James Coates BROWNE and Ann McGHIE
from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland
to South March, Ontario, Canada in the 1830's (now part of the city of Ottawa)
Painting by Ruth McMillan in 1976
Shows the Head of the Rideau Canal Locks in Ottawa, Canada in 1893
August 3, 2008:
James Coates Brown
(1781, County Donegal, Ireland - 1868, White Lake, Ontario)
Around 1824 James Brown was living on Main street, Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland -
a hotel and inn keeper, according to Pigot's Directory of 1824. A picture of the hotel has
been passed down to his descendants. Also on Main Street in Ballyshannon in 1824 was James
Our James had a first wife who probably died in Ireland. Her maiden name may have been
Thompson based on the second name of two sons: David and John Browne. There was a William
Thompson, apothecary on Market St, Ballyshannon, Ireland in 1824.
By his first wife James had several children - at least 4 sons that have been traced.
(John, David and Lewis). The three older sons may have come to Canada earlier
than their father. They may have come around the mid 1830's because James (2nd) son was
born 1838 in Ontario.
Three of James Coates Browne's sons were lumbermen in the White Lake area in Lanark and
Renfrew Counties. 1857 Gazetteer of Ontario lists:
David T. Browne, White Lake, Renfrew, lumber merchant, general dealer
John Browne, White lake, Renfrew, lumber merchant
Lewis White Lake, Renfrew, lumber merchant
The fourth son James was a lumberman and hotel owner in Bell's Corners, Carleton County, Ontario.
James C. Browne married a second time in Ireland to Ann McGhie and had at least 3 more
children: Lucinda, Robert, and Margarette, all born in Ireland. James, Ann and these
children then immigrated to Canada by the mid 1840's. Margarette gives her date of
immigration as 1845 on the 1901 census. At this time Ireland was at the start of the great
potato famine. Although James may have had some money, the social and economic climate in
Ireland at this time would have been in crisis. Grosse Isle was an immigration depot for
people entering Canada. By 1847 there were daily reports from Grosse Isle in the newspapers
as to the number of dead on the island. Being sent to Gross Isle was like a death sentence
in itself. Because of the potato famine, mass numbers of Irish were arriving in desperate
conditions. The system was overwhelmed and typhus took thousands of lives. James Browne
may have arrived before this time and probably had enough money to get better accommodation
and food aboard the ship.
It is likely that James had more sons and daughters. Some may have married and remained in
Ireland. Some may have come with him from Ireland but "Brown(e)" is a difficult name to
follow and his married daughters would have had a different last name. The only way to be
sure would be to visit Ballyshannon, Ireland and look for some church records. (Church of England)
Tying the members of this family together would have been impossible if it hadn't been for
old letters exchanged between Coates Brown, Cecil Brown, Eleanor Corbett, Margaretta and
"Aunt Lil" Lucinda Brown. These letters are full of remembrances of the family and their
complicated 2nd marriages. Some mistakes were made but with the Internet and access to
vital statistics, it has been possible to put the family tree together. Only one attachment
is in limbo. David Thompson Brown (b. 1841) could be the son of David T. Brown (b.1816) or
James Brown (2nd) (b. 1813). David Jr.'s tombstone is next to James Brown's tombstone in
South March, St. John's Anglican Cemetery, Ontario. Also, David Jr. was not on the census
living with David Sr. in 1851 so I have attached David Jr. as a son of James (2nd) and
Violette Brown. David Jr. lived with his Uncle John Brown in Pakenham, Lanark Co in 1861.
That is also where David, Jr. died in 1868.
James Coates Brown was probably a man of his own means when he came to Canada. He either
lists no occupation or "gentleman" on the census. He used the title "ESQ". He may have
financed the start up of the lumber and merchant businesses of his sons. It seems likely
that the Brownes were educated and somewhat well off for the times. Other Irish lines in
our family came over as "ballast" on the ship and were not educated. Those Irish generally
worked as labourers on construction projects to get enough money to buy some land to farm.
The Brownes, however, were entrepreneurs, clerks, merchants and accountants. Eleanor Corbett
always referred to her ancestors as the "Lace Irish" and her husband's ancestors as the
James' first son, James (2nd), died in Nepean, Carleton, Ontario in May 1850. He left at
least four children for others to raise. By 1851 his daughter Annie Jane went to live with
her Uncle John in Pakenham; his oldest son James (3rd) went to live with his Uncle David in
White Lake; his other son David (Jr.) was not found on the census in 1851 but was with his
uncle John in 1861; and his youngest son, Ebenezer was living with his mother, Mary Robertson
Browne, and his grandparents, John and Jean Robertson in Nepean, Carleton county, Ontario
In 1851 James Brown (b. 1788 Ireland) was in Huntingdon, Hastings County with Ann (b. 1813
Ireland), Lucinda b. 1840, Robert b. 1842, and Margaret b.1845. (all born in Ireland).
They were living in a one-story frame house and were Episcopalian. No occupation was listed.
What was he doing in Huntingdon, Hastings County? This is quite a distance from his sons
in Renfrew and Lanark. Was he scouting out a new location for a business? Perhaps he had
other relatives living in the area.
One possibility is this: On the next page of the 1851 census in Huntingdon, Hastings
County is a Thomas Browne, farmer, born Ireland, age 33, b. 1818, Church of England. His
wife is Mary Anne Browne b. 1825 Ireland and children: Prudence b. 1845 Canada, Maria b.
1847, Isabella b. 1848, Jane b. 1850. Next to them is Charles Thompson b.1830 Canada,
Alice Thompson b. 1825 Ireland and son Archibald Joseph Thompson b.1850 Canada. Perhaps
these people were related to James Coates Browne. I had no luck tracing them.
E-mail Allan Lewis
By 1861 James and Ann and their three children had moved to be with his sons in Renfrew County,
McNab Township, around White Lake. James was listed as b. 1785 Ireland, Church of England
and a gentleman.
In a letter from Aunt Margaret to Coates Browne, she refers to the height of her father:
I am glad Manning is doing so well. He will be a 6 footer like uncles David, John and Luis.
Also your grandfather, James Coates Browne.
James Coates Browne died in White Lake, Renfrew County Aug 19, 1868.
Ottawa Citizen: BMD index:
"On 19 Aug at White Lake, Jas Browne Esq., age 89. Father of D T Browne of this city 22 Aug
1868, p2, col 7"
James Coates Browne is buried in St. John's Anglican Cemetery, South March, Ontario.
(12 miles West of Ottawa City) Tombstone reads James Coates Browne, died Aug 19, 1868 age
87 years. (b. 1781)
Children and Grandchildren of James Coates Browne:
Wife One (unknown Thompson): b. Ireland d. bet 1833-1840 Ireland
1. James Brown (2nd ) b. 1813 Ireland d. May 1850 age 37 (buried at St. John's Anglican C. South March, ON)
m. 1 Violette unknown, (Buried in South March d. 10 Nov 1845 age 32)
A. James A. Brown, 1838, Ontario d. 14 Nov 1874, Colorado USA of consumption. (no wife or children found)
B. David Thompson Browne b. 1840 in Ontario d. June 15, 1868 buried South March. m. abt 1865 Marianne (Minnie)
Sproule (She later married William Pollack MacFarlane). (one child James Alex Coates Browne died at 15 months
old in1868, buried in South March)
C. Annie Jane (Nan) Brown, b. 18 Jan 1843, Ottawa d. 08 Dec 1906, Hamilton Ontario m. Francis Robert Davidson
18 March 1870 in Lanark Co (no children found)
m. 2. Mary Robertson abt. 1846. (Later she married William Pollack)
D. Ebenezer Browne b. 03 Nov 1847, Bells Corners, Ontario d. 03 Jan 1932, Ottawa, Ontario.
m. Elizabeth Pollack abt 1868. Children:
1. William Browne: b. 30 Jul 1869, Ottawa, d. 30 Mar 1899 m. Rose Wigmore (Father of the Cecil Browne
mentioned in letters from Coates Browne)
2. Mary Robertson Browne: b. 30 Nov 1870, Ottawa, d. 16 Jul 1931, Vancouver BC m. David Hunter
3. Marjorie Bayma (Daisy) Browne: b. 1873, Ottawa, d. 30 Nov 1939 m. John Service King
4. Jean Alexandra Mabel Browne b. Abt. 1874, Ottawa, d. unknown m. Charles Roper Harvey
5. Violetta Beatrice Browne b. abt. 1877 d. Aft. 1940, m. Alfred Parnell
6. James Coates Browne b. 1879, Ottawa, d. unknown m. Christina Bessie Ingram
2. David Thompson Browne b. 1818 Ireland, d. 12 March 1877 in Ottawa, lumber merchant. (buried in
South March) m. Charlotte McConnell abt. 1843. She was born March 1st, 1825 Quebec, d. May 26,
1905 Niagara Falls.
Children of David and Charlotte:
A. Jane Thompson Browne: b. 23 Oct 1844 White Lake, Ontario, d. 19 Apr 1916, Niagara Falls, Ontario,
m. 22 Aug 1867, Henry Charles Symmes in Ottawa, lived in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Children of Jane Browne and H. C. Symmes:
1. Henry David Symmes, b. 20 Nov 1868, Ottawa m. Emma Eloise Woodruff. He d. 30 Jan 1921, Welland co., Ontario
2. Charlotte (Dollie) Symmes b. 11 Nov 1870 m. Charles Smith Hickman. She d. unknown, resided in New
Brunswick 1901, 1911
3. Herbert Ormsby Symmes b. 20 Sep 1872 (Hamilton, ON) m. Gretchen Clark, He d. Jan 1923, Lennox and
4. Earnest William Symmes, b. 24 Nov 1875, Welland Co., Ontario m. Eliza Jane Arnold. He d. 09 Feb 1939 ,
buried Niagara Falls, Ontario
5. John Howard Symmes b. 05 Aug 1876, Welland Co., Ontario m. Mabel Gordon. He d. 03 Feb 1933, Welland Co.,
6. Aimee (Amy) Symmes b. 03 Aug 1878 Welland Co., Ontario m. Robin Boyle, d. unknown
B. William McConnel Browne: b. 1847, White Lake, Ontario, d. 31 Jul 1874, Dufferin, Manitoba of typhoid fever.
(no children found)
C. John A. H. Browne: b. abt 1851, White Lake, Ontario, d. Feb 1890, Syracuse, NY age 39 of morphine
overdose (no children found)
3. John Thompson Browne b. 1823 Ireland d. June 5, 1887 age 64, buried South March, m. Maria Evans (no
children but raised many others)
4. Lewis H. Browne b. abt 1833 Ireland d. 1908 Boston, Mass. m. Maria Tufts abt. 1855 (no children)
Wife Two: Ann (McGhie). B. abt 1813 Ireland
D. Sept 1891 in Winnipeg (Robert took her East for Burial)
1. Margarette Armstrong Browne b. 24 Jun 1844?, Ireland d. 06 Oct 1930, Vancouver, BC.
(Her year of birth varies considerably from year to year) m. Albert Peter Allan 1897, Manitoba,
divorced him. (no children)
2. Lucinda Murray Browne b. 1842 Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland
Died of consumption 16 Mar 1901 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, never married
3. Robert Browne
b. 30 Aug 1843 Ireland (possibly Ballyshannon, Ireland)
d. 14 Mar 1916, Winnipeg, Manitoba
m. Sarah Ann Moore June 3, 1874 in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario.
Children of Robert Browne and Sarah Moore:
A. James Coates Browne: (Coates) (letter writer to Cecil)
b. 12 March 1875, Arnprior, Renfrew, Ontario
d.. 12 OCT 1952 Victoria, British Columbia
m. First wife: Louisa Maud Groh b: 9 NOV 1873 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
d. 30 Apr 1948 Victoria
1. Robert James Coates Browne- b. Feb 12, 1907 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Pediatrician in Ft. William d. 1967
Called: (Mannie ?)
2. Karl Senter Coates Browne b. Jan 16, 1913 Diesel & motor mechanic, Victoria
Children: Robert James Coates Nov 20, 1936
Margaret Catherine Feb 3, 1939
David ? 13, 1940
m. Second wife Janet Christine Garlowe m. Aug 6, 1951 Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC
B. Mary Josephine (Josie) Browne
b. 1 Sep 1876, Arnprior, Renfrew, Ontario
d. 1961 (31 Aug 1968, Victoria)
m. Douglas G. Mathias (Mathas, Mathews) - living in Vancouver
1. Dorothy Mathews: b. Jan 8, 1903 m. A.B. Rosevear, CNR Solicitor, Montreal
2. Georgina Shirley Mathews b. Dec 14, 1906, m. Bill Begin, banker in Olds, Alberta
3. Gordon Mathews b. June 24, 1909 d. Oct 24, 1955?? (MD in New Westminster)
C. Violet Sarah (Ettie) Browne
b. 24 Feb 1878, Renfrew, Ontario d.1919
d. July 25 1919 (two weeks after last son was born) Waldo, BC
m. Joseph W. Ross June 12, 1906
1. David Ross Aug 13, 1907
2. Douglas Ross b. June 21, 1909
3. Donovan Ross b. March 13, 1911
4. Bertie (Robert) Ross b. July or June 11, 1919
D. George Lewis Moore Browne
b. 14 Dec 1879, Arnprior, Renfrew, Ontario
d. Sept 14, 1904 (drowned)
E. Robert John Browne
b. Feb 23, 1884 Winnipeg
d. April 2, 1900 from spinal meningitis after 3 years in bed.
F. William Whitla (Whit) Browne (named after R. J. Whitla, a friend and employer of Robert and Sarah Ann)
b. Dec 20, 1886 Winnipeg, Manitoba
d. April 10, 1964 Fernie BC
m. Lillian Landrum (Lendrum) June 25, 1923
1. Betty Browne b. April 29, 1924
G. Dolly (Maria Anna) Browne
b. Dec 18, 1888 Winnipeg, Manitoba
d. 10 Sep 1977 Hillsborough, Florida
m. Ted J. Tollack b. abt 1884 in Pembina North Dakota, who died suddenly some years ago 1939 in
Charleston, South Carolina - maybe on a business trip.
Lived in Tampa Florida, no children
H. Nora Elizabeth Browne
b. May 16, 1891 Winnipeg, Manitoba
d. Mar 7, 1958, Calgary, Alberta
m. David Charles Jones June 26, 1912, London, Ontario
1. David Carlton Jones b. Dec 14, 1914
2. Mary Eleanor Jones b. July 1, 1917, m. Jack Edward Corbett
I. Birtle Thomas Browne (only mentioned in Manitoba Vital Statistics)
b. abt 1901
d. July 28, 1910 age 9
For further information on each child and their descendents see their individual stories.
Letter from Coates Browne to Cecil Browne dated 1952 ( Cecil was the son of William
Browne and the grandson of Ebenezer Browne of Ottawa)
I remember a cousin, Will Browne, who I surmise was your father, visiting us in
Winnipeg for a short time, stopping in a hotel in CPR Station district.
Think this would be about 1903/4.
Have also turned up some old photos: A tintype inscribed, Yours truly Lewis XIV -
just a mustache worn, but another one evidently taken earlier of apparently the
same man, with a heavy curly beard. Also one taken by Jarvis 141 Sparks St.
Ottawa, with a clipping on the back reading, BROWNE - At Syracuse, N.Y. ca
22nd February 1890, John A. H. Browne, brother of Mrs. H. Symmes of Drummondville,
age 38 years. I can remember a cousin Jack Browne, visiting us for a few days
in 1884/5 - when were on a farm in Saskatchewan. Also a small studio photo of
a woman with long corkscrew curls, standing by a chair. This by Stiff Bros.,
Ottawa, with a pencil note on back May 1870. Then there is another head and
shoulders one of this woman and aunt Margarette together, taken by W. Webb,
Niagara Falls South, but no date, evidently later than the 1870 one. This
may be the Aunt Lill before referred to. Also, I have a Geographical Annual:
"a collection of maps, dated 1838, with "John Browne, White Lake, October
3rd 1848. These old photos were among some small effects in a small tin
box of Mother's but nothing else of interest. Trust you will be
able to make some sense out of them, as I have rambled around a lot…
Note: If anyone reads this and knows where these photos are, we would dearly
love to have a scanned copy of them. I think we can identify them. We have
this photo of a man and woman taken in Dublin Ireland but we are not sure
if it is James Coates Browne and Ann or some other family line.
Report prepared by Kathy Corbett (email@example.com)
Special Thanks to:
Rod MacDonald for information and pictures from Niagara Falls.
Jim Stanzell for information from Ottawa Free Press.
Lynne Rooney for information from Lanark County.
Brian and Irene Scott for pictures from South March, St. John's Anglican Cemetery.
OGS website for census and other information.
Ancestry.ca for the Ontario BMD index.
Maps and land records at: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/search.htm
Maps at: http://web.rootsweb.ancestry.com/canon/research-topic-land-maps.html
Manitoba Vital Statistics
Family Letters such as this:
Comments on back of Letter from Coates Browne to Cecil Browne:
Browne's buried Bells Corners, 12 miles west of Ottawa City.
No. 1 James Alex Coates Browne, died 1868 - age 15 months (This would be the son of
David Browne and his widow- Marianne)
James Coates Browne, died 1868 age 87 years. This would be my grandfather, after whom I
was named. Also the widower mention on page 59 of the Ottawa Valley book. He would
also be the father of David and John, not the brother as stated in the book. (Actually
there was another son, James the 2nd and James Coates Browne, Sr. was the father of all
No 2 James Browne died 1850, age 37 years. His wife Violet, died 1845, aged 32 years.
I cannot place these two, but I had a sister Violet who died in 1919, so there must be
some relationship. He could be the older brother of my dad (Robert Browne). (This is true,
he was James 2nd. He married Mary Robertson and had Ebenezer Browne but died shortly
David Thompson Browne, died 1868, aged 27 years. This I believe was a brother of dad's
(Robert) and also of John Thompson Browne. His widow was the Mrs. McFarlane, as above.
(Note: This is a mistake. David Brown Sr.'s wife was Charlotte McConnell and she never
remarried. She lived with Lucinda in Ottawa and then in Niagara Falls. Mrs. McFarlane was
Miriam Sproule, the widow of David, Jr. After David died, Marion (Marianne) married William
Pollock McFarlane. The David Thompson Browne who died 1868 was the son of James Brown, 2nd)
No 3. Maria Evans Thompson Browne, wife of John T Browne, died 1896 aged 67
John T Browne died 1887, aged 64 years.
This would be John Thompson Browne and his wife, who lived in a big house with quite an
acreage, a few miles outside of Almonte. I remember something of him growing grapes on a
commercial basis. When we were coming West, Mother and the four of us youngsters visited
them for several days. Dad also used to drive us over from Arnprior, for overnight visits
…. Sincerely, Coates.
An abstract from a book, "History of the Ottawa Valley" compiled and published by
J. L. Gourlay. A.M. in 1896 at the department of agriculture. Pg 59:
"Mr. Robertson had two daughters. One was very fair. She married William Goodfellow.
I am not so well acquainted with her as with her sister Mary. She was considered at 16 or 17,
the most beautiful girl in the Ottawa country. She married Mr. James Brown, a lumberer and a
widower, with a family of sons and daughters all of whom did well. Mr. Brown lived but a
short time, leaving his beautiful young widow with one bright boy, an infant then, but who
developed into the enterprising Ebenezer Brown, grocer of Sparks Street, Ottawa.
Mr. Brown had two brothers, David and John. The latter married the second daughter of
Rev. D. Evans of Richmond; they lived in the region of White Lake, lumberers. Mrs. Brown,
after a number of years, married the widower, William Pollock and has a large family of sons.
Mr. Pollock died in 1892. We have regarded Mrs. Pollack as a woman of rare excellence,
highly gifted, full of good sense and good works."
Note: The Mr. Robertson referred to was John Robertson born in Perthshire, Scotland, came
to the Valley in 1827, took upland, which at time of writing this book was occupied by his
son Thomas McKay Robertson. John R died about 1880 - A younger brother, George, kept a
store at Bell's Corners. Another son, Ebenezer, died at an early age.
Abstract from: The City Beyond, pg 53 (about Nepean, Carleton Co., Ontario)
author: Bruce Elliot:
In 1836 John Robertson, the old canal foreman, rented a piece of ground just west of
Malcomson's stand and put up a general store. John Robertson's store joined the Malcomson
and Bell taverns at the junction of the Richmond and Goulbourn Roads in 1836. From that
nucleus grew the village of Bell's Corners. Two years later Malcomson sold the building
to Kenneth McKaskill, who kept store until he moved to Stittsville in 1841. It was then
bought by a lumberman named James Browne who converted it into an inn called the
British Hotel and advertised "excellent Stables, good and attentive grooms, and an excellent
supply of forage". Thus by 1841 there were three taverns at the intersection, which was
becoming known as "Bell & Brown's Corner," and it became common practice for farmers from
Beckwith, North Gower, and Marlborough to stay the night at Bell's Corners and leave about
5 a.m. to reach Bytown (Ottawa) in time for market."... Robertson bought back the old Browne
place in 1855 and turned it into a store for his son, but he sold it after his son's death
..... Bell's Corners was totally destroyed in a great fire that swept much of the county
in the dry August of 1870...
The reference above could pertain to James Browne, Sr. but it seems more likely to pertain
to James Brown, 2nd, who married as his second wife Mary Robertson. He died in 1850 and it
is likely that Mary would have sold the property. For picture and map see the story for
James Brown 2nd.
Contributed to Bytown or Bust by Kathy Corbett
(Kathy has a lot more details)
July 28, 2020:
My husband is a manager of the Keillor house museum in Dorchester New Brunswick and I
often research for him genealogy questions etc. Last week he asked me to find out more
about the attached pictures with the little information that was on the back. After
finding nothing in the New Brunswick archives I decided as a long stretch to give it
to google and tada your page came up with his story and descendants.
Thank you for your hard work on this.
The silhouette Pictures are of James Brown and his first wife. They were donated
to the museum (and are on display this summer) by there descendent Charles Hickman
of Dorchester in the 70's.
All the best,
Here are the silhouette pictures from Heather: