ABRAHAM, JOHN, governor of Port Nelson; fl. 1672–89.
He joined the HBC about 1672 and served in James Bay 1672–75 and 1676–78 under Governor Charles Bayly, against whom he brought charges of mismanagement. In 1679 Abraham was appointed second to John Nixon, Bayly’s successor and although he absconded with an advance of salary at sailing time, he was engaged in 1681 as mate of the Diligence (Capt. Nehemiah Walker) and wintered in James Bay.
Despite Nixon’s criticisms of him, Abraham was promoted captain of the George in 1683, his destination being Port Nelson, where Governor John Bridgar had gone in 1682 to establish a fort. En route Abraham assisted Nehemiah Walker to capture the interloper Expectation and, on arrival, finding that the Company’s post had been destroyed and that Bridgar, with Benjamin Gillam* the New England interloper, had been captured and taken to Quebec by Radisson* and Chouart Des Groseilliers, he assumed command. After a winter spent harassing and competing with Jean-Baptiste Chouart, Des Groseilliers’s son, Abraham was homeward-bound when he received a commission as governor of Port Nelson. He returned and during his first weeks of office York Fort was built under George Geyer’s supervision and an attack, made by the newly arrived M. de Bermen* de La Martinière of the Compagnie du Nord, was repulsed. After a winter of friction the French withdrew in 1685.
On learning that Abraham had left Port Nelson in 1684 before the arrival of the ships from England the Committee cancelled his commission and instead appointed him deputy to Governor Thomas Phipps. He served as such during 1685–8 and was then recalled because, for one reason, the Committee considered that his opposition to the French in 1684–85 had been “timerous & imprudent” when he was in the stronger position. One of his last duties in 1686 was to explore Churchill River, and it was his enthusiastic report of its possibilities which, not without reason, aroused the Committee’s suspicions of his future intentions.
Abraham next undertook an interloping expedition to Hudson Bay in the Mary, but moves by the HBC to protect its monopoly prevented him from sailing until 1688, and by that time he had been joined by the dissatisfied John Outlaw. The Mary was wrecked by ice in Hudson Strait, but her complement was taken aboard the Company’s ships to Albany River where, under John Marsh, an attempt was made to settle peaceably near the French and re-establish the prestige and trade lost to Pierre de Troyes in 1686. Although both Crowns were at peace the rival parties clashed. Abraham, sent to the French as a hostage, changed his allegiance and apparently spent the rest of his life preying on English shipping in the St. Lawrence. References to his wife, Mary, are to be found in the company’s records between 1677 and 1686.