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

William George Cox

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1821 or 1822, William George Cox abandoned his career as a banker and headed for British Columbia in 1858. During his twelve years in B.C., he filled several administrative positions including Constable, Deputy Collector of Customs, Gold Commissioner, and County Court Judge. He was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1867 and 1868.

Upon receiving news of the events at Bute Inlet, Governor Seymour dispatched two forces to Tsilhqot’in territory. One of these forces, departing from the Cariboo, was commanded by Cox. He was largely responsible for the surrender of Klatsassin and his companions to colonial authorities. The circumstances surrounding their “surrender” are, as alluded to by Judge Begbie’s trial notes, suspicious.

Cox showed himself to be a capable but unorthodox public servant. As a judge, he once ordered the men involved in a mining dispute to settle the matter by a foot race. In 1869, after a "childish" escapade in the Legislative Council which led to the abolishment of his position by Governor Seymour, Cox left for San Francisco where he intended to make his living as an artist. He apparently met with little financial success.

Secondary Sources

Newell, G.R. “William George Cox.” In Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. X. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1972, 198-9.

In the spring of 1864, Clarke was part of the advance camp that was attacked by the Tslihqot’in warriors. He was the only crew member with a gun but it was not charged. His body was found with bullets in his thigh and groin, and his head had been beaten in.

Secondary Sources

Hewlett, Edward S. “The Chilcotin Uprising: A Study of Indian-European Relations in Nineteenth Century British Columbia.” MA Thesis, UBC, 1972.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History