Amelia (Connolly) Douglas

Amelia (Connolly) Douglas (abt. 1812 - 1890)

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Lady Amelia Douglas formerly Connolly
Born about in Fort Assiniboia, Canadamap [uncertain]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 27 Apr 1828 in British Columbia Canadamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Victoria, British Columbia, Canadamap
Profile last modified 7 Oct 2018 | Created 27 Jul 2015
This page has been accessed 2,291 times.


Amelia was born in 1812 at Fort Churchill or at Fort Assiniboia, to a fur trader of Irish and French Canadian ancestry called William Connolly, and his Cree wife Miyo Nipiy. [1] Her mother was also called 'Susanna.' [2] As a child, she was nicknamed 'Little Snowbird' by the men of the fort, for her fair complexion. [2]

On April 27, 1828, at the age of sixteen, she married at Fort St. James, James Douglas, a Scottish clerk who worked for her father in the fur trade. They later settled at Fort Vancouver. [1] [2]

"Early in their married life the courageous Amelia risked her life trying to rescue Douglas from an attack by some angry natives; Douglas had not understood some customs of the Carriers and Amelia saved her husband by throwing bales of trade goods to their chief to restore his honour. The warriors released James Douglas."[1] There are several different versions of the story relating to the events of Amelia appealing to an enraged Chief Kwah, to spare James Douglas. [2]

Douglas journeyed to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River, during their first year of marriage, but Amelia remained behind due to her pregnancy. After losing her first child, while making the trip to join her husband, she and her horse were caught in the swift current of the Fraser River, but a servant in the group managed to rescue both Ameila and her horse. [2]

Her husband befriended Rev. Herbert Beaver and his wife Jane, who arrived on the Columbia in September, 1836. The Beaver's epitomized pious snobbery, and the Rev. was rigid, dogmatic and prejudicial about the practices at the remote fur trading posts where he found “No legal marriage, no regular Baptism, no accustomed rites of Burial..." Douglas allowed Beaver to 'officially marry' him and Amelia on February 28, 1837. However, Beaver opined about the conditions at the Forts and about the native women/wives, indicating 'unmarried' women should not live in public buildings, be given rations, allowed medical attention or recognized as the wives of the men, with whom they were living, and that the men of the fort were living in debauchery, and sent a report to England. James Douglas then responded to this report and wrote a blistering rebuttal. [2]

In the spring of 1850, the Douglas family transferred to Fort Victoria where they would spend the rest of their days. [2] Attitudes to this 'mixed blood family' varied.

According to Sophia Cracroft, writing in 1861, "Mrs. Douglas is not at all bad looking, with hardly as much of the Indian type in her face, as Mrs. Dallas [daughter Jane], and she looks young to have a daughter so old as Mrs. Helmcken [Cecelia] the eldest, who is 26. Her figure is wholly without shape, as is already Mrs. Helmcken's we hear, and even Mrs. Dallas. She has a gentle, simple and kindly manner which is quite pleasing, but she takes no lead whatsoever in her family, and the luncheon arrangements and conduct, rested only with Agnes and Mr. and Mrs. Young, in the absence of the Governor." quoted in Royalengineers Douglas Family]</ref> which includes additional information about Douglas family members.

Before his retirement, ending his career as a colonial administrator, James received a knighthood for service, and therefore the title of Lady Douglas was bestowed on Amelia. [2]

Amelia died in Victoria, on 8 January 1890,[3] and was buried beside her husband in Victoria’s Ross Bay Cemetery. [2][4]

Children. James and Amelia had thirteen children, though seven died as infants. [1] None of her first four children, Amelia, Alexander, John and Maria survived beyond age four.[2]

  • Amelia. First child born about 1830 after James Douglas left Stuart Lake on 30 Jan. 1830, to go to Fort Vancouver.[5] [2]
  • Alexander, one of first four children died young.[6] [2]
  • John, one of first four children died young.[6] [2]
  • Maria, one of first four children died young.[6] [2]
  • Cecilia Douglas (1834-1865) m. Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, December 1852[7]
  • Jane Douglas (1839-1909) m. A.G. Dallas in March 1858[7]
  • Agnes Douglas (1841-1928) m. Arthur Thomas Bushby May 1862[7]
  • Alice Douglas (1844-1928) m. Charles Good in Canada August 31, 1861, and in the US just prior to August 31, 1861. They later divorced and remarried.[7]
  • James William (1851-1883) m. Mary Elliott in 1877.[7]
  • Marthe Douglas (1854-1933) m. Dennis Harris in 1878.[7]
  • Three children died young, names unknown.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 A Guide to Women in Canadian History
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Amelia Connolly (Douglas), by Todd Lamirande, Louis Riel Institute
  3. "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993", database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 December 2015), Amelia Douglas, 1890.
  4. Lady Amelia Connolly Douglas memorial, Find A Grave. Burial:Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Created by: Jeannie Record added: Sep 22, 2012 Find A Grave Memorial #97574542. (Accessed 21 December 2015. Includes photo of headstone.)
  5. Dictionary of Canadian Biography "DOUGLAS, Sir JAMES"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Lamirande, Todd. Amelia Connolly (Douglas). (1812-1890). Louis Riel Institute. Downloadable pdf file.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Royalengineers Douglas Family
  • "Canada Census, 1881," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 December 2015), Amelia Douglas, James Bay Ward, Victoria (City), British Columbia, Canada; citing p. 78; Library and Archives Canada film number C-13285, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 1,375,921.

See Also:

  • Perry, Adele. Colonial Relations: The Douglas-Connolly Family and the Nineteenth-Century Imperial World Cambridge University Press, Apr 2, 2015. (A recent work on the family of Douglas and Connolly)

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Images: 2
Lady Douglas Image 1
Lady Douglas Image 1

Lady Douglas Image 2
Lady Douglas Image 2


On 21 Dec 2015 at 14:54 GMT Anne B wrote:

Hi Chris, Lady Amelia's profile has been posted as the Collaborative profile of the week Come help. Thanks.

Amelia is 26 degrees from Tanya Lowry, 19 degrees from Charles Tiffany and 15 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.