Tag Archive for Moran

Death and Burial Records: c. 1857-1861 versus 1882

Or: What a Difference Twenty-Some Years Can Make

Death and Burial of Margaret Jamieson

When Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran, died on 12 July 1882, her death generated two records: a Roman Catholic church burial record; 1 and an Ontario civil death registration, based on the RC burial record.2

Burial of Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran.

Burial of Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran. St. Michael’s, Corkery.

Death of Margret Morin (Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran)

Ontario civil death registration of the death of Margret Morin (Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran)

Note the spelling variations for both forename and surnames. In the church record we have Margarette, and in the civil record we have Margret, for the first name that I’ve decided to standardize as Margaret.3

And in the Ontario civil death registration, we have Morin for Moran; while in the church burial record, we have Jameson (and perhaps also Jemeson?) for a surname that her descendants most frequently spell as Jamieson.

And btw, and as noted before, that “Jameson alias Moran” does not mean that my 3x-great-grandmother had been travelling under a false identity, nor that she had been caught up in the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage. By “alias,” the priest (Fr. O’Malley) just meant “otherwise known as.” So: Jameson (or Jamieson, to her descendants), her maiden or family name, but otherwise known as Moran, her married name.

  1. St. Michael (Corkery, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1864-1884, Vol. 4, S. Margarette Jameson alias Moran, p. 147: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 28 March 2013), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.
  2. Margret Morin, Ontario death registration 1882: microfilm MS 935, reel 30, Archives of Ontario; database, ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 28 March 2013), Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947.
  3. I doubt very much that she herself adhered to a standardized spelling, that she would have insisted on Margaret or Margarette or perhaps Marguerite (this last a spelling which some of her descendants favour).

Johnny Moran sings ‘The Jolly Tinker’

John Alexander Moran, Ottawa, early 1960s

John Alexander Moran, Ottawa, early 1960s

My dad loved life; and family; and food; and drink; and song: he loved life, he loved it all.

He had a big heart. And he loved life: he loved it all.

As a younger man, when he was hale and hearty, he had a beautiful singing voice too. And he knew so many songs!

He taught us some of the old Irish ballads, and some of the newer Irish tunes too (yes, I can sing ‘The Dutchman’ from start to finish, without a cheat sheet: thanks, Dad!), and some Canadian folk songs, and a couple of dear old French Canadian numbers, as well. He taught us to always have a ‘party piece’ or two with which to entertain the company.

Here his voice had weakened, and he couldn’t remember all the lyrics, so my sister got the lyrics up through google, but he had trouble reading them from the screen. But as sick as he was here, he was game, he was ready to sing, and still his voice  rings true.

So  here he is, loving life while dying of cancer, singing “The Jolly Tinker.”1. He loved life; and family; and song: he just loved it all.


  1. Canadian Thanksgiving, 2012 = October 2012

Cause of Death for James Hourigan?

A couple of family connections have told me that James Hourigan, son of Thomas Hourigan and Julia Moran, died in the Great Fire of 1870. Their source of information was apparently Alec Lunney’s “My Maternal Ancestors,” which I posted here.1

But looking closely at Alec Lunney’s “My Maternal Ancestors,” I can’t help but notice that he doesn’t actually say that James Hourigan died in the Great Fire of 1870. Rather, he refers to James Hourigan as “James who died as a youth of 18 in the year of the Great Fire of 1870.” Well, details, details…but so much of genealogical research has to do with the details; and there is a difference, after all, between dying as a direct result of a catastrophe, and dying of some other cause altogether around about the time that the catastrophe occurred.

James Hourigan baptism.

Baptism of James Hourigan, son of Thomas Hourigan and Julia Moran, 12 Dec 1852. Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1852-1855, image 35 of 244, B. 271, James Hurrigan [Hourigan], database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 February 2013), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

I have not (yet) found a church burial record for James Hourigan, though I do have his baptismal record (see above). Nor have I discovered an Ontario civil death registration, and this document I do not really expect to find: for the province of Ontario, the registration of deaths only began on 1 July 1869, and for the first decade or so after its inception, the record-keeping was quite spotty.
  1. From Alec Lunney’s  “A Collection of Family and Ottawa Area Information.”

1842 Upper Canada Census Online

Via John Reid’s Anglo-Celtic Connections, the 1842 Upper Canada Census (or some [most?] of what survives, at any rate) is now online (and free of charge!) at FamilySearch.org.

Not that I’m complaining, because online access (and free of charge, at that) is obviously quite wonderful, but: I suspect the indexing of names1 for this database has some glitches.2 For example, my search of this database for “James Moran” turned up nothing. And when I then tried “James Morin,” I also got nothing. Well, then, how about “Jas. Moran”? Nope, nothing. And “Jas. Morin”? Er, sorry, no, but still nothing.

I knew that James Moran could be found in this census, because I have the published transcription (published by the Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society: 2000) of the 1842 census, Canada West, Carleton County (ed. J. M. Robinson).

  1. And note that it is only the (mostly male) heads of households who were identified by name in the 1842 Upper Canada census.
  2. These glitches are no doubt related to: illegible handwriting; unexpected name abbreviations; and strange surname variations.

Strange Surname Spellings: Hohanlan for O’Hanlon

As I’ve mentioned before (e.g., in Spelling Doesn’t Count! [in Genealogy]), it’s extremely unlikely that an ancestor had a strong attachment to a certain spelling of his surname, if that ancestor never had occasion to personally spell his own name.

If my ancestor James Moran, for example, was not literate (and I’m pretty sure he was not), then he didn’t  always spell his name Moran (rather than Moren, Morin,  Murran, Murrin, or some other variation that I’ve yet to come across), because, well, he didn’t spell his name at all.  His name was written and recorded by the parish priest; by the county clerk; by the census enumerator … and he would have been in no position to correct the spelling of the recorder, of course, if he could neither read nor write. That’s what it meant to be illiterate.

So surname spelling variations are par for the course in genealogy (for a number of reasons, and not just because of the illiteracy of those named in various records), and the sooner we let go of the notion of a “proper” spelling (which can be surprisingly difficult to do, admittedly), the sooner we arrive at a properly historical understanding of the production of the records on which we rely.1

But while surname spelling variations are only to be expected, are, indeed, the historical norm for pre-20th-century populations, the particular, not to say the peculiar, French-Irish character of the Catholic records of the Ottawa Valley could produce some especially noteworthy oddities in surname spelling.

  1. Most of the records upon which we rely for genealogical information were not produced with future genealogists in mind. A family tree or a series of family events recorded in a family bible can certainly be said to have been written with future family historians in mind. An inscription on a headstone is also oriented toward future generations of the deceased’s family. But a census record? a civil marriage record? a sacramental record (e.g., a church record of a baptism, a Confirmation, a marriage, or a burial)? a register of a deed? a ship’s passenger list? Most “genealogical records” were not originally produced to serve as genealogical records at all. It is we, the genealogists, who now use the records as such, retroactively, and after the fact, so to speak. To approach these records historically means asking a series of “W” questions: Who wrote or produced this record? When was it written? Where was it written? Why was it written (to what purpose, or for what end)? Who was its originally intended audience? What assumptions and presuppositions are embedded in the document? and so on and so forth.

Red are brick, blue are stone: Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa

Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa, Sheet No. 421

My paternal grandmother Mary Catherine Lahey was probably born at 308 Gloucester Street in Ottawa. Or, if she was not actually born at 308 Gloucester, certainly she lived at this address from her infancy into the second decade of her life.

Inset from Sheet 42, Goad’s Insurance Plan of Ottawa

And as Goad’s Insurance Plan of the City of Ottawa makes clear (click thumbnail preview, left, to see larger image), she grew up almost in the backyard of St. Patrick’s (then a church, now a basilica), at the corner of Kent and Nepean Streets.

Now, in this particular instance, I didn’t need a map to tell me that my grandmother had lived near St. Pat’s: having grown up in Ottawa, and having attended Mass at St. Patrick’s many times as a kid,2 I already knew that Gloucester between Kent and Lyon was very close to the corner of Kent and Nepean. But the fire insurance map provides a striking visual representation of the proximity of her wooden frame house at 308 Gloucester to the stone church at 281 Nepean.

  1. Insurance plan of the city of Ottawa, Canada, and adjoining suburbs and lumber districts, January 1888, revised January 1901 (Chas. E. Goad: Toronto; Montreal: 1901).
  2. St. Patrick’s was not our parish, but my father liked to take us there from time to time when we were kids.

Where did my great-grandparents meet?

Here is my great-grandmother Anna (“Annie”) Maria Benton in the Ottawa city directory of 1895-6:1

Annie Benton

Miss Annie Benton, dressmaker, lodger at 103 Cambridge St.

  1. The Ottawa city Directory, 1895-6: embracing an alphabetical list of all business firms and private citizens, a classified business directory and a miscellaneous directory, containing a large amount of valuable information : also a complete street guide, to which is added an alphabetical and street directory of Hull, Que., . (Might Directory Co. of Toronto: 1895), online at archive.org