We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

Seymour to Cardwell, No. 69

23 November 1864

With reference to my despatches noted in the Margin* I have the honor to state that the Chilicoten Chiefs Klatsassin and Telloot, with three of their followers, who had taken an active part in the late massacres of white men, were executed in the village of Quesnel Mouth on Wednesday the 26th of October, at 7th o'clock in the Morning. The High Sheriff informs me that there were "about 250 present, all of whom were well conducted and the whole proceeding was marked by a proper sense of order and decorum."

2. The Murderers had been tried in the most formal manner and the Judge's minutes considered by me in Council. The Evidence against the prisoners was conclusive. Though defended by Counsel they acknowledged their guilt. The Judge asked what their law was against Murderers. They said, "Death." I directed that Klatsassin should be allowed to hang himself, in accordance with the wishes he had expressed when giving himself up, but at the last moment he preferred to die like the others. A Minister of religion attended the Murderer's during the last few days of their life. They admitted the justice of the sentence passed on them and died with the utmost calmness.

3. On the scaffold Telloot, an old man, addressed the Alexandria Indians who were present. He said his last prayer was that they would make peace with the Chilicotens and urge them to cease fighting with their native neighbours and the whites.

4. I had requested Mr. Justice Begbie to enquire of Klatsassin why he gave himself up. The Judge visited the prisoners after sentence had been pronounced and put the question. It appears that Klatsassin had some hope that I was still with the Volunteer forces, and probably the protection I afforded Ulnas led him to hope for some mercy. But he admitted that his case was desperate. He had no flour. He could not hunt. He had no fish. He could not light a fire.

5. Two of the prisoners though stated by Klatsassin to be murderers were acquitted. Another effected his escape while on his way to New Westminster for trial.

6. The calamities growing out of the massacre at Bute Inlet and the subsequent rebellion are not over yet. Unfortunately for himself and people Anaheim, the Chief who commands the Chilicotens from the summit of the Cascade Range to near Benshee Lake, did not give in his submission until the fish and fruit season was over. Our Volunteers did their work well, and now Anaheim's followers, men, women, and Children are reported to be starving. I enclose a correspondence which has passed between Rear Admiral Denman and myself on the subject. You will observe that I am sending up flour to feed our late enemies.

7. Mr. Ogilvy the Gentleman I am despatching on this mission possesses an intimate knowledge of Indian Character, and has, I believe, Indian blood in his veins. He was second in command of Mr. Cox's force after the death of Mr. McLean. He thinks the step I am now taking will have a most beneficial effect on the mind of the natives.

8. I may mention in this, the closing despatch I sincerely trust, on the subject of the massacres that I am, on the advice of the Executive Council, presenting to Mr. Brew and Mr. Cox respectively, handsome pieces of plate, of considerable intrinsic worth, as a recognition of their Services in the suppression of the late insurrection.

I have etc.

*Governor to Secretary of State: No. 7, 20th May 1864
No. 25, 30th August 1864
No. 37, 9th September 1864

For Minutes, See last page of Enclosures.

TFE 14 July

Mr. Elliot

Acknowledge this report of the execution of the five Indians convicted of murdering the Road party at Bute Inlet.

The Volunteers seem almost to have done their work too well, for the families of the Chilicoteens, having been so hotly pursued that they were prevented laying in their food for the winter, are now starving and the Colonial authorities, touched with the distress, are sending them food. It is to be hoped that the severity of the punishment and the humanity of the authorities will produce a wholesome & lasting impression amongst the Indians generally in B.C., & that they will not resort again to such violent & unprovoked crimes as those lately witnessed at Bute Inlet.

Possibly Mr. Cardwell will approve of Governor Seymour's proceeding in sending supplies to the Indians, under the circumstances related, & although I am not an advocate for profuse expressions of approbation I think that the expedition having terminated so happily for every body except the Indians who were hung it would be a well merited compliment to the Volunteers employed on the service if Mr. Cardwell would commend them* for their zealous & effective conduct.

Abd 14 Feb

*I have since found that ample commendation to all parties concerned has been signified by Mr. Cardwell in a despatch of 1 December last.

Abd 14/2

Still some parting words of satisfaction will be appropriate?

TFE 14/2


Express satisfaction that the Law had been vindicated: and trust that the effect may be to produce a salutary impression on the native race.

Add that I entirely approve the measures of relief towards the starving Indians which from a sense of humanity, and I doubt not also of true policy, Governor Seymour had adopted.

EC 20 Feb


Seymour to Rear Admiral Denman, 14 November 1864, asking that Ogilvie be conveyed to Bella Coola in a gunboat to keep an eye on Indians moving into the area who were reported to be starving.

Denman to Seymour, 24 November 1864, advising that the Forward would be despatched to Bentinck's Arm if the governor were sure such action was necessary.

Seymour to Denman, 28 November 1864, advising that the gunboat would be most desirable in view of possible unrest caused by starving natives.


Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 10, 24 February 1865.

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/19, p. 386, 1374, Frederick Seymour, Letter to Cardwell, No. 69, sent November 23, 1864, received February 13, 1865.

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