TREDWELL (Treadwell), NATHANIEL HAZARD, seigneur, fur-trader, and miller; b. 17 Jan. 1768 in Smithtown, N.Y., eldest son of Thomas Tredwell and Ann Hazard; m. 1793 Margaret Platt, and they had two sons and four daughters; d. 22 Dec. 1855 in L’Orignal, Upper Canada.
The son of a prominent state politician and judge, Nathaniel Hazard Tredwell was educated at Clinton Academy in East Hampton, Long Island, and trained as a civil engineer and land surveyor. He carried out extensive surveys in northern New York and, when his father and family moved from Long Island, he reportedly set up a new home near Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain. In the spring of 1794, accompanied by his wife and a retinue of black servants (all former slaves who had been manumitted by his father), he immigrated to Lower Canada, settling on the north bank of the Ottawa River near the mouth of the Rivière du Nord. One of several non-loyalist Americans drawn to that area in the 1790s, he occupied an abandoned trading post, known as “Red House,” and engaged in fur trading with the Indians.
Tredwell soon became interested in the development of large tracts of land in the Montreal district. In 1796 he acquired 1,500 acres south of Lac Saint-François, the seigneury of Ramezay, and the seigneury of Pointe-à-l’Orignal (Pointe-à-l’Orignac) which he purchased for 1,000 guineas from Joseph-Dominique-Emmanuel Le Moyne* de Longueuil. Located in Upper Canada upriver from “Red House,” Pointe-à-l’Orignal extended six miles back from the river and nine miles along its shore. It was one of only two seigneurial holdings to lie within the province following its creation in 1791. Despite the efforts of his attorney in York (Toronto), Christopher Robinson*, Tredwell had great difficulty in having his seigneurial claim recognized by the province’s Executive Council and administrator, Peter Russell*, a situation which resulted in part from uncertainty surrounding both the exact limits of the seigneury and the legality of Tredwell’s title, and in part from distrust of American land speculators. Although Tredwell never tendered seigneurial fealty and homage to the governor at Quebec, as Russell had instructed in 1799, his seigneurial claim was recognized by the Executive Council in 1805 on the recommendation of Attorney General Thomas Scott*. Tredwell’s difficulties over Pointe-à-l’Orignal may have been a factor in his unsuccessful attempts in 1798 to buy, in association with Ross Cuthbert*, Kildare Township from Pierre-Paul Margane* de Lavaltrie and open it for settlement.
Tredwell maintained his fur-trading business but gradually started to develop a settlement around a stream in his seigneury at what is now the village of L’Orignal. Roads were opened to Glengarry County, to Plantagenet Township, and to the sawmill of David Pattee and Thomas Mears at Hawkesbury, and by 1810 Tredwell had erected a sawmill and a grist-mill at L’Orignal. He had settled there himself about 1800, possibly as a result of the sheriff’s sale that year of both his land on the Rivière du Nord, at the suit of Pierre-Louis Panet*, and the seigneury of Ramezay, at the suit of the Montreal mercantile firm of John Bell and Company. Once established in L’Orignal, Tredwell encouraged other Americans to join him as settlers in what was then virgin bush. Most of his land sales in the seigneury seem to have followed the recognition of his claim in 1805. He was a commanding figure, 6 feet 2 1/2 inches tall, and he became well known for his hospitality. Although, according to a daughter, he was unorthodox in his beliefs, reputedly preferring the revolutionary works of Thomas Paine to the Bible, he had a “religious mind and never omitted family prayers.”
In 1812, at the outbreak of war with the United States, he was required, because of his prominence in public life before he came to Canada, to take the oath of allegiance to the crown. He refused, his seigneurial land was evidently sequestered (though none seems to have been sold), and he had to return to the United States. During his journey south he was imprisoned at Dorchester (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu), Lower Canada. When offered his liberty he accepted but insisted upon an escort to the border, which was provided. Re-establishing himself in Plattsburgh with his wife and children, he built a mill on the Saranac River. In 1830 a great flood swept it away, forcing him to start again.
After his return to New York, Tredwell had continued to transact the sale of lands in his seigneury, which lay within Longueuil Township. In 1823 his son Charles Platt Treadwell returned to Upper Canada and after prolonged negotiations with provincial authorities repossessed the seigneury. On 19 Jan. 1824 he purchased 1,500 acres of it from his father and on 17 November bought the remainder. He added several thousand acres to his holding and further developed the settlement at L’Orignal, becoming a prominent citizen in the process. In 1835 he was appointed sheriff of the Ottawa District. Five years later Nathaniel Tredwell joined him at L’Orignal, and there spent his remaining years. A notice of his death in the Montreal Gazette said of him that he had “united the culture of a gentleman with the stern endurance of a backwoodsman.”
ANQ-Q, CN1-92, 23 mai 1796. AO, RG 1, A-I-6: 970–75, 1346–49; A-II-1, 1: 167, 469; C-I-1, petition of C. P. Treadwell, 27 Jan. 1830. PAC, MG 24, L3: 7160–61, 7164–66, 7171 (copies); RG 1, L1, 22: 277, 597; 24: 285–89; 26: 217; L3, 495a: T3/54; T4/39, 49; 496: T7/15; 511: T misc., 1797–1824/26; L3L: 62360–63. Prescott Land Registry Office (L’Orignal, Ont.), Abstract index to grantors, Longueuil Township, 44–46 (mfm. at AO, GS 5105). QUA, C. P. Treadwell papers, N. H. Treadwell corr., 1829, 1832, 1840; Survey maps, plan of L’Orignal. “Upper Canada land book B, 19th August, 1796, to 7th April, 1797,” AO Report, 1930: 98. “Upper Canada land book C, 29th June, 1796, to 4th July, 1796; 1st July, 1797, to 20th December, 1797,” AO Report, 1931: 71. “Upper Canada land book D, 22nd December, 1797, to 13th July, 1798,” AO Report, 1931: 180, 183, 185–86, 188–89. Montreal Gazette, 5 Jan. 1856. Quebec Gazette, 14 Aug. 1800 (supplement). The national cyclopædia of American biography (59v. to date, New York, [etc.], 1892– ), 3: 158–59. Princetonians, 1748–1768: a biographical dictionary, comp. James McLachlan (Princeton, N.J., 1976), 460, 468–72. W. A. Robbins, “Descendants of Edward Tre(a)dwell through his son John,” New York Geneal. and Biog. Record (New York), 43 (1912): 138–40. P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, 3: 145; 5: 33. Lucien Brault, Histoire des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell (L’Orignal, 1965), 20–25, 229–31. Cyrus Thomas, History of the counties of Argenteuil, Que., and Prescott, Ont., from the earliest settlement to the present (Montreal, 1896; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1981). B. N. Wales, Memories of St. Andrews and historical sketches of the seigniory of Argenteuil (Lachute, Que., 1934).