DCB/DBC Mobile beta


New Biographies

Minor Corrections

Biography of the Day

McVICAR, KATE – Volume XI (1881-1890)

d. 18 June 1886 at Hamilton, Canada West


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

OUTLAW, JOHN (Outlan or Outlas, Jean), “Marriner & Shipwright” of Limehouse, England; d. c. 1696–97.

He served as mate on the Bachelor’s Delight, commanded by Benjamin Gillam* who sailed from New England on 21 June 1682 and founded a post 26 miles up the Nelson River. Subsequently Radisson* and Chouart Des Groseilliers, and John Bridgar established posts for the French and HBC respectively. Radisson captured the two rival posts in 1683. Some of the English prisoners were put on the unseaworthy Sainte-Anne, and Outlaw navigated it to James Bay, whence he returned to England in the HBC ship, Diligence (Capt. Nehemiah Walker).

Despite Outlaw’s being an interloper who had infringed their patent ‘ the HBC hired him for their 1684 voyage. He was given command of the Lucy and sailing with the Happy Return made a successful voyage to and from Port Nelson. Radisson, his captor of the year before and now in English pay, was a passenger on the Happy Return, and Henry Kelsey*, on his first voyage to the Bay, was aboard the Lucy.

Outlaw commanded the Success in 1685 and on the voyage out encountered two French ships from Port Nelson under Claude de Bermen* de La Martinière with the captured English vessel Perpetuana Merchant. He was unable either to seize the French ships or to release their prize. Homeward bound from Charlton Island the Success was wrecked by ice; passengers and crew made their way to Charles Fort on Rupert River. Outlaw spent the winter at Moose. In the spring of 1686 Pierre de Troyes captured Moose (which the French called Saint-Louis) and at Rupert River captured both the post and the HBC ship, Craven. Outlaw piloted the Craven to Moose where de Troyes loaded it with cannon before proceeding to capture Albany (Sainte-Anne). Outlaw and many of the English prisoners were sent in the Colleton to winter at Port Nelson and Severn, subsequently returning to England in 1687.

Outlaw and his crew were refused their wages for alleged negligence in losing the Success. Therefore in 1688, the disgruntled Outlaw joined John Abraham in an interloping expedition on the Mary but she was wrecked by ice in Hudson Strait. The crew were happily rescued by the HBC ship Churchill (Capt. William Bond) which, with the Yonge, was taking a new governor, Marsh, and men to Albany to establish a post near the former English fort captured by the French in 1686. The new post was established but Pierre Le Moyne* d’Iberville captured it during the winter and Outlaw was taken prisoner by the French for the third time. He accepted his destiny and deserted to the French either then or shortly afterwards. In 1690 the HBC warned its servants that Outlaw was a potential interloper.

At Quebec in 1692 Outlaw married Françoise Denis (his first wife was Mary Saille of London) and had three children by her. He commanded a royal frigate La Boufonne, which left Quebec on a privateering expedition on 9 June 1696 (n.s.). He may have been the “sieur Outlas” to whom some land in Acadia was granted in 1697 and the “Outelas” forbidden by Governor Joseph Robinau de Villebon in August 1697 to go off on a cruise without further instructions. Outlaw died before July 1698, when his wife was remarried.

G. E. Thorman

HBRS, IX (Rich); XI, XX (Rich and Johnson); XXI (Rich). Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la Nouv.-France, II, 222. P-G. Roy, Inv. concessions, IV, 135. Chevalier de Troyes, Journal (Caron). Tanguay, Dictionnaire, I, 456. Webster, Acadia, 106.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

G. E. Thorman, “OUTLAW, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 18, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/outlaw_john_1E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/outlaw_john_1E.html
Author of Article:   G. E. Thorman
Title of Article:   OUTLAW, JOHN
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1966
Year of revision:   1979
Access Date:   June 18, 2024