ALEXANDER HENRY*
(The Elder)
1739-1834

From: "A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal"
By Rev, Robert Campbell, M.A., 1887


Alexander Henry, whose name appears at the head of  the list of subscribers [of the St. Gabriel Street Church], was then, and afterwards, a prominent citizen, and a justice of the peace. He was one of the first English traders who, in the prosecution of the trade in peltries, ventured as far as Michillimakinac, the headquarters of the French fur traders. This was before the signing of the Treaty of Paris, and, consequently, he had to encounter the risks involved in penetrating to a region in which French influence was still strong. The Sauteux Indians, occupying the surrounding country, were sworn enemies of the English, and did the bidding of Pontiac, the French General. 

Mr. Henry passed the winter 1762-3 at Sault Ste. Marie, in order to master the language of the Sauteux. He had afterwards many adventures and hairbreadth escapes. He would have perished in the massacre of  Michillimakinac, had it not been for the good offices of  Mme. De Langlade, who gave him shelter and concealment in a granary. On another occasion he owed his life to the kind interposition of an interpreter, Jean Baptiste Cadot. In 1765, he entered into partnership with Cadot, whose wife was of the Sauteux tribe. They carried on a profitable trade, penetrating even to the mouths of the Saskatchewan. 

He returned to Montreal in 1776, and published his“TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES IN CANADA AND THE INDIAN TERRITORIES BETWEEN THE YEARS 1760 AND 1766.”

Being asked to head the subscription list to the Church in 1792, we may suppose that he was esteemed the greatest of the fur magnates at that time. But he must have spent his fortune before his death, as there is evidence that he was comparatively poor in his later years. He occupied the position of King’s auctioneer, in which office he was joined by Norman Bethune and James Bethune, in 1817. For a time he seems to have attended the services of Christ Church, during the later years of Mr. Young’s incumbency of the St. Gabriel Street Church, as his name appears on the record of that congregation in 1799. And in this connection, it is significant that he voted for the retirement of  Mr. Young, in 1800; while his name is absent from the subscription taken for liquidating the debt in that year. He contributed a guinea, however, to the fund for enabling Mr. Young to remove his family. He was a liberal supporter of  Mr. Somerville, subscribing three pounds annually towards his stipend. He afterwards reduced the amount to one guinea, which seems to imply that his means had got smaller.


From: "The Dictionary of  Canadian Biography"
Compiled by W. Stewart Wallace, Librarian of the University of Toronto
Published by The MacMillan Company of Canada Limited, 1926

Henry, Alexander (1739-1824), fur trader, was born in New Jersey in August, 1739. At the time of the British conquest of Canada in 1760, he engaged in the fur-trade in the region of the Great Lakes, and during the years 1760-1776 he was one of the pioneers of the British-Canadian fur trade in the North West. 

In 1781 he settled in Montreal and engaged in business there as a general merchant. He died at Montreal on April 4, 1824. His career as a fur trader is told in his "Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories between the years 1760 and 1776" (published New York, 1809).


From: Kittson Genealogy  
A website and research project by Roxanne Woodruff 

In the late 1770s, Alexander Henry (The Elder) married Julia Calcutt (1756 - April 24, 1834), widow of  John Kittson, and had three children:

1. Julia Henry (b.9/22/1780 Montreal,Que). Never married.

2. William Henry (b.3/4/1784-Montreal, Que, d.1864 Newmarket, Ont). This William was a fur trader, clerk with the North West Company in Red River Dist., and later at a post on the Willamette near Champoeg. Still later he was at Fort Henry in MidWest part of Canada. He became a surveyor and a Civil Engineer as time past. He was married to a sister of  John Felton, a signal midshipman on the Flagship, Victory, at the battle of Trafalgar. They had several children. A son, Charles Henry, died in Barrie, Ont. 

3. Alexander Henry (b. after 1785-Montreal, Que, d. 1812-Fort Nelson, B.C.) This Alexander should not be confused with Alexander The Younger who would have been his cousin. He was a clerk in the North West co. & was murdered by the Indians at Fort Nelson. 

George Kittson, half brother to the above children (son of  Julia Calcutt by her first husband John Kittson), had a daughter named Margaret Kittson who married Norman Bethune,  the son of  Rev. John Bethune, and the brother of  The Very Reverend Dean Bethune of Montreal.  In 1817, Alexander Henry (the Elder) entered into partnership with his step-grand-son-in-law, Norman Bethune, as auctioneers in Montreal.

For more info on the Kittson connection to the Henrys and Bethunes, 
including photos of Alexander Henry and Julia Calcutt see Kittson Genealogy.


*Researching Alexander Henry.....Roxanne Woodruff (Step-great-great-great-great-granddaughter)
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