Catholic Records, Census, Home Children, Military Records

Albert Austin Massey: Home Child

Albert Austin Massey was born in London, England about 1884,* the son of Thomas Massey and Mary Armitage (his parents’ names come from his RC parish marriage record, and also from the Ontario civil marriage record which was based on that parish register). He emigrated to Canada around 1895 (at about 10 or 11 years of age), where he ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario.

On 4 July 1900, at the Church of St Anne, Sebastopol, Renfrew Co. (record found in the parish register for Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell), Albert Massey made his Confirmation, at which point he was described as “adopted by Frank Kilby,” age 13. He is found in the household of Francis Kilby in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Renfrew South/Sud, Sebastopol, household number 39, pages 5-6), where he is listed as Massey, Albert, Male, Domestic, Single, born 2 Aug 1886, age 14, country of birth England, year of immigration 1895, racial or tribal origin English (the other members of this household are Irish in origin), nationality Canadian, religion R. Cath. [Roman Catholic], occupation Servant. Next door to the Kilby household, or next field over, perhaps, or very close by, at any rate, at household number 40, was the family of William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong.
Albert Massey married the above Lucy Armstrong on 6 May 1909 (Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell).

Who was Lucy Armstrong?
Lucy Armstrong was the first cousin of John Lahey (son of James Lahey and Ann Armstrong); while her first husband, William Henry Killeen, was the nephew of John Lahey’s wife, Margaret Jane Killeen. Six degrees of separation? For the Laheys and Killeens of March, it was often more like two or three degrees, by my calculations.
She was born at March township on 29 June 1863, the daughter of James Armstrong and Bridget Kelly; and baptized (St. Isidore, South March) on 6 September 1863, with John Williams and Mary Williams serving as godparents. On 26 November 1885 Lucy Armstrong married William Henry Killeen, son of Denis Benjamin Killeen and Ellen O’Brien. The couple moved up to Renfrew, where they had nine known children: Clement Alphonse; Mary Hilda Irene; Laurence Lovell; George; James Percival; Mary Alberta Pearl; Mary Josephine Loretta; Francis Joseph; and Lucy Alvina. William Henry Killeen died on 26 August 1904, at 46 years of age; his death record lists the cause of death as “Absess in throat — 4 months.” Lucy Armstrong Killeen was now a widow.
Five years later, on 6 May 1909, she married Albert Massey at Our Lady of Holy Angels Church in Brudenell, Renfrew Co., Ontario. The Ontario civil registration of the marriage lists their ages as 24 (his) and 42 (hers). However, Lucy Armstrong’s baptismal record indicates that she was almost 46 years old at the time of her second marriage. And her new husband, Albert Massey, who married at about the age of 23-25, was about the same age (perhaps a year or two older) as her eldest son Clement Alphonse Killeen (born 18 September 1886). Which is why I tend to think of Lucy Armstrong as the Demi Moore of Renfrew County (but without the plastic surgery or the personal trainer, of course).
What Happened to Albert Massey?
The couple did not stay in Renfrew Co., Ontario but moved out to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Lucy Killeen (not Massey) is found in the 1916 census (Manitoba, Winnipeg Centre, 20, p. 35), as the widowed head of a household that includes herself and eight of her nine (Killeen) children: Hilda (Mary Hilda Irene), George, Lorence (Laurence Lovell), Percy (James Percival), Pearl (Mary Alberta Pearl), Netta (Mary Josephine Loretta), Joseph (Francis Joseph), and Alvina (Lucy Alvina). Meanwhile, eldest son Clement Alphonse had apparently set up his own household (Manitoba, Winnipeg North, 23, p. 4), where he is found in the 1916 census with wife Aurora (born Manitoba, of French-Canadian origin). So where was Albert Massey?
Albert Massey was presumably in Europe, fighting in the First World War; or was perhaps already a casualty of that war when the 1916 census was enumerated.
On 20 December 1915, he signed his Attestation Paper for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, where he listed his current address as 443 Victor Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and where he gave his next-of-kin as Mrs. Lucy Massey, his wife. He also gave his birthplace as London, England, and his date of birth as 20 August 1884. The attestation paper marks his religion as Roman Catholic, and offers a physical description of a man apparently 31 years and 4 months of age, 5 feet 7.5 inches in height, with hazel eyes, dark brown hair, and a “ruddy” complexion. Albert Austin Massey enlisted in regiment number 186328.
Interestingly enough, another member of the household at 443 Victor Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, also enlisted (regiment number 3347185), on 4 June 1918: James Percival (Percy) Killeen, son of William Henry Killeen and Lucy Armstrong, who gave his next-of-kin as Mrs Luccy Massey, his mother.
It would be easy enough (though perhaps a bit expensive) to order a copy of Albert Austin Massey’s military service file, which I have not yet done. This file would no doubt tell me whether he had been killed in service, or whether he had survived the war and returned to Canada, and so on.
(To order a photocopy of a military service file for a Canadian soldier of World War I, go to the Soldiers of the First World War-CEF database at Library and Archives Canada. Search for your soldier, using surname and given name fields, and possibly playing around with surname variations and common misspellings and the like. Once you’ve found your man, copy the information from the Item Display page (including, most importantly, the RG number), and you are ready to move to the Order Form for Photocopies and Reproductions page. Here you will promise your first-born son to the government of Canada agree to the privacy policy and the terms of use and etc., before proceeding any further. Declaration of use = “research or private study,” unless you’re planning a public exhibit, in which case, why are you reading this blog? Now click on the radio box that says “Continue.” You should now arrive at an Order Form for Photocopies and Reproductions page, where you should click on “Photocopy.” Title/description=”Canadian Expeditionary Force personnel files,” and in the reference number field, paste the info you had copied from the Display Page for your soldier, as mentioned above (the key point being the RG number). “Additional information” can safely be ignored; “number of copies” would probably be 1, “regular” or “rush” service according to your own preferences. Be warned that you have to give credit card info without knowing how many pages you are agreeing to pay for the photocopying thereof. I’ve ordered several of these files for several WWI ancestors, and my impression is that they tend to be quite lengthy. Totally worth it, though, if you’re really interested in the soldier in question).
For now, I’m just a little bit amazed by the Home Child emigration path that had someone born in London, England landing somewhere outside of Eganville, in the Bonnechere Valley of Renfrew County, Ontario, and then out to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and then back to Europe, apparently.

*The 1901 Canadian census lists his birth date as 2 August 1886, while his WWI attestation papers list his birth date as 20 August 1884. There is presumably an English record of his  baptism, which I have not searched for. While the Canadian records consistently list his religious affiliation as Roman Catholic, I would not assume that he had been baptized RC, and would probably look for a Church of England record initially.