The Sweeney Families of Valcartier


                 By Patricia Balkcom

                   Written May, 2012

                      Updated December 22, 2012


            My 2nd great-grandparents were Catherine Sweeney and John Holton who married in Valcartier at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church on the 26th of November 1850.  The purpose of this paper is to present my current information on the Sweeney family in an attempt to see if Catherine is related to the other Sweeney families in Valcartier.  I hope that others will read the paper and “poke holes in it” and contribute other material or ideas that will clarify this line.  I can be contacted at [email protected]


            The 1824 Census of Valcartier[1] lists three male Sweeneys as arriving in Valcartier in 1819 – Edward, James and John.


Edward Sweeney

The 1824 Census states:

"Edmund Sweeney", age 47, with 6 males, and 5 females in the house.  He arrived in Quebec in 1819.  He has 40 arpents (similar to acres)  under cultivation, with 12 in oats, 4 in peas, 35 in potatoes and 6 in timothy.  He owns 1 oxen, 2 cows, and 1 mare. He produced 12 minots of peas, 300 minots of potatoes, 150 bales of hay and clover, 40 pounds of butter and 150 pounds of sugar, the oats are still green in the field.  He is living next to John and James Sweeney.s- Lawrence Corrigan and John Imerie (sic) are on either side of the Sweeneys.           

The 1825 Census of Valcartier [2] states: 

"Edward Sweeney" has 12 in his family -

4 children aged 0 to 5 years

3 children aged 6 - 13

2 children aged 14 - 17

2 married males aged 40 - 59

1 (single) female over 45 - believe this should be married.

The 1831 Census of Valcartier [3] states: 

"Edward Sevenney", head of household, owns land, has 9 in his family:

2 children aged 6 - 13

2 single males aged 14 - 17

1 single male aged 18 - 20

1 married male aged 30 -59

2 single females aged 14 -44

1 married female aged 14 -44.

His property is in the Fief of St. Ignace in the 5th & 6th Range.  Also listed in these ranges are John Sweeney and Mary Sweeney (widow of James Sweeney).

Agricultural Census:

90 arpents are occupied with 50 under cultivation.  Farm production - 20 minots of wheat, 100 of oats and 500 of potatoes.  He owns 5 cows, 1 horse, and 4 pigs. And arrived before May 1, 1825.  Living next to Thomas Dacres and William McBain.


 From the above information, we can deduce the following:


Edward was born about 1777 and came with his family to Quebec in 1819 when he was around 42 years of age.   From his will,[4] we know that he came from Monasterevin, County Kildare, Ireland.  He was married and had a large family.  Also from his will and the baptismal record[5] for his daughter, Mary, we know his wife’s name was Rose Braugham.  His farm in the 5th and 6th Range was prosperous and he mainly grew grain and potatoes.  Although, it is difficult to pinpoint from the census information how many children he had, the following statement from a land petition made in 1823 helps:  “…Petitioner has a heavy family counting of ten children some of them approaching very near the age of maturity and therefore Petitioner thinks it his duty to apply for the lots prays for having only one lot at Present to divide among them all”.[6]  From land records, we know that he was granted Lot 19 [7] in the 5th Range in 1819 and Lot 23 [8] in the 2nd Range of Riviere aux Pins in 182


On April 20th, 1835, Edward wrote a will.  These are the main points –

He leaves to his wife, Rose Broughal [Brougham], the use of all his cattle, except one horse, and likewise all his house furniture until her death hoping that his sons, or any of them will take proper care of their mother but if she finds herself not well treated she will be at liberty to live with whomever she may please and in that case the chattels will be equally divided between his two sons, Bernard and John Sweeney and he binds them to give and pay to her yearly the sum of six pounds currency each one half as long as she lives.

 He leaves and bequeaths to his two sons Bernard and John Sweeney his Lot of land situated in the fifth concession of Valcartier, Seigniory St. Gabriel, to each of them one half, but his son Bernard will have the liberty to take his choice of either of the said halves, and likewise he shall have the new house which is nearly to be raised and the present old house for a barn under condition that he will help his brother John when required to build twelve feet in addition to the little house and raise the whole two feet higher.

 He reserves on his Lot one acre upon which the buildings are erected to belong to his two said sons in common (en communauté) so that they may have no difference about the site of these buildings.

 He leaves and bequeaths exclusively to his son Bernard the grey horse, harness, cart and camisole in full property.

 He leaves and bequeaths to his sons Bernard and John Sweeney his said Lot of land under the following conditions: That neither of them will have the liberty to sell his part to any stranger without the free consent of the other, but if he wishes to leave the place, he will offer and give it up to the remaining brother at a yearly rent or at a fair price according to the advice and judgment of any three decent men known by them.

He leaves and bequeaths to his daughter Mary the sum of seven pounds currency and to his daughter Rose the sum of ten pounds currency and to his daughter Ellen the sum of seven pounds currency to be paid at the time of their marriage in three equal installments in equal proportion by the two brothers, or if they do not marry and wish not to live together in the family they will be paid by installments as aforesaid.

 If any of his afore named children do behave badly according to the judgment of the officiating Priest of this Parish and of the present witnesses Ferdinand Murphy and Michael Mooney, his will is that they or any of them be deprived of all and every thing left to them by this his will, and their part shall be divided among his dutiful children.

The said testator Edward Sweeney has further declared that his will is that he leaves nothing to any of his other children Patrick and James except one shilling British to be paid by his son Bernard when deceased.


Edward died on the 12th of July 1835, about 2 months after writing this will.  He was buried the next day in Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier Catholic Cemetery.  Burial records state that he was 56 years old and the husband of Rose Braghlen (sic).  This would put his birth date at about 1779, two years earlier than stated in the census.  Since he died soon after writing his will, it is probable that he had been ill, and did not die suddenly or accidentally.


A notary record filed three months after Edward died shows that his sons, John and Bernard sold Lot 19.  (From the records of Notary Louis Panet, #6712)

Deed of Sale- 15 September 1835

Bernard and John Sweeney, both farmers of Valcartier, sell to Pierre Bedard, farmer living in the Parish Saint Ambroise, Lot 19 in the Seigniory of St. Gabriel and all animals, buildings and moveable effects on the property, inherited from their father Edward’s will, for £150 currency (£75 currency for the land; £75 currency for the moveable effects, etc.). The sellers acknowledge receipt of £125 pounds currency from the purchaser with an obligation by the purchaser to pay the sellers the remaining £25 in the next 3 years without interest.

Addendum - 29 August 1839

Lawrence Mooney of Valcartier, acting as agent for Bernard and John Sweeney, now residents of the County of Wayne in the State of Michigan, United States of America, accepts £25 currency for Bernard and John Sweeney from Pierre Bedard.


    This land sale record lead me to search the Census records for Wayne County, Michigan. In the 1840 and 1850 Censuses, I was able to find Bernard, his wife, and children living in Hamtramack, Michigan.  His mother Rose, was living with them in the 1850 Census.  It appears that Bernard, John and mother, Rose, moved to Michigan shortly after Edward's death.  Although there is an older male, who could possibly be his brother, John,  living with Bernard in the 1840 Census, I have been unable to find John in any of the Michigan Census records.  Rose does not appear in the 1860 Census, so it appears that she probably died in Michigan in either Hamtramack or possibly, Clinton, where Bernard had relocated to by 1860.  Bernard's sister, Catherine, and her husband, Michael Mooney, moved to East Sandwich, Ontario, which is only about 20 miles south of Hamtramack. I have not found any of the other children of Edward and Rose at this time.


Research Questions:  What happened to the remainder of Edward and Rose's children?  Edward does not mention Lot#23 in River aux Pins which I thought he had received in a Land Grant in 1823.  Had he sold it before he died or did he never receive that grant?


The next sections will attempt to delineate who Edward’s children were.


James Sweeney

As stated above in Edward’s will, Edward had a son named James.  I initially thought that this was probably the James Sweeney that was listed in the 1824 Census – listed beside Edward and John Sweeney.  That census gives the following information:

"James Sweeney", age 28, with 4 males and 3 females in family.  Arrived in 1819.  Has 14 arpents under cultivation, with 8 seeded in oats, 2.5 in peas and 28 in potatoes.  He has 2 cows and 1 mare.  He produced 32 minots of oats, 8 of peas, 320 of potatoes, and 100 pounds of butter.  He is living next to Edward Sweeney and John Sweeney.


In 1819, Edward is granted Lot #19 and James is granted Lot #18, both in the 5th Range.[9] 

So to summarize, James was born about 1796 and probably in Ireland.  Since he came to Valcartier in 1819 at the same time as Edward, it is likely that he also came from County Kildare.  This James is most likely married with children.

 I now believe, for the following reasons, that this James was not Edward’s son, but possibly another relative.  Therefore, there were two James Sweeneys – one the son of Edward and one the husband of Mary Hanlon.  These are the reasons I believe the James Sweeney mentioned in the 1824 Census was not the son of Edward.

  1. Edward and his wife, Rose Brougham, have a child in 1820, so it seems unlikely, but not impossible, that there would be 24 years between these two children.  We do not know if Edward had a wife previous to Rose.

  2.  As I noted, land is granted to a James Sweeney in 1819, and then in 1823 a second grant is given to James Sweeney for Lot #5 in the 2nd Range of Riviere aux Pins.  I have not been able to confirm it, but it appears that the land that was given to James in 1819 is sold by him to David Sinclair in 1822 (this is reportedly recorded by the Notary Lelievre – I have not seen this document).  This alone does not prove that there are two Sweeneys by the name of James, because the same person could have owned two different properties, however, it would have been unusual for two pieces of land to have been given to a man at that young age.  If the first plot was sold though, could he have been given a second one?

  3. In 1832, Mary Hanlon, is granted Lot #26 in the 2nd Range of Riviere aux Pins.[10]  In the document, she is referred to as the “widow of the late James Sweeney, who in his lifetime was a farmer and resident in Valcartier”.  I find this confusing – which James was she married to?  Why would she be receiving a lot of land – wouldn’t she likely be living on the land that belonged to her husband.  I have not been able to find the burial record for her husband, James.  However, I believe that he died in the latter half of 1830 as James Sweeney and Mary Hanlon are listed as the parents of a son, named Edward , in May of 1830 and in the 1831 Census, Mary is listed as a widow.[11]

  4. In Edward Sweeney’s will, written the 20th of April 1835, it is stated that “The said testator Edward Sweeney has further declared that he leaves nothing to any of his other children Patrick and James except one shilling British to be paid by his son Bernard when deceased.” [12]  Therefore, the husband of Mary Hanlon who died before 1832 could not have been Edward’s son who is mentioned in the will in 1835.

  5. A “James Sweeney” is named as the godfather in the baptism of Phillip Mooney, child of Michael Mooney and Catherine Sweeney (daughter of Edward Sweeney), on the 17th of December 1832 [13].  Again, this would be after the death of James Sweeney, husband of Mary Hanlon.

  6.  There is a James Sweeney listed in the 1824 Valcartier Census.  He is listed as "James Sweeney", age 28, with 4 males and 3 females in family.  Arrived in 1819.  Has 14 arpents under cultivation, with 8 seeded in oats, 2.5 in peas and 28 in potatoes.  He has 2 oxen and 1 mare.  He produced 32 minots of oats, 8 of peas, 320 of potatoes, and 100 pounds of butter.  He is living next to Edward Sweeney and John Sweeney.  Ages of family members are not given, but it appears that there might be 3 male children and 2 female children in the family.  In the 1831 Census, Mary Hanlon only has 3 children that possibly could have been included in the 1824 Census of this James Sweeney.  I have not found any deaths of Sweeneys in the Church Records between 1824 and 1831, but it is possible that some children could have died.

  7. There is no James Sweeney listed in the 1825 or 1831 Census.


Research Questions:  Are there any notary records that might contain land sales or other information that will sort out the two James Sweeneys.  How was the James Sweeney, who died c1830, related to Edward Sweeney?  It’s interesting, that he and Mary Hanlon named a child Edward – seems indicative that they are related.   Why aren’t there any burial records for James – was it an oversight on the part of the priest, and why does Mary Hanlon and her children and other Sweeneys disappear from records after 1832?


New Information:  A court record (Quebec City, Decemeber 1, 1824) names Edward and his two BROTHERS, Daniel and John in a case brought against them by William Bethel.  So possibly James (who married Mary Hanlon) is also a brother of Edward.


John Sweeney

From new information, (Court record from Quebec City, December 1, 1824) we know that there were two John Sweeneys.  One was the son of Edward and one was his brother,. It is difficult to tell whose information is in the 1824 Census. 

John – is listed in the 1824 Census. "John Sweeney", age 24, with 2 males and 1 female in family.  Arrived in 1819.  Has 21 arpents under cultivation, with 20 seeded in oats, 4 in barley, 2 in peas and 30 in potatoes, and 8 in timothy.  He has 1 cow.  He produced 13 minots of barley, 6 of peas, 350 of potatoes, 1000 bales of hay and clover, and 60 pounds of butter.  He is living next to Edward Sweeney and James Sweeney.


So to summarize, John was born about 1800 and probably in Ireland.  Since he came to Valcartier in 1819 at the same time as Edward, it is likely that he also came from County Kildare.  It’s possible that he was married as there is a female and another male in the family listed, however, since ages aren’t given, it is difficult to tell. 


So far, the only other references in land or church records that I have been able to find on John Sweeney are these two – a reference in Edward’s will to a son, named John and a reference to a John Sweeney as the godfather in the baptismal record for John Mooney on

1st November 1834.[14]  John Mooney was the son of Catherine Sweeney (daughter of Edward Sweeney) and Michael Mooney.


Research Questions:  Is this the son of Edward, or is this another John?  I have not found a land document for the land that he is on in the 1824 Census.  Again, why is he not in the 1825 or 1831 Censuses or church records for a marriage or death?  What happened to him and where did he go?


New Information:  A court record (Quebec City, Decemeber 1, 1824) names Edward and his two BROTHERS, Daniel and John in a case brought against them by William Bethel.  So it is also possible that James (who married Mary Hanlon) is also a brother of Edward.


Before proceeding further, this is a summary table of land information gathered from Census and Land Records.


Censuses:  (Sweeneys listed)





Note:  Although the Sweeneys all received land in Pine River in 1823, it appears from looking at who the neighbors are, that the 1824 and 1825 Censuses were counting them on the land in the 5th Concession and not on the 2nd Range in Pine River.


Known Children of Edward Sweeney:


As stated above, a land petition in 1823, stated that Edward had 10 children and from the way it was worded “some about to achieve maturity”, it sounds as if they were all under the age of 21 in 1823.  His will identifies 7 children, but his son-in-law, Michael Mooney is also mentioned (husband of Catherine), so this accounts for 8 children.  Had two children died, moved away, or were they married and on their own and so not mentioned in the will?  It has been quite difficult finding out about any of the children, as I said earlier, the Sweeneys seem to drop out of the records after 1835.  I will present here the children mentioned in the will and what little I know of them.


  1. Catherine

Although not mentioned in the will, her husband is a witness to the will.  In her marriage record [15], it is stated that she was “of age” indicating at least 21 years old.  Therefore, we can assume that she was born in 1811 or earlier and that she was likely to have been born in County Kildare.  In 1830, she was godmother to Edward Sweeney, son of James Sweeney and Mary Hanlon.  Catherine was married on the 20th of February, 1832 in Loretteville to Michael Mooney, son of the late Richard Mooney and his wife, Ellen.  The Mooney family was also from County Kildare.  Catherine and Michael had two known children baptized in Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier (1832 and 1834) before moving to Ontario about 1837.  I have found in Census records seven additional children born in the Sandwich, Essex County, Ontario area.  Catherine died between 1861 and 1871, probably in her 50s.  Michael, her husband, lived until the age of 85 years.  He died in 1891 and is buried in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, in Maidstone, Essex County.  There is a stone outside of St. Mary's Church that lists the founding families of the church - both Sweeney and Mooney are listed on it.


  1. Patrick

Little is known about Patrick.  He petitioned for land in 1822[16] and 1823[17] and was granted Lot #6 in the 2nd Range of Pine River[18].  In 1825, he is signed a petition with other Valcartier settlers requesting permission to build an oatmeal mill.[19]  He is mentioned in the will of Edward, but is not to inherit anything.  He is not found in any Valcartier Censuses.


    3.  Rose

            Nothing is known of Rose, other than she is mentioned in Edward’s will as being unmarried at the time.  She was obviously name after her mother.

  1. Ellen

Nothing is known about Ellen, other than she is mentioned in Edward’s will as being unmarried at the time.

  1. Mary

Mary is the only one that a baptismal record has been found for.  She would have been born the spring after they arrived in Canada as she was born on the 14th of Mary 1820 and was baptizes in Loretteville on the 20th.  She would have been almost 15 when Edward died. 

  1. Bernard

Bernard is the major inheritor of land, along with his brother John, in Edward’s will.  This may indicate that he is the eldest son.  He is godfather to John Corrigan in 1832 and John O’Neill in 1833 and was a witness at the marriage of his sister, Catherine, also in 1832.  Bernard married Isabella Johnson about 1836.  I have not found the marriage record so I do not know if they married in Canada or in Michigan where Bernard had relocated to.   He and Isabella had 11 known children and he named his first child, Edward, who was born in Michigan about 1837.  The family lived in Hamtramack, a town outside of Detroit, and then later in the 1850s moved to Clinton, Michigan in Macomb County.  Bernard farmed in the area.  Isabella died in 1892 in Detroit, at the age of 79.  I have not been able to find the death registration for Bernard.  In the 1860s, it appears that Bernard and his children all changed their name to McSweeney - an important point when searching records after 1860.


  1. James

It appears that for some reason James was not an heir in his father's will.  Nothing further is known of James at this time.

  1. John

According to the notary record, stating the sale of Edward's land in 1835, John relocated to Michigan, but I have not been able to find him in records there.


Who are these other Sweeneys?


Daniel Sweeney

            New information:  From a court record of Dec. 1, 1824, we now know that Daniel was the brother of Edward and John.  The earliest record that I have found for Daniel is a land petition on the 30th of July 1823.  He is asking for land in the newly surveyed area of Riviere aux Pines in the 2nd Range.[20]  Two weeks later, it appears that he is granted Lot #4 in this area, next to James, John and Patrick Sweeney discussed above.[21]  Confusingly, there is another land petition from a Daniel Sweeney (31 March 1824), that states he needs land because he doesn’t have any.  "To the honorable John Stewart...The Petition of Daniel Sweeney of Valcartier, Labourer, Humbly ...That your honored Petitioner is desirous of obtaining a lot of land in the Valcartier Settlement.  That your honorable petitioner has been in the Valcartier Settlement desiring the five last years and as at yet without any land for to settle on.  That Petitioner will thankfully receive any lot that is to be granted provided the land in worthy of being improved and that he ... We the undersigned do hereby certify that we know the petitioner and that we can say him to be an honest industrious man and fit and proper person to settle on Land, signed Owen O'Sullivan, Ferdinand Murphy and John McCartney." [22]

            Once again, we must wonder if there are two Daniel Sweeneys or that he specifically wanted land in Valcartier proper - not Riviere aux Pins.  In the 1831 Census, he is living on land in the 3rd Range of Valcartier, not in Riviere aux Pins, and not next to any Sweeneys.  I have not found the grant for this land in the 3rd Range. 

From a baptismal record on the 3rd June 1827 in Loretteville,[23] we find that a daughter (Helen) is born to Daniel Sweeney and Bridget Dowler of Valcartier.  Godmother is Catherine Sweeney.  The same couple has a son in 1833 (William).[24]  I have not found a marriage record for them.  The 1831 Census indicates that there was probably a 3rd child.  "Daniel Sevenney" (sic), HH of family of 4, farmer, owns land in the 3rd Range.

1 child under 5; and 1 child, aged 6 – 13; 1 married male aged 30 - 59 and 1 married female, aged 14 -44.  Living in the 3rd range next to Francis Bernard and James Vincent.  All four are Catholic.  He is occupying 8 arpents and all are under cultivation.  Produced 15 minots of oats, and 50 of potatoes.  Has 1 cow.  Arrived before May 1, 1825.

From the Census, we now know that he was born before 1801.  Also, we know from the land petition in 1824, that he had been there 5 years, so he would have arrived in 1819 when the other Sweeneys arrived.


Ellen Sweeney (Wife of James Coughlan)

Ellen was born in Queen’s County, Ireland between 1799 and 1802. [25]  Her marriage record (11 July 1826) states that her parents are Michael Sweeney and Bridget Delany [26] of Emo, Queen’s County, Ireland (note – this is only about 8 miles from Montasevin, Kildare County where Edward Sweeney was from).  Ellen married James Coughlan, son of Laughlan Coughlan and Mary Carle of Valcartier and one of the witnesses was John Cassin, “friend of the bride”.  The Cassins and Coughlans both lived in Valcartier, so it can be assumed that Ellen was living there in 1826.  Her husband though, according to the marriage record, was a labourer in L’Ancienne Lorette.  It appears that Ellen and James moved to the Ste-Catherine-de-Portneuf area after their marriage, where they raised seven known children.  Ellen died at the reported age of 73 years on the 6th of June 1872 and was buried in Ste-Catherine Catholic Cemetery. [27]

Currently, I have found no records linking Ellen with Edward Sweeney.  However, since they came from towns in Ireland that were only eight miles apart, it is possible that they are related.  Also, it seems more than coincidental that a single woman would be living in a town of 300 people in 1825 without any relatives.


Catherine Sweeney (wife of John Holton)

            Catherine Sweeney, my great-great-grandmother, was born in Ireland between 1826 and 1829. [28] [29]  Her tombstone in the Catholic Cemetery in Valcartier, Quebec states that she was born in County Donegal.  Her marriage record at St. Gabriel Catholic Church, Valcartier, Quebec on the 26th of November 1850 stated she was the daughter of the late Michael Sweeney and the late Suzanna Porter. [30]  I have not found any record of her parents in Quebec though, so it is possible they remained in Ireland.  Catherine and John Holton lived in Valcartier and raised four sons and 5 daughters.  Catherine died on the 6th of April 1886 .

            The only clue I have found that Catherine and Edward Sweeney might be linked is the fact that Catherine’s oldest son was named Bernard and she named a daughter Rose.  Edward also had a son, possibly his eldest, named Bernard and his wife’s name was Rose.  Irish naming tradition was that the eldest son was named for his paternal grandfather.  However, given that Catherine was born in the late 1820s and that Edward died in 1835, it is likely that she arrived in Valcartier after his death.  Also, she would have been about 50 years younger than Edward so the relationship, if there is any, would have been removed one or two generations. 

            I have recently found records of two brothers of Catherine.  Both were living in Wentworth County, Ontario.  This is quite significant information as my grandmother’s family (Catherine Cassin) migrated from Valcartier to this Wentworth County in 1912 and we have never known why they chose this area to relocate to. 



Research Questions:  When and where did Catherine and her brothers arrive in Canada?  Did the parents remain in Ireland?


?John Sweeney (husband of Liza Hayes)

John Sweeney is found in the Ontario Marriage Registration records.  It states he was married by banns by Rev. J. S. O'Leary in Freelton on the 23rd of November, 1883 and that both parties were Catholic.  John Sweeney is aged 53 years, living in West Flamboro, a bachelor, born in Donegal, Ireland, a labourer, parents are Michael Sweeney and Susan Porter.  Bride Liza Kelly (nee Hayes), widow, is aged 54 years, living in West Flamboro, born Limerick, Ireland, parents Mary Brennan and John Hayes.  Witnesses were Arthur Doyle and Mrs. Frank Sweeney, both of West Flamboro. [31]  I believe the only church in this town would have been Mt. Carmel Catholic Church.  The listing of John’s parents establishes that he is the brother of Catherine Sweeney.  According to the age at marriage, he would have been born about 1830 and would have been a couple of years younger than her.  The next record for John is the 1891 Census for West Flamboro.[32] "John Sweney (sic), House #113, male, age 60, married, born Ireland, parents born Ireland, Catholic, and farmer, can read and write.  Of note, is that there are Porter families from Ireland in this census, one of which is 1 house away from John - Porter was the maiden name of his mother.  Living with him is his wife:  Elizabeth, age 60, born Ireland, Catholic, parents born Ireland, cannot read or write.”  John and Elizabeth were too old to have had any children.  John is listed in the Farmers' Directory for West Flamboro, Wentworth County, Ontario, 1891, as a farmer living on Concession 7, Lot 5 with the nearest Post Office as Hayesville. Death registration [33] states that John died on the 12th of January 1898.  "John Sweeney, age 66, of Lot 5, Concession 7 in West Flamboro, gentleman, born Ireland, Catholic, died of Bright's Disease (kidney disease) of 1 year's duration.  Attended by James McQueen, M.D."


Research Questions:  Where was John before 1883?  I have not been able to find him in the 1851, 1861, 1871 or 1881 censuses.  Did he arrive in Canada at the same time as his siblings or did he come later?


Francis Sweeney (husband of Margaret)

            Finding Francis Sweeney has opened many doors.  I don’t have any records stating that his parents are Michael Sweeney and Suzanna Porter, but a marriage record of his daughter Hannah states that her parents are Frank and Margaret Sweeney so this confirms the relationship and therefore, makes Francis Sweeney a brother to Catherine and John.  Census information [34]  [35] [36] [37]gives wide variations for his age and so we can only predict his birth year as somewhere between 1808 and 1817.  This would indicate that Francis was 10 – 15 years older than his siblings and possibly responsible for bringing them to Canada.  It might also indicate that there are other siblings since the age spread is quite wide.

            I have not been able to find a marriage record for Francis, but birth registration records for his children, state that his wife’s name was Margaret.  It appears that their first child, Michael, was born between 1848 and 1849.  This information is provided in the 1861 Census.  However, confusingly, Michael is not present in the 1851 Census.  A female child, named Margaret, is the only child listed with Michael and Margaret and it states that she was born during the year 1851.  Both children are ilisted n the 1861 Census.  Michael is listed as having been born in Ontario.  If this is true, than Francis would have been in Ontario by 1849, and his sister, Catherine, would have been about 20 and living in Valcartier, as a single woman at this same time.  Sibling, John, would have been about 18 and I have not located him during this same time period.  People generally migrated to Valcartier in the 1820s for the promise of land, whereas those that came to Canada in the 1840s were coming to escape the great potato famine in Ireland.

            Census information indicates that in the early 1850s, Francis and his family were living in Ancaster, Ontario.  By 1861, they had relocated a short distance away in West Flamboro (sometimes spelled Flamborough).  Perhaps by this time, they had saved enough money to buy a farm.  Francis and his wife had a very tragic life.  It appears that they had nine children and that eight of the children all died from tuberculosis between the years 1878 and 1882. When the children died, they were between the ages of 17 and 27.  I have not found a death registration for the oldest son, Michael, but it is possible that he succumbed also. I have not found the death registration for Francis yet, but he was living when his eighth child, Patrick, died in 1882.  I have not found him in the 1891 census, however, he is listed as a farmer on Concession 6, Lot 7 in the West Flamboro Farmers' Directory in 1891.


Research Questions:  Find Francis’ marriage record, land records, and death and burial information.  Were there any obituaries for Francis or his children?  Are they buried in Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery in Freelton?  It is important to try to find information on where he came from in Ireland.  Were there other siblings of Francis, Catherine, and John?


Hannah Sweeney (daughter of Francis Sweeney and wife of Francis Squibb)

            Hannah is first found in the 1861 Census with Francis, her father, she is listed as Ms. H. Sweney, age 11 on her next birthday, and attending school.  However, since she is not yet born in the 1851 Census, I believe this age should be about nine.  In the 1871 Census of Hamilton, Ontario [38], she and her sister, Margaret are living in the St. Lawrence Ward of the city and both are working as tailoresses.  It appears that they are living in a boarding house and Frank D. Squibb, a plumber, born in England is also living in the house.  He would become Hannah’s husband about 8 months later on the 1st of January 1872 in Hamilton.  Frank is listed as 26 years old and Hannah as 22, Margaret was a witness.  The marriage is performed by E.J.Keenan by banns; however, the name of the church is not given. 

Frank had arrived from London in Quebec City, the only one listed in his family, on the ship, Medway, a steamship carrying about 315 passengers.  They had left England on the 29th of July and arrived in Quebec on the 14th of August.  The majority of passengers aboard the Medway for this voyage were assisted emigrants, with their passage paid by "British & Colonial Emigration Fund" (303 passengers) and "Poor Law Guardians" (10 passengers). The average cost of transportation being $2.41 per capita, or $3.21 per adult.  Frank Squibb was listed as a plumber, aged 24, who had embarked from London.  Christening records show that he was the son of William and Maria and that he was baptized in the small market town of Blandford Forum in the county of Dorset, in southern England.

Frank and Hannah had 5 known children - Georgina (born 10 Dec. 1872), Alfred (born 1 Jan 1875), a stillborn son born 30 Oct. 1876, Annie, (born 31 Oct., 1877), and Maggie, (born 9 Oct. 1879).  Annie and Maggie both died in infancy.  Hannah appears in the April 1881 Census with Frank.  However, on May 9, 1883, in a marriage record for Frank, it states he is a widower.  I suspect that although I haven’t found the death registration for Hannah that she died from tuberculosis, like her siblings. 

When Hannah died, Frank would have been left with two children, Georgina, aged 10, and Alfred, aged 7.  He remarried in 1883 in Valcartier, Quebec. [39]  The marriage record states:  On the 9th day of May 1883, whereas a dispensation has been granted by the Very Reverend Cyrille Etienne Legare, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Quebec, of the law of the Church which forbids a marriage between Francis Squib, Esquire, a protestant, of the City of Hamilton, Province of Ontario, widower of the late Anne Sweeney, on the one part; and Margaret Holton, a Catholic, daughter of age of John Holton, farmer, and of Catherine Sweeney, of this parish on the other part; whereas also a dispensation of affinity, in the second degree, (Note: Dispensations of affinity were treated in the same manner as dispensations of consanguinity. Effectively, once you were married, your wife's blood relatives would be considered to have the same relationship to you as if they were actually blood relatives to you as well. So, if a widowed man decided to marry his late wife's first cousin, the couple would receive a dispensation to the second degree. The only difference is that it would be a dispensation of affinity rather than a dispensation of consanguinity, unless, of course, a true blood relationship also existed, and that would be noted as well). has been granted by the Reverend Vicar General, aforesaid, in virtue of an indult from the Holy See, dated March the eighteenth, one thousand eight hundred and eighty three; whereas also a dispensation of all the banns of marriage have been granted; no other impediment having been discovered, we the under­signed priest pastor of this parish, have received their mutual consent to marriage in the presence of Thomas Holton, brother to the bride, Catherine Holton, sister to the bride, and several other friends of whom some have signed. Maggie Holton, Thomas Holton, Frank Squibb, Ann Bann.  J. O'Farrell, priest."  This is a very important record because it establishes that Hannah Sweeney and Margaret Holton were first cousins.  Hannah was the daughter of Francis Sweeney, and Margaret was the daughter of his sister, Catherine Sweeney.  This is how we know that Francis and Catherine Sweeney were siblings of the same parents, Michael Holton and Suzanna Porter.

            It is possible that this was an arranged marriage to help Frank take care of his children.  Frank was 39 and living in Hamilton, and Margaret was only 22 and living in Valcartier.  Following the marriage, the couple resided in Hamilton.  They had two sons – Francis Henry (1884 – 1942) and William John (1888), and one daughter, Muriel (1885).  Sadly, Frank Squibb died ten years after the marriage on the 11th of December 1893. He was 49 years old; cause of death was jaundice and cirrhosis of the liver of 3 weeks duration.  Margaret was 32.  She would have been left with her three children, all under the age of nine. It’s possible that Georgina, who was 21, and Alfred, who was 18 were still living with her. 

            Margaret continued to live in Hamilton for several years and then relocated to Montreal where she died in March 1943 at the age of 82.  She is buried in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Catholic Cemetery in Montreal.


Rose Ann Holton (wife of Patrick Cassin) 


My great-grandparents Rose Ann Holton and Patrick Cassin lived in Valcartier, Quebec until about 1912.  At that time, they relocated to Hamilton, Ontario where I was eventually born.  Our family has never been able to figure out how Rose Ann and Patrick chose Hamilton as the city to move to.  I think this research now shows the reason.  Rose Ann was the sister of Margaret Holton Squibb.  Margaret had been widowed and probably looked forward to having Rose Ann join her in Hamilton.  Rose Ann and Patrick had three sons and two daughters and possibly thought the city would provide more opportunities than were available in the small community of Valcartier.  We can probably conjecture, with some confidence, that our journey to Hamilton can be traced to Francis Sweeney who arrived there in the 1840s.




[1] Posted online at


[2]  Ibid.


[3]  Ibid.


[4]  Quebec Archives:  From Register of Holographic Wills, Testaments and Codicils, No. 170.  Also posted online at  


[5]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Quebec County, Loretteville (St-Ambroise-de-la-Jeune-Lorette), 20 May 1820.


[6]  Quebec Archives online at  Source is in the Pistard Archives Database under the Fonds Ministère des Terres et Forêts (Land Records).  Cote (reference) #            E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D1845.


[7]  Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D0691,0079; also E21,S66,SS3,SSS6,D1470.


[8]  Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D0691,0079; also E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D336.


[9]  Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D0691,0079; also E21,S66,SS3,SSS6,D1470.


[10]  Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D817.


[11]  Transcription of the 1831 Census posted online at


[12]  Quebec Archives:  From Register of Holographic Wills, Testaments and Codicils, No. 170.  Also posted online at


[13]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Portneuf County, Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier Catholic Church, 1832.


[14]  Ibid, 1834.


[15]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Quebec County, Loretteville (St-Ambroise-de-la-Jeune-Lorette), 20 February 1832.


[16]  Quebec Archives online at  Source is in the Pistard Archives Database under the Fonds Ministère des Terres et Forêts (Land Records).  Cote (reference) #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D1133.


[17] Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D1176.


[18] Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D337.


[19] Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D1405.


[20] Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D1176.


[21] Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS2,D337.


[22]  Ibid.   #E21,S64,SS5,SSS6,D1188


[23]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Quebec County, Loretteville (St-Ambroise-de-la-Jeune-Lorette), 3 June 1827.


[24]  Ibid.  18 July 1833.


[25]  1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia; Quebec, Portneuf County, Ste. Catherine, p. 21.


[26]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Quebec City, Notre Dame Catholic Church.


[27]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Portneuf County, Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier Catholic Church, 1872.


[28]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Valcartier, St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 1888.


[29]  1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia; Quebec, Quebec County, St. Gabriel-de-Valcartier.


[30]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Valcartier, St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 1850.


[31]  Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1801-1930, Wentworth County, 1883


[32]  1891 Census of Canada. Ontario, Wentworth County, District No. 128, Flamborough West, p. 24.


[33]  Database of Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947.


[34]  1851 Census of Canada.  Canada West (Ontario), Wentworth County, Enum. District #2, Ancaster, p.53 (Ancestry Image 172).


[35]  1861 Census of Canada.  Canada West (Ontario), Wentworth County, Enum. District #3, West Flamboro, p.12


[36]  1871 Census of Canada.  Ontario, District 23, Wentworth North, Division 1, West Flamborough.


[37]  1881 Census of Canada.  Ontario, District 48, Wentworth North, Division 2, West Flamborough.


[38]  1871 Census of Canada.  Ontario, Wentworth County, District 4, Hamilton, Sub-District D, St. Lawrence Ward, p. 6 (Ancestry Image #61).


[39]  Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967, Quebec, Valcartier, St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 1883