Martha Ann Telfer

???? - 1839

Claimant or beneficiary


The daughter of the free woman of colour Rebecca Ritchie (q.v.), and mother of James Douglas (1803-1877), who became the governor of British Columbia (and whose father was John Douglas, q.v.).

Born in the Island of Barbados (according to her will, which was signed 28/07/1839). Martha Ann had three children with John Douglas - James, Alexander and Cecilia. Cecilia later married David Cameron in British Guiana (and her daughter, Cecile Cowan, was the main beneficiary of Martha Ann Telfer's will). James and Alexander were educated in Scotland and then joined the Hudson Bay Company.

Martha Ann later had a son Thomas Telfer Falconer (1813-1880) with Demerara sugar planter Alexander Falconer (1780-1842). Thomas married his cousin Helen Walker in Barony, Glasgow, 11/12/1845. In 1851 he was living at 66 Buccleuch Street in Barony, age 38, with his wife and 3 children. He died in Helensburgh, Dumbartonshire, 06/04/1880 and his moveable property was valued at £659 6s 1d.

Unpublished accounts of Thomas Falconer's descendants state that Thomas Falconer was taken to Scotland by his father, boarded in Glasgow with an old lady and was educated at Doune in Perthshire. His lifelong friends were Sam Bough the artist and Orr Ewing of Killirinrain. Alexander Falconer died at Lennoxtown in 1842. Helen Walker was one of the co-heiresses of their uncle Thomas Falconer (1761-1840), a Glasgow lawyer. There is a wedding photograph of Thomas and Helen in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


T71/886 British Guiana claim no. 1366.

Charlotte S.M. Girard, 'Sir James Douglas' Mother and Grandmother', B.C. Studies No. 44 Winter 1979-80 at [accessed 20/04/2011]; Adele Perry, 'James Douglas, Canada and Guyana' Stabroek News 04/04/2011 [accessed 20/04/2011].

Death certificate of Thomas Telfer Falconer GROS 1880 642/2 212. Scotland, National Probate Index.

Email from Alison Macbeth Mitchell sourced to Robert McNicol's Memoir (unprinted 1911) and verbal communication with Ann Macbeth (1946).

We are grateful to Alison Macbeth Mitchell for her assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

[(1) John Douglas]; (2) Richard Telfer
Sir James Douglas, Alexander, Cecilia

Associated Claims (1)

£68 8s 0d

Legacies Summary

Imperial (1)

notes →
Mother of Sir James Douglas (q.v.), who became Governor of white colonies in three...

Relationships (4)

Natural Daughter → Mother
Mother → Natural Son
Extra-marital relationships
Extra-marital relationships
Notes →