James Rendall

The Hudson's Bay Company Archives has put biographical sheets for some of their employees online.  One for James Rendall can be found at:


A quick note here: Though James was not one of the Big Names at Fort Langley, he is the reason this site exists.

On March 20, 2000, Lisa Peppan (the site webmistress) was invited to luncheon with Morag MacLachlan (editor of The Fort Langley Journals: 1827-30), Bruce Watson (BC Historian), and Gerald Holt, who is working on a piece of children's fiction set at Fort Langley in the mid-1800s. It's a easy guess what the afternoon's main topic of conversation was: Fort Langley, its people, and its environs. Shortly after Bruce handed Lisa the list of Fort Langley employees, the concept formed, and by the time the afternoon ended, Lisa had decided that this site must go up.

We would like to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to Morag, Bruce, and Gerald, for providing the inspiration for The Children of Fort Langley web site -- through Gerald's interest in one of Fort Langley's coopers, James Rendall; well done and bravo!

--The Children of Fort Langley

Now, about James . . .

From Mike Kenny

The Dr. Tolmie referred to below is William Fraser Tolmie.  He did a lot of studies on native peoples, and was quite a remarkable man.  One of his sons, " Simon Fraser Tolmie" also a doctor, was premier of British Columbia.  He owned a farm in the Victoria area that he called "Cloverdale".

Thank you, Mike

From Steve Anderson

I've had a chance to blow through the J[ournal] of O[ccurances] and old James was a short timer at Nisqually.  Came on June 5th, 1833, sick as a dog, from Ft. Langley, and stayed only through July 18, 1833.  As a cooper, he was given charge of the site during Tolmie's short stay, but apparently was more needed up north.  His one moment in the sun at Nisqually was when he penned a note to Dr. Tolmie and Mr. Herron regarding Pierre Charles' accident with an axe, so apparently he could write.

Thank you, Steve.

From Jerry Eckrom

There are a few references to James Rindale (or a name close to that) in Dr. Tolmie's diary for the June-July 1833 period he was at Fort Nisqually.  The references are mostly connected with his assistance in caring for Pierre Charles after Pierre Charles became poster boy for proper ax wielding safety.  The spelling is rendered differently on different dates, either by Tolmie at the time, or by the transcriber working to decipher his diary some 130 years later.

On June 11th, he writes "Thought it improper last night to remove a canvas cloth which Randal the Cooper had applied to the foot, but kept the latter up till daybreak applying cold water"

On June 28th, he writes "Rendall keeps Pierre company...and I am 'left alone in my glory' having given even my dog as a protection to Rendall who is in great dread of indians & it must be said the temptation tonight, is great, only one person in the store & another in a defenceless shed, In my room are five loaded guns in one corner.  Rifle, Gun & Pistols loaded at the head."

The next day Tolmie makes reference to a small earthquake, felt by some and not others, and he fixes the time at "20 minutes from 2 by Rendall's watch, which is not far wrong."

On July 6th, he tells of a threatening encounter with some dissatisfied Indian customers over the price of beaver pelts, adding "I, now backed by Rendall stood firm."

Thank you, Jerry.

From Michelle Cole

In quick reference to James Rendall I did find a list with his name on it that stated he returned home after his time [at Fort Langley] and as far as wife and children go there was just a question mark. However, it was not reference so it is of little value. I will keep my eyes open for anything that may be of value.

Thank you, Michelle

From Gerald Holt

James returned to Scotland.  He left Fort Langley on 11 December 1845, boarded the Cowlitz at Camosun, now Victoria; on 31st January he withdrew money from his account while in Honolulu; he arrived at London Docks on June 28th 1846.

En route to London from Camosun he was a fellow passenger with Captain Charles Humphreys who was previously the captain of the SS Beaver.  Humphreys evidently tried to take his own life with an overdose of laudanum.

On July 2nd, 1846 while in London, he withdrew twenty-five pounds from his account. On July 8th, 1846 his account was transferred to Kirkness, Orkney.  He had just under three hundred and forty pounds in his account, quite a tidy sum in those days.

I have again contacted the assistant archivist at Orkney and hope to find out how old James fared from 1846 onwards.

Thank you, Gerald

Follow-up from Gerald Holt

We may be getting closer.  Maybe James lied about his age, well, not lied but rounded off from 38 to 40 when asked how old he was.  If this is the case he may be a James Rendall born at Evie, Orkney on 23rd December 1794. My contact in Orkney, Phil Astley the Assistant Archivist at the library and Museum is digging deeper.  (Maybe that is not an apt description of what he is doing!)  Anyway, I hope to have further information later.

Keep us posted, Gerald.

Family information is being sought on Orkneymen who served with the Hudson's Bay Company west of the Rockies to 1858. Can you help?

A biographical dictionary of fur trade and exploration west of the Rockies (from California to Alaska) is being compiled. Since the major fur trading company for this Pacific slopes area was the Hudson's Bay Company and many HBC servants came from Orkney, family information is being sought on the Orcadians who once served in the Company west of the Rockies up to 1858.  Respondents with information are asked to please contact:

Bruce M. Watson
208-1949 Beach Avenue
Vancouver, B. C.,
V6G 1Z2
tel: [604] 684-6786
fax: [604] 871-7100

For more information please see: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/sct/OKI/canada.html

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moved 28 July 2002
updated 21 July 2013