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Memorable Manitobans: Christopher Vaughan Foss (?-?)


Foss was an ensign in the Second West India Regiment of Foot in 1834 and was a lieutenant in 1838. In 1839 he transferred to the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, and he sold out his commission in 1842. He came to Red River as a staff officer of the Chelsea pensioners. Rumour spread that he had become too friendly with the wife of Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor John Ballenden. After consulting with recorder Adam Thom, Foss started a suit for defamatory conspiracy against Chief Trader Augustus Edward Pelly and his wife, as well as mess steward John Davidson and his wife. The trial opened on 16 July 1850, with Foss declaring that he sought to clear Mrs. Ballenden’s reputation. After an uproarious trial, the jury found the defendants guilty and awarded the plaintiff damages. Critics of Thom used the case as an illustration of the problems besetting his court. Ironically enough, Thom later found evidence that Captain Foss and Mrs. Ballenden were still intimately involved. Foss subsequently held an appointment as a staff officer of pensioners in Western Australia in 1852.


Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 May 2011

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