Mystery in Montreal

11

For years, I had a seven-year gap in my great-grandmother’s story. The good news is that I’ve had several genealogical break-throughs this week. The bad news is that I now have a mystery in Montreal.

The Seven-Year Gap

William Bond, a night watchman at some arches in Duke-street, near London Bridge, was found lying in an insensible condition, and died soon after reaching Guy’s hospital. His wife, who had traversed all the way from Cable-street with two little children to bring his dinner arrived to find him dying, and the poor woman was overcome with grief. ~Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper of London, 27 August 1893.

Up until very recently, I knew that my great-grandmother Jessie was in London in August of 1893. On the evening of 26 August 1893, Jessie journeyed some 4-1/2 miles from her home on Cable Street near the docklands of London across either London Bridge or Tower Bridge to take dinner to her husband, my great-grandfather William Bond, who was at work at his job as a watchman in Duke Street. With her were my grandfather John and his youngest sister Frances. The two older children, Thomas and Laura, remained at home.

When they arrived in Duke Street, they found William lying insensible, foam around his mouth. They loaded him into a wagon and ran with him to Guy’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An inquest into his death revealed that he had, while in a drunken state, taken a drink of smelling salts which resulted in his death. The ruling of the coroner’s jury was accidental death from corrosive poisoning.

Fast-Forward

Montreal c1900The next record I had for Jessie’s family was for the 1901 Canadian Census, seven years later, in St. Antoine, Montreal. The family name was now Sullivan and consisted of:

  • Timothy Sullivan, head, aged 45
  • Jessie Sullivan, wife, aged 44
  • Thomas Sullivan, son, aged 17
  • Frances Sullivan, daughter, aged 14
  • John Sullivan, son, aged 10
  • Willie Sullivan, son, aged 6

According to the census record, the family, with the exception of young Willie, had emigrated to Canada in 1894 but I could find no record of the family in the Canadian passenger records, even though I had gone manually through every single ship’s manifest on the LAC website for the period between August 1893 and December 1894.

From Willie’s WW1 record, which gave his name as William Bond, I learned he was born on 22 November 1894. Hmm… if William Bond senior died on 26 August 1893 and William Bond junior was born on 22 November 1894, Willie was NOT the son of William. Who was his father? Was it this Timothy Sullivan? I didn’t know. And despite much searching in the Montreal baptism records, I could find no trace of William junior.

What happened during the seven years between 26 August 1893 when William Bond died and 31 March 1901 when the Canadian census was taken?

Break-Through!

Then a couple of weeks ago, I decided to have a look at the outbound passenger records for the UK. And EUREKA! I found them. The family name on the outbound records was O’Sullivan. There were Timothy, Jessie, Thomas, Frances and John. The Lake Huron left Liverpool on 14 April 1894 and arrived in Montreal 32 days later on 26 April 1894. The O’Sullivan family was part of a group of 61 British people sent to Canada in conjunction with the Self Help Emigration Society.

” UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960,” digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 September 2017), Tim OSullivan, labourer, 31, Jessie OSullivan, wife, 36, Thomas O’Sulivan, child, 9, Francis OSullivan, child 7, John OSullivan, child 3, SS Lake Huron.

When I later looked up this ship on the inbound passenger records, I found that the corner of the manifest where the O’Sullivan family was listed had been torn off!

“Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935,” digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 September 2017), Tim OSullivan, labourer, 31, Jessie OSullivan, wife, 36, Thomas O’Sulivan, child, 9, Francis OSullivan, child 7, John OSullivan, child 3, SS Lake Huron.

Now I had something to work with. I now knew that it was likely that Timothy was William’s father and that the family could be listed as Sullivan OR O’Sullivan. I began to search the Drouin Collection in earnest, determined to find something to fill in the seven-year gap.

Filling in the Gaps

The first record I found was a baptism for Willie Sullivan. Contrary to the WW1 record, he was actually born on 22 November 1895, not 1894.

William Sullivan Baptism
Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Anglican Institutions, page 58, Baptism of William Sullivan born 21 November 1895 and baptized 24 November 1895; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 5 September 2017).

Now I was getting somewhere. I began searching for Tim and Jessie’s marriage record or a burial record for Tim since from the Montreal city directories about 1903, it appeared that Tim had died since Jessie was listed as his widow.

I tried the obvious searches but found nothing so I began to wonder if Sullivan or O’Sullivan had been mis-transcribed. I tried a first name only search for Tim and this immediately turned up a shocking discovery and unearthed a mystery.

Mystery Record

I’m not sure why I even clicked on the image for the record I found, since I was not expecting to see my ancestor. The index showed a marriage for Timothy Oscar and Jessie Mary Williams and I was looking for Timothy Sullivan and Jessie Harriet Bond (although Jessie’s maiden name was Williams). The image was poor and hard to read but what caught my eye immediately was the “William Bond” halfway down the record. That had to be my great-grandfather’s name! I still can’t quite make out what it says exactly but hope to be able to enhance the image with some photo editing. I had a suspicion that this might be my Jessie. So what’s going on? Did she somehow marry two men? Timothy Sullivan AND Timothy O’Hare? Very curious.

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Saint Patrick, 4, Marriage of Timothy O’Hare and Jessie Mary Williams 16 January 1896; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 17 September 2017).

Armed with the new name Timothy O’Hare, I tried some further searches, hoping to find the burial for Tim. But then I found this baptism record which further confounded me.

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Saint Patrick, NP, Baptism of William Timothy O’Hare born 21 November 1895 and baptized 10 February 1896; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 17 September 2017).

This certainly appears to be my great-uncle William. The names of the parents match the marriage record I found and the date of birth is consistent with the date of birth on the first baptism record. But why was he baptized as William Cecil Sullivan in an Anglican ceremony on 24 November 1895 and then as William Timothy O’Hare in a Catholic ceremony on 10 February 1896?

It appears that Timothy and Jessie used both Sullivan and O’Hare as their surnames, one for Catholic and one for Anglican. Why? I have no idea.

Surprise! Another Child!

More searching using the O’Hare name turned up another surprise. There was a daughter, Mary Jessie Williams, born on 11 May 1899 to Timothy O’Hare and Mary Jessie Williams. 

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Saint Patrick 1899, 26, #117 Mary Jessie O’Hare born 11 May 1899 to parents Timothy O’Hare and Mary Jessie Williams. Godfather was Arthur B Fell, sacristan of this parish.; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 17 September 2017).

But why O’Hare? What about Sullivan?

Well, yes, it appears there is also a Sullivan baptism record. Mary Jessie Sullivan was baptized at the Anglican Saint George, parents Timothy Sullivan and Jessie Williams born 10 May 1899. Very curious.

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Anglican Saint George 1899, NP, Mary Jessie Sullivan daughter of Timothy Sullivan and Jessie Williams now residing at 13 Cathedral St (in rear) was born on the tenth day of May 1899 and baptized on the seventh day of June of the same year.; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 17 September 2017).

But there was no child named Mary or Jessie in the 1901 census record. What happened to her? Are there two burials? I can only find one but that makes sense. You can baptize a child twice but you cannot bury the same child twice. Mary Sullivan, daughter of Timothy Sullivan and Jessie Williams was buried at the Basilique Notre-Dame on 21 January 1901.

Quebec Vital and Church Records (Quebec), Basilique Notre-Dame, NP, burial of Mary Sullivan, daughter of Timothy Sullivan and Jessie Williams 21 January 1901 aged one year and 8 months; digital image from quebec vital and church records (drouin collection), Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 17 September 2017).

Sullivan or O’Hare?

I’m mystified as to why the family appears as both Sullivan and O’Hare in all these records but I love a good mystery.  Any theories are most welcome. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Barbara J Starmans is a social historian, freelance writer and obsessed genealogist living in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada and has been doing genealogical research for the past 35 years. She is a graduate of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, Canada with professional learning certificates in General Methodology and in English Records and recently become an instructor for them with an intermediate course on Social History.

Discussion11 Comments

  1. Isabel Cosgrove Hatcher

    I couldn’t find a Bond/Williams marriage in the UK so I suspect William and Jessie weren’t actually married. Hence her marriage in the Montreal record as Jessie Williams. Where I’ve found people known by two names, it’s often been in a close community where an illegitimate child is known by mother’s name as well as either the father’s or step father’s. But, if you travel all the way to Montreal, who’s to know your origin? Is it possible the Self-Help people were a Catholic or an Anglican organisation and this family were RC but pretended to be Anglican to get support? Or the other way round?

      • Oh yes, I assumed London but once on the Isle of Wight and once in Portsea a month or two later. In those days (as in some ways still today), the Isle of Wight was like a foreign country – I can believe that people in Portsmouth might not accept a marriage on the Island and the need to do it again!

        I expect an Anglican aid organisation expected weekly attendance at church, even if you might have just gone to Mass!

          • William was in the army and Jessie was pregnant. He couldn’t get permission from his CO to marry so the had a clandestine wedding on the iow. Afterwards he got permission right before the baby was born so they married officially in Portsea.

  2. Barbara O’Hare may be a Sullivan nickname. Similar to French Canadian dit names see Kay Caballs blog June 12 2017

    • Perhaps although I’ve been doing some further research based on Timothy’s prior marriage which I found from the marriage record. So far, it would appear that he left a wife and 8 children back in Ireland! That seems reason enough to use the assumed name of Sullivan. 🙂

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