Catholic Records

James Lewis: Home Child?

I came across the following record of an abjuration and baptism in the parish register for St. Isidore, South March (Carleton Co., Ontario):

On the twenty sixth day of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty three, I the undersigned curate of this mission baptized James born about the month of January (in England) Eleven years ago of the lawful marriage of Mr Lewis and a mother whose name cannot be arrived at. The godfather was James Kirwan and the godmother Mary Kirwan. J.A. Sloan, pt.1
I don’t know anything about the Kirwans, except that they were Irish Catholic farmers in South March.

1
St. Isidore Roman Catholic Church (South Marchl, Ontario), Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1861-1968, James Lewis B2 [1883], database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 8 October 2010), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Headstones

A few random observations, in no particular order:

Scott Naylor’s Ottawa Area Grave Markers gallery is a wonderful source of headstone photographs, covering many cemeteries (both Catholic and Protestant) on both sides of the Ottawa river (i.e., on both the  Ontario and the Québec sides of the Ottawa Valley area). And he is continually adding more cemeteries. I was surprised (and delighted) to recently discover that the site now covers Notre Dame, Ottawa: a huge, and densely populated, cemetery. I can’t even imagine the hours of unpaid work put in by dedicated volunteers: it is a gift to the public (or to that subset of the public that has an interest in genealogy), for which I am very grateful indeed. I’ve found ancestral markers there that I hadn’t realized even existed: I knew (from parish registers and/or civil death records) that the ancestors had been buried at Notre Dame, but I hadn’t known about their headstones.
The headstones in any given cemetery may represent only a portion of those buried there. Or, to put it another way: some people were buried without a headstone. For the nineteenth century (not to mention earlier than that), many people, actually. Headstones were expensive; and for humble folk, much closer to a luxury than a necessity.

William Charles Burton: Home Child

[Note: I'm having trouble combining MT blog software with numbered footnote citations. For the moment, I'm inclined to take the easy way out: if there are more than one or two citations per blog entry, no numbered footnotes, just astericks, and references minimized, out of laziness and/or frustration. The census data, both English and Canadian, via Ancestry.ca].

William Charles Burton was born in England about 1882 and came to Canada in the 1890s (possibly 1898) as a Home Child. Several records describe him as a “Barnardo Boy.”

In the 1891 English census, there is a William C. Burton found in the village of Cheddar, Somerset, in the household of George Wall (occupation: Market Gardener) and his wife Susan (occupation: Caretaker of Children), along with another orphan, Fred W.G. Owen. Fred Owen’s age is given as 10, and William C. Burton’s age as 8; both boys are listed as Boarders and Scholars (i.e., they are said to be attending school), and both are said to be “From Dr. Barnardo’s Home, Birthplace unknown.” I’d say there’s a very good chance that this is the William Charles Burton who ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada.

Translating French Records: Baptismal Records

If you’re looking for Roman Catholic records in the Ottawa Valley area, you’re almost certain to run into some French entries in the parish registers. But no worries, and please do not panic. Even if you don’t speak a word of French beyond “bonjour” and “merci beaucoup,” you canread and understand the relevant records.

First, realize that these records, whether written in Latin, French, English, Italian or whatever, all adhere to the same formula. The parish register was no place for authorial innovation and brilliant flashes of originality. So if you know the English-language formula (which you surely already do), then you’re already halfway there to figuring out the French. Second, learn a few key French terms and phrases which correspond to their English equivalents, and you’ve arrived at an understanding of the record (in fact, in many cases the bigger challenge will be to make out the priest’s handwriting, though you can do that too, once you understand what terms and phrases you’re looking at).
This entry deals with baptismal records, with marriage, burial and census records to follow in later entries.

Where was Patrick Killeen born?

Different Sources, Different Birthplaces

In a history of Ottawa published in 1927, A.H.D. Ross wrote that “the first white child born in the Township of March was Patrick Killean, whose father, Denis Killean, was in Captain Monk’s employ, and the second was Benning Monk.”1 Perhaps Ross was relying on Mrs. M.H. Ahearn’s earlier “The Settlers of March Township,” which was first read before the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa on 10 March 1899, and later published by the Ontario Historical Society. According to Mrs. Ahearn:
The first settler to locate [in March township] was Captain John Benning Monk, of H.M. 97th Regiment, who arrived in June, 1819, having been paddled and portaged in boats from Montreal, where he had the misfortune to lose his baby daughter. Leaving his wife in Hull, Captain Monk proceeded by river to March, where, with his soldier servants, he constructed a rude shanty, to which he brought Mrs. Monk, and which was aptly named ‘Mosquito Cove’ by the much-tormented occupants…
…Captain Monk had ten children, and among his numerous descendants are several prominent citizens of Ottawa. One son is G.W. Monk, ex-M.P.P. for Carleton County, and Mrs. Chas. McNab, a well-known member of our society, to whom the writer is indebted for many details of this sketch, is a daughter. The eldest son, the late Benning Monk, was the second child born in March; Patrick Killean, whose parents were servants of Captain Monk, and who afterwards took up land in South March, being the first.2
It’s not clear where Mrs. Ahearn got her information about Patrick Killean/Killeen’s birth, although it may have been part of the detail supplied to her by Mrs. Chas. McNab (Frances Amelia Monk, daughter of Captain John Benning Monk and Elizabeth Fitzgerald).

Conditional Baptism

While going through RC parish registers in search of your Catholic ancestors, you may come across the phrase “baptized conditionally” or “baptized sub conditione,” or, in French, “baptisé(e) sous condition.” What did the padre mean, you may wonder, by this seemingly cryptic communication?

What the priest meant, basically, was that he had performed the baptism with words to the effect of, “If you are not already baptized, I baptize you.”

When a Ryan Marries a Ryan

Sorting through Ryans in Renfrew County is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Ryan is, in Carol McCuaig’s words, “one of the most popular surnames” in the county.1

When one Ryan marries another (let’s hope reasonably distant if not completely unrelated!) Ryan, the opportunity for confusion is multiplied to the nth degree of Ryan.
For example, on 16 June 1884, Stephen Ryan married Hannah Ryan at St. James the Less, Eganville. Stephen was the son of John Ryan and Sarah Gallagher, and the widower of Ellen Behan (who had died “in childbed” a year earlier, on 14 June 1883). Hannah was the daughter of Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey. The witnesses to the marriage of Stephen Ryan and Hannah Ryan were Jeremiah Ryan and Bridget Harrington, whose mother was a Ryan (Margaret Ryan, older sister of Hannah, and wife of Cornelius Harrington).
That’s a lot of Ryans.

1 Carol Bennett McCuaig, The Kerry Chain, the Limerick Link (Juniper Books Ltd: 2003), p. 134.

Irish Origins through Canadian Sources: Introduction

On my father’s side, all of my ancestors came from Ireland, some arriving in Canada as early as 1820 or so, some arriving during the Famine. On my mother’s side, a little over half of my ancestors came from Ireland, with all but one branch emigrating during the Famine (the other almost half of my maternal ancestors are French Canadian).

So that’s a lot of Irish ancestors, and they came from the north and the west and the south and the southwest of Ireland (though not, so far as I have yet to discover, from the east). Once in Canada, they tended to marry as one Irish Catholic joining up with another, which probably tended toward the construction of a new, colonial Irish identity (back in Ireland, they never would have met one another, let alone married, since one came from Armagh, and another from Cork, and so on and so forth: but in Canada, they were all the same people who all came from the same place). When I was a kid, come to think of it, “The Wild Colonial Boy” was a song that I and my sisters used to sing for the company, it was something of a party piece for us, which we had learned from a couple of uncles. That song has to do with Irish emigration to Australia not Canada, of course, but I think the colonial theme resonated with us, or at least with our uncles.

Ontario Civil Birth Records: Delayed Registration and Non-Registration

Mary Laura Lahey was born in Ottawa on 29 December 1893, the eldest daughter of John James Lahey and Bridget Loreto Killeen, and was baptized at St. Patrick’s, Ottawa on 5 January 1894, with Denis Lahey and Mary Finner serving as godparents. Her birth was not registered with the province of Ontario until  23 November 1935.

Presumably it was her marriage and subsequent emigration to the US which prompted the delayed birth registration. On 30 November 1935, at St. Theresa’s (Ste. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus), Ottawa, Mary Laura Lahey married John Oswald Green, son of John Green and Rose Ann Doyle. John Oswald Green had been born and raised in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario, but had emigrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1925, along with his mother and siblings. Shortly after the couple’s marriage in Ottawa, Mary Laura Lahey also moved to Detroit to take up residence with her new husband, and also with her brother-in-law William Francis Green and her younger sister Agnes Evelyn Lahey (whose marriage to John Oswald Green’s younger brother in 1931 had also

Delayed Registration of Birth for Mary Laura Lahey, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 May 2010), Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909

Delayed Registration of Birth for Mary Laura Lahey, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 May 2010), Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909

.

 

prompted a delayed registration of birth, with a declaration signed by her mother Bridget Loreto Killeen).

At the time Mary Laura Lahey’s birth registration, which is dated 23 November 1935, both her parents had been dead for several years. It was her uncle Thomas Lahey who swore a notarized declaration of the birth, which reads as follows:

I, Thomas Lahey, of the City of Ottawa in the County of Carleton, in the Province of Ontario, Do Solemnly Declare as follows: That I am the Uncle of the aforesaid; That I was a brother of the said Mary Laura Lahey’s father and was on intimate terms with his family at the time of the birth of the said Mary Laura Lahey. That although I was not present at her birth I saw the child within a few weeks thereafter and was informed at the time and fully believe that she was born at the place and on the date above mentioned and I have known her since the date of her birth. Thomas Lahey [his signature].

Although civil registration of births began in Ontario in 1869, it took several decades at least before government authorities could expect anything close to full compliance with the Vital Statistics Act which mandated compulsory registration. As Fawne Stratford-Devai reports, with reference to George Emery’s Facts of Life: The Social Construction of Vital Statistics, Ontario, 1869-1952(McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993), “in the early days of government registration…many people and local institutions were often suspicious of why the government wanted such information and simply refused to register births, marriages and deaths.” Emery estimates that for the period covering 1875-1895, Ontario birth registrations were only two-thirds complete (with one-third of births unreported), and that registrations were not 90% complete until about 1920.

John James Lahey and Bridget Loreto Killeen had five daughters (Mary Laura; Margaret Hilda; Mary Catherine; Agnes Evelyn; and Mary Gladys), all born in Ottawa between 1893 and 1901, and all baptized at St. Patrick’s Church (now St. Patrick’s Basilica), Ottawa within a few weeks of birth. As best I make out, none of these five births were registered at the time. Nor have I discovered a civil registration of the birth of my grandfather, Allan Jerome Moran (husband of Mary Catherine Lahey), also born in Ottawa (30 December 1897) and also baptized at St. Patrick’s (2 January 1898). The only civil records of birth that I have found for any of the above are the two delayed registrations of Mary Laura Lahey and Agnes Evelyn Lahey, both of whom married (Canadian-born) US naturalized citizens and emigrated to the US upon marriage. A third sister, Mary Gladys Lahey, also married (also in Ottawa, in 1924) a Canadian-born emigrant to the US, Richard John Anthony Cunningham, who was also originally from Arnprior; I have not found a delayed registration of her birth.

However, while I lack civil birth records for most of the above, I do have an important substitute/alternative: their Roman Catholic baptismal records, which supply the name of the father, the maiden name of the mother, the date of the child’s birth, and also the names of the two godparents, who are mostly family relations. Given the significant gaps in early civil registration, if you are looking for Catholic ancestors in Ontario, you should count yourself fortunate to have the the substitute of the RC parish registers, which will often be your single most important source of vital information. Even where the parish priests did not register births with the province (which they often did, although not legally required to), the parish registers themselves provide, in Emery’s words (Facts of Life, pp. 95-96), “nearly complete coverage of vital events for French Canadian and other Roman Catholic populations” in Ontario.

Henrietta Godmother

Henrietta Moran (1837-1921)

Henrietta Moran caught my attention when I noticed how often she turned up as a sponsor at her nieces’ and nephews’ baptisms. For the Morans of Huntley (but also for the Laheys of March), she seems to have been on the A-List of potential godparents.

Henrietta was godmother to at least the following children (but there may have been more, which I haven’t yet come across):
  • Thomas Hourigan (1857-1899), son of Thomas Hourigan and Julia Moran, born 8 Mar 1857, baptized 15 Mar 1857 (St. Patrick’s, Ottawa), godfather John Lahey
  • Thomas Alexander Lahey (1864-1945), son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen, born 7 Jun 1864, baptized June? July?* 1864 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather James Hourigan
  • Francis Charlebois (1862-1924), son of Arsene Charlebois and Margaret Moran, born 19 Mar 1862, baptized 27 Apr 1862 (St. Phillip’s, Richmond), godfather Thomas Moran
  • Mary Moran (1886-1947), daughter of James Moran and Sarah Jane Dooley, born 15 Apr 1886, baptized 23 Apr 1886 (St. Michael’s, Corkery), godfather Thomas Moran
  • James Lambert Charlebois (1895-?), son of James Lacey Charlebois and Bridget Ellen O’Neill, born 7 Nov 1895, baptized 24 Nov 1895 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather Fr. John Andrew Sloan (parish priest at both St. Isidore and St Patrick’s, Fallowfield)
  • James Allan Armstrong (1892-?), son of Thomas Armstrong and Henrietta Charlebois, born 6 Oct 1892, baptized 30 Oct 1892 (St. Isidore, March township), godfather Joseph Newsom**