SMITHSEND, RICHARD, HBC employee, 1685–91, but for over half this period a French prisoner; b. c. 1653.
In 1685 he was mate of the Perpetuana Merchant (Capt. Edward Hume), on which his brother Nicholas Smithsend also sailed. Bound for York Fort the ship was captured in Hudson Strait in July 1685 by Bermen* de La Martinière, whose two ships were returning from the Bay to Quebec. The Perpetuana Merchant was taken to Quebec where, despite being imprisoned, Smithsend managed to write to Mr John Hampson about “the Designes of the French upon Port Nelson the next year.” This letter was read at the HBC Committee meeting held in London on 3 Feb. 1685/86.
In August 1686, after 11 months at Quebec, Smithsend was sent to Martinique for further imprisonment, but the ship’s captain landed at Guadeloupe by error and the prisoners were released. Returning to England via Barbados, Smithsend arrived in London where he made an affidavit dated 15 Feb. 1686/87 describing his captivity, reports of the success of the Chevalier de Troyes’ expedition of 1686, and the arrival at Quebec of two English ships (the Craven was one) captured by de Troyes at Moose.
Smithsend was given command of the Huband which sailed for Port Nelson in 1687. The Huband had not arrived at Port Nelson by 22 September and is presumed to have arrived there later. However, Smithsend may have wintered her at Charlton Island (AN, Col., C11A, 10, 237–40). There are no further references to the Huband’s activities until it was captured by Pierre Le Moyne* d’Iberville at Rupert River in the early summer of 1689.
Smithsend was sent overland to Quebec along with the other ships’ captains whom Iberville had captured at Albany. He was shipped to France and imprisoned at La Rochelle. His wife together with other HBC “grass widows” petitioned Queen Mary on 1 Oct. 1691 to help obtain the release of their husbands, but Smithsend escaped later in the month. He did not re-enter the HBC service and assigned his gratuity of £10 to his brother John.