Joseph Ellesmere1795

Joseph Ellesmere 1795

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Place of migration
Migrated to /Born in Canada
Additional Information
Date of Birth 5th May 1795
Date of Death 16th Oct 1859
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  • Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

    Joseph Ellesmere was a war veteran and given the choice of land on the Penetanguishene Road or in what was called the Hollow ( now Horse Shoe Valley). He chose the latter because of good source of spring water. They came by boat to Shanty Bay, then by foot to Lot 1, Conc. 4, Oro. They both died at the same location. The eldest son John was born in Ireland and emigrated with them. Joseph was born the next year after they landed. (John's Children) Charles Lived mostly in Scotch Hollow. (married Elizabeth Cook) Hannah married Alfred Ball and lived back on 1-3 and migrated to Orillia and most of their descendants lived around there. Margaret married James Anderson, who was killed in Playfairs Mill and buried in Wyebridge. Mrs Anderson and family moved West and descendants are out there, all except Milly who is married to Jack Georgiana and lives in Barrie. Joseph Thomas married Ruth Rix, they had 11 children. Most of the family have lived around the area and North Bay District. Ernest is still on the home farm. Charles is in Medonte and Mary Kendrick in Craighurst. Ernest married Elizabeth Newman and had 8 children, some of whom live around the district, others have moved away. Chris is still on the farm. John married Mary Saunders. Many descendants live in Barrie and district. The first home was a log cabin back where Horse Shoe Chapel is now located. The Ellsmeres have been employed in many trades, including farming, milling, lumber mills, etc.

    Joan Magee

    Monday 27th April 2020 09:06PM
  • In St. John’s Anglican graveyard, Craighurst, Ontario, Canada, stands a weathered headstone dedicated to the memory of Joseph Ellsmere who died on the 16th October 1859, a “native of Downpatrick, Ireland.” In the same cemetery rests his wife Margaret Saye and many of their descendents. It was not unusual for emigrants who had settled and died in a foreign land to inscribe on their headstones an acknowledgement to their place of origin. This monument marks the place where Joseph’s story finally ended, though it began many miles eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean, in Downpatrick, County Down.

    In the early nineteenth century, the army was frequently the resort of the poor labourer and the unemployed who were at the bottom of the social ladder, and this presumably was the case for Joseph “Elsmere”, baptised on the 3rd of May 1795 at Downpatrick, Church of Ireland church, a son to Patrick and Sarah. He joined a cavalry regiment as a private at 16 years of age, to put warm food in his stomach, clothes on his back, and a roof over his head. Ireland was a successful recruiting ground for the British army at the time and a large number of the enlisted soldiers were Irish.[1] Joseph joined His Majesty’s 8th Kings Royal Irish Light Dragoons on the 27th day of May 1812 for unlimited service, and following some training left Chatham barracks for India, where he remained until he was discharged with a pension in 1823 due to a leg injury. His discharge papers describe Joseph as a labourer by trade, about 5 foot 9 inches in height with black hair, hazel eyes and a swarthy complexion. Joseph joined the 2nd Royal Veteran Battalion on the 19th of November 1823, again serving as a private, where he remained until the reduction of the battalion at Enniskillen on the 24th April 1826. The Royal Veteran Battalions were garrison troops who worked in stores and depots, mainly doing light duties and administrative work thus freeing up the able-bodied soldiers for fighting. Joseph was initially stationed at Londonderry but was variously stationed at Cavan, Clones, Londonderry again and finally Enniskillen. His discharge papers comment on monies he and his family received to travel home to Downpatrick, “more commonly called by the common people Down.” [2] Ten days marching for himself at 15 shillings, and a 19 shillings and 9 pence marching allowance for his family, with an additional 11 shillings compensation for clothing, making a total of £2.5s.9p.

    Joseph might have remained in Downpatrick had not the government offered him, along with many other Chelsea pensioners, the opportunity to emigrate anywhere in the British colonies by permitting them to commute their pensions - privates being entitled to a grant of 100 acres each.[3] No other assistance would be forthcoming from the government and anyone commuting his pension would abandon all claims to any future payments of pension and could not revert to the pension list. On the 28th May 1831 R. W. Hay, the Under Secretary for the Colonial Department, informed Major-general Sir John Colborne that; “a considerable number of military pensioners have received permission to commute their pensions, and proceed to Canada as settlers…In regard to such as may be desirous of proceeding to Upper Canada, to avail themselves of a free grant of land, Lord Aylmer has been requested to afford them every assistance in proceeding from Quebec to their destination.” An article in the Belfast Commercial Chronicle 5th November 1832, affirmed that “For one Scotsman who goes to Canada, there are two Englishmen and seven Irishmen…The North of Ireland furnishes a much larger number than the South; indeed about one-fourth of all who went from Ireland in 1831, sailed from Belfast.” In the early 1830’s Lieutentant T. H. Rimington noted that the population in the parish of Dunsfort, County Down, was decreasing, due principally to “the decline of linen manufacture and the consequent emigration of the people employed in that branch to America. This has been so considerable that the number who have emigrated since 1800 are equal to two-thirds of the present population.” [4] Lack of employment opportunity, poverty, and the desire to better himself, may have been factors influencing Joseph’s decision to emigrate to Canada with his family in 1832, though he certainly could not have embarked without having the funds to pay both for their journey and for the land upon which to settle.

    Joseph could have travelled to Canada via several routes, unfortunately there are no comprehensive lists of immigrants arriving in Canada prior to 1865, as previous to this year shipping companies were not required by the government to keep their passenger manifests. Emigrants sailed from ports such as Londonderry, Newry or Belfast, and newspapers of the period frequently advertised ships leaving Ireland for destinations such as New York, Philadelphia, St. John’s New Brunswick, Montreal and Quebec. The Belfast Newsletter, Tuesday, 21 February, 1832, ran an advertisement for a copper-fastened British built new ship, HERALD, of Newcastle, the “first” Spring ship for Quebec to sail on the 28th of March, commanded by Alex. Hunter. “Ordnance and Chelsea Pensioners, to enable them to obtain a commutation of their Pensions for the purpose of Emigration, will receive every information at the Subscriber's Office. - For Freight or Passage, apply to EDWARD SHAW, No. 34, Tomb-street.” Joseph and his family may even have journeyed by coach to Belfast to board their ship for Quebec. The Northern Whig of the 26th March 1832 contained a notice regarding the commencement of a Post Office Royal Mail Car every day between Belfast and Downpatrick, available to convey mail and travellers. “The Downpatrick Royal Mail Car will start for Belfast, every Morning, at Eight o’clock, from the Post-Office, Downpatrick, passing through Killyleagh, Killinchy, and Comber; and will arrive in Belfast, at Twelve o’clock.” Alternatively Joseph might have commenced his journey by sailing to Liverpool as one newspaper article proclaimed that “emigration is going forward at an unprecedented rate in almost all the leading ports of the kingdom, and in our own so numerous are the passengers, that accommodation cannot be procured for many of them, who have, in consequence, to sail to Liverpool and embark there.” [9] The steam ships Corsair and Chieftain were advertised as sailing from Belfast for Liverpool, the former sailing every Tuesday and the latter departing each Thursday.[10] Letters were often published in newspapers to convince people how safe and easy it was to travel to North America. Even if prospective customers were unable to read themselves, the letters could have been read to them by friends or acquaintances. It is also possible that Joseph and his family sailed from nearby Strangford, situated less than 10 miles from Downpatrick, as 349 passengers sailed from Strangford port to Canada, in 1832. [12]‘Strangford port’ might well have been a reference to Strangford Lough, while Portaferry could have been the actual port of embarkation.” The Belfast Newsletter, 21 September, 1832, noted in its ship news that the brig Susanna, George Conway, master, arrived at Portaferry on the 11th September from Quebec. A later shipping advertisement noted that the British-built first-class Brig Cherub, commanded by Joseph Selkirk, would be sailing from Strangford with passengers for Quebec. It boasted that; “The Subscribers fit up their Vessels in a superior manner for the accommodation of Passengers; and great convenience, as well as pecuniary advantage, will be found in embarking at Strangford. Mr.Joseph Richardson, who resided several years in the CANADAS, and acquired a knowledge of these Countries, will feel pleasure in giving every information in his power to Emigrants who may call on him. - For Passage, apply to John & Joseph Richardson. Downpatrick”. [13] Residing in Downpatrick, Mr Joseph Richardson may indeed have become well acquainted with Joseph Ellesmere, providing him with information on sailings and departure dates, as well as supplying names of contacts or agents in Quebec who could offer him advice on his arrival in Canada. It is interesting that transport was so accessible for prospective emigrants, not only at this period but even almost fifty years previously. The Belfast Newsletter 11 April 1783, carried an item advertising the departure of the Brigantine ROSE and BETTY for the Cities of Norfolk in Virginia, or Baltimore in Maryland, to sail from the “river Strangford” on the 20th April. It advised prospective passengers to “apply to Potter and Company and Thomas Parkinson in Downpatrick.”

    Following their arrival in Canada the pensioners were to suffer many hardships. While their commuted pension paid for the journey, many had no funds to carry them through that interval between the acquisition and clearance of land and the harvesting and storage of the crops necessary to sustain their families to keep them from starving. They were unable to put anything aside to support them during the winter months, when they relied on the charity of the British population of the province. In the autumn of 1837, the miseries of the unfortunate pensioners were compounded by a general crop failure, but despite the shabby treatment received from the Home Government the loyal old soldiers rallied to its support against William Lyon Mackenzie when rebellion broke out later that year. Joseph Ellsmere can be included among these loyal supporters as his name is present on the Simcoe County Militia Muster Rolls and Pay Lists of 1837, a volunteer, serving in the Medonte Regiment under the command of Capt Lang. Upper Canada’s chief agent for emigration, A.B. Hawke, reported that: “the commuted pensioners capable of bearing arms, without a single exception, came forward in defence of the province. Many of them travelled for miles without shoes (their feet only being protected by such old clothing as their circumstances could supply, in the depth of winter,) to offer their services. Whatever vices they may possess, they have always shown that they are faithful subjects.” Eventually it was agreed to set up arrangements for administering relief to the destitute military emigrants, and in May 1839 a committee of the House of Commons began examining the issue, a reduced pension being reinstated within a year. Eventually, with the passage of time the prosperity of the Ellsmere family did indeed improve. In the early 1900s the family acquired a second farm on the Penetanguishene road, on the fringe of Craighurst village, convenient to the school and church and better roads. The original homestead and attached land were sold in the early 1960s, becoming part of the Horseshoe Valley ski resort development. The developers promised to keep the Ellsmere name somewhere on the property, and a chapel, known as Ellsmere chapel, was built on the approximate site where the original pioneer log home was located, commemorating their pioneering achievements.

    Joan Magee

    Monday 27th April 2020 09:15PM

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