Catholic Records, Civil Registration, Death and Burial

Death of George Vallely

Sometimes the records just don’t add up. Oh, I don’t mean numerically or arithmetically: genealogical research is not double-entry bookkeeping, after all. What I mean is that sometimes the information found in one record will directly contradict the information that is found in another record.

A case in point:

Here are George Vallely and his second wife Mary Moyle in the 1891 Canadian census, in Bristol Township, Pontiac Co., Québec. They are found in the household of their son Joseph Vallely (here Valillee) and his wife Anne O’Malley:

Joseph Valillee household, 1891 census of Canada, Quebec, Pontiac, Bristol South, p. 4, lines 2-9.
Joseph Valillee household, 1891 census of Canada, Quebec, Pontiac, Bristol South, p. 4, lines 2-9.
Burial of Mary Moyle
Burial of Mary Moyle

About a year and a half after this census enumeration, Mary Moyle died on 13 October 1892. She was buried at St. Mary’s, Quyon on 15 October 1892, with Patrick Barry and Luke Finnegan serving as burial witnesses. In her burial record, she is listed as “Mary Moyle wife of deceased George Vallies1 of Bristol [emphasis mine].”2

So: George Vallely must have died sometime after the spring of 1891, at which point he was enumerated in the census (the official date for the 1891 Canadian census was April 6, 1891), but before mid-October 1892, at which point his second wife Mary Moyle was buried as his widow. Right?

Well, sure. Unless George Vallely died on 18 January 1894 — the date that is recorded in the Ontario civil registration of his death:3

George Vallillie, Ontario death registration 1894: microfilm MS 935, reel 72, Archives of Ontario; database, ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 February 2015), Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947.
Ontario civil death registration of the death of George Vallillie [Vallely]
There can be almost no doubt that this George Vallillee is George Vallely of Bristol, though he apparently died at Pembroke, Renfrew Co., Ontario. First, unlike, say, the confusingly numerous Patrick Ryans and John Sullivans of the nineteenth-century Ottawa Valley, there simply weren’t that many men named George Vallely in the region at that time. A George Vallely who was born in Ireland about 1808? My George Vallely (who was my 3x great-grandfather) appears to have been the only one. Second, and even more to the point, the death informant listed here is “Mrs. Blais.” That would be his daughter Catherine Vallely (daughter of George Vallely and his first wife Anne O’Hanlon), who was the widow of Ferdinand Blais (who died at Pembroke, Renfrew Co., Ontario on 7 April 1890). So presumably George Vallely was living with (or at least visiting) his daughter Catherine (Vallely) Blais in Pembroke at the time of his death.

As the above record shows, the Ontario civil registration lists the date of his death as 18 January 1894, and also records that the death of George Vallely was officially registered on 2 February 1894. Why, then, did Mary Moyle’s burial record describe her as the wife of “deceased George Vallies”?

The most likely explanation is that the priest was simply mistaken. I think it’s fair to assume that George Vallely did not attend his wife’s funeral (presumably the priest couldn’t have been that mistaken!), perhaps because he was living in Pembroke at the time?

A far less likely possibility is that the Ontario civil registration is off by a couple of years, with George Vallely dying in January 1892 (before his wife’s death in October 1892) rather than in January 1894. This is possible (the civil records are not infallible, there is always the possibility of error in any record), but I think it extremely unlikely.

Where did George Vallely die? In the province of Ontario (in Pembroke, Renfrew Co.), almost certainly: a death in Québec would not generate an Ontario civil registration. When did George Vallely die? Probably on 18 January 1894, as recorded in the Ontario civil registration.

But I have not yet found an RC church burial record for George Vallely, neither in Ontario nor Québec, which leaves the date and place of his death somewhat of an open question for me.

  1.  Vallies  is just one of many variant surname spellings that I have come across for the surname Vallely. As I’ve said before, spelling does not count in genealogy.
  2.  Ste. Marie/St. Mary’s (Quyon, Que.), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1879-1893, p. 344, image 174 of 188, Mary Moyle burial, S(épulture) 13, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 10 February 2015), Quebec, Vital and Church Records  (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.
  3. George Vallillie, Ontario death registration 1894: microfilm MS 935, reel 72, Archives of Ontario; database, ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 February 2015), Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947.
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