Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Edward Ellice


Ellice, Edward (1781-1863), merchant, was born in 1781, the third son of Alexander Ellice. He was educated at Marischall College, Aberdeen (B.A., 1797; M.A., 1800); and he became a partner in the firm of Phyn, Ellices and Inglis, which had become interested in the XY Company in Canada. He was sent to Canada about 1803, and in 1804 became a party to the union of the XY and North West Companies. He became a partner in the North West Company, and during the struggle with Lord Selkirk he played a not unimportant part. He was the anonymous author of The communications of Mercator (Montreal, 1817), in which the claims of the North West Company were upheld. In 1820-1, he was, with William and Simon McGillivray, active in bringing about the union of the North West and the Hudson's Bay Companies; and it was actually with him and the McGillivrays that the union was negotiated. On the death of William McGillivray and the failure of the firm of McTavish, McGillivrays, and Co., in 1825, he became the only member of the trio who stood between the Hudson's Bay Company and the claims of the discontented members of the North West Company; and he became involved in a series of litigations which lasted for a quarter of a century. He was made a member of the Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company, however, and a fund, known as the North West Partners' Trust Fund, was set aside to satisfy the claims of those who had just claims on the North West Company. It has frequently been said that he became a deputy-governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, but this is a mistake. It was his son Edward who occupied this position; and it was the son who became in 1857 a member of the committee of the British House of Commons appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company. But the father came to play a conspicuous part in English politics. From 1818 to 1826, and from 1830 to 1863, he represented Coventry in the House of Commons; and from 1830 to 1832 he was secretary to the treasury in Earl Grey's government, and from 1832 to 1834 secretary of war. He died at Ardochy, on his estate in Glengarry, Scotland, on September 17, 1863. He was known as "Bear" Ellice, probably from his connection with the Canadian fur-trade. In 1809 he married Lady Hannah Altheah Bettesworth (d. 1832), widow of Captain Bettesworth, R.N., and youngest sister of the second Earl Grey, and by her he had one son, Edward. In 1843, he married, secondly, Lady Leicester, widow of the first Earl of Leicester; and she died in 1844.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 287-288.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College