What Happened to John Kelly and Mary Hourigan?
When I wrote Part I of “The Queen vs. Kelly,” I had no idea what had happened to John Kelly after his release from the Dominion Penitentiary in May 1842. Nor did I have any expectation of finding him, once I had determined that he did not return to March township.
According to family lore, he had “gone to the States,” which certainly didn’t sound too promising. The States covers a vast territory, of course, and with a common surname like Kelly, and the even commoner forenames of John, Mary (his wife) and Ann (his daughter), searching for this family seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack. I did do a search of the 19th-century US federal census returns, but (not surprisingly, as it turns out) came up with nothing.1
It was while searching for another record (unrelated to the Kellys and the Hourigans, as a matter of fact) in the parish register for the Mission at Mattawa that I happened upon the burial record for Mary Hourigan, who was buried as “Mary Horrigan, Dame John Kelly:”
The above record reads (with my translation):
Le 13 Aout mil neuf cent un nous pretre soussigné avons inhumé a Deux Rivières, le corps de Mary Horrigan, epouse de feu John Kelly, decedée a la Mission de St Laurent de Deux Rivières, a l’age de quatre vingt un ans. Etaient presents William Cottenham, W. Hickey et plusieurs autres. F.M. Georget, O.M.I./The 13th of August one thousand nineteen hundred and one, we the undersigned priest buried at Deux Rivières the body of Mary Horrigan, wife of the deceased John Kelly, who died at the mission of St. Laurent of Deux Rivières at the age of eighty one years old. Were present William Cottenham, W. Hickey, and many others. F.M. Georget, O.M.I. [Oblates of Mary Immaculate].2
the Catholic burial record identifies Mary by both her family name (Horrigan [Hourigan]) and her married name (Kelly)…
Note that the Catholic burial record identifies Mary by both her family name (Horrigan [Hourigan]) and her married name (Kelly). And as soon as I saw those two names together, I knew that I had stumbled upon something worth investigating. Once again, I cannot overemphasize the value of the Catholic parish records: prior to civil registration, these will often be the only source of birth, marriage and death information for your RC ancestors; and even after the establishment of civil registration (from 1869 in Ontario), the Catholic records will often provide more information (married women’s “maiden” or family names, for example) than can be found in the civil records.
The discovery of Mary Hourigan’s burial record put me on a completely different track (north rather than south), which led to the discovery of more records, which led to a significant revision of the story of John Kelly. Far from “going to the States,” John Kelly remained in Canada (and in the Ottawa Valley region) with his wife Mary Hourigan, with whom he had, in addition to daughter Anna, another ten children.
The Birth of Michael kelly
As John Kelly awaited trial for the murder of his brother-in-law Michael Hourigan, 3 his wife Mary Hourigan gave birth to their second child. Michael Kelly was born 25 April 1841 (presumably at March township), and was baptized 6 June 1841 (Notre Dame, Bytown), with Michael [Baine?] and Judah Whelan serving as godparents: 4
Michael Kelly appears to have been baptized conditionally, by the way, which suggests that he had already been baptized at home, perhaps by an anxious mother or other relation who did not expect the child to live. In any case, at the time of his baptism by a priest whose name I cannot make out, Michael Kelly was six weeks old, and his father John Kelly was three weeks into his one-year sentence for manslaughter at the Dominion Penitentiary in Kingston.
Was young Michael Kelly (born 25 April 1841) named after the uncle that his own father had killed in the “fatal affray” of 9 April 1841? Obviously Michael was (and is still) a very common boy’s name amongst Irish Catholics (note that Michael Kelly’s godfather was also a Michael), and he may well have been named after another Michael in the family.5 But given the recent violent death of his mother’s brother Michael Hourigan, I guess I do have to wonder.
And what a rough time of it Mary (Hourigan) Kelly must have had.
To be continued.6
- If the Kellys had gone to the United States, by the way, their daughter Ann’s Canadian birthplace would have been the best bet for identifying them in the US federal census. Since both John Kelly and his wife Mary Hourigan were born in Ireland, they would have been listed in the US census as John and Mary Kelly, born in Ireland and now living in America, but with no indication of a decade or two spent in Canada. Their daughter Ann’s birthplace, on the other hand, if accurately listed (and there are many such ifs when it comes to census data) would have been recorded as Canada. I have found other Ireland-to-Canada-to-America families in the US census by searching for children born in Canada. ↵
- Ste. Anne de Mattawa (Mattawa, Ont.), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1898-1909, p. 137, image 70 of 320, Mary Horrigan, Dame John Kelly, S(épulture) 39, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 November 2012), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967. ↵
- At the Bathurst District Gaol in Perth ↵
- Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1841-1844, image 9 of 128, B. 91, Michael Kelly, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 November 2012), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967. ↵
- Traditional Irish naming practice was to name the eldest son after his paternal grandfather. Was Michael Kelly’s paternal grandfather a Michael? This I do not know, since I have no information on the parents of John Kelly. ↵
- I had initially promised that Part V would be the final installment in the saga of “The Queen vs. Kelly.” The subsequent discovery of more records and more information makes for a longer story, and probably another one or two blog entries. ↵