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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Elliot and Scott Families in the Baptist Year Book

Religion was an important part of the lives of both the Elliot and Scott families, who were first Disciples of Christ and then, later, Baptists, during their first three generations in Canada.  It's hard to get much insight into this part of their lives, but I have gained access to some volumes of the Baptist Year-Book for Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and the North-West Territories, which was an annual publication and served as an annual report of Baptist church building and committee activity for parts of Canada.  During the years 1877 to 1900, the Elliot and Scott families are repeatedly mentioned. 

One of the most consistent name to appear during these years is Violet Elliot.  Violet was the daughter of Robert Watt Elliot and Catherine Scott. She remained unmarried but seems to have had a head for business:  she is the Treasurer of the Women's Baptist Foreign Missionary Society of Ontario (sometimes also called the Women's Foreign Mission Society (West)) from at least 1889-1900.   In 1897 she is made a life member of the Women's Foreign Missionary Society.  The 1884-1885 yearbook names her as Recording Secretary to that Society, while Mrs. W.H. Elliot is the treasurer.

Miss V. Elliot, Recording Secretary, 1884-85. I'm not sure who Mrs. W.H. Elliot is.

Miss Violet Elliot is made a life-member of the Women's Baptist Foreign Mission Society of Ontario. Baptist Year-Book 1897-1898.

What about William Elliot?  We know that he was a deacon at Jarvis Street Baptist Church for many years, and also that he was quite involved in the building of the Baptist Street Church in 1875 (the church's previous location was on Bond Street).  I found a mention of him in a small publication called Souvenier of the Tenth Anniversary of the Settlement of Rev. B.D. Thomas with the Jarvis Street Baptist Church, which was published in 1892 by Davis & Henderson, Toronto, and is now archived on Open Library.  The bulk of the publication is a sermon by the Rev. Thomas, but a small section at the end, on page 18,  describes the event:

"Preliminary, however, to the services on the Lord's Day, the Pastor and his devoted wife were invited to meet the Deacons and Trustees in the Pastor's room, when Deacon Elliot, on their behalf, presented the Doctor with an elegant Parisian marble clock, and read an appreciative and affectionate address, testifying their devotion to him as their Pastor, and their love for him personally, and for his gentle and devoted wife, for whom every member of the church holds the warmest affection."  

To my delight, it also contains a transcript of William Elliot's speech! I love being able to read the actual words of our family members:

 The Baptist Year Book does have a brief obituary for William Elliot in the 1893-4 edition:

The Baptist Year-Book for Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and the North-West Territories.  Twenty-Eighth Annual Report, p. 74, Foreign Mission Board.  1893-1894.

The same edition lists William Elliot among its bequests, twice;  $250.00 under "bequests" and $500.00 under "donations for investment", both going to the Foreign Mission Board.

John Galloway Scott also merits several mentions in the Baptist Year Book. In the 1877 Year Book, one of the companies he is involved places a prominent advertisement:

J.G. Scott on the Board of Directors for this company, along with George Brown, William McMaster, and John A. MacDonald.

 In the 1888 Year Book, his name is signed as the Recording Secretary of the Baptist Home Missionary Society. In 1888 he is also appointed to a committee within the Foreign Missionary Board "to confer with other committees which may be appointed by the other Denominational Societies with a view to framing a constitution which shall embrace all of the societies".  As a lawyer, constitution-writing was a natural fit for him.In 1889 he presented the work of the combined committees as a Parlimentary Act;  "An Act Respecting the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec." Here's the first of three and a half pages:

The Baptist Year Book, 1889, p. 26. 

John Galloway Scott is on the Baptist Year Book Publication board in 1892-1896, and again from 1896-1900.   In 1894 he is elected to the Foreign Mission Board for a four-year term;  this is at least his second term since the 1893 Year Book names him as a committee member whose term ends in 1894.  In 1889 he is elected to the same board for yet  another term.

The Baptist Year Book 1894-5.  John Galloway Scott elected to Foreign Mission Board.
J. G. Scott is also on donor lists several times, giving donations varying from $25.00 to $100.00.

I wish I had access to more issues of this publication;  I know that what I have seen is a slice in time, and not a full picture of our ancestors involvment in the Baptist church.  Missionary support seems to have been of significant interest to everyone in the family who ventured into committee work.   I love how William Elliot is supporting a woman medical student!  Go William! 

Cynthia Jane Elliot

It's so hard to uncover substantive information about the lives of unmarried women ancestors.  Birth, death, and census records are available, but often not much else--it's hard to imagine their personality, character, or interests with just these basic records.  I'm trying to find out more about Cynthia Elliot, one of the daughters of William Elliot and Mary Oliphant, and sister to Mary Elliot, our direct ancestress.  Here's what I could find.

I don't have a birth record for her:  her death record states that she was born on November 20, 1854, which was just a couple of years before Ontario began keeping civil birth records. She died in 1931, which would make her seventy-seven years old.  She lived with her birth family until the death of her father, William, and then appears to have moved in with her sister Mary's family, headed by John Galloway Scott. William died in 1893,  when Cynthia was thirty-nine years old.

Cynthia appears in the 1861 and 1871 census with her birth family.  She appears in the 1891 census at age 35 with her father, William, who is 78, and two servants, one quite elderly.  On the 1891 census Cynthia and William are living on the same street as the Gooderham family and the family of Sir Henry Pellatt (just before he built Casa Loma).   The John Galloway Scott family (which includes Cynthia's sister Mary (Elliot) Scott as John's wife) is also just a few houses away. 

1891 census record for William and Jane Elliot.  District 119, East Toronto, St. Thomas Ward.
Cynthia appears on the 1911 census as "C. Jane Elliot", age 50, along with her sister Mary (John's wife), who is 68, and John and Mary's daughter Helen, who is referred to on the census as "Elliot Scott". 
Cynthia appears on the 1921 census as "Janey C. Elliot", age 67, in the household of John Galloway Scott, along with her sister Mary, age 78, and her unmarried niece Helen, age 37.  They are living at 29 Dunvegan Road in Ward 4, Toronto North.

Cynthia also appears in the Society Blue Book of Toronto (Dau's), showing that when she lived with the John Galloway Scott family she and her sister and niece were "at home" to entertain on Mondays.  This entry, from 1905-5, is typical:

"Scott (K.C.) Hon. and Mrs. John G.
341 Sherbourne street
Receives Mondays
Miss Scott
Miss Elliott [sic]
Mrs., nee Elliott."
Cynthia died in 1931.

Death certificate for Cynthia Jane Elliot. 

Cynthia's obituary was brief.  The Globe newspaper, Toronto, January 8, 1931, p. 12:

"Deaths.  Elliot--at 29 Dunvegan Road, Toronto, on January 6, 1931, Cynthia Jane, youngest daughter of the late William Elliot, Esq.  Internment took place in the Toronto Necropolis." 

She is buried along with the rest of the Elliot family.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mystery Obituary

I found this obituary, written by David Oliphant Jr. in the October 1855 edition of his newspaper The Christian Banner (Volume 9, Number 10).

Obituary for Father Kingsley Mason in Disciples of Christ Newspaper

Kingsley Mason, who sounds like an American,  must be related by marriage to the Oliphant family in Canada.  I wasn't sure who sister D. Oliphant was.  When I looked up more information on Kingsley Mason  I found this census report.  In 1850, in the town of Ira, County of Cayuga, state of New York, Kingsley Mason, aged 66, Abigail Mason, 55, and Cynthia Oliphant, aged 30, are living together with two others.  Cynthia Oliphant says she was born in New York.  I think this is the right Kingsley Mason, since he is 72 in the 1855 obituary.   

But if we look a little later, after Kingsley's death, a look for Cynthia Oliphant in census records shows that she is living with David Oliphant himself, in 1861, in Brighton, Ontario, along with three little Oliphants girls,  A.M., C.S., and C.A., ages 11, 8, and 6, respectively, who curiously are described as being born in the U.S., which I don't think is likely.  David calls himself a Clergyman by occupation, and of course the whole family are Disciples of Christ. So I think that Cynthia Oliphant, David's wife, was originally Cynthia Mason, daughter of Kingsley Mason, and when David Oliphant in his obituary referred to Kingsley as "the remaining parent of sister D. Oliphant" I think he meant Sister David Oliphant, i.e., his wife Cynthia.  We wouldn't put it that way anymore, which is why it took me a little investigation to understand.   Mystery solved!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Oliphant Gravestones in Everton Cemetery, Wellington County, Ontario, and in London, Ontario

Everton Cemetery, Ontario, Canada.

William is the son of David Oliphant Sr. and Sophia Watt, and the brother of our ancestor Mary Oliphant (who married William Elliot).  His inscription reads:
William Oliphant 
Born At
St. Andrews, Scotland, 1814
Died at Everton 1856
Ann Stewart His Wife
Born At
Dundee Scotland 1818
Died At Guelph 1908
The Memory of the Just Is Blessed

And here is his obituary, in his brother David Oliphant's monthly paper The Christian Banner. It doesn't tell us a lot about him, but it does express a lot of love, in a formal Victorian manner.

The Christian Banner, Vol. 10, No. 10, October 1856. 

His parents and brother share a grave in the same graveyard.

The inscription reads:

In Memory Of 
David Oliphant
His Wife Sophia
Their Son Alexander

Here is Sophia's obituary, written by her son David Oliphant Jr.  Unfortunately it does not give the names of her parents or any siblings.  The fact that David and Sophia had seven children in total was new information for me;  they only brought five to Canada.  The other two must have died young.   
The Christian Banner, Volume 11, Number 4, April 1857, p. 130.

David Oliphant Jr. is buried, along with his two wives and at least one child, in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, London, Ontario, in Section N.  The following photographs are different views of the family gravestone. 

The inscription reads:
Elder D. Oliphant
Died Mar. 18, 1886, Aged 63 Years.
Eusebia B. His Wife
Died Dec. 3, 1916 Aged 84 Years

David and Eusebia's daughter Mary Elizabeth is remembered on the other side:

Mary Elizabeth, Daughter of David & Eusebia, Sept. 4, 1875-May 30, 1964.

Cynthia Mason,  David Oliphant Jr.'s first wife, is commemorated on the top part of the second side:

Cynthia M. Mason, Wife of D. Oliphant, Died Sept. 16, 1864
My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Family of Harriet Rose Elliot and T. Sutherland Stayner.

Harriet Rose Elliot, daughter of William Elliot and Mary Oliphant, date unknown.

Harriot Rose Elliot was born to William Elliot and Mary Oliphant on July 31, 1848 in Dundas, Ontario.   Her siblings were Robert Watt Elliot (b. 1835, m. Catherine Ann Scott), Mary Elliot (b. 1841, m. John Galloway Scott), and Cynthia Jane Elliot (b. 1854, unmarried).  Harriet Rose was named after her first cousin once removed, Harriet Rose (Elliot Wilkes) Parke,  the daughter of Josiah Elliot, Robert Elliot's brother.   When Harriet was about two, the Elliot family moved to Toronto, where Harriet's father William Elliot set up a thriving pharmaceutical factory.  Harriet was to live in Toronto for the rest of her life.

On April 29, 1881, in Toronto,  Harriet married Mr. T. Sutherland Stayner, a widower with one son.  She was 33 years old and, like the rest of her family, a Baptist;  he was 55 and an Anglican.  On the marriage license, Stayner put "Gentleman" as his occupation.  In reality, he was a businessman, and probably met Harriet through business connections with her father William.  The Toronto Globe newspaper announced their marriage on Friday April 30, 1880, on p. 4:

"Married.  At Fernyhurst, Toronto, on the 29th, by the Rev. Dr. Castle, T. SUTHERLAND STAYNER, Esq., to HARRIET ROSE, third daughter of William Elliot, Esq."

Harriet married into an interesting family;  T. (or Thomas) Sutherland Stayner was one of sixteen children born in Quebec City to Thomas Allan Stayner and his wife Louisa Sutherland.

Quebec City, Anglican Garrison,Baptismal certificate for T. Sutherland Stayner.

Here is what the Dictionary of Canadian Biography has to say about Stayner's father, Thomas Allen Stayner, who died before the couple were married:

"STAYNER, THOMAS ALLEN, soldier and postmaster general; b. 16 Dec. 1788 at Halifax, son of John Stayner and Mary Allen; d. 23 June 1868 at Toronto, Ont.
Thomas Allen Stayner, a descendant of a New England Puritan family, joined the British army and in 1808 was working as a clerk to the military secretary at Halifax. During the War of 1812 he was in Montreal. On 15 May 1817, at Champlain, N.Y., he married Louisa, younger daughter of Daniel Sutherland*; they were to have 16 children. Stayner remained in the regular army probably until 1823. The following year he was appointed postmaster at Quebec.
In 1827 Stayner succeeded his father-in-law as postmaster general of Upper and Lower Canada, where there were then more than 80 post offices. Since 1821 the Houses of Assembly of the two provinces had been challenging London’s right to control postal services, fix rates, and have the benefit of the receipts. They regularly asked that this right be yielded to them. The real struggle began under Stayner. A few months after taking office, Stayner increased the number of post offices and added numerous couriers in recently settled regions. However, he acted without the authorization of his immediate superior, the British postmaster general, who criticized him for these excessive expenditures.
Stayner also incurred the wrath of the assemblies of the two Canadas and then of the Province of Canada, both at that time and until 1851. They denounced as illicit the profits he obtained by fixing the rates on Canadian newspapers; the postmaster general was allowed to keep revenue from that source, and Stayner thus received almost as large a salary as the governor general. The commissions of inquiry regularly set up by the assemblies recommended provincial post offices be established under the assemblies’ control so that the postal revenues would be paid to Canada rather than to England.
Stayner also became the target for businessmen and for newspapers such as the Colonial Advocate of York (Toronto) and the Montreal Gazette. He was blamed for high rates, slow service, and dispatch of receipts to England. For some time he could count on the support of London and of political friends who held the executive power in Canada. Eventually, however, he could no longer satisfy both the British minister and the Canadian Houses of Assembly. Consequently, he gradually lost his prerogatives. In 1844 the right of the postmaster to retain the proceeds from the newspaper rates was abolished; as compensation, London granted Stayner an annual income of £2,500, although his successors were to receive only £1,500. That same year the central office was moved to Montreal, and the governor assumed the right to appoint and dismiss postmasters and to fix rates. Finally, on 6 April 1851, the assembly of the Province of Canada acquired full power over postal services...  The services had improved under Stayner’s direction: between 1845 and 1851 the speed of service had increased and hundreds of post offices had been opened so that by 1851 there were 853. Stayner knew how to win the esteem of his British superiors but he lost his popularity in Canada. Hence in 1851 he retired disappointed, but not poor.
In addition to his duties as postmaster general, Stayner was appointed a member of the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning in 1834, justice of the peace for Quebec district in 1838, and justice of the peace for Trois-Rivières district in 1839. Little is known about the last years of his life. After having lived in Montreal from 1844 until at least 1851, Stayner settled in Toronto and apparently became a director of the Bank of Upper Canada, and its vice-president in 1860."
Portrait of Thomas Allen Stayner, 1856, by Frederick W. Lock. 

The post office appears  to have been family concern;  this excerpt from the 1848 Canadian Almanac and Directory indicates that T. Sutherland's early career was spent with his father.

Stayner's first marriage, on May 21, 1857, to Mary Caroline Jenkins, took place in Quebec, where their son Winslow Sutherland Stayner was born on March 31, 1859.   Winslow was baptized at the Anglican Holy Trinity Church in Quebec City. In the 1861 census Thomas, Mary and Winslow are living in Richmond, Canada East, and Thomas refers to himself as a gentleman farmer.  By the 1871 census they have moved to Toronto and the three of them are living in St. David's ward;  unfortunately, the census lists no occupation for Thomas.  Mary Caroline Stayner died in Toronto on May 14, 1876, of "dropsey from Bright's disease of kidneys".  Her son would have been 17.  Thomas married Harriet Rose five years later.

Thomas and Harriet appear on the 1881 census living in St. Thomas Ward, right beside Robert Watt Elliot,  his wife Catherine Scott and their family, William Elliot and Mary (Oliphant) Elliot next door, and on the other side John Galloway Scott, Minnie (Elliot) Scott and Arthur Scott. Stayner lists his occupation as "Gentleman" on this census.   Winslow is not living with them.  Shortly after their marriage Thomas Sutherland and Harriet Rose have two children:  Harry Sutherland Stayner is born on January 26, 1882, and Dudley Sutherland Stayner is born on June 30, 1884 (his parents address is listed as 273 Jarvis Street, and his father's occupation is again "Gentleman").

I can't find the Stayner family on the 1891 census, but they do appear on the 1901 census;  the two sons are listed as students, and interestingly, although Thomas is still listed as Anglican, Harriet and the two young men are Baptist.   Harriet seems to be raising her children in the faith of her birth family.  They are no longer surrounded by family;  the district on the census is Toronto East, Ward 2. 

The entries below, from the Toronto City Directory, provide some clues to T. Sutherland's career.  In 1883 he was a working man, but it's not clear what he does;  from at least 1890 to 1894 he is President of a mortgage and investment company.  I can't seem to find out much about this company--I wonder if it is related to the Bristol, West of England and South Wales Permanent Building Society, which was founded in 1850 and operated out of Bristol, England. 
Toronto City Directory 1883 entry for T. Sutherland Stayner, p. 64.

Toronto City Directory 1890, entry for T. Sutherland Stayner, p. 1211.

Toronto City Directory, 1894, entry for T. Sutherland Stayner, p. 1338.
In 1889 both T. Sutherland Stayner and William Elliot's names appear on an Act of Parliament for the purpose of creating a new company, The Assets and Debenture Company of Canada.  Was he involved in both companies at once, or did the Assets and Debenture Company of Canada fail to get off the ground? 

And finally, in 1900, the Imperial Bank of Canada's Proceedings of Special and General Meetings lists T. Sutherland Stayner on its Board of Directors.

The website for the Stayner, Ontario, weather station speaks briefly about the history of the Stayner family in the area.  It refers to Thomas being active in real estate as early as 1864:

"For a number of years Stayner was known as Nottawasaga Station...About the year 1857, Stayner was called Dingwall after a lumberman in the area.  In 1864 it was renamed Stayner, in honour of Thomas Stayner, the Deputy Postmaster General.  His son Sutherland Stayner owned a great deal of land in the area and was prominent in real estate.  In 1870, Sutherland Stayner donated the land and $200.00 to build the Church of the Good Shepherd.  However he would not allow a cemetery to be built around the church, since he felt the town would develop in this area."  

Meanwhile, Harriet seems to be living the life of an upper-middle-class wife and "charming hostess".  It's interesting to see the names in her circle of friends:

The Mail and Empire, Toronto, Friday May 27, 1898. "On Dit" social column. I wonder which Miss Elliot was there?
Harriet's social life was recorded by "On Dit" several times;  on April 17, 1889, the paper reported that "Mrs. Sutherland Stayner has invited friends to five o'clock tea this afternoon to meet Lady Tilley." 
On June 11, 1904, T. Sutherland Stayner died (of apoplexy, according to his death record).  His record also states that he was living at Davisville and Balliol at the time of his death.  He would have been  79 years old, and Harriet would have been 56, when he died. Here is his obituary, from the Globe newspaper in Toronto, published June 14, 1904, p. 12:

"DEATH CAME SUDDENLY.  Mr. T. Sutherland Stayner, a Highly-respected Citizen, Dies at Eglinton.  Death came suddenly to Mr. T. Sutherland Stayner at his residence, Hillside, Eglinton, on Saturday afternoon.  Mr. Stayner had been in the city on business in the morning, and, returning home, had walked from the Yonge Street crossing to his residence, when a sudden attack of weakness overcame him, and he died within a very short time.  Deceased was in his 80th year.  

Mr. Stayner was a member of a very well-known and most respected family, after whom the Town of Stayner was named. His father, Hon. Thomas Stayner, was Deputy Postmaster-General of Canada when that office was under the control of the British Government.  He resided in Quebec, and later in Montreal.  The late Mr. Stayner assisted his father for a time in his official work.  He then invested extensively in timber...and was interested in the lumber business in Fenelon Falls.  For years he resided at New Hurst, Richmond County, Quebec.  Coming later to Toronto...he took a prominent position in financial circles, his advice being sought by many business institutions.  At the time of his death he was a director of the Imperial Bank and of the Toronto General Trusts Corporation, and till a few years ago President of the Bristol & West of England Canadian Loan Company.

Mr. Stayner was twice married, his first wife being the widow of Captain Hale.  She left one son, Rev. W.S. Stayner, now rector of Aldham, Colchester, England.  Mr. Stayner's widow is a sister of Mr. R.W. Elliot.  Two sons, H.S. Stayner, at Varsity, and Dudley Stayner, at Bishop Ridley College, and one brother, Mr. Fritz Stayner of Torquay, England, also survive.  The funeral was held privately yesterday morning, Rev. T.W. Paterson of Christ Church, Deer Park, officiating."      

The database "England and Wales, National Probate Calendar 1858-1966" has an entry for Thomas, which suggests he had property in England as well as Canada.

Tragically, in February of 1905,  Harry Sutherland Stayner, Thomas and Harriet's oldest child, died at the age of 23.  No cause of death is given on the death record.  Their son Dudley, however, was to survive World War I and many years afterwards. 

Dudley's an Anglican now! Volunteered April 1916. Two years military experience.  And he's married!

By 1911, Dudley has married a German woman named Martha or Marta, who is the same age as he is (26) and according to the census, they are living in North York with a domestic servant, which suggests that they have some money.  Dudley is a civil engineer, as it says on his declaration paper above.  Sometime between the two wars, Dudley moved to the United States.  When Harriet Rose dies of uterine cancer  in 1929, it is her niece, Helen Elliot George, who is the informant.

Harriet Rose (Elliot) Stayner is buried in St. James Cemetery in Toronto, at 

On the 1930 census, Dudley has remarried;  his new wife is named Olivia.  They are living in New York, NY and there are no children living with them.  By the time of WWII, Dudley is living in California, and it looks like he is working on a ranch!  Given his engineering background, that's somewhat surprising.  He also does not list a wife as a permanent contact.  Has Olivia died?  This card was filled out in 1942.  Dudley is 57;  due to his age, I doubt he was actually called to serve.  

According to the social security death index, Dudley died on November 23, 1968, in Modesto, Stanislaus, California.  He would have been 84 years old, and he seems to have been childless.  However, he seems to have had an active social and family life to the end, judging from this clipping from the "Modesto Bee and News-Herald", February 7, 1968:

"Dinner parties are 'in' this week at the Dudley Stayner residence in Modesto.  The goings and comings of relatives and friends have kept Mrs. Stayner busy.  Over the weekend she entertained in honor of her brother and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Doc (L.W.) Culver of Phoenix, AZ. In to have a reunion with their Phoenix friends were the Harold Hubbards and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stewart, niece of the hostess, all of Modesto.  The Arizonians are homeward bound after making the Stayner home their headquarters while attending business in Sacramento and surrounding areas.  Tonight, once again the Stayner home will be open to company, as the Stewarts' return with their son in law and daughter, Capt. and Mrs. Rodney Wells, en route from Travis Air Force Base to Tennessee where he will be engaged in an advanced training program. When the Wells leave, they will take along one addition to their bag and baggage--an original oil painting by Mrs. Stayner.  The seascape is a gift to Wells' mother." 
Here is a brief obituary for Dudley, from the same newspaper:

November 23, 1968.  Modesto Bee and News-Herald.  Notice here his wife is named Sabra:  wife number 3?
Since both of Harriet's children died childless, she has no descendents alive today.  However, remember T. Sutherland's first son, Winslow?  It's hard to know how involved he was with his father's second family, since he moved to England to attend Cambridge University as a young man and never moved back to Canada.  

Here's Winslow on the 1911 census, with a wife and three servants;  cook, parlourmaid, and housemaid.  
The database "Cambridge University Alumni, 1261-1900" has a complete chronicle of Winslow's career:  he entered Christ's College, Cambridge at Michaelmas 1878, was graduated from his B.A. in 1883 and from his M.A. in 1886.  He was ordained deacon at Worcester in 1883 and priest in 1884.  He was at the Church of St. Edmunds, Dudley, from 1883-1885, the Church of Waltham, St. Lawrence, Berks, from 1886-1888, and the Church of Clanfield, Hants, from 1888-1891.  He was Rector of Aldham, Essex, from 1891-1906.  I'm not sure what happens from then on:  the database simply says "Latterly of The Manor House, Ebford, Topsham, Devon, where he died October 30, 1932;  buried at Woodbury."  One thing I do know is that he married well--his wife's name was Alice Grace Josephine St. John Mildmay, and she was the granddaughter of a Baronet (Sir Henry St. John Carew St. John-Mildmay, who was 4th Baronet St. John-Mildmay).  They had at least one son, Joscelyn Winslow Stayner, born in 1889, who married Ethel Dora Corrie on May 18, 1917, in Boxley, Kent.  At the time of his marriage Joscelyn was 2nd Lieutenant in the 114 Mahrattas.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fyfe Family

The best way to start family history research is to ask the elders of the family what they know.  When I asked my father-in-law recently what he knows about his family background,  he remembered that his father's two brothers (my husband's great-uncles), Peter and Alex Fyfe, were both engineers, that one died at sea during one of the World Wars, and that the other travelled to China by ship and also visited Canada.   I'm currently looking for any information which will help flesh out these family memories.

My husband's grandfather, Charles Taylor Fyfe, was born to Alexander McIvor Fyfe and Agnes (Ewing) Fyfe on August 3, 1888 in Dunbarton, Scotland. Younger brother Peter Ewing Fyfe was born March 1, 1891 in Greenock, Scotland, and Alexander Taylor Fyfe was born May 16, 1893 at the same place.  Alexander Jr's birth record, interestingly, says that his father Alexander Sr. was a marine engineer. A sister, Margaret Stewart Fyfe, was born October 20, 1900.

The uncle who died at sea was Peter Ewing Fyfe.  He died on or around February 17, 1941, when the S.S. Gairsoppa, the ship he was serving on as Chief Engineer, was attacked and sunk.  He was 49 years old. Here's what I could uncover about his experience.

S.S. Gairsoppa, British Steam Merchant, completed in 1919, sunk February 17, 1941, with 1 survivor of 83 crew and 2 gunners.
The S.S. Gairsoppa was a steel-hulled British cargo steamship owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company of London.  During the national emergency that was WWII the ships owned by this company became a temporary part of the British Naval fleet.  In December 1940 the Gairsoppa was in India loading up with pig iron, tea, and silver to deliver home to Britain.  She then sailed for Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she met up with a convoy of ships which were to travel together to Liverpool (convoy SL-64).  They left on January 31, making slow progress as many of the ships were in poor repair.  As they went along they were fighting high wind and waves, and the Gairsoppa broke away from the protective convoy on February 14 as she was burdened by her heavy cargo, running out of coal, and could not keep up.  She was now heading for Galway, Ireland,  but before she could arrive, she was intercepted by a German U-boat captained by Captain Ernst Mengersen, a decorated German naval officer who would sink twelve ships over the course of the war.  At around 10:30 p.m. the Germans fired a torpedo which hit its mark.  The Gairsoppa was unable to send a distress call as the wireless antenna had been destroyed by the falling foremast.

Ernst Mengersen, who captained the U-boat which sank the Gairsoppa.

Three lifeboats were apparently launched from the Gairsoppa while Germans from the U. Boat were firing machine-guns at the fleeing sailors.  Two of the boats were never seen again.  The men in the third boat were in for quite an ordeal.  This is what the website BI Ship has to say:

"According to Valiant Voyaging, two and perhaps three boats were got away in heavy swell and under machine gun fire from the submarine. One boat, in command of the Second Officer Richard Hamilton Ayres, set out with 31 men, eight of them European and 23 Indian. Only Ayres had any skill with boats. It was a dark night and heavy seas were running so they lay-to a sea anchor until dawn when another, waterlogged, boat was found with two Indian seamen on board, who were taken on.

They set sail and steered east under a reefed sail. Much of the fresh water had been lost during launching and there was only enough for two dippers per person a day. After the second day it was found impossible to swallow the boat's biscuits due to dryness of mouth and throat. The Indian seamen occupied the for'ard and midships parts where the canvas boat cover provided some protection from spray. They were issued with blankets, the Europeans giving up theirs help the Indian men withstand the cold. 

Deaths occurred from frostbite from the fourth day on, and there were other deaths from men drinking seawater. By the eighth day the water was all used and the hands and feet of the remaining seven men were badly frostbitten.
Thirteen days after abandoning ship, the Lizard was sighted but by then only three European and four Indian seamen were alive. Seriously weakened, the men endeavoured to bring the boat to the shore but the wind was blowing directly on shore and was too strong. The boat broached and capsized throwing all the men into the sea, drowning the four Indian seamen. The boat was righted and three Europeans got back on board, only for the boat to capsize again. One of the men swam for the rocks but was washed off and another was unable to maintain a grip on the upturned boat. 
One survivor - Richard Ayres - was rescued unconscious from the surf by lifeboatmen who had been summoned by children who chanced up the scene as the men were desperately trying to make the beach. The fate of any who made it into the other lifeboats was never known." 
The full title of the Valiant Voyaging which is referred to in the first line is Valiant Voyaging:  A Short History of the British India Steam Navigation Company in the Second World War 1939-1945 by Hilary St. George Sanders (now out of print).

I have not been able to discover if Peter was one of the Europeans on the lifeboat which reached Britain, or if he was on one of the two lifeboats which immediately disappeared.  My father-in-law says that he died of exposure, which would suggest that he may have been one of the eight Europeans on the boat with Richard Ayres, but I can't confirm this.  

Several of the men who lost their lives on the S.S. Gairsoppa, including Peter Ewing Fyfe, are commemorated on the Tower Memorial  in Trinity Square Gardens, London.  Peter's name is on panel 51. The inscription on the memorial reads:


Tower Hill Memorial, part of the Commonwealth War Graves War Memorials.

Database:  1939-1947 Memorial Register:  Tower Hill Memorial Part 5.

Losses from the sinking of the Gairsoppa, according to Lloyd's of London.  Among the losses were 600,000 pounds worth of silver ingots, in the value of the day.  There were also uninsured silver coins on board.

Partly because of its treasure trove, the Gairsoppa was never completely forgotten, and in July of 2011  a company called Odyssey Marine Exploration was given permission by the British government to recover the cargo.  Within 24 days they found it, and in the past two years Odyssey Marine has painstakingly recovered over 109 tons of silver.  This is the deepest and largest precious metal underwater recovery in world history.

"This was an extremely complex recovery which was complicated by the sheer size and structure of the SS Gairsoppa as well as its depth nearly three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic," commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey’s chief executive officer. "To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access."

Bars of silver recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Gairsoppa.

The remains of the Gairsoppa, after over 70 years undersea.

The British government will receive 20% of the value of the recovered metal, and Odyssey Marine Exploration will keep 80%.  No human remains were found. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helen Rutherford Dies in Montreal

I'd always thought that William Rutherford Sr. was the only member of his immediate family to immigrate to Canada, but I came upon a death notice in a Scottish newspaper for one of his sisters yesterday, and apparently she died in Montreal.

The Southern Reporter, Thursday 16 June 1870.

"Deaths.  At Montreal, at the residence of her brother, on the 22nd ult. Helen Rutherford, wife of Mr. Joseph Boyland, and daughter of Mr. James Rutherford, Linthaugh, Jedburgh, aged 32 years."

A quick search on Ancestry revealed her death record:

Erskine Presbyterian Church, Montreal, 1870.  Helen Rutherford wife of Joseph Boyland, Carpenter, died 22nd May and was buried 24th May.  Witnessed by William Rutherford.

I wonder why she died at William's home and not her own?  At first I thought she may have been visiting, but the same church, Erskine Presbyterian, has a record of Helen and Joseph baptizing a child in Montreal in 1868, just two years before Helen's death:

October 11, 1868. Helen Paton Boyland, daughter of Joseph Boyland, of Montreal, Carpenter, and of Helen Rutherford his wife, born Sept 27, baptized October 11, 1868. .
There are two interesting things about this record:  firstly, it tells us that  Helen Rutherford lived in Canada for at least two years, and secondly, it is witnessed by a David Paton.  Now if we look at the family tree, the Paton family is only connected to the Rutherford family in Scotland (William Rutherford Sr.'s parents were James Rutherford and Helen Paton.)  Were there Paton cousins in Montreal that the family maintained contact with?  Who was David Paton?

And even earlier than that, in 1865, the Anglican St. Stephen church in Montreal has a record of Joseph Boyland and Helen Rutherford baptizing two sons, William Rutherford Boyland and Arthur James Boyland.  William Rutherford Boyland, whom Helen seems to have named after her brother, was born on February 17, 1865, and Arthur James was born on October 4, 1862.  They were baptized together on October 22, 1865.

In the 1881 census Helen Boyland, aged 13,  is living in the William Rutherford/Elizabeth Jackson  household.  I can't find either the Rutherfords or the Boylands on the 1871 census, which is too bad.  In the 1891 census Helen is no longer living with the Rutherfords.

Searching for the background of Helen Rutherford's life revealed that she and Joseph were married in Jedburgh, Scotland, in 1858.

Marriage record from the Parish of Jedburgh, County of Roxburgh.  Joseph Boyland, organ builder and bachelor, and Helen Rutherford, Lady's Maid and spinster.  Witnessed by Margaret and William Rutherford.

 Now here's where things get interesting.  There is a census record for a Joseph and Helen Boyland, both from Scotland, living in England in 1861.  The Helen Boyland in the census is the right age (23 in 1861) to be Helen Rutherford, the sister of William.  Joseph Boyland is an organ builder. Here is the record:

Joseph and Helen Boyland, living in Bath, England, in 1861.  No children.
So it looks like Helen and her husband moved to England at some point before they moved to Montreal.

I can't find any immigration records for the Boyland family, either into England, Canada or America. What eventually happened to Joseph and the children is a mystery.  There are family trees online which attribute two other sons, George Cecil and Thomas,  to Joseph and Helen, but I can't find original records for any more children at this point.  What is clear is that William Rutherford was eventually joined in Montreal by his married sister, who died shortly afterwards, leaving a husband and several children, including a daughter which William's family may have raised.