William Frederick BRENNAN and Miriam / Mary Ann RICHARDSON
To Bytown / Ottawa, Canada in the 1820's
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
July 3, 2014:
I'd like to see anything I can that pertains to my gggrandfather William Frederick Brennan who was an Irish canal
stonemason (on the Rideau Canal) from 1828 until the canal was completed, when he settled on 300 acres of land
he had a land grant from a William Peter Fraser, opened a tavern, became a RC church warden, and died of unknown
causes in 1842.
He was buried in the Notre Dame Cemetery, his wife, born a Baptist American, converted and joined him there in 1844.
Is there anything left of the Notre Dame Cemetery? I know portions of it were moved, and might explain how
my gggrandfather, his wife, AND her mother are all in one grave.
Who would I contact regarding seeing a pocket watch of my gggrandfather's that was donated by a distant cousin
to the Ottawa Historical Society sometime in the 1970's?
Is there a list of the 40 laborers that were given land grants?
... Linda Gallagher
Good morning, Linda:
Notre Dame Cemetery has been in full operation since its inception in the 1800's. Some of the very early
grave markers may have been removed because, over time, they became a danger to visitors, especially to
children. Your GGGrandparents marker may well be there. We will have to check with the cemetery to find out.
As to the pocket watch, I believe that the Historical Society of Ottawa has transferred all of their artifacts
to the Bytown Museum. This museum is located on Wellington Street at the head locks of the Rideau Canal in
downtown Ottawa, beside the East Block of our Parliament Buildings. You could e-mail them directly about
the pocket watch -- they have a web site. The Historical Society of Ottawa also has a web site (google them).
Their president is Mr. George Neville.
Concerning the grant of land which your GGGfather received from William Peter Fraser, I believe that this
man was a United Empire Loyalist who had been granted a large amount of land in the Ottawa area because
of his loyalty to the British Crown after the American War of Independence. There is a UEL association in
Ottawa who may be able to help you out on this and their Branch of the UEL organization is named after
Sir Guy Carleton.
I'm a volunteer at the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and will be at their library
on Tuesday. I'll have a look there and see what I can find. We are partners with the City of Ottawa Archives
who are in the same building.
I will make the contacts you suggested this weekend, and let you know what these folks say, if any get
back to me...please stay in touch!
I have seen the Bytown Museum website, so I am familiar with it. My distant cousin and I have been working
for more than 30 years on the family's history, and you and Ellen Paul have been far more helpful than
ANYONE else...(Ellen first found my gggrandfather, a stonemason, on the McCabe's List more than 15 years ago
and got me started on what I know today, she also was able to confirm for me, just recently, that my
suspicions about William living and dying a Roman Catholic were true (despite the fact that he married an
American Baptist who was the daughter and granddaughter of Baptist ministers - even stranger is the fact
that she converted, presumably to be buried with her husband...but her mother must have, too, as she is
ALSO buried in Notre Dame, in a single grave with her daughter and son in law). I had ALWAYS been led to
believe that the Brennans were Protestant...LOL
FYI-The children, six in all that lived past childhood, including twin daughters, all found their way to
Michigan as teens after their oldest brother, my great grandfather, emigrated to work on the railroad in Michigan -
except for the youngest, who emigrated to Malone, New York, working his way through college to pass the bar,
becoming an officer and war hero in the Civil War, then a senator for the state of New York, until his
suicide from arsenic in 1881. He apparently got involved in some sort of government scandal...
I will have time to look into that some day, too.
Hi Al, just to update you on my recent family history work prior to our trip to Ottawa...
With the help of Glenn Clark and Grant Vogl, president of the Gloucester Township Historical Society
and Exhibits Curator at the Bytown Museum, respectively, I now know exactly where my great-great grandfather
William Frederic Brennan's 300 acres was located...on the Rideau Front just south of what was once the
Hogs Back. I also know that at some point he sold or gave 100 acres of that land to his
brother Thomas, as the 1837 Gloucester Township Assessment showed both as owners of adjoining property on
the Rideau River. Which was proof that Thomas did indeed emigrate to Canada sometime after 1833 with his wife Mary,
- no children listed.
And that's all I've been able to find out. Thomas could not be found in any census or burial data at all after that.
Grant's efforts to locate the silver pocket watch that my cousin donated to the Ottawa Historical Society
in 1965 have been fruitless...so far...and I have not yet heard back from Notre Dame as to the location of
William's grave in the Notre Dame Cemetery.
Gary Bagley, of the Guy Carleton Chapter of the UEL, told me that there were several William Frasers
that were UEL's...I was able to determine through my old family papers here that Peter Fraser actually
sold the 300 acres to my ancestor, acting as executor for his deceased father William, who was Captain
of a troop of the King's Royal Rangers, and had originally hailed from New York state, where he lost
his family farm to the Americans. That was of great interest to Glenn Clark as he was then able to
trace the ownership of that land all the way from complete wilderness to the present day. It's mostly a
subdivision today, near Otterson Road (named after the Otterson family) and Riverside Drive.
You've had some great success and congratulations with your work!
Is it OK with you if I add your latest e-mail to a new web page on our site. Who knows, someone else may
have more information for you. Please let me know.
I'm also sending a copy of this e-mail to Mary Quinn who has done a lot of work on the early settlers in
that area of Ottawa. Hi Mary!
By all means, Al, post away.
I would like to see the Bytown Museum, and meet Grant, as well as the area where the land is located,
part of the Canal, the area where the Hogs Back is, and go to the cemetery, hopefully with the info on
where the graves are located...at one time there was a headstone, I'm told. Wouldn't it be wonderful
to find that...I did check the gravestone index, but William's gravestone isn't listed, undoubtedly
because it's illegible by now.
Since we'll also be traveling with my English Setter, who has been quite ill and not at all up to spending
five days in a kennel, any time we spend inside a building must be spent with just one of us at a time,
the other outside with the dog, or in the air conditioned car with the dog. I'm aware that we may have
to pay quite a bit for parking, and walk quite a ways...much of what we're all up to doing will be up
to the temperature that morning...I don't foresee any issues with any of the above agenda except with
the Bytown Museum, which I know is right downtown, and I'm quite certain my husband will happily snooze
outside under a tree while I do that...LOL..please let us know when we get a bit closer to the 17th
where you'd like to meet us.
Do you have any more suggestions on what might help Grant find that watch? I gave him all the info I had,
but he has NO record of it, and no watch that would be from that time period. That's my only major
disappointment right now...
another question for you...William Brennan paid 100 pounds for his property in 1831. He also at that time
had a wife and at least one child to support, so I'm wondering how he managed to save the money to buy
that property in just 3-4 years...do you have any idea what masons were paid? Do you think it's unusual
that he would have been able to save that much money? If my info from the 1833 Tithe Applotment records
in his native County Sligo of Ireland is correct, his brother Thomas was renting just six acres of land
in 1833, which indicates to me that the Brennans did not have much financial backing in Ireland. I am
very curious as to how he was able to be in possession of that much money...the bill of sale does not
mention a mortgage or time payments or anything like that.
I have the language of both the bill of sale and the grant here, will forward it to you if you are interested.
I don't know what skilled masons were paid but they were in demand. There were lots of unskilled labourers
who worked on the canal and were poor, but not destitute as were the famine immigrants who came here in 1847.
Someone who was careful with his money from work on the canal would possibly be able to save enough to buy
300 acres in 1831; for sure if he had brought some money with him from Ireland as many did. He
may have had the foresight to realize that the work on the Rideau Canal was coming to an end during the
next year and bought up some land anticipating that it could be subdivided and re-sold to the labourers
who were about to become unemployed.
Also, you mentioned that you have some early records of the transaction between the Loyalist Fraser family and
your William Brennan. Any chance that you could send them to me to include on the web site? I have an 1827 map
of this area showing the property as it was held by individual Loyalists and your material would make a
nice addition to our site. Most researchers do not get back as far as the property held by the Loyalists.
I'll see if I can find the exact location of the early Brennan family this week. I know where the Otterson
farms were located. If we have the lot number and concession from the bill of sale, we should be able to
get photographs of the original property.
Mary, do you have any record of a William Brennan being in the Mooney's Bay / Hog's Back area. I remember a
terrific early document which you had located for the early settlers in that part of Gloucester Township
Thanks again for this.
Thanks to Mary Quinn for the following:
My records show:
1834 Poll Book County of Russell
William Brenan - south 1/2 of Lot 1 Concession 2 (voted for D O'Connor) (Daniel Oconnor)
1835 Russell Twnsp Census
1836 Russell Twnsp Census
1837 Russell Twnsp Census
1839 Russell Township Census
hope this helps
... Mary Quinn
Mary, thank you very much for looking this up! Actually, it's very helpful, as it pretty much establishes
Thomas Brennan, William Brennan's brother, as arriving in Canada sometime in 1836-or, at least, he did
not take over ownership of a part of William's property until 1837. I know he was still in Ireland in 1833.
Can you tell me if any of the other Brennans shown lived in the vicinity of William's property?
I've looked at some of them, but could not establish a relationship to William.
Central Lake, Michigan
Only the 1834 Poll Book shows a location and William is the only recorded Brennan at that time -
I am working with a summary of the other documents but you might want to check the Library and Archives Canada
(LAC) - the reel number was sent in the previous email - you have to register for a visitor pass and they
don't usually issue them on the weekend.
I have the exact language of the bill of sale as well as the language of the grant, although I did not transscribe
the entire thing, as it went on for pages...I will send it over to you tonight!
To further complicate matters, I am now looking into my ggggrandfather, David Richardson, William's father in law,
a Revolutionary War veteran who collected a pension for a short time before emigrating to Quebec with his wife
and family 1801-1803 where he bought a farm somewhere in the Ottawa area, then sold it, bought another, and
eventually ended up back in Compton, Quebec, where his family lived for a few years prior to moving to Ottawa.
At first I had thought he might have traveled with Philemon Wright, the timing would have been right, but now I
am not so sure, given the fact that he obviously set down roots for at least a few years in Compton, Quebec,
but for all I know that might have been next door to Hull... (I think that Compton is in the Eastern Townships ... Al)
Why do I think there might be a connection with Philemon Wright? Because a Daniel Wyman traveled with Wright
on his first expedition, and David Richardson and Daniel Wyman were cousins...both with deep roots in
I will send over the bill of sale and grant info...thanks for the info on how William might have come by his money!
Here's the language of the grant that I transcribed:
Written by Ruth Tawney--The following is a copy of the text of an original land grant on sheepskin, signed
September 4, 1800 by Peter Hunter, Lt. Governor, conveying 300 acres of land then in Russell County, Ontario,
Canada, to one William Fraser. The original document, in possession of Mr. and Mrs. James Tawney, was acquired
by gift to Mrs. Tawney from the widow of her uncle Robert Brennan (my grandfather) who had acquired it from
his father. The initials of George II are in the upper left hand corner of the grant.
"GEORGE the THIRD, by the grace of GOD, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so Forth.
To all to whom these Presents shall come, GREETING, Know Ye, that we of our special grace, certain knowledge,
and mere motion have Given and Granted, and by these presents DO GIVE and GRANT unto William Fraser of the
Township of Edwardsburg in the County of Grenville in the District of Johnstown of our said Province Esquire
his heirs and assigns forever; ALL that parcel or tract of land situate in the Township of Gloucester in the
County of Russell in the Eastern District in our said Province, containing by admeasurement Three hundred
acres be the same more or less; being Lot Number One above Lot Twenty Five near the Center of the said
Township of Gloucester, together with all the woods and waters thereon lying, and being under the reservations,
limitations, and conditions, herein after expressed: which said Three Hundred acres of land are butted and
bounded or may otherwise be known as follows:
that is to say Commencing on the River Rideau in the limits between Lot Number One and Two then north sixty degrees
east one hundred and fifty one chains, then northerly parallel to the River twenty chains, then south sixty
six degrees west one hundred and fifty one chains to the river and then southerly along the Edge of the River
against the stream to the place of beginning.
To have and to hold...
I certainly hope I'm not drowning you with all of this information...
William's land was located on the Rideau River about a mile south of the Hogs Back just north of the
railroad in Carleton County, Gloucester Township, just south of Ottawa.
Looks like it's just west of a little burg called Gateville (the southern part of Billing's Bridge Settlement).
I am including the link to the 1880 Gloucester Township plat map, of course by that time, William had been gone
38 years, his wife 36 years, and the land was long sold.
But if you look at the enclosed link I'm sending, which you can enlarge, then scroll down along the River to
where it says BS&E Line, there's a hotel marked there. Just west of there is property owned by Michael Gleeson,
then G and NO Otterson, then Joseph Nelligan.
That is the land marked off on the faded old plat map I have here that apparently belonged to William Brennan.
Obviously, it had been subdivided as the area grew.
I remember now that I didn't fully transcribe the bill of sale because it is a very old copy that
is very hard to read...here's what I can see...
Memorial of a Bargain and Sale from Peter Fraser to William Brennan. Recorded at 5 p.m. Friday, the 21st of
February, 1834, in Book 6 .... (illegible signature) Register.
District of Bathurst
A memorial to the Registered pursuant to the Statue in that case made and provided-of an indenture, dated the 17th
day of September in the Year of our Lord 1831. Made between Peter Fraser of the Township of Oxford acting executor
of William Fraser of the one part, and William Brennan of the Township of Nepean Yeoman of the other part,
purporting to be a Deed of Bargain and Sale, whereby the said Peter Fraser, for and in consideration of 100 pounds
of Lawful Money of Upper Canada, hath Granted, Bargained, Sold, Aliened, Transferred, Conveyed, and Confirmed
unto the said William Brennan, his heirs and assigns forever all and singular...that certain parcel or tract of
land and premises (?) lying and being in the Township of Gloucester, County of Rusell, Ottawa District, formerly
called the ? District, a province of Upper Canada containing by admeasurement 100 acres by the River more or
less being composed of Lot Number One, above Lot Twenty Five near the Center of the said Township of Gloucester
which 100 acres are in R??? of the two hundred acres, Lot Number One Pursuant to the Government Deed,
that is to say 50 chains North, 56 degrees east then northerly 20 chains parallel with the two hundred acres
in front of said Lot than south sixty six degrees then 51 chains to the ?? of the front two hundred acres of
I have a note here that says the Grant from William Fraser for 300 acres in the Township of Gloucester,
District of Johnstown, Recorded in the Register's Office 30th November 1800 Liber P Folio 9 (could be G)
signed Wm. B. Peters, Asst. Register
Late last night I went through the records of the Bytown Gazette as they appear on your website.
Unfortunately, nothing. The year 1842 wasn't there, sadly. But as William ran/owned a tavern, was the town
clerk, and a church warden for ND, I had hoped there might be mention of him somewhere there.
I am now trying to run down what I can on David Richardson...and a possible connection to Philemon Wright.
A couple of points this morning:
I'm cc'ing Karen Prytula on this e-mail. She is very knowledgable about our early history and people and is
descended from Philomen Wright and may have a connection to the Richardsons. She is also connected to the
Snow family and may be able to help you out. Hi Karen!
About the 1842 Bytown Gazette records. There is only a sample posted on our web site. Whatever years are
available would be on a CD which contains early BMD's from Bytown and Ottawa newspapers. I have that CD
here at home and will check it.
I really appreciate your transcription of the early UEL land grant to your ancestor. This will be a nice
addition to our web site and will be another avenue for other researchers to explore.
Before I leave here, I am going to make full copies of everything I've got for you, Al.
I am really hoping that there might be SOMETHING in the Bytown Gazette as to his cause of death,
as he was too young for it to have been a natural death (53 with small children at home) and he had
time to write a will, which says "Being strong in mind but weak in body"...I am wondering if he was one
of those Canal workers who contracted malaria one too many times.
His wife died at an even younger age just two years later...Miriam died in 1844 at the age of 40.
She was also ill-as she had the time to convert to Catholicism on her deathbed.
I am enclosing what info I have on David Richardson for you and your friend Karen, all of which
comes from the Richardson Memorial. Polly Dearborn's mother was a Snow, which goes back to the
Mayflower. David's line of Richardsons was Thomas, Samuel, Stephen, Stephen, Ebenezer, Zebadiah,
Zebediah Richardson served nine months in the war of the Revolution. He resided in Plymouth, New Hampshire, USA,
many years, in Amherst, New Hampshire, USA two years, in Sanford, Maine, USA,, two years then Fryeburg Maine
for the remainder of his life. He was a Baptist minister and was pastor of the Baptist Church of Fryeburg
from 1787 to 1805 when the church was dissolved. He then connected himself with the Baptist Church in Cornish, Maine,
still residing in Fryeburg. He died from bilious cholic about 1820 in Sanford, ME, during a visit to that place.
His wife Rebecca died in Fryeburg in 1822, age 82.
Oldest son David, born in Nottingham West, (now Hudson) N.H., August 5, 1763, married 1790 Polly Dearborn.
She died in Gloucester. Served three months in the army of the Revolution, for which near the close of his life
he drew a pension. After marriage he lived on the farm of his wife’s uncle Peter Dearborn on Baker’s River in
Plymouth, N.H. He owned land adjoining thereto, purchased of Enoch George in 1794. About 1799, he moved to
Danville, Vermont, USA, and then to Compton, Canada East, in 1801 having purchased a farm in the south
end of that town. In 1823 he sold it and bought another farm in what is now known as “Richardson’s Village” where
he erected a grist mill. In 1827 or 1828 he sold again and removed with his wife and unmarried son David to
Gloucester Township, near Ottawa, Canada West, where she died 1835.
Some time after her remains, along with those of her daughter Miriam (1844) and her daughter’s husband William (1842)
were re-interred in Ottawa, making but one grave, and the gravestone engraved only with the name of William Brennan.
After Polly’s death, David returned to Compton to the home of his eldest son Samuel, where he passed on May 13, 1849.
HIs youngest son David died unmarried prior to the writing of the Richardson Memorial in 1880? David's other
living daughter moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Miriam, born in Compton, Canada East, May 19, 1804, married William Brennnan of Irish descent in 1828 in Montreal,
they moved to Gloucester, Canada West, where both died.
Infant daughter Cornelia died in infancy in 1829. Twin daughters Mary Ann and Eliza Ann born May 11, 1830.
Son James Frederic born January 2, 1834. Matilda born January 22, 1838, William David born December 29, 1840.
Good morning, all:
I was just having a look through the Notre Dame records from 1829 to 1855 (as transcribed by Ellen Paul).
The godparents for all of the children were members of the early Roman Catholic elite in the fields of
politics and business in early Bytown. See for example Daniel O'Connor who was the first mayor of Bytown.
His brother, Richard O'Connor. These men were lawyers and one of the O'Connor sons had a farm and is
shown on the 1879 map, possibly bought from your Brennan ancestor. Also, Charles Rowan
and Thomas Corcoran were major players in business and land dealings. Other names mentioned are Patrick Hughes
(I'm related to this family in the 1830's, Mary Quinnn may also be -- he was from County Armagh to South Gloucester),
Anthony Cullen, William Tormay / Tormey. If you search for these names on my site, I have web pages for most of them.
Also, according to Mary's research, William Brennan voted for Daniel O'Connor in the 1836? election. Only land owners
were allowed to vote at that time and the Catholics voted en masse for Daniel O'Connor.
E-mail Allan Lewis
July 23, 2014:
My great grandfather, James Frederic Brennan, born 1834 in Bytown,
William Brennan's oldest son. This is the only photo I have of him.
Map of part of the Rideau Front, Gloucester Township, Upper Canada, 1825
July 30, 2014:
The McVicar House in Fort William.
(See family in 1881 census for Thunder Bay)
Photo Source: Life in a Thundering Bay, edited by Tania L. Saj and Elle Andra-Warren, page 29