LONGLAND, JOHN, HBC sloopmaster and explorer; d. 16 June 1757 at Eastmain House (on James Bay at the mouth of the Eastmain River).
John Longland’s career with the Hudson’s Bay Company was closely associated with that of Thomas Mitchell. Longland was appointed master of a trading sloop at Moose Factory (Ont.) in May 1742, and in the summer of 1744 took the sloop Phœnix north in company with Mitchell in the Success on a discovery voyage along the East Main (the eastern coast of Hudson and James bays). His journal contains no maps, is less informative than Mitchell’s, and breaks into articulate comment only when it expresses suspicions of Mitchell’s actions. This dislike was reciprocated, and Mitchell complained of Longland’s Phœnix: “I cannot see what service it can be to the Honble. Company having this vessel to take care of to tow at my stern or otherwise she goes broadside foremost.” With his cranky vessel and beset by fears that Mitchell’s insistence on pressing northward through thick fog would run them on the rocks, Longland was an unadventurous second in command, always more ready to turn back than to advance.
Nor was his later career with the HBC more distinguished. In 1744 complaints were made of his habitual drunkenness at the bay posts, in 1748 he returned to England without the company’s leave, and in 1749 during the parliamentary inquiry into the trade of Hudson Bay he was taken into custody by the sergeant-at-arms for prevarication. He sailed with Captain William Coats later that year and again in 1750 and 1751, as first mate and linguist on ventures to explore the East Main and to establish and supply a post there. He finished his service with the HBC as he had begun it – master of a sloop along the East Main. He died at Eastmain House in June 1757, having apparently had some premonition of death since one of the company journals noted that Longland had been buried “in a Spot of Ground he made choice of himself about a month before, he was not Sick at all went of[f] very suddenly.”
[Longland’s log of the Phœnix during the discovery expedition of 1744 is in HBC Arch. B. 59/a/11. References to his service with the HBC are in HBC Arch. A. 1/36–40; the note on his conduct during the parliamentary inquiry of 1749 is in HBC Arch. E.18/1, f.181. Entries relating to his death are in HBC Arch. B.3/a/49. A brief account of the discovery voyage of 1744 is given in Glyndwr Williams, “Captain Coats and exploration along the East Main,” Beaver (Winnipeg), outfit 294 (winter 1963), 4–13. g.w.]