ALLSOPP, GEORGE WATERS, businessman, seigneur, jp, politician, office holder, and militia officer; baptized 12 Oct. 1769 at Quebec, eldest son of George Allsopp* and Anna Marie Bondfield; d. 28 Sept. 1837 in Cap-Santé, Lower Canada.
In late 1784 George Waters, John, and Carleton Allsopp were taken to England by their merchant father, who enrolled George and John at “Eaton’s academy,” near London. Determined that George should go into business, Allsopp was frustrated by his son’s imaginary ailments and slow academic progress. “Merchants accounts” was among George’s studies, but Allsopp deemed experience necessary, and he frequently took his boys to dinners and meetings with commercial associates.
Returning to the province of Quebec in October 1785, George commenced training in his father’s business at Quebec and extensive milling operations near Cap-Santé, in the seigneury of Jacques-Cartier. He directed the rebuilding of the main mill after it burned in 1793, and in 1795, with the family rallying around its financially troubled head, he purchased the mills and shares in the seigneury, while other shares went to his brothers and to his sister, Ann Maria, who would die in 1831.
The mills never recovered their prominence of the 1780s, but George remained attached to them after his father’s death in 1805. His ownership interest in Jacques-Cartier and the seigneury of Auteuil owed more to their investment value than to social prestige. In 1808 the mills, along with houses and a wharf at Quebec, were offered for lease, a step that initiated a movement by Allsopp away from the demands and risks of direct operation; five years later war and crop failure forced the lessee of the mills, Adam Rennie, to request cancellation of his contracts with the government, then his only client. By March 1815 Allsopp had set up, under Rennie’s management, a small paper-mill, the second in British North America. A grist-mill built in 1817 was leased out, as was Allsopp’s banal mill on the Rivière Portneuf in 1820.
With Allsopp’s entry into business had come public involvement. In 1794 he received his first commission of the peace. A member of the House of Assembly for Buckingham (1796–1800) and Hampshire (1814–20), he attended irregularly and divided his support between the English and Canadian parties. In April 1812 he became lieutenant-colonel of the Cap-Santé battalion of militia, which contained many Protestants. He also served as an extra cashier in the Army Bill Office at Quebec [see James Green*] in 1814 and 1815. Following the war he was instrumental as a syndic in the erection, in 1816–17, and regulation of a royal school at Cap-Santé [see Charles Desroches*; Joseph Langley Mills*]. Named a roads commissioner for Hampshire in 1817, Allsopp served as well from 1819 to 1825 as a commissioner of land claims in the district of Gaspé. His public and industrial interests merged in his proposals, in 1821 and 1823, for a patent office to register inventions and discoveries.
Allsopp’s most persistent interest was bridging the torrents of the Rivière Jacques-Cartier. Since about 1777 his family had operated a ferry near its mouth. Between 1810 and 1822, Allsopp petitioned the government for authorization to erect with his brothers a private toll-bridge, despite the existence of other bridges. The toll-bridge was built in the late 1820s, creating a new source of family revenue.
By the 1830s the youthful closeness of the Allsopp brothers had long since given way to practical cooperation. Between 1832 and 1835, George, Carleton, Robert, and James were in partnership to produce planks, and in 1833 they jointly leased the paper-mill to Angus McDonald* and others. But family relations deteriorated during the decade as George contested his brothers’ co-proprietorship of the seigneuries, and before his death in 1837 he transferred property to Adélaide and George Alfred, his children from an unknown marriage or liaison.
Faced with the complexities of George’s estate, Carleton grumbled that “GWA could never be brought to finish anything.” Management of seigneurial affairs was continued by Carleton’s wife, Maria Concepsion d’Alfaro, and, later, by James. The mills were evidently taken over by George Alfred. The dissensions of George’s last years and a gradual Canadianization of the family were indications of how dramatically it and its enterprises had changed since the days of George Sr. As Carleton lamented to his son, in the 18th century it had mingled with the “reputed First families” of Quebec, but there had been “a falling off a new generation succeeding the old, [and] such associations were not maintained.”
ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 12 oct. 1769, 30 sept. 1837; CN1-21, 19, 30 août 1834; 30 juill., 30 déc. 1835; 26 juin 1837; 16 janv., 8–9 mars 1838; CN1-28, 7 oct. 1835; P-240, 26; P-313; P1000-2-26. AUM, P 58, U, G. W. Allsopp à François Baby, 27 juill., 28 oct. 1812. Brome County Hist. Soc. Arch. (Knowlton, Que.), Allsopp and McCorkill family papers: 100, 105–6, 210, 214–17, 10831, 11834 (mfm. at PAC). Harvard College Library, Houghton Library, Harvard Univ. (Cambridge, Mass.),