BISHOP, Charles




Author Tags: 1700-1800

Charles Bishop sailed on the Ruby from Bristol in 1794 to conduct trade for sea otter furs on the northwest coast of America alongside the Nautilus. Perhaps his most important journalistic contribution to history is his reference to the Mowachaht leader Chief Maquinna at Nootka Sound in 1795. He wrote that Maquinna "came on board to Welcome the Ship, altho' extremely ill of an ague." Weeks later, upon visiting Clayoquot Sound in October, Bishop was told by Chief Wickaninish that Maquinna had died, but the following year Alexander Walker described the elder Maquinna as "blind with age" and noted his son had taken apparent command at Yuquot. Walker described the younger Maquinna as "a Stout handsome young Man, with a fine manly countenance," and "the most intelligent Person we met with" at Nootka Sound.

These reports by Bishop and Walker tend to corroborate the newly accepted belief that there were two Chief Maquinnas during the period of First Contact. In the summer of 2005, Nuu-chah-nulth leaders of the the Mowachaht / Muchalaht First Nation and representatives of Parks Canada gathered at Friendly Cove (Yuquot) to officially unveil a large, trilingual plaque (in English, French and Nuu-chah-nulth) that commemorates two distinguished Maquinnas at Nootka Sound at the end of the 18th century. As accepted by contemporary Mowachaht / Muchalaht Tyee Ha'wilth Yathluaa (Mike Maquinna), this plaque suggests the accomplished diplomat and trader Chief Maquinna (fl. 1778-1795) was succeeded by his brother Quatlazapé (fl. 1786-1825). The commemoration ceremony was the culmination of two years of lobbying to achieve the designation for the two Maquinnas--adding their names to a list of 587 previous individuals deemed to be of National Historic significance in Canada, only 31 of whom are recognized within British Columbia.

Charles Bishop was an employee of the Bristol ship builder Sydenham Teast. In 1795, the Ruby returned to winter for three months in Deception [Baker] Bay among the Chinook Indians. Bishop wrote, “Their Former disposition to thieving is much abated. We have lost nothing, but when any of the inferiour people contrived to perloin a Knife or any article, upon aquainting the chiefs we generally have had it restored the next day. One of the Rubys People stole an Arrow, and upon its being Discovered, he was tied up and got a severe Flogging, this and several other circumstances has given these people great confidance in us. A trifling Present now and then gratifies their Desires, and which is generally returned by a Present of Fish or Cran-berries, nor do they withhold their Daughters, some of whom are well Featured young Women.”

In the southern hemisphere Bishop was one of the first sealers to operate around the Furneaux Islands near Tasmania. He established the first settlement south of Sydney.

BOOKS:

Bishop, Charles. The Journal and Letters of Captain Charles Bishop on the North-West Coast of America, in the Pacific and in New South Wales, 1794-1799. Edited by Michael Roe (Cambridge, Hakluyt Society at the University Press, 1967).

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2005] "English" "1700-1800" "Indianology"