Alexander Kennedy Isbister

1822 - 1883

First person of native American heritage to be admitted to the Bar.

Admission 1862, Middle Temple

Alexander Kennedy Isbister was born in 1822 in modern-day Saskatchewan, of mixed indigenous and European descent. After working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, he travelled to Great Britain in 1842 where he studied in Scotland before becoming a teacher in London.

He became the headmaster of the Stationers’ Company School in 1858 and edited the Educational Times for twenty years as well as writing many school textbooks. He trained as a lawyer in the 1860s, being admitted to the Middle Temple in 1862.

On both sides of the Atlantic he was a fervent activist for the rights of the indigenous population of Canada, writing pamphlets, lobbying MPs and campaigning against the monopoly and neglect of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He died in 1883 in London.