Here’s another “blended family” from the 1881 Canadian census:
Peter Doyle, with wife Elizabeth Moran (daughter of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson), and six children (transcription by ancestry.ca; with original image [LAC] here):
When I first looked at this return, I mistakenly assumed that all six children were the offspring of Peter and Elizabeth. An all too common assumption which sometimes turns out to be utterly faulty, as already mentioned here. And when I found Elizabeth Moran in the 1871 census, still unmarried and still living with her family (her widowed mother Margaret Jamieson and her siblings Thomas and Henrietta Moran) in Huntley township, I suspected that I might have to look a bit further into the available sources. Of course, the recorded ages of the above children might be off by several years (for 19th-century census returns, you should probably be prepared to potentially add or subtract about five years or so from the recorded birth year), but still: I had to wonder about the apparent discrepancy.
The chance discovery of a marriage record in the parish register for St. Michael’s, Corkery helped to clear things up: on 12 January 1868, Peter Doyle, “farmer, widower of the parish of Perth,” married Catherine O’Brien, daughter of Patrick O’Brien and Ann Dowling of the mission/parish of Huntley. Of course, I could not yet be sure that this was the same Peter Doyle, since the record doesn’t name his parents (which I knew from other sources to be Thomas Doyle and Mary Kelly), but since I knew that Peter Doyle farmed in Drummond township, South Lanark, the mention of the “parish of Perth” looked promising.
Now that I had the name Catherine O’Brien as a potential earlier wife of Peter Doyle, husband of Elizabeth Moran, I did a search of the Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1926 database at ancestry.ca. Using the Old Search interface (I almost never use ancestry’s New Search, since I’ve found that the Old Search allows for more flexibility), I came up with two marriages in Lanark Co. for surname Doyle (I left the first name blank), with father given as Peter Doyle and mother given as Catherine O’Brien:
On 31 July 1893, Mary Ann Doyle, daughter of Peter Doyle and Catherine O’Brien, married James Sargent, son of Matthew Sargent and Mary Jane Papin; and on 22 July 1907, Catherine Doyle, daughter of Peter Doyle and Catherine Obrian, married Joseph Primeau, son of Louis Primeau and Philomene Gilbert, with John Doyle of Perth and stepsister Lilly Doyle of Drummond (daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Moran) serving as witnesses. These marriage records confirmed that this was indeed the same Peter Doyle.
And since he had married Catherine O’Brien as a widower, Elizabeth Moran was not his second but rather his third wife, and Peter Doyle was starting to look like the Ben Cartwright of Drummond township. Could I find the name of his first wife? A quick search through Marriages Catholiques de la Région de Perth revealed that on 28 February 1863, at St. Frances de Sales in Smiths Falls, Lanark Co., Peter Doyle, son of Thomas Doyle and Mary Kelly, married Catherine Hourigan, daughter of James Hourigan and Ellen Riley. It’s not clear whether there were any children from this first marriage, but certainly there are none to be found in the household of Peter Doyle in either the 1881 or 1871 census returns (in the 1871 census [Ontario, Lanark South, Drummond, p. 6, family no. 28], the widowed [twice-widowed, that is] Peter Doyle is found with his 2-year old daughter Mary Ann, but with no sign of the infant Catherine, who was presumably being cared for by a female relation in another household, though I have not yet found her in the 1871 census).
At some point between the 1901 and the 1911 Canadian census returns, Peter Doyle and Elizabeth Moran seem to have moved from Drummond township, Lanark Co. to Montague township, Lanark Co. (unless the boundaries were redrawn so that what was once included in Drummond was now a part of Montague? I have not yet delved deep enough, and don’t have enough sense of the geographical boundaries of the census districts to know for certain). In any case, while the couple are found in Drummond for the 1881, 1891, and 1901 census returns, in 1911 they are listed as residents of Montague township, where their household includes Peter Doyle and wife Elizabeth, along with their son Thomas Alfred (who married Mary Gertrude McGarry in 1916), their daughter Lillian, or Mary Lillian (who married William Henry McComiskey in 1920), and their granddaughter Annie L., or Anna Laura, Foy, daughter of John Foy and Henrietta Doyle. Henrietta Doyle died of pneumonia on 21 December 1897, at the age of about 22, eight days after the premature birth of her son John Doyle Foy, who died the same day he was born (13 December 1897).
Anna Laura Foy, daughter of John Foy and Henrietta Doyle, may have married a Donovan. When John Foy died on 9 April 1935, at the House of Industry in Bathurst township, Lanark Co. (or, in other words, at the dreaded workhouse), the death informant was Anna Donovan, his daughter. However, since Henrietta Doyle was not the first but rather the second wife of John Foy, this Anna Donovan may have been the child of his first marriage to Marcellina McCaffrey.
When I was a kid, I recall my father and his sister talking about a Lillian Doyle, who I (correctly) assumed was somehow related, but I had no idea how. I now understand that Lillian Doyle, daughter of Peter Doyle and Elizabeth Moran, was a first cousin of my great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran, and a first cousin once removed to my grandfather Allan Jerome Moran. She and her husband William Henry McComiskey moved to Ottawa at some point after their marriage at Smiths Falls in 1920; and my grandfather served as pallbearer and burial witness for Lillian Doyle’s husband, who died in Ottawa on 8 January 1941. The other burial witness was Ed Delaney, second husband of Emma (Mary Emilia) Moran, who was another first cousin to Lillian Doyle.