RBCM Archives

Douglas family (Sir James Douglas, 1803-1877)

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Douglas family (Sir James Douglas, 1803-1877)

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Sir James Douglas (1803-1877) served as an HBC officer and governor of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. He was the son of John Douglas, and was born in Demarara, British Guyana, where the Douglas family held interests in sugar plantations. Douglas returned to Scotland to attend school and at the age of 16 was sent to work for the North West Company. The following year he was transferred to Ile-a-la-Crosse, and in 1821, when the North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company merged, he assumed the post of second class clerk in the HBC. During his career, Douglas was posted to Fort Vermilion, Fort Saint James, Fort Connolly, and Fort Vancouver, and was involved with opening up the overland brigade route between Fort Alexandria and Fort Okanagan. By 1839, he had risen to the position of chief factor, and arrived on Vancouver Island in 1842. Construction of Fort Victoria commenced the following year, and by 1851, Douglas was appointed governor and vice-admiral of the island colony. He stepped down in 1864, a year after being knighted.

Douglas married Amelia Connolly in 1828 'according to the customs of the country,' although the marriage was re-confirmed in the presence of a church official in 1837 at Fort Vancouver. The couple had thirteen children, although seven died in infancy, and son James died young in 1883. The Douglas’ five remaining daughters survived well into adulthood. Jane married A.G. Dallas, Cecilia married Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, Agnes married Arthur T. Bushby, Martha married Dennis Harris, and Alice married Charles Good, although the union was not a happy one and they separated in 1869, eventually obtaining a divorce following Douglas’ death in 1877. Amelia died in 1890.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created: TJones 2015-07-30




Maintenance notes