This Week in History
The First Governor Under the British Regime
For the week of Monday June 18, 2007
On July 18, 1794, James Murray died at Beauport House in England. During a 58 years long military career, he distinguished himself in a number of conflicts throughout the British Empire before becoming Governor of Québec.
After the fall of Montréal that same year, military rule was established in the province, creating three districts: Québec (with Murray as governor), Trois-Rivières and Montréal. He concerned himself with security, the role and influence of the Church, and the economy. In the hopes of winning over the Canadians to the British cause in order to avoid a revolt, Murray allowed them to keep their language, religion, and some customs and laws. He ensured he had the backing of the Church so that it would encourage parishioners to co-operate with the British regime. Murray put in place economic measures to help the exhausted colony; supplies were scarce, cash was short and inflation loomed. These measures allowed the Canadians, mostly farmers, to survive, but caused many problems for merchants, who were mostly British.
Murray’s decisions as governor set precedents that were favourable to the Canadians when the Quebec Act of 1774 was drafted. From an economic standpoint, the little help he gave merchants had the effect of keeping the province in a near-feudal state and slowed its movement to a mercantile economy.
James Murray was designated National Historic Person in 1955.
- Date Modified: