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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From England to Ontario: Robert and Ann Elliot

In a previous post I wrote about William Elliot of Toronto and his amazing career.  Right now I'm in the process of trying to discover more about William's parents, his siblings and his early environment.  So far my research has provided me with an intriguing mix of definite information and information that's probably about the family but isn't specific enough to know for sure.

One of the cool things about William is that he's one of our only Canadian ancestors to have been born in England.  Hammersmith, to be exact, which is now part of London but at the time of his birth was referred to as a "Hamlet".   William's entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography provides the exact date (December 22, 1812) and place of his birth.  Armed with this information, it was pretty easy to find his baptismal record. 

This document gives us the name of both of William's parents (Robert and Ann), which is great.  (It also explains why William gave his oldest son the name Robert).  It doesn't give us Ann's maiden name, which is slightly less great, since Robert, Ann, and Elliot are all pretty common names.  However, it does give us Robert Elliot's occupation, which is "currier" (a currier was a leather-worker).  

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has this to say about William's early life:

"William Elliot was educated at a boarding-school in London.  His family immigrated to Dundas, Upper Canada, and he followed when he had completed his schooling at the age of 15.  In 1834 he took up land near the town and started farming..."

And his obituary in the Globe (Tuesday, June 6, 1893) confirms that he was born in Hammersmith in December 1812  and also mentions that "Mr. John Elliot, for over 30 years clerk of the county court, was his eldest brother.".  

So, these reliable sources of information tell us that William was the son of Robert and Ann Elliot, he had an older brother named John, his father was a currier, which put him in the tradesman class,  they lived in Harrowsmith and they came to Canada before 1832.  We also know that William went to boarding school, which indicates that the family had some money.

The Bishop's transcripts from the St. Paul, Hammersmith church show that William had at least three sisters, two of whom died young (one died before William was even born).  Robert and Ann Elliot were the parents of Eleanor Elliot, born August 29, 1804, who died at age 5 in May, 1809;  Mary Elliot, who was born on April 8, 1806;  and Sarah Elliot, born October 10, 1809 and died at age 7 in May of 1817, when William would have been five years old.   I haven't yet found a birth or baptismal record for John, William's older brother.

Baptismal record for Mary Elliot, daughter of Robert and Ann Elliot of Poppins Court, born September 9, 1800, baptized October 5, 1800.  St. Bride's Fleet Street Church, London, England. 

Here's where things get more conjectural.  There are more records for a Robert Elliot in Middlesex, but I'm not sure if any of these are the right Robert Elliot.  Here's what else I have:

These two records are from a database of land tax records in the greater London area.  The first image is from 1825, and it shows that Robert Elliot is a tenant of a Mssr. Salter in Hammersmith (the place is named on an earlier page).  His rent is 30 pounds (a year, I would imagine) and the tax on the property is 1 pound.

   The second record is again for Hammersmith, in the year 1819.  Robert Elliot has the same landlord.  We don't know the rent, but the tax is 1 pound 5 shillings.  Mr. Salter appears to own several properties in this area.  At the very top of the page in red, it says "Angel Row".

Unfortunately these records don't list an occupation or names of other family members, so although the name and place matches up it's hard to make a definite identification.

This next record is from a database of duties paid for apprentice's indentures in the UK.  In May 1798, a Robert Elliot, Currier, who lived in St. Martin's in the Fields, is recorded as having an apprentice named George Priestly.  St. Martin's in the Fields is in Middlesex, and, like Hammersmith, is now part of London.  This record has the right name and occupation but a different location.  It's earlier than our previous records, so it's possible that Robert and his family moved to Hammersmith some time after May 1798.  However, it's also possible that it's a different Robert Elliot.

Now we come to my all-time favourite document for the Elliot family.  I really hope this is the right Robert Elliot--this paper is so beautiful and historic!  You can even see the original seals. It comes from a database called "London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers" and is dated 1785.  It's an apprenticeship indenture contract between Robert Elliot, "son of Charles Elliot of Hayes in the County of Middlesex, Victualler" and Thomas Burton of Newport Street, Currier of London.  The apprenticeship is for seven years (which is a standard length of time) during which Robert promises to faithfully serve, keep the secrets of, and not waste the goods of his master.  He is prohibited from "[ing]  at Cards, Dice, Tables, or any other unlawful Games, whereby his said Master may have any Loss."  For the fee of  thirty pounds, Thomas Burton promises to teach Robert "the Art and Mystery of a Currier".

Robert Elliot has signed the document himself, indicating that he is at least somewhat educated.  This record also gives us his father's name, his father's profession and the original family location, giving us the possibility of going back one more generation, if this is indeed our Robert Elliot.  Interestingly, the database listing apprentice's indentures in the UK indicates that Thomas Burton had one other apprentice, a John Elliot.  The document for John's apprenticeship is dated 1783.  Was this an older brother of Robert's?  All of these records are for the Middlesex area, but as my husband points out, that's a big and very populated space and Elliot is not an uncommon name.

Map of Hammersmith, 1746, when it was still called a "Hamlet".  

I'm always interested, when learning about people who uprooted themselves to move to Canada or the U.S.,  in the question of what motivated them to immigrate.  I think that we don't always appreciate what that decision meant for people in earlier times--there was obviously no e-mail, no skype, no air travel--even letters took months to arrive. For most people, immigration was a serious and deep separation from family and community.  In general, with the exception of certain religious groups who move to gain more freedom, historians believe that most people coming to the new world did it for economic reasons.  Although I don't know precisely when the Elliot family moved, I'm guessing it would have been in the 1820s or early 1830s.  Now, the fact that William was in boarding school when the rest of his family moved and joined them later indicates to me that Robert and Ann must have already had some money.  Why did Robert decide to leave an established business he had spent seven years training for, close to one of the most exciting cities in the world,  to become a farmer in Eramosa township?   And one who had to clear his own land, besides! I'm guessing industrialization had something to do with it.  There's a lot more to learn about this fascinating family.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Locating the Scottish Rutherfords.

In an earlier post we saw evidence that William Rutherford, Montreal immigrant, had been born and raised in Jedburgh, which is in Roxburghshire, along the Scottish borders.  He was the son of James Rutherford, a forester in Linthaugh, Jedburgh--his census records, death record, tombstone, and entry in the Royal Scottish Forestry Society all place him in Linthaugh.  Originally I thought that Linthaugh might be the name of the forest he worked in, but now I'm not so sure.  It might refer to a district within the town.

I turned up this picture, dated 1905, online:

Linthaugh Avenue, Jedburgh.  

The family seems to have moved around a little, but within a close range.  The previous generation, James Rutherford Sr. and Jean Thomson, were married in Wilton, Roxburghshire, and Jean came from Lilliesleaf, also in Roxburghshire.

Here's a description of a house that may possibly have been used by the James Rutherford Jr. family:

821. Single storey and attic symmetrical 3-bay Gothick L-plan cottage. Pale cream sandstone ashlar with rusticated quoins; base course; pointed-arch openings, windows with raised margins and cills.
W (FRONT) ELEVATION: projecting rusticated gabled porch at centre with panelled door and pointed fanlight;single window with moulded hoodmould to flanking bays; moulded cornice (below quasi-parapet).
N ELEVATION: 2-bay gable-end to right with hoodmoulded windows at ground (blind to right) and single window in gablehead; broad single bay set back to left with rectangular window at ground and segmental-headed window above breaking eaves with gabled dormerhead; further single storey lean-to shed to outer left.
E ELEVATION: projecting gable to right with single storey lean-to shed at ground. To left, single storey lean-to porch and closet; bipartite window at left, and door in re-entrant angle with 1st floor window under eaves of main wall.
S ELEVATION: gable-end to left with hoodmoulded window to right at ground; window at centre above; single storey lean-to set back to right. Recessed range to right with rectangular winodw; lean-to with door to outer right.
Timber casement winodws with leaded lights; small-pane swash and case and casement to rear. Crowstepped gables, beack skewputts, corniced ashlar apex stacks; grey slates.
INTERIOR: not seen 1993.

Originally the home of the forester on the Jedforest estate of the Earls of Home; trees were cultivated in the paddock to the N. The rear porch is a later creation. There is a pitched roofed timber shed supported on stone sidewalls to the E, just before the river.

Source: Historic Scotland

Here's a photo of James Rutherford, dated 1855.  Because of the age he looks I'm thinking this is William Rutherford's older brother James, who would have been around 25 years old in 1855, rather than William's father James, who would have been around 49 years old.  Is this the house that is described above?

Now, on the Montreal McCord Museum's fantastic collection of photographs, there are a number of photos which were "copied for Mrs. H. Rutherford" in 1911.  They are all located in  in Edgerston, Roxboroughshire, Scotland, which is six miles south of Jedburgh.  Edgerston is actually associated with another branch of the Rutherford family, one that descended from James of Rutherford, oldest son of Richard of Rutherford and older brother to Nicol of Hundole, from whom we are descended.  The photos seem to depict a large country home, which undoubtedly had grounds attached.  Could this be the property where James Rutherford worked as a forester?   The website Clan Rutherford has this to say about Edgerston:

Edgerston House

In 1695 Thomas Rutherfurd (c.1650-1720) built the center part of the present house. It is unclear whether this incorporated or completely replaced the existing tower (c. 1600); however, the initials of Thomas Rutherfurd and his wife Susanna Riddell are said to be carved into one of the dormer windows.

John Rutherfurd (1748-1834) of Edgerston was a great benefactor to Edgerston. In 1793 he built on the two wings with their Venetian windows and the semi-circular tower at the south side of the house. In a letter written by his uncle, Baron Robert Rutherfurd to Walter Rutherfurd, " Fairnington, Oct 28, 1788, Dear Walter, I want to send you a copy of the plan of the improvements that our nephew is making at Edgerston. He is putting on two wings at a cost of 3,000 and when it is completed it will be one of the finest seats in the Shire." In a letter between the same uncles, "Fairnington, Nov 26, 1792. Edgerston House by being repaired with additions is now one of the handsomest and most commodious of any in this county."

The final addition to Edgerston was the Tower built by William Oliver-Rutherfurd(1781-1879) in 1840. This tower is a fully equipped house which is now rented.

On the hill above Edgerston House can be seen the remains of a peel tower which was used by the Rutherfurds for defense against the Kerrs and other families that the Rutherfurds were feuding with, and as defense against the English.

Drive From The House, Edgerston, Scotland.

Edgerston Lodge.  The District is hunted by the Jed Forest and Duke of Buccleuch's Hounds.
Edgerston from the North, Roxburghshire, Scotland.

First Bridge on Avenue, Edgerston, Scotland.

Edgerston from the North.
(I think I see the name Wm, Rutherford handwritten on the bottom, in mirror  writing.)

Edgerston From the South.  

John Galloway Scott and the Donnelly Massacre

Here's a bit of historic ephemera that I stumbled onto via the website Canadian Mysteries.  One of the "mysteries" this site covers is the Donnelly Massacre that took place in Lucan, Ontario, on February 4, 1880.  (This is more a lurid crime than a real mystery, although the culprits did get away with murder).  For those of you who don't know, the Donnelly Massacre refers to the vigilante-style ambush and killing of  five members of the Donnelly family, who were Irish immigrants in rural Ontario.  The father, James Donnelly, had killed a man in a drunken fight in 1857 and had served seven years in the Kingston Penitentiary. He was released in 1865.  For whatever reason, in February of 1880, a group of about 20 men from the local community broke into the household of James Donnelly at night and killed him, his wife Johanna, his niece Bridgit and one son, Tom, age 25.   Then the group went to the home of  Will Donnelly, another adult son of James and Johanna, and fired shots into it, apparently intending to kill Will but actually hitting John Donnelly, Will's brother, by mistake.  The crime, and subsequent trials, were sensational and still generate much interest. One of the reputed attackers was a member of the local police.  In the end, no one was convicted of the murders, despite two eyewitness accounts (Will Donnelly, who was able to look out his window and recognized several men, and a child named Johnny O'Connor, who was staying overnight at James and Johanna's house in order to help with farm chores the next day and had hidden under a bed during the attack).

The Donnelly Massacre has  become imprinted on the folk culture and history of Ontario.  Many books have been written and published about it, there are several documentaries available, ballad-type songs have been written, there is a local Donnelly museum in Lucan where you can buy your own Donnelly coffee mug, golf balls or t-shirt (how tacky!) or take a Vigilante Bus Tour. I once attended a  Donnelly Massacre play put on by a rural Ontario theatre group.  Of course there are many Donnelly ghost stories also embedded into local myth, particularly about how horses don't like to go down the road past where the Donnelly farm used to be.  The story goes that horses either refuse to move or else they go crazy when they pass the old Donnelly homestead.
Interior of the Donnelly Museum, Lucan, Ontario.  

Here's a youtube video of  Hector McIssac singing "The Black Donnellys".

Stomping Tom Connors has two songs about the incident.  "Jenny Donnelly", below, and "The Black Donnelly Massacre", which I couldn't find a video version of.

How is our ancestor involved?  Well, John Galloway Scott was deputy attorney general at the time of the trials.  Here's a letter from the local Sheriff to J.G. Scott asking advice on the prison conditions of the accused men.  The original letter is in the University of Western Ontario Archives, The J.J. Talman regional collection, Donnelly Family Papers, B4878, File 2.

"Re Donnelly Murder Case
London, Ontario 
May 7, 1880

J G Scott Esq.
Deputy Attorney General

...after the prisoners were placed in my custody I was cautioned by the County Attorney to keep them apart so far as space would permit.  This the Gaoler has done I believe to the best of his ability.  I have cautioned the Gaoler to be specially careful not to allow any one to see the prisoners without my direction and then only in the presence of a legal official. 

The prisoners complain that their health is being jeopardized by the close confinement and and the Gaol Surgeon is of the same opinion.  They ask as a privilege to be allowed to break stones in the Gaol yard with other prisoners.

...The prisoners are strong vigorous men accustomed to hard work and it is feared the close confinement will endanger their lives.

I have the honour to be 
Your Most Obedient Servant
Wm Glass 

I think this is a fascinating historical tidbit.  I had never connected the dots to think that Scott was actually Deputy Attorney General during this notorious crime,  or that he had anything to do with it in his official capacity.  (Unfortunately, I don't have his reply.)  It's also interesting to see him being consulted about issues of prison security and prisoner well-being.  When I read biographical material about Scott, it's all about the legislation he helped draft and implement, particularly his work on Land Titles.  This kind of inquiry might have formed part of the day-to-day business of his work, as opposed to the larger projects he took on that he is now remembered for.