Fonds MSG 435 - James McGill Fonds

Letterbook Cashbook Executors' cashbook Estate business papers 1 Estate business papers 2 Plan and elevation of house Plans of area of McGill House, St. Paul Street Typescript legal documents Marriage and death certificates Genealogy of Desrivieres family
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James McGill Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the content of fonds.

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  • 1776-1975 (Creation)
    McGill, James, 1744-1813

Physical description area

Physical description

21 cm, originals, copies, and a blueprint.

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Biographical history

James McGill was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1744. He entered Glasgow University in 1756, but did not receive a degree. He later immigrated to the American colonies and the first known North American reference to McGill dates from 1766. In about 1774, he arrived in Montréal and, in partnership with Isaac Todd, became involved in the commercial fur trade. For a time, he also maintained business partnerships with his brothers, Andrew and John. McGill was a member of the Beaver Club, a private social club based around participation in the fur trade. From 1792 to 1796, and from 1800 to 1804, he represented a Montréal constituency in the Lower Canada Legislature, and in 1793 he was appointed to the Executive Council. In 1776, McGill married Marie-Charlotte Guillimin, the widow of a former colleague, Amable Desrivières. James McGill enslaved at least six Black and Indigenous people: Sarah, Marie-Louise, Jacques, Marie-Charles, Marie, and a Chatiks si chatiks (Pawnee) child whose name is not recorded. In 1813, he bequeathed a large part of his estate to the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning in order to found and endow a college bearing his name. After delays and litigation by heirs, McGill College was inaugurated in 1829.

Custodial history

Scope and content

These McGill papers are entirely concerned with his property and estate. They comprise legal documents and copies of letters (some in McGill's hand) concerning his land holdings on St. Paul St., Montréal, in Stanbridge, and in Detroit. McGill's cash book, 1809-1815, and copy by W.D. Lighthall of a deed of conveyance to McGill of some land formerly occupied by the city fortifications, 1805, are also included, as is a blue-print and sketch by W.D. Lighthall of the site of McGill's St. Paul St. house. Estate papers comprise a probate of McGill's will, copied by Alice Lighthall, and his executor's cash book.

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  • English
  • French

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Availability of other formats

Photostat preservation copies of files 1, 3, and 4 available in the collection as files 17, 18, and 19 (Box R-435-2). Estate papers (files 6 and 7) are also available as photostats, in bound volume also containing preservation copy of Charlotte Frobisher Collection, MSG 434.

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Physical description

Additional 5 cm of textual photostat preservation copies (files 17, 18, 19).

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Physical storage

  • Box: R-435-1
  • Flat box: R-435-2