DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

EDGCOMBE (Edgecombe), LEONARD, captain with the HBC; d. June 1696.

Master of the ship John and Thomas, chartered by the HBC, he sailed in 1684 to Charlton Island, the Company’s entrepôt in James Bay.

For the next few seasons Edgcombe’s services were otherwise engaged, but he served the HBC again in 1687, commanding the John and Thomas, with instructions to assist Governor George Geyer at Port Nelson and serve on his council. Edgcombe was cautioned to use extreme care in approaching Port Nelson lest it be in enemy hands, for the Company’s three posts on James Bay had been taken by de Troyes the previous year. Back in England by October 1687, Edgcombe was able to report that the posts at Port Nelson and New Severn were in good condition. He sailed to York Fort in 1688 but by the time the next voyage was due England and France were at war.

He was now taken into the Company’s regular service and by virtue of his faithful record and his “skillfullnesse” in navigation he was chosen in 1689 to command the Royal Hudsons Bay frigate which set out with the Northwest Fox (Capt. John Ford). The ships got no farther than the Scillies when they were attacked by three French privateers. After an eight- or nine-hour engagement Edgcombe brought his vessel limping back to Plymouth but the Northwest Fox fell prey to the enemy. It was too late that year for ships to reach the Bay so there was no communication with Rupert’s Land for 12 months.

Edgcombe was again in command of the Royal Hudsons Bay on the 1690 voyage, carrying letters of marque, and on the voyage of 1691 he was designated chief or admiral of the voyage because of his “wonted courage and conduct.” With similar rank he sailed the Dering [III] in 1692, accompanied by three other ships, and also in 1693, when he was warned to destroy the company’s “pacquet” of letters if in danger of seizure by the enemy.

In February 1694 Edgcombe bought the ship Supply from the HBC for £2,200. Two years later, when commanding the East India Company’s Mocha (Mocca) frigate, he met death at the hands of pirates. Their ringleader, James Kelly, alias Gillam, alias Sampson Marshall, was executed in London in 1700 for piracy and was generally considered to be responsible for Edgcombe’s murder.

Maud M. Hutcheson

PRO, H.C.A. 1/14, pt.3, no.213; H.C.A. 1/53. CSP, Col., 1699. CTP, 1697–1701/02. HBRS, IX (Rich); XI, XX (Rich and Johnson); XXI (Rich).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Maud M. Hutcheson, “EDGCOMBE, LEONARD,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed November 30, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/edgcombe_leonard_1E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/edgcombe_leonard_1E.html
Author of Article:   Maud M. Hutcheson
Title of Article:   EDGCOMBE, LEONARD
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1966
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   November 30, 2023