Sunday, February 19, 2012

My great-grandfather was from Otley, Yorkshire, England and wasn't known to have even visited Canada yet there are legal documents drawn up by Otley lawyers indicating he purchased two plots of land in Perth County, Ontario.

The question in full detail:

During the course of family research into my LAYBURN line, I was surprised to learn my great grandfather John LAYBURN (1821-86) had some kind of association with Mornington / Mill Bank in Perth County,Ontario.

John LAYBURN's origins are firmly established in the market town of Otley in Yorkshire, England. He has never been known to have actually visited Canada. How he ever became involved with Perth County is unknown but there are 2 legal documents held by descendants that strongly indicate he did have an interest.

Both documents were drawn up by lawyers in Otley, Yorkshire
(1) Bond for Deed dated 2 April 1858 – an obligation that John NICKLIN of the village Mornington is bound to John LAYBURN of the village of Mill Bank for 250 Canadian Pounds. This requires NICKLIN to transfer to LAYBURN "three quarters of an acre of land known as Lot Number one fronting upon John Street on the south and also fronting upon Ebenezer Street on the West & bounded upon the North by the concession line of seven & eight & bounded on the East by land owned by Joseph NICKLIN"

(2) Bond for Deed dated 16 September 1858 – an obligation that George SWAIN of Mornington is bound to John LAYBURN of Mornington for 500 Canadian Pounds. The document states SWAIN has sold one square acre of land to LAYBURN for 6 Pounds 15 shillings. The land is described as "the West half of lot number fourteen in the Eight Concession of the Township of Mornington in the County of Perth of the province of Canada according to a survey made by Moses McFadden Esq. Provincial Land Surveyor"

From what little I've been able to glean about Mornington and Mill Bank, is it accurate to conclude that these two documents indicate John LAYBURN bought the two pieces of land on some kind of deferred payment basis?

Is it correct that the projected development of the towns of Mornington and Mill Bank did not take place because they were bypassed by a major railway line?

Professional Genealogist Brenda Dougall Merriman offers these suggestions:

My first thought is to search the two property descriptions involved. It can't be done online, of course. The questioner would have to hire someone to do that at the Archives of Ontario (I recommend consulting the OCAPG list: There could be other documents. Since we don't know John Layburn's family/children, I question whether this is the ancestor, e.g. could he have had a son John who went to Canada? A cousin? Could Nicklin or Swain be related? The 1851 and 1861 censuses bracket this man's apparent residence in Millbank, but on a quick look at I don't find anyone of that name in Mornington Township. There is a John Leyburn age 41, born Ireland, not too far away in Logan Township. I assume your questioner has documented John Layburn in all English census returns.

We also don't know what the ancestor's occupation was. The Perth County Atlas might indicate what kind of business interests were going on in and around Millbank in mid-nineteenth century: Unfortunately I don't find anyone of this name in the 1857 Directory of Ontario (largely business, commercial, and prominent people). But John Nicklin was noted as a miller at Morningdale, also postmaster and general dealer, a leading citizen it seems. So I'd be trying to find any and all local histories, looking for Nicklin and Swain as well as Layburn. There may be a mid-1850s directory available for Perth County. I can't escape the feeling that there's more of a family (or business) connection somehow. It would be good to thoroughly investigate the man's life in England if not already done, e.g. did he leave a will?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My uncle was taken to Canada in 1914 as a Barnardo boy. He died in 1931 in a road accident. What records would have been kept about him during his life (he always worked on a farm) and where can I find them.

Beyond the usual records that would apply to any person who lived in England & Ontario (birth, marriage, death, newspaper, etc), there might be a passenger list showing when he emigrated to Canada as well as records kept by Barnardo's. Besides caring for the children in England, Barnardo's may have kept record of their time in Canada until they reached legal age.

  • Barnardo's Family History Service

  • Library & Archives Canada Home Children Database

    Thanks to Marj Kohli for her assistance.