Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pelly, John Henry

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PELLY, Sir JOHN HENRY (1777–1852), governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, born on 31 March 1777, was eldest son of Henry Hinde Pelly of Upton House, Essex, a captain in the service of the East India Company. His grandfather, John Pelly, was also a captain in the company's service. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Henry Hinde of Upton. John is said to have been in his youth in the navy. If so, he quitted it without obtaining a commission. It is more probable that he was with his father in the company's service; that he had nautical experience of some sort appears certain. Having settled in business in London, he became in 1806 a director of the Hudson's Bay Company, of which he was afterwards successively deputy governor and governor. In 1823 he was elected elder brother of the Trinity House, and, some years later, deputy master. In 1840 he was a director of the Bank of England, and in 1841 governor. As governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1835 he was mainly instrumental in sending out the exploring parties which, under Dease and Thomas Simpson (1808–1840) [q. v.], two of the company's agents, did so much for the discovery of the north-west passage and of the coast-line of North America. His share in this work is commemorated on the map, where Cape Pelly marks the eastern extremity of Dease and Simpson Strait. On 6 July 1840 he was created a baronet, on the recommendation of Lord Melbourne. The Duke of Wellington was on friendly terms with him. He died at Upton on 13 Aug. 1852. He married, in 1807, Emma, daughter of Henry Boulton of Thorncroft, Surrey, governor of the Corporation for Working Mines and Metals in Scotland, and a director of the Sun Fire Office, and had by her a large family.

[Gent. Mag. 1852 ii. 527; Ann. Reg. 1852, p. 300; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage; Simpson's Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America during the years 1836–9.]

J. K. L.