Reverend James Thomson a storied
descendant of Miramichi
The Reverend James Thomson of Auchtergaven & Miramichi, his ministry,
family and descendants.
The adults were complaining about the weather:
snow one week with freezing temperatures, rain the next with howling winds
strong enough to knock down trees in the upper pasture and blow shingles
off the barn roof.
The one outing of the week was going to church but even that had been cancelled.
Cabin fever was hitting everyone.
Finally, on Friday, the sun shone brightly and the air was crisp.
As we walked home from school, Cliff and I talked about going skating that
evening in Bob's meadow. A full moon and a bonfire, where a group of our
friends would gather, sounded like great fun.
When we entered the kitchen to ask Mum, however, she was not there.
It seemed the Rev. A. G. and his wife also had cabin fever. While he visited
some members of the congregation, the missus spent the afternoon sitting
in our livingroom chatting with Mum.
I could smell corn scallop. I expected they would be staying for supper.
Hopefully the Rev. A. G. would tell some of the stories of his youth in Worcestershire,
Many ministers sailed across the Atlantic to take up the "calling" on this
side of the water.
Although the Reverend James Thomson (1780-1830) was not the first Presbyterian
minister to serve on the Miramichi, he was the first to locate in the former
town of Chatham, where St. Andrew's Church was dedicated in 1817. That was
a year after his arrival (with his wife and five children) from the parish
of Auchtergaven, Perthshire, Scotland. His Scottish parish had been in decline,
with a dwindling population, but the Miramichi community was entering a phase
of rapid expansion. Many new businesses, churches, schools and other community
institutions were being established.
In the mix of things, the Reverend and his wife, Catherine (McKay) Thomson,
were important players, carrying the torch for a reformist version of Presbyterianism,
providing spiritual guidance to a growing flock and taking on practical responsibilities
such as management of schools and instillment of sound agricultural practices.
They had five more children born in Chatham. The family had six boys and
four girls before Mr. Thomson's premature death occurred in 1830, at age
The biographies of some of the Thomson children are as engaging as the lives
of the parents. Those of some of their grandchildren are even more so. Three
children made their homes on the Miramichi - Dr. John Thomson, a leading
surgeon in his day, Samuel Thomson, a lawyer in Newcastle, and Catherine
Thomson, who, with her husband Rev. John McCurdy, headed another of the Miramichi's
many remarkable 19th-century families.
Grandchildren included Dr. William A. Thomson, also a Miramichi physician;
Christina (McCurdy) Haddow, the mother of two research physicians of national
repute; Dr. J. Frederick McCurdy, a noted scholar in oriental languages at
the University of Toronto; Lady Kate (Thomson) Stavert, wife of Sir William
Stavert of Canadian banking and business fame; Dr. George Kerr Thomson, one
of the founders of the faculty of dentistry at Dalhousie University; and
Jean (Thomson) Aitken, the wife of Lord Beaverbrook's brother Traven Aitken,
whose descendants are still among the titled members of the British aristocracy.
These and other members of the extended Thomson family are profiled in a
new 86-page book entitled The Reverend James Thomson of Auchtergaven
and Miramichi: His Ministry, Family, and Descendants, compiled by
W. D. Hamilton with the assistance of Richard W. Turner. The book is published
by Miramichi Books, of Saint John, in collaboration with Lightning Demand
Press of Miramichi.
Lightning Demand Press (LDP) is a relatively new player on the
book scene in New Brunswick. It publishes many books on a demand basis, the
most significant of which, from the perspective of history or genealogy,
are works of local interest which might not otherwise find an outlet. There
are more than a dozen titles in this category shown on the company's website.
These include a new edition of Miramichi folk poet Michael Whelan's Poems
& Songs, reissued for the first time since 1895, when it sold for 35
cents; a new edition of Black River and Its Early Settlers by A. W. Macdougall,
which was originally issued in 1935; and a brand-new history of the Miramichi's
Beaubears Island, entitled Fair Winds and Rough Fortunes, by Shawn McCarthy.
Copies of LDP's books may be purchased at Books Inn in Miramichi or through
the online store at the LDP website: http://www.lightningdemandpress.com.
Lolar-Turner-Coburn: Recently I came
across a collection of poems written by Rev. David Coburn. One describes
the race of Peter Lolar. He ran from Fredericton to Woodstock, arriving slightly
ahead of the stage coach driven by Mr. Turner. Can anyone provide the date
and details of this race?
William Watts, married Susannah Dickie in Nissouri Township, Ont., on June
20, 1847. One of the witnesses was David Dickie. Both Susannah and David
Dickie's death records state their father is William Dickie. The Ontario
censuses show David with father William, born in West Indies. Susannah was
born in New Brunswick in 1829. I seek a marriage record in Kings County,
New Brunswick, for William Dickie, born 1786 in West Indies, and Susannah
Nice (Neis), as well as the birth confirmation of their daughter Susannah.
Contact Connie Sweetman by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Landry-Duplessis: Who were the parents
and siblings of Edouard Landry, who married Marie Anne Duplessis (who may
be of Indian heritage). They were living in Bouctouche in 1903.
Contact Donna by email: email@example.com
MacDonald-Crane: Donald MacDonald
was born in Scotland, circa 1745, and fought in the American Revolution.
He received a Loyalist land grant - the Dugal Campbell grant - in Nashwaak,
New Brunswick, and married Hannah Crane. He died in 1850. He was the oldest
surviving member of the regiment living in the Nashwaak. I am trying to determine
where he was born in Scotland (it may be Ayr) and details about his parents
and siblings. I would dearly love to find any present-day relatives living
in Scotland. Contact Lin Macdonald by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Smith: I am seeking information on
the life and ancestry of Joshua (1813-1890) and Charity Eliza Ann (1823-
1889) Smith, parents of Dr. J. Newton Smith. They had a farm in Smithtown,
Kings County, New Brunswick, where they raised six children. Contact Kay
Dyer by email: email@example.com
Townsend-McCready: Eliza Jane Townsend,
born 1816, married William McCready in Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick,
in in 1832. They later moved to Ontario. Seven of their nine children were
born in New Brunswick. Two were born in Ontario. I am seeking information
on the parents and siblings of Eliza Jane Townsend and William McCready.
Contact Paul Wilson by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayes-Hodgins-Pooler: I am a descendant
of the Hayes family of Tay Creek, New Brunswick. Margaret Hayes, born, circa
1863, married John F. Hodgins. They had nine or 10 children, including Anne
Hodgins Pooler. Seeking anyone related to or who has information about the
Hayes/Hodgins family, including whether there is any native American ancestry.
Contact Elizabeth by email: email@example.com
Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy
buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical
queries to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Query" followed
by the surnames in your query as the subject. For more information on submitting
queries, visit http://www.rubycusack.com/Query-Instructions.html
contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on the third
Saturday of the month.