Mary Adams


Mary Adams was the “first known” child to have left Hudson Bay by sea for England.[1] In 1737, as “an infant about three years and five months old born in Albany Fort,” Mary Adams was taken to London aboard the Seahorse by her father, Joseph Adams, a servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company whose contract had expired. Her mother, an Aboriginal woman, did not accompany them, but according to historian Jennifer S.H. Brown, “was evidently still living in the vicinity of Moose or Albany Fort in James Bay in 1744.”[2] Mary and her father arrived at their destination on 29 September, but he died “not long after.” His will, however, indicates he had taken time to arrange for Mary’s ongoing care. The document, dated 31 October 1737, was proved on 12 January 1738. It named an aunt for Mary, who was of the same name (Mary Adams) and married to Andrew Gower, a sawyer, of Ratcliff — which was where Joseph Adams had likewise indicated he was “of.” The will also named HBC Captain George Spurrell and wife, Judith, along with Captain Christopher Middleton and wife, Eleanor — the two captains to act as executors of Joseph’s estate and as overseers of a trust held for Mary.

It is not known whether Mary ever returned to North America.

See also: Joseph Adams/Adems/Adames.

[1] Sylvia Van Kirk, “Many Tender Ties”: Women in Fur-Trade Society in Western Canada, 1670-1870(Winnipeg: Watson and Dwyer Publishing, 1980), 267 n. 13, cites HBCA, A.11/115, fo. 144d.

[2] Jennifer S.H. Brown, Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Families in Indian Country(Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1980), 53, cites Sylvia Van Kirk, ‘1974a‘, p. 4.


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