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February 20, 2008

1828 Nominal Return of Militia: Men of the First Carleton Regiment, Ontario Canada

Anyone searching for ancestors in Carleton Ontario may want to see the new transcription just put online at

It is the 1828 Nominal Return of Militia - Men of the First Carleton Regiment between the ages of 19 & 39 - a list of 502 names

Details include ages, place of residence and former service

It is easiest to get to it from February's list of free transcriptions and uploads

Enjoy and please feel free to pass this information on to others who might be interested

February 17, 2008

Age of Consent vs Age of Majority Explained

author J. Brian Gilchrist,
Published with permission of author

There is confusion over two totally distinct terms: "age of consent" is not the same as "age of majority" (often known as "full age"). These terms are also affected by different types of laws: Canon Law, Common Law, Civil Law and Criminal Law (noting that the last three are now very much connected and often thought of in the public mindset as one, though still distinct).

Some of my comments below also do not necessarily apply to the United States of America following the War for Independence - although the section of Wills does.

When you reached the "age of majority" this would be when the person become of "full age" to own or lease land, sign contracts, etc.

Under English Common Law, the age of consent to marry was 14 for males and 12 for females - but this required permission from an individual of authority (parental consent is usually thought of as being required but that is not the case, for if it was withheld or unavailable - there were other options).

Under English Civil Law, the age of majority is usually considered to be 21 for males, and 18 for females.

Exception: unless the person was married previous to those ages. Example, in England, after 1754, if either the bride and or groom had been married as teenagers (with consent? remembering they could also have eloped to a big city and lied about ages and even their names to hide the event) and was soon widowed (by child birth, a farming / labour accident, disease, military action - or whatever) the surviving partner could be listed as "full age" (or "widowed") when they marry again.

Yet another aspect which is a subject unto itself, is that in England the age of consent for (heterosexual) sex was raised to 13 (from 12!) in 1875, and to 16 in 1885. This was due to the Victorian changes in the Criminal laws regarding operating a brothel, seduction, abduction and the changing rape and carnal knowledge laws, etc.

As to inheritances left in a Will, people were absolutely free to make their own "rules" regarding who should and could inherit, one major example being the difference between "fee entail" (aka "fee tail") and "fee simple". Fee tail can also be further subdivided into "fee tail male" and "fee tail female". This is another topic, and further whether any stipulation made in a Will or Codicil was legal or not, that too is also another topic.

However the Rules of Court at the time and place where the Will was being settled had to be followed.

An example of an estate situation could be where single uncle Angus Macdonald "entailed" his estate to his namesake nephew Angus Sheepway (son of his sister) so long as Sheepway changes his name to "Macdonald" when he "comes of full age", etc.

It was, and is not, illegal to use any name so long as it not for fraudulent purposes, and gaining an inheritance by changing one's name was not only legal, it happened more than we think. It is difficult to prove until one becomes involved in "whole family" genealogy and a general study of all the families of the area where your ancestors lived.

Another aspect of the age of "consent" and the "age of majority" can also be applied to being "indentured" and or "apprenticed" - again this is another subject. For example, Benjamin Franklin was apprenticed (with the consent of his father) to Ben's brother - James Franklin - at the age of 12.

So try to remember what my friend, Donald J. Steel, the eminent English genealogist and family historian and myself have been teaching for years - the term "Environmental Genealogy" - place your ancestor in the context of the location, the time period and the society in which they lived in - not ours.

It is often difficult of younger people of today to comprehend but may I remind everyone that it has been less than 80 years since "The Famous Five" did their thing in Canada in 1929 to help make women "people". Try and read about "The Peoples Case" of 1929.

So in summary - there are indeed differences to the terminology "age of consent", "age of majority" and "full age" in different places, in different times, for different reasons.

February 16, 2008

PEER Genealogy Puzzler for February

This ia Genealogy Puzzle for February. I'm hopeful a reader can point me in the right direction to find answers to any of my unknowns below, OR knows of a researcher for hire.

Here are the facts around the puzzle:

* circa 1817/1818 Edward PEER and family (wife Anna) settled in Northeast Twp Erie Co. Pennsylvania.

Edward and son John are found in 1820 census for Northeast (1820 Census for NorthEast Twp. Erie Co. PA lists Edward PIER and John PIER)

* Levi Peer born circa 1760 in New Jersey, settled across the border in Ripley, Chautauga Co NY circa 1817/1818. Sometime between 1825 and 1830, Levi PEER sold his New York land and settled with Edward Peer in Erie Pennsylvania.

Levi and family - wife Elizabeth and children - are found in the 1830 census for Northeast PA. This Levi Peer is NOT the Levi Peer (Pier) born 1754 who married Ann Dewey and settled in Busti New York

* In August 1831 Levi and family bought land in Illinois and prepared to settle there. Levi Sr. died before the family arrived in Illinois, perhaps before they left.

What I am looking for is:

1. Will for Edward PEER (Pier, Pear) who is buried in Philips Cemetery, Northeast Twp with a death date of 9 Nov.1834. His wife Sarah died 16 march 1833 and is buried in the same cemetery.

Edward's known children were John L. Peer b ca 1792 Canada; Mercy aka Phoebe Peer b ca 1800 Ontario married Mr. Averill (Stephen?) in Northeast PA date uknown and Lewis A. Peer b 1802 Ontario married Charlotte unk. in Northeast PA. Lewis is buried in Philips cemetery, death date 8 Nov. 1891

2. Will and/or grave record for Levi PEER (Pier, Pear) who died circa 1831, perhaps August in Northeast PA. Levi was married to Elizabeth. His known children (Levi, William,Abraham, Rachel, Hiram and Eliza Jane) all left PA for IL in 1831 along with their mother. It is assumed that Levi died in Northeast PA shortly before they left.

3. Land Records for both Levi and Edward. (or other Peer individuals) in Northeast PA. I have one land record, (but I'm sure there are more as both men owned extensive land holdings everywhere they lived) for 28 April 1825. It is an Indenture between Edward Peer and Sarah, his wife of the town of Northeast, Erie Co. PA, and Elizabeth Peer, wife of Levi Peer, town of Ripley, Chautauqua Co. NY, parties of the first part, and James McClung of the second part. The parties of the first part sell for 1400.00 50 acres of land in the town of Ripley - Township #3, 15th Range.

4. Tax or Assessment records for 1817-1834

So, that is my February challenge. Can anyone offer ideas, suggestions or even answers to this PEER puzzle?

February 12, 2008

Palatines to America National Conference in June 2008

Palatines to America German Genealogy Society National Conference

Sponsored by the Ohio Chapter June 19 - 21, 2008

Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center Columbus, Ohio

"Tune Up Your German Speaking Research"

MARION WOLFERT: A professional genealogist and German specialist with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Ms Wolfert will give 3 presentations: the keynote address "How Do I Interest My Grandchildren in Genealogy?," "Records in the Various Provinces and Regions of Germany," and "Border Changes in Germany."

MARALYN WELLAUER: A well-known genealogist specializing in Swiss research, Ms Wellauer will have returned from a research trip to Switzerland just prior to the conference. She will give 2 presentations: "Sources and Strategies for Successful Pre-19th century Swiss Genealogical Research," and "18th and 19th Century Swiss Emigrants and the Records They Left Behind."

MELDON WOLFGANG: A noted genealogy speaker and owner of Jonathan Sheppard Books Mr. Wolfgang will talk about "When to Hire a Professional," "Tracking Cultures Lost in Translation: German and German-Americans in the 19th and early 20th Century," and "Newspaper Research Tips for the Family Historian."

ROBERTA ESTES: A scientist knowledgeable on DNA and how it relates to genealogy Ms. Estes will present "DNA, Genealogy and You: An Introduction" and "Using DNA to Breakdown Brick Walls."

KEN SMITH: An author of numerous German genealogy books and teacher of German script Mr. Smith will discuss "Reading German Church Records" and "Confirming your Ancestors Place of Origin."

ANN MILLER SCOTT: The librarian at the Palatines to America National Library will speak on "German Ancestral Research and the Pal Am Library."

BARBARA NUEHRING: A speaker new to Pal Am Conferences Ms. Nuehring will present interesting information on the importance of "Timelines."

For Registration Information go the Pal Am home page and click on 2008 National Conference Information, or write to Palatines to America, 611 E. Weber Rd., Columbus, OH 43211

Click for a handout that you can print and post

View Palatine Genealogy information and history

February 8, 2008

Serendipity in Genealogy

Last week I decided to play around with FamilySearch and their new Labs, in particular Record Search.

It's easy and free to register, so after filling out the form, I logged in and began my search. I was not looking for anything or anyone specifically, I simply wanted to try it out.

Imagine my surprise when typing in my family surname (McGINNIS) from Ontario, up popped a 1920s death record in Ohio.

A closer look revealed it was my great-grandfather's brother, an individual in my McGinnis Family Tree I'd lost after the 1881 census, and a man I'd almost given up hope of ever finding! I had no idea he'd gone to Ohio, in fact family lore swore he had left Guelph Ontario for Hamilton Ontario. I'd searched Ontario for him without success.

And now, here he was dying in Ohio. His wife's name and her residence were given on the dath record. A note stated the body was being sent to Ontario for burial. With those clues I was able to find his wife and their children and a whole new branch of research has opened for me.

Serendipity at its best. So don't overlook taking the time to play with new genealogy records you find online. It can pay off!

February 6, 2008

What is a Loyalist?

In Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario, individuals had to qualify as Loyalists. They had to be recognized by the Government as Loyalists. If recognized, they and their descendants are entitled to use the designation UE (Unity of Empire) after their names.

If the courts did not approve their claim, or did not agree that the person met the qualifications, then they are not Loyalists

I have Loyalist ancestors who were approved. I have ancestors from New Jersey who remained loyal to England and left New Jersey for Ontario but who were NOT approved. They are not qualified Loyalists.

So while an ancestor might be loyal to the British Crown, they might not meet all the criteria and hence not be Loyalists.

The criteria basically for qualification was three-fold:

* a person had to reside in the American Colonies before the war with Britain
* had to join the British Forces in some capacity before 1783
* had to experience some loss of property, life or goods.

So in the case of my loyal, but non-Loyalist ancestors, because no one took up arms (i.e., joined the British forces) they did not qualify as Loyalists.

Being a Loyalist gave many rights to an individual, including free grants of Crown land and being exempt from administration fees for land processes.

There is no one list of approved Loyalists! Finding a Loyalist ancestor means looking in many different sources, including the following

CLRI (aka Ontario Land Record Index) summarizes land grants from sales of Crown Land, from Canada Company sales or leases and from Peter Robinson settlers' grants. Also includes Loyalist grants (as UEL, DUE and SUE)

UCLP are the actual Petitions for land which were submitted in Upper Canada . They frequently contain
information about the petitioner and his or her family. Loyalists and discharged soldiers often mentioned the regiment in which they served. A land grant will provide you with the information as to under what conditions the land was granted. This will confirm Loyalist status if qualified.