William PURDY and Sarah Jane OAKES
August 31, 2004:
ESTABLISHING MY ANCESTRAL FAMILY IN CARLETON COUNTY
by Bill Pierson
This is the story of my efforts to establish members and relationships of my
ancestral family, Purdy, who arrived from Ireland and settled in Carleton County,
Ontario in the early years of the nineteenth century. There were few written
records surviving or available from this time which made the task of establishing
the family difficult. Contacts with genealogical researchers in Ireland were also
fruitless. Therefore the family is created based largely by circumstantial means.
The search for my Purdy ancestral family began in 1993 using a little booklet
my aunt, Ruth Purdy, had previously prepared in 1986 as a starting point. My
aunt's booklet, The Purdy Family Tree - 1986, identified the family of my
gggrandparents, William Purdy and his wife, (according to his gravestone)
Sarah Jane Oakes, but alluded to other family members as follows:
William Purdy (1799-1903), his brother and a cousin came from Durham or Dublin,
Ireland to Canada in the early 1800's. William settled near Bell's Corners,
Nepean Township in a stone house later occupied by a Dawson family. It is
believed his brother and cousin settled near Kingston and Ashton, Ontario.
The other brothers left Ireland around the same time and went to Australia.
They were whale hunters.
Unwritten family lore of earlier times also indicated some sort of connection
with Purdy Rd. in Goulbourn Township but had never been defined although it was
located in western Carleton County near Ashton and Dwyer Hill. Anyway, this is
where I started my research and which took the next three years before publishing
the book, Purdys of Carleton County in 1996. After the book was published
I came in contact with other Purdy researchers and it became a stepping stone to
a research effort that continues to this day. The book still serves as a historical
summary of the family of William Purdy and formally documents much of the material
found in this writing.
I was living in Tennessee at the time my initial search started and I knew it would
be a challenge trying to do research in Ontario but by chance I discovered a book
that assisted my research efforts. The book, "Genealogy in Ontario", by Brenda
Dougal Merriman was a great help in organizing my subsequent research efforts.
From her book I learned about the immense genealogical resources of The Church
of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and how to access them from local family history
centers. Among other things I learned that registration of vital statistics
(births, marriages and deaths) was not required for municipalities in Ontario
until 1868. A few larger cities had initiated collection of these data prior to
then but for the most part churches kept those records which I was to find were
limited in availability especially in rural areas. Although much data can be
obtained on the internet today at the time of my initial search the internet
had great potential but was limited in scope so much of my research consisted of
writing and mailing research queries to various archives, historical societies,
From Ms. Merriman's book I also learned that the first Canadian census occurred in
1842 but that much of it had been lost. However, I was fortunate the data for
Goulbourn and Nepean townships in Carleton were still available. Subsequent to 1842,
the next census was taken in 1851 and every 10 years thereafter. I decided to begin
my search at the local family history center of the Mormon church using census data
to see where this would take me.
COLLECTING AVAILABLE DATA
I did not find census data for the year 1842 in the genealogical archive of the
Mormon church but I did find data for census years 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891
primarily for the townships of Gloucester, Goulbourn and Nepean.. Eventually, I did
locate the 1842 census data for Goulbourn and Nepean in the National Archive at
Ottawa. It provided me with my first clue in my search for my ancestry before
William Purdy and Sarah Jane Oakes. I found them living in the Township of Nepean
as my aunt had indicated in her booklet.
The census of 1842 was configured differently from subsequent census years in that it only listed the name of the head of household and did not identify family members. It did ask a series of questions on the family and its living conditions as follows for the family of William Purdy:
(Questions shown where a response was provided)
No. Of natives of Ireland 4
No. Of natives of Canada-British 3
No. Of years in Canada 18
Females under age 5 2
Males age 5 to 14 1
Males age 21 to 30 1
Males age 60+ 1
Females age 14 to 45 1
Females age 45+ 1
Church of England members 7
Acres of land 100
Improved land-acres 12
Wheat acres 11
These data indicated:
1. There are four adults and three children. It is assumed the four adults were
all born in Ireland and the three children in Canada.
2. Two of the adults are elderly.. This is a great discovery. It is assumed that
they are most likely William's parents as the parents of Sarah Jane appear to be
living nearby with a George Oakes as head of household. Family history had never
identified a generation before William or even that they had ever come to Canada.
3. The older members of the family had arrived 18 years earlier or c1824 from Ireland.
This would indicate William probably had come to Canada with his parents.
4. William was thirty years of age or less in 1842 and the earliest he could have been
born was 1812. This was important because his grave stone indicates a birth year of
1799. Other data would later help confirm that his birth year was around 1811-1813
and he came from County Antrim, Ireland.
5. They were all members of the Church of England (Anglican Church).
I also found a head of household, Henry Purdy, living in Goulbourn township:
No. Of natives of Ireland 3
No. Of natives of Canada-British 3
No. Of years in Canada (non native) 8
No. Age under 5-male 1
No. Age 5 to 14-male 1
No. Age 5 to 14-female 2
No. Age 20 to 60-male 1
No. Age 14 to 45-female 1
No. Belonging to Church of Scotland 1
No. Belonging to Church of Rome 5
These data indicated the following but did not establish a relationship with William
Purdy of Nepean:
1. This family consisted of three persons arriving from Ireland c1834; two adults and
one child-female. Three more children were born after their arrival.
2. The family was split on religion. Most likely one adult held his/her premarital
affiliation but the children were raised Roman Catholic.
Anglican Church Archive
From the Ottawa archive of the Church of England (or Anglican Church as it is known
today) the following data; pertinent to establishing the Purdy ancestry, was obtained:
1. Married 15 April 1833 William Purdy, farmer, and Jane Oakes, spinster, of Nepean
at Christ Church, Ottawa.
2. Married 17 November, 1834, James Burrows and Mary Purdy, both of Nepean at Christ
Church, Ottawa. Witnesses: Robert Purdy and George Oakes.
3. Buried: 28 April, 1853 Charlotte, aged 77 years, widow of Henry Purdy, farmer of
Goulbourn, from records of the Parish of Franktown.
4. Born 8 February 1834 George, son of William Purdy and Jane Oakes his wife.
Sponsors: Nathaniel Connelly, Mary Ann Connelly and George Oakes.
5. Born 10 December 1840, Mary Jane, daughter of William and Jane Purdy of Nepean.
Sponsors: John Still and Catherine Oakes.
These data provided more information and brought forth several questions as follows
and indicated more research was necessary:
1. George Oakes is most likely Jane's father as the family of George Oakes was living
nearby in the 1842 census.
2. Who is Robert Purdy?
3. Who are Charlotte and Henry Purdy? There is a Goulbourn connection here.
4. George and Catherine Oakes appear as sponsors for children of William and Jane
helping confirm that they are kin of Jane (Oakes) Purdy. Data suggests that George
is father and Catherine a sister.
5. William's wife is identified as"Jane" not "Sarah Jane" as her gravestone provides.
The census of 1851 offered additional data on Purdys in Nepean and Goulbourn. This
census was in a different format and offered specific data on family members:
Name Occupation Birth Place Religion Age
William Purdy Farmer Ireland English 38
Jane Purdy " " 36
George Purdy Nepean " 17
Sarah Purdy " " 14
Mary Jane Purdy " " 12
William Purdy " " 9
Charlotte " " 4
Rebecca " " 1
William Purdy, age nine, is subsequently identified as William Henry Purdy.
Nearby in 1851:
George Oakes Farmer Ireland English 63
Mary Oakes " " 65
Also in Nepean 1851:
James Burrows Farmer Ireland English Ch. 62
Mary Burrows " Free Ch. 41
Henry Burrows Nepean " 16
Margaret A. Burrows " " 14
Charlet Burrows " " 12
Henrietta " " 10
Charlet Purdy " " 72
Henry Purdy Farmer Ireland Ch. Of Scot. 43
Mary Purdy " Ch. Of Rome 45
Charlotte Purdy Canada " 17
Henry Purdy " " 16
Charles Purdy " " 11
Elizabeth Purdy " " 8
Robert Purdy " " 5
Thomas Gorman Laborer Ireland " 23
Mary Gorman " " 20
Elizabeth Gorman Canada " 2
Based on ages, birthplace and religious affiliation this appears to be the same family
as noted in the 1842 census for Goulbourn. Mary Gorman is most likely the eldest
child of Henry and Mary born in Ireland.
Found nearby in Goulbourn:
Robert Purdy Farmer Ireland Ch.of Scot. 60
Elizabeth Purdy " " 65
Robert Purdy " " 20
James Purdy " " 18
Sarah Hutchinson Servant " Ch. of Engl. 16
Henry Purdy Farmer Canada Ch. Of Scot. 24
Elizabeth Purdy " " 23
Robert Purdy " " 1
County Land Records
I investigated the county land records and found that a Robert Purdy was the
first Purdy to purchase property on what is known today as Purdy Rd. in Goulbourn
township. He had bought the west half of lot 1., concession 2 (100 acres) from
John Keity in July 1824. Mr. Keity had received the property as a crown grant,
most likely for previous military service, in March 1824. In July 1831 Robert
Purdy purchased half of the east half of lot 1 (50acres).
I also discovered that George Oakes had procured lot 17, con. 2, Ottawa Front,
Nepean (200acres) in 1838. In 1844 he granted 99 acres to William Purdy and in 1844 he granted an additional 50 acres to William. In 1856 the remainder of the property was past to William. This helps establish William as a son-in-law.
The following data were found after the publication of the book, The Purdys of
1. A fellow Purdy researcher found the following in a book, "Men of Upper Canada
Militia Nominal Rolls, 1828-29". Enlisted men of Goulbourn:
Purdie, Robert, age 26
Purdie, William, age 19
These data helped establish William's connection to Goulbourn and confirm ages
of these individuals.
2. Another family researcher found the following in the City of Ottawa records
Robert Purdy 1803, 65 years, Goulbourn, County Antrim, Ireland, parents Henry &
Charlotte Purdy m. 17 June 1868 Minnie Gleason 1830, 38 yrs. Ottawa, b. Kilkenny,
Ire., parents Michael & Ellen Gleason.
The data in this record was for Robert's second marriage and helps confirm and
establish critical facts based on information provided by the individuals involved.
APPLYING THE DATA
In applying the data to create my ancestral family as it arrived from Ireland it
should be noted that in the time period between 1820 and 1850 these were only
Purdys found in Carleton county. Other Purdy lines were discovered nearby in
Lanark County and across the Ottawa River around Buckingham, QC. No association
has been found with either family. There was one individual, Samuel Purdy, who
was discovered that had some relationship with the family but it appears he was
unmarried but did own property in the county.
From the Ottawa city records Henry and Charlotte are the parents of Robert.
Robert and William are listed as serving in the militia from Goulbourn in 1828-1829.
Robert was also a witness with George Oakes at the wedding of Mary Purdy to James
Burrows in 1834. There was a Charlet (Charlotte) Purdy living with Mary and James
in the 1851 Nepean census. This would most likely be Mary's mother. In 1853 the
Anglican church records the death and burial of Charlotte Purdy whose husband
was Henry Purdy of Goulbourn. There is an elderly couple living with William
and Jane in the 1842 Nepean census who are not identified except we are fairly
sure they are not Jane's parents. So they would most likely be William's parents
and again most likely Henry and Charlotte.
Looking at the names of children for Robert, Mary and William we find the given
names of Henry and Charlotte appear as applicable to the children's gender. Using
the same observation for the children of Henry and Mary we see that the names
Henry and Charlotte are prominent there also. We can apply the same observation
to Henry, the son of Henry and Charlotte.
This, I believe, is strong circumstantial evidence that Robert, Henry, Mary and
William were related and most likely siblings with Henry and Charlotte as their
parents. Their ages also help support this theory:
Robert b. c1803 source: militia record and his second marriage record.
Henry b. c1808 source: census data
Mary b. c1810 source: census data
William b. c1811 source: census data and militia record.
Religion also ties them together. Robert and Henry are both members of the
Church of Scotland. The 1842 census reports that William and other members of
the household are members of the Church of England. One would expect that William
would probably have taken his wife's religion as indicated by census reports for
George and Mary Oakes therefore he would not appear as a member of the Church of
Scotland. Mary Purdy was married in the Anglican church but later, according to
the 1851 census, she and her children became associated with the "Free Church" a
variant of the Church of Scotland.
We learned from county land records that Robert Purdy was a land owner and most
likely living on Purdy Rd. in Goulbourn as early as 1824. The question arises as
to why didn't he appear in the 1842 census. West lot 1. of concession 2 borders
the Lanark/Carleton county line. It could be that the line was not marked and the
census taker assumed the home of Robert Purdy was in Lanark county.
The year 1824 is also the year that the adult members of William's household
(except Jane) indicate in the 1842 census that they had arrived in Canada. Henry
didn't arrive until ten years later c1834 with his wife and infant daughter. It
would appear that Henry, Charlotte, Mary and William arrived together. Since my
research in County Antrim from land records did not reveal the family had owned
property there, Robert may have come earlier and worked at lumbering until he had
sufficient funds to purchase the Purdy Rd. property. The rest of the family would
have joined him there.
William must have left the Goulbourn farm of his brother and found employment in
Nepean where he met and married Jane. Later, his father, mother and sister moved
from Goulbourn and joined him there. Shortly thereafter Mary married James Burrows
and after Henry died, Charlotte went to live with Mary.
We don't know why Henry, Charlotte and Mary left Goulbourn to live with William in
Nepean. One would expect that the eldest son, Robert, would have the responsibility
for them. Due to the religious disharmony of those times they would not have been
expected to live in a Roman Catholic household with Henry.
Other questions surround the ages of Robert and his first wife, Elizabeth. In the 1851
census he is reported to be aged 60 which would mean he was born c1791. However, from
the ages reported in his militia record and the record of his marriage to his second
wife he would have been born in c1803. His gravestone indicates he was born c1798.
Elizabeth's gravestone indicates she was born c1778. That would have made her 73 in
1851 and not 65. Therefore, she would have been 55 years of age when she had James. We
will probably never know the reason for the large disparities in their ages due to the
lack of recorded vital statistics.
My fellow Purdy researchers and myself have collected data on many of the descendants
of Henry and Charlotte and continue to collect more. Many of their descendants have
scattered to many regions of Canada, North America and the world and much work remains
for us and future researchers to trace them all.
In 2002 a reunion of the Purdy clan from Carleton County was held that reunited the
descendants of Robert, Henry and William for the first time in over 170 years.
I would like to thank my fellow researchers for their support and willingness to
unselfishly share their data and thus enable the large data base on the Purdys of
Carleton County. Especially, Marilyn Cottrell, Jan Gorman and Harry Purdy.
Copies of my book, The Purdys of Carleton County, may be found in the Ottawa public
library, the Gloucester public library and in the library of the Ottawa chapter of the OGS.
I may be reached at email@example.com.
... Bil Pierson
(See also Henry PURDY and Mary McAULEY ... Al)
E-mail Bill Pierson and Al Lewis
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