Albert Austin Massey was born in London, England about 1884,* the son of Thomas Massey and Mary Armitage (his parents’ names come from his RC parish marriage record, and also from the Ontario civil marriage record which was based on that parish register). He emigrated to Canada around 1895 (at about 10 or 11 years of age), where he ended up in Renfrew Co., Ontario.
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
St. Isidore Roman Catholic Church (South Marchl, Ontario), Register of Baptisms and Marriages, 1861-1968, James Lewis B2 , database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 8 October 2010), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.
A few random observations, in no particular order:
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.
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.
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
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.”
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
1 Carol Bennett McCuaig, The Kerry Chain, the Limerick Link (Juniper Books Ltd: 2003), p. 134.
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).
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
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.