Phoebe Sinclair

Sibling of Captain Colin R. Sinclair, see the latter’s Family Network page: http://bit.ly/S6bc1

  • 1. SINCLAIR, Phoebe. Born c. 1791/1798; married by church rite 9 September 1820; died 1848. Roy St. George-Stubbs implies Phoebe was born c.1804, bore 5 children, and that she was 16 years old when she married while her husband was 43. It seems to me that the birth date of 1804 is unlikely. My argument in favour of an earlier date — though not necessarily as early as 1791 [the date suggested by Donna Sutherland] — is as follows:

Phoebe’s father, William Sinclair [I] was in Scotland by August 1790, arriving back in Rupert’s land in August 1792. Although he travelled inland in 1792, I suspect he married Nahoway c.1796-98 on the basis of a statement in a biography written for the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives that notes that William [I] travelled to York Factory on August 1, 1797, then moved on to Split Lake House. He did not remain there, but his whereabouts were not noted until he arrived back at York Factory via the Nelson River Settlements on 21 June, 1798. The list of servants in Hudson Bay at this time described William as “a good Trader, a Steady Man, and belov’d by the Natives.” To my way of thinking, the status “belov’d,” and the suggestion that he had spent time at the Nelson River hunters’ camps signals that he had married into a local family.

According to a handwritten notation on the folder containing a copy of the will of William Sinclair [I] that was obtained from Sheriff Colin Inkster c.1912, “Phoebe married Dr. Bunn, Liveryman, City of London at 14 years of age, husband over 80 [sic. likely meant to read 30].” The couple were married by church rite in 1820, but likely married according to the custom of the country at an earlier date.

A daughter of the couple is said to have died 8 March 1816, although William Sinclair [I]’s will does not mention the marriage of Phoebe to Bunn as of 1818, and, as the daughter who died is identified as the Bunn’s ‘youngest’, the girl seems likely to have been one of Phoebe’s stepchildren — a daughter of Thomas Bunn’s first wife, Sarah McNABB (a daughter of John McNABB who was born 1755 in Aberdour village, Fife, and, according to some accounts, Jane ‘Jennie’ COOK who was in turn, apparently, the daughter of William Hemmings COOK and Kahnawpawamakan — but this might be a confusion of two generations of John McNabbs, see http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/biographical/c/cook_william_hemmings.pdf).


According to William Sinclair [I]’s will, his eldest son, William Sinclair [II], was not yet 21 in 1818 which places the latter’s birth sometime around 1798 [although there is other evidence that suggests he might have been born earlier, perhaps 1794], I doubt that much of a gap would have existed between his birth date and Phoebe’s. By 25 February 1819 she was “Mrs. Bunn.” I suspect, therefore, that she was born between 1796 and 1800, was about 33 years younger than her husband, and may have married at age 14-16, as early as 1812-1816, but perhaps did not marry until 1818, in which case she would not appear to have had any children of her own.

One problem with my conjecture is that the HBCA biographical sheet for Thomas Bunn indicates Sarah McNabb died in 1806 — though no source is given for this date [If the source was D. Geneva Lent then the date cannot be taken as accurate — unfortunately her text, West of the Mountains, is riddled with inventions]. My suspicion is that a misprint of the date of death has been perpetuated — that the numbers should read 1816. Sarah McNABB was clearly the mother of Mary ‘Nancy’ Bunn (born 15 April 1898; registered at school 9 September 1809, by George Geddes at York; married 27 January 1815 William McKAY, son of John R. McKAY; died 27 May 1873 St. Andrews Red River Settlement), and Dr. John BUNN, an eminently interesting fellow, but I am left uncertain about who was the mother of a number of Thomas Bunn’s offspring listed below. If Phoebe was their mother she must have been born c. 1792, in which case I am surprised her father, William Sinclair, did not refer to her as married, nor mention grandchildren.

— spouse: BUNN, Thomas. Born 1765, son of Benjamin BUNN (born 1730; died 1804), and Elizabeth STREEKE/HIGGS (born 1715; died), 1769; baptized 14 September/October 1765, at St. Botolph in Aldgate, London, England; married 22 December 1789 to Jane ROPER (born 1769, daughter of William ROPER; died 1795, London); Thomas Bunn sailed to Hudson Bay 1797 aboard the Prince of Wales; married [“between 1795 and 1799”?] Sarah Mary MCNAB, and they had at least one daughter Mary Nancy BUNN (born 1798; died 1873) and one son John BUNN (born 1800; died 1861); Thomas married by Rev. John West 1820 to Phoebe SINCLAIR ; died 25 January 1853; buried St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery, Red River. His grave marker reads:

Here lie the remains of Thomas Bunn Liveryman of the city of London Who died 15th Jan. 1853 In his 88th year and of Phoebe his wife who died 29th June 1848. This stone is the faint but only memorial which can be offered by their grateful children. Their marriage on Sept. 8th 1820 at Rock Depot near York Factory, was the first conducted in western Canada by Anglican clergyman, Rev. John West M.A.

2. BUNN, Sarah (stepdaughter or daughter?). Born 9 November 1808; baptized 9 September 1820; died 4 May 1876, Scotch Grove, Iowa.

— sp. SUTHERLAND, Ebenezer. Born January 1804; baptized 3 January 1804 Kildonan, Sutherlandshire, Scotland; died 1 May 1881, Monticello, Iowa.

3. SUTHERLAND, ELeanor. Born 1831.

3. SUTHERLAND, Isabella. Born 1833.

— sp. SUTHERLAND, George. Born 1822.

3. SUTHERLAND, Charlotte. Born 1835.

3. SUTHERLAND, Catherine. Born 1836.

3. SUTHERLAND, Whilemina. Born 1838.

3. SUTHERLAND, D.W. Born 1845, Maquoketa Iowa; saw service in the American Civil War.

— sp. Anna.

4. SUTHERLAND, Lial.

4. SUTHERLAND, Robert Earl.

4. SUTHERLAND, Ralph Gordon. Died in 1964.

— sp. BISHOP, Allie.

4. SUTHERLAND, Ernest Dee. Died in 1966.

— sp. LEE, Bertha. “a school teacher.”

2. BUNN, Frances (stepdaughter or daughter?). Born 1810; baptized 9 September 1820; died 1895. [Link to scrip application at LAC online leads to the wrong document. I haven’t confirmed it, but according to Rod’s comment posted on December 26, 2010, the text reads:

“July 4, 1875 Made scrip affidavit at St. Clements: I, Frances Harriott, St. Clement, Lisgar, widow of John Edward Harriott, say: I am a Half breed head of a family resident in St. Clement, but resided with my nephew Thomas Bunn. I was born 1810, York Factory. Thomas Bunn (English) was my father; Phoebe Sinclair, halfbreed, was my mother. FRANCES HARRIOTT; 4 July 1875; English; JOHN EDWARD HARRIOT; WILLIAM TAYLOR farmer.”

all of which shoots my theories about Phoebe Sinclair and Sarah McNab and their birth, marriage, and death dates out the window, unless a stepmother and a mother were considered one and the same in 1875.]

— sp. HARRIOT, John Edward [Chief Factor]. Born 1797, London, England “a son of John Peter Pruden’s sister”; married 1st to his cousin Margaret Ann/Elizabeth Pruden (born c. 1800), whose death has been “shrouded in legend.” I.S. McLaren recounts the story in “Guide to People and Places in Kane’s Journal,” American Art Journal 21, no. 2 (1989): 74,

“Harriott married three times. His first wife, Elizabeth, suffered bouts of madness, the last of which struck her in 1832 as she was crossing Athabasca Pass. She wandered from the trail, never to be seen again; likely she is the “Gentalmans wife” referred to by Kane on November 2, 1847. She did not have her newborn baby [whom McLaren posits might have been Margaret Harriott who married John Rowand Jr. see below] with her when she disappeared, and the child managed to survive the trip to Fort Edmonton.”

John Edward Harriott married 2d Nancy Rowand (daughter of John Rowand and Lisette Louise Umphreville)10 September 1838, District Of Saskatchewan [to add to the genealogical tangle, Nancy Rowand’s brother, John Rowand Jr. married, 6 January 1848, Margaret Harriott, a daughter of John Edward Harriott and Margaret Ann Pruden]; 1853 John Edward Harriott married 3d Frances Bunn with “unseemly haste”; died 7 February 1866, Montreal, Quebec. “his consumption of alcohol disrupted his life.”

3. HARRIOT, Margaret. [stepdaughter] Born 1831.

Scrip affidavit for Donaldson, Margaret; born: 5 June 1831; father: John E. Harriot; mother: Elizabeth Pruden; claim no.: 2865; scrip no.: 12296; date of issue: Sept. 5, 1878 =

— sp. DONALDSON, H.T. Born 1831, Lower Canada.

3. HARRIOT, John Edward Jr. Born 1842; died 1924.

— sp. THOMAS, Harriet Maria. Born 1845/1846 Red River; died 1871.

4. HARRIOT, Victoria Ellen. Born 1868.

— sp. ROSS, John.

— sp. TAYLOR, Jane. Born 1852; died 1943.

4. HARRIOT, Jane Elizabeth. Born 1872; died 1923.

— sp. MASSEY, James Allan. Born 1858; died 1938.

4. HARRIOT, Christine Flora Isabella. Born 1874.

4. HARRIOT, John Edward. Born 1875; died 1951.

— sp. McKENZIE, Helen Annie Margaret. Born 1874; died 1905.

— sp. TAYLOR, Alice. Born 1893; died 1974.

4. HARRIOT, Harriet Louisa. Born 1878; died 1952.

— sp. SINCLAIR, Cuthbert Allan. Born 1884; died 1958.

4. HARRIOT, Frances Mary. Born 1880; died 1894.

4. HARRIOT, Edith Amelia Rachel. Born 1881; died 1959.

— sp. BANNISTER, Frank Arthur. Born 1888.

4. HARRIOT, Adelaide Margaret. Born 1883.

— sp. McDONALD, William. Born 1865.

— sp. McDOUGALL, William.

?4. HARRIOT, Alexander Arthur.

— sp. McDOUGALL, Grace.

4. HARRIOT, Grace Irene. Born 1886.

— sp. TICKELL, Gordon.

4. HARRIOT, Anne.

— sp. TRUTHWAITE, Alfred. Born 1883.

4. HARRIOT, Lillian. Born 1889; died 1975.

— sp. McDOUGALL, John Andrew ‘Jack’. Born 1876; died 1965.

4. HARRIOT, Thomas Samuel. Born 1893.

4. HARRIOT, Alice Jemima Emily. Born 1897; died 1978.

4. HARRIOT, Mary.

2. BUNN, Eleanor (stepdaughter or daughter?). Born 1811/1812; baptized 9 September 1820; died 1870.

— sp. THOMAS, William. Born 1806; died 1874.

3. THOMAS, Mary. Born 1831.

3. THOMAS, William. Born 1831.

— sp. DAHL, Isabella Harriet. Born 1845; died 1868.

4. THOMAS, Edward John. Born 1863.

4. THOMAS, George Edwin. Born 1863.

4. THOMAS, William D. Born 1865.

4. THOMAS, Alexander Charles. Born 1868; died 1868.

— sp. ROSE, Charlotte.

4. THOMAS, Eleanor Ann. Born 1873.

4. THOMAS, Sarah Elizabeth. Born 1874.

— sp. BRAID, Joseph Edwin.

4. THOMAS, James Thomas. Born 1876; died 1877.

4. THOMAS. Born 1877.

— sp. HANNA, J.T.

3. THOMAS, Phoebe. Born 1833.

— sp. TAYLOR, James. Born 1828; died 1898.

4. TAYLOR, Mary Elizabeth. Born 1860.

4. TAYLOR, Sarah Ann. Born 1861.

4. TAYLOR, Eleanor. Born 1863.

4. TAYLOR, Harriet. Born 1864.

4. TAYLOR, Flora. Born 1866.

4. TAYLOR, Edward Thomas. Born 1868.

— sp. BONE, Ida.

4. TAYLOR, Margaret. Born 1870.

4. TAYLOR, William.

4. TAYLOR, Walter James. Born 1873.

4. TAYLOR, Alfred. Born 1875.

3. THOMAS, Richard. Born 7 May 1834.

Scrip affidavit for Thomas, Richard; born: May 7, 1834; father: Richard Thomas (Métis); mother: Eleanor Thomas (Métis); claim no: 368; scrip no: 2778 to 2785; date of issue: May 22, 1876; amount: $160 =

3. THOMAS, John. Born 1875.

— sp. BALLENDINE, Sarah.

4. THOMAS, Dolphus. Born 1862.

4. THOMAS, Catherine.

3. THOMAS, Catherine. Born 1838; died 1841.

3. THOMAS, Charles Richard. Born 1839.

— sp. VINCENT, Charlotte.

4. THOMAS, Eleanor Harriet. Born 1871.

4. THOMAS. John Edward. Born 1873.

4. THOMAS, Charlotte Anne. Born 1876.

4. THOMAS, Caroline Ada. Born 1872; died 1881.

3. THOMAS, Sarah Elizabeth. Born 1839; died 1925.

— sp. EASTMAN, James M.

3. THOMAS, Henry James. Born 1842; died 1842.

3. THOMAS, Frances Jane. Born 1843/1844; married 3 August 1865 St. John’s, Red River Settlement.

— sp. CAMPBELL, Richard Duncan. Born 1822 or 1838.

4. CAMPBELL, William Alfred. Born 1871; died 1961.

— sp. Annie.

4. CAMPBELL, McGillvray. Born 1868.

4. CAMPBELL, Alexander. Born 1870.

4. CAMPBELL, Eleanor. Born 1872.

— sp. LINKLATER, William.

4. CAMPBELL, Edith Mary. Born 1874.

4. CAMPBELL, Jessie. Born 1876.

4. CAMPBELL, Maude. Born 1878.

4. CAMPBELL, Colin Charles. Born 1879; died 1946.

— sp. HERALD, Aimee Florence. Born 1886; died 1974.

3. THOMAS, Henrietta Maria. Born 1846; died 1871.

— sp. HARRIOT, John Edward Jr. Born 1842; died 1924.

4. HARRIOT, Victoria Ellen. Born 1868.

— sp. ROSS, John.

3. THOMAS, Eleanor Sophie. Born 1847.

3. THOMAS, Alfred. Born 1849.

3. THOMAS, James. Born 1852.

3. THOMAS, Edward James Harriot. Born 1855; died 1916.

— sp. McDONALD, Elizabeth Jane. Born 1858; died 1948.

4. THOMAS.

— sp. LINKLATER, Percy.

4. THOMAS.

— sp. FORSYTH, W.O.

4. THOMAS, Gladys.

4. THOMAS, Stewart S.

4. THOMAS, Sidney M.

2. BUNN, (daughter/ possible stepdaughter?). Born c. November 1814; died 15 March 1816, at 16 months.

2. BUNN, William (son/ possibly stepson?). Born 25 November 1816; bapt. 1817 York Factory; married c. 1840; died 1877.

Scrip affidavit for Bunn, William; born: November 25, 1816; father: Thomas Bunn (English); mother: Phaebe Sinclair (Métis); claim no.: 2215; scrip no.: 11084; date of issue: Oct. 2, 1876; amount: $160. =

— sp. CAMPBELL, Magdelena. Born 1822/1825; died 1908/1911/1912.

Scrip affidavit for Bunn, Magdaline; wife of William Bunn; born: June 23, 1822; father: Colin Campbell (Scot); mother: Elizabeth McGillivray (Métis); claim no.: 2216; scrip no.: 11085; date of issue: Oct. 2, 1876; amount: $160. =

3. BUNN, John Thomas. Born 1844; died1845.

3. BUNN, Phoebe Elizabeth. Born 1845; died 1846.

3. BUNN, Thomas William [Reverend]. Born 1847/1848; died 1920.

3. BUNN, Frances. Born 10 October 1848; died 1918.

— sp. MANNIX, George Charles. Born 1845; died 1934.

3. BUNN, Alfred Charles. Born 1840/1850.

— sp. McLEOD, Isabella. Born 1865.

3. BUNN, Mary Margaret. Born 1851/1852

3. BUNN, Eleanor Catherine ‘Helen’. Born 1854

— sp. HEATH, Charles A. Born 1851.

3. BUNN, Magdelen Anne. Born c. 1855/1857

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