Motto of the Seton's of Mounie


Major George Seton, "of Mounie", of the 93rd Highlanders with powdered hair.

Major George Seton (1819-1905), "of Mounie" (of the second family), of the 93rd Highlanders and 95th Regiment, and The Royal Canadian Rifles

Most noted as Major George Seton of the 93rd Highlanders and the Royal Canadian Rifles (British Army), was born at Mounie in Aberdeenshire in 1819, and was the fourth son of Alexander Seton of Mounie (d. 16 April, 1850) and Janet Skene Ogilvy of Airlie, daughter of Skene Ogilvy, D.D., minister of Old Machar, Aberdeenshire.

He was Captain George Seton, who started as an Ensign of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders on the 28th of July 1838, and a Captain on 21st of February 1852, and was exchanged to the 95th Regiment in 1852. He married in 1853, Anne-Lucy Wake, only surviving daughter of the Baldwin Wake (grandson of Sir William Wake, 7th Bart, of Courteen Hull, co. Northampton) by his wife Sarah, daughter of James Spedding, Esq. of Sumniergrove, co. Cumberland, and had issue: Alexander-David Seton; and William-George Seton.

Like his older brother, he was also educated at home until his early teen-years, being sent abroad for his education. He was an accomplished artist, and traveled throughout North America, and maintained a deep interest in painting the views seen in his travels.

He died unmarried in Edinburgh on March 14th, 1894, and was succeeded by his nephew from his brother Captain George Seton; Alexander-David Seton, Esq., and the Castle remains to this day as it always was.  The plan, or Relief drawings that are pictured in the gallery [left] were drawn February 12th, 1894, and are from the Architect R.S. Lorimer's papers, and give an idea of "what might have been".

His younger brother Captain George Seton, was also an Ensign of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders on the 28th of July 1838, and a Captain on 21st of February 1852 and was exchanged to the 95th Regiment in 1852.  He married in 1853, Anne-Lucy Wake, only surviving daughter of the Baldwin Wake (grandson of Sir William Wake, 7th Bart, of Courteen Hull, co. Northampton), by his wife Sarah, daughter of James Spedding, Esq. of Sumniergrove, co. Cumberland, and had issue:  Alexander-David; and William-George.

Arms — Quarterly: 1st and 4th, or, three crescents, and In the centre a man's heart, distilling blood, the whole within a royal double tressure, flory and counterflory, gu., for SeTon: 2nd and 3rd, arg.. a demi-otter, sa., crowned with an antique crown, or, issuing from a bar, wavy, of the second, for MelDruMIn the centre of the quarterings, a crescent, az., for difference.

Crest and Motto— A demi-man, in military habit, holding the banner of Scotland, with the motto, on an escroll above, "Sistento Sanguine Signa;" below the shield, "Hazard, Zet Forward."

Seat— Mounie, Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire

At the death of his older brother Major David Seton Esq. the 6th Baron of Mounie who died unmarried in Edinburgh on March 14th, 1894, his son Alexander-David Seton succeeded to the Estate and Castle as the representative of the line and the 7th Seton of Mounie.


Serving in Quebec, Seton later went to Lower Fort Garry, Red River, in advance of his troops and in July 1857, and there met John Palliser, of the Palliser Expedition. Palliser then made his way west to Victoria, where he met Seton's cousin Alexander Caulfield Anderson.

He was highly regarded for his watercolour paintings of the wildlife and scenes noted in his expeditions throughout Canada in the 19th century, and his paintings reside in National Library of Canada and the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, as well as in various museums. There are also some of his possessions preserved as artifacts in the old fort from his time stationed in Quebec,now called The David M. Stewart Museum, formerly the Fort de l'Île Sainte-Hélène, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

In documenting the geography in advance of the Rideau Canal, his painting The Drowned Land of 1844, holds clues to it’s early wildlife.
This is likely a view of the River Styx. The steamboat “Hunter” is making its way along the navigation channel with the drowned trees of the surrounding forest on either side. Wildlife such as herons, ospreys and woodpeckers are putting these dead trees to good use as nesting locations and a source of food. Below the water, fish species, such as largemouth bass, are also taking advantage of the habitat these dead trees provide. “The drowned land - Rideau Canal 4 Augt 44,” by George Seton. Library and Archives Canada, 1950-63-1.18R

Seton did this painting of the River Styx in 1864 based on a sketch he did in 1844. In it, he shows Blue Herons, Ospreys and a red-headed woodpecker, all of which would have existed in the pre-canal era.


He commanded 120 Officers and men of the Canadian Riffles at Quebec, leaving in June 1857 for York Factory and arriving at the Red River colony. The mission being sent to protect the frontier from the Americans, and bolster the Hudson's Bay Company settlements. While en-route and there, he made several paintings that documented the life of the regions.

Editors Daunton and Halpern describe this collection of essays as: "designed to enlarge the scope of British and American history, while retaining a coherent centre from which to examine the ‘European’ perspective. They seek to ‘reintegrate’ history of colonial North America with imperial and British history in order to extend chronology and obtain a wider set of contact/conflict histories for comparative analysis. Aboriginal peoples worldwide are not the central subject scrutinized; rather their presence serves to define European subjects. Identity is meant to be viewed as a category for analysis in which recognition of multifaceted multiplicity has displaced essentialism."

In the context of the book’s collection of essays, it is acceptable for Bayly to argue “that the period from 1760-1860 was a critical one in the epistemological and economic creation of ‘indigenous peoples’ as a series of comparable categories across the globe … also … that a consideration of the nature of British imperial expansion and of British intellectual history is central to an understanding of the invention of these ‘indigenous peoples’.” (C.A. Bayly, “The British and indigenous peoples” in Martin Daunton, and Rick Halpern, eds., Empire and others: British encounters with indigenous peoples, 1600-1850 (London: UCL Press, 1999), 1941.)

George Seton, watercolour, “ Winter Travelling in Rupert’s Land,” dated 1857. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-9.

George Seton, watercolour, “Indian Dog Feast. Ruperts Land 1857.” Source: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-1.10R.

George Seton, watercolour, “Buffalo Hunters of the Far West, 1858.” Source: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-1.8R.

George Seton, watercolour, “ Fort Garry, Rupert’s Land,” dated 19 March 1858. Source: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-1.19R.

George Seton, watercolour, “Men’s Barracks from the Officers Messroom Window, Fort Garry, Winter of 1857-1858.” Source: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1950-63-1.12R.


The Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment men's barracks as seen from the officer’s mess room window at Lower Fort Garry during the Winter of 1857-1858. Following incursions into Canadian territory by American troops, a company of this regiment was sent from Montreal in July 1857 via York Factory. It was at Fort Garry by early October and remained in garrison until 1861. Watercolour by Major George Seton the detachment's commander. (Library and Archives Canada, C-001066)
Seton was one of many military personnel that passed through our area during the 19th century. When researching him in response to a print I recently acquired, I came across a research project being done on his family line by a descendant of his, Nancy Anderson. She has kindly been corresponding with me and has shared a bit of information on Seton, which is hard to come by as you might suspect. Although Seton does surface peripherally in the historic record in several documents, it was mostly in records that mention him in passing - i.e., listing rank/position/location, or he participated in such and such event, etc.

An account of John Palliser's British North American Exploring Expedition 1857-1860, by Irene M. Spry records:

"John Palliser and his men set out south, on horseback, from Upper Fort Garry [Winnipeg] to Pembina Fort in the United States, along the banks of the Red River in July 1857. There was the usual scurry and bustle, swearing and shouting, attendant on a large party setting off from the fort...The civilized society in question included not only Mr. Swanston of the Hudson's Bay Company, who had received them so hospitably and helped them greatly with their preparations, but also Major Seton, who had come overland to Red River in advance of the troops then on their way from Canada by the Hudson's Bay route, and Mr. Johnson, the Recorder of Assiniboia..... These two gentlemen saw Palliser and his colleagues ten miles on their way next morning. Nine miles farther on, the explorers caught up with the slower carts, just as the men were pitching camp for the night..."

She also said: "The Hudson's Bay Archives information on Sixth Reg of Foot Records is on Reel 4M145, E.67/2-5. I haven't read it yet and don't know what's in it. Probably you can request it through your library or local archives...and there's a Beaver Magazine article, A Soldier at Fort Garry, by George F. G. Stanley, Autumn 1957 that talks about the troops coming to Fort Garry. They made Fort Garry (from Hudson's Bay) on Oct. 13, It says, 'One Major Seton of our Corps had been sent in advance via U.S. Route in order to see preparations made for our accommodation, and right nobly he had done it. Several of the large Stores Houses had been fitted up for the comfort and convenience of the men, and a Separate apartment for each married man.' I know that George Seton later formed part of the government of Assiniboia, but I can't remember what that government was called. That's about all on Seton [as regards our area...]"

The 'parfleche' artifact forms part of the earliest documented collection of material from the Canadian Plains in The British Museum, and was acquired from Major George Seton.

Seton was also an artist, trained in creating panoramas for military purposes. He served in the Royal Canadian Rifles from 1853-58, the last two years stationed at Fort Garry, Manitoba (Rupert's Land), at the behest of the Hudson's Bay Company who had requested protection from supposed American and native threats. At the end of his posting he participated in two expeditions, one British and one Canadian, sent out to report on the Canadian Plains. He collected this parfleche while on the British expedition, which reported that the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta were suitable for farming.

J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
From British Museum collection: North America (Room 26)





FORT GARRY, 14th March, 1858.

Major Seton to officer commanding Royal Canadian rifles, Toronto, writes that he should now officially write what he has already privately done.

"The subjects are first, the expediency in a military point of view of stationing any portion of Her Majesty's troops at this place. And second (if such a step should be determined on the necessity or otherwise of the presence of a field officer to command the detachment selected for the service.

The first point necessarily involves considerations of political as well as of a purely military kind and which it is very difficult to separate, for though upon the latter ground alone, the conclusion appears to me inevitable that H. M. troops ought not to be quartered in this locality, yet the general circumstance of the country may fairly be taken into account, in estimating the necessity for so an extreme and inconvenient a measure, if nevertheless and contrary to my anticipations it should be resolved on.

The distance and isolation of the spot present in themselves difficulties and inconveniencies, so numerous, so great, and so obvious, that it would be scarcely necessary, or even possible to enumerate them all, but when to these is added the in adequate means of transport and access possessed by the Hudson's Bay Co., either over the route from York Factory, or that from Canada, and which have already resulted in an entire failure on their part to bring up the necessary clothing and stores for even the small force that is here, and would, in case of accident in any of the perilous rapids or portages on the way, have left us without even ammunition until the month of August next, it can hardly be desirable to enter into minute detail to show that nothing short of the most overwhelming necessity could justify sending troops here at all.

But I am bound to assume that H. M. forces are not sent to any quarter of the Empire except in contemplation of some possible military service, in contradistinction to mere police duty and though there is not the smallest probability of their being called on to perform either the one or the other in this place, that fact does not at all testify as to the fitness of the station, while on he other hand it is certain, to the best of my judgment that if called upon to act as a military force the troops could not do so with the faintest prospect of efficiency.

The population contains about 1,300 male adults, nominally resident on the banks of the Red River for about 70 miles upward from its mouth and thinly scattered also along he banks of the Assiniboine to an extent of 20 miles. These people, the residents so called, of the settlement, are in reality more than one half of them absent at great distances in the interior nearly the whole year those that remain behind being the elder and more civilized portion and addicted for the most part to useful but peaceful attempts at husbandry. From neither portion of the inhabitants has the Hudson's Bay Co., or anyone else, any violence to apprehend.

The ordinary administration of justice in small courts, adjusts all differences between man and man without any attempt, as I am assured, having ever been made, in the whole history of the colony, to prevent the execution of a judgment.

The Hudson's Bay Co. have long since abandoned in practice, their Pretension of exclusive trade in this district and far beyond it; or even if there was any chance of a collision between the natives of the country and the people of the company in competing for furs with the Indians, the nearest point where such a thing could occur is at so great a distance as to preclude the intervention of troops, even if it were considered (which I hardly venture to think would be the case) that armed interference between rival traders in the skins of animals were a proper service for any portion of the British army.

The United States have no troops nearer than Fort Ripley (Crow Wing), distance of about 400 miles beyond the frontier (and there only about 130 men). A small force of about 4O men, I am informed, came to the frontier nearly two years ago to a place called Pembina (a few small cottages) but an encampment of less than one month's duration at that place, resulted in their return to Fort Ripley.

As regards the second point which I desire to bring under notice, namely, the necessity for the presence of a field officer with the detachment, I have placed before you as succinctly as t can circumstances that will enable you to form a judgment which I should hope would not be very different from my own. In requesting to be withdrawn I can sincerely say that I do so not from impatience of my duty however painful which Her Majesty's service may impose, but because I think it due to my superiors and myself to believe that when these circumstances are officially made known, and rightly understood, the detachment of the troops nowhere will be withdrawn, and that if any representations for the necessity of their remaining even for a time, were to prevail, the presence of a field officer is wholly superfluous and unnecessary.

I have the to be, sir,
Your most obedient and humble servant,

This letter was sent to Horse Guards and War Office.
This epistle from Major Seton was the basis of the remaining letters, which were the last in the archives bearing directly on the subject.








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