A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader who is connected (by marriage) to my paternal family tree through the Delaney family; and who is also connected to my maternal family tree through the Derouin family. Well, it’s a bit convoluted and complicated, except perhaps when represented in the form of a pie graph; but basically, when my dad was a kid, he lived at the address (on Holland Ave., in Ottawa) where this reader’s Ireland-to-Canada ancestors had died; owing to, amongst other factors, my dad’s great-aunt Mary Emilia (“Em, Emma”) Moran having married this reader’s great-uncle Ed Delaney, after having been widowed by the untimely death of her first husband Thomas Lenahan. And then, just to make things interesting (you’re still following?), this reader’s father had a brother who married a cousin of my maternal grandmother Delia Lucie Derouin.
Here’s another “blended family” from the 1881 Canadian census:
Two of the daughters of Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy married men by the name of Sullivan, which two men appear to be completely unrelated to one another. One Sullivan was born in Canada and died in the US; the other Sullivan was born in the US and died in Canada.
From the 1842 census of Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario (Upper Canada),1 a snapshot of the household of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson.
While James and Margaret had 10 children (7 daughters and 3 sons), only 7 of them (5 daughters and 2 sons) are counted here. Eldest daughter Marcella had already moved away from the household when she married John Hogan in 1838; but this still leaves one daughter unaccounted for. Possibly second youngest daughter Anna (born 1834) had died by 1842? She is certainly not found with her parents in the 1851 census. I’m not sure why only two of three sons were enumerated in 1842. James (Jr., born about 1824) died of cholera in 1851; while Thomas (never married) and Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael died of “la grippe” within a week of one another, in January 1892. Sandy Moran went up to the White Lake district near Pakenham shortly after his marriage to Mary Ann Leavy, before returning to the Moran farm at Concession I, Lot 11 at Huntley township; Thomas almost certainly never left the Moran homestead at Huntley.
|4.||Name of the Head of Each Family||Jas. Morin|
|5.||Proprietor of Real Property||Jas. Morin|
|12.||Number of natives of Ireland belonging to each family||2|
|15.||Number of natives of Canada belonging to each family of British origin||7|
|18.||Number of years each person has been in the Province when not natives thereof||21|
|21.||Female. /five years of age and under.||1|
|22.||Male. \Number of persons in the family above||2|
|23.||Female. /five and under fourteen years of age.||4|
|30.||Married. \MALE 30 and not 60.||1|
|34.||Married. \FEMALE 14 and not 45||1|
|48.||Number of persons in each family belonging to the Church of Rome||9|
|69.||Number of acres or arpents of land occupied by each family.||200|
|70.||Number of acres or arpents of improved land occupied by each family.||20|
1 J.M. Robinson, 1842 Census, Canada West, Carleton County (Ottawa: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2000).
Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy built this stone house on Concession I, Lot 11 in Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario. Sandy Moran had acquired the land in January 1857, when he purchased the property from his father James Moran for the sum of 100 pounds (this money may have been intended as some sort of provision for his mother and sisters). In the 1861 census for Huntley township, Alex Moren and wife Mary (along with children John, James, Margaret, Ernestine, and Julia) are listed as the occupants of a 1 and 1/2 storey log house. So presumably the stone house was built after 1861. In 1913, son Thomas Edwin Moransold the property, perhaps to the Cleary family (who were apparently the owners of the house in the 1940s).
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 can read and understand the relevant records.
First, realize that these records, whether written in Latin, French, English, Italian or whatever, all adhere to the same formula. The parish register was no place for authorial innovation and brilliant flashes of originality. So if you know the English-language formula (which you surely already do), then you’re already halfway there to figuring out the French. Second, learn a few key French terms and phrases which correspond to their English equivalents, and you’ve arrived at an understanding of the record (in fact, in many cases the bigger challenge will be to make out the priest’s handwriting, though you can do that too, once you understand what terms and phrases you’re looking at).
This entry deals with baptismal records, with marriage, burial and census records to follow in later entries.
Le treize de mai Mil huit cent cinquante neuf par nous prêtre soussigné a été baptizé George William né le vingt sept d’avril du légitime marriage de George Cahill et de Mary Moren de cette paroisse. Le parrain a été John Connely et la marraine Anne Shirly qui n’ont pu signer.*
And here’s my translation (note: I’m not a professional translator or anything like that, so my translation is purely utilitarian and no doubt shockingly inelegant):
The thirteenth of May one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine by we the undersigned priest was baptized [or: we the undersigned priest baptized] George William born the twenty-seventh of April of the legitimate marriage of George Cahill and Mary Moren [Moran] of this parish. The godfather was John Connely [Connelly] and the godmother Anne Shirly [Shirley] who could not sign.
Note that William is the child’s middle name, not his surname. In the case of a child “born of [a] legitimate marriage,” the priest typically did not give his/her last name in the text of the record, because the surname was understood to be that of the father (the surname will be found in the margins and/or in the record’s heading, though).
And please don’t be offended if the French-Canadian priest misspelled your English (or, more probably, Irish, since we’re dealing with RC Ottawa Valley records here) ancestor’s name. I’ve seen some truly bizarre renderings of French names by English-language (which is to say, generally, Irish) priests, after all. But nobody really cared about spelling before, roughly, the early twentieth century, anyway. And these priests were doing their best to create accurate, written records for people who spoke another language but who often didn’t write in any language at all. So the spellings were phonetic renditions from another language, which created ample opportunity for spelling variations.
Here are just a few of the French terms and phrases that you might encounter in a baptismal record, with English translations (but I’m too lazy to do numbers, which are easily google-able in any case):
|nous prêtre soussigné||we the undersigned priest|
|baptisé (masculine)||baptized (for a boy)|
|baptisée (feminine)||baptized (for a girl)|
|né (masculine)||born (for a boy)|
|née (feminine)||born (for a girl)|
|du légitime marriage de||of the legitimate marriage of|
|de parents inconnus||of unknown parents|
|cette paroisse||this parish|
|avant-hier||day before yesterday|
|la veille de||day before|
|qui n’ont pu signer||who could not sign|
Nowadays, people tend to think of militiamen and citizen’s militias and the like as a peculiarly American phenomenon, but that’s not really historically accurate. The whole apparatus of the citizen’s muster rolls was imported from England, actually, and can be found in Upper Canada from a relatively early phase.