The Milne/Smeed Connection

Family Stories Past and Present


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George Hewitt (1805 – 1893)

#52ancestors Week 9 – Where There’s a Will – George Hewitt (1805 – 1893)

George Hewitt was born in Edgefield, Norfolk, England on 27 September 1805. He was the son of James Hewitt and Mary Hagon. On 6 June 1826, George married Mary Clements in Edgefield.

By 1836, George and Mary had five children: Elizabeth, Mary, Rebecca, John and James. Several years of poor weather and the resulting crop failures had made life difficult for the family. They, along with other family members, took advantage of an assisted emigration scheme to journey to what was then Upper Canada (Ontario).

After one year on a piece of land that was very unsuitable for farming they moved to their land in Blenheim Township, Oxford County. The farm they carved out of the wilderness remained in the family until the early 1990s.

Five more children were added to the family: William, Henry, George, Richard and Thomas. James, George and Thomas all died at a young age. In spite of early hardships and tragedies along the way, George and Mary lived long and prosperous lives together.

George drew up his final will and testament on 10 January 1887. He died on 27 November 1893 and his will was probated 1 December 1893. Sons William and Richard had been appointed as executors. All of George’s personal effects and monetary estate were bequeathed to his wife, Mary. According to the provisions of the will, the “farm and homestead” was also to pass to Mary, to have and use during her natural life “only so as not to interfere with or encumber the freehold title”. Upon Mary’s death (which occurred in 1896) the farm was to pass to youngest son, Richard. All personal effects and estate were then to be sold or divided equally among George’s children except son, John.

According to the 1881 and 1891 Census of Canada, Richard and his family were living on the farm with George and Mary. Given the advanced age of his parents, Richard had probably already been running the farm for some time. George’s son, Henry, had land nearby and son, William, had a farm in Elma Township, Perth County. The sons each received an extra two hundred dollars. The three daughters were all married and they each received one hundred dollars..

So what of my great grandfather, the oldest son, John? George made special mention of him in the will. He stated “my son John who has become unsteady and wasteful in his habits” was to receive ten dollars having earlier been given one hundred dollars (presumably as an advance because of ongoing financial difficulties).

Richard was instructed to pay all costs and expenses for a “decent Christian burial” for George and Mary as well as any other debts so that none of the other heirs would be charged with such payment. Richard carried out these wishes. George and Mary were buried in Plattsville Cemetery, Oxford County and commemorated with a large memorial stone.

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Happy Canada Day!

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation I have given some thought to my direct ancestors and their families who were present in Canada on 1 July 1867. They lived on farms or in small communities and I don’t know how or if they marked that historic day.

Those early settlers were:

William Collins (1799 – 1881) and Jean Anderson Collins (1798 – 1850) emigrated from Renfrewshire, Scotland ca 1826 and settled in Oxford County and then Waterloo County.

George Hewitt (1805 – 1893) and Mary Clements Hewitt (1807 – 1896) left Norfolk County, England in 1836 and settled in Oxford County the year before the Rebellions of 1837.

John Hewitt (1833 – 1911) left Norfolk with his parents in 1836 and married Elizabeth Collins (1835 – 1881) who was born in Waterloo County.

Charles Milne (1807 – 1856) and Elspet Ross Milne (1808 – 1897) arrived in Wentworth County from Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1846.

Rebecca Cromer Johnson McArthur (1807 – 1902) was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, emigrated to New York City and came to Wentworth County as a widow ca 1850 with two young daughters.

William Milne (1850 – 1932) was born in Dundas, Ontario and married Catherine Johnson (1846 – 1911) who was born in New York City, NY and arrived in 1850 with her mother and sister.