Friday, 26 August 2016

Found! The Rowbothams of Ontario

A funny thing happened while I was researching another family in Canada. The Rowbotham family turned up. It was on the cards when you consider 3.15 million English people left England for Canada and other parts between 1903 and 1913.

Warwickshire residents, Catherine and John Rowbotham had been married in 1870 and had seven children most of whom were born in West Ham. Catherine nee Gadsby b1851 was my great-grandfather’s sister and she had looked out for Thomas after the death of her parents being next of kin to the youngest boys. Husband John b c1850 initially was working in the gun industry and then as a labourer and frame finisher in London.
John and Catherine’s children were as follows:

- Sarah Ann Rowbotham b: 1877 in Middlesex Aston, Birmingham
- Lavinia Rowbotham b: 1879 in Middlesex Birmingham, d: 1895 in West Ham
- Henry Rowbotham b: 1881 in Poplar Middlesex Birmingham, d: 1881 in Warwick
- Margaret Rowbotham b: 03 Apr 1882 in West Ham Stratford Essex
- Alfred Rowbotham b: 1889 in Stratford Essex
- George Rowbotham b: 1887 in Stratford Essex
- Arthur Rowbotham b: 22 Nov 1892 in Stratford Essex

In 1900 Catherine’s beloved husband died in West Ham Essex. Five years earlier their daughter Levinia had died age 6 and son Henry had died in infancy. Being illiterate herself Catherine had made certain the children had learned to read and write.

At the time of their father’s death the two oldest girls were married and were living with their husbands but Catherine was left as a mother of three schoolboys. This would have seen Catherine living in rather limited circumstances. Sadly though in 1904, Catherine also passed away at the young age of 48. With her oldest girls with families of their own this left her three youngest boys motherless, jobless and possibly homeless. George was 17, Alfred 15 and Arthur 12.

Perhaps it was a reaction to the harsh conditions and fierce diseases which had killed their parents and siblings or possibly it was at the behest of their mother, Catherine but the remaining siblings decided move to the “promising” colony of Canada the next year.

In my previous blog I described the growth of Ontario on the East Coast of Canada
His,mine and yours William Smith 1875 and some of the Canadian government policies for attracting immigrants. Initially I had thought that the boys might have attracted the attention of the various London charities sending young men to Canada but upon further investigation it appears they had a very rich Uncle, Thomas Rowbotham of Gilbertstone Grange who paid their fares.

The five Rowbotham children decided to settle in Belleville, Ontario .Belleville grew out of the coming of the Grand Trunk Railway. Located in Hastings county, it’s known as the “Friendly City” and is located at the  mouth of the Moira River in southern Ontario.

Why was Canada so favourable? Well it was an English colony and it had a familiar government with English speaking residents. Many British people felt they would have a better life in Canada with a healthier environment and would be more likely to get a job. After experiencing rampant poverty and over populated streets of London, Canada had plenty of land and fresh air on offer. There was the expectation that the young children would get a better education and as an added bonus the place names were similar to those at home.  

The environment was appealing compared to London. The surrounding Lake Ontario moderates temperatures during the extremes of winter and summer. The immigration diagrams show it was highly popular. Today Belleville is a busy manufacturing town home to the likes of Kelloggs and Procter and Gamble.
Immigration  to eastern Canada to 1921

One by one the Rowbotham siblings organised their passage and travelled the two week trip by steamship to their new country. The inconvenience of travel and conditions on the steamship for that couple of weeks was outweighed by the anticipation of a new home and life.   
Passengers arriving from England c1905

First to leave was Sarah who had married, was widowed and was married again to husband Samuel Stevens, a painter and decorator. Travelling with her were her sons, William Brain and Samuel, Andrew, Frank and Charles Stevens Their first daughter Lavina was born shortly after they reached Belleville, followed by Sarah, Elizabeth, Leonard, Ralph and Ruth.

Margaret who married a widower, Albert John Gregory also left in 1905. The 1901 census showed them living in Clerkenwell.  Albert was 29 years old and a metal polisher. His children from his previous marriage, Edith, Albert and Elizabeth also accompanied them. The couple had five more children in their new surroundings, Walter, Edward, Ethel Charlotte, Alfred Marshall and Clifford. The family is shown in the 1911 census living in 4 Murden St Hamilton West and Albert is shown as a tobacconist earning 400 pounds per year.

The three remaining Rowbotham siblings, George, Alfred and Albert arrived together. They sailed from Liverpool on 6 July on the “Virginian” arriving 14 days later on 20 July 1905. One piece of information that was collected from the new immigrants was their ability to read and write- the skills obviously put the Rowbothams in a good position in their new land as they appear to have been well employed in skilled rather than labouring positions.

By the 1911 census 54% of the population of Canada was of British origin 6% extra being added since 1901. Generally permanent residence was granted after a suitable immigrant resided in Canada for three years. You can see from the diagrams above that these were times of new waves of immigration coming mostly from Britain and Europe and for the most part concentrating in the Eastern provinces.  Immigration only slowed during the World Wars and around the 30s.

Alfred fell on his feet working in the building trade when he reached Belleville. Within a few years he had married a young Scottish girl, Charlotte Carnegie Grant in 1908. She had also arrived in 1905.
Their children were as follows
-Katherine Mary Rowbotham born prematurely in May1909 and dyng 5 days later.
-Alfred William Cody Rowbotham born 19/10/1910. He died 16/8/1911 of chronic indigestion and diarrhoea.
-Grace Louise Rowbotham born early1912 died shortly after birth having suffered from tuberculosis.  
Alfred is seen in the 1911 census with little Alfred and Charlotte living in 33 Fassinley St, working as a carpenter. Charlotte died on 22/10/1912 of tuberculosis. Alfred is known to have travelled back to England in 1915 and spent some time working with his Uncle Thomas Rowbotham in Birmingham who was a building contractor /developer, returning to live with brother George and family in 1922. It seems rich Uncle Thomas was developing a housing estate on the surrounding land at Gilbertstone Grange.

Some further records show Alfred travelling to the US on business but nothing further is known. Perhaps he developed many building business skills whilst on location with his uncle and followed land development opportunities in Canada.

Arthur’ s new life in Canada only lasted a few years with his premature death occurring on 12 January 1910 when he was just 17 years old. The cause was heart failure from Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

It seems George Rowbotham’s family prospered in Belleville with the family located around there for many generations. George married widow Florence Turner nee Bellis in 1906. At the time of the 1911 census (no record) we know him to be him living in Belleville, Hastings, Ontario with Florence and her daughter Martha Turner plus their children:
-Catherine Mary Rowbotham born on 02 Apr 1907. She married an Ontario man, John Wesley Cornell b 18 May 1907, son of Richard Cornell and Sarah Stapley, on 24 Nov 1925 in Belleville Hastings,West Ontario. He was born on 18 May 1907 in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. A boiler stoker, he died in 1973 in Toronto. Catherine known as Kit was a stenographer prior to her marriage. They had six children. Electoral Rolls show them still living in Ontario in 1963.
-Alfred “Alfie” George Rowbotham was born on 09 Jun 1908 in Bellesville, Ontario Canada. He died on 19 Jul 2012 in Belleville, Hastings, Ontario, Canada. He was married to Grace Wilson, daughter of Ernest Wilson and Vera Coon, for 71 years. She was born about 1920 and died on 06 Mar 2014 in London, Ontario. From his obituary we see his children as David d1994, Larry, Robert and Judy. He and Grace had  9 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Alfie was the planning manager at Stewart Warner and before he retired at Western Supplies Ltd. He served for four years overseas in England and played the trumpet in the air force band, where he played the Last Post at many funerals. In his younger years, he played hardball and hockey and enjoyed golf as he retired at the air base in Trenton. Alfred received his education at Queen Victoria Public School, Belleville Collegiate Institute, and Ontario Business College. For many years they lived next door to sister Margaret and her husband.
Alfred George Rowbotham
-George Rowbotham born about 1909.
-Hilda Emily Rowbotham was born on 22 Sep 1909 in Belleville, Hastings, Ontario, Canada.
-Leighton Arthur Rowbotham was born on 27 Dec 1910. Leighton has been traced to the US – he changed his name to Rowe and was naturalised in 1952. He died in California in 1985. His death certificate has been accessed via internet search with correct mother’s surname. Other family trees have him dying in 1947or 1957 Is this a case of identity theft?

All the above are born in Belleville and Hilda’s birth certificate shows her father as a carpenter. Again in 1921 George was still in the building trade. By then Florence had given birth to 12 children (including Martha)
- Ernest Richard Rowbotham was born in 1912 but his life was short lived dying in Aug 1913 of bronchial pneumonia.
-Thomas Albert Rowbotham born 1913 died on 05 Jan 1920 aged 6 of childhood measles.
-Dorothy Rowbotham was born about 1915 in Belleville, Hastings, Ontario
-Victor Rowbotham was born in 1916. He appears in the 1921 census.
-Margaret (Peg) Rowbotham born in 1920. She appears in the 1921 census. She married  John Edward Ronsky and  had two children, John Edward Ted Ronsky d 2009 and Janice. Electoral rolls up to 1974 show John Snr working for Dupont and CNR and Margaret working for Stewart Warner. Margaret and John are also shown living next door to Grace and Alfie.
-Frank Rowbotham was born on 25 Feb 1921. Sadly he died on 19 Nov 1921 of marasmus Iles Colitis aged 9m.
-Stanley Rowbotham was born  at little after that.

It is possible George died in 1961 and Florence passed away in 1967.
Stevens' passenger listing
As mentioned before the Sarah and husband Samuel had eleven children including William Brain. On the whole it seems their family remained in Ontario. Only Elizabeth Dorothy seems to have died in infancy. Samuel was a painter, migrated as a farmer and by 1921 was a dealer. The older boys were drivers (Chauffeur and truck) while Frank and Charles were setters in the jewellery industry. They must have been reasonably well educated as the Lavina’s marriage certificate has her as a stenographer. Records seem to diminish after the 20s and it is not known what happened after that except that Lavina married an exotic looking man called Loren Frederick William Cassina and died in 1983. Charles served for a time in WW2 and may have re- married in 1965.
Sarah’s family is as follows:
-Samuel John Stevens b: Abt. 1900 in Stratford, London, England married  Pearl Dykes b: Abt. 1904, on 31 Dec 1921 in London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada. She died on 08 Feb 1928 in Hensall, Huron, Ontario, Canada. He then married Winifred Louisa Smith b: c1904 in England on 1 May 1933 in Toronto Ontario Canada. He was a driver for a living –isitially a Chauffeur and then a truck driver.
-Andrew Stevens b 1902 in Stratford London, a driver, married Ellen Belch b 1902 on 11 Nov 1922 in Toronto, York Co., Ontario; St Mathews C of E. 
-Frank Stevens b: c1903 in England  married Alvera Eda Newsonen b c1907, on 30 Jan 1925 in Toronto Ontario Canada
-Charles Stevens b c1905 in England, d: 1965 m Mary Eliza Beaton b: 13 Aug 1903 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on: 02 Aug 1927 in Bracebridge, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. This was a short marriage she died 11 Oct 1935 in Toronto but they appear to have had a child. He died in 1965. Charles served for a time in WW2 and may have re- married in 1965.
Charles Stevens

-Lavina (Vene) Stevens b: 05 Sep 1906 in Belleville, Ontario in Mississauga, Peel Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada married  Loren Frederick William Cassina b: 04 Nov 1905 in Hamburg, Erie, New York, United States on 08 Sep 1928 in York, Ontario, Canada, He died  15 Feb 1969  and Lavina died , d: 27 Dec 1983
-Sarah Alice Stevens b14 Feb 1908 in Ontario married Norman Pirie b1906 on 13 Oct 1928 in Ontario
-Elizabeth Dorothy Stevens b12 Sep 1910 in Ontario died 30 Oct 1910 in Ontario, Canada
-Leonard Stevens b: 28 Jan 1912 in Ontario
-Ralph Stevens b: Abt. 1913 in Ontario
-Ruth Stevens b: Abt. 1918 in Ontario
-William George Brain b: 1898 in Stratford Essex married Winifred Viola Griffin b c1900 in Toronto Ontario Canada, on 26 Jan 1921 in York, Ontario, Canada

The deaths of Sarah and Samuel cannot be found

What of Margaret’s family? Margaret and Albert Gregory’s combined family totalled eight. While Albert does not appear on the census for 1921, Margaret does and  is a married head with the children. Most of the children married and these records provide a bit of information but the details after 1921 are slim. We do know that Albert died in Toronto in 1932 of carcinoma of the spine and Margaret a few years later in 1936 in Wentworth Ontario of a cerebral thrombosis. Step daughter Elizabeth was informant on her death certificate.
Photos of Margaret and Albert have been located on Ancestry Ipad App but not the corresponding tree.
Margeret and Albert Gregory

What I have found about the Gregory family is listed below:

-Walter Arthur Gregory b: 17 Oct 1905 in Hastings West, Ontario, Canada married Margaret Christina Shaefer on  30 Sep 1926 in Hamilton, Wentworth Ontario
-Edward George Gregory b: 04 Oct 1908 in Hastings, Ontario, Canada
-Ethel Charlotte Gregory b: 12 Aug 1910 in Wentworth, Ontario, Canada is known to have married John Knox MacMillan on: 21 Jun 1933 in Hamilton Wentworth Ontario. She died 10 Dec 2007 in Ontario after having two children Bruce and Muriel. From her obituary we see she was aged 97 years. Ethel was a member of Benton St. Baptist Church, Kitchener and had belonged to the mission circle. She was a loving mother of Bruce and his wife Sharon MacMillan and grandmother of  Shelley MacMillan (Peter), Kim and Jeremy King and Amy and Jamie Stecer, all of Kitchener. She was also a great grandmother of Jaden, Wyatt and Justin. Muriel her daughter and husband John had predeceased her
-Alfred (Fred) Marshall Gregory b: 29 Jul 1912 in Wentworth, Ontario, Canada Fred died in 1981 in Burlington, Ontario. A florist, he had married  Evelyn R Walmsley b1912 from  England, on: 06 Oct 1934 in St Lukes Burlington. She died in 1994. They are buried in the Woodland Cemetary , Ontario.
Fred and Evelyn 1933
-Clifford Gregory born 1917 in Ontario and is living with his mother in the 1921 census.

Of the step children:
-Edith Gregory b 16 Sep 1894 in England  married  Ambrose Mark on 6 Nov 1917 in Lindsay, Victoria Ontario. The 1921 census shows her living with husband and in laws with their 4 year old daughter Alice.
-Albert Gregory b 1895 in England appears in the 1911 census with his family and as a lodger , labourer in the 1921 census..
-Elizabeth Gregory b 1899 in England married Percy George Pappin on 21 Aug 1921.

Captioned Grandpa and Grandma Gregory -presumably the younger girl is one of Margaret and Albert's daughters

So the story of the five branches of Catherine and John’s family has been expanded and fleshed out. I’ve tried to respect privacy by minimising some details and stories. More information and records can be found on my Ancestry tree. Contact me

Hello Canadian Relatives from Aussie relatives- Thomas Gadsby Reunion 1912
In September 1912, many of the Australian arm of the Gadsby family assembled for a reunion. It was one hundred years since they had arrived in Sydney, Australia. Family researchers Leane and myself had discovered the whereabouts of Thomas’  other siblings' families but the Rowbothams were a mystery –they appeared to have fallen off the face of the earth. No they hadn’t – they had gone to Canada!  
Some of the Rowbotham's cousins and Aunt Selina- l-r Maude,Selina,AuntSelina, John, Julia Gadsby c1921 in Newtown Sydney

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