Catholic Records, Census, Civil Records

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):

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).

And when son William Finner married Catherine Breslin, daughter of James Breslin and Mary Lunney, originally of Co. Fermanagh, Ireland, William was identified as “Son of Age of Benjamin Finner and Mary Mantle formerly of England and now of this mission” (Fitzroy Harbour mission, 26 June 1861). Of course, Mary Mantle, wife of Benjamin Finner, was formerly not of England but rather of Co. Cork, Ireland, which suggests that a bit of caution must be used with these “originally of” and “formerly of” designations: sometimes they refer only to the father but not to the mother of a bride or bridegroom, but the record will not make that distinction. (In the case of James Breslin and Mary Lunney, however, I am reasonably confident from other sources that Mary also came from Fermanagh).
However, when William Finner died 6 August 1910, in Ramsay township, Lanark Co., Ontario, his death informant (a Dr. D.P. Lynch of Almonte), as recorded in the Ontario civil registration, gave his birthplace as Ireland, and his parents as Ben. Finner, birthplace Ireland, and Ellen Mantel, birthplace Ireland. This information was certainly wrong as to William Finner’s birthplace (he was born in Upper Canada not Ireland), almost certainly wrong as to his father Benjamin Finner’s birthplace (the weight of the evidence indicates England not Ireland as a birthplace for Benjamin), and also perhaps not quite accurate about the first name(s) of his mother (but she may have been Mary Ellen, after all, though she did a have a sister Ellen who married Bernard McGee). As mentioned earlier, though, I believe that such mistakes and inaccuracies are very rarely the result of deliberate falsehood (the records don’t “lie” so much as they need to approached with care and caution, and with as many surrounding records as possible to aid in their interpretation), and are most often the result of genuine misunderstanding. William Finner, whose mother was Irish and whose wife was likewise Irish, no doubt presented as Irish to the doctor who honestly, if mistakenly, recorded the inaccurate genealogical information along with the details of his death (“Invalid for six years from cerebral hemorrhage and a paralysed condition, dying from exhaustion”).
Benjamin Finner, son of Benjamin Finner and Mary Mantle, married Mary Galligan, born about 1838 in Co. Cavan, Ireland, daughter of Patrick Galligan and Mary Cullen and sister to my great-great-grandmother Bridget Galligan (wife of Patrick Killeen). My dad recalls visiting, as a kid, one of the sons of Benjamin Finner Jr and Mary Galligan, who was a veteran of the First World War. Probably Patrick Alfred Finner, who was a gunner in that war. He was a lifelong bachelor who apparently lived “way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, near Kinburn.”
*The passenger list for the Stakesby gives her age as 15 or 16 in 1823. The 1851/2 census (Canada West [Ontario], Carleton County, Fitzroy, p. 31, line 28) gives her age as 50. A headstone at St. Michael’s RC Cemetery, Corkery (Huntley township, Carleton Co.) records her age as 50 when she died in 1858.