March, 1842 he begins his circumnavigation of the world, becoming the first person to be documented doing so by land routes.
1841 George Simpson, senior, and his two daughters in census;

6 June, 1841 census: Miltown, Parish of Killearnan, page: 14

George Simpson                            80      Independent
Mary   Do                                    15

next household, same house, pages 14 and 15
Kenneth McKenzie                          30      Schoolmaster
Isabella    Do                               30
                     -- page break --
Anne McKenzie                                 1
Hugh Clarke                               13
George  Do                                12
Cecilia Bain                                 30   Female Sevant
Elisabeth Do                                 15   Female Sevant

All in both Households noted as born in county, except George Clarke. In the 1841 census relationships are not shown, and ages over 15 are rounded down to nearest multiple of 5.

Various sources note the place George Simpson, senior, retired to was "Rivulet Cottage", Miltown, Killearnan, though the 1851 census names the place as "Baylottage".

And not far away at Inverness was a daughter of George Simpson, junior, (and so a niece of Mary and Isabella), another Isabella, enumerated as "Isobel";

6 June, 1841 census: Church Street, Inverness, Enumeration District: 2, page: 21

John Cook Gordon                          38      Solicitor
Isobel      Do                               22
Theodore     Do                          11mo
Isabella Fletcher                            29   Female Servant
Lexy McLennan                                18     Do     Do

All are noted as born in Scotland, not County of Inverness, except Isobel, who is noted as born in England.

1841 George Simpson, senior, dies at Killearnan, a few months after the census.
1844 Hector born to parents Kenneth MacKenzie and Isabella Simpson at Killearnan, probably named to honour his paternal grandfather, Hector MacKenzie.
1846 Alexanderina I. C. born to parents Kenneth MacKenzie and Isabella Simpson at Killearnan.
1847 About this year Hugh Clarke likely died. He appears in the 1841 census but is missing by 1851 when he has a step-sister "Hughina C. MacKenzie", looks clear her name honours him.
1848 Hughina Clarke MacKenzie born to parents Kenneth MacKenzie and Isabella Simpson at Killearnan, though only the middle initial "C" is given in censuses, she had a step brother, "Hugh Clarke" in the 1841 census, missing by 1851, so looks clear he died and she was named to honour him.

30 March, 1851 census: Baylottage, Avoch, Ross and Cromarty

Kenneth Mckenzie      Head         Mar    42      Retired Farmer
Isabella   Do         Wife         Mar       37
Ann        Do         Daur                   11
Hector     Do         Son                  7
Alexina I C Mckenzie  Daur                    5
Hughina C     Do      Daur                    3
Mary S Simson         Sister-in-Law          29

All noted as born in Ross and Cromarty, Kenneth in Urray, Isabella and Mary in Lochbroom, the four children in Killearnan.

1860 7 September, George Simpson, junior, "Sir George Simpson" dies at Canada.

7 April, 1861 census: 28 Rose Street, Inverness

Kenneth Mackenzie     Head         Mar    57      Retired Teacher
Isabella   Do         Wife         Mar       49
Alexanderina J C Do   Daur         Unm       13
Hughina C        Do   Daur                   11
Hector Urquhart                           35      Boarder
Dorothy Campbell                              7     Do
Catherine McLamon                            19   Servant

All noted as born in Ross and Cromarty, Kenneth in Urray, Isabella in Lochbroom, Alexanderina in Killearnan, Hughina in Knockbain, the transcription I have does not have place of birth for the two boarders or servant.

1870 20 May, birth of Robert Bonthron at in the Newington District of Edinburgh to parents John Bonthron and Annie Finlayson Mc Kenzie (have not found their marriage)

2 April, 1871 census: 28 Rose Street, Inverness

Kenneth Mackenzie     Head         Mar    60      Accountant
Isabella   Do         Wife         Mar       57
Alexandrina J C  Do   Daur         Unm       19
Jessie Robertson      Serv         Unm       18   Servant

Kenneth born "Arcan, RossShire", Isabella born Coigach, RossShire, Alexandrina born Redcastle, and Jessie Robertson born InvernessShire.

1872 23 December, birth of Kenneth MacKenzie Bonthron at in the Newington District of Edinburgh to John Bonthron and Annie Finlayson MacKenzie.
1873 7 May, Isabella Simpson, first daughter of George Simpson, senior, died at Inverness, husband Kenneth Informant of the registration.
1874 Birth of Johanna Bonthron in the Newington District of Edinburgh to John Bonthron and Annie Finlayson MacKenzie. Johanna and her mother Ann are named in will of her GrandAunt, Mary Stewart Simpson, Johanna was Informant of that death registration.
1875 26 November, Kenneth MacKenzie died at "36" Rose Street, Inverness, aged 66, Accountants Clerk, Widower of Isobel Simpson, parents noted as were Hector MacKenzie, Innkeeper, and Ann, maiden surname Finlayson, Informant his daughter Hughina C. MacKenzie.
1881 Census at Cumbrae, Bute has 41 year old Annie F. Bonthron, marital status not shown in the transcription I have to show whether married or widowed. With her is 6 year old daughter "J", 35 year old "A T C McKenzie" (Alexandrina from earlier censuses), and a 14 year old servant girl from Ireland.
1883-1887 Post Office Directory for Parish of Cumbrae (Millport) includes in list of Householders;
Bonthron, Mrs Annie Finlay
1891 Census index shows a 51 year old Ann F Bonthron at Cumbrae, Bute, same page as a Johanna Bonthron, age 16. Ages correspond to Ann Finlayson MacKenzie above in 1841 census and Johanna Bonthron born 1874 in the Newington District of Edinburgh.
1892 Civil Registration death index shows an Ann Finlayson Bonthron, other surname MacKenzie, died 1892 aged 51 at Cumbrae, Bute.
1896 31 August, death registered as at Braid Road, Edinburgh, of Mary Stewart Clark Simpson, Fund Holder, single, aged 72 years, father was George Simpson, General Merchant, deceased, no mother listed, Informant was her GrandNiece, Johanna Bonthron. Her will notes "sometime residing at Woodneuk, Millport, latterly at 12 Braid Road, Edinburgh, died 31 August, 1896 at Edinburgh, testate". The will leaves all to her neice, Ann F. Bonthron and Ann's daughter Johanna.
1901 11 December, Fasti Ecclesiae notes Johanna Bonthron married as second wife to the Minister William Carrick Miller, her father noted as John, the listing also names their two sons.

This file, and others dealing with history and genealogy of Coigach, links from my homepage at:

Any suggestions for additions or edits please feel free to email me,

Donald MacDonald-Ross, at:

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