Grigory Shelikhov

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Grigory Shelikhov was a founder of the predecessor of the Russian-American Company.
Monument to Grigorii Shelekhov in Shelekhov

Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov (Григорий Иванович Шелихов in Russian) (1747, Rylsk, Belgorod Governorate – July 20, 1795 (July 31, 1795 New Style)) was a Russian seafarer, merchant, and fur trader who established a permanent settlement in Alaska.


Starting in 1775, Shelikhov organized voyages of merchant ships to the Kuril Islands and the Aleutian Islands, in what is now Alaska, for fur trading. In 1783–1786, he led an expedition to the coastal shores of the mainland, where they founded the first permanent Russian settlements in North America. Shelikhov's voyage was done under the auspices of his Shelikhov-Golikov Company, the other owner of which was Ivan Larionovich Golikov. This company was the predecessor of the Russian-American Company, which was founded in 1799.[1]

In April 1784, Shelikhov arrived in what he named as Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island with two ships, the Three Hierarchs, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom and the St. Simon.[2] The indigenous Koniaga, an Alutiiq nation of Alaska Natives, defended themselves from the Russian party. In what became known as the Awa'uq Massacre, Shelikhov and his armed forces, who had guns and cannons, killed hundreds of the Alutiiq, including women and children. They also took hundreds of hostages, many of them children, to force submission by other Alaska Natives. Having established his authority on Kodiak Island, Shelikhov founded the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska along the island's Three Saints Bay. (Unalaska had been established long before, but it was not considered the permanent base for Russians until Shelikhov's time.)

In 1790, Shelikhov, having returned to Russia, hired Alexandr Baranov to manage his fur trading enterprise in Russian America.

The settlement of Grigory Shelekhov in Kodiak Island.

A gulf in the Sea of Okhotsk, a strait between Alaska and Kodiak Island, a bay on Kruzof Island (near Sitka, Alaska), and a town in Irkutsk Oblast in Russia bear Shelikhov's name. Shelekhov travelled via Shelikhov Bay in the Sea of Okhotsk in December 1786-January 1787, after he had been left behind at Bol’shereck in Kamchatka as the winds tore the Three Hierarchs from her anchors and carried her out to sea.[3] There is a statue of Shelikhov in his native Rylsk.


Grigory's wife Natalia Alekseevna Shelikhova

His father was Ivan Shelikhov. Ivan had a brother, Andrei, who had at least two children: Semen Andreevich Shelikhov and Sidor Andreevich Shelikhov.

Grigory had two siblings: a sister, Agrofena Ivanova Shelikhova, and a younger brother, Vasilii Ivanovich Shelikhov, who went to Siberia with Grigory to assist with the business.

In 1775 Shelikhov married Natalia Alexeyevna Kozhevina, the daughter of a prominent clan of Okhotsk navigators and mapmakers and their wives. At his death he had five surviving daughters and one son.[4]

Grigory and Natalia had the following children:[5]

  • Anna Grigorevna Rezanova, b. 1780
  • Ekaterina Grigorevna Timkovskaya, c. 1781
  • Avdotia Grigorevna Buldakova, b. 1784
  • Aleksandra Grigorevna Politkovskaya, b. 1788
  • Natalia Grigorevna Shelikhova, b. 1793
  • Katerina Grigorevna Shelikhova
  • Vasilii Grigorevich Shelikhov
Shelikhov's granddaughter Olga Nikolaevna Kokoshkina by Karl Hampeln

His 14-year-old daughter Anna married Nikolai Rezanov in January 1795.[6] She died in childbirth seven years later, but had at least one surviving daughter, Olga Nikolaevna Rezanova, who married Kharkiv Governor-General Sergey Aleksandrovich Kokoshkin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Piotr A. Tikhmenev: A History of the Russian-American Company, editors Alton S. Donnelly, Richard Pierce (Seattle: University of Washington Press, English translation 1978; pp. 48–59) (the original Russian work was published in 1861).
  2. ^ "Alaska History Timeline". Retrieved on August 31, 2005.
  3. ^ Richard Pierce in his introduction to Shelekhov’s A Voyage to America 1783–1786.
  4. ^ Matthews, Owen (2013). Glorious misadventures : Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America (First U.S. ed.). London [u.a.]: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-62040-239-9.
  5. ^ Black, Dawn Lea; Petrov, Alexander (2010). Natalia Shelikhova: Russian Oligarch of Alaska Commerce. University of Alaska Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-1-60223-066-8.
  6. ^ Lensen, George A. Early Russo-Japanese Relations. The Far Eastern Quarterly 10, No. 1 (1950), pp. 2–37.
Government offices
Preceded by
new post
Governor of Shelikhov-Golikov Company
1784–22 May 1786
Succeeded by