Alexander Matheson of Coirag was born ca 1773 in Scotland. He married Ann Matheson about 1795 and they had five children whose births were recorded in the Kildonan parish registers: John, Ann, James, William and George. William is not mentioned in later records, so he probably died in Scotland. Ann Matheson must have died shortly after her last child was born, as Alexander married Jane/Jean Matheson of Aultbreakachy in 1810. Parish records show that they had three children: Hugh, Angus, and Ann (Nancy). There is a definite possibility that Alexander’s second wife was a daughter of Hugh and Jean (Polson) Matheson-3510.
Alexander’s eldest son, John, had immigrated to Red River in 1815. (1) He came in the company of Widow Jean (Polson) Matheson, her daughter Helen, and other members of her family. He urged his father to come to the settlement and guaranteed the family’s passage. Letters between Alexander and Colvile give the information that Alexander’s party would include not only himself, wife and family, but also his “good sister” [sister-in-law] and her son. He stated that his sister-in-law had brothers at Red River who would contribute to her passage money.
Alexander, his wife Jane/Jean and their children, Ann and Angus, sailed on the Prince of Wales in 1823. (2) James, George, and Hugh sailed on the Eddystone in convoy with the Prince. (3) Alexander’s “good sister”, Jannet (sic) Matheson, is also on the passenger list of the Prince. She was the widow of Robert Sutherland; her son John Sutherland was on the Eddystone.
The Matheson party arrived safely at Red River in 1823. William Kempt’s 1824 list of settlers and lot numbers shows Alexander and his son James established on lot #776 on the east bank of the Red River. Alexander died in 1845 and was buried in St. John’s churchyard. The 1840 census includes his wife, but no record of her death has been found.
John Matheson, the eldest son, had been granted lot #16 by Lord Selkirk in 1817. However, he gave up that lot and went into the employ of the HBC for three years. He returned to the colony in 1821. He married Nancy Polson and they raised a family of ten children at Red River. He was given the nickname “Pagee”, meaning “Laughing One” in Ojibway.
Ann, eldest daughter of Alexander, married George Munroe in Scotland in 1821 and came with him to the colony in 1830. They remained at Red River and raised a family of six.
The census of 1827 shows James on his own lot, #251, on the west bank of the river. James married Margaret Sutherland, a widow with two children. They went to Illinois ca 1837.
Hugh and Angus both married and remained at Red River. There is no further information on George or the younger Ann (Nancy).
(1) HBCA C.1/345, passenger list of the Hadlow, outward bound, 1815
(2) HBCA C.1/800, passenger List of The Prince of Wales outward bound 1823; on this list, the Matheson family are all referred to as Mansons.
(3) The passenger list of the Prince also contains the names of the men and boys who crossed the Atlantic on the Eddystone, but were transferred to the Prince in Hudson Strait. The name was spelled Matherson on this list. Hugh is erroneously listed as Angus.