Home Children

The Barley Grain For Me (O.J. Abbott and Pete Seeger)

seeger-abbott_newport

O.J. [Oliver John] Abbott, Home Child, singing “The Barley Grain For Me” with Pete Seeger, at the Newport Folk Festival, 1959-60:

How/why did this English orphan from Paddington, London know so many of the old Irish tunes? Because when he was sent to Canada, as an 8- or 9-year old boy, he was placed with some of the Irish farmers of South March (and apparently learned some of his songs from the Laheys of March).

(More on O.J. Abbott in a future entry…he is one of Canada’s most notable folk singers).

Aside

How many Home Children have I come across in the 1891 and 1901 Canadian census returns, while searching for my ancestors and their collateral relations? 10? 15? 20? I’ve lost count. Many more than I had expected to find when I first began to pursue family history research.

James Fitzpatrick: Home Child

Found in the household of John Rowan and his wife Emma Hogan (Emily Julia Hogan, daughter of John Hogan and Marcella Moran) in the 1891 census of Huntley township (Lanark North, Ontario):

Jas. [James] Fitzpatrick, male, age 17, Dom. [Domestic], born England, father born England, mother born England, religion R.C. [Roman Catholic].

John Rowan Found in the household of John Rowan and his wife Emma Hogan in the 1891 census of Huntley township (Lanark North, Ontario): Jas [James] Fitzpatrick, male, age 17, Dom. [Domestic], born England, father born England, mother born England, religion R.C. [Roman Catholic].household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Huntley, family no. 18, p. 4, lines 21-25, and p. 5, line 1.

John Rowan household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Huntley, family no. 18, p. 4, lines 21-25, and p. 5, line 1.

This is quite possibly the James Fitzpatrick, listed as age 10 in 1884, who travelled on the SS Vancouver as a member of a party of Catholic Children, leaving Liverpool on 19 June 1884 and arriving at Quebec on 27 June 1884, with a final destination of Ottawa.

James Fitzpatrick is not found in the household of John Rowan and Emma Hogan in the 1901 census.

 

 

 

Home Children: Open Secrets (Part 1)

“Could you look up Mary Hogan?” asked my dad’s cousin Aggie. “I think she may have been,” and this added sotto voce, as if, even after so many years, there might yet be something to hide, “a Home Girl.”1

A Home Girl?

At the time, I knew next to nothing about the Home Child movement, the child emigration scheme which saw over 100,000 children sent from Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1930. And yet, I must have already encountered the term somewhere, because the “Home Girl” designation immediately made some sort of sense to me. I imagined an orphan: an orphan from England? (though Hogan is an Irish surname, obviously, and from the description provided by my father and his cousin Aggie, Mary Hogan certainly sounded Irish).2

Well, I had heard of the “Barnado Boys,” of course. Indeed, I had no doubt first encountered the term as a young girl, when I avidly devoured Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series about Canada’s most beloved (though fictional!) orphan girl ever. As a childhood devotee of “Anne with an e,” I had read of Marilla Cuthbert drawing a line in the sand at the thought of a Barnardo Boy, or, in a phrase which captures the casual racism of the time, a “London street Arab.”3

My father and his cousin recalled Mary Hogan from their childhood as a somewhat elderly and somewhat eccentric fixture on the Burke family farm: not quite a blood relation, perhaps, but no mere “hired girl,” either, and “almost family” through affinity and through sheer length of tenure: apparently she had been with the Laheys and the Burkes since forever.

Well, since at least as far back as 1891, at any rate…

  1. Oral interview with Mary Frances Agnes O’Neill, January 2007.
  2. As I was later to learn, there was nothing unusual about “English” Home Children of Irish origin. In fact, Ottawa (more specifically, St. George’s Home on Wellington Street in Ottawa, now Holy Rosary Rectory) was one of the main receiving centres for Catholic children sent to Canada from Great Britain under the auspices of various English Catholic “protection societies,” which apparently set themselves up as Roman Catholic alternatives to the Protestant-centred Barnardo scheme. Many, probably most, of these Catholic children were of Irish background. For more on the Catholic Home Child movement, see  Frederick J. McEvoy, “‘These Treasured Children of God’: Catholic Child Immigration to Canada” (CCHA, Historical Studies, 65, 1999, 50-70).
  3. “‘At first Matthew suggested getting a Barnardo boy. But I said “no” flat to that. ‘They may be all right — I’m not saying they’re not, but no London street Arabs for me,’ I said. ‘Give me a native born at least. There’ll be a risk, no matter who we get. But I’ll feel easier in my mind and sleep sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.’” Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, cap. 1

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:

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.

Lizzie Dickens (Dickinson?): Home Child

Found in the household of James Quinn and his wife Mary Ann Vallely in the 1891 census of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario, p. 33, family no. 140):

Dickens, Lizzie, female, age 14, Orphan, Country of Birth Eng [England]

James Quinn household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Lanark, p. 33, lines 1-9.

Note the proximity of household 140 (above) of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario) to household 144 (household of Michael Vallely) of Lanark (Lanark North, Ontario); and also note the family connection: Mary A. [Ann] Quinn of 140 was the daughter of Michael Vallely of 144. And in 1891, both households had an “Orphan” born in England (a Home Child, in other words), each with a very similar surname: William Dickison in the household of Michael Vallely, and Lizzie Dickens in the household of James Quinn and Mary Ann Vallely.

There was an Elizabeth Dickinson, listed as age 11 in 1887, who travelled under the auspices of the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society, arriving at Quebec on 5 September 1887, with Hotel Dieu, Kingston, Ontario as the final destination for a party of 96 children under the charge of Mrs. Margaret Lacy. Was Elizabeth Dickinson a younger sibling of the William Dickinson who came to Canada on the same voyage, and as a member of the same party?

And was the Elizabeth Dickinson who travelled with the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society in August 1887 the same “Lizzie Dickens” who is found in household 140 (household of James Quinn and Mary Ann Vallely) of the 1891 Lanark (Lanark Co., Ontario) census?

 

William Dickison (Dickinson?): Home Child

Found in the household of the widowed Michael Vallely in the 1891 census of Lanark (Ontario, Lanark North, p. 34, family no. 144):

Dickison, Wm [William], male, age 16, Orphan, Country of Birth Eng [England]

Michael Valley [Vallely] household, 1891 Census of Canada, Ontario, Lanark North, Lanark, p. 34, lines 4-7.

William Dickison’s religion is listed here as R.C. (Roman Catholic) — a potentially significant clue as to his parentage and origins, or, perhaps, a mistaken assumption on the part of the census enumerator. As I’ve noted before, the recorded religious affiliation of a Home Child must be interpreted with caution:  sometimes the census enumerator assigned the religion of the household head to an “orphaned” or “adopted” child who had been baptized/raised in another denomination.

That said, there was a William Dickinson, listed as age 12 in 1887, who travelled under the auspices of the Liverpool Catholic Children’s Protection Society, arriving at Quebec on 5 September 1887, with Hotel Dieu, Kingston, Ontario as the final destination for a party of 96 children under the charge of Mrs. Margaret Lacy.

In the 1901 census of Drummond township (Ontario, Lanark South, p. 8.) William Dickinson is the head and sole member of household no. 77.  His date of birth is recorded as 7 April 1875, with country of birth listed as England and year of immigration as 1887. His “Racial or Tribal Origin” is English, and his religion is R. Cath (Roman Catholic). Occupation: Laborer.

Who was Thomas Lanctot?

Also: Margaret Devine and Thomas William Sullivan, Home Children

Thomas Lanctot [here spelled Langtoe] is found in the household of Thomas Burke and Mary Ann Lahey in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Carleton, March, p. 2, family no. 15). He is listed as “Adopted,” with racial/tribal origin French, and birthplace “O u” (Ontario urban, as distinct from “O r,” Ontario rural). His age is given as 15, with year of birth 1885 and day and month of birth unknown.

Thomas Burke household, 1901 census of Canada, Ontario, Carleton (district 52), March Township (subdistrict C-1), p. 2, family 15.

Confirmation of Thomas Lanctot, 14 June 1900.

About a year earlier, on 14 June 1900, Thomas Lanctot had made his Confirmation at St. Isidore (South March), with his age given as 14 and his parents listed as “Thomas Burke, Adopter” and “Mary Ann Lahey, Adoptress” (Click thumbnail preview [right] to see larger image). Also confirmed at St. Isidore on 14 June 1900 was Margaret Devine, age 11, whose parents were also listed as “Thomas Burke, Adopter” and “Mary Ann Lahey, Adoptress.”1

Margaret Devine is also listed as an “Adopted” child in the 1901 houshold of Thomas Burke and Mary Ann Lahey (see census image above): Margaret Devine [here Devin], born Ireland 12 July 1886, year of immigration to Canada 1897.

  1. Register of Confirmations, 1888-1909, St. Isidore, South March, Carleton, FamilySearch.org (http://familysearch.org), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

Benjamin Clayton: Home Child & WWI Telegrapher

Photograph of Benjamin Clayton (1892-1962), taken at the studio of A. Thawley, Leeds. Image courtesy of Gary Clayton.

When I first posted about Benjamin Clayton, I made reference to a military record (a WWI attestation paper) which I thought might belong to the Benjamin Clayton who is found in the household of Michael Moran (son of Francis Moran and Anne Galligan) in the 1911 census of Fitzroy township. Thanks to an email communication from one of Benjamin Clayton’s grandsons, I can now confirm that this was indeed the same person. He was born in Leeds, England on 16 September 1892; and he died at North Bay, Ontario, Canada on 1 February 1962.

In 1905, the orphaned Benjamin Clayton was sent to Canada (to St. George’s Home, in Hintonburg, Ottawa, one of the main receiving centres for Catholic Home Children from 1895 to 1930) with a party of boys from the Catholic Emigration Association.