Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 139 years




No. 85


of 2017

This Old


in Manitoba

Local History


Historic Sites
of Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans: Abraham Cowley (1816-1887)


Born at Fairford, Gloucestershire, England, on 8 April 1816. He was educated at Fairford Free School from 1821 to 1828. He was admitted to the Church Missionary Society College in 1839, then ordained by Bishop George Mountain in Montreal on 7 March 1841, and spent a brief curacy at Chateauguay River near Huntington, Quebec. In 1842 he established a mission at Partridge Crop, now Fairford, Manitoba, where a church and school were built.

Recorder Adam Thom refused to recognize Mountain’s competence over Rupert’s Land, and Cowley served as a missionary to the Native people at Fairford until the dispute was settled. His record with the Natives was mixed. He was good at teaching them farming but less successful in translating Christianity into terms they understood. He left Fairford in 1854 and served as assistant to Reverend William Cockran at St. Peter’s until 1855. From 1857 to 1866 he was in charge of the Indian congregation of St. Peter’s. In 1866 he was elevated to the clerical rank of archdeacon, and moved to Mapleton, St. Clement’s Parish, where he remained until his retirement. He received an honorary DD from St. John’s College in 1867. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Historical Society.

Father-in-law of L. S. Vaughan.

Cowley died on 11 September 1887 and was buried in the churchyard at St. Peter’s.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Helen’s Anglican Church (Fairford, RM of Grahamdale)

Abraham Cowley, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XI, 208-9.


Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 31 October 2015

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

Search the collection by word or phrase, name, place, occupation or other text:

Custom Search

Browse surnames beginning with:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z | 2017

Send corrections and additions to the Memorable Manitobans Administrator at

Criteria for Memorable Manitobans | Suggest a Memorable Manitoban  | Our Inspiration | Acknowledgements

Support the MHS and

Back to top of page


To report an error on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations Policy

© 1998-2018 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.