Judge John Black, Delegate to Ottawa

Links to Biographies:

Preliminary Biographical Notes:

Born 11 March 1817, at St. Andrews, County Fife, Scotland, John Black arrived at Red River Settlement in 1839 where he soon entered Hudson’s Bay Company service as a clerk. In 1845 he married Margaret Christie (Métis), the daughter of Alexander Christie, a governor of Assiniboia, (of Scotland), and Anne Thomas (Métis).[1] Having achieved the rank of Chief Trader, Black visited the British Isles with his wife while on furlough in 1852. Margaret died in England the following year. Black subsequently resigned from the HBC, sailed to Scotland, and from thence to New South Wales.

Not long after his arrival in New South Wales in 1855, Black became politically active in Sydney, championing such policies as land system and immigration reforms; securing tenure for ‘squatters’; advancing representative government; and railroad expansion. He was elected and served as Secretary for Lands from 27 October 1859 to 8 March 1860.[2]

In 1862 Black returned to Red River, where he was commonly known as Judge Black, although he actually served as president/recorder (akin to a judge) of the General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia. He was also appointed a member of the governing Council of Assiniboia. On 23 October 1869 Black presided over the interview during which John Bruce and Louis Riel explained, to members of the Council, why prospective Lieutenant-Governor William McDougall had been prevented from crossing into Rupert’s Land from Pembina. On 19 January 1870 Black served as secretary to the outdoor meeting at which Donald A. Smith, Commissioner from Canada, addressed the people of the settlement. Black then served as chair at the Convention of Forty, concurrent with representing the parish of St. Andrew’s.[3] At the close of the Convention, Black was elected as a delegate ‘of’ the Assembly (elected by the Assembly) to negotiate terms of confederation with Canada.[4]

In Ottawa, Black attended “no less than fifteen meetings,” from 21 April to 18 May, and considered the Manitoba Act to be a direct reflection of his, and his co-delegate’s efforts.[5] On completion of the negotiations Black returned to Scotland. He died at St. Andrews, in that country, on 3 February 1879.[6]

Date of Birth: 1817

Place of Birth: St. Andrews, County Fife, Scotland.

Father: John Black

Marriage: 1845 to Margaret Christie (daughter of HBC Gov. Alexander Christie)

Member of the Provisional Government of Assiniboia:

  • Delegate to Ottawa.

Other Political Positions:

  • Member of the HBC’s Council of Assiniboia and president of the Petty Court (1851-1854)
  • Secretary for lands, New South Wales (27 October 1859 to 8 March 1860).
  • Recorder of Rupert’s Land (from 1862)
  • Convention of Forty member for St. Andrew’s

Date of Death: 1879, St. Andrews, Scotland.


[1] Isaac Cowie, The Company of Adventurers: A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company during 1867–1874 (Toronto: William Briggs, 1913), 75, 489; “The Christie Family and H.B.C.: Builder of Two Fort Garrys and His Seven Descendants Gave Total of 238 Years’ Service to the Company,” The Beaver 3, no. 11 (1923): 417-419; Hartwell Bowsfield, “Christie, Alexander,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography online [DCB], http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=39019; Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, “Christie, Alexander “C” (d. 1884) (fl. 1867–1883)”, “Christie, Alexander Junior (b. 1818 ) (fl. 1834–1873),” and “Christie, Alexander (1783–1872)(fl.1809–1853),” Biographical Sheets, note that Ann Thomas was a daughter of either Joseph Thomas or Thomas Thomas; but see also “Thomas, John Sr. (1751–1822) (fl. 1769–1814), Biographical Sheet.

[2] Margaret Caldwell, ‘Black, John (1817 – 1879),’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 3 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969), 168-169.

[3] Alexander Begg, Creation of Manitoba, 64, 248.

[4] A.-A. Taché, response to Hay,The Amnesty Again, or Charges Refuted by His Grace Archbishop Taché of St. Boniface, Manitoba (Translated from the French; Winnipeg: printed by The Standard, 1875), 6.

[5] Ibid.

[6] See HBCA, “Black, John,” Biographical Sheet.

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Family Ties:

1. CHRISTIE, Alexander (Sr). Born 1792, Scotland; twice appointed the HBC Governor of Assiniboia; died 9 December 1872 at Edinburgh, Scotland.

— sp. THOMAS, Ann. Usually described as the daughter of  Thomas THOMAS [although according to some accounts, Thomas Thomas’ daughter Ann married George BIRD (see entry for Dr. Curtis James Bird, and Ann Thomas listed under Family Ties)], but either Ann might have been the daughter of Joseph/John THOMAS Sr.; married 10 February 1835.

2. CHRISTIE, Alexander (Jr). Born 1818; HBC chief trader “a man of gigantic physique” [Cowie, Company of Adventurers, 164].

— sp. ISBISTER, Caroline. Daughter of Thomas ISBISTER and Mary KENNEDY; married 4 August 1849 at Norway House [HBCA B.154/a/50]; died 1867.

3. CHRISTIE, Alexander, “(C).” Died 1884.

— sp. FLEMING, Eliza.

3. CHRISTIE, Duncan.

2. CHRISTIE, William Joseph. Born 19 January 1824, Albany; educated at Aberdeen; Chief Factor HBC; died 22 Octoctober 1899, Seeleys Bay ON.

— sp. SINCLAIR, Mary. Born 1833 to William SINCLAIR II [click link to see his family history and descendants]; married 1849 at York Factory –or– married 25 August 1859 [HBCA B.239/a/172]; probably died at Seeley’s Bay, ON.

3. CHRISTIE, Anne Margaret.

— sp. GROAT, Malcolm Alexander. HBC career.

3. CHRISTIE, Lydia Catherine.

— sp. MCTAVISH, Donald C. [Chief Factor, Norway House]. Son of Maria MacTAVISH CAMPBELL (remarried after the death of her first husband), who was the daughter of HBC Governor Sir George SIMPSON.

3. CHRISTIE, William Joseph Jr., [Dr.]. Born 1859; in 1886 residing at Brockville ON; entered HBC service in 1886 as doctor and clerk for 3 yr. contract, that was signed by his father [HBCA a.32/23 fo. 374]; lived at Seeley’s Bay [see, HBCA, biog. sheet. Filename: Christie, Dr. Wiliam Joseph, Junior (fl. 1886) CO 2002 August]; died 1899.

3. CHRISTIE, John George McTavish. Born 27 June 1857, Fort Edmonton; HBC service 1874-1920; died 25 May 1930; [click link on his name to see HBCA bio sheet for additional sources eg. articles, diary, photos].

— sp. LEWIS, Lily Kathleen. of Brockville, ON; married c.1918 [HBCA E.76/1].

3. CHRISTIE, James Grant. Born 12 September 1863; died 20 January 1919.

— sp. ? Isabella.

3. CHRISTIE, Charles Thomas. Born 4 December 1865; died 25 February 1944.

— sp. MCSWAIN, Nellie.

— sp. CAPOZO, Augustine.

3. CHRISTIE, Mary Anne. Born 1859; died 1865

2. CHRISTIE, Margaret/Henrietta. Married 1845; educated in Britain; died in England, 1853.

— sp. BLACK, John. Born 11 March 1817, at St. Andrews, County Fife, Scotland; HBC career; died 3 February 1879, St. Andrews, Scotland.

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[Credit: The original research on which this page is based was commissioned for the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia Project, by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Manitoba. The current page is presented gratis — I have no funding from any agency.]

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