Saturday, October 19, 2019

James KERR 1804 -1873 Ireland to Quebec

Canada is a land of immigrants and my first ancestor to make his home here was James KERR and his wife Jane HENDERSON. They were my great, great, grandparents.

Today’s post will be a journey through some of the documentation we have to date of James KERR in Canada.

They settled in Quebec some time between 1841 and 1847 based on the birth places of their last two children.

James and Jane KERR and the family appear on the 1851 Census of Canada.  James, age 43 is listed as a shoemaker.  His wife Jane is 41.  The family were from Ireland (we know that that the last child was born in Quebec so this census notification was incorrect for Sarah).  We also know the family are Methodist.

Children showing on the 1851 Census are James, Catherine, Jemina, William and Sarah  and are aged 22,17,14,11 and 4 years.

The location of the census (not shown on the page below) is in Compton Township which is located in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

James Kerr 1851 Census QuebecClick on the image for a larger view.

Jump forward a few years to the 1861 Census of Canada and we find the family again.

James Kerr 1861 Census Quebec ComptonClick on the image for a larger view.

There is more information on this image with regards to location – No 1 Township of Compton, in the County of Compton.

The KERRS appear at the bottom.  James is now listed as a Farmer from Ireland.   The family is Methodist as before but this time Sarah, the younger child is listed as being born in “Lower Canada”.

Ages of the family (on next birthday) are James (58), Jane (55), Catherine (25), Jemina (23), William (20) and Sarah (14).  There is no sign of the eldest son, James.  More on him in another post.

We also know the gender, whether they are married or single, whether the residents were members of the family (all were in this case).  We also know the youngest two children were still attending school (even William at age 20?).  The house is a 1 story frame house and that there is only one family living there.

So where is Compton?

Compton Township appears on the lower right hand corner of the Eastern Townships (Map reference – Marlene Simmonds Eastern Townships Genealogy )

The town of Compton is very close to Stanstead Township on the left hand side of Compton Township.  Please note this is not an historical map and the township borders may have changed.

Our next piece of evidence is the youngest child’s baptismal record in 1848. From that we have James and Jane’s signatures as witnesses.  We also know their church is the Methodist Church in Compton.

Sarah’s birthdate was the 20th of October 1847.  She was baptised on the 17 April 1848

Sarah Jane Kerr Birth 1847 MethodistClick on the image for a larger view.

James and Jane’s signature appears on many other vital documents on their family, including his will.

I’ll save them for another day and another post, but I will close with his burial record from September of 1873.  Witnesses were Jane S Kerr (his wife) and daughter Jemina Kerr.

James Kerr Burial Methodist Church Compton 1873

Source of Census and Church Records -Ancestry


6 Responses to “James KERR 1804 -1873 Ireland to Quebec”
  1. Marci says:

    Hi Joan,
    Would your Jane Henderson be the daughter to James and Elizabeth Henderson (a merchant originally from Ireland, later from Quebec with a estimated immigration date of 1835) and sister to W.S. Henderson and Sarah Henderson? (Sarah Henderson’s son James Hall was also a shoemaker.)
    If so, we would be related and I would love to hear more of what you know about the Hendersons.

  2. Hi Marci,
    Unfortunately I don’t know Jane Henderson’s parents, but this sounds like an intriguing lead. Do you have a Kerr married to a Jane Henderson?

    Looking forward to learning more.


  3. Marci says:

    I don’t know of any Kerrs or a “for sure” Jane. But here is what I know about my family in brief:
    My 3rd GGrandmother Sarah Henderson had an enterprising brother, William Simpson Henderson. He came to Quebec from Ireland in 1834 then went back to Ireland, gathered up many family members and returned in 1835 to stay. W.S. Henderson later founded “W.S. Henderson, London Hat Warehouse” which later became “WS Henderson, Hats and Furs” and ultimately turned into the Holt-Renfrew department store.

    Their father was James Henderson Sr. (1782-1851) and mother was Elizabeth ?. They were both born in Ireland, presumably traveled to Quebec with their son. We know they died there and are buried in Mount Hermon. On the Mount Hermon Cemetery records James Henderson sr. is listed as a merchant.

    Besides son William and my ggggrandma Sarah, the other children were probably a Thomas, James, Elizabeth Jane, Maryanne Jane, John and George.
    Sarah was married to a John Hall (also from Ireland and their children were mostly born in Ireland before they came to Quebec.) Their son James Hall, mygggrandpa, was a shoemaker who was married to a shoemaker’s daughter from Scotland (last name Cowan). Father in law Thomas Cowan later took Elizabeth Henderson as his second wife.
    Oh, and W.S. Henderson named a daughter Jemima too.
    A lot of intriguing possibilities!

  4. Hi Marci,
    You have entrepreneurs in your genes! I’ll watch for connections to your Hendersons as there are so many elements in common. Please stay in touch.


  5. Stephen Patrick Kerr says:

    My GGGrandfather is Patrick Kerr born in 1797 in Ireland and immigrated to Lakefield Quebec where he was granted 100 acres. From other posts it looks like he came from Ireland with his brother John Kerr who married Ann Henderson, his sister Elizabeth Kerr who married Levi Miller, and His sistere Mary Kerr who married William Henderson. Could your James Kerr be another brother of Patrick, John, Elizabeth and Mary? I know that later generations form this group moved from Lakefield to Compton in the Islandbrook area.

  6. Hi Stephen,
    Thanks for your note. I’m in touch with a lady who has done a lot of research on the KERR/HENDERSON families to see if there was a connection between our two groups. Finally we had DNA testing done. Alas, no connection….but at least we know now.

    All the best with your research,

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