William Robert Smith

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William Robert Smith

Birthdate: (71)
Birthplace: St Mary's, Lambeth, Surrey, England
Death: May 12, 1869 (71)
Headingly, Manitoba, Canada
Place of Burial: Middlechurch, Manitoba, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of William Smith and Hannah Smith
Husband of Ann Smith and Mary Ann Smith
Father of Rupert Pruden Smith; Thomas Smith; Ann Smith; George Smith; Mary A Salter and 3 others
Half brother of William Smith, Jr.

Occupation: HBC Clerk, Farmer, Teacher, Assiniboine Court
Managed by: Mark Farrell
Last Updated:

About William Robert Smith


Teacher, municipal official.

Born in England about 1792, the son of William Hart Smith. He received his early education at Christ’s Hospital in London. He came to Rupert’s Land as an apprentice clerk with the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1813. After serving with the Company at Oxford House 1813, Ile­a-la-Crosse 1814, Lac la Biche and Lesser Slave Lake 1815­1823, and Norway House 1824, he retired and took up residence at Little Britain where he farmed. He was married twice, first toMary Anne Swain, daughter of James Swain, on 12 July 1825, and had eleven children. He remarried following his first wife’s death circa 1851 and had seven more children.

Under the patronage and auspices of the Church Missionary Society he taught school at St. John’s from 1828 to 1832, and at St. Paul’s from 1832 to 1848. In 1848 he was invested with the offices of clerk of Court and Council. In 1849 he compiled the Red River census. Ill health forced his retirement as clerk of the Council of Assiniboia in 1867. In 1867 he was appointed president of one of the petty courts. For a number of years he also served as a collector of customs at Lower Fort Garry.

Smith died at Headingley on 12 May 1869.


(Christ's Hospital Boy) d. 14 May 1869

Appointments & Service

Outfit Year* Position Post District HBCA Reference

  • An Outfit year ran from 1 June to 31 May

1813, 1 June-28 Sept. London to York Factory on Prince of Wales C1/779

1813, 2 Oct. left for the interior B239/a/124

1813-1814 [writer] Oxford House J.J. Hargrave, Red River, (Montreal, 1871) ARCHIVES WINNIPEG

1814-1815 writer Ile-a-la-Crosse A30/14

1815-1817 [writer] Lesser Slave Lake A16/41,54; A30/14

1817-1820 in charge Lesser Slave Lake A16/41,54; B115/a/1,2; B115/e/1

1820-1823 [writer] Lesser Slave Lake A16/41,54; B115/a/4,5; B115/e/2-4

1823-1824 Norway House B154/d/2; B239/g/3,4

1824 retired to Red River Settlement; farmed at Little Britain, taught school Search File

at both St. John's and St. Paul's, became Clerk of the Council of Assiniboia

Wife: (1) Mary Ann[e] Swain[e] (1805-1850) m. 12 July 1825 (E.4/1b fo.213; Search File)

Children: John Lee Lewes (1823- ) m. Elizabeth Moor (SF)

Mary Anne (1825-1871) bapt. 12 July 1825, m. Richard Salter (E.4/1a)

Henry (1826- ) bapt. 17 January 1826 (E.4/1a)

Sarah Hannah (1827- ) bapt. 19 December 1827, m. Robert Massey (E.4/1a)

Elizabeth (1829- ) bapt. 10 December 1829 (E.4/1a)

Caroline (1831- ) bapt. 11 December 1831, m. Henry Field (E.4/1a)

William Robert (1833- ) bapt. 22 September 1833 m. Mary Bird 26 August 1860 in HBC (E.4/1a; Search File)

Eleanor (1836- ) bapt. 10 January 1836, m. Adam IsbisterE4/1a; Info. as above

James Sinclair (1837- ) bapt. 31 December 1837, m.(1) Madlene Bubue (2) 11 Oct. 1860 Mary Caroline Bubue (E.4/1a; PAM, St. Paul's Marriages)

Bridget Agnes (1840- ) bapt. 12 March 1846, m. Oluff Olsen (PAM, St. John's, 1211)

Charlotte (1842- ) bapt. 6 January 1842, m. Norman Morrison (E.4/2)

Edgar Edward Harriott (1844- ) bapt. 11 February 1844, m. Anne Sebiston Benlingate [Billingate] 1 Jan. 1873 (E.4/2; PAM Marriages)

Wife: (2) Ann Omand (1833-1912) (Search File)

Children: Joseph Pemble (1853-1888) bapt.3 July 1853; m. Sara Jane Corrigan 24 Dec. 1874, Headingley (PAM Marriages, Headingley)

Ann (1855- ) bapt. 2 Jan. 1855, m. George Gray (PAM St. Paul's Bapt.)

Benjamin Pemble (1857-1870) bapt. 8 March 1857; buried 27 March 1870 (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms and Burials)

Frances Jane (1859- ) bapt. 24 April 1859 (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms)

Thomas Vincent Pemble (1861-1914) bapt. 4 Aug. 1861, m. Delina Munroe (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms)

Victoria Alexandra (1863-1863)(one month) buried 20 Oct. 1863 (PAM St. Paul's Burials)

Alexander Beddome (1864- ) bapt. 9 Oct. 1864 (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms)

George Albert (1867- ) bapt. 31 March 1867; d. 6 Dec. 1877 buried 8 Dec. 1877, Headingley (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms; PAM Headingley Burials)

Rupert Pruden (1867-1932) bapt. 31 March 1867; m. Harriet Louisa Brown Benjamin (1869- ) (PAM St. Paul's Baptisms)

Search File " Red River Ancestry Home | Ancestors | Descendants | History | Forum


ANN OMAND (1829-) (Last Updated: January 13, 2012)

William Robert SMITH was born June 28, 1797 in Lamberth, Surrey, England, son of Hannah WOODMAN & William Hart SMITH (b-c1771).

On June 1, 1813 William (age 16) sailed from London, England, aboard the Prince of Wales as an employee for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), arriving at York Factory on Hudson Bay on June 28 that year.

Chippewyan Territory

On Oct 2, 1813 William left for the interior. He spent his first winter in Rupert’s Land as a “Writer” at Oxford House along the Hayes River. He was probably still there in the spring of 1814 when the third group of Lord SELKIRK’s Settlers passed through there on their way to Lake Winnipeg and on to Red River, led by Archibald McDONALD (1790-1853).

William spent the next winter (1814-15) at Ile a la Crosse (SK) working under Joseph HOWSE (1774-1852); then at Lesser Slave Lakeas an apprentice clerk and writer. William was associated with John Lee LEWIS (1791-1872) during this period. He would later name one of his sons after this man.

Marriage to Mary Ann SWAIN 1817

In 1817, at York Factory, William married “a la facon du pays” to Mary Anne SWAIN, daughter of an Indian woman & Englishman James SWAIN (1775-1829), Chief Factor there. William was still assigned to the Lesser Slave Lake district at the time. Their first child (Joseph) born at Lesser Slave in the spring of 1819, died in infancy (about two months old).

Union of the North West Company and the HBC 1821

In 1821 the HBC and the North West Company merged after many years of bitter rivalry. William was at Lesser Slave at the time, trading in opposition to William HENRY of the NWC. News of the union reached them in August that year. After the two took inventories and SMITH was left in charge there.

By 1823 two more children were born at Lesser Slave; John Lee Lewis and Mary Ann. During the next outfit year (1823-24) William was posted to Norway House.

After the NWC-HBC merger, almost 1,300 employees lost their jobs due to cut-backs, including William who was retired in 1824 to Red River.

Portage - Winnipeg - Lake Winnipeg

On July 15, 1825 William and Mary Ann were church-wed at St John’s (Winnipeg). The marriage was witnessed by William GARRIOCH (b-1779) & Joseph COOK (1788-1848). At that time Reverend David JONES (1796-1844) was the resident clergyman at St John. In October that year, Rev William COCKRAN (1798-1865) arrived to assistant to Rev. JONES at the Upper (St John) and Middle (Middlechurch, St Paul) Churches.

The Great Red River Flood 1826

In the spring of 1826 the Great Red River Flood occurred, the worst ever experienced by the settlers of the time. On May 1l that year Rev JONES wrote in his journal that year-old St. Paul’s Middlechurch at Image Plain was completely destroyed by the flood. Meanwhile, St. John’s (Upper Church) was left relatively unscathed.

In the Red River Census of 1827, William and his wife were recorded with two sons and a daughter. These would have been John Lee Lewis (age 7), Mary Anne (age 4) and baby Henry. They had a house and a stable; two horses, two cows, an ox and a calf; a cart, plough, harrow and a canoe. They had two acres under cultivation.

William becomes a School Teacher 1828-1848

William Robert Smith (1797-1869)

William Robert SMITH (1797-1869)

Under the patronage and auspices of the Church Missionary Society William taught school at St. John’s from 1828 to 1832. He had very strong ties to the Church, a one time Catechist at St Johns then, as a Precentor, he led the singing of the church choir at nearby churches.

From 1832 to 1848 he taught at St. Paul’s. In the Census of 1835 William and his family were recorded on Lot 15 in the Parish of St Paul (Middlechurch). He had three horses now, eight cattle, two farm implements, two carts and he had three acres under cultivation. There were 10 persons in his household. Excluding himself and his wife, that suggests they had eight children then. By 1843 Mary Anne had given birth to 13 children, but some had died in infancy.

In 1843 eldest son John Lee Lewis SMITH married in St Andrews to Elizabeth MOORE, daughter of Mary TRUTHWAITE & George MOORE (1776-1846). They became residents of the St Peters Indian Settlement.

In 1844 Alexander CHRISITE (1792-1872) was appointed as the Governor of Assiniboia, Upper Fort Garry, Red River District. CHRISTIE was forced to take strong measures against free traders and small merchants who challenged the HBC's legal right to a fur trade monopoly.

In 1848 William was invested with the offices of clerk of Court and Council.

On May 17, 1849, 54 year old Pierre Guillaume SAYER (1796-1853) and three other Métis from the Red River Colony were brought to trial on the charge of violating the HBC charter by trafficking in furs. SAYER violently resisted his arrest; he was an example of the bitter and dangerous spirit that was developing among the Métis. The Elder Louis RIEL, who was a violent, but effective speaker, of French, Irish and Indian descent, busied himself in stirringup resistance. As the SAYER trial began, a swarm of armed and menacing Métis were gathering outside the courthouse. SAYERwas found guilty, but the jury recommended clemency on the grounds that the Métis genuinely believed they had the right of free trade. Satisfied that the rights of the Company had been upheld with the guilty decision, the Chief Factor requested that SAYER not be punished and withdrew the charges against the other men. When the four emerged "free" from the courthouse to the cheers of the crowd, both the Métis and the HBC, accepted this as recognition of the principal of free trade. From that point on, the HBC abandoned its claim to a monopoly and began open competition with other traders.

William began his public life by becoming Secretary to the Quarterly Court and then Executive Officer of the Council of Assiniboia. Among his duties were Customs Collector, and issuing liquor and marriage licenses.

Mary Anne Dies 1851

In 1851, William Robert SMITH was about 54 yrs old when Mary Anne died.

Around 1851 daughter Mary Ann married Richard SALTER (born 1818 in England). They settled in Headingly Parish.

More and more HBC retirees began to arrive and settlement progressed further down the river, all the way to The Rapids (now Lockport) and Mapleton; to the very edge of the Indian Settlement. This district became generally known as Little Britain and notable first families included William Robert SMITH as well as his brother-in-law, James SWAIN Jr. (1799-1887).

William remarries to Ann OMAND 1852

On May 3, 1852 son William Robert Jr. married in St Peters to Jane ASHAM.

On Sep 12, 1852 William (age 55) remarried to 23 year old Ann OMAND, daughter of Jane BROWN & James OMAND (1798-1850), an HBC voyageur from the Orkneys of Scotland. On Jun3 30, 1853 their first child together, Joseph Pemble, was born in St Paul. ** MORE ABOUT JAMES OMAND

On Nov 24, 1853 daughter Sarah married Robert MASSEY (1823-1897) in St Paul.

On Dec 24, 1854 wife Ann gave birth to daughter Ann in St Paul. On Mar 8, 1857, son Benjamin was born in St Paul.

Around 1858 daughter Caroline married Henry FIELD (a half-breed born around 1840 in Upper Canada)

ON Mar 24, 1859, daughter Frances Jane was born in St Paul.

On Jan 15, 1860 daughter Ellen married Adam ISBISTER in St Paul. On July 4, 1860, son Thomas was born in St Paul. On Oct 11, 1860 son James married Caroline Ann BAUBEE, daughter of Mary COURCHENE & Jean Baptiste BAUBEE (1810-1874). Around 1860 daughter Elizabeth married Samuel BALLENDINE (1839-1903) and daughter Bridget Agnes married Oluff OLSON in Winnipeg.

On Sep 4, 1864, son Alexander was born.

On March 4, 1865, Ann gave birth to twins (Rupert & George Gilbert). These would be the last of the nine children born to Ann & William. Ann was only about 36 years old when she gave birth to the twins, but William would have been about 68 years old.

Canadian Confederation 1867

On July 1, 1867 the British colonies in North America were united under the British North American Act to become the Dominion of Canada. Sir John A MACDONALD (1815-1891) was appointed as Canada’s first Prime Minister.In 1868William McDOUGALL (1822-1905) became the first Minister of Public Works for the new Dominion of Canada, and he began negotiations to acquire Rupert’s Land from the HBC. Plans were already under way to create a new province in Red River territory. Colonel John Stoughton DENNIS (1820-1885), a soldier and a surveyor, was sent to delineate plots of land for settlers

In 1867 ill health forced his retirement as clerk of the Council of Assiniboia. He was then appointed president of one of the petty courts. For a number of years he also served as a collector of customs at Lower Fort Garry.

Death of William Robert SMITH 1869

On May 14, 1869 William Robert SMITH died in Headingly where he was probably staying with his daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann & Richard SALTER. He was buried in St Paul (Middlechurch). He would have been about 72 yrs old.

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  • * Under Construction - Much more to come **


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

Children by Mary Ann SWAIN:

1. May 20, 1819 JOSEPH PEMBLE SMITH (Died in infancy, 2 mos old)

2. Nov 29, 1820 JOHN LEE LEWIS SMITH (m. Elizabeth Mary MOORE)

3. Dec 10, 1822 MARY ANN SMITH (m. Richard John Turner SALTER)

4. Jan 17, 1826 HENRY SMITH

5. Dec 4, 1827 SARAH HANNAH SMITH (m. Robert MASSEY)

6. Nov 19, 1829 ELIZABETH SMITH (m. Samuel BALLENDINE)

7. Nov 22, 1831 CAROLINE SMITH (m. Henry FIELD)

8. Sep 13, 1833 WILLIAM ROBERT SMITH JR (?m1. Jane ASHAM, m2. Mary BIRD)

9. Jan 10, 1836 ELEANOR HELENA "ELLEN" SMITH (m1. Adam ISBISTER, m2. Rev John BADGER)

10. Dec 10, 1837 JAMES SINCLAIR SMITH (m1. ? Mary Madeleine BAUBEE, m2. Ann Caroline BAUBEE)

11. Feb 1, 1840 BRIDGET AGNES SMITH (m. Oluff OLSEN)

12. Dec 13, 1841 CHARLOTTE SMITH (m. Norman MORRISON)


Children by Ann OMAND:

1. June 30, 1853 JOSEPH PEMBLE SMITH (m. Sarah Jane CORRIGAL)

2. Dec 24, 1854 ANN SMITH (m. George GRAY)


4. Mar 24, 1859 FRANCES JANE SMITH (m. Charles STEWART)

5. July 4, 1860 THOMAS VINCENT PEMBLE SMITH (m. Delina/Dolena "Dolly" MUNROE)

6. 1863 VICTORIA ALEXANDRA SMITH (Died at birth, same yr)

7. Sep 4, 1864 ALEXANDER BEDDOME SMITH (m. Margaret Elizabeth McKAY)

8. Mar 4, 1865 RUPERT PRUDEN (twin) SMITH (m. Harriet Louisa BROWN)

9. Mar 4, 1867 GEORGE (GILBERT) ALBERT (twin) SMITH (Died age 10)


view all 13

William Robert Smith's Timeline

June 28, 1797
St Mary's, Lambeth, Surrey, England
November 29, 1820
Age 23
Big Lakes, AB, Canada
Age 25
November 22, 1831
Age 34
St John's Red River Settlement, Manitoba, Canada
January 9, 1843
Age 45
Age 56
Age 69
Headingley, MB, Canada
May 12, 1869
Age 71
Headingly, Manitoba, Canada