The Great Educators in New France 1608-1760

Education in Quebec dates back to the mid-17th century with primary schools run by religious orders in major cities of New France, including Quebec City, Montréal and Trois-Rivières. Secondary education also began during the 17th century with the establishment of the Séminaire de Québec (Seminary of Quebec) in 1635. After 1680 the Séminaire offered more advanced courses, notably in law, mathematics and surveying

The ‘’teachers’’ in the following  database below are those that are featured in the following archives or web pages :

  • BAnQ – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • (University of Toronto / Université Laval)
  • Fichier Origine
  • Mes Aieux
  • Archives de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame
  • Archives du Monastère des Augustines
  • Archives des Ursulines du Québec
  • Archives des Jésuites du Québec
  • Archives des Récollets du Québec
  • Archives des Sulpiciens du Québec
  • Archiv-Histo – Parchemin
  • Archives Ville de Montréal
  • Presses de l’Université Laval
  • Presses de l’Université de Montréal
  • Érudit
  • Septentrion
  • Éditions du Boréal

The authors, historians, professors  selected in the following database have published books, essays, dissertations, treatises, papers, studies, discourses, biographies addressing ‘’teachers in New France’

Click the above link to access the database in a new window

Today’s classroom

Entertaining Edwardian Montrealers

Dominion Park postcard circa 1912 (era of the big hat). Is that my husband’s grandmother looking at the camera?

Everyone has heard of Coney Island, the legendary thrill park in New York, but have you ever heard of Dominion Park, Montreal’s Coney Island?

Not likely. The Montreal Amusement Park ran from 1906 to 1938 and is all but forgotten.

Map of Dominion Park in Montreal’s East End

However, colourized photos like the one at top are widely available on the Internet thanks to Valentine and Sons.

Judging from the newspaper record, the ‘official’ opening of Dominion Park was in 1908, but I have hard evidence of a 1906 opening. In 1906, Herbert Nicholson, 21, my husband’s great uncle, working in Montreal, wrote a letter to his younger sister, Flora, 17, a student in Richmond, Quebec.

June 3, 1906

Dear Flora,

I suppose you have to be careful how you speak now that you are living with a model school teacher. I have not much news to give. I was down at Dominion Park last night. This is the new one that you may have heard so much about, or at least read so much about. Well, there is everything that you have ever heard of in your life.  They take you way up on a slide and then slide you down in a boat into a little lake made just for the purpose. And then they have a railroad that goes down and up hill and around curves and through all kinds of places so fast that you loose your breath.  Then there are other places where the stairs move and the wind blows and the floor jumps and I couldn’t tell you what all things do happen. There is a place where you lose yourself and then places where the looking glasses show you every way but the way they should. There are lots of other things, too, that I saw and many more I did not see.

I will tell you more about it when I see you,

 Love, Herb.

Herb appears to have been thrilled with his visit.

The newspaper record notes the attractions featured at Dominion Park. Some of them, like the roller-coaster, water slide and Fun House or “House of Nonsense” are familiar to Boomers.

There was also the Bump the Bumps, (bumper cars?) the trained wild animal show, the ‘Frisco Earthquake (just one year after the real thing happened) as well as a merry-go-round.

Some exhibits were frankly bizarre: the booth where young men could break crockery for a price (and get back at their mothers and wives, I imagine) as well as the Infant Incubator Exhibit where preemies were cared for by competent nurses in full view of the festive crowd.(Shades of the Dionne Quintuplets fiasco to come.)

There were travelling side shows, of course, many of which were colourfully ‘ethnic’ that would be considered in poor taste -even racist – today.

There were also vaudeville acts and circus acrobats as well as fancy sit-down concerts, stealing the mojo of another, more refined, Montreal entertainment venue, Sohmer Park.

Dominion Park, like Coney Island, was a place where all entertainment options came together.

Judging from those Valentine and Sons postcards, Dominion Park was a place young men brought their ladies, whether courting or married, all of these men wearing their epoque signature straw boater hats (the kind we see in Renoir paintings) the women, in the 1910 era, in their puffy white dresses.

Herbert, a ladies man, discretely does not mention with whom he went. I doubt his sisters, young unmarried Edith, Marion and Flo, could go without an escort of some kind.

But in 1912, Marion Nicholson had someone to escort her to Dominion Park: her new beau Hugh Blair.

Her sister Edith writes her mother who is visiting Marion in Mile End: “Don’t let the villains, Marion and “Romeo” (Hugh) take you to Dominion Park.”

It’s true that Edith enjoyed ‘high-brow’ activities more than her younger sister Marion, but she liked to have fun as much as anyone, so I assume she is joking.

When I first saw the picture at top, I thought the woman looking into the camera might be Marion. She is wearing exactly the same white dress Marion wears in many pictures.

Here’s a blow up of Marion taking tea on the lawn of her home in Richmond, Quebec 1912.

Marion Nicholson Blair, my husband’s grandmother taking tea in around 1912.
Marion certainly had a similar hat to the one in the Valentine and Son postcard pic at top. 1912 was the year of the big big hat. But trendsetters like Colette in Paris were already wearing the cloche – as a bold countermove to this increasingly ludicrous hat fashion.

I have positive proof that Marion Nicholson visited Dominion Park around 1920 with Hugh Blair, now her husband, and both her sisters, Edith and Flora, as well as her brother Herb who was making a rare visit home from out West. It comes in the form of a novelty postcard.

Novelty postcard, circa 1920 Dominion Park. Hugh Blair and unknown man hovering over Edith, Marion and Flo Nicholson and unknown woman, probably cousin May Watters. Man at right is brother Herb Nicholson making perhaps his only visit back home to Montreal after leaving for out west in 1914.

From news reports I can glean that Dominion Park struggled through the Depression and closed without fanfare after the season in 1938.

­Here’s likely the reason why: 1938 was the first year of BELMONT PARK located in Cartierville. Belmont Park was a rickety place when I went there as a kid in the early 1960’s and was, in its turn, usurped by La Ronde at Expo 67, a bigger, brighter and more expensive amusement park.

When it comes to entertainment, new is best.

1.In 1906, entertainment in the big cities ranged from vaudeville and circuses to high-end theatre with 100’s of small venues, especially along Ste Catherine East, showing “flickers” on the wall during the day, and featuring live acts at night. In Montreal, there was only one large venue devoted entirely to motion pictures, the 500 seat Ouimetoscope. By 1910 there were scores of small entertainment venues lining Ste Catherine, most places offering a mixed bag of live shows and flickers and sometimes ice cream. A May 26, 1906 Gazette newspaper reveals entertainment options: A Kipling play with a well known actor at his Majesty’s Theatre; the Georgia Minstrels at the Academy of Music; The Holy City, a religious drama at Le Francais; The London Gaeity Girls at the Royal; ‘improved’ music and lotsa vaudeville at Sohmer Park: Miller’s elephants and other midway attractions at Riverside Park (a small amusement park also on Notre Dame Steet that would close in 1906.) Also Dominion Park opening June 2 with the Duss Band. Something for everyone – especially for the young people from rural areas flocking to the city to find work.Most of these wonderful entertainment options (excluding theatre plays) were considered out-of-bounds for respectable middle class women, especially if unattended.

Herbert’s sister, Marion, was also living in the city, having just graduated from McGill Normal (teaching) School and taken a job at Royal Arthur Elementary School in Little Burgundy. The year previous, she had boarded at the YWCA on Dorchester, a cold, leaky place with “too many rules.” Her words.

The city elite, including the Refords, the Birks’, and Julia Parker Drummonds, were planning a woman’s hotel where ‘respectable’ women from out of town would stay – and where bible readings would be their main nighttime recreation.

Still, Marion went to many a theatre play with her sisters and to Vaudeville shows with her beaus. After 1914, movies became more respectable for the middle class because that is where you could get your war news.

One movie house, the Royal, advertised itself as a safe venue for women.

2. There were two fires at Dominion, 1913 and a fatal one in 1919. Journalist Edgar Andrew Collard, known for his Montreal history column in the Gazette newspaper, was saved from the conflagration by his father, according to a very personal story he wrote in 1977.

When the fire broke out, They were riding the Mystic Rill, a ‘water-maze’ boat ride through a tunnel lined with flammable material designed to look like rock. His father saw a high window and managed to push his son through it.

Only magnificent strength could have accomplished what he did: he not only had to keep a grip on the window but he had with his legs and feet to keep the boat from being carried away by the current.”.

Even way back in 1977, the Park was all but forgotten: “Only a few older people remember Dominion Park,” wrote Collard in this same article. Coney Island 1918 Americans at Play

The Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec City

The Celtic cross that stands in Artillery Park on McMahon Street in Quebec City is the property of Irish Heritage Quebec. The cross is a gift from Ireland to the people of Quebec in memory of their generosity and compassion during the period of the Great Migration of the 19th century.

The Cross was donated by the Irish philanthropist James Callery, founder of the Strokestown Park and Famine Museum in County Roscommon, Ireland. A recognized sign of Irish identity, the Celtic cross stands near what was the site of the first Irish parish in Canada. The monument is part of a larger plan to recognize and develop Irish heritage in Old Quebec.

The following database contains a wealth of information that may be found in the numerous Contents of Catholic Church documents 1877-1918


Notre Dame de Quebec: In the date list of 1894

January – December –Index of Baptisms and Marriages

Click the link above to access the database in a new window.

Miss Lindsay – The Early Years

Miss Marguerite Lindsay embraced her short life fully for 26 years before she volunteered with the Grenfell Mission and died tragically in Labrador.

Marguerite was the youngest of the Lindsay’s six children. Her father was a stockbroker who later took an active interest in philanthropy – especially the Montreal arts. Her mother actively took part in Church of St. John the Evangelist in Montreal while raising her family. They were one of the prominent English Montreal families at the time and considered to be upper middle class.

At one point the family maintained two homes – their life long home in Montreal at 455 Sherbrooke Street West* and also one in London, at 8 Radnor Place in Hyde Park, acquired at the beginning of the war in 1914.

Marguerite Lindsay – London- 1909

She grew up privileged and loved.

The 14-year span between her and her eldest sibling meant she had the advantage of being doted on by the whole family. Her three brothers were gentlemen and “gentle men” who loved their baby sister dearly. Her eldest sister Ada married and moved to Vancouver and her other sister Marjorie remained single having missed out on her one true love when her parents denied her move to South Africa. Perhaps this enabled Marguerite to pursue her life and interests more freely as Marjorie remained at home with their parents.

The Montreal newspapers, at the time, covered social events that interested the general public. Luckily young Marguerite and her family actively took part in many of these events and her name popped up several times in my research.

Here is an example of the activities during her teenage years:

  • 1910 – Volunteered at the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) benefit.
  • 1911 – Enjoyed a New Year’s visit to Kingston with brother and mother to visit the Bishop and his family.
Marguerite Lindsay – 1912 – Sweet Sixteen

1915 – Assisted with flower pergola for military tattoo

1916 – Assisted in the sale of candy and small painted programs with Alison Aird at Her Majesty’s Theatre

1916 – Assisted at fundraiser tea for Grenfell (!)

1916 – Volunteered with the Christ Church Guild in charge of fancy (needle) work.

1917 – Assisted with the Red Cross tea and art gallery with special exhibit on war trophies.

1918 – Bridesmaid at friend’s wedding.

1918 – Holiday time at Laurel House NJ with her brother and mother.

1918 – Went to Kingston to visit Bishop Mills and family again.

Marguerite and brother Sydenham (my grandfather) – 455 Sherbrooke Street West – 1917

When Marguerite returned home after her nursing career during The Great War, not surprisingly, there were more women than men. The women’s rights movement had already made progress for women’s suffrage, education and entry into the workplace so there were many opportunities for young women other than marriage.

Now an experienced and mature single lady in her early twenties, she enjoyed the whirlwind of society and, once again, the local newspapers covered it all!

In October 1919, she attended the Prince of Wales Ball and Dinner as one of the 1100 guests. A few months later, her mother hosted a ball for her and her older sister, Marjorie (age 30), at the Ritz Carlton Hotel … probably for them to meet young men and increase their marriage prospects! Later that same year, she enjoyed an afternoon reception held by Commander Ponteves and his officers onboard a French frigate sent to Montreal for the St. Jean Baptiste festivities and yet another dance at the Ritz Carlton … this time for Mrs. Godfrey’s daughters (probably also looking for husbands).

The last year before her death (August 1922) was a busy one. Early in 1921, Marguerite travelled to Lake Manitou in Ontario with her brother Stanley for a weekend of skiing and skating with her friends, the Airds. She then joined the Aird family for “some weeks” in Italy during April and May.

Back she sailed to Montreal in June in time for her oldest brother Lionel’s wedding – and then onto Vancouver for an extended visit with her sister Ada and her family. Whew!

Vancouver society happily welcomed the Montrealer and this was some of her itinerary during her four month visit!

July 7 – Attended a tea to honour the Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian Opera Singer, along with her sister Ada and her aunt Mrs. Herbert Drummond.

Aug 5 – Attended a tea hosted by Mrs. McCrae of Hycroft Manor in honour of the visiting naval officers on the U.S. Battleship Tennessee.

Oct 14 – Assisted at a tea given at the Jericho Club in honour of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Oct 17 – Attended a luncheon with the Kumtuks Group who gave an interesting presentation entitled “A glimpse at the timber resources of British Columbia”.

Oct 22 – Attended a dinner party and informal dance at the Jericho Club again.

Oct 28 – Attended the annual Halloween fancy dress and masquerade at Glencoe Lodge.

Oct 30 – “Miss Marguerite Lindsay, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Robert Lindsay of Montreal, who has been visiting her sister, Mrs. Ada Griffith, for several weeks will return to her home this week. Miss Lindsay has a distinguished war record, having been a V.A.D. during the war in Lady Juliet Duff’s Hospital in Grosvenor Square, London, and serving later in the Canadian Officer’s Convalescent Home at Sidmouth, Devon.”

Marguerite Lindsay – October 29 1921 – Vancouver

And at the end of her four month visit, the following glowing tribute was published in a Vancouver newspaper:

“It is always sad when people go, and no one will be more missed than Miss Marguerite Lindsay, who also leaves today. She has been spending the summer with her sister, Mrs. Julius Griffith. She is just full of life, and keen on everything, dancing, tennis, bridge and golf, so has been in great request everywhere.” (Vancouver Daily World, Society Page, 29 October 1921)

Here are all the links to Miss Lindsay’s story:

Miss Lindsay’s Last Letter

how i came to write miss lindsay’s tale

Miss Lindsay – Part 1

Miss Lindsay – Part 2

Miss Lindsay – Part 3

* previously 6 Prince of Wales Terrace and then finally changed to 1009 Sherbrooke Street West

Hospitals in New France 1639-1760

Hotel-Dieu de Montreal

The following database: New France Hospitals / Nouvelle-France Hôpitaux details the lives of 207 surgeons, doctors, nurses, and apothecaries.

The sources in order of importance;

  • BAnQ Numérique
  • BAnQ Advitam
  • BAnQ Advitam-Numérique
  • Archives de la Nouvelle-France – Library Archives Canada / Bibliothèque Archives du Canada
  • ANOM- Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France)
  • Fichier Origine
  • BnF Gallica – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris)
  • Gisèle Monarque, historian and genealogist
  • Maud E. Abbott, historian
  • Raymond Douville, historian
  • Marcel J. Rhéault, historian
  • Maria Mondoux, historian
  • Renald Lessard, historian and archivist
  • Including references to books as noted within the database.

Among the three major hospitals in New France (Nouvelle-France); Hôpital Hôtel Dieu de Québec, Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu de Trois-Rivières, the one with the worst surviving original documents is  the Hôtel Dieu de Montréal as it was destroyed by fire on three occasions : 1695, 1721, 1734.

Click the above link to access the database.

Researching Great-Grandfather Benjamin

Have you seen those ads for Ancestry reminding you that you may be like your ancestors? Logical, isn’t it? My 2X great-grandfather, Benjamin Knight and I have something in common. We did not move very far. Benjamin never strayed further than 20 miles from where he was born, just like me.

Benjamin Knight was born in Lapley, Staffordshire, England in 1835. In 1851, 251 people lived in Lapley. The village included 47 houses.1 In the same year, Benjamin,16, still lived in Lapley, working as a servant at the vicarage, the home of John Rate and his wife. This made me wonder how a vicar could afford a servant. Research tells me that vicars in the 1800s in England were relatively well off. They became vicars by being appointed by a patron and the vicar’s housing was provided by the patron. They also had a “living,” an income for life. This income, although usually not remunerative, was assured and steady. The term describing the right to appoint a clergyman to a living was called an advowson and considered a form of property to be bought, sold, and inherited. In addition to his living and free lodging, the vicar could also increase his income through tithes, teaching or cultivating gardens or the glebe (acreage provided by the parish). Parishioner also paid the vicar for ceremonies such as baptisms, marriages, and burials.2

John Rate’s patron was a member of the Swinfen family that owned Lapley Hall, the manor in the village.3 It is also no surprise that the vicar and his wife would have needed servants as the vicar would have been very active in the community.

Lapley Hall, National Heritage List for England, Listing no. 1178246

The vicarage was attached to the Church of England’s All Saints Church, which has an interesting history. Benedictines established and founded Lapley Priory on the site of the current church at the very end of the Anglo-Saxon period, as a satellite house of their Abbey of Saint-Remi or Saint-Rémy at Reims, France. King Henry V put an end to the priory in 1415.4 It is believed that the current church building in Lapley probably dates from the late 11th or 12th century.5

Church of All Saints, Lapley, National Heritage List for England, Listing no. 1374057

The 1851 census not only shows Benjamin as working as a servant at the vicarage; his future wife also worked there, as a house servant.6 Surprisingly, they only married nine years later, in 1860 and at that time, Jane was 40 and Benjamin was 25.7 Vicar John Rate officiated at the ceremony. Sadly, they were married a little over a year when Jane died on October 31, 1861. Jane’s death certificate states that the cause of death was unknown.8 Surprising, on the registration of her burial in the Parish of Lapley, the vicar writes that the cause of death was an accumulation of fat around the heart. This is the first time I have ever seen a cause of death in a church’s registration of burial but it seems that Vicar John Rate took the time to enter in all causes of death in the parish register. For example, the parishioner who was buried a few days before Jane died of English cholera. Oddly, no one else seemed to die of cholera in the village at that time.

Benjamin recovered quickly from the death of his wife and went on to marry Jane Everall on June 10, 1862 in Wolverhampton, where Jane lived.9 A little twist to the story: Jane Everall was a witness to Benjamin and Jane Watson’s wedding two years earlier.10 Benjamin and Jane Watson had no children but Benjamin and Jane Everall had eleven, one of which was my great-grandmother, Alice Mary Knight, born in 1876.11 Both of Benjamin’s wives were named Jane and they became Jane Knight in the records, adding a layer of complexity to the research.

Great Grandfather Benjamin worked in service all his life. He worked as a servant, a groom, and a gardener. After their marriage, Benjamin and Jane, his second wife, moved to Wolverhampton, about eleven miles away from Lapley.12 Later on they moved to West Bromwich, another 10 miles away, but the birth place of Jane. I assume that family living in this village was a factor in their decision to move.

Jane Everall also predeceased Benjamin in 1902.13 Benjamin died in 1908 in the Union Workhouse of West Bromwich.14 People ended up in a workhouse because they were too poor and too ill to take care of themselves and no one from the family would take care of them. Benjamin died of senile decay so he was certainly too ill and probably too weak to live alone. Still, it is surprising that he died in a workhouse as he had eleven children. Benjamin’s youngest son, Benjamin, was present at his death.15

  1. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Lapley in South Staffordshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time,, accessed 19 July 2022.
  2. Grace, Maria, Random Bits of Fascination,, accessed 19 July 2022.
  3. Genuki, John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales – 1870-2, Lapley in 1872,, accessed 20 July 2022.
  4. Wikipedia, Priory of Lapley,, accessed 20 July 2022.
  5. Wikipedia, Lapley, England,, accessed 20 July 2022.
  6. Findmypast, Census, Lands & Substitutes, 1851 Census of England and Wales, Benjamin Knight, accessed 3 July 2022.
  7. Findmypast, Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers), Registration of marriage of Benjamin Knight and Jane Watson, 28 June 1860, accessed 07 July 2022.
  8. Registration of the death of Jane Watson, Superintendent Registrar’s District of Penkridge, Registrar’s District of Brewood, County of Stafford, ordered from the General Register Office of the U.K. and received 18 July 2022.
  9. Family Search, England, Staffordshire, Church Records, 1538-1944″, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 July 2020), Entry for Jane Everall and Benjamin Knight, 1862, accessed 21 July 2022.
  10. Findmypast, Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers), Registration of marriage of Benjamin Knight and Jane Watson, 28 June 1860, accessed 07 July 2022.
  11. Certificate of birth registration, Alice Mary Knight, Registration District of West Bromwich, Sub-district of West Bromwich North-East, County of Stafford, 04 May 2021.
  12. Registration of birth of Harry Knight (first born in 1863), Superintendent Registrar’s District of Wolverhampton, Registrar’s District of Wolverhampton West, County of Stafford, ordered from the General Register Office of the U.K. and received 07 July 2021.
  13. Assumed from other family trees, Ancestry.
  14. Registration of death Benjamin Knight, Registrar’s District of West Bromich, Registrar’s Sub-district of West Bromwich North East, County of Stafford, ordered from the General Register Office of the U.K. and received 15 May 2021.
  15. Ibid.

The Quebec Act

Governor James Murray & Governor Guy Carleton & Monsignor Jean-Olivier Briand at Quebec City and the Quebec Act

The following database contains information about the province of Quebec  from the time of the 1759 British Conquest at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City until Confederation.

Consisting of :

Information about the key players and the implementaion of the Quebec Act of 1774.

A link to a copy of the Quebec Act.

Authors who wrote biographical sketches about those whomade a difference., those who wanted to have an inclusive society in 1759 in British Quebec and those who did not.

Authors who wrote historical accounts,  immigration of those seeking a better future and the consequences of the Quebec Act of 1774.

Genealogy Resource links.

History links

Canadian Repositories

Click the link below to access the database,

Joseph Mitcheson, Yeoman Farmer

We reached Whickham Parish Church in County Durham, England at the end of a long day of exploration. I knew that two of my ancestors had been baptized in the little Norman-style church, but I didn’t know whether any family members were buried in its surrounding large cemetery. The weather was cool and rainy and the church was locked, so, after giving the cemetery a quick glance, we turned to leave. At that point, our guide drew our attention to an old gravestone to the left of the church door. 

“What you say the family name was?” he asked.

“Mitcheson,” I replied.

The Philipson/Mitcheson headstone, Whickham Parish Church. JH photo

Only part of the inscription was legible, but enough remained to identify the couple buried there. This was the grave of my ancestors Joseph Mitcheson (1746-1821) and his wife Margaret Philipson (1756-1804). I like to imagine that, knowing we had come all the way from Canada, Joseph and Margaret were trying to get our attention. They didn’t want us to leave without finding them.

This couple is of special significance to my family tree.  Two of their children, Mary Mitcheson Clark and Robert Mitcheson, moved to North America, and both are my direct ancestors. In 1844, Mary’s grandson, Stanley Clark Bagg, of Montreal, married his first cousin once removed, Catharine Mitcheson, daughter of Robert Mitcheson, of Philadelphia.1 This makes Joseph and Margaret simultaneously my four-times and five-times great-grandparents.

I know almost nothing about Margaret, and only a few bare facts about Joseph. He was born and baptized in Lanchester Parish, County Durham, in 1746, the youngest son of gentleman farmer Robert Mitcheson and his wife, Mary..2

When Robert died in 1784, he left most of his estate to Joseph.3 Joseph became what is known as a yeoman farmer, meaning he owned a small amount of property. Socially, a yeoman was notch above a tenant farmer, but below a gentleman.

Joseph Mitcheson, of Lanchester Parish, married Margaret Philipson, of Whickham Parish, by licence at Whickham Parish Church in 1774.4 They eventually had six children – four girls and two boys.

Before his father’s death, Joseph’s family seems to have moved frequently. According to family notes, Mary (1776-1856) was born at Stowe House in the hamlet of Cornsay, Lanchester Parish. Again according to family stories, Robert (1779-1859) was born at Eland Hall, Ponteland, near Newcastle. I can’t confirm either of these accounts, but both children were baptized in Whickham. All of the couple’s other children – Margaret (1781-1864), William (1783-1857), Elizabeth (1786-?) and Jane (1793-1825) — were baptized at Lanchester Parish Church, so the family must have been living in the Lanchester area by 1781.

Fortunately, County Durham has kept its records of land tax returns. These lists showed who owned each property, who lived on it and whether the occupant was the owner or a tenant. In 1789, Joseph was living in Lanchester Parish on a property owned by John Stephenson, Esq., who may have been the husband of his aunt Jane Mitcheson. Meanwhile, Joseph was getting income from three properties that he rented out: a farm in Iveston that he had inherited from his father, and another farm in Witton Gilbert,5 both located in Lanchester Parish.

In addition, his wife had inherited property in the town of Swalwell from her parents. Married women’s property belonged to their husbands, so legally it belonged to Joseph and he collected rent from the house, or houses, on this land. Swalwell, a township in Whickham Parish on the River Derwent, was an important iron manufacturing center in the 18th century.

The tax records show that, by 1798, Joseph and his family had moved to the Iveston, where It appears he farmed the land: in the will, written in 1803, he bequeathed his “implements of husbandry”, as well as the household goods and furniture, to his wife.6

Margaret died in 1804 and perhaps Joseph decided to give up farming after her death and move into town. The Durham tax records of 1810 show the farm properties at Iveston and Witton Gilbert were occupied by renters and Joseph was living on his Swalwell property, although it now belonged to his son Robert, an iron manufacturer.

Harold and Geoff take a close look at the family gravestone. JH photo

When Joseph died in 1821, he left cash to his daughters and the farm in Witton Gilbert to his middle son, William. William lived in London, so he rented the farm to a tenant farmer. Joseph left the bulk of his estate to his older son, Robert, although by this time, Robert had settled in Philadelphia. The 1824 land tax records show that Robert rented out both the properties in Swalwell and in Iveston.

Two final remarks:  I suspect that Joseph Mitcheson and Margaret Philipson’s grave was in a prominent location in Whickham Parish Cemetery because of her family’s prominence. The grave is near the front door of the church where everyone coming and going could see it.  (See the link below to the story of the Philipson family, “Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?”)

My other thought is that, while Joseph was a farmer like his father, his children were the first generation to break new trails. In Montreal, Mary and her husband, John Clark, invested in real estate. In Philadelphia, Robert was involved in several different business ventures as a merchant, a manufacturer and a landlord. Meanwhile, son William was an anchor manufacturer. Did Joseph and Margaret encourage their children to be adventurous and to leave County Durham, or were the next generation just fortunate to live at a time when new opportunities beckoned? That is a question I can’t answer.

See also:

Janice Hamilton “Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 4, 2022,

Janice Hamilton “Robert Mitcheson’s Last Will and Testament” Writing Up the Ancestors, March 1, 2022,

Janice Hamilton “Mary Mitcheson Clark” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2014,

Janice Hamilton “The Mitcheson Family of Limehouse” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 21, 2015,

Janice Hamilton “The Mitcheson Sisters” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 18, 2022,

Janice Hamilton “Master Mariners in the Family” Writing Up the Ancestors, June 13, 2022,

This article is also posted on Writing Up the Ancestors.


My husband and I made that trip in 2009. Our guide that day in Durham was retired professional genealogist Geoff Nicholson. Later, Geoff e-mailed me the whole memorial inscription, copied by the Northumberland and Durham My Family History Society in 1995. It said, “In memory of Margaret, wife of Joseph Mitcheson of Swalwell who died June 23 1804 aged 49? years. The above Joseph Mitcheson died June 1821 aged 77 years”


1. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1078, database, (, accessed Dec. 22, 2019,) entry for Stanley Clark Bagg, 9 Sept. 1844; citing Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

2. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, (, database on-line, entry for Joseph Mitchinson, Lanchester, accessed May 2, 2022), citing England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

3. Robert Mitcheson’s will is stored at Durham University Archives and can be viewed online. Search for it at and view it on “England, Durham, Diocese of Durham Original Wills, 1650-1857,” images, FamilySearch ( : 7 July 2014), DPRI/1/1784/M5 > image 3 of 3; Special Collections, Palace Green Library, Durham University, Durham. (accessed Feb. 28, 2022).

4 England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973 (, database on-line, entry for Joseph Mitcheson, accessed May 2, 2022), citing England, Marriages, 1538–1973. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

5. Durham County Records Office. Quarter Sessions – Land Tax Returns, Chester Ward West 1759-1830,, search for Mitcheson, viewed April 19, 2022.

6. Will of Joseph Mitcheson, yeoman, Iveston, Durham, The National Archives, Wills 1384-1858 (, search for Joseph Mitcheson, accessed Nov. 18, 2010), The National Archives, Kew – Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 9 February, 1822.

Garrison Anglican Church Montreal 1760- 1764

Rev. John Ogilvie’s Baptismal and Marriage Records


The following database consists of extensive records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths by the Reverend John Ogilvie and Ministers at the Garrison Anglican Chuch in Montreal, Quebec City, Trois Rivieres, and Sorel.

A list of Protestant Cemeteries is included, followed by numerous authors who have written about the lives of Ministers and Governors of the time.

Click the above link to access the file in a new window.

Finding Ancestors in Manor Land (Seigneurial) Records

If you have ancestors who lived along the St. Lawrence River between 1627 and 1970, it’s worth asking who owned the place where they lived. Often, you’ll discover that a colonial structure that began in France determined their rents, obligations and many other living experiences.

France’s Seignorial Regime

The colonialization of Quebec took place primarily under the French land ownership system known as “the seigneurial regime.” It began in North America in 1627 and continued in one way or another until 1970.

When European explorers and religious leaders arrived what we now call Quebec, they aimed to conquer territory permanently on behalf of patrons. Colonialists created manors for farming and religious settlements. Large tracts became private property where exclusive groups could hunt, log or trap. Other lots became militarized defence zones. Disagreements were rampant from day one.

Following the borders of colonization to figure out where to look for records during this period can be a challenge. In many ways, modern day genealogists face the same multiplicity of sources and analyses that cadastral surveyors faced after the British Conquest.

British Era

In 1673, British surveyors had to codify the rights and obligations inherent in the way the seigneurial regime was enacted in New France with a requirement under treaty terms to protect inhabitants who wished to remain in conquered territories. By examining French, British and cadastral records and interviewing the people then living on the territory, surveyors found multiple competing claims for the same tracts of land. They found it difficult to determine property boundaries that took into consideration the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in a pure rent for land property distribution system. How much land per tenant is a landlord’s obligation to supply an operating mill worth? How do you evaluate the necessity to raise sheep on a certain part of a property in terms of acres of land? How do you define the borders of traditional Indigenous hunting lands while keeping intact promises to more recent European colonialists?

Unlike those surveyors, we no longer have access to the families who rented land from manor Lords or hunted on traditional lands. Instead, we have to scour the maps notes on they left behind, along with the notarial acts, land grants, pledge records, oaths of allegiance and censuses surveyors examined more than 250 years ago.

Historical Context

If they exist and we can find them. Today, original records might be held by First Nations, the British, French or Canadian governments, Catholic institutions, military organizations, provincial archives, ministries or libraries, educational institutions or private companies.

If we find legible documents, we have to interpret them, remembering that as European monarchs began dividing the territory between themselves, the area now known as Quebec went under different names. Some of these names are used for different territories today.

When Jacques Cartier landed in 1535, he named the major river now known as the St. Lawrence “the Canada River” despite naming France’s new colony the same. Canada’s first settlement was Quebec, followed by Montreal and Trois-Rivières, which remain in roughly the same locations as the modern-day cities. By 1608, much of North America became known as New France, which consisted of the colonies of Acadia, Canada, Hudson’s Bay, Louisiana and Newfoundland. As France ceded territory to Britain, New France shrunk to its most populated region along the Saint Lawrence Valley.

When France ceded their North American territory to the British in 1673, surveyors got to work trying to figure out how to divide up the land. They came up with so many ambiguities and complexities, that the British Government retained the seigneurial system even after they introduced a township system in 1774.

The American War of Independence began a year later and lasted for seven years. In 1783, an influx of English-speaking British Loyalists began purchasing property in the colony. Tensions with the new settlers and original inhabitants led successive governments to divide the territory into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791.

The war of 1812 followed. Multiple land grants occurred, but all were on properties beyond previously-existing manors.

How the Hudson’s Bay Company Lost its Seignorial Land Rights

Tensions for land resources didn’t get tense in Upper Canada until 1828, when Napoleanic wars led to a shortage of wood in Britain. By that time, William Price, a British Citizen who served in the militia during the War of 1812 owned a local timber company in Malbaie. Meanwhile, the Hudson’s Bay Company rented vast forests in Saguenay that it wasn’t logging. The governor held a commission to look at the territory in 1828, which led to a petition from 250 Malbaie residents to open up the land for logging a year later. By 1835, the territory still wasn’t logged, so 1,800 people signed another petition to open up the territory to private logging. The Hudson’s Bay Company attempted to set up logging operations in 1836 but couldn’t get the project underway. By 1837, 21 people, including Alexis Tremblay dit Picoté and Thomas Simard, set up the Société des Pinières du Saguenay logging company, which became known as the Société des Twenty-one. Over the next five years, the men not only logged the territory, but also built houses on the land they cleared. In 1842, the government cancelled their lease with the Hudson’s Bay Company and sold the land to the farmers. A year later, William Price purchased their logging company.

How Seigneuries Disappeared

Twelve years later, in 1854, the government officially ended the ability of seigneurs to create new rental contracts, but didn’t cancel contracts already in place.

Some seigneurs got paid for contracts for more than a century after the regime ended. A 1928 inquiry showed that 60,000 tenants continued payments to more than 190 different seigneurs. The government decided to set up a commission to loan cities, towns and county councils enough money to pay out their contracts. The cities then set up an extra tax to collect the payments from tenants over a 41-year period.

The last municipality paid the last manor payment in 1970.

If you want to research ancestors who lived on seigneurial lands, you’ll need to keep a few French terms in mind when searching through the various resources. Here’s a list of both for your information.


Acquet: Goods inherited or otherwise obtained prior to marriage

Aveu et dénombrement : Inventory, to be conducted by Manor holders when the property changed hands

Cens: Rent

Communauté de biens: commonly-held goods

Compagnie des Cent-associes: Company of 100 Associates, the Company of New France, named after 100 merchants, financiers and politicians who paid 3,000 livres each to underwrite a company in operation from 1627 until 1663.

Concessions en Fi’ef et Seigneurie, Foi et Hommages et Dénombrements: Registers of fealty and homage pledges a Lord made to the King when he received the land.

Corvées: one to four days of compulsory work per year during the sowing, haying or harvesting season

claration de fiançailles: oral promise to marry

Douaire: dower or widow rights to be paid by a future husband to his future bride in the case of his death; this amount could not be taken by creditors in the case of bankruptcy

droit de réunion: right to repossess

Fief: estate

Engagés – indentured servants. Usually found in notarial records signed by labourers, carpenters, masons and domestic servants in France for work in New France (Nouvelle France), Acadia (Acadie), and Louisiana (Louisiane). Contracts usually lasted three years and included cost of passage, wages, lodging and food. There are 4,000 people who came to Canada under these terms between 1630 and 1789. Note that after 1714, ship captains were required to transfer 3, 4 or 6 servants to New France, depending on the size of the vessel. Ship captains then sold these servants to whomever would pay for them once they got to New France. Between 1714 and 1721, ship Captains had to pay 200 lires per missing engagé; after 1721 the fee dropped to 60 lires.

Fiançialles: marriage bonds, oral promise of marriage, engagement

Lods: a tax due when a land was sold or transferred to another tenant (also called lods)

Propres: Items legally owned by a man and women when they married that would not be jointly owned after marriage

Rhumb de vent: the measurement of a territory perpendicularly and diagonally from a river.

Sépulture: burial

Seigneuries: manor lots

Syndicat national du rachat des rentes seigneuriales, or SNRRS: National Commission for the Repurchase of Seigneurial Rentes

Tonnelier: a cooper, which is a carpenter who makes wooden barrels. Most manors had at least one cooper, who would make barrels for flour, grain, vinegar, wine and spirits.

Ventes: transfer fee (also called lods)

Primary Sources in Canada

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ)

  • Advitam. “Seigneuries”
  • Advitam. “Autres seigneuries.”
  • Advitam. “Seigneuries.”
  • Marriage Contracts of Quebec: Contrats de mariage des districts judiciaires de Québec, de Beauce, de Charlevoix, de Montmagny et de Thetford Mines, 1636-1953
  • Superior court records: Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Québec. Insinuations, registres des insinuations de la Prévôté de Québec, vol. 1 (Anciennement registres 1, 2 et 3) (1er mars 1667 – 25 septembre 1696), folios 109-109v.
  • Superior court records: Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; Title: Saint Martin, Antoine Adhemar dit (1668-1699) Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; Title: Saint Martin, Antoine Adhemar dit (1668-1699)com. Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935
  • Parish Records:Fonds Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Foy, 1662-1976, Cote : P48, Id 298582
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Sainte-Famille, Ile d’Orléans – registres d’état civil, 1666-1790, ZQ1,S28 #184 : 12 avril 1666 au 7 octobre 1727.
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, 1657-[vers 1850], Cote : P1000,D1277 Id 696688 et Registres d’état civil, 1642-1948, Cote : ZQ106, Id 420864 et Index alphabétique des confirmés de Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, de 1676 et 1678 – s.d. 11 pages Numéro : 301330
  • Notarial records: Montréal (Québec : district judiciaire). Notariat, 008127867_003_M99W-KP4, Jan 1, 1657–May 14, 1669; notary Claude Aubert, 1652-1692; notary Bénigne Basset, 1658-1672; notary Pierre Raimbault, 1698-1727; notary Antoine Adhémar, 1673-1712.
  • Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; 

Library and Archives Canada

  • Canada, Library and Archives. “Settlement,” July 28, 2015.
  • Collection Jacques Henri Fabien (MG 25 G231), La collection sur microfilm se compose de renseignements généalogiques pour la période de 1657 à 1974.
  • Cases of indentured servants who left their masters (extraits d’arrêts du Conseil supérieur concernant les engagés qui quittent le service de leurs maîtres) 00003916294, fol. 56-57v sur microfilm Centre des archives MG1-C11A, 1663-1702 Microfilm reel number: F-2.
  • New France Archive Collection:, including the correspondence and memoirs of Jean Talon
  • Rules, arrests and declarations made in Paris (Recueils de réglements, édits, déclarations, et arrêts : concernant le commerce, l’administration de la justice, & la police des colonies françaises de l’Amérique, & les engagés : avec le Code noir, et l’addition audit code, France, Chez les Libraires associés, Paris), 1765, MG1-C11A. Microfilm reel number: F-2.

McCord Museum

Archived Collections:

  • Seigneurie de Sorel Fonds (P109)
  • Seigneurs de Rouville Fonds (P107)

Parks Canada

St. Paul University, Centre for Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism

Vatican Archives of the Sacred Congregation “de Propaganda Fide” 1622-1846, PFcongressi_1831-1836_p.407-526,

University of Montreal, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) Research Programme in Historical Demography

Primary Sources in France

Archives de Bordeaux

Amirauté de La Rochelle

Archives départementales du Calvados (14)

Archives départementales de Charente-Maritime (17)

Archives départementales du Finistère (29)

Archives départementales de Gironde (33)

Parish and state registers (les registres paroissiaux et l’état civil), 1538-1935

Archives nationales

Primary Sources in the United States

Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska

English translation of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610-1791,, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, computerized transcription by Thom Mentrak, historical interpreter at Ste. Marie among the Iroquois living history museum, Liverpool, New York, 1898-1901.

Internet Archive, San Francisco, California

The Internet Archive operates as a free catalogue of everything on the Internet since 1996. It also operates as a public library.

Secondary Sources

Academic papers

Coleman, Emma L. “A Seigneury of New France.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1, 1937, pp. 133–138. JSTOR,

Gettler, Brian. “Money and the Changing Nature of Colonial Space in Northern Quebec: Fur Trade Monopolies, the State, and Aboriginal Peoples during the Nineteenth Century.” Histoire Sociale/Social History 46 (November 1, 2013): 271–93.

McInnis, Marvin. “Peasant, Lord and Merchant: Rural Society in Three Quebec Parishes, 1740–1840. By Allan Greer. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985. Pp. Xvi, 304. 15.00 Paper.” The Journal of Economic History 46, no. 2 (June 1986): 571–72.


Greer, Allan. The People of New France. University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Harris, Cole. Seigneurial System in Early Canada: A Geographical Study. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP, 1984.

Jetté, René. Dictionnaire généalogique des familes du Québec. Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983.

Jugements et délibérations du Conseil Souverain de la Nouvelle-France. Volume 1. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, 1932.

Lunn, Alice Jean Elizabeth. Economic Development In New France, 1713-1760. PhD, MeGill University, 1942.

Mathews, Geoffrey J., Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. 1, From the Beginning to 1800, editor R. Cole Harris. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 1987. The map is plate 51. FHL book 971 E7h

Noël, Françoise. Christie Seigneuries: Estate Management and Settlement in the Upper Richelieu Valley, 1760-1854. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1992. 

Roy, Pierre Georges, Inventaire des Concessions en Fi’ef et Seigneurie, Foi et Hommages et Dénombrements Conservés aux Archives de la Province de Québec (Inventory of fief and manor concessions, fealty, promises and debts to the King at the Archives of the Province of Québec as of 1929) 6 vols. Beauceville, Québec: l’Eclaireur, 1927-1929,

Sulte, Benjamin. Histoire des Canadiens-Français. Wilson & Cie, Editeurs, Montréal, 1882, ISBN 0885450183; Editions Elysse, 1977.

Sawaya, Jean-Pierre. La fédération des Sept Feux de la vallée du Saint-Laurent: XVIIe au XIXe siècle, Sillery, Québec: Septentrion, 1998.

Trudel, Marcel. La population du Canada en 1666. Recensement reconstitué. Québec: Septentrion, 1995.


Borealia. “Beyond the ‘System’: The Enduring Legacy of Seigneurial Property,” October 9, 2018.

Borealia. “Mapping Land Tenure Pluralism in the St. Lawrence River Valley,” September 26, 2018.

Bosher, J.F., Men and ships in the Canada trade 1660-1760, Canadian Parks Service, the French version.

French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan (FCHSM),

Genealogy Ensemble: (particularly,,,, and

Mathieu, Jacques. “Seigneurial System | The Canadian Encyclopedia,

New France, New Horizons,, a bilingual site set up by the Direction des Archives de France (Paris) et les Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (Ottawa) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of New France in 2004. The search function still works.

Séminaire du Québec,,

Southwestern Quebec Genealogical Resources,

Quebec Heritage Repertoire,

Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

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