I came across the marriage record for Michael Galligan and Elizabeth Jordan almost by accident. Not quite by accident, because I waslooking for Galligans in the Québec RC registers. But I was thinking of Ottawa Valley area parishes and missions, of places just across the Ottawa River from Carleton and Renfrew counties. It certainly hadn’t occurred to me that Michael Galligan might have been married in Montreal.
As far as I knew, Michael Galligan had been born in Co. Cavan, Ireland about 1812, had emigrated to Canada in the early 1840s, and had settled in Fitzroy township (Carleton Co., Ontario), where he had married an Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) from Co. Longford, Ireland. I also suspected that Michael was the son of Denis Galligan and Anne Kelly, who emigrated from Co. Cavan to Fitzroy township in the early 1840s.
When I found the following record in the parish register for Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, I knew that I had hit the genealogical jackpot:
Montréal (Basilique Notre Dame), Régistre, 1839, p. 80, M. 34, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 28 April 2010), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.
Well, for Ireland-to-Canada ancestors, it doesn’t get much better than this. There is a lot of useful information packed into this one brief paragraph, and especially in the following lines:
de Michael Gallighan resident dans la paroisse de Richmond Haut Canada, fils majeur de Denis Gallighan et de Anne Kelly du comte de Cavan en Irlande d’une Part; et de Elizabeth Jordan domicilisé en cette paroisse fille Majeure des défunts Michael Jordan, et de Anne Gormly du Comte de Longford aussi en Irlande d’autre Part; [of Michael Gallighan residing in the parish of Richmond Upper Canada, son of age of Denis Gallighan and of Anne Kelly of the county of Cavan in Ireland on the one part; and of Elizabeth Jordan, domiciled in this parish daughter of age of the deceased Michael Jordan and of [the deceased] Anne Gormly of the county of Longford also in Ireland on the other part;]
So this record confirms my suspicions concerning Michael Galligan’s parentage, while also informing me that Michael, if not necessarily his parents, had emigrated to Canada at least a few years earlier than I had originally estimated. The record is dated 30 July 1839, at which point Michael is already associated with a Canadian parish: not with the Montreal parish in which he married but with the parish of Richmond in Upper Canada (St. Philip’s, Richmond, one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Carleton Co.). It also supplies the surname of his wife Elizabeth, along with the names of both her parents, while also confirming her Longford origins.
But that’s not all. I also note that Michael Galligan, but not Elizabeth Jordan, signed the register. Now this I find interesting. In a couple of later parish records (in the registers for Fitzroy Harbour Mission and for St. Peter Celestine, Pakenham), where Michael Galligan serves as sponsor/godfather to a niece or nephew, there is a suggestion that he did not sign the register because he could not sign. And yet there is his signature, with the priest’s notation that Michael Galligan and witnesses Michael Smith and Robert Hamilton had signed but that “l’Epouse n’ont Su Signer” (the wife did not know how to sign).
If you’re looking for Catholics in the (especially early- to mid-) nineteenth-century Ottawa Valley, you will have to consult more than one, and indeed more than one or two, parish registers. Before the establishment of regular, local parishes, many Catholics in the area were served by travelling missionary priests who later recorded baptisms, marriages, and (less often) burials in any number of possible registers, sometimes miles away from an ancestor’s address. For someone living in Fitzroy township, Carleton Co., for example, you should search the parish registers of the following:
Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa
St. Patrick’s Basilica, Ottawa
St. Philips, Richmond
Fitzroy Harbour Mission
St. Michael’s, Corkery
St. Peter Celestine, Pakenham
And occasionally, as the above illustrates, you may even have to look a bit further afield.