Henrietta Godmother

Henrietta Moran (1837-1921)

Henrietta Moran caught my attention when I noticed how often she turned up as a sponsor at her nieces’ and nephews’ baptisms. For the Morans of Huntley (but also for the Laheys of March), she seems to have been on the A-List of potential godparents.

Henrietta was godmother to at least the following children (but there may have been more, which I haven’t yet come across):
  • Thomas Hourigan (1857-1899), son of Thomas Hourigan and Julia Moran, born 8 Mar 1857, baptized 15 Mar 1857 (St. Patrick’s, Ottawa), godfather John Lahey
  • Thomas Alexander Lahey (1864-1945), son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen, born 7 Jun 1864, baptized June? July?* 1864 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather James Hourigan
  • Francis Charlebois (1862-1924), son of Arsene Charlebois and Margaret Moran, born 19 Mar 1862, baptized 27 Apr 1862 (St. Phillip’s, Richmond), godfather Thomas Moran
  • Mary Moran (1886-1947), daughter of James Moran and Sarah Jane Dooley, born 15 Apr 1886, baptized 23 Apr 1886 (St. Michael’s, Corkery), godfather Thomas Moran
  • James Lambert Charlebois (1895-?), son of James Lacey Charlebois and Bridget Ellen O’Neill, born 7 Nov 1895, baptized 24 Nov 1895 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather Fr. John Andrew Sloan (parish priest at both St. Isidore and St Patrick’s, Fallowfield)
  • James Allan Armstrong (1892-?), son of Thomas Armstrong and Henrietta Charlebois, born 6 Oct 1892, baptized 30 Oct 1892 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather Joseph Newsom**

Henrietta Moran was born at Huntley township on 20 March 1837, the tenth and youngest known child of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson, who had emigrated from Ireland to Canada around 1820. She was baptized 3 December 1838 (St. Phillip’s, Richmond), with John Hogan (husband of her eldest sister Marcella Moran, so her brother-in-law) and Elizabeth Martin serving as godparents. She never married; and she had no children. Whether she remained single by choice/inclination, or by circumstance, or due to family expectations, it is of course impossible to know. As the youngest daughter in her family (a family of ten children: seven daughters and three sons), she may have been expected to stay at home and look after her aged parents. But I don’t know that, of course, that’s just speculation.

I don’t know much about her, but she must have had a story. Everyone does, after all. I wonder if she knew my paternal grandfather. I suspect that she did, actually (for reasons of geography, amongst other grounds of speculation), though I doubt very much I will ever know for certain. But anyway, I do at least now know her as godmother to the above-listed children.

Now, if you think of genealogy solely in terms of the begetting and begatting of children (which too many people, in my opinion, tend too much to do), then a single, childless woman might seem like a bit of a genealogical dead end. After all, no lengthy list of begets and begats and etc. But that’s not how think of genealogical research, and, if you really want to reconstruct your family history, then neither should you. Attention to church sponsors (whether said sponsors were married or single, childed or childfree) can sometimes offer important clues, which can sometimes bring to light significant family connections.

For my purposes, Henrietta Moran serves as an interesting link between the Moran and Lahey branches of my family. When I look at the list of her godchildren, I see names that I associate with the Moran side (well, Moran, obviously, but also Charlebois and Hourigan [but that's also a Lahey name]), and I also see names that I associate with the Lahey side (Lahey, of course, but also Armstrong and Hourigan [which is also a Moran name]), and I realize (thanks in part to Henrietta Moran) that these two sides have been closely linked, part of the same larger family grouping, really, since the middle of the nineteenth century…long before my Moran grandfather married my Lahey grandmother in 1932.

Henrietta lived much of her life at the Moran farm in Huntley township, first with her parents, and then, after her father died (around 1859), with her mother Margaret Jamieson (died July 1882) and her bachelor brother Thomas, and sometimes with various nieces and nephews, until about 1892. After her brother Thomas died in January 1892 (of la grippe, with pneumonia, according to his Ontario civil death record, and his brother Alexander ["Sandy"] Michael Moran died a week later of the same illness), Henrietta moved to Ottawa. She would have been about 55 years old when she moved, which would have been considered old at the time, though she still had many years ahead of her.

And here’s another Moran-Lahey link: going through an Ottawa city directory for 1892-1893, I found Henrietta Moran listed as a “lodger” at 308 Gloucester St., which address I immediately recognized as the home of my great-grandmother (on the Lahey side) Bridget Loreto Killeen. Bridget Loreto Killeen was still single while Henrietta Moran lodged with her, but she was about to marry John James Lahey (who was actually her cousin, but that’s another story, with perhaps a few hints on the genealogical value of marital dispensations, to be dealt with in another entry). In any case, I think it’s more than a little unlikely that Henrietta Moran just happened upon a Killeen-Lahey on Gloucester St. and decided to live with her. These families really were interconnected in all sorts of ways, the details of which I keep coming across in sometimes unexpected places.

By 1901, Henrietta was a lodger in the household of Alfred French and his wife Louisa O’Connor. Interestingly enough, while Louisa and children are listed as Roman Catholics in the 1901 census, Alfred’s religion is given as Anglican. In 1906, however, Alfred decided to convert to Catholicism, and was baptized RC on 6 April 1906, at St. Joseph’s Church in Ottawa. His baptismal sponsors? His wife Louisa and…well, Henrietta Moran, of course! Henrietta, godmother.

Henrietta Moran died at St. Patrick’s Orphanage and Asylum*** on 14 Mar 1921, and is buried at Notre Dame Cemetery, Ottawa.

*Whether June or July is unclear. The early records for St. Isidore, South March are a bit of a mess, thanks to the sloppy record-keeping of Fr. O’Malley.
**Joseph Newsom was a Home Child. In the 1901 census for March township, he is found in the household of Richard Hicks and Elizabeth Dooley (whose daughter Annie Hicks would marry the above-listed Thomas Alexander Lahey), where he is listed as a Domestic, single, age 30, born 12 July 1869, birthplace England, year of immigration 1879, racial or tribal origin Irish, religion Roman Catholic, occupation Bar Tender. He came to Canada in 1886, with a party of 31 boys travelling with the Rev. Lord Douglas, destination Ottawa.
***Founded in 1865 as “a House of Refuge for the Irish poor,” St. Patrick’s Orphanage and Asylum was established by an Association of Members of St. Patrick’s Church (Kent St., Ottawa), and was run by the Grey Sisters of the Cross. It housed orphaned children and homeless elderly persons. The original building (corner of Laurier Ave. and Kent St.) was torn down years ago, but there is still a St. Patrick’s Home in Ottawa (on Riverside Drive).