By Sam McBride
My great-great-great-grandparents Richard McBride and Elizabeth McCormick left their home in County Down, Ireland for Canada in 1831, according to later newspaper accounts and family history notes made by their granddaughter`s husband Harry Bapty in the 1920s.
County Down is in Ulster, southeast of Belfast. At the time of their emigration, the region was in the midst of economic strife associated with the Industrial Revolution, and strife between religions. The McBrides were Presbyterians who migrated years before to Northern Ireland from Scotland. They found themselves in a congested, problematic land under the thumb of the established Church of Ireland. On the other side of society were the Roman Catholics, who rebelled against the authority of England and the Established Church.
Richard McBride was born in 1792 in County Down and died in 1850 in London, Ontario. The exodus to Canada was a family affairs for the McBrides, as five of his younger siblings left for Canada in the same period. These siblings (along with spouse), were William McBride and wife Agnes McIllvene, Alexander McBride and wife Jane Shields, Thomas McBride and wife Ann Oswald, Stephenson (also known as Stephen and Steney) McBride on his own, and Elizabeth McBride and husband John G. Boyd. I will note the children and vital statistics (birth, baptism, marriage, death details, when available) in later posts. Unfortunately, there is no information on the parents or any other ancestors of these McBride siblings going back in time in Ireland and Scotland.
Something new for me in genealogical research involves working from connections made through ancestry.com DNA tests to confirm the family tree details we have from documents and memories. After submitting a saliva sample in November 2015 I received a report of my ethnic make-up as well as DNA links with others who have participated in the ancestry DNA program. One of the newly-found distant cousins was a lady in Fort Wayne, Indiana who was a descendant of William McBride and Agnes McIllvene, who settled in Hamilton Township, Northumberland County, Ontario by the mid-1800s. Our common ancestors would be the unknown parents of Richard and William McBride and their siblings, so we are fifth cousins, as estimated by ancestry.com to be highly likely.
In this post I will focus on the descendants of Richard McBride and Elizabeth McCormick, particularly their son (and my great-great-grandfather) Samuel McBride (1819-1905).
Samuel was just 12 years of age when he joined his parents and siblings in a horrific voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to a new life in pioneer Upper Canada. They were among 500 passengers crammed into a 300-ton sailing ship which got off course and took an excruciating eight weeks to cross the Atlantic. Samuel and older brother William, 14, were told by their parents to look after their younger siblings, including John, 10, and Eliza, 8. Another sister, whose name is lost to history, died during the voyage – not surprising, as many passengers suffered from starvation and serious illness – and was buried at sea.The McBrides first settled in Upper Canada at or near Kingston, then Coburg, then Niagra, then Brantford, and finally London, where the McBride name would be prominent for more than a century and a half.
It was in Coburg that the last children of the family were born. Elizabeth had twins, of which one unnamed boy died. The boy who survived was Alexander McBride (1833-1912), who married Lucy Munson and in 1886 would be the first of the McBride-McCormick clan to go west as they left for the future province of Alberta due to Lucy`s asma condition. Alexander turned out to be the most successful businessman in the family, as he partnered with his brother Samuel in a retail business in London and went on to be a dominant force in the hardware store business in Alberta and British Columbia.
Brother William McBride (1817-1881), who married Charlotte Hillier, would gain renown in London as a carriage maker, as the City of London`s sixth Mayor, as the first Secretary of the Western Fair Society, and as a victim in the worst disaster in London`s history, the sinking of the ship Victoria in the Thames River in May 1881. William and Charlotte`s great-great-grandson Bob McBride of Indian River, Ontario has done a tremendous amount of research on the McBride family over the years, and has greatly inspired me to do further research and writing of the family history. It was Bob who made the important discovery of Elizabeth`s maiden name as McCormick, which will hopefully lead us someday to learn the names and backgrounds of the parents of the McBride children who left County Down for Canada.
Samuel McBride was also prominent in London, both as a hardy tinsmith (a trade often contracted as “tinker“), and in many capacities as a volunteer, including two decades of service as an alderman, as an officer in the Volunteer Fire Brigade, as Secretary of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Society, and with a number of church-related activities. While still a teen-ager, he served in the militia called up in response to the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Samuel was in relatively good health up until his death at 86 in 1905. During his later years he was respected as a London pioneer, and was the subject of several feature stories by local newspapers.
Eliza also enjoyed 86 years of life. She married Alexander Lowrie and had a son Edwin and daughter Eliza Jane. Family historian Harry Bapty married Eliza Jane Bapty and they had five children.