“My Maternal Ancestors,” by Alec Lunney

I am extremely grateful to Al Lunney for sending me a copy of Alec Lunney’s “A Collection of Family and Ottawa Area Information,” which includes his account of his maternal (and my paternal) ancestors James Moran and Margaret Jamieson.

Peter Alexander (“Alec”) Lunney (1896-1953) was the son of Hugh Andrew Lunney and Margaret Amelia Hourigan, and a descendant of (my 3x great-grandparents) James Moran and Margaret Jamieson, and also of Mary Lahey (sister of my 3x great-grandfather James Lahey). His ancestral chart can be found here. His “A Collection of Family and Ottawa Area Information” was recorded at Pakenham on 8 August 1946, and included the following account of James and Margaret:

My Maternal Ancestors, by Alec Lunney


On my mother’s side of the house were the Hourigan and Moran families of Huntley and March townships. My mother’s paternal grandparents settled in March township. Her father Thomas Hourigan was born in 1824 in Canada. He married my grandmother Julia Moran, they had in addition to my mother, three other children, James who died as a youth of 18 in the year of the Great Fire of 1870, Mary Anne, who died in 1877 at the age of 26 years and Thomas who died in 1899 at the age of forty years. All of these three were unmarried.

Thomas Hourigan, my grandfather was an ambitious man and taught himself to read and write in an age when that was by no means a small accomplishment. He died in 1857 at the early age of 33 years. My grandmother, left with four small children, then moved to Huntley so as to be near her own people. My mother’s maternal grandmother was Margaret Jamieson, who had an upbringing of advantage in Ireland. Her father was a doctor, as were five of her uncles. Her grandfather was a landed gentleman in Ireland. Her mothers name was Fraswer, so that although she lived in Ireland she was but slightly Irish stock. She married my great-grandfather James Moran against her family’s wishes and left with him for Canada. This was sometime between 1815 and 1820.

Thomas Hourigan, my grandfather, was an ambitious man…

Foresaking a life of refinement and comparative ease, she chose the crude pioneer life of the Upper Canada wilds. She and her husband were natives of Kings and Queens counties. The Hourigans derived from Tipperary. James Moran and his wife, Margaret Jamieson lived for about three years in the Philomen Wright settlment of Hull, Quebec. Then with their two eldest children they trekked to the Ontario side to carve out a home of their own. They passed Richmond Landing, later Bytown and now Ottawa — if they had foreseen the future land values, we might now all be rich — and staked out two hundred acres in the First Concession of Huntley. Near here lived Dr. Christie with whose family my great grandmother formed a close and lifelong acquaintance which partly compensated her for the sacrifices she made in that pioneer environment. The first James Moran was the pioneer substitute of a doctor, in that he was much in demand as a blood letter a supposed panacea for most of humanitie’s ills in the early days. He died in the late fifties, both he and my grandmother, who lived on into the eighties, are interred at Huntley Cemetery.

James and Margaret Moran had three sons and six daughters. Thomas never married and became known as “Uncle Tom” to a legion of nieces and nephews. Since my mother’s family were so early deprived of their father, they were perhaps closest to him of all the related cousins. His old farm, draining into the miniature Carp River is now owned by a Mr. Cox of Huntley. Alexander (Sandy) married Mary Levi [Leavy] of Pakenham, and lived for a time there, but at his father’s death he came home to Huntley. He had a large family. His son Thos. Moran inherited the family farm, but sold it in 1913. It is now owned by Mrs. Cleary. The CNR (Ottawa to Depot Harbour) bisects this farm, and the old stone house commands a fine view of the valley which James and Margaret Moran chose as their New World home so long ago. The other sons and daughters of ‘Sandy’ and Mary Moran, lived and died in Ottawa, North Dakota, Washington, and Oregon. Only Mrs. Fagan (Minnie) and Mrs. Delaney (Emma) of Ottawa and (Annie) Mrs. Sullivan of Grand Forks, N.D. now remain. The descendants of this family branch are very numerous indeed. There were two sons, Thomas Edwin, who married Bridget McDermott and Alexander, who married Annie Benton. James Moran, son of the original James died as a young man and is buried at Richmond. Of the girls Marcella married John Hogan and lived on the Carp-Stittsville Highway. Their family of three sons and seven girls are now all deceased. Thos. Hogan succeeded to the family homestead, but sold it many years ago, at one time this family had branches throughout the adjacent townships and tho some of their descendants remain, the original family are all gone. Mrs. Pat Hammill (Elizabeth) of Bell’s Corners passed on quite recently, as the last of the family of John and Marcella Hogan. This branch, too, has very numerous descendants. Notable among them are two sisters, Marjorie Byrne (Sister Carmelita) and Madesta Byrne (Sister — ?). These are five generations down from Jas. and Margaret Moran.

Julia Moran, my grandmother married Thomas Hourigan and I have already enumerated their family. Margaret married Ercin [Arsène] Charlebois of Torbolton, and of three sons and one daughter, Thomas of Ottawa remains. Elizabeth married Peter Doyle of Drummond and had a son and daughter, Tom and Lily, both still living. Mary married Geo. Cahill of Calumet Island. They had a large family of whom a son, Dick, lives on the island homestead. Due to their distance away our acquaintance with them was less intimate than with others of the connection. Shortly before my mother’s death we paid them a visit on the island, my mother’s second visit after a lapse of over half a century. Henrietta Moran never married and lived with her brother Tom on the farm in Huntley. After his death she lived in Ottawa and passed away several years ago.

This concludes a quite abbreviated resume of the family of James and Margaret Moran. Their descendants are very numerous and come down to the sixth generation, five of whom were Canadian born. Comparatively few of them remain on the land. Their descendants will be found largely in the cities whether here [i.e., in Canada] or in the great republic [i.e., in the USA], but wherever they are if they could be congregated together, they would surely constitute an assembly of no mean dimensions. My great-grandmother lost contact with her people in Ireland for a time, but in later years was in touch with some of her cousins who had come to this side. A letter we have in our possession, dated New York, 1849 substantiates this. However, circumstances intervened to prevent her ever meeting any of her relations again. Though the rigors of pioneer life, its isolation and its hardships must have been in striking contrast to her early upbringing, she was compensated by a long and happy life with her own children and numerous descendants living throughout the Ottawa Valley. After her husband’s death she made her home with her unmarried son “Uncle Tom.” She had lived from 1798 into the early eighties of last century. My mother never wearied of telling of her, and it is very apparent that in the pioneer community so long ago, hers was a benign and refining influence.

Cause of Death: Conflicting Accounts


James Moran (1858-1899)

James Moran was born about 1858 in Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario, the third of twelve children born to Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy.

On 27 November 1883 (St. Patrick’s, Fallowfield) James Moran married Sarah Jane Dooley, daughter of Thomas Dooley and his second wife Mary Coughlan. The couple had nine (known) children, with six of the nine surviving to adulthood.

Their eldest son Alexander (1884-1887) died at age two years and five months (cause of death listed as croup); and on the 28 September 1900 (a year and a half after the death of their father), their two youngest children Julia Gertrude (almost four years old) and James Joseph (2 years old) died in a ghastly accident: “by fire,” notes Father J.A. Sloan in the children’s burial records (St. Patrick’s, Fallowfield), with the cause of death listed as “accidental burning” in the Ontario civil registration of the deaths. Another daughter, Sarah Jane Moran, known as “Jennie,” died in early adulthood: she was a nurse who died in Ste. Agathe, Québec (presumably at the tuberculosis hospital).

James Moran and Sarah Jane Dooley farmed at Lot 15, Concession 6 in Nepean township, on land that had presumably been given or sold to the couple by Sarah Jane’s father Thomas Dooley (1810-1891).

In the 1891 census (Ontario, Carleton, Nepean, family no. 23), James Moran (here spelled Morin) is head of a household that includes his wife [Sarah] Jane; their children Mary, Thomas, and Matilda; Sarah Jane Dooley’s still unmarried sisters Mary and Matilda Dooley; along with a Home Child named Daniel Driscoll, and another domestic servant (probably not a Home Child) named Lizzie Casey. By this time, the 82-year old Thomas Dooley had apparently retired from farming and moved to Ottawa, where he lived with his son-in-law Michael Harrington and his daughter Maria (one of the daughters from his first marriage to Catherine Quinn, and a therefore a half-sister to Sarah Jane Dooley) (see 1891 census: Ontario, Ottawa City, St George’s Ward, family no. 179).

Hannie McCarthy (1924-2010)

Hannie McCarthy died in hospital last weekend, after a decline in health of several months’ duration.
I took this photograph of Hannie in June 2008, in her cottage at Farramanagh, Kilcrohane, on the Sheep’s Head peninsula in southwest Cork.

Safe home, Hannie. You will be remembered by everyone who knew you.

The Queen vs Kelly (Part I)

‘Barbarously Murdered’

On Sunday last, a man named John Kelly, was lodged in gaol on a charge of murder, in having in the township of March, on the Friday previous, stabbed one Michael Horrogan, his brother-in-law, in an affray, from the fatal effects of which he did not recover.
We are informed it was committed whilst in a state of intoxication.1


It was on Good Friday, 9 April 1841 that John Kelly killed his brother-in-law Michael Hourigan.

Bytown Gazette, 15 April 1841

According to an account published in the Bathurst Courier (28 May 1841), the two men had spent the afternoon drinking at Henry Smith’s brewery, where they had been overhead quarrelling “warmly” over a child, but had then seemed to make it up. After leaving the brewery in the late afternoon, however, Kelly and Hourigan got into a fight “on the road near Captain Bradley’s.” Kelly stabbed his brother-in-law several times with a knife, and the injuries proved fatal.2  It was, in the words of the Bytown Gazette (see inset, right), a “shocking murder” and a “sad catastrophy.”

Who was Michael Hourigan?

The following account of the Hourigans is based on the (extremely thorough) research of D.T. Lahey.

Michael Hourigan was the eldest son of Timothy Hourigan and Mary Lahey (sister of my 3x great-grandfather James Lahey). Born about 1816, probably at or near Ballymacegan, in the parish of Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, Michael emigrated in the summer of 1825 with his parents and his siblings Patrick and Mary. Shortly after their arrival in Upper Canada, the family met with grave misfortune when Timothy Hourigan was killed by the fall of a tree (an occupational hazard for early Upper Canadian settlers).

Mary (Lahey) Hourigan was now a widow with three young children and a fourth child on the way (Thomas Hourigan, born late 1825 or early 1826, who would marry Julia Moran, sister of my 2x great-grandfather Alexander “Sandy” Michael Moran). The unhappy circumstances of the family were related by Mary’s brother Patrick Lahey in a letter to Peter Robinson, written in a desperate (and failed) attempt to prevent the family’s eviction from Lot 8, Concession 2 in March township:

Sir. At my coming to this Country which is now four years this faul I stoped in the township of March and paid Frederick W. Richardson ten dollars for his goodwill of Lot No. 8 in said township the north west half.

I could have sat on many a better lot that was vacant at the time. But he tol’d me as I was not able to pay for it that any other man could throw me out and he tol’d me it was a Crown lot and that he got provision of leave from John Burk and would make good same to me. But he having cut away all the oak was in a hurry to part with it.

Me self, me brother [probably my 3x great-grandfather James Lahey], and brother in law [Timothy Hourigan] settled and improved on it until the following summer me brother in law was killed by the fall of a tree. The widow and three children fell in charge to us.2

On 8 January 1826, Mary Hourigan submitted a petition to the Crown, asking for a piece of land for “the support of herself and her fatherless Children:”

Petitioner with her husband Timothy Horahan and children arrived in this Country in the year 1825, the 26th August, of which year her husband was killed by the falling of a tree whilst working for the support of his wife and large family, who have been left destitute by his death.
Petitioner has four Children, 3 boys & 1 girl, one of whom was born six months after her being deprived of her husband.
Petitioner most humbly begs that a lot of land may be assigned to her for the support of herself and her fatherless Children, her husband having been killed before his being located to any Land, and yr Petitioner shall ever pray. Mary X [her mark] Horahan.

The petition was supported by a character reference (25 September 1826), which certified “the deceased husband and his Widow to be persons of very good character and worthy of the Commiseration of His Excellency the Governor in Chief,” and which was signed by four members of the local elite, including Tory landowner and politician Hamnett Pinhey and Captain John Benning Monk (under whom my 3x- great-grandfather Denis Killeen had served in the 97th Regiment of Foot, and for whom he worked as a “soldier servant” in March township).3

The Widow Hourigan’s petition was successful, and on 4 July 1827 she moved her family to Lot 19, Concession 2 of March township, for which she received a Crown patent on 24 February 1831.

In 1835, Mary (Lahey) Hourigan made a payment of £5 toward a piece of land for her eldest son Michael. Unfortunately, the record of this payment got lost, and it took Hamnet Pinhey ten years to recover the money. “The poor woman now seeking restitution of her money,” wrote Pinhey, “is in great affliction — purchased this lot through me for her son, then a young lad, and just as he had become the support of his mother was by some ruffians most brutally murdered.”4 By the time she finally received a refund of her money, in July 1845, her son Michael had been dead four years, the victim not of “some ruffians” but of his own brother-in-law John Kelly.

Who was John Kelly?

I know very little about John Kelly.

He was born about 1813, very probably in Ireland, and was a resident of March township by 1838. Unfortunately, the record of his marriage (Notre Dame, Bytown, 20 August 1838) to Mary Hourigan, daughter of Timothy Hourigan and Mary Lahey, and sister of Michael, does not supply the names of his parents. At his trial, he was described as a “shantyman,” which term might refer specifically to someone we would now call “a lumberjack,” but which might also be applied more loosely to an Irish labourer. The designation suggests that he was not a farmer/landholder. Apparently some of his neighbours, not to mention his mother-in-law, thought he was a “dangerous character.”

Indeed, so concerned was his mother-in-law Mary Lahey, aka the Widow Hourigan, over Kelly’s propensity to violence that she took custody of his young daughter Ann, who was both her grandchild and her goddaughter:5

It was the Hourigans’ custody of the child Ann Kelly which led to the deadly altercation between the two brothers-in-law.

(To Be Continued…)

  1. Bathurst Courier, 16 April 1841.
  2. Patt Lahey to Peter Robinson, 10 July 1828. Cited in D.T. Lahey, The Laheys of March Ontario (Guelph, Ontario: 1991), vii-viii. Part of this letter (from Crown Lands Township Papers, RG I, C-IV, Lot 8, March, Archives of Ontario) is also quoted in Bruce S. Elliott, Irish Migrants in the Canadas: A New Approach (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994), p. 349, n. 92, where Pat Lahey is identified as “an Irish Roman Catholic immigrant” who may have later become a “migrant” (which is more or less accurate, I think).
  3. Cited in D.T. Lahey, The Laheys of March Ontario, pp. 14-15.
  4. Cited in D.T. Lahey, The Laheys of March Ontario, p. 15.
  5. Baptismal record for Ann Kelly, who was baptized 25 September 1839, “aged 5 months, lawful child of John Kelly & of Mary Hourogan. Sponsors Michael Nash and The Widow Hourogan.” Ottawa (basilique Notre Dame/Notre Dame Basilica), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1836-1840, image 57 of 80, database, ( accessed 20 May 2010), Ontario, Canada Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Where did John Lahey Go?

Or; Margaret Jane Killeen, the Widow who Wasn’t

There are a couple of notable scandals to be found in the annals of my Lahey ancestors, but I think I’ll leave the manslaughter cases for a later entry. For now, just a little story of family desertion and family reunion.

John Lahey of March

John Lahey was born at March township (Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada) in March 1837, the first and only child of James Lahey, originally of Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, and Ann Armstrong, originally of Co. Cavan. He was baptized 2 April 1837 (Notre Dame, Ottawa), with James Armstrong (his mother’s brother) and Mary [Lahey] Hourigan (his father’s sister) serving as godparents. His mother died 17 Dec 1839, when he was not yet two years old, at which point his father was apparently in legal custody in connection with one of the above-mentioned scandals (of which more to follow in a later entry…). So it’s not exactly clear who raised him, but presumably his paternal aunt Mary Lahey, aka the Widow Hourigan, played a part, as did his paternal uncle John Lahey, a lifelong bachelor whose land (at Concession III, Lot 14, March township) he was to eventually inherit.

“To Hear the Wolves Howl”

From some reminiscences written by Thomas Edwin Moran (1860-1942), son of Alexander Michael Moran and Mary Leavy:

My father known as Alexander Morin known as ‘Sandy’ married Mary Levi of Pakenham. They lived on a farm in the White Lake district, a virgin forest well populated with wolves, bear, and deer. If they wished to hear the wolves howl, they’d blow the dinner horn which was made of the bow of an ox and the wolves would answer. 
They lived a short time in Pakenham & returned to the homestead in Huntley & raised a family of 4 boys and 8 girls. He collected taxes for Huntley township from about 1869 until 1891…
…When Mrs Morin’s [i.e, Mary Leavy’s] brother and sister came to visit, the brother asked, ‘Mary, would you like to have some deer meat?’ And she said ‘Yes.’ He wasn’t long gone when he returned and asked them to go with him to bring the deer in. He was not long fixing up the deer he had shot, and when they got back home he asked them if they took notice of him looking up on the rock which was nearby. They had not noticed. He said there was a wolf on the rock watching them while he was quartering the deer.  He said, ‘If that fellow had howled for his companions, we wouldn’t have got much deer.’*
*Emmett Patrick Sloan, Moran family history notes.

Memories of the Morans

Emmett Patrick Sloan (1920-2007) was the son of John Percival Sloan and Mary Lillian Fagan, and a descendant, through his mother’s side, of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. He was also a family historian who spent years constructing a very detailed family tree, which involved tracing any number of Morans and Leavys across North America. A few months before he died, he sent me his memories of my great-grandparents Alexander (‘Alec,’ ‘Alex’) Michael Moran (1872-1939) and Anna Maria (‘Annie’) Benton (1871-1947). He also gave me a big, thick binder of his Moran family history research notes, for which I am extremely grateful.