What’s in a Name?

Albin Giles Mallory

On my mother’s side, my 3rd great grandfather was a man by the name of Albin Giles Mallory. His name is unique – I haven’t found another Albin anywhere else in my family tree. Of his eight children, none carried either his forename or his middle name of Giles. In searching for his ancestors, I have yet to come across another Albin, or Alvin for that matter! I had hoped that maybe it would off me a clue at some point – maybe when considering who his forebears were, that name would pop up and offer evidence of some sort. But no, there seems to be only one Albin.

On the positive side though, I have been able to find him listed on the 1850 census in the United States. Perhaps, that gives me some clues that I can use to track him down. Albin was reputedly born about 1830 in Ganaonque, Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, Canada. A specific birthdate of September 29th, 1829 is listed for him in the 1901 census but I have found no documentation to prove this date. There is enough evidence to suggest that 1829-1831 was his approximate birth year. I have tried to deternine who his parents were through my research but have found limited clues. There are a couple of things of note that I have discovered…1) Gananoque is about 30 kilometres to the West of Mallorytown. Mallorytown is so named for the Mallory families that came from the United States after the American Revolution. 2) His father was named Peter (found listed on his death registration) and 3) His ancestors may or may not have been Loyalists. Bottom line, I can conclude very little on from where and who he came from!

But, I can trace his life. His obituary, printed on page 7 of the Lindsay Watchman Warder on October 1st, 1908 tells of his birth place and that he stayed there for about 25 years, before moving further West into Durham County, finally settling in the town of Millbrook about 1858. Based on the census records, these dates may not be accurate. It also says that Albin married Maria Robinson, of Clarke, in 1857.

Obit - Albin Giles Mallory 1 Oct 1908 Linsday watchman Warder

From a census perspective, Albin Mallory was living in Rock, Wisconsin in 1850. He is engaged in farming, is 19 years of age, born in Canada and living with Samuel Powers and his family, including wife Maria Moulton. How do we know that this is him? Well, as I said, there aren’t any other Albin Mallory’s at that time! Not only that, but I have documented Samuel Powers to be the son of Nathaniel Hart Powers and his wife Rebecca LaRue. Samuel was born in the County of Leeds in 1819, married Maria Moulton in Orono, Durham County on January 26th, 1842 then had their first child Ambrose in Durham in 1846, and second child Clarence in Wisconsin in 1850. These families are tied together but in a way that I do not know at this point. But, I can conclude that this is Albin in Wisconsin in 1850.

1850 census Rock Wisonsin

Albin is also documented in the 1851 census in Canada, so he didn’t stay in Wisconsin for long. At this time, he is living in Clarke, Durham County in the household of Sala Robinson – he is employed as a servant and aged 22 years. This must be where he met his wife, she was the eldest daughter of Sala and his wife Louisa Ceryon – also listed as part of this family unit, aged 18 years. Interestingly, and further suggesting a link between several families, the Robinson’s are listed as living beside Hiram Powers and his family. Hiram was the older brother of Samuel Powers.

1852 Clarke census

The marriage year of 1857, suggested in Albin’s obituary makes some sense, as does the location of Clarke, Durham. No marriage registration record has been found to prove it though. Albin and Maria would be parents to eight children, four boys and four girls. Their eldest daughter, Emma was born in April 1858 in Clarke and died at the age of 28 years, leaving her husband Charles Jacques with three children under six years of age. Also dying at a young age was their first son Albert Casey who died in 1889 before he turned 30. Other children were Lilly Elvy (1859-1942) who married George Lock (my great great grandparents); Amelia Louisa (1862-1944) who married John McComb; William Warren (1863-1944) and resided in Peterborough; Alice Fair (1867-1929) who married John Nathaniel Powers (yes, Powers again…he was the son of Hiram, neighbour to the Robinson’s in 1851); Frederick Bruce (1870-1945) who married Elizabeth Emerson and moved into Toronto by the 1921 census; and finally, Wilbert John (1876-1917) who died on a field in France during the First World War.

Wilbert John Mallory death

Albin Mallory was a Sawyer, working with wood throughout his life. His is listed in various census’ as a carpenter, a Sawyer and a Sawmillman. His obituary mentions that he was the proprietor of saw mills into two towns for years. In 1861, he is listed as residing in Clarke, Durham with his wife and three small children. He is living very close to Maria’s parents. In 1871, the family is still in Clarke and now there are seven children. By 1881, things start to change…In the 1881 census, Albin and Maria have moved up into Millbrook, Cavan, Durham, where he is now a Sawmillman. The three eldest daughters are married and living with their husbands, the three middle children are living with their parents and the two youngest are not living with the family. By 1891, the family has been split apart. In the 1891 census, Albin is residing in Millbrook with his son in law George Lock and his family. He lists himself as married but Maria is not living with him. In fact, Maria is found in this census back in Clarke living with sons Fred and Wilbert. She lists herself as widowed. By 1901, she is working as a live-in housekeeper for a man by the name of Samuel Halladay. Both are widowed. Albin, on the other hand, is living in Millbrook and with a couple named Leith and is a domestic for them. I am not sure what the indication of C.W. is in marital status but that is what is listed for him. Clearly something happened to the couple that they spent over 10 years living apart and claiming to be widowed.

1891 Maria Mallory

Albin 1891 census

Albin died on the 19th of September 1908 in Millbrook. His death was reported by his son in law George Lock. His obituary ran a few weeks later in the local newspaper. Maria died two years later in August 1910 in Kendall, Clarke, Durham – she had been sick for some time. Her death was reported by her son in law John Powers.

Maria Mallory death 1910

The couple has left many descendants, some of which still reside in the area around Whitby, Oshawa and Lindsay. I have many DNA cousins out there who share this family history. I only hope to continue the search fro Albin’s ancestors in hopes of finding out just who they were, and where the name Albin Giles really comes from?!

Breaking down brick walls in Ireland – The story of John Husband

Doing research on my Irish ancestors has often proven to be very difficult, with the lack of available resources. But, I have one ancestor that I have had quite a bit of luck finding the documents to prove who he is – that is my 4th great grandfather – John Husband. I cannot take credit for much of the research into his life, there have been two coil-bound books printed about The Husbands of Halton, by several Husband cousins. I am grateful to Marion Husband and Bill Taylor for sharing with me and to Annette Wojos who has also helped a great deal.

Finding records in Ireland is notoriously difficult and many a brick wall has been encountered when searching for any ancestors from the Emerald Isle. John Husband is no exception. His Irish origins have been pieced together by different documents that have been found in Canada. My first introduction to him was through “The Husbands of Halton”, which includes genealogical research done by Valerie Brook Husband. Within its pages, the diary of Henry Price Husband is transcribed. Henry was the youngest of ten children that were born to John Husband and his wife Alicia Napier. Henry’s diary is rich with his account of his parent’s stories as well as his own. We know now that these are his recollections and are not necessarily facts. But the stories are intriguing and certainly based on some level of truth, at least how he was told it. Henry also kept record of the family’s births, marriages and deaths in a Bible. This bible has been made available online and adds another level of information to these stories.

Husband Bible 5 - Deaths

John Husband, was reputedly born on January 2, 1782 in the Village of Mormount/Maudemont in the County of Tipperary, Ireland. His parents were George Husband and Elizabeth White. No baptismal record has been found for John or any of his siblings, nor a marriage record for his parents. These pieces of information are taken from Henry’s bible record.

Henry Husband Bible page 3

When John was 30 years old, he was en route to America for either work or to visit family/friends when the ship that he was on, was boarded and all able bodied men were pressed into service for the British Navy – the year was 1812, the Napoleanic wars were raging and the War of 1812 was about the begin. John would continue with the British Navy for over four years before he was discharged and returned to Ireland.

BLOG - John Husband POW 1812

He fought in many battles during his time with the Navy including the Battle of the Chesapeake versus the Shannon in June 1813. Henry wrote in detail about this in his diary and there is a short write-up in the Nassagaweya Centennial book written by Joshua Norrish. But, the dates of John’s service with the British Navy are also included in his request for land in Canada, in 1823. He would be given a Crown patent of 100 acres of land in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario recorded on 17 April 1833. The lot awarded was the West half of lot 25 on concession 4.

HUS - John Husband - Land Patent

According to John’s petition for land, he had emigrated to Canada in 1822, first settling in Bertie Township. He had arrived with his wife and three children. He names the area of Ireland from which he came, as Tipperary, where he was a Weaver.

HUS - John Husband land petition 1823

A recent discovery on FamilySearch led to an index for marriages in Ireland between 1623 and 1866. In County Waterford, there was recorded a marriage between John Husband and Alice Napper, in 1818. Waterford happens to be immediately adjacent to Tipperary so the place makes sense, as does the year. Alice Napper is Alicia Napier, who I have written about in the past. The next step would be to try and locate the actual document and not just the index, perhaps they are just waiting to be digitized.

John Husband marriage ot Alice Napper 1818

John and Alice would have ten children together. The first three were Elizabeth, George and Susannah, who were born in Ireland. The next seven were William, James, Margaret Dora, Robert, Charles and finally Henry Price in 1835. Charles died from a fall into the home’s fire when he was two years old in 1836. James died in 1847, an unmarried young man. Elizabeth (1818-1897) was married to Duncan McTavish in about 1838, they moved further West in Ontario to Huron Township, Bruce County. George (1820-1881) was married to Jane Simpson and they settled around Burlington, Ontario. Susanna (1822-1897) married Joseph Pickett, a fruit farmer and settled in Clarkson, Ontario. William (1825=1903) was the first child born in Canada. He married Sarah Sowler and managed the farm in Nassagaweya, upon his father’s passing. Margaret Dora (1828-1907) married Israel Jeater and they too moved to Huron Township, Huron County where they raised four children.  Robert (1830-1875) was married twice and died at a young age. John (1832-1898) was married to Helen Robinson Taylor and was first a teacher and later Reeve in Oakville. The youngest, Henry Price (1835-1920) was the author of both the diary and the keeper of the family Bible. He was also married twice and became a teacher. He was the Principal of a school in Oakville for a number of years.

As mentioned, John was a weaver in Ireland and claimed to be continuing to weave when he lived in Ontario. He was an early pioneer in Nassagaweya Township and needed to farm his land to care for his family. There were many hardships in those early days. Henry writes that after the death of his brother Charles, his mother’s “reason left her”. In the 1842 census, John and Alicia only had two of their children living with them and she was listed as “insane”. The family was scattered when Alicia could not care for them. John was left to toil his land and care for his youngest children as best as he could. Henry describes his father’s character when he said “I shall always revere the memory of my father for his industry, his intelligence, his sterling honesty, and independence of character. Too proud to curry favour, he bore his misfortunes cheerfully and patiently.” Joshua Norrish, in the History of Nasagiweya says of John “I have heard him talk about losing some night’s sleep in chasing old Bonaparte on the sea” indicating that he was quite a storyteller.

John Husband - Nassagaweya Township 1842 Halton County Census

John died on the second of January 1864.  His will outlines his possessions and names each of his living children and what they are to receive.  His will makes no mention of his wife Alicia, who is alive and residing in the Asylum in Toronto.  He names his son William, his nephew Richard and his cousin John Simpson as the executors of his will.  William would take over the farm in Nassagaweya.  Richard Husband is the son of John’s brother George.  The mention of John Simpson, as his cousin, is new information.  He was a long time resident of Nassagaweya also, but I haven’t researched him at all to understand how he could be John’s cousin.  It definitely pays to re-look at previous research to see if any new clues pop out.

HUS - John Husband - Will

I have found evidence of several of John’s brother’s who also emigrated to Canada. His brother Robert (1796-1867) also settled in Nassagaweya Township for some time before moving his family south into Burlington. His brother George (1780-1846) chose the Niagara area to settle; as did his brother James (1796-1853). There may have been other siblings but no records have been found. With the recent discovery of the marriage index from Ireland, I did some digging into what other records might be included in the same index. There are several records of interest that warrant further research. One, is a probate record for a George Husband, a farmer from Maudemont, who died in 1802. Could this be John’s father? Another is a marriage record for an Elizabeth Husband to Henry Price in 1802, in Tipperary. Is it possible that father George died in or before 1802 and his mother Elizabeth re-married in 1802? I can’t help but notice the surprising coincidence of the name Henry Price! There are also a number of other marriages for various female Husband’s who may or may not be sisters of John. A family historian’s job is never done and more research is planned!

George Husband probate

Husband marriages

A life well lived – Ellen Emma Sanderson

As International Women’s Day was last week and St. Patrick’s Day is upcoming this week, I thought a good person to talk about right now, is my great grandmother – Ellen Emma Sanderson. A woman, obviously, but one of Irish descent so meets both of my criteria for this week.

Ellen went by the name Nell most of her life, a nickname given by her family. She was born in October 1869 in Teeswater, Huron County, Ontario. Her parents were William Sanderson and Mary Jane Curran (or Carey). Nell was the second child and also the second daughter, of a family of eight children.   Her father was born in Ontario to Irish immigrant parents Robert Sanderson and Margaret Nesbitt. Her mother, Mary Jane was reputedly born in Belfast, Ireland coming to Canada as a young girl. William and Mary Jane were married in Wawanosh Township, Huron County in 1864, when Mary Jane was just sixteen years old. Their first child, Margaret Jane arrived two years later, and then Ellen Emma in 1869, then four more daughters and two sons. The last child, Eva Beatrice was born in 1887.

BLOG - Ellen Emma 1897

Ellen Emma Sanderson – about 1895

The family made their home in the area around Wingham, Ontario where William was a farmer. The couple, and their children can be found on the 1871 census in East Wawanosh, Huron County then in 1881, they are in Culross, Bruce County. William passed away in 1890 at the age of 52 due to lung congestion which lasted for six days. In the 1891 census, the family is back in East Wawanosh. Ellen at the age of 22 years, was a dressmaker living with her mother and siblings except older sister Margaret who had been married a few years earlier. In 1894, her mother married for a second time to a fellow widower named Albert George England. They resided in Michigan and at times, her children lived with them. Albert passed away in 1921 and Mary Jane followed him in death two years later.

Nell would marry Edward James McTavish, “Ted”, on July 14th, 1897 in Kincardine, Ontario.

BLOG - Ellen Emma marriage

Marriage register for Ted and Nell – July 1897

He was a tailor by trade, and she a dressmaker residing in Detroit at the time of their marriage. In the 1901 and 1911 census’, the family can be found in his hometown of Ripley, Huron Township, Bruce County. They had a tailoring shop in the downtown area of Ripley and Ted also had a coal business.

EJ McTavish Tailor shop - Ripley ca 1910

Tailor Shop in Ripley – Ted and Nell on the left

Ted’s father had been a farmer but a fall from a horse when a young boy, broke Ted’s leg and from that point on, his left leg was shorter than the right. The physical labour that farming demanded, forced him to find other employment and ignited an entrepreneurial spirit. The family would move to Hamilton, Ontario around 1920 where they opened another tailoring business and became landlords owning a couple of buildings in that area. With the onset of the Depression, they would face hard times. When some of his tenants could not pay their rent, Ted gave them a break. Unfortunately, this would mean that the banks foreclosed on his buildings forcing him to give them up. He would never be a landlord again.

BLOG - Ted and Nell

Ted and Nell – about 1950 – on the front porch of their home on Spring in Hamilton.

Ted and Nell only had two children. First was Irene Beatrice who was born in 1902, then followed William James who was born in 1908.

BLOG - Irene and William McTavish

Irene Beatrice and William James McTavish – Ripley – about 1915

My great Aunt Irene would marry a Jeweler and they lived a lavish life in St. Catharines. They did not have children. My grandfather Bill was a musician, a bet runner for the horse races and then eventually a Logistics planner at Dofasco. He was married twice, the first marriage ending in divorce and the second to the daughter of Polish immigrants. They would have three children.

Ted and Nell celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in the summer of 1947. They held a party in their back yard on Spring Street and many family joined them in celebration, including a few of her siblings, their children and grand children.

BLOG - Golden Wedding

BLOG - Ellen Emma extended family photo 1947

Golden Wedding Anniversary – l to r – Nell, Irene, Sally Neff (John and Joyce in front), Bill, Ted and I believe, one of Nell’s sisters and her husband

Nell passed away in the summer of 1953. My Aunt tells me a remarkable story about her grandmother and her health issues. Apparently, Nell was deaf in one ear and for many years wore a hearing aid. Also, she was treated for breast cancer in the early part of the century resulting in a mastectomy. I find this fascinating! To think that such treatment was available in those days is so interesting. I wish I could learn more about those days.

BLOG - Ellen Emma obit

Certainly, a life well lived. Another of my ancestors that I wish I could have met!

Ahead of her Time

In honour of International Women’s Day – I thought I would write about one of my strong female ancestors.

My great grandmother was a woman by the name of Clarice Louis Von Gunten. Born in 1887, she was gone before I ever got to meet her, having passed away in 1952. Her life has been laid out in pictures for me, always looking like a strong and confident woman. Little did I know from those family photos, what a remarkable life she had led and how she was a woman ahead of her time. She was the third daughter borne to parents Charles Louis and Sarah Ann Clemens, followed only by her brother Carl. Her father was a Jeweller in Blenheim, Kent County and the family was more prosperous than most at the turn of the century.

Education was important to the family and all the children graduated high school. Clarice, commonly called by her middle name Louis, graduated from Goldsmith College in 1905, at the age of 18 years. In 1909, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program and the University of Toronto, from which she graduated in 1913. She was one of very few women to attend University at that time, volunteering her time for a Women’s Discussion group and becoming Vice-President of her class. Louie would use this education to become a high school teacher in Blenheim. Finding several yearbook photos on Ancestry has proven very useful in understanding her formative educational years.

Louis with her graduating class from Goldsmith College in 1905.  She is standing in the back row, middle.

BLOG - clarice at goldsmith 1905

Beside her picture, the write up of her graduation from the University of Toronto in 1913.

BLOG - graduation UofT yearbook

Her eldest sister Mary was married to David Hall and the family resided in Wilmette, Illinois. In 1915, Louis crossed the border to visit with Mary. From here, she enlisted with the Red Cross and served in France and Belgium throughout World War I. Although not trained as a nurse, she served in the medical tents where she was needed. Our family has kept many of her letters home as well as letters written to the man who would become her husband, who was also serving with the Canadian Forces in Europe.

Louis in her American Red Cross uniform in 1915.

BLOG - clarice army uniform

Her husband was George Everett Scroggie, whom I have written about in the past. He was a banker who had come to Canada from Scotland to work with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada in the late 1900’s. The family story is that George was invited by Louie’s father, Charles, to have dinner with the family in about 1915. They had crossed paths as a merchant and a banker in Blenheim.   From this meeting, the romance began and a courtship was continued throughout the War, until the couple married in January 1920. My grandmother, Mary Louise, was born later that same year in December.

George’s banking career would take the family to Carleton Place, just outside of Ottawa for a few years, where two of their children were born and then onto Chatham where their third and fourth children were born. The family then moved to Hamilton, Ontario into a house on Flatt Avenue in the area of Westdale, where they remained. Louie was a member of the Melrose United Church and volunteered with various Women’s organizations. She was a caring but demanding mother to her children who were all trained on various musical instruments and who would all attend and graduate from University. Daughters Mary, Evelyn and Jean who become a Registered Nurse, a Medical Doctor and a Journalist. Son George, was a mathematician and a Teacher. Louis was proud to have her children put on concerts while she was entertaining guests and clients of her husband.

Louis and the other strong women in her lift.  Left to right – Daughter Mary Scroggie, Louis, her mother Sarah Clemens, sister Mary (May) Hall, sister Evelyn (Lizzie) Langford and her daughter Louise Langford.

BLOG - Vongunten girls - Mary Scroggie, Clarice, Sara Ann(clemens), Mary, Lynn, Lydia Langford abt 1921

Louis’s health was reputed to have been failing for a number of years. Described as having a “weak constitution” by one of her grand-children, she was often laid up in bed without energy or breath to play with her nine grand-kids. She is fondly remembered as being very warm and loving, giving the best hugs. Before her passing, the family would spend many years enjoying their cottage retreat on Lake Wah-Wash-Kesh. The purchase of this property, which included two small islands and some acres on the mainland, in the Canadian bush was made possible by connections that Louie had with friends made during the War, who were Americans. The trip to the cottage was a long journey for the family and included being driven in a car, taking the train, paddling a bateau up the Magnetawan River and then a raft across the Lake. No electricity and no motor boats! But the family loved the adventure and I am told that Louie felt most at peace on “Scroggie’s Island”.

Her obituary printed in the Hamilton Spectator.

BLOG - Louis obit 1952

Clarice Louis Von Gunton Scroggie was truly a remarkable woman and one that I wish I had been able to meet. She was a trail blazer and I am proud to call her family.

Finding clues with the “neighbours”

Last Fall, I was walking through the rows of gravestones in the Nassagaweya Presbyterian Church cemetery, just south of Brookville, Ontario. Some of my McTavish family are buried there, having been some of the earlier pioneers in what was originally called Sodom. This is not the first time that I have walked through the cemetery, nor the first time that I have reviewed the transcriptions. The names are all recognizable to me as I have researched many of them in the past. But on that day, I noticed something that I hadn’t before, who was buried around my three times great Uncle – Archibald McTavish.

The transcription numbered the grave rows from West to East, number 38 on the list is Archibald McTavish and his wife Mary McMillan. On the back side of that stone is Archibald McTavish (Sr.), numbered 39. Behind this stone is one for Donald McEwan and family, and in front of it is that of George Black.  Looking just at the transcription list, you would not know that the Gillies family is buried directly to the North of the McTavish stone.

Facing West and looking directly to the right,  are a number of stones for members of the Gillies family.  Being buried so close to the McTavish family, I wanted to look into this “neighbour, to see what I might find.  I first looked at the stone for Captain Archibald Gillies, who died April 30th, 1896 at the specific age of 71 years, 11 months and 15 days, a native of Argyll, Scotland. A death registration for Archibald indicated that he was single, and a mariner but his parents were not named.

BLOG - Arch Gillies death 1896

Intrigued, I researched Archibald and found a baptism dated 24 Jun 1824 to parents Duncan Gillies and Margaret McTavish in Inverlivermore, Kilmartin parish, Argyll.  As an interesting aside, the baptism listed above Archibald’s is for Mary Campbell, whose parents Peter Campbell and Nelly McLarty, also emigrated to Nassagaweya Township in about 1830.

BLOG Arch Gillies baptism 1824

This led to another headstone, number 43 on the transcription, for Margaret, wife of Duncan Gillies who died 23 Sep 1844 (aged 87 years), a native of Kilmartin, Argyll. Beside Margaret’s stone in one for John Gillies and his wife Isabella McPhail, also listed as natives of Kilmartin.

BLOG John Gillies d 1863 age 56 from Kilmartin and wife Isabella McPhail d 1876 age 68

Unfortunately, the parish registers for Kilmartin are missing for the years between 1793 and 1818.  That means that I have been unable to locate a marriage record for Duncan Gillies and Margaret McTavish nor a baptismal record for any of their children, except those born after 1818. I was able to find a marriage record for John Gillies and Isobell McPhail dated 2 Apr 1831 in Kilmartin.

BLOG - john Gillies marriage to Isobel McPhail 1831

Certainly a familial relationship is indicated by the placement of the headstones and the consistent mention of the Kilmartin parish on the headstones and in the source documents.  In an attempt to link John Gillies to parents Duncan and Margaret, I looked for census records to see if I could find them together at some point.  In 1881, Archibald is found living in Nassagaweya with Duncan Gillies and his wife Mary (nee Reid) (also buried in the same cemetery) but no relationship is indicated.  Duncan was a son of John Gillies and Isabella McPhail.  In 1891, Archibald Gillies is found living with his nephew John Gillies and his wife Fanny (nee Midford) in Teeswater Village, Bruce County.  He is listed as an Uncle and is a steamboat captain.  John Gillies is also a son of John Gillies (Sr.) and Isabella McPhail.  So now the connection is logically completed.  Both Captain Archibald and John are children of Duncan Gillies and Margaret McTavish.

In my long running McTavish research, I have been searching for the names of my fourth great grandparents. I know that the Archibald McTavish (Sr.) buried in Nassagaweya, is my third great uncle and he is one of twenty-four children. I have theorized that my family came from Kilmartin, mainly because I have been unable to find baptisms for many of the siblings.  I also know that many Scottish, Highland families who emigrated to Canada in the early to mid 1800’s, tended to move together and form a community for support. Given the closeness of Margaret McTavish Gillies’ gravestone to Archibald McTavish, I can hypothesize that they were siblings. He was born about 1783 and she about 1779 (based solely on their death dates and ages etched into their headstones).  Thinking that I may be able to find baptisms for both of them in Kilmartin, I am planning to dig deeper to see if I can find common parents. Each clue or sibling found gets me one step closer to figuring out the mystery. Often the clues are hidden in the details that you can only see when you look around the obvious evidence. That cemetery walk and looking into the “neighbours” proved to be one of those eye-opening moments!

My Polish Roots

For many years, I have been chasing my Scottish ancestry. Most of my ancestors came from the British Isles to Canada in the 1800’s. Researching in English in Ontario and across the Pond has been fairly easy to do and records have been quite accessible. But by doing this, I had ignored 25% of my Ancestry and was doing a disservice to my Polish ancestors. My grandmother was the eldest child of a couple who had individually emigrated from Poland, settled in Hamilton, married and started a family.

I vaguely remember my great grandparents, known only to me as my Bobka (Bobcia) and Jaja (Dziadek). To me, they seemed very quiet and I don’t recall them speaking to me very much. My most vivid memories of them are the playful smiles on their faces as they watched us run around their home, trying to find all the coins that they had hidden. Unfortunately, they both passed away before my interest in family history even sprouted, along with my grandmother. Luckily, my mother created a family tree for me when I was a baby, meticulously documenting the birth year and location for each of my great grandparents. Stanley Lendzioszek, born 1883 in Poland and Sophie Derus, born 1884 in Poland. My Aunt provided some additional information about their family in Canada and shared some stories about her grand-parents. It wasn’t much from a genealogy standpoint, but it was a start!

Researching on Ancestry, I found a marriage registration dated 30 Jun 1913. Stanislaw Lendzioszek, aged 29 years was married to Sophie Derus, aged 25 years at the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Hamilton, Ontario. Their parents were named as Jan Lendzioszek and Catherine Wisniewska; and Jan Derus and Catherine Sobczak. Interestingly, one of the witnesses was Adam Lendzioszek, also living in Hamilton. Some good clues here!

Marriage Registration for Stanislaus Lendzioszek and Sophie Derus in 1913:

LEND - Stanislaw Lendzioszek Marriage to Sophie Derus

After some serious sleuthing, I managed to find Stanley’s emigration records. Lendzioszek had been transcribed as “Lensiddich” which I guess may have been spelled the way he pronounced it! There were actually three emigration records found for Stanley – the first from Hamburg, Germany outbound, the second upon arrival in New York and then the third, as he crossed the border into Ontario. Each one yielded clues – that he was 28 years old, his father Jan had paid his passage, his village in Poland was Turobin/Trobin/Drobin, that he was en route to his brother, in Hamilton.

Passenger list to New York for Stanislaus Lendzioszek in 1912:

LEND - Stanislaw Lendzioszek Immigration - NY passenger lists

Sophie was a little easier to find as her name was simpler sounding (less chance for error!). She arrived in March of 1912, coming through New Brunswick. Her name was spelled Zofiya Derusz, she was 27 years of age and she was also en route to Hamilton, to become a maid servant. I noticed some of the other names on the manifest, including the surnames of Dubiel and Gora. These would prove to be further clues.

Despite knowing Stanley and Sophie’s address in Hamilton, I could not find them on the 1921 census – their house was not included on the list for some reason. My grandmother was their first child born in 1914. On a trip to the Archives of Ontario, I found her birth registration on the late registration film – she didn’t have her birth registered until the 1950’s – when she needed a passport to travel. My Aunt told me that neither of her grandparents spoke English, she says that they did not learn the language. They relied heavily on my grandmother to be the family’s interface with the world. This would explain why they didn’t register their children’s births, or answer the door for the census takers! It was also my grandmother who would be the contact person for her brother John as he shipped out during WWII. While on training in England, he befriended a family in the area. They began to exchange letters and continued throughout the war, and even after it had ended. My great uncle, Private John Lendzioszek was killed in action as the Canadian troops stormed the beach in Normandy. It would be my grandmother who first heard the news and passed it along. When you don’t understand the language, and you have a built in interpreter, you become very quiet people in public.

Stanley and Sophie lived about a block away from the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church on Barton Street. The church and the neighbourhood were heavily populated and influenced by the Polish immigrants. Friends and family immigrated to this working class area throughout the early 1900’s. One of Stanley’s brothers lived around the corner – his name was Teofil. I know that they are in fact brothers as I found Teofil’s marriage registration in Hamilton from 1914 which names the same parents. My Aunt remembers playing with her second cousins when she was young and visiting her grandparents but she does not remember her Great Uncle. As it turns out, there was some kind of feud happening between the brothers and they did not speak for over 50 years. I suspect there were some cultural tensions that may have existed – the changing borders and political affiliations of Poland, Russia and the Soviet Union, created some animosity even amongst family members.

So, if Stanley was en route to his brother in Hamilton upon his arrival and we know that Teofil was his brother – who was Adam Lendzioszek? Some newspaper searches in Canada and the US revealed that there were several other Lendioszek’s in Southern Ontario and some of the Northern US states. I researched each of them as best I could.

On the Library and Archives Canada site, I looked in the naturalization index to see if I could find any Lendzioszek or Derus surnames. I made a request through the Freedom of Information Act to access the Naturalization papers for each one. From these, I was able to see the village names in Poland that each had been born as well as their exact birth dates. Stanley had been born in Turobin-Lomza on 24 October 1883 and Teofil on 14 September 1886. Sophie’s papers were under her husband’s but a birthdate of 20 May 1884 and a village location of Kocudza was given.

At this point I had exhausted my research capabilities within North America. I was armed with the birth dates, parents names and village locations within Poland but nothing for Poland was available online. I considered a trip to Poland but then realized that I would hit a major stumbling block there – I do not speak Polish! So, I then determined that I needed to find someone local to be my “boots on the ground”. I ended up hiring a Polish genealogist by the name of Emil Krasnodebski to look for my ancestors. He was very knowledgeable in the availability of the record sets that might cover each of the two villages. He travelled to each and pored through the actual church records looking for my family. He was able to take both sides of my family tree back several generations, providing translated source documentation for each ancestor. The records are a treasure trove of information, providing an exceptional level of detail for the event and enabling me to confirm relationships.

Transcription of the marriage of Jan Lendzioszek and Catherine Wisniewska:

Jan Lendzioszek and Katarzyna nee Wiśniewska M.28 Feb 1881

[Act number] 12. This occurred in the village of Lubotyń on 16th/28th February, in the year 1881 at 3 in the afternoon. We declare that in the presence of witnesses Józef Pecka, 40 years old and Józef Ziemak, 40 years old, both peasants residing in Turobin, a religious marriage was contracted today between Jan Lendzioszek, a bachelor, a peasant, son of [alive] Jozef, a peasant and deceased Teofila nee Jasionek, legitimate spouses, born and residing in the village of Turobin, 24 years old and Katarzyna Wiśniewska, a maiden, daughter of deceased Paweł Wiśniewski, a forester, and alive Katarzyna nee Zajączek, legitimate spouses, born in the village of Stok, residing in the village of Turobin, 22 years old. The marriage was preceded with three banns published in Lubotyń parish church on: 1st/13th February, 8th/20th February and 15th/27th February in the current year. The religious marriage ceremony was fulfilled by me, the local parish administrator. This certificate was read to the newlyweds and witnesses and signed only by me, because they can not write. The parish-priest A[dolf] Łapiński

Through his research, I was even able to confirm a “sister” relationship for Sophie. My Aunt had told me for years that her grandmother had a sister named Vera who ran a penny candy shop on Beach Road in Hamilton. She remembers going to visit her close to the Lake and that she was full of adventure. In my research, I was able to find Vera in several documents but could not confidently attach Vera to Sophie. No immigration records, naturalization papers or marriage registration for a Vera or Weronika Derus. I had even conjured up a theory that they called themselves “sisters” even though they were not, or were more distantly, related. Then, Emil found the birth information for Weronika Derus from July 1896, where it mentions (deceased) Jan Derus as her father. He provided the death record for Jan Derus from December 1895.

Transcription of the death record for Jan Derus:

Jan Derus, d.15 Dec 1895

[Act number] 675. Kocudza. Jan Derus. This occurred in the town of Janów on 4th/16th December, in the year 1895 at 4 in the afternoon when Józef Derus, 26 years old and Wojciech Derus, 30 years old, both peasants, residing in the village of Kocudza, personally came forward and declared that yesterday at 9 a.m. Jan Derus died in the village of Kocudza, born and residing in the village of Kocudza, 45 years old, son of both deceased Józef and Agnieszka nee Góra, once the peasants residing in the village of Kocudza. He left behind a widow Katarzyna nee Sobczak. I convinced myself about [Jan] Derus’ death. This certificate was read to the informants and signed only by me, because they can not write. The parish-priest K. Łukaszewicz

Then I found a passenger list for 1924 on which Weronika Dubiel is arriving from Wola Radziecka, Bilgoraj, Kocudza, Poland en route to Hamilton. Her father is listed as Majiec Dubiel whom I suspect was her step-father; the only father she had ever known since her natural father had passed away before she was born.

This was an interesting journey for me since as a professional, I knew where my limits lay and determined that I also could use professional help. Nothing beats having someone that speaks the language and knows the area, be able to conduct efficient research for you. For a fairly nominal fee, your family tree can be successfully expanded and you can know more about the family that came before us. For me, this was priceless. I now have a much better appreciation of my Polish ancestors and the circumstances that drove their immigration to Canada and formed their community in Hamilton. I am thankful for that!

Peter McTavish – DNA match may provide missing clue

I have been working over the last three years to try and find my paternal 4x great grandparents in Argyll, Scotland.  I know that my 3x great grandfather Duncan was from a family of 24 children (2 mothers) and that he emigrated to Canada with two brothers.  I have identified the two brothers as Dugald and Archibald.  And, I have narrowed down their origin in Argyll as being within the parish of Kilmartin.  I am making an educated guess on this since the records from that parish are not available between the years of 1792 and 1818.  Duncan was born in 1794, Dugald it seems was born about 1797 and Archibald between 1783 and 1793.  Archibald is found in Glasgow working as a tailor in the early 1820’s and he had two children there.  He returned to Argyll some time around 1827 and married Catherine McNiven (or McEwan) in Kilmartin.  They had two children in Baligown (Archibald in 1828 and Jane in 1830) before departing for Canada.  I have been looking at every possible record for any McTavish (and Thomson) in Scotland and in Ontario to see if I can trace any of these siblings to their parents.  I believe that one of their sisters also emigrated to Ontario around the same time.  Catherine McTavish married John McAlpin in the Glassary parish in 1829.  The couple is found in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in 1842 and there is mention of John McAlpine, his father and brothers in a book about Nassagaweya Township, in the early 1830’s.  As this is the same location as my family, and there is a tie between Dugald McTavish and Andrew McAlpine, I have marked Catherine as their sister.  That makes 4 children of 24.  Lots to go with hopefully one of them leading the identification of their parents.

A few weeks ago, I had been reviewing my matches on the various DNA and Ancestry sites.  It has been an uncommon occurrence to find any matches that share my last name.  But I did come across one and so I sent him an email introduction.  Luckily he responded back and gave me some names of his ancestors.  There was a hit in my tree – he is a descendent of Dugald McTavish – making him my fourth cousin once removed.  Now, I had traced Dugald and with the sources that I did find, I was already very confident that he was a relation.  But, what is new is some further family information for that branch, including some pictures.  One of Dugald’s sons was named Peter McTavish.  Peter was born in Nassagaweya like the rest of his siblings but Peter ended up moving West in Canada, settling in Vancouver after stopping in Calgary for a few years.  I knew that Peter had married Mary McMillan but upon looking at the new files, I realized that they had married in Belmont, Westminster Township, Middlesex County, Ontario.  This is not near Halton County so why was he there or had Margaret come to Halton at some point?

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan family

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan

The location tweaked a memory – I had located a will for a John McTavish which was probated in 1855 in Belmont, Westminster, Middlesex, Ontario!  This John McTavish was married to Jean McClarty in 1814 in the Glassary parish, Argyll and together they had 8 children, a few who were born in Baligown.  Finding the will allowed me to track the family’s emigration to Ontario.  They emigrated in 1842, they were found in the 1841 census in Craignish, Argyll with a few of their younger children.  In Ontario, the family sometimes went by the anglicized form of their name – Thomson.  Jean/Jane Thomson was found on the 1852 census in Wesmintser, Middlesex, Ontario listed with her children Hugh, Mary and Isabella.  She is listed as a widow and is 58 years old.  She is listed again in the 1861 census living with son Hugh – she is now 65 years old and going by the Thomson name.  Also in 1861, I can find Jean’s son Alexander Thomson living in East Nissouri, Oxford. After this though, I cannot seem to find much about the the family in any online records.  Hugh is my only thread at this point – he was married to Betsy McLarty in 1862 in Elgin County.  He resided in Westminster, Middlesex until after the 1901 census, died in 1907 in Aylmer, Yarmouth, Elgin, Ontario.

1891 Census

Hugh McTavish 1891 census

Peter’s marriage to Margaret McMillan occurred in 1876 in Belmont.  Was it a coincidence that Peter McTavish was in Belmont at that time or was he visiting his cousin Hugh?  This is a new area for me to dig into some further research to see what I can find.  Sometimes these disparate pieces of information come together for a fleeting second and provide us with the one clue the helps us break through the brick wall.  So for now, my theory is that John was a brother to Archibald, Duncan, Dugald and Catherine.  Now, I intend to prove or disprove it!

Thomas George Bearne Lock

On my maternal side – my 2x great grandfather was a man named Thomas George Bearne Lock.  He was born in Shaldon, Devonshire, England on the 12th of May in 1857.  His parents were John Henry Lock (1827-1900) and Susan Bearne (1821-1894).  Thomas George was most often referred to as George and he was the fourth child of six for John Henry and Susan.  His father was a Sawyer in England and the family can be found in 1861 in Highweek, Newton Abbott, Devonshire, England on the 1861 census. TGB Lock 1861 census England

In September of 1869, the family emigrated to Canada, sailing to Quebec and then making  their way to Durham County in Ontario where they settled.  When he arrived in Canada, father John Henry was a Carpenter.

TGB Lock ship list

By 1871, the family had settled in Whitby, Durham County, Ontario.  In 1878, George married Lillie Mallory, daughter of Albin Mallory and Maria Robinson.  George was 21 years old and a resident of a small town called Millbrook, and his occupation was as a Painter.  Lilly Elvy Mallory was 19 years old and a resident of Kendall, Clarke Township, Durham County.  There were two witnesses to the marriage – Charles and Emma Jacques.  Emma was a sister of Lilly’s and each served as a witness to the other’s marriage.

TGB Lock marriage 1878

The family of George and Lilly are listed in Millbrook in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census’.  He is listed as a Painter and as a Carriage Maker.

TGB Lock 1901 census

In 1911, Lilly is listed but George is not.  A newspaper record in 1911 announced that George had travelled to Saskatoon to visit with his son and daughter in law.  That son was Norman Albert Lock who had gone out West for work for a few years.  George died on the 7th of September 1922 in Millbrook from heart disease – he was 65 years old.  He was buried in the Gardiner Cemetery with his wife and other Lock family members.

TGB Lock headstone

His wife Lilly would outlive him by 20 years.  George and Lilly would have six children together, five girls came first with their youngest being their only son.  Mary Elizabeth (1879-1952) married Joseph Wellington Perrin, Lily Amelia (b. 1881) married William Henry Lang, Susan Elvy (1883-1971) married Jonathan McKnight, Bertha Estella (1886-1957) married Walter Henry Williamson, Olive (1888-896) and Norman Albert (1889-1953) married Lydia May Nelson.  This last couple were my great grandparents.  Norman Albert followed in his father’s footsteps and was also a Painter in his early years.  Later he expanded his focus and became a decorator, residing for many years in Hamilton, Ontario.

Week 4 – 52 Ancestors – John Nelson

John Nelson was my 3x great grandfather.  I was able to find him after some serious digging into all available records and just by chance, found out that when he came to Ontario he settled about five kilometres from where I reside today.

John was born in about 1798 in County Armagh, Ireland.  Given the lack of Irish records available online, I have not been able to determine an exact birthdate nor can I identify his parents.  I know he came from that County in Ireland because he stated it on his petition for land in Ontario dated 12 October 1825.  In his letter, he says that he arrived in Quebec in June of 1820 and then made his way to Upper Canada shortly thereafter.  I have found him listed as a passenger on the Steamboat “Malsham” departing Quebec for Montreal on 25 June 1820.  He then made his way further West, petitioning for land and being granted a Crown Patent for part of lot 5 in concession 11, Esquesing Township, Halton County, Ontario dated 7 July 1831.    Since I have easy access to the land records held in Halton County and armed with the lot and concession information, I can see a bit of his trail, as it relates to the land.

John was a farmer, as most Ontario pioneers were in those early days.  Concession 11 was the farthest concession east in Halton County and butts up against Winston Churchill Boulevard.  On the other side of this street is Peel County and at the intersection of Steeles Avenue sits a small community called Whaley’s Corners.  This was the little area that the Nelson’s called home.  John Nelson had 16 children with two wives.  His first wife, Isabella Warren was also born about 1810 in County Down, Ireland and came to Ontario with her parents around the same time as John, as a young girl.  Her parents were William Warren and Jane Warren and they were found on land about a kilometre away from John’s land.  No record has been found for the marriage of John and Isabella but given the birth years of their 11 children, it appears to have happened around 1826.  Their children were as follows: Jane (1827-1877), William (b. 1830), Joseph (b. 1833), Letitia (1835-1869), Isabella (1836-1918), Mary Elizabeth “Eliza” (1837-1918), Susanna (1841-1925), Samuel (1844-1925), John (1846-1917), Louisa Victoria (b. 1853), Thomas George (1855-1922).  Their last child, Thomas George, is my 2x great grandfather.  Isabella appears to have died in 1855 which coincides with the birth of Thomas George, perhaps her death was due to complications from child birth.  Her grave can be found in the Mount Zion Cemetery/Whaley’s Corner.  She is listed as “Isabella, wife of John Nelson” but was missed by many researchers because the cemetery is in Chinguacousy Township, Peel County.  It is across the road and within two kilometres from John’s land but in a different county!

isabella warren nelson headstone

I have looked into early census’ for this family but the 1842 census for Esquesing Township is not readable and the 1852 census for Halton has been lost.  The earliest census that I can find is from 1861 after Isabella’s death.  In the 1861 census, John is married to an Ann J, born in Ireland age 36 years.  Some of his children are listed including Samuel, Matilda, George, Louisa, James, Christopher and Margaret.  After looking into the records of these children, I found that his second wife was Ann Jane Hickerson (or Nickerson) and she was the widow of a man named Crockett.  She had a daughter with Crockett who was named Margaret.  John and Ann Jane would have five children together including James Edwin (1856-1914), Christopher (b. 1859), Robert Rutherford (b. 1863), Mary (1867-1941) and Ellen Christina (b. 1870).  In the 1871 census, the family is found again in Esquesing, Halton County and now all of the younger children are listed as living with the parents but many of the older ones have left the home.   But, as of 1881, the family is no longer in Halton County.

The land records show that John sold his parcel of land in August of 1873 but it does not indicate a new location for the family.  But, in 1877 when a mortgage was discharged, John Nelson is listed as a resident in Southwold Township, Elgin County, Ontario.  I expanded my search to all of Ontario to find the 1881 census.  The family was found in Plympton Township, Lambton County.  John (85 y) born in Ireland and a farmer, J Ann (44 y), Christopher (20 y), Ann Mary (17 y), Robert (14 y), Ellen (10 y) and Louisa Dougherty (28 y) and a widow.   After this census though, I could find nothing on John Nelson or his second wife, or many of their children.  It was by random chance and a stroke of luck when I searched the probate records for John Nelson that I happened upon his will and subsequent probate records.  In his will, I found a death date for him of 25 September 1882.  Unfortunately, no death record has been found to support the date, nor a headstone or transcription.  But, the documents contained the names and locations of all of his children which then supported my theories and gave me more leads to go on in tracking his children.  It also detailed the court case which sounds like it was a bit cantankerous with the older children fighting with their step-mother about who should be getting the spoils of John Nelson’s life.

From the information that I have been able to gather, it sounds as though John Nelson had a long and productive life.  I can only imagine the hardship of losing his young wife and being left with 11 children in his care.  It would be great to be able to trace his lineage further back but with a common name like John Nelson and with so few records being available from Ireland, it may be a brick wall forever.


Who is Alicia Colden Napier?

I believe that Alicia Colden Napier was my 4th great grandmother.  But Alicia Colden Napier died in Scotland in 1816 or 1818 at the age of about 20 years, so how can that be?  This is the most interesting mystery that I have uncovered in my family tree so I will try my best to explain!

My 3x great grandfather, Duncan McTavish, met and married Elizabeth Husband in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in about 1838.  They were neighbours – Elizabeth’s father, John Husband has the farm kitty corner to Duncan’s brother Dugald.  Elizabeth’s brother George laboured on the farm for Dugald.  The McTavish family did a family history and tree in 1952.  There is mention in the book that there was “some talk about grandmother’s (Elizabeth) aristocratic background” and that her mother “had once lived in a castle but she ran away with the coachman”.   Interesting story indeed.  Elizabeth’s birth is shrouded in mystery – it is unclear what year she was actually born and whether she was the first child, the second or the twin of George.  The Husband family has also written two volumes about the Husband’s and their history in “The Husbands of Halton” by Valerie Husband Brook and its addendum “More Husbands of Halton” by Max Husband.  The first book is a family history is based largely on the diary of Henry Price Husband, Elizabeth’s youngest brother.   The addendum provides more information and attempts to make connection with the Napier family.  My own genealogical research has found John Husband’s military records showing that he was pressed into service by the British Navy in 1812 when they boarded a ship where he was a passenger bound for the USA for work as a weaver.  A native of Ireland, he was released from service and returned home in 1816.  John can be found in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in 1823 when he is granted 100 acres of land (lot 25 in concession 4) for his service in the British Navy.  He and his growing family can be found in the censuses from 1842 and 1861 but unfortunately the 1852 census from the area has been destroyed.  John passed away in 1864 and in his will, several of his children are named.

Interestingly in the 1842 census, although his wife is not named, there is a female between the ages of 30-60 years listed as “insane”.  The family story is that in 1836, Alice (as she was called) was tending to her youngest child Henry, when toddler Charles fell into the fire and was burned to death.  She subsequently, became “soft in the brain” and while the family tried to take care of her at home, by 1855 this proved too difficult and she was committed to the Toronto Asylum for the Insane.  She is not listed with the family in the 1861 census.  Alice Husband can be found as an inmate in Toronto in 1861 and 1871.  After contacting the Asylum in recent years, Bill Taylor (son in law of Max Husband), was told of her un-marked burial in St. John’s cemetery after her death in August of 1873.  The headstone for John Husband at St. Jude’s in Oakville also includes her name as Alecia Napier (1795-1873).  In addition to Henry’s diary – he also kept a family bible which lists keys dates for his marriages and births of his children.  In it, he has a page for “My Parent’s Births”.  He says “Alicia Napier (my mother) daughter of William Napier and…born in the year 1795 in the Town of Clonmel, Ireland”.  In his diary he mentions his mother as “the only daughter of a descendent of Sir Charles Napier” and “Alicia and her brothers were tall and muscular, and as brave as they were strong”.  There is also mention through family tales and the inscription on a headstone that the family was a cousin to Lord Napier and that their ancestors had conquered the Sindh.  He also mentions his parent’s marriage in 1810 when his mother was “15 years old”.  He later talks about the struggle of farming in the early years in Ontario and that “her reason left her” which had a devastating effect on the family, scattering them far and wide.  He also makes mention of his brother Charles who “was burnt to death when he was about two.”  Between Henry’s diary and bible, he did a fantastic job of recording what he knew to be true.

alicia headstone st judes

But, what is true and what is a story?  We know that some of his knowledge was incorrect.  His parents could not have married in 1810 in Ireland – he was en route to America in 1812 when he was pressed into duty during the War of 1812.  He did not return to Ireland until August of 1816.  Henry lists a William Napier as Alicia’s father and also says that they were descendants of Sir Charles Napier.  A search for Sir Charles Napier yielded two results: 1)  Sir Charles James Napier (b 1782) and 2)  Sir Charles John Napier (b 1785).  Sir Charles James Napier was born in 1782 in London, England to parents George Napier (1751-1804) and Lady Sarah Lennox (1745-1825).  He was a noted man in Military history, and along with two of his brothers who also served in the Royal Navy – they were known as Wellington’s Men. Sir Charles James was also known to have battled during the War of 1812 and to have been the Conquerer of the Sindh in India.   The second Sir Charles, was Sir Charles John Napier who was born in 1786 and was also a Royal Navy Officer.  He was the son of Charles Napier (1731-1807) who was not knighted but served in the Royal Navy and Christian Gabriel.  He fought in many conflicts, including the War of 1812 but no mention of India.  He did fight in Portugal with his cousins “Wellington’s Colonels”.  There is no mention of him every being in Ireland.  Both of these men, knighted to be called Sir, were grandsons of the 6th Lord Napier – Francis Napier (1702-1773) and called half blood cousins, since although they shared a grandfather, their grandmothers were different women.

Digging into the life of Sir Charles James Napier – he was the eldest son of George Napier and Lady Sarah Lennox.  George (1751-1804) was born and died in England but spent the years 1785- 1804 in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland.  He was the son of Francis Napier (1702-1773), 6th Lord Napier and his second wife Henrietta Maria Johnston.  Lady Sarah Lennox was at one point almost betrothed to the King of England but then he chose another and she served as a bridal attendant at the royal wedding.  After that, she refused a marriage proposal, married another, ran off with still another and had a child, was left behind and then divorced.  All of this was very risque for the time.  She married George Napier in 1781 and on top of her first “illegitimate” daughter (Louisa Bunbury Napier) and Sir Charles James,  she also had the following children with George:  Sir George Thomas (b 1784), Richard (b 1787), Captain Henry Edward (b 1789), Emily Louisa Augusta (b 1785), Caroline (b 1790) and Cecilia (b 1791).  There is no record of an Alicia being born to this couple.  Naturally, it is possible that Alicia could have been the daughter of  one of the older sons – perhaps Sir Charles James but this would mean that he fathered her when he was 13 years old.  Could it have been William as indicated in Henry’s bible – he would have been 10 years old so this is not plausible.  George was made Comptroller of Army Accounts in Ireland from 1799 until his death in 1804. After her husbands death, Lady Sarah established a home on the property for wayward young women, those who were pregnant and alone.  By reading her letters in the Aristocrats, we hear some of the details of her life during that time.

A search for any Alicia Napier (or any name variation) born in the 1790’s anywhere, yielded no results.  I was however able to find an Alicia Colden Napier linked to parents Francis Napier (1770-1818) and Margaret Elizabeth Jane Douglas Hamilton (1770-1838).  They were married in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1796 and had five children:  Alicia Colden Napier (b 1797), Mark (b 1798), Margaret Symson (b 1800), twin Jane Hamilton (b 1800) and then Archibald (b 1803).  The last three children all died in 1806 with details included on their gravestone as well as printed in the Scots Magazine.  Interestingly, Alicia Colden is also listed on the headstone but only a year is etched into the stone, unlike the other deaths.  The year etched in is 1817.  A notice of her death also appeared in the Scots Magazine in January of 1815.  Contact was made with the St. Cuthbert’s Cemetery where a trio of family headstones is located and there was confirmation given that Alicia is not buried in the crypt with the family.  Furthermore, Francis died in 1818 with no mention of Alicia, not surprising if she has in fact died.  But, in a peerage report his children are listed as Mark and Alicia Colden.  The children that died in 1806 are not included but Alicia still is.  So, where did she go and did she die as was reported?

death announcementalicia headstone in edinburgh

Scottish naming patterns are often used as clues to helping to determine parents.  The first born son is often named after the father’s father.  The first daughter after the mother’s mother and so on.  In this case, the first daughter was named Alicia suggesting that her mother’s mother was called Alice.  And, the first son was named Mark, which could be the name of the father’s father.  Francis’ father was named Mark Napier (1738-1809) and he was also a son of Francis Napier, 6th Lord Napier and full blood brother to Charles Napier (1731-1807), and half blood brother to George Napier (1751-1804).  Upon the marriage of Francis, his wife’s father is noted as Archibald Hamilton.  Research into this line points to his wife having been Alice Colden, an American.  After the Revolutionary War, Archibald took a wife but she died at a young age.  So, the naming pattern is intact.  Francis Napier was a Writer to the Signet and lived in a large home in Edinburgh, quite a prominent position in the early 1800’s.  And, being a descendent of the Lord Napier is quite notable.  The family was most definitely “well to do”.

Thinking about the story of grandmother running away with the Coachman…is it possible that Alicia Colden Napier, fell in love or ran off with someone lower than her “station”?  Would the family disown her?  Perhaps to avoid social embarrassment and isolation, they shipped her off to “Aunt Sarah Lennox” in Ireland and her house of refuge for young unwed mothers?  They announced her death to avoid a social scandal?  They added her death to the family headstone upon her father’s death but didn’t get the dates detailed or even consistent.  It is also plausible that when John Husband was released from the Royal Navy in 1816, he passed through Dublin and maybe even knew the Napier’s from his years in the Royal Navy.  Perhaps he met Alicia, either pregnant with Elizabeth or having already had her and they married.  Having been cut off from her family and beginning her own – she must have told her “story” to her children, not giving them the full information to save any future contact or embarrassment.

This is a fantastical story that I have researched at length but have no real proof.  Apparently some of my Husband relatives tried to make contact with the Napier’s many years back, just to see if there was any documentation or proof.  They were turned away and told not to make contact again.  Maybe one day, the communication lines will open and we will get some answers.  Until then, I will claim Alicia Colden Napier as my 4th great grandmother and try to understand and appreciate her life’s story.