JANUARY 8, 1820


Born circa 1798, Demasduit’s Beothuk people of Newfoundland were dwindling in number.  In early 1819, armed fur traders arriving at Red Indian Lake, winter camp of the Beothuk, captured her and later killed her husband, Nonosbawsut, when he attempted to rescue her.  Demasduwit was placed in the care of an Anglican missionary and later brought to St John’s where she became known as “Mary March.”  The governor, seeking to improve relations with the Beothuk, tried to return her to her people, but the Beothuk refused.  Demasduwit was again given to the care of the missionary who compiled a vocabulary of the Beothuk language with her help.  Before another attempt could be made to return her, she died from tuberculosis near Botwood, Newfoundland, on January 8, 1820.  A party of British marines and furriers returned her body to Red Indian Lake arrayed with gifts.  Her body later was placed with that of Nonosbawsut by her people.  She was one of the last of her people.

Source:  G. M. Story, “DEMASDUWIT (Shendoreth, Waunathoake, Mary March),” Dictionary of Canadian Biography.  Retrieved 1/28/2021, Biography – DEMASDUWIT – Volume V (1801-1820) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography (biographi.ca)
Painting:  Lady Henrietta Martha Hamilton (ca. 1780-1857), 1819.  Public Domain.

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