Civil Registration

Benjamin Finner and Mary Mantle

Continuing with the theme of English people who emigrated to Canada and joined an Irish parish (a theme I will quickly exhaust, as I only have a handful of examples), Benjamin Finner (or Fenner) was born in England about 1796. He must have been in the Bytown area fairly early on, as he was a soldier with the 37th Regiment of Foot. His wife Mary Mantle was also an early Bytown area pioneer: born in Rathcormac, Co. Cork about 1808,* she emigrated with her parents John Mantle and Ellen Horgan/Hourigan in 1823as part of the Peter Robinson settlement.

Benjamin Finner, a Protestant, married Mary Mantle, a Catholic, about 1827 or 1828. Their children were all baptized RC, and on 23 August 1838 (St. Philip’s, Richmond), Benjamin Finner was also baptized RC (with his brother-in-law James Mantle and James’s wife Margaret O’Brien serving as sponsors):
finner_benjamin_baptism_aug1838_richmond.jpg

Benjamin Finner can be found in the 1851 and 1861 census returns for Fitzroy township, Carleton Co., Ontario, where his birthplace is listed as England (his wife Mary’s birthplace is listed as Cork, Ireland in the 1851 census, and she died [1858] before the 1861 enumeration).

Diphtheria Deaths in Huntley: 21-27 April 1883

Browsing through 19th-century death records reminds me of why I support universal childhood immunization. From one page of the Ontario civil registration of deaths for Huntley township, Carleton Co.:

6 deaths, all of them children; one from scarlet fever, five from diphtheria:

  • David Henry Harmer, Laborer, died 7 April 1883, at age 3 years. Cause of death: Scarlet fever, duration of illness 2 weeks.
  • Eliza Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 21 April 1883, at age 3 years and 6 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 3 days.
  • Mary Ann Teevans, Blacksmith’s daughter, died 23 April 1883, at age 4 years and 2 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 4 days.
  • Albert Alonson Barrows, Farmer, died 26 April 1883, at age 3 years and 11 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 8 days.
  • Daniel Teevans, Blacksmith’s son, died 26 April 1883, at age 6 years. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 2 days.
  • Sarah Rebecca Barrows, Farmer’s daughter, died 27 April 1883, at age 5 years and 7 months. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 7 days.
(Click thumbnail to view larger image [database, Ancestry.ca, http://www.ancestry.ca, accessed 6 Feb 2011, Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1936 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947]):
diptheriadeathshuntley1883.jpg
The three blacksmiths’ children listed above were very probably the son and daughters of Patrick Teevens and Mary Lowman. This couple lost another child a couple of weeks later, when Francis John Teevans, Blacksmith’s son, died 8 May 1883, at the age of 2 years. Cause of death: Diphtheria, duration of illness 6 days.

Patrick Kenny: Home Child

Found in the household of John Scissons and Hannah O’Malley in the 1891 census of March township, Carleton Co., Ontario:

Patrick Kenny, age 20, born about 1871 in England, father born England, mother born England, religion Roman Catholic, occupation Farm Labour.
This is very possibly the same Patrick Kenny who emigrated from England to Canada in 1886, at the age of 15, travelling from Liverpool to Québec with Ottawa as the destination.
It may also be the same Patrick Kenny who married Mary Moylan, daughter of John Moylan and Margaret Birmingham and widow of John Walsh, at St. Mary’s (Notre Dame du bon Conseil), Ottawa on 7 January 1919. The marriage records lists him as “Patrick Kenny, born in England, laborer, son of age (47) of John Kenny and Elisabeth Murray.” The Ontario civil registration of this marriage lists Patrick Kenny’s birthplace as Wolwich, England, and Maria [Moylan] Welch’s birthplace as South March, Ontario.

Hanorah Ryan’s Death Records

RC Burial Record and Ontario Civil Registration

If you’re looking for Catholic ancestors, the parish register, if available, will be a very important, and in many cases the most important, source of genealogical information.
Because the RC records typically supply maiden names (of the mother of an infant in the case of a baptism; of both the bride’s and the groom’s mothers in the case of a marriage; and of a married or widowed decedent in the case of a burial), it’s the Catholic parish register that will enable you to most easily and reliably reconstruct your family along both paternal and maternal lines. Moreover, the names of sponsors and witnesses (godparents, marriage witnesses and burial witnesses) can often help shed light on significant (but otherwise poorly document) familial connections. And for Irish Catholic ancestors in the Ottawa Valley area, the marriage records of first- and second-generation emigrants will occasionally supply the name of a county and perhaps even a parish in Ireland (and this even when the priest recording the information was not Irish but French Canadian).

Cause of Death: Childbirth?

Mary McCourt, wife of “Con” (short for either Constantine or Cornelius: the records differ on this point) Hazelton, died at Brudenell, Renfrew Co., Ontario on 13 May 1907. Her Ontario civil death record lists the cause of death as “heart failure, two weeks duration,” and records the name of A.T. Gourlay as the physician in attendance.

What the death record doesn’t note is that eight days earlier, on 5 May 1907, Mary McCourt had given birth to her sixth and youngest child, Mary Margaret Constance Hazelton.

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.

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).

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

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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.