Wednesday, December 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #48 George Taylor, Sr. (1795 -1862), pioneer settler of Puslinch Twp., Wellington County, Upper Canada

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Scotland, showing Perth shire
Map of Scotland, showing Perth shire
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George Taylor, Sr. is my third great grandfather. He was born in Perthshire, Scotland on 29 August 1795, according to a record index on FamilySearch.org (which also references his wife’s name and his death date). Unfortunately, the index does not name his parents. This is another record I hope to order and look at myself when I get to one of that organization’s Family History Centers.

George married Ann McArthur on 12 May 1816, in Kincardine by Doune, Perth, in the southern highlands of Scotland. To my certain knowledge they had four children born in Scotland. Other writings I’ve found indicate there was at least one other born in Scotland. The four that I’m sure of are Isabella Taylor, born on 12 April 1819 in Perthshire and baptized in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married John Horrocks in Ancaster, Canada in or about 1834, and died on April 15, 1905 in Burleigh County North Dakota, USA) ; Janet Taylor, born January 5, 1823 in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married Duncan McFarlane, and died on February 11, 1899 in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada); George, jr., born July 24, 1825 in Kincardine By Doune, Perth (married Mary Smith in or about 1849, and died on August 26, 1907 in Brookfield, Huron, Michigan); and Mary Ann born September 27, 1829, and baptized ten days later in Hutchesontown Relief Church, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland.  

In 1832, George Taylor decided to take his family to the British Colony of Upper Canada (later Ontario).

The British Government had been focused for several years on enticing highlander Scots to move to the frontier lands of Canada. Even since the War of 1812, the British had been afraid that they would lose their Northern American colonies to another American incursion, and began recruiting Highlanders to settle the buffer areas near the United States.  They focused on Highlanders because they were known to be fierce and to be able to live in difficult, remote areas. Their campaign was helped as good reports of the new land came back to friends and families left behind. At the same time, in the highlands, rents were rising, and land that had been used for farming was being restructured for sheep farms, and the economy was stressed in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.   
Climbing My Tree: Poster Advertisement for Passage to Upper Canada, approx. 1844
Poster Advertisement for Passage to Upper Canada, approx. 1844 [For example of the advertising of the time only - I've NO indication that the Taylors were on this ship. They were already in Canada by 1844.]
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The height of the influx of highland Scots to Upper Canada was between 1830 and 1855. At that time emigration from Scotland to Canada was only available to Scots who could pay the travel costs involved in getting to Upper Canada by an approximately 6-8 week sailing ship trip, and then the inland travel to their destination. If a ship docked at Quebec, the immigrant would go onto Hamilton by river – another 10-14 days, and then proceed to their final destination by wagon. It was a long trip!  And it was a trip that ended in what was still old growth forest, not cleared farms, according to descriptions given by old pioneers of what they found when they arrived in Puslinch, Upper Canada, in the McPhatter Letters on the Clarks of Tomfad website.

For the Taylor family it was a long and traumatic trip. In a copy of the letter George Taylor sent to the Commissioner of Crown Lands upon his arrival at Puslinch, one of his children died on the trip, and his pregnant wife gave birth on the trip.

Transcript of body of George Taylor's 20 August 1832 letter:

“Honored Sir

As I have arrived hear (sic) just now with wife and family from Scotland, owing to the distress that I had on my voyage in my family, and one of my children died and my wife had a child upon the sea, and my money has been done and as I have no friends, no home [? - 1 word/symbol] worldwide to get lots to improve before winter come on. I have left my wife in an acquaintance house and have gone myself to work for them. I have hired two of the eldest and hope I will soon be able to answer your installments if you be pleased to grant me one. The lot that I am for is No. 22, the front half. It was called the rear half before the new survey but I suppose (sic) it is now called the front half in the 7th Concession old surveys and as it is aside a good del (sic) of my acquaintance if your honour (sic) would grant it I would improve on it as soon as possible and if you will grant it to me a lise (sic)  of it [? 3 words] and please write in the answer what terms the lise (sic) will be on and what it is to pay yearly if you will not grant it the other way if you would give it it would ever be remembered.  Most honourable sir your most obliged servant.

George Taylor – N23

I am staying in Mr. Peter McBeath and intend stopping in it til I receive and answer from you direct to me to said place by Guelph Post Office.”

ClimbingMy Family Tree: Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Map of Puslinch Twp, Wellington County, Ontario original concessions and lots,
Published in 1860 Historical Atlas of Wellington County,  In the Public Domain.
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According to the research done by the Puslinch Historical Society into who owned the original lots of the township, he and his family ended up being granted Lot 27 in Concession 1, Rear. The entry at the Puslinch Historical Society website says, in relevant part, “This lot was settled about 1833 by George Taylor Sr. and wife Ann McCarthy m. 1816 The 1851 census found George Taylor from Scotland, age 56, his wife Ann age 56, and children, Elizabeth born on Atlantic Ocean age 19, Jane age 16 The older children were Margaret Taylor married William Graham on 9 Dec 1834 in Ancaster by John Miller, Minister, Isabella Taylor married John Horrocks on 2 Aug 1834 in Ancaster by John Miller, Minister, Janet Taylor 1822, married Duncan McFarlane of Puslinch (Janet was a great person. If anyone was sick, she was called for), and George Jr. m Mary Smith, a daughter of Rev. James Smith. Information is scant on other first names, Duncan, Maryann, Elizabeth and Jane. Puslinch Papers have George Taylor’s letter indicating arrival in 1832 after losing one child at sea, and birth of another, he asked for F7 L 27. They were staying with McBeaths. R1 L27 was the second last lot in the new survey, almost adjacent to the 7th concession in the old survey.

This research and George’s letter are what led me to say that there was perhaps another child born in Scotland other than those I found birth records for and named above. I’ve found birth records for Elizabeth, and  for Jane who born in Canada, so I think the other one born in Scotland could be Duncan. The child who died on the trip over could be Mary Ann or Duncan as I’ve not found records of either one in Canada. Both names reoccur in subsequent generations of the extended family – Duncan a bit more often than Mary Ann.

My 2nd great grandmother, Elizabeth, is the child that was born on the Atlantic Ocean on the trip to Canada. I wrote about her & her husband’s story last week and you can find it HERE.

The last child I found for George and Ann, Jane, was born in their new home is, in or about 1835 (she married Alexander McCaig on October 25 1866 in Puslinch, Wellington, Canada, and died on December 4, 1914, in Galt, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada).  

In 1852, according to the census, George (56), Anne (56), Elizabeth (19), and Jane (16) were living together in a log home and George farmed their land. They attended the Free Church of Canada. Ten years later, according to the 1861 census, George (66) and Ann (66) are living in a frame house and farming their land. Jean Taylor (20) is also listed as living with them. I don’t know whether to assume that Jean is their youngest daughter, Jane, and that the census taker got both the first name and the age wrong (– she should have been 27), or to assume it’s a grandkid or some other relative there to help with the farm. I did note that they live fairly close to their daughter Elizabeth and her family is only a page away in the census.

George died the next year on June 10, 1862. I don’t know how or why. Ann survived him by 18 years According to a transcription of an obituary sent to me by Marjorie Clark, a Puslinch historian, she initially went to live with her daughter Mrs. Duncan McFarlane (Janet), and after a short time, she moved to Kepple to live with her son-in-law Alex McCoag  (Jane’s husband) until her death on April 27 1880. It finished by saying that she was greatly respected by all who knew her. A very nice epitaph.

If you know anything more about George Taylor or Ann McArthur Taylor or their children, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me through the email address on my Contact Me page or  leave me a message below  (even if just to tell me to check my junk email if you've tried the other way and haven't heard from me - it does that occasionally, but these comments to end up in my email.)


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I would like to know a lot more about George and Ann’s life in Scotland. And about Margaret, Mary Ann, and Duncan  -- starting with whether they exist, whether they had a life (marriage, kids?), and when and what did they die of. I’d like to know more of George and Ann’s life in Puslinch. And then I would like to know more of Ann’s life after George died. And, as always, I’d love to see pictures of everyone.


Canadian Census for 1852 and 1861; The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855 by, chs. 1 & 8.; Canadian Birth records, Canadian Marriage records, Scotland’s birth and baptism records – all via Ancestry.com http://multiculturalcanada.ca/Encyclopedia/A-Z/e3/6; http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canon/research-topic-immigration-migrate.html; http://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/Migration/articles/harper.html; http://www.scotstocanada.com/new_page_2.htm; http://jubilation.uwaterloo.ca/~marj/genealogy/emigrants1832.html; http://www.clarksoftomfad.ca/McPhatter.htm


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