Chapter 7: John McCutcheon’s son William (1795-1862):

William McCUTCHEON (3) (John-2; Samuel-1) was born 1795 in Sloanstown, Donaghadee, County Down, Northern Ireland and he died on the 31st July 1862 in Erin Township, Wellington County, ON.  He married Margaret HAYES circa 1818 in County Down.  Margaret was born circa 1795 in County Down and died circa 1858 in Erin Township.  ►


LIAM:  means strong willed warrior.  In Scottish Gaelic it is “Uilleam” anglicised to William.  So far as is known, William was given the anglicised form of the name Liam.

Along with his two older brothers, Robert and Hugh, he was Donaghadee born and raised.

William married Margaret HAYES in County Down.  Her roots were from quite a prominent family.

The Hayes Family (sometimes spelled “HAY”) was numerous in County Down in the late 1700’s, with a concentration in Ballymacreely. Some of the Hayes family members came to be very prominent in this county.  The surname HAY is a very old name that was first recorded in Scotland in 1160 and was originally spelled Mac Garaidh in Gaelic. The progenitors were the La Haye-Hue Family from the Cotentin Peninsula Normandy France.  Clan Hay’s roots in Scotland were Aberdeenshire, with some concentrations of the clan in Perthshire.  This clan was a loyal supporter of Robert The Bruce.  The name Hays or Hayes is found in historical records in Ireland in the late 1600’s.

William and Margaret and one child, according to historical records were the first of the chain migration of an entire family to arrive in Canada.  An historical record dated 22nd August 1821 placed William McCutchon [sic] in the County of York applying for a land grant for 50 acres Lot 7, Concession 5 in the newly surveyed Township of Erin.  It is probable that they did not come alone, however, at this time it is not known who they crossed the Atlantic with.

I found 9 recorded ships that left Belfast that year arriving at the Port of Quebec: 2 arrived on the 30th May 1821: one was the Brig [Sarah &] Marianne with 170 settlers, taking 40 days to cross; the other was the Brig Greenhouse with 288 settlers, taking 42 days.  Ship Nestor arrived on the 26th June 1821 with 300 setters, (43 days).  Brig Ocean arrived on the 1st July with 137 settlers, (43 days).  Brig General Brock arrived on the 14th July with 250 settlers, taking 43 days.  Brig Sarah [& Marianne] arrived on the 28th July with 55 Settlers, (37 days).  There were 3 more that year from Belfast, but it is not likely that William and Mary were on those Brigs, as the time frame would not have allowed him to be in York County on the 22nd August 1821.  1,639 settlers arrived from Belfast in 1821.  The total vessels arriving that year at the Port of Quebec were 286 carrying 6,367 immigrants.  26% of the immigrants  arrived from Belfast.  There were 22 other ships that docked here with their origins from 7 other ports in Ireland bringing a further 1,147 Irish immigrants.

44% of all new arrivals to Canada that year were from Ireland.

The Brig “General Brock” was built in 1821 in Cap Breton by Peter Brouard.  It docked in Belfast on Monday the 9th May 1821.

From “The Irishman” 27th April 1821:      TO SUCCEED THE LYNX,


THE  GENERAL BROCK, of Liverpool,


Copper-fastened and Coppered to the Bends.

TO  SAIL 10th MAY.

This new and beautiful vessel, will, on inspection, be found one of the finest Conveyances yet offered to the Public. She is six feet ten inches between Decks, which are completely laid fore and aft. Her Water Casks are all new and abundant; she will be birthed in the most comfortable manner; and those who go out in the General Brock, may depend on receiving the same kind attention from the Subscribers, that he has always paid to his Passengers.  The greater part of her complements being already engaged, to prevent disappointment, immediate application will be necessary, to


At the Established American Passage Office,

6, Prince’s-street, Belfast.

From “The Irishman” 18th May 1821:      NOTICE TO PASSENGERS.

Those  who have engaged Passage in


Captain  David Whitlaw,


Are  requested to be in Belfast, on Monday, the 21st day of May, pay  remainder of their Passage Money, and go on board, as this Vessel (agreeable to  the original advertisement) will clear for sea next day and sail first fair  wind afterwards, of which all concerned are requested to take notice.


At  the Established American Passenger Office,

6,  Prince’s-street, Belfast.

Who has (to succeed the General Brock), the fine, first-class British ship Argo, Captain White, to sail for Quebec, on  the 4th June.

It is interesting to note here that passengers, according to the newspaper advertisement, were required to be on board at least 13 days prior to departure.  Perhaps, with the immigrants taking all of their worldly belongings, it took that long to load the ships.

According  to “The Irishman” newspaper, the General Brock set sail on Sunday the 3rd June 1821 for Quebec loaded with passengers and linen. Passenger lists have not been found for this Brig, but because of the time frame involved, this is the most probable ship that carried William and his family to Quebec.

On the 28th July 1821, W. McCutcheon, his wife and one child booked steerage on the Steam Boat, the Malsham, from Quebec to Montreal, passengers #46, 47, 48. Their fares were 1 Pound 5 Shillings.  Since children under 2 years travelled free, this child must have been older than that.

On the 18th February 1824, both William and his father John, applied for their land in Erin Township and 5 months later, in July, were recorded living on that land on their respective homesteads.  William’s grant was 50 acres of land, the North East ¼ Section of Lot 7, Concession 5 in Erin Township.  John’s land was the North West ¼ Section of Lot 7, Concession 5.  The un-cleared rough-forested farms bordered each other, allowing the families close proximity.

The summer of 1824 was extraordinarily hot.  That summer, in the humid, sweltering heat, father and son worked relentlessly cutting down trees, and hewing them into useable logs for 2 houses approximately 16 by 20 feet.  Winter fast approached, with barely enough time to get the cracks of the logs sealed with moss against the cold, icy north winds that bore down on their tiny log home in the bush.

Niceties such as glass window panes to cover the windows were non-existent.

Margaret and Eleanor were busy picking fall berries such as wild plums, grapes, baked-apple berries, blueberries, raspberries along the small streams and bogs in preparation for the long, cold winter about to set in.  Wild mushrooms were prolific; did they know which ones were edible?  Possibly. Wild nuts were plentiful and honey was gathered. That fall, Salmon abounded in the streams.  The first winter they would also have supplemented their diet with the numerous deer in the area, rabbits, squirrels, and the wild pigeons that used to blacken the sky.

As they nestled into their drafty log homes, their only companions during the first frigid February 1825 were Timber Wolves, their lonely distant howling breaking the deafening silence.  The first winter was the most difficult; there were no crops from the previous summer; Pioneers had to be very resourceful.  The crops came the following year.

In the 1825 Census of Erin Township three McCutcheon families are listed living on their respective homesteads; John, William and Robert who was here for the first time, with four people: Robert, Agnes and their two sons, John and Henry Smith.  Robert’s short-lived appearance in Erin greatly aided them that year in cutting timber.  Father and both sons worked long hours, cutting and hewing, burning brush.  The spring of 1825, they would have planted their first vegetables and crops.

Stories told of this era say that “……when the first hills of potatoes were dug and the first crop of wheat harvested we thought we were rich….”  

Robert applied for his land in Adjala Township, Simcoe County, near Rosemont, Lot 30, Concession 1, in May 1825 and was gone from Erin Township by 1826.

On the 1826 and 1827 Census of Erin Township only William is listed as head of the household, with 2 males and 2 females over sixteen living under the same roof.  The rest of the inhabitants were William’s daughters.  It suggests that John and Eleanor were living with William.

The long arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean, left many Irish settlers mal-nourished and feeble.  It was particularly rough on the very young and the very old.  Not that John at 53 years old was “very old”.

But still, at his advancing age, and perhaps with an already present medical condition, the hard work clearing brush in the summers of 1824, 1825 and 1826 must have taken its toll on him, because, according to his will in 1827, he bequeaths to Eleanor:  “…..all the property that I possess while she lives that she is to have the rooms that we live in, and she half of the clearing at that time.”   So he did begin building his log house in the wilderness.

However, within a year of arrival, his health declined, so much so that they moved in with William and Margaret and John died near the end of 1827.

In 1827, numbers and lines had now been established and William’s homestead was identified as Lot # 7, Concession 5.  By this time, out of his 180 acres, he had prepared 20 acres, cleared and under cultivation. This homestead consisted of 200 acres. His one and only son, John, was born in this year, named after the grandfather who was soon to die.  John’s birth was bittersweet.

William was alone with 2 parcels of Land to clear under the time constraints of the Land Grants and his son only a baby.   One can only imagine how hard William worked in the first ten years.

Since they were the first to settle in this area, help from neighbouring farmers for them was non-existent.  However, in later years as more and more settlers began arriving on their new homesteads, farmers would go ten miles or more to help another farmer out with a barn raising.

Two years later, 1829, another 5 acres were cleared and cultivated. 1831, 5 more acres.  He was manually clearing at an astounding pace of about 2 ½ acres per year.

The first settler used a wooden plow. In the first year, having no harrows, William would have used materials close at hand to scratch the ground and then throw seed hither and yon by hand.  In the fall they cut the hay and the grain with a scythe and hand tied it.  And still managed to clear 2 and ½ acres each and every year.  Timber not needed was burned.

The summer of 1837 the bears were as “…thick as blackberries…” and young John, now ten years old, was given the tasks of a man. Cutting grain, hauling flour, feeding animals.

William’s first harrows were wooden ones, fashioned in the form of a “V” so they could pass between stumps.  Later, once he had oxen, he pulled stumps which made sowing wheat and corn much easier.   By 1843, American implements were being imported into Canada, and if he had 7 dollars, he could purchase one of these new pieces of equipment.  And of course, once there was a blacksmith nearby, they hand made them locally, copying the more expensive imported ones. 

Around 1840, the first wooden Horse rake was introduced in the area and this device was probably the most labour saving device.  Then there followed between 1840 and 1860 many other mechanical devices such as threshers, self-raking reapers, etc, that settlers, if they had money, could buy.

However, for the first 16 years, all of the farm work was carried out in back-breaking fashion, by hand.  And he kept clearing brush, opening up more land until he had most of the ½ section of land under cultivation.

In their early days, they didn’t have stoves to cook on so the daily meals were prepared in the fireplace in the house.  The first fireplaces were built of straw and clay. A cross bar of sorts was placed in the chimney and pots and kettles were hung on this for cooking.  Some pioneers built clay ovens outside for cooking in the summer months. The women made all of the materials for their clothing.  Flax, was grown and spun into threads for linens.  Sheep were purchased and sheared, then spun into yarn for their woollen clothing.  And shoes?  They got one pair per year.  If someone died, the deceased shoes’ where given to the person whose feet closely fit them.

Shoes were worn in the winter; if they wore out, barefoot in summer.

Another technique the Scots-Irish pioneers brought with them was the knowledge and ability to make good whiskey.  This is not to suggest that William made whiskey; just that he knew how. 

His mother, Eleanor continued to live with William and his wife until 1832, when according to census records, Eleanor went to live with Hugh McCutcheon.

In a newspaper article dated 1862, William was described as “…living alone and in comfortable circumstances…”

In thirty years, William prospered very well.

However, with Margaret recently passing on, William became very despondent and irrational.  His daughter, Eleanor was a newly-wed and moved to the farm next door and he was left alone.

On Wednesday, 13th August 1862, William took his own life.  He cut his own throat.  He managed to find his way some distance to the creek, where he bled to death, alone in the silence of the Ontario wilderness, a long, long way from Donaghadee.


1.         September 4, 1821 pg. 755                  Location Ticket:

Under the authority of an Order of Council on the 22 August 1821 granting unto William McCutcheon a native of Greyabbey, County Down, Ireland now of the home district, yeoman, a gratuitous grant of fifty acres of land the NE 1/4 section of Lot 7 in the 5th Concession in the Township of Erin in the County of Halton in the district of Gore containing 50 acres subject to the settling duties by Orders in Council 20th October 1818 clear and fence 5 acres for every hundred acres granted, build a dwelling house 16′ by 20′ and to clear one half of the road in front of each lot the whole to be performed within 2 years from the date of this ticket.

2.         21 February 1848 pg. 763         Crown Lands Office Elora:

Sir:  William McCutcheon has called here today wishing us to procure his Patent for him and has put into my hands twelve pounds 0s 15d which I here enclose as the Patent fees on East 1/2 Section Lot 7 Concession 5 Erin Township.  William McCutcheon E/1/2-7-5 Erin 100 acres obtained Location Ticket about December 1823 – fees 6.7.6.

RE:       John McCutcheon W 1/2-7-5 100 acres obtained Location Ticket about December 1823.  Fees 6.7.6.  Total 12.15s.

I also enclose certificate of what is now done on said lots together with certificate on the Location Tickets — having been left in the Surveyor’s Office Toronto twelve years ago.

If the fees should be more I will forward the balance when the Patents come up.  I have the honour to remain respectfully

 Sir…………………………………Your Obedient Servant.

3.         1st March 1860 Erin Township Papers MS 658 R 135

Ospringe:  Mr. Murphy:  Sir, please let me know how the deed of Lot No. 7, Concession V Erin is coming, whether all in my name or 50 acres and 50 acres in Nancy Warren’s name.  My father William McCutcheon has been seeing you some different times about it.  Please write by return post and let me know how the matter stands, when it comes out and what it will cost.

And Oblige, Yours Truly                       Hellen McCutcheon, Ospringe, Erin.

ORANGEVILLE SUN – Circa 15 August 1862:

SUICIDE IN ERIN:           A suicide of a painful nature occurred between Wednesday and Friday, week before last, off the 5th concession, Township of Erin.  Mr. McCutcheon, about 64 years of age, and an old resident of the Township who lived alone and was in comfortable circumstances, has been recently labouring under aberration of mind.  It Appears that he had slept at the house of his son-in-law, Francis Warren, on Tuesday night.  He rose early Wednesday morning, and spoke incoherently of the holy Ghost, and other things of a religious nature.  This was the last seen of him until he was found on Friday.

When the body was discovered it was lying in a small creek, about the distance of a lot from the house.  An inspection of the body was made by Dr. McNaughton, and the conclusion was that the deceased had____(unreadable) out his throat.  Two wounds were made at the____(unreadable) of the neck.  The____(unreadable) of the arteries, but the___(unreadable) was uninjured.  After he had inflicted three wounds, he seems to have gone to the house, made____(unreadable) and applied it to staunch the blood.

He must have proceeded to the creek and deliberately have drowned himself, as there was very little water in it at the time.  After the several witnesses were examined, the jury returned their verdict, that deceased came to his death from loss of blood and submersion in the water but whether said wounds were inflicted by himself or not, they were not prepared to say. 


Know all men by these presents that I, William McCutcheon, of the Township of Erin, the County of Wellington and Province of Canada, Yeoman, for and in consideration of the natural love and affection I bear towards my daughter, Elleanor McCutcheon, have given, granted and assigned transferred and set over unto my said daughter, Elleanor McCutcheon, her heirs and assigns all my estate, right, title, interest, claim and demand whatsoever to that certain parcel or tract of land and premises situate lying and being in the Township of Erin in the County of Wellington and Province aforesaid containing by ad measurement fifty acres be the same more or less being composed of the  N-1/2 of the W-1/2 of Lot 7 in concession V Erin aforesaid. 

To have and hold with all and every benefit that may or can be derived from the said 50 acres of land unto my said daughter, Elleanor McCutcheon, her heirs and assigns forever. 

In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and seal this fifteenth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight. 


William McCutcheon; Francis Warne.


By 1877, William’s land was owned in its entirety by Francis Warne and Agnes Nancy McCutcheon.

Where William and Margaret are buried is not known.  It is possible that they are buried at the old Ballinafad Cemetery.

Homestead William applied for and received his Patent for the North East ¼ Section Lot 7, Concession V.


  • Eleanor McCUTCHEON (4).                      “A” following.
  • Agnes Nancy McCUTCHEON (4).              “B” following.
  • Jane McCUTCHEON (4).                           “C” following.
  • John McCUTCHEON (4).                           “D” following.

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