John Peter Pruden

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John Peter Pruden

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Edmonton, Middlesex County, England
Death: May 30, 1869 (91)
Red River Settlement, Manitoba, Canada
Place of Burial: Manitoba
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter Pruden and Margaret Smith
Husband of Patasagawis (Nancy) Ann Henry and Ann Pruden
Father of William Pruden, Sr.; Charlotte Pruden; Peter Pruden; Elizabeth Pruden; Marie Pruden and 6 others
Brother of Private User
Half brother of Christian Fraser

Occupation: Chief factor HBC
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Peter Pruden

Excerpt from George Simpson’s Character Book

“ … A man of good conduct and character and of respectable appearance and manner but weak minded vain & silly without decision in or knowledge of business beyond the simple process of dealing with an Indian across the Counter. Has no command over his people and but little judgement in other respects. Over fond of good living which he makes his principal study, and a fine Beef Steak is sufficient to solace him under the most Severe afflictions. Speaks Cree, and is tolerable ‘Plain Indian’ Trader, but by no means bright; attached to old customs, an Enemy to all innovations, easily lead away or Cajoled, and when reminded of his own merits which is frequently the case by his colleagues ironically, very much offended that he has not been promoted; but in my opinion ought to consider himself fourtunate in having obtained his present situation.” (A.34/2)

Note: The following info I got from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

John Peter Pruden, christened on May 31, 1778 at All Saints Parish Church in Edmonton, Middlesex, England, was an early pioneer of western Canada which at the time was known as Rupert's Land. During his many years of employment as a fur-trader with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), he had extensive interactions with such First Nations as the Cree and Blackfoot. [2] He was known to have spoken Cree fluently, a fact which was confirmed by HBC administrator Sir George Simpson in his famous but "sometimes erratic" 1832 Character Book.

It is unknown exactly how Pruden came to join the Company however, atypical amongst HBC "servants", it may have been through a possible link to Sir James Winter Lake, 3rd Baronet (c. 1745–1807), whose family controlled the Company during most of the eighteenth century, and whose estate at "The Firs" was near Tanner's End, near the junction of the New and Salmon Rivers, in Edmonton. No other boys from Edmonton ever appear to have been taken into the Company's service. Pruden's apprenticeship with the HBC was purchased for him through the good auspices of his (and Sir James Winter Lake's) local parish. Noted family historian Hal Pruden wrote: "The HBC took some of its eventual ships' captains from the Bluecoats charity school (Christ's Hospital) in London. (David Thompson was from the Greycoats school.) As far as I can tell, there were very, very few boys recruited into the HBC as apprentice clerks out of the thousands of work houses (poor houses) that existed across England and [John Peter Pruden] is the only one I have come across recruited from Edmonton. The [one] pound sterling paid by the [Edmonton] parish [for the cost of his apprenticeship] would be about $3,000 US dollars today." [3] Pruden appears to have been an impoverished orphan at the date of his entry as an employee of the Company, for his father, Peter Pruden, died in 1790 and his mother, Margaret Smith Fraser Pruden, passed in 1791 some short months after her husband Peter.

Pruden's employment in the Hudson’s Bay Company began in earnest in September 1791 when he arrived at York Factory by the Company's ship, Seahorse III, as a 13-year-old apprentice. He spent four years at York Factory. Four years later Pruden was an escort to James Curtis Bird who was being transferred to Carlton House, in the Saskatchewan District. He and Bird served in the Saskatchewan District under Inland Master William Tomison.[4] In May 1796 Pruden moved to a post called Fort Edmonton or Edmonton House. In 1798 Pruden became a writer, moving to Buckingham House in 1799 but returning to Edmonton House the next year. Upon arriving at Edmonton House, Pruden found that his old friend Bird had been given charge of the post. It was Bird who sent him to build a house (fur-trading post) half-way between Edmonton House and Rocky Mountain House.

The name Edmonton (now the capital city of Alberta, Canada) was originally suggested by Pruden as it was the home of both the deputy governor of the HBC Sir James Winter Lake and he, himself.[5]

By 1832, John Peter Pruden had served 41 years with the HBC. No Chief Factor serving at that time had more service years and only three of the Chief Traders then serving had accumulated more. One year after receiving his promotion to Chief Factor, Pruden, aged 59, retired to the Red River Colony (or Selkirk Settlement) (now Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). He was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia in 1839. In 1844, he became a member of the Board of Public Works, being the executive committee of the Council of Assiniboia. He served on the quarterly court as part of his office and in 1851, Eden Colvile, the Associate Governor of Rupertsland offered him an appointment as a magistrate. However now at age 73 Pruden declined, citing his increasing age and ill health.

However, afterwards, Pruden went on to live more than a decade longer in his retirement at Red River. He died there on May 28, 1868 after a lengthy illness, at the age of almost 90. He was laid to rest at St. John's Cathedral Churchyard, in the Red River Colony.

A pioneer in every sense of the word, Pruden lived a long, full life and left behind at his death a large family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His Métis (or mixed-blood) descendants frequently intermarried with children of other prominent Métis families. Pruden was also instrumental in furthering the fur trading career of his half-nephew, John Edward Harriott, who also came to be in service to the Hudson's Bay Company and who had a long and illustrious relationship of his own with his HBC employer.

JPP's "country" wife of almost 30 years, "Patasegawisk", also known as "Nancy Pruden", (probably from the old site of Norway House, now called Oxford House), had borne him many children and predeceased him in August, 1838. His second wife, British schoolteacher Ann Armstrong, whom he married at Red River on December 4, 1839, was 49 years old at the time of their marriage and his second marriage was childless. By his will, John Peter Pruden left a number of bequests to family members, including a bequest to his wife Ann of a modest 250 English pounds and a further 30 pounds if she wished to return to England. By September, 1869, Ann did return to England. She died at Ore, near Hastings in Sussex, England in 1887.[6]

JOHN PETER PRUDEN (1778-1868) NANCY ANN (PATASEGAWISK) (1785-1839) ANN ARMSTRONG (1800-1887) (Last Updated: May 25, 2016)

John Peter Pruden was born in 1778 in Edmonton, Middlesex, England to Margaret (nee SMITH) FRASER and Peter PRUDEN (born around 1752).

His story is fairly well documented by Historians. Here are a few links for further reading: Wikipedia Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Hudson’s Bay Company Archives

The purpose of this narrative is to focus on genealogical aspects of his life; his relationships with other Red River families of interest; and most importantly, establish a basis for further narratives and discussions about his descendants.

York Factory 1791-1794

PRUDEN entered the service of the HBC in 1791 when he was just 13 years old. His first posting was at York Factory where he started as an apprentice and later became a Writer. During his stay at York, he worked under Chief Factor Joseph COLEN (1751-1818).

Inland Postings 1795-1800

From 1795 to 1800, PRUDEN continued his apprenticeship at Carlton House, Buckingham House, Bolsover House and Edmonton House, working under George SUTHERLAND (born c1765). During this time he had associations with Peter FIDLER (1769-1822), Henry HALLETT (1773-1844), Charles ISHAM/ ASHAM (1755-1714) and Alexander FLETT.

First Wife, Nancy (PATASEGAWISK) 1801-1804

Between 1801 and 1804 PRUDEN was promoted to an Inland Trader, working out of York Factory. At that time he was working under James Curtis BIRD (1773-1856) who was the Chief of the Edmonton, Saskatchewan District in charge of the Inland posts.

It was during this period that John Peter began a connubial relationship with a young Cree woman named Nancy Ann (PATASEGAWISK). They had their first child, William, in 1804.

Acton House 1805-1809

Still working under BIRD, from 1805 to1807 PRUDEN was the Clerk in Charge at Acton House in the Saskatchewan District. Acton House was an HBC post that was built around 1800 by BIRD, near the NWC post at Rocky Mountain House. Two more children were born there; Peter Jr. in the fall of 1807 and his first daughter, Charlotte in 1808. John Peter spent the winter of 1808-09 in London, England..

Carlton House (Fort Carlton) 1810-1824

rom 1810, right through to 1824, PRUDEN was the Chief Trader at Carlton House. Daughter Elizabeth was born there soon after the family arrived there.

Around 1820, teenage daughter Charlotte conceived a child (John McLEOD Jr.) by John McLEOD (1788-1849). They moved away to Norway House.

After the Union of the HBC and the North West Company 1821

In 1821 the union of the North West Company (NWC) and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) occurred, ending years of bitter rivalry for dominance of the fur trade in Western Canada. George SIMPSON (1786-1860) became the Governor of Rupert’s Land. ** MORE ABOUT GOVERNOR GEORGE SIMPSON

Son James was born in the fall of 1823.

From 1823-26 Nephew John Edward HARRIOTT was back at Carlton House. It was probably during this period that he began a connubial relationship with his cousin, Elizabeth PRUDEN, JPP’s daughter.

In 1824 John Peter sailed to London, England, to spend a year’s furlough. During his absence, John STUART (1780-1847) filled in as Chief trader at Carlton, watching over his children in his absence.

York Factory - Norway House 1825-26

John Peter spent the winter of 1824-25 in London, returning to York Factory in the fall of 1825, probably on the same ship (the King George) as Reverend William COCKRAN (1798-1865). COCKRAN, just recently ordained, was on his way to Red River. While at York, on Sep 27, 1825, he formally married John Peter to his Cree wife Nancy, and baptized two of their children (Twelve year old Maria and two year old James). The rest of his family remained at Fort Carlton with John STUART. He then accompanied Rev COCKRAN to Norway House, where he would spend the winter as Chief Trader.

Back to Carlton House 1826-1837

In 1826 John Peter returned to Carlton House to resume his charge as Chief Trader there.

On Sep 4, 1826, eldest son William married Nancy HENRY; they left Carlton to make their home at Red River (St Andrews Parish). Nancy was the teen-age daughter of Agathe LETENDRE & William HENRY (1784-1864).


In July of 1828 daughter Charlotte was church-wed at Norway House to John McLEOD by Reverend David JONES (1796-1844), a noted HBC Chaplain who was on his way home to England.

On May 7, 1829 son Peter married Suzette JOLICOEUR at St Johns, Red River. She was the daughter of Suzette (Cree) & Louis JOLICOEUR.

John Peter retires to Red River 1837-1868

In 1837 John Peter retired to Red River.

On Aug 16, 1838 wife Nancy died (buried in St Johns),

1839 John Peter was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia.

In December of 1839 John Peter remarried to Ann ARMSTRONG, a Teacher at the Red River Academy.

On Sep 6, 1841, daughter Maria became the 2nd wife of William HALLETT (1811-1873), son of Henry HALLETT (1734-1781) & his 3rd wife, Catherine TENANSE.

On Oct 17, 1841 son Arthur married at Carlton to Charlotte SMALL, daughter of Nancy HUGHES & Patrick SMALL (1789-1846). Charlotte was a niece of surveyor and explorer David THOMPSON (1770-1857).

In 1850 daughter-in-law Charlotte (Arthur’s wife) died at Fort Carlton, and in 1851 Arthur remarried to Archange GUIBOCHE, daughter of Marie Anne ROCQUE & Edouard GUIBOCHE (born 1795). In 1850 daughter Caroline married in Winnipeg to Thomas SINCLAIR (1810-1870), son of Margaret “Nahovway” NORTON & William SINCLAIR (1766-1818). ** MORE ABOUT WILLIAM SINCLAIR

In 1853 son John Peter Jr. married in St Andrews to Sarah ROSS, daughter of Catherine BRELAND & George ROSS (1797-1874).

John Peter PRUDEN died May 28, 1868 (buried May 30, 1868 St John's Cemetery, Winnipeg).

Please post comments & queries at this link: FORUM DISCUSSING JOHN PETER PRUDEN (1778-1868)

=================== Family Details ====================

Children by Cree Wife Nancy & John Peter PRUDEN: 1. 1804 WILLIAM PRUDEN (m. Nancy Ogden (nee HENRY) CAMPBELL)


2. Aug, 1807 PETER PRUDEN (m. Josephte "Suzette" JOLICOEUR)

  • * Ancestors of Mapleton PALMER, RAILTON and MAGNUSSON Families **

Child: 1. 1807 PETER PRUDEN (m. Josephte Suzette JOLICOEUR) Child: 1. Mar 14, 1839 JOHN EDWARD PRUDEN (m. Mary ISBISTER)


3. 1808 CHARLOTTE PRUDEN (m. John McLEOD) 4. 1810 ELIZABETH PRUDEN (m. John Edward "Ted" HARRIOTT)


5. Sep 9, 1813 MARIA PRUDEN (m. William Peter HALLETT) 6. 1820 ARTHUR PRUDEN (m1. Charlotte SMALL, m2. Archange GUIBOCHE)


7. Mar 3, 1822 CORNELIUS PRUDEN (m1. Nancy, m2. Isabella McKENZIE) 8. Sep 1, 1823 JAMES PRUDEN (m1. Nancy SMITH, m2. Genevieve DESJARLAIS) 9. 1829 JOHN PETER PRUDEN (m1. Sarah ROSS, m2. Annie ROWLAND)


10. 1830 CAROLINE PRUDEN (m1. Thomas SINCLAIR, m2. Albert SARGENT)

view all 17

John Peter Pruden's Timeline

May 30, 1778
Middlesex County, England
May 31, 1778
Edmonton, Middlesex, England
Age 25
York Factory, Division No. 23, MB, Canada
Age 27
Carlton House, Northwest Territories
August 1807
Age 29
Aston House, Nwt,
Age 31
Fort Alexander, Ruperts Land
September 19, 1813
Age 35
Carlton House, Ruperts Land
March 3, 1819
Age 40
Age 41