David Esson was born about 1800 in Stromness, Orkney, and came to Rupert’s Land as a servant of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1820. The Company accounts ledger shows that in 1822 he received wages for employment at York Factory for at least one year. A note in 1825 shows that he had retired to Red River.
In 1825, Esson married Margaret Rose, daughter of Alexander Rose, a Red River settler. Alexander and his family had also been passengers on the Eddystone in 1820. Esson was first on land owned by his father-in-law, but within a few years obtained land on Point Douglas. David and Margaret had seven children baptised at Red River between 1826 and 1839: Sally Campbell (1826), Sally (1828), Isabella (1830), Margaret (1833), an unnamed female child (1835), Colin (1837), and Joanna (1839). The baptismal records include the information that David was a settler and carpenter at Red River. The repetition of the name Sally may indicate that the first child died in infancy. The unnamed daughter baptised in 1835 was later named Ann as shown by US census records of 1850 and 1860.
By the mid 1830s, dissatisfaction with life at Red River led about one hundred settlers to look to Iowa and Illinois, USA, for more favourable conditions. The Rose family members were among those who decided to make this move. Isabella Rose and her husband, Hugh Livingstone, were the first to leave in 1835, followed by her parents and brother Hugh about 1837. In 1840 David and Margaret (nee Rose) Esson and their children also made their way to Iowa, where three more children were born: David Helen and Alexander.
No record of David’s death has been found. However, he did predecease his wife as there is a record for the death of Margaret Esson, widow, in Dubuque Co. in August 1879.