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Masts of HMS Warrior 1860

Harvey family

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 Part 1: Edward Harvey (1795 - 1875)


Early life and marriage to Janet Morrison

Edward Harvey was born 23 May 1795 in Renfrewshire, Scotland. He was baptised 31 May of the same year at Greenock Old or West Parish. His parents were William Harvie and Eleanor Garie (on Edward's death record, she was listed as Ellen Kelly). William might have been a weaver. There is a possibility that William and Eleanor might have emigrated from Ireland (a marriage record exists for a William Harvie and Ellinor Gairy, dated 1776 in the Diocese of Cork and Ross) but nothing has been proved.

Edward lived for a time in Paisley and married Janet Morrison 13 May 1815 at Paisley Abbey Parish. It is not known if they married in the Abbey itself or from the bride's residence according to the Banns of the Church of Scotland. (Many of their grandchildren would marry at the bride's residence post-1855 and the advent of civil registration in Scotland.) Nothing is known about Janet or her family and she probably died in the mid to late 1820s or early 1830s. They had three known children: Margaret, Helen and William. The gaps between their births were possibly because of miscarriage or infant deaths.


Working life and irregular marriage to Elizabeth Russell

No marriage record has been found so far but from the 1830s, Edward lived with Elizabeth Russell. Until 1940, 'irregular marriage' in Scotland was common and legal. A couple could declare themselves married before witnesses, without a clergyman present, or they would simply live together and be regarded by family and friends as being married. It is quite possible Edward and Elizabeth had an irregular marriage. They had one known child together, Elizabeth Jane Russell Harvey.

Elizabeth Sr had been born c1802 in Renfrewshire and married James Hamilton 13 August 1820 in Paisley Middle Church. As was customary, a 'caution' fee was paid for the proclamation of banns. Either the couple or their sponsors would pay it, showing their intention to marry was serious. One shilling was paid (about 1.50 in today's money). The proclamations were supposed to occur on three consecutive Sundays but in practice, they were likely to all be made on the day the fee was paid! Elizabeth and James had five children: Janet, Ann, Janet, James and Andrew. There is no confirmed record of James' death but it was probably in the early 1830s and he was probably a weaver.

Edward was a cotton handloom weaver and a member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. These two facts meant that Edward might well have been literate. Scottish people in the early 19th century were more literate than the English and those living in Europe. The Presbyterian Church strongly defended the right to read the Bible in one's native language. Workers who were paid on commission (such as weavers) had some freedom to choose when they worked (unlike factory workers), so had some time to devote to reading. Europe and North America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries had seen the far-reaching effects of revolution and the weavers of Paisley were able to read various pamphlets agitating for radical reform.

In 1819, a peaceful assembly in Manchester calling for political reform was broken up with deadly results by the military. The Peterloo Massacre, as it became known, galvanised workers in Scotland who were suffering harsh economic conditions and lacking political influence. It culminated in the 'Radical War' of 1820 when Glasgow workers (and those in places around Scotland) went on strike. Retribution for the ringleaders (who were weavers) was harsh and the uprising died away, though political reform did come eventually. Edward might not have been involved in any strikes but he probably knew people who were and could sympathise.


Emigration to Canada and marriage to Mary Miller

Very soon after the Scottish census was taken in June 1841, Edward, Elizabeth and four of their children emigrated to the newly enacted 'Province of Canada'. There seems to be no particular trigger, economic or otherwise, for the family's decision. At the time, there were new emigration schemes to New Zealand and Australia but Canada was still a popular destination, as it had been a generation earlier. The Harvey-Hamiltons settled in Lanark Township, Lanark County, and lived in a one-storey log house from which they farmed. According to the 1851/52 census, their land was worth 50 and described as: "A farm of a mixed character with very little cultivated land being lately settled upon"! Also living with the family were two young men, one of whom would become a future son-in-law. They were not employed as farm labourers, having their own trades, so they were probably boarders.

Sometime between 1852 and 1861, Edward and Elizabeth, along with James' and Janet's families, moved to the other side of Lower Ontario to Hibbert Township, Perth County. Edward returned to weaving (the land around Lanark County had not always been suitable for farming so perhaps Edward decided to give up and have a fresh start in a new community). Elizabeth died between 1861 and 1866 (there is no official record anywhere) and Edward remarried Mary Miller 07 December 1866. Mary had been born in Scotland c1814 to Thomas Miller and Margaret Steel. It is not known when Mary died but it seems to be after 1875. Edward died 11 October 1875, aged 80, after suffering asthma for three years.


 Children of Edward Harvey and Janet Morrison

Margaret Harvey (1816 - 1903) was born 01 March 1816 and baptised 24th March at Paisley Abbey. She married Thomas Gordon 30 April 1840 and they had four children: Margaret (c1846 - 1913), Euphemia (c1851 - 1899), Edward (c1853 - 1919) and Helen (c1857 - 1929). The family lived in the area around Paisley Abbey, first in Incle Street, then Silk Street and Renfrew Road. The settled for a number of years in Prussia Street (which has since been renamed Johnstone Street). Margaret worked as a dressmaker most of her adult life and Thomas worked as a spirits dealer salesman. 'Spirits dealers' could be anyone from wholesalers to publicans. The Saucel Brewery and Distillery (once one of the largest in Scotland) was located a short walk from Prussia Street. Thomas might have had a connection to it. Between his home and Saucels, were two thread factories where their daughters might have worked.

Thomas died 19 February 1870 after suffering pulmonary consumption for nine months. Margaret appeared to move out of the family home, probably after Helen's marriage to mason Samuel Brown. Margaret most likely went to work as a general servant for another family but by 1891 had returned to live in Prussia Street with Helen and Helen's four children. Helen's husband was missing on census night but died two years later with 'no fixed address'. Perhaps there had been an estrangement between them. Boarding with the family was bricklayer Matthew Campbell and a year after Samuel's death, Helen and Matthew married. Margaret continued living with them and died 07 August 1903 of 'age' in the Paisley Poorhouse, which in 1890 had had a hospital added to it. Patients in workhouse infirmaries were not necessarily workhouse inmates but those too poor to afford private medical care. (Some workhouse infirmaries became National Health Service (NHS) hospitals after 1948.)

Margaret Jr worked in a thread mill and married shoemaker James Shirlaw 28 August 1863. Within a couple of years, they had moved to Govan, an area now part of Glasgow City and known for its ship-building industry. They lived there for the rest of their lives and had seven children. Euphemia and Edward married siblings, John and Christina Hart in 1873 and 1872 respectively. Euphemia worked in a thread mill and John was a mason. Euphemia's death at age 47 left him to bring up nine children.

Edward worked as a slater and he and Christina had five children before they decided to emigrate to Australia as free settlers. They departed 04 July 1882 on board the steamship 'Scotland' and arrived in Brisbane 18 September. There were often complaints about the hardships endured on these long voyages to Australia but this particular one appeared "to have been of a very agreeable character", according to an account in 'The Queenslander' newspaper five days after arrival. There was some poor weather and sickness, leading to 14 deaths out of some 600 passengers, but there were regular concerts (which featured bagpipes) which probably helped keep the passengers in a good frame of mind. The fact that the food was described as 'good' probably contributed greatly to the passengers' positive accounts! Within a year of arrival, the family were settled in the inner western suburbs of Sydney. Four more children were born and Edward and Christina died within a few weeks of each other in 1919.


Helen Harvey (c1821 - 1895) was born c1821. No baptism record has been found so far to confirm the date. Sometimes there were no baptism records because the parents could not afford the fee and it was not compulsory to register these events before 1855. Helen described her occupation as 'sews' in the 1841 census so she might have worked from home making clothes rather than in a mill or as a weaver like her family. She married widower Robert McAusland (1817 - 1886) 18 July 1841. Robert was a weaver but worked with various textiles throughout his life: silk, wool and finally as a shawl weaver (possibly in connection with the famous Paisley shawls). They were both living in Sandholes Street at the time of their marriage and spent the rest of their lives living in the adjacent Castle Street at numbers 11 then 7 (with a brief stint in George Street which bordered the other end of Castle Street). They had nine children: an unnamed girl, Dugald (1843 - ?), Robert (1846 - 1880), Margaret Caldwell (1848 - 1900), James (1850 - 1853), Dugald (1852 - 1928), Helen (1855 - ?), Joseph (1857 - 1857) and George Lauder (1862 - 1932). Four children died young. Later when Robert Jr and his wife died of consumption, Helen took in some grandchildren, too. Robert Sr died 02 January 1886 from bronchitis and Helen died 19 February 1895, aged 74 from 'senile decay'.


William Harvey (1825 - ?) was born 10 December 1825 and baptised 22 January 1826. There is no confirmed record of him after that and he probably died before 1841.


 Children of Elizabeth Russell and James Hamilton

Janet Hamilton (1823 - ?) was born 19 February 1823 and baptised 16 March. She almost certainly died in infancy.


Ann Hamilton (1825 - 1899) was born 02 April 1825 and baptised 22 days later. She emigrated to Canada with her mother and stepfather. In the 1852 census she was not with the family but was probably working for an innkeeper's family. She married Robert McKenzie Craig, whose cousin James Craig married Ann's half-sister Elizabeth. It is not known when they married but it was probably between 1852 and 1855. Ann, in her late 20s, might have been considered rather old for the time to marry and had the last of her six children when she was 46. They lived in Lanark Township and Ann died 24 November 1899, aged 64, following an abdominal tumour and was buried in Lanark Village Cemetery.


Janet Hamilton (1827 - 1914) was born 31 March 1827 and baptised 06 May. She emigrated to Canada with her mother and stepfather. Living with the family was a joiner, Thomas Muir, and he and Janet married c1852. Soon after they moved away to Hibbert Township, Perth County where they farmed. They had four girls: Elizabeth Russell (c1854 - 1879), Janet Hamilton (1855 - 1905), Marion (c1858 - ?) and Annie Hamilton (1862 - 1930). Two of their daughters married schoolteachers. This tended to be a temporary profession for men, in order to earn money to attend university and pursue a career such as law, as Janet Jr's husband Thomas Hislop did. Janet and Thomas followed two of their daughters and emigrated to the United States c1890 and settled in Detroit. Thomas died 25 February 1904 following complications with pneumonia and Janet went to live with her only surviving daughter Annie in Muskegon on the opposite side of Michigan. She died 23 October 1914, aged 87, of senility and was buried in Detroit.


James Hamilton (1829 - 1911) was known as 'Jimmy'. He was born 18 May 1829 and baptised 14 June. After emigrating with the family to Canada, he worked as a labourer. He married Jean (Jane) Findlay McIlraith 06 August 1856 and they moved to the newly established Staffa Village, Hibbert Township, in Perth County very soon after. They had five children: James McIlraith (1859 - 1923), Edward Harvey (1860 - 1908), Hugh McIlraith (1862 - 1933), Thomas Muir (1865 - 1933) and Euphemia Jane (1869 - 1939). According to an obituary published in 'The Stratford Beacon' 06 July 1911, James became a shoemaker after moving to Hibbert. The 'Hamilton Shoe Shop' was run from the 'northwest corner of his log house' [1]. He also acted as the postmaster for more than 30 years and according to census returns, he was also a farmer. Jean, who had been born in Lanark Township in 1828, died of mitral regurgitation 14 April 1902, aged 74, and James went to live with his youngest son. James died 01 July 1911, aged 82, after suffering an obstruction of the bowels for four days. He was buried alongside Jean in Staffa Cemetery.


Andrew Hamilton (c1831 - ?) was born 15 August 1831 and baptised 08 October. There is no confirmed record of him after that and he probably died before 1841.


 Children of Edward Harvey and Elizabeth Russell

More information about Elizabeth Jane Russell Harvey (c1837 - 1895) appears in Part 2. [2]


Next: Elizabeth Jane Russell Harvey


[1] 'A Hibbert Review: County of Perth' (, which included accounts of the residents of and prominent buildings in Staffa.
Parish registers for Abbey, Paisley 1676-1855
(; Old Parish Records, Scottish Census records (; Canadian Census records, 'A Hibbert Review: County of Perth', Ontario Canada Marriages 1801-1928, Ontario Canada Deaths 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas 1939-1947 (;;; 1858 Ordnance Survey map of Renfrew (Abbey, Middlechurch, High Church and Low Church) (National Library of Scotland);; digitised Australian newspapers (; 'A McIlraith History' by Penny McIlraith (1985);;; Wikipedia