Surname Saturday: Considering The Devlins

At the moment, I have only one Devlin in my family tree; Mary was one of my third-great grandmothers. I admit to not having done much searching for her, because I’ve been focusing on my prairie families a generation or two later. Most of Mary’s children went to Manitoba in the 1890s, and after finding what I could on them, I backtracked to find out what happened to the daughters who stayed in Ontario. In this recent post about Mary’s daughter Annie Lloyd, I speculated that since Annie was listed in the 1891 census as the niece of Simon and Jane Young, Jane may be Mary’s sister.

Here is my thought process and analysis of supporting documents:

1. I originally started off wanting to trace William and Mary’s daughters. I used the 1881 census to get the most complete list of their children, and followed up with the 1891 census to see who was still living at home. Then I knew whose marriage or death certificates I should be looking for.

2. Annie Lloyd died in 1892 in Mulmur, but she wasn’t listed as living with any of the Lloyds. I searched the census for any teenaged Annies living in Ontario.

3. Annie Sophia Lloyd is listed as a tailoress living in Bentinck, Ontario. She is the niece of the head of the house, Simon Young. My thought was that if this is my Annie, Simon’s wife Jane’s maiden name would be Lloyd or Devlin. (Or not, because the census can be unreliable for accurate reporting on relations. Jane could be a cousin and called herself an aunt due to age difference or the enumerator made an assumption.)

4. Jane Young died in 1910 in Hanover, Ontario (about 25 kilometers from Bentinck). On the death registration, her parents are listed as Devlin and Brownlee.

5. Simon’s household in Hanover in the 1911 census consists of himself and a housekeeper, Mary Graham. This is William and Mary’s oldest daughter. She had been married to a man named Murdock Graham, and the birth month on the census matches the birth date on her death certificate, but off by one year.

6. In an index of Ontario Marriages 1800-1901 on, there is a marriage in 1866 in Bruce between a Simon Young and Jane Darlin (which I am betting is a mistranscription of Devlin). Jane’s parents are listed as Samuel and Margaret.

7. The only census which shows Jane living with Samuel and Margaret is 1851, and they are in Albion, Ontario. They are neighbours with a Brownlee family.(Samuel is a widower by 1861, and Jane is still at home.) There is no Mary living in Albion, but the woman I believe to be my Mary Devlin would have been living in York, as a servant for the Nunn family. One of the neighbouring farms had a family of Lloyds, headed by a William the right age to be my great-great-great grandfather. I know that Mary and William were married before 1855, so it would have made sense for them to be neighbours.

8. If Jane and Mary aren’t sisters, they are close enough in age to be close like sisters. There was a Devlin family in Albion in 1851 headed by a William, and Mary could be their daughter. There is also another Devlin family that Samuel’s daughter Ellen married into in 1867, and Mary could belong with them. All I can be sure of right now is that Mary has some connection to the Devlins who lived in Peel and Grey Counties.


Coincidences – Looking for Lloyds in the Census

When I get a bit antsy to further my research without ordering and waiting for documents, I turn to the census. The census does a lot of things to help me stave off boredom, because I often catch something I didn’t see before. Things like, “Oh! That farm labourer has the wife’s maiden name! I didn’t have their marriage registration when I saw this the first time!”

Lately I have been poking around with my Lloyd line, in particular trying to tie up loose ends with some of my great-great grandfather Richard Victor Lloyd’s sisters, and to find out more about his parents, William Lloyd and Mary Devlin.

Before the Lloyd family moved to Manitoba, they lived in Mulmur, Ontario. In the 1871 census, there are two other adult male Lloyds living in that area, Benjamin and James.

Benjamin died in 1912 and his death registration lists his mother as Harriet Brunley. One of William and Mary’s daughters is Harriet B. Lloyd. This coincidence made me happy to follow this trail even if it doesn’t lead to William and Benjamin being brothers.

A look at the 1851 census makes me think they are related, though. In King Township (about 35 kilometers from Mulmur), there is a Loyd family with William as the head, Benjamin and James as labourers, (a sister?) Harriet who does the housekeeping, and a few other siblings. Neighbours include a Mary Devlin the right age to be my William Lloyd’s wife, who was a servant for the Nunn family; and Ann Maw, who would be the 1871 Mulmur Benjamin’s wife according to birth records that correspond with children in the census. I’ve got those files saved and waiting to be proved with William’s death certificate, which hopefully has his parents names on it.

Another good find was a Devlin connection, which I hope to have time to blog about tomorrow!

Friday Funny: Yeah, Well I Was Being Enumerated Before You Even Knew What the Census Was

On first glance, I fully read this name on the 1891 Canada Census as Hipster.

“I was calling myself Bailie before it was cool.” Bailie/Bailey doesn’t even show up in the top 1000 baby names in the States until nearly a hundred years later in 1983. (Those stats come from the Social Security Administration’s baby name list, comprised of the names of Americans who applied for Social Security numbers. I wasn’t able to find Canada wide naming trends.)

The Hipsteins lived in Montreal Est. If you look at the full page from the census, about half of the people were enumerated in English (Mr. Hipstein was a dry goods peddler) and the other half in French (including a vet; a medecin vetrenarie). Since the census only asks if the respondent can read or write but doesn’t specify a language, this is kind of a neat springboard to determining whether your Quebec ancestors who died before 1901 (when the census included language) were Anglophone or Francophone.

On to Portage La Prairie – The Dunns

Photo by Cameron Grove, used under a Creative Commons License.

My search for Illa Lloyd’s ethnicity led to Oakville, Manitoba, a small town in the Rural Municipality of Portage La Prairie. For that matter, Portage La Prairie isn’t that big, either. (Does anyone else remember commercials where Subway or Tim Hortons would say they said they sold a million of something everyday, and compare it to the population of Manitoba? Yeah.) In 1901, the population of the entire province was around two-hundred-seventy-two-thousand, and Portage La Prairie had about ten thousand residents.

What I knew from the census was that Illa, Ena, Bill, and Cassie had been born in Manitoba; and Richard was from Ontario. I decided to start out with the maternal line because it stayed within the province longer.

Using the Manitoba Vital Statistics index, I was able to find birth records for Illa and Ena that confirmed that Cassie’s maiden name was Dunn.

I also found birth and death records for another son, Clifford Hilliard Lloyd, who was born in January of 1908 and died in February. His death was likely related to his premature birth, as Richard and Cassie had only married in June 1907.

First stop was the 1906 Prairie Census. Since Fred wasn’t enumerated with Cassie’s family in 1916, I had no idea of his age. I didn’t want to overshoot and start with 1901 in case he was born after that date. I also was unable to find Cassie’s birth in the Manitoba Vital Statistics index, so I was unsure if she and the Fred Dunn born in Portage La Prairie in 1900 shared the same mother.

1906 Census - Dunn Family, Oakville

We’ve got Cassie (the only one in the province, and the right age), Fred, and Agnes. That’s good enough for me to go back to the 1901 census to see where George and Agnes’ parents were from.

George and Agnes both said they were Scotch. Agnes was born in Nova Scotia if you believe the 1901 census, or Ontario if you take 1906.

If nobody is lying, we’ve eliminated any Plains Cree connection in Cassie’s line. If any Native ancestry exists on this side, it has to be through either Agnes or George’s mother, or one of their paternal grandmothers.

(Side note: George and Agnes registered the births of most of their sons with the province, but not of Lizzie and Cassie.)

The Benefits of Asking Questions and Questioning Answers

My mum’s family always said that mum’s grandmother, Illa Lloyd, was Native or Metis. “They all look like Indians in those old pictures” someone would say, or “Your aunt looks part Native because our grandmother was probably Cree, from Saskatchewan.” Illa was a huge brick wall in my family tree research. What my mother told me: She died in the 1930s, when my grandfather was 6 or 7. Her name was spelled “Ila.” She was little and dark, Saskatchewan First Nations.

Based on that, I started with the 1916 census of the Prairie Provinces. A quick search on didn’t turn anything up, so I went downtown to the Vancouver Central Library, and pulled out a roll of microfilm for the Indian agencies of Saskatchewan. There were no Ilas, Islas, Ellas, Illas, Idas, or Aylas the right age to be the one I wanted.

Then I tried the 1911 Canada census index on, hoping for any number of things: That a transcription error on Ancestry or mistake by the enumerator in the original had made her hard to find in the 1916 census; that she wasn’t from Saskatchewan, but had moved there later; that she was a different age than I originally assumed.

There were Ila and Ida Lloyds in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. The one that looked most promising was the Manitoba family:

Lloyd Family, Household Detail on the 1911 Census

Ila lived in the Prairies and was born in 1911 (the right age to have been married young and have a child by 1930). But what was this?

The Lloyd Family - 1911 Census - Nationality

The census records the nationality of each person enumerated. Here, Richard is listed as English, Cassie as Irish, and the two girls, Ila and Eva, as English.

I looked at it with a different eye. Each person’s nationality is determined by their father’s ancestry. This opens up several possibilities: This is not the family I am looking for. Or, this is the right family, and they do have Native ancestry from one of the grandmothers. Or there is no Native ancestry at all, and my Mum was mistaken.

I sat on this for a while, and moved on to easier research in other lines. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I had been approaching finding Illa the wrong way, with secondhand oral information from people who had never met her. Finding someone who knew her was going to be a problem. Her son William, my grandfather, had died in 2001. He and Grandma had separated when Mum and her sisters were little, and they weren’t particularly close to him and didn’t know that much about that side of the family. That left Grandma, who had been married to William in 1950. She must have met some of his family in the years they were together.

Grandma had met them. “They lived outside of Arborfield (Saskatchewan), and I guess they were pretty well established there. Her older sister was named Enid, and a bunch of other brothers and sisters,  George and Gordie or Geordie or something like that, and Bernice. One of Bill’s uncles was a redhead and he was adopted. Larry, maybe?”

Could Enid have been misheard by the census enumerator as Eva? I was a little doubtful. Besides, these Lloyds were nowhere near Arborfield. After combing through the Arborfield census returns for 1911 to make sure I hadn’t missed someone there (I hadn’t), I left the Lloyds behind until I could get my hands on Illa’s death certificate.

It was entirely by chance that I found the missing connection. I had been using  to look through old town histories in Saskatchewan. It seems like every small town has to put out a book with family histories and the stories of old timers. I had plugged in a search for books about Arborfield, to see if I could find anything about Illa’s husband’s sister, who had married a farmer in the area. (As it turns out, Sarah and Jesse Meachem hadn’t stayed long in Arborfield. They appear on the 1916 census there, but one of their sons was born in Rossland, BC, in 1922.) In a book called “Pioneer Ways to Modern Days: History of the Town of Carrot River and the Rural Municipality of Moose Range” was this:

The Lloyd Family history by Ena Ralph

I pulled up the 1911 census, and realized that what I thought might have been “Eva” could also be “Ena.” And siblings that matched what Grandma said! First hand account! I may have pumped my fist in the air and looked like a complete nerd to everyone around me.

It still didn’t conclusively answer the question of Illa’s ethnicity, but at least I had enough clues to find the previous generation. Score one for persistence and questioning indirect information!