Emigration from south-west Ireland to Canada
(Ottawa Valley) in the 1820's
University College of Cork
June 11, 2002:
This page is a work in progress. It will hopefully provide some background information
regarding the reasons for the large-scale emigration from the North Cork area of Ireland
to the Ottawa, Canada area in the 1820's. A good reference is Carol Bennett's books
Valley Irish and The Peter Robinson Settlers, 1823 and 1825 which document the
families who came from Ireland on two transport ships, the Hebe and the Stakesby in 1823.
June 12, 2002:
Thanks to Nancy Thompson for sending along a review of another relevant book:
Once Upon a Country Lane, by Garfield Ogilvie
Some day I plan on making a trip to Ireland and hope to spend some time in
North Cork, partly as a tourist, but mainly doing research. Any suggestions, background
historical material, etc. from residents of this area would be appreciated. In return,
I'd be glad to post your County Cork/Ottawa, Canada research interests or enquiries to
"Bytown or Bust!", my Irish/Canadian web site, and/or do reciprocal research
at the National Archives of Canada or at the two universities in Ottawa, Canada.
I'm also interested in the research programs at the Irish Center for Migration Studies
at the University College of Cork.
The years between the Rebellion of 1798 in Ireland and the 1823 Peter Robinson
Emigration scheme were years of upheaval in North Cork. There were political disturbances
on a daily basis and a major famine in 1822. Society was composed of a very few Protestant
landlords (some of them absentee), and a great number of impoverished Irish Catholic tenant
In 1823, some of the tenants either emigrated to the Ottawa area or were transported as
convicts to Australia. The line between "settler" and "convict" was blurred. There was no
stigma to being transported in 1823 -- most of the people transported to the Penal Colonies
(mainly Australia) were exiled for political reasons. Also, over one hundred offences were
classified as "capital offences". Stealing food was almost equivalent to committing murder
as far as the justice system was concerned.
In this section of the Web Site "Bytown or Bust!", I intend to add information regarding the
political, economic and social conditions of the North Cork region. It will include the
adjacent areas of County Waterford (my CHRISTOPHER ancestors), Tipperary, and Limerick.
PART I - IRELAND
Brief excerpt from Peter Robinson's Report, 1823:
I have the honor to report to you for the information of the Right Honorable Earl
Bathurst that having received directions from His Majesty's Government to proceed to
Ireland for the purpose of superintending a limited emigration to the Province of Upper
Canada, I left Liverpool on the 18 and arrived at Fermoy in the County of Cork on the
20th of May 1823.
Being a stranger in Ireland I was ordered to act under the advice of Lord Ennismore
and the Magistrates, and in order to receive the full benefit of their assistance,
I made Fermoy my principal place of residence - I was happy to find that the very
liberal conditions proposed by His Majesty's Government to such as were disposed
to emigrate, met the cordial approbation of all the Gentlemen to whom they were
communicated - Lords Ennismore, Kingston, Doneraile, W. Becher M.P.,
W. Jephson from Mallow and the Rev. Dr Woodward were most friendly to the scheme,
anxious for its success, and ready to give me every assistance in their power --
On the 2nd of June my final instructions arrived, and as the Gentlemen I was directed
to consult were unanimously of the opinion that I should take as many persons as possible
from the disturbed Baronies in the County of Cork, which were at that time in a very
distracted state - I caused several hundred copies of the memorandum containing the
terms of emigration to be distributed in the Towns of Fermoy, Mitchelstown,
Doneraile, (Conspiracy of 1829), Charlesville, Newmarket, Kanturk, Mallow & the villages
within that circle - The Noblemen and the principal Magistrates in the different Towns
considered in the kindest manner to become the organs of communication with the persons
wishing to emigrate, to take in their names and the number of their respective families as it
was intended from these lists to make under their advice and direction a final
selection - The whole business was conducted in the true spirit of conciliation for
in every Town or Village from which emigrants were expected I called upon the Roman
Catholic Priest as well as the more respectable inhabitants to afford them an opportunity
of asking any questions they chose to put, or of giving them an account of the nature
of the benefit which Government offered through me for the acceptance of the poor."
Excerpt from The Blackwater Region and Ontario, Canada by Christy Roche
"When you look at a map and see Fermoy, Glanworth, Kilworth, Ballygiblin and Blackwater
on it, you might be certain you were looking at a map of North Cork; however, these all
these place names are also to be found on the map of Southern Ontario.
The reason for dates back to the early 1800s and a man called Peter Robinson. He was
born in Canada in 1785 and became Commissioner of Crown lands and immigration
superintendent. His younger brother, Sir John Beverley Robinson, was the attorney
general in the [Fermoy] region. Peter Robinson supervised two settlements of North Cork
immigrants in Ontario. The first of these in 1823 was at Shipman Mills, Almonte and the
second was at Scott 92s Mills, Petersborough.
The Canadian Government at that time were looking for farmers to settle and develop
agriculture in their country and in order to obtain the right sort of settler they paid
the passage for the farmer and his whole family and granted him seventy acres. As most
of the land holdings in pre-Famine North Cork were ten acres or less, this Canadian
holding must have seemed attractive to the impoverished Irish small farmer. To be
eligible for this package one had to be under 45 years of age and have a recommendation
from a landlord, magistrate or clergyman.
Every male between the ages of 18 and 45 was entitled to 70 acres and an iron pot and
each group of families also got four cross-cut saws, 12 land saws, 12 hammers and a
cask of nails. 200 Families
In the 1823 settlement there were almost 200 families and they came from throughout
North Cork, South Limerick and West Waterford. (and South Tipperary? ... Al)
22 families came from Norrey Estate in Mallow
15 from the Callaghan (10) and Devonshire (5) Estates in Lismore, County Waterford
10 from Castlelyons. (Barrymore)
10 from Kanturk (Purcell Estate)
9 from Doneraile
8 from the Sanders Estate of Charleville
8 from the Aldworth Estates at Newmarket and Ballyhooley
11 from Fermoy - Abercrombie Estate
(6) Hyde Estate (3) and Gregg Estate (2)
7 from Churchtown (Earl of Edgemount)
7 from the Earl of Kingston's Estates in Mitchelstown and Tipperary
3 from Rathcormac (Lord Riversdale)
2 from Conna (Gumbleton), 3 from the south Limerick Estate of the Oliver's
2 from the Mountcashel Estate in Kilworth
9 from Castletownroche,
Stennard Estate (3)
Mitchelsmith Estate (4)
Widenham Estate (1)
Annisby Estate (1)
Map of Civil Parishes in West Cork
As can be seen from the above list, they came from throughout the entire area, with
Mallow and Lismore supplying the most.
On June 30 1823 two ships, Stakesby (438 tons), and Hebe 94 (446 tons) set sail
from Cobh and just over two months later, arrived in Canada. Two passengers on board
the Stakesby, Bridget Ahern (August 6) and Jane Ahern (July 29) died. These were
probably mother and daughter and were from Castletownroche. The settlers spent the
winter in Almonte and in the spring of 1824 went to their allotted locations.
Most of the families settled down well and expanded. Roger Cunningham of Grange,
Fermoy who together with his wife Margaret and daughters Mary, Catherine and Anne
had sailed aboard the Hebe, had another child in Canada and obtained a second plot
of 70 acres in Canada, when his neighbor left.
Some like Michael Lynch, a millwright from Castletownroche, Dennis Sweeney (nailer)
from Buttevant and James Magner (laborer) from Mallow went south to the United States
of America. Others like Cornelius Roche of Fermoy (Blacksmith), Richard Wynne, Kanturk
(carpenter), Edmund Barry, Castletownroche (baker), James Seywary, Castletownroche
(shoemaker) and Cornelius Donovan, Fermoy (sawyer) returned to their trades."
Source: Jim Magner.
See Jim's Web Site for a description of conditions in North Cork in 1823
and the transportation of convicts to Australia. It was more or less "the luck of the
draw" as to whether many families were transported to Australia as convicts or sent to
Upper Canada as settlers.
The Castlemagner Historical Society (includes part of the town of Kanturk).
Map Source: http://www.local.ie/general/map/cork.shtml
Pack your Bags for Ireland! Here are the work and residency requirements.
August 19, 2002: Jean Prendergast has an interesting web site containing info on
County Cork landlords and tenants.
PART II - CANADA
The Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823
In 1823, Peter Robinson brought almost 500 settlers to the Ottawa area on
two ships, the Hebe and the Stakesby. They sailed from County
Cork. There are many thousands of descendants in the Ottawa area today.
These early settlers were mostly from the poorest part of Ireland - the southwest -
mainly from County Cork and County Tipperary. They were brought to Upper Canada, in part,
to help reduce the numbers of poor Irish Catholic tenants on several large Irish
estates - Lord Doneraile's property for example. Sending these people to Canada was
expected to reduce the average level of poverty in Ireland and at the same time give a
"leg-up" to selected emigrants, all of whom had good character references and were
expected to become self-sufficient in Canada.
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames A to G
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames H to N
Peter Robinson Settlers in 1823... Surnames O to Z
Roberta O'Brien's Family Page... which includes the names of
the settlers and also Peter Robinson's Report in it's entirety
Miscellaneous Peter Robinson Settlers ... Genealogical Inquiries
The conditions of Ireland were transported to Canada. The 1823 settlers were involved in
the Ballygiblin Riots in Carleton Place / Almonte area in 1824.
E-mail Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa, Canada area