Andrew Colville

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For the television writer, see Andrew Colville (writer).
Andrew Colvile
Born Andrew Wedderburn
(1779-11-06)6 November 1779
Died 6 February 1856(1856-02-06) (aged 76)
Nationality British
Known for Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1852–1856

Andrew Colvile (also spelt Colville) (original last name Wedderburn) (6 November 1779 – 3 February 1856[1]) was a British businessman, notable as the governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, a huge organisation set up for the North American fur trade but also instrumental in the early history of Canada. He was also chairman of the West India Docks.[2]

Family background[edit]

His grandfather, Sir John Wedderburn, 5th Baronet of Blackness, was involved with the Jacobite rising of 1745 and was convicted of treason. The punishment for this was threefold: the death penalty, the confiscation of all his estates (he had property at Inveresk), and the attainting of his family. At least two of his sons moved to Jamaica, including Andrew's uncle and father. The former, John Wedderburn of Ballendean, is notable for the civil case brought under Scots law by his former slave Joseph Knight. Andrew's father, James Wedderburn, set up as a doctor without academic qualification. After 28 years James had become a wealthy slave-owner and sugar planter. In 1773 James moved back to Inveresk (the estate had been restored) and married. At some point James changed his name from Wedderburn to Wedderburn Colvile.[3]

Andrew was born in 1779. His sister Jean married Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, in 1807. His brother James Wedderburn (born c. 1782) was Solicitor General for Scotland until his death in 1822;[3] his posthumous daughter Jemima Blackburn became a highly regarded artist, and played the role of an elder sister to James Clerk Maxwell, the physicist. Andrew's other legitimate brother was Peter Wedderburn Ogilvy, who became a sea captain; his sons went into the army.[4][5]

Andrew had a half-sibling whom he very publicly rejected: the son of his father by an enslaved woman in Jamaica. When the mixed-race Robert Wedderburn showed up at the family seat seeking to claim kinship, he was sent away with a flea in his ear. Following this rejection, Robert wrote The Horrors of Slavery, which was circulated by the abolitionist movement.[6]} Andrew furiously denied the claims, and in turn insulted Robert's mother.


Andrew remained in Europe, inherited his father's estates and set up as a sugar broker (Wedderburn and Company). When his brother-in-law began buying into the Hudson's Bay Company, Andrew followed suit. By 1810 he was on the HBC board and worked to rationalize the company's administration. In 1820 he was largely responsible for sending out Sir George Simpson to take charge of HBC affairs in Canada. During Simpson's long administration (1820–60) the two worked closely together, one in London business circles and the other in the wilds of Canada.


His first wife was Elizabeth Susannah, daughter of John Wedderburn of Clapham, but she died in 1803, only a year after their marriage.[7]He then married Mary Louisa Eden, daughter of William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, and was thus connected to an influential family of politicians and diplomats. The couple had two sons and seven daughters.

James William Colvile (1810–1880) was a lawyer, civil servant and then judge in India, and a judge on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the court of last resort for the British colonies.

Eden Colvile was appointed Governor of Rupert's Land and also governor of the HBC.

Isabella married a clergyman in rural England and was the mother of Francis Marindin, a key figure in early football.

Georgiana Mary married Frederic Rogers, 1st Baron Blachford, a mandarin of Whitehall.

Margaret Agnes in 1858 married the writer and publisher Charles Kegan Paul. Their son was Eden Paul, the socialist physician and translator.[5]


Fort Colvile, a HBC trading post was named for him. It was abandoned in 1870 and flooded over by the Grand Coulee Dam in 1940.


  1. ^ "Biographical Sheets: Andrew Colville" (PDF). Hudson's Bay Company Archives. August 2002. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Morris, Michael (2014). Scotland and the caribbean, c.1740-1833 : atlantic archipelagos. [S.l.]: Routledge. ISBN 9781138778986. 
  3. ^ a b The Gentleman's Magazine (Volume 92, Part 2 ed.). 1822. p. 479. 
  4. ^ "Peter Wedderburn Ogilvy" (23rd Sep 1781 - 30th Mar 1873), Legacies of British Slave-ownership.
  5. ^ a b Foster, Joseph. The peerage, baronetage, and knightage of the British Empire : for 1882 (1883 ed.). Nicols & Sons. p. 646. 
  6. ^ Malcolm Chase, "Wedderburn, Robert (1762–1835/6?)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 , accessed 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Andrew Colville" (PDF). Government of Manitoba. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 

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