Monthly Archives: January 2013

Patrick Galligan/Gallaghan: Three Records of Death/Burial

I have not yet found an RC burial record for Patrick Galligan/Gallaghan, who was born about 1807 in Co. Cavan (probably parish of Kilmore), Ireland, and who emigrated to Canada about 1843. I have checked a number of Roman Catholic parish registers (e.g., St. Michael’s, Corkery; St. Michael’s, Fitzroy Harbour; St. Peter Celestine, Pakenham), but so far, no burial record. It may be that I am overlooking something obvious; it may be that I am overlooking something obscure. Or perhaps his burial was recorded and the record was subsequently lost, misplaced, or destroyed. Or perhaps his burial was never recorded in a parish register at all.

In any case, despite the lack of a church burial record, I do have three different records of the death or burial of Patrick Galligan:

Strange Surname Spellings: Hohanlan for O’Hanlon

As I’ve mentioned before (e.g., in Spelling Doesn’t Count! [in Genealogy]), it’s extremely unlikely that an ancestor had a strong attachment to a certain spelling of his surname, if that ancestor never had occasion to personally spell his own name.

If my ancestor James Moran, for example, was not literate (and I’m pretty sure he was not), then he didn’t  always spell his name Moran (rather than Moren, Morin,  Murran, Murrin, or some other variation that I’ve yet to come across), because, well, he didn’t spell his name at all.  His name was written and recorded by the parish priest; by the county clerk; by the census enumerator … and he would have been in no position to correct the spelling of the recorder, of course, if he could neither read nor write. That’s what it meant to be illiterate.

So surname spelling variations are par for the course in genealogy (for a number of reasons, and not just because of the illiteracy of those named in various records), and the sooner we let go of the notion of a “proper” spelling (which can be surprisingly difficult to do, admittedly), the sooner we arrive at a properly historical understanding of the production of the records on which we rely.1

But while surname spelling variations are only to be expected, are, indeed, the historical norm for pre-20th-century populations, the particular, not to say the peculiar, French-Irish character of the Catholic records of the Ottawa Valley could produce some especially noteworthy oddities in surname spelling.

  1. Most of the records upon which we rely for genealogical information were not produced with future genealogists in mind. A family tree or a series of family events recorded in a family bible can certainly be said to have been written with future family historians in mind. An inscription on a headstone is also oriented toward future generations of the deceased’s family. But a census record? a civil marriage record? a sacramental record (e.g., a church record of a baptism, a Confirmation, a marriage, or a burial)? a register of a deed? a ship’s passenger list? Most “genealogical records” were not originally produced to serve as genealogical records at all. It is we, the genealogists, who now use the records as such, retroactively, and after the fact, so to speak. To approach these records historically means asking a series of “W” questions: Who wrote or produced this record? When was it written? Where was it written? Why was it written (to what purpose, or for what end)? Who was its originally intended audience? What assumptions and presuppositions are embedded in the document? and so on and so forth.

Bridget McCann: Friend or Relation?

In records pertaining to my McGlade-Dunne ancestors, who emigrated from Co. Armagh, Ireland to Counties Leeds and Lanark, Ontario, the name McCann turns up at several key points. For example, two of the children of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne had a McCann godparent:

  • Michael James McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 28 Dec 1856, baptized 1 Jan 1857 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents James Ryan and Bridget McCann
  • Ann McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 17 Oct 1863, baptized 7 Nov 1863 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents Kenny Murphy and Frances Ann McCann

And at least two of the grandchildren of John McGlade and Bridget Dunne had a McCann godparent as well:

  • John Michael English, son of John English and Ann McGlade, born Perth, Ont. 23 Nov 1888, baptized 26 Nov 1888 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents John McGlade (presumably his grandfather) and Mrs. Michael Hartney (i.e., Bridget McCann)
  • Arthur Joseph McGlade, son of Arthur Joseph McGlade and Catherine Honora McCarthy, born Perth, Ont. 5 July 1903, baptized 12 July 1903 (St. John the Baptist RC Church, Perth), godparents Lawrence Kilpatrick and Mrs. Lawrence Kirkpatrick (i.e., Mary Elizabeth Hartney, daughter of Michael Hartney and Bridget McCann)

I’m especially interested in Bridget McCann, about whom I know the following:

Cause of death: puerperal (childbed) fever?

On 7 April 1885, Bridget Adeline Lavelle,1 wife of James McCann, gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Margaret Adeline McCann. Ten days later, Bridget Adeline Lavelle was buried at “the new Catholic Cemetery of Perth” (i.e., St. John the Baptist RC Cemetery, on the outskirts of Perth).

Not surprisingly, her Catholic burial record supplies no information about the cause of death:2

Burial of Bridget Adeline Lavelle

Burial of Bridget Adeline Lavelle

Or, at least, there is nothing in the above record itself that would indicate a cause of death. On the previous page of the register, however, is the record of the baptism of Margaret Adeline McCann, born 7 April and baptized 14 April 1885 (with Michael John Hartney and Maggie Finnall serving as godparents). This is obviously a significant clue: when a woman dies nine days after having given birth, it is reasonable to suspect a childbirth-related mortality.

  1. Daughter of James Lavelle and Margaret Boyle, and baptized (30 June 1861, Pembroke Mission, Renfrew Co.) Bridget Adelaide Lavelle.
  2. St. John the Baptist (Perth, Lanark), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1880-1899, Intmt 14, Mrs. James McCann burial, p. 173: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/:
    accessed 4 January 2013), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

Elizabeth Bowles: Home Child

Found in the household of Richard Tovey and his wife Catherine Gorman1 in the 1891 census of Bathurst township (Lanark South, Ontario):

Elizabeth Boles, female, age 9, dom [domestic], born England, father born England, mother born England, religion RC [Roman Catholic]

 

Richard Tovey household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark South, Bathurst, family no. 10, p. 2, lines 21-25, and p. 3, lines 1-2.

Richard Tovey household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark South, Bathurst, family no. 10, p. 2, lines 21-25, and p. 3, lines 1-2.

This 9-year old girl is very likely the Elizabeth Bowles, listed as age 7 in 1889, who travelled under the auspices of the Catholic Children Protective Society, arriving at Quebec (from Liverpool) on 10 June 1889, with “Kingston via GTR [Grand Trunk Railway]” the final destination for a party of 62 children under the charge of Mrs. Lacy.

Also in the household of Richard Tovey in 1891 (in addition to his wife Catherine and 5-year old son Thomas, that is) are his widowed mother-in-law Mary Gorman, his brother John Tovey, and another domestic servant by the name of Katie Martin (age 15, born Ireland, both parents born Ireland). Was Katie Martin also a Home Child?

  1. Catherine Gorman was Richard Tovey’s second wife. His first wife, who died in 1883 at the age of 37, was a Frances Ann McCann (daughter of Laurence McCann and Ann O’Reilly), who appears to be connected to my McGlade-Dunne ancestors, though I have yet to figure out the connection.

Link

So the reason I’m blue in the face is not apnoea or an impending heart attack, it’s from telling people over and over and over that it makes no difference whether your Quin family have been insanely fussy about spelling their surname with one N for the past three centuries. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the person writing the name down was not a Quin, and couldn’t give a hoot.

— John Grenham, The Os and the Macs