>>>>Really? Could you give me more info about that, I've always been under the
impression that they were based in Montreal (with offices in London and, no
doubt, Detroit). But my research focuses more on their western operations, I
have a lot to learn about the administration of the company.
Your humble & obedient servant,
It's enough to drive one crazy trying to figure out who was with what
partnership in the fur trade in Canada, especially during the early British
My main reference is "Fur Trade in Canada", by Harold A. Innis. I consider
this the leading scholarly publication on the subject, but the actual
orgins of the NWCo. hasn't been known pre 1796, except from isolated
My research began trying to find records on Macomb, Edgards, and Macomb of
Detroit and any references starting from 1768, when Alexander Macomb Sr.
(not to be confused with his son the US General) traveled alone from Albany
NY to Fort Niagara in 1768, delayed with friends while the native battle to
exterminate the Massassaguas raged, then continuing alone to Detroit. There
he entered the merchant trade. John Askin was a cousin of his.
It would be a few years later in my research to discover that the MACOMB
family had been collecting an archive, with these being referenced in
histories published c1860 and much later. These were given to Burton, a
prominent lawyer in Detroit with a trust set up to store these records for
public access, and add to the collection. Well,,, that really didn't
My discovery of the archive location, rejected requests to access those
records, the establishment of like minded researchers to establish an
advocacy group, discovery that this archive wasn't indexed and the US
government granting funds to force an index and restoration to submit to
the Smithsonian, the inside whistle blower's claim of thieft and fraud
within...which is now before the US Supreme Court, the future of this
archive in doubt, and we still haven't been able to secure scholarly access.
Some days the truth is REALLY hard to come by:(
However, the index is truly amazing:) OK, I digress....
Relevant items in this archive are the daily journals of both William and
Alexnader MACOMB Srs. The complete daily business records from 1768 to 1796
of first Alexander on his own, then the partnership of Macomb, Edgars, and
Macomb (which had the monopoly for British military shipments and sole
operation of shipping on the Upper Great Lakes during the ARW), then the
formation of a company they called the NWCo. which orginally had 15 shares
of which the Macomb brothers held 9. (the NWCo was one of the first
enterprises based on Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations", of which the British
Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger was a strong supporter. The NWCo.
competed on the contractual basis from then on. They also had one of the
first ever Pension Plans for the voyageurs., and they were well financed
enough to underwrite their own business insurance (ie loss of cargo, loss
Most of all the other fur trading agents began to form consolidated
partnerships to compete likewise.
Montreal was the juncture of all inland British shipments. It was indeed to
be considered Head Offices later. While the Macomb Brothers were in charge,
the actual decisions and business were made at Detroit and expanded to NYC.
Agents, like MacTavish, Todd and McGill were at Montreal.
The MacTavish letters between Edgars and himself are guarded in the
mentioning of the name MACOMB, more often refered to as "my esteemed
Friends" or something of the like. However, there remains no doubt that the
Macomb's held the superior position in the business. When William died in
1796, he was considered one of the richest men in North America (the
closest 1/100th, so far researched). MacTavish would pick up substantial
shares, enough to lead upon William death.
To give you some contextual history, William was one of the first MPPs to
the British Niagara Legislature. Alexander moved to NYC and became involved
in the British/American intrigue to centralize the US goverment and to
stabalize the US economy so trade could continue (Alexander Hamilton
especially). George Washington's first Presidential residence was the
Macomb House built on Broadway NYC.
However, what little history there is, has a bleaker less informed
perception on it all.
Well, I don't know if I answered your question? Does anyone really know how
Fort William got it's name?
Your humble serv't
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