WAGGONER, ROWLAND, HBC employee; d. 1740.
Waggoner, an illiterate labourer, came to York Fort with Governor James Knight in 1714. In 1717 he was a member of the advance party with William Stuart for the founding of Churchill. He returned to York Fort in 1718. In 1721 he accompanied John Scroggs in the Whalebone sloop to winter at Churchill. However it is unlikely that Waggoner continued on the expedition from Churchill in the following year as the York Fort account book shows that he made heavy expenditures in 1721–22. He probably returned to England in 1722 or 1723. In 1724 Waggoner was at Albany, and except for the 1735–36 season which he spent in England he stayed there until his death in 1740. Though illiterate, Waggoner was one of those jacks of all trades so indispensable in the north. He worked as a sawyer, was handy with the broadaxe, and could do a cooper’s work. He could hunt, trap, and shoot as well as an Indian; in 1729 he shot a French spy lurking around the factory. In addition to his versatility as a workman, the Albany journals show him possessed of a warm and hearty personality. Much of his wages went for brandy and tobacco; in a ten-year period at Albany he averaged 13.6 gallons of brandy yearly, and it has been suggested that his death was hastened by his hard drinking.
Because of his usefulness his wages were advanced steadily. In 1737 he was put on the council; in 1739 he succeeded Thomas Bird as chief, a position he held until his death on 23 April 1740. The London committee must have been satisfied with his performance for in 1740 he was appointed chief for three years, but he died before the orders reached Albany.
HBC Arch. A.6/4 (letters outward, 20 May 1724); A.6/5 (letters outward, 21 May 1729, 15 May 1730, 11 May 1732, 10 May 1733, 3 March 1734,.2 May 1735, 20 May 1737); A.6/6 (letters outward, 18 May 1738, 11 May 1739, 1 May 1740, 23 April 1741); B.3/a/15–23, 25, 27–29 (Albany journals between 1726 and 1740); B.3/d/33–43, 45–46, 48 (Albany account books between 1724 and 1740); B.42/d/1 (Churchill account books, 1717–18); B.239/a/1, 3 (York journals between 1714 and 1717); B.239/d/7–12 (York account books, 1714-22). HBRS, XXV (Davies and Johnson).