Robert Byres jnr and Catherine (Kate) Henderson

Possibly following what is regarded as a tradition in some cultures, it is believed that the youngest family member and son, Robert jnr, stayed at home with his aging parents until each had passed on to a better life. It was probable that even though he was married and already had his first child, a daughter, Robert jnr may have been required to vacate their last family home after the passing of his mother Isabella at Philpstoun Gate in 1819.

Robert jnr had married Catherine, also known as Kate, Henderson, third child and first daughter of James Henderson snr and Isobel Anderson, at Abercorn, West Lothian, on 4th June 1815. 1

Catherine Henderson Lawfull daughter to James Henderson and Isabell Anderson indwellers in Hillend was born the 23d day of October 1795 and Baptised the 1st of Nov before these witnesses William Taylor and James Morison & C[ongregation ?]. 2

Their only known daughter, named Isabella, was born in March 1818 at Abercorn.

Robert Byres Philpston & Kate Henderson his Wife had their 1st child a Daughter born 10th & Bapt the 22d Named Isabella. 3

After the birth of their daughter in 1818, Robert jnr and Catherine disappear from the Scottish records, and after extensive searching, were found to have immigrated to Quebec in Canada, possibly sometime during the period from mid 1818 to early 1821. No shipping details or passenger lists have been found to confirm this as yet.

Robert jnr first appears in the Canadian records in 1820, when he is a witness at the burial of Mary Leggett at St Andrews Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 4

Robert jnr and Catherine then next appear in the records when they have a son baptised at St Gabriel's Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Robert Byers of the Cascades, Shoemaker and Catherine Henderson his wife had a son born on the fifteenth day of May last and baptised this twenty eight day of August one thousand eight hundred and twenty one named John in the presence of these Witnefses.
By J. Somerville. Min.
Robert Byers
Catherine Henderson 5

It is not until 1826 that they then re-appear, again at St Gabriel's Church in Montreal, but this time for the funeral and burial of a son named James, possibly aged four or five years old.

Robert Byers of Montreal, Shoemaker & Catherine Henderson his wife had a son named James died on the twentieth day of September & buried on twenty ninth day of same month one thousand eight hundred & twenty six, aged four (?) years.
Edw (?) Black Min.
William Forsyth
John Henderson 6

In 1836, Robert purchased Lot # 79, Village of Huntingdon, and Field Lot # 54, for ₤15 Halifax Currency, from Jacob Suttle and his wife. 7 The details were not registered until the 8th May 1837. Previously, on the 29th October 1828, Leon G Salamed, licensed surveyor ...

... measured and surveyed a Field Lot of land Situated and being in the Village of Huntingdon in the said Township. Known and distinguished by lot Number Fifty Four bounded on the South East by field lot Number Forty Six. On the Northwest by the line between the fifth and sixth ranges, on the Northeast by Sewell Street & on the Southwest by Field lot Number Fifty Three, being Eight Chains Seventy five links in front on said Sewell Street by Six Chains in debth, Containing five Acres and one rood of land ... 8

The following day, 9th May 1837, Robert subsequently sells the same Field Lot # 54 plot of land to Andrew Cunningham for only ₤5. 9

The military paylists for November of 1838, show Robert as an Ensign earning 5 shillings per day in Captain Robert Brown Somerville's Huntingdon Loyal Volunteer Militia Company. Also shown in the same company are Robert Corbett and William Henderson. The Staff paylists show Francis W. Shirriff as Assistant Surgeon and D K Lighthall as the Quartermaster. 10

1842 finds Robert, a joiner, and Catherine in the village of Huntingdon, Township of Godmanchester, owning and living in a house between Alexander Boyd and Robert Corbett. Sharing the house are two other people, one of French and one of British origin. Robert is shown as having produced 6 bushels of barley, 9 bushels of oates, 2 bushels of Indian corn; and as having 2 cattle and 2 horses; probably on the 2 acres of land they occupied. 11

In February 1843, Robert purchases the East half of Lot # 26, Range # 4, in the township of Godmanchester, from J. S. Lewis, of Malone, NY, for ₤175. 12

Only a short time later, in June of the same year, Robert sells Lot # 79, in the village of Huntingdon, with 2 storey wooden house, to Joshua S. Lewis, of Malone, NY, USA, for $250. It is quite probable that as a carpenter, Robert built the house which stood on this block of land.

All that certain Lot, piece or parcel of land situate in the Village of Huntingdon called an Emplacement containing Ninety square feet being one of the lots in the said Village of Huntingdon Known as lot Number Seventy Nine, with a two stories wooden house thereon erected of Forty feet in length by Twenty four feet in breadth with & additions of Twenty four feet long by Sixteen feet in breadth in the rear thereof, bounded in front – the lot or Emplacement by the King's Highway in depth by the King's ground on North East side by lot number Seventeen, the Property of Doctor Whyte & on the South West side by one Emplacement belonging to John Whitaker, more or less according to the boundary ... 13

In June of 1843, Robert sells two pieces of land in Huntingdon village, to Henry Hoyle of Lacolle, for $350 -

... situate in the Village of Huntingdon Known as lots Numbers One Hundred & five & One Hundred & Six in the Eighth Range of lots in said Village, being bounded in front by the fifth street, on the North Easterly side by a street running through the Public Square on Parade ground to the lots in the rear by the Ninth Range of lots owned by William Brown Esquire, & on the South West side by lot No 104 belonging or occupied by W. Henderson, with all the buildings & erections thereon made with the improvements by said Robert Buyers ... 14

Just under a year later, Robert sells the East half of Lot # 26, Range # 4, Godmanchester township, to William Henderson, possibly his brother-in-law (Catherine's younger brother) for ₤175; about 100 acres, complete with a large stone house, orchard and other buildings, with the money to be paid in instalments at 6% interest.

... all that certain tract, or parcel of land known and distinguished by the east half of lot number twenty six in the fourth range of the said Township bounded to the west by the west half of said lot to the east by Walter Barr by the third range on one end & on the other by the fifth range together with a large stone House, Orchard & buildings & improvements thereon erected, the said half lot containing one Hundred acres more or less. And for and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred and seventy five pounds Currency when twenty five pounds will become due and payable on the first day of May 1845 and as to the balance being the sum of One Hundred and fifty pounds the said Wm. Henderson binds & obliges himself to pay in six years from the said first day of May 1845 in yearly payment of twenty five pounds said Currency each, the last of which will become due & payable on the first day of May 1857 with legal interest at the rate of six percent... (?) per annum upon the principal sum due each year the said interest payable yearly. 15

On 26 June 1846, Catherine Byers nee Henderson is a witness at the baptism of Robert Corbett snr and Catherine Down's son William Walter Corbett, at St Michaels Church, Huntingdon. 16

It would appear that Robert may have died sometime between this last land transaction in 1844 and the Canadian census of 1851, as there is a death entry in 1848 that could possibly be for Robert, at the General Hospital in Montreal, although the age is given as twenty-nine years old; 17 and only Catherine, aged 56 and a servant, is shown as a "widow", possibly living with the family of George and Henry Lighthall in the village of Huntingdon. 18

Neither Robert or Catherine appear in the Canadian Census for the year of 1861.

In March of 1865, for whatever reason, Catherine purchases the East half of Lot # 26, Range # 4, Godmanchester township, of 100 acres, with a large stone house, orchard and other buildings, back from (possibly her brother) William Henderson, for the sum of $1,000. 19

Just under two years later, in February 1867, Catherine sells the same East half of Lot # 26, Range # 4, Godmanchester township, 100 acres, with a large stone house, orchard and other buildings, to Thomas King for only $800. 20

As there are several entries in the 1871 census that could be a match for Catherine, she has not been able to be positively identified. There are two entries under the Henderson surname; one a "Catharine Henderson", aged 75, a widow, born in Scotland and of Scotch origin, in the province of Ontario, district of Halton, sub-district of Nassagaweya. Also in the same household is a John Henderson, aged 40, possibly single (not shown as "M(arried)"), and a farmer. Also residing with them is a Nancy Campbell, aged 50, also possibly single (not shown as "M(arried)"); both of whom are also born in Scotland and of Scotch origin. 21 The other is a "Cathrine Henderson", also aged 75, a widow, born in Scotland and of Scotch origin, in the province of Quebec, district of Hochelaga, sub-district of Montreal. Also in this residence, is a Mary Brodie, aged 29, married. 22

Catherine's younger brother William Henderson, dies in 1875.

19 April 1875 - William Henderson, died at Lockton, Ontario, Aged 69 years. A native of Scotland and for a number of years a resident of Godmanchester, and Brother of Mrs. R. Byers, of the Huntingdon Village. 23

In July of 1877, Catherine, still living in Huntingdon Village, loans the Trustees of St Andrew's Church (Huntingdon) a sum of money.

We Hugh Barr and William Walker of the Township of Godmanchester, in the County of Huntingdon, and Province of Quebec, Farmers, and Francis W. Shirriff, of the Village of Huntingdon in the said County, Physician, in our quality of Trustees of the St Andrews Church in the said Village of Huntingdon, hereby acknowledge ourselves to be indebted to Catherine Henderson, widow of Robert Byers, of the said Village of Huntingdon, in the sum of Eight Hundred and Fifty Dollars Currency payable in Fours Years from the date hereof, with interest at eight percent per annum, payable semi annually ... 24

The Trustees of the church provide security for the loan.

... all that piece of land being the whole of Lot number thirty two in the fourth range and the whole of Lot number forty six in the fifth range of the aforesaid Village of Huntingdon bounded on the North by King Street on the East by the land of John Hunter and Alexander Vance on the South by Prince Street and on the West by the land of the Canada Presbyterian Church containing one acre, more or lefs, in superficies, With all appurtenances thereon or thereunto belonging, unto the said Catherine Henderson, her heirs and afsigns. 25

Later, in November of that same year, Catherine formalises an agreement with William Walter Corbett, that in exchange for providing the basic necessities for her daily life for as long as she survives, she will sign over all her possessions.

Dame Catherine Henderson of the Village of Huntingdon widow of the late Robert Byers in his lifetime Carpenter of the said Village of Huntingdon Who did and doth hereby give grant transfer confirm and make over from this day henceforth and forever with full warranty against all trouble and causes of troubles and evictions (?) generally whatsoever by invocable (?) on ... (?) ... (?) donation intervions (?) unto Mr William Walter Corbett book keeper of the said Village of Huntingdon hereunto present and accepting thereof donee for himself his heirs and assigns to wit all the property movable and immovable real and personal of any kind or description whatsoever actually belonging to the said donor wherever the same may be due to the said donor or situated and to whatever amount the same may be reckond without any exceptions or reserve whatsoever including especially all money or moneys which the said donor has actually on hand or which may be actually Due to her the said donor by any person or persons whatsoever or by any institution whatsoever in which the same may be actually deposited consenting and agreeing the said donor that the said donee his heirs and assigns be and remain. .. (?) subrogated in her own place and stead from this day henceforth and forever for the collection and recovery of said money or moneys against the debtor or debtors thereof and against the property or properties which may be mortgaged for the security of the faithful payment thereof such as the said hereby given movables and immovable property or properties are now to be found with all and every members (?) and appurtenances thereunto belonging of which the said donee declares to have a perfect knowledge and therefore hers satisfied to be by the said donee her heirs and assigns held collected enjoyed received and recovered (?) from whoever it may op... (?) ... (?) in full property from from this day to take possession thereof immediately the present gift or donation is thus made subject to the following charge condition and obligation which the said donee expressly promises to execute and fulfil to wit to support maintain and keep in his home and with his family the said donor during the remainder of her natural lifetime by constantly providing her with all the necessaries such as meat drink clothing washing fire light and all other necessaries of life whatsoever as well in health as in sickness and at her death to cause her to be properly and decently buried. 26

William Walter Corbett provides some of his own assets as security for -

... the faithful fulfilment of the foregoing charge condition and obligation the said William Walter Corbett especially affects mortgages and hypothecates the herein after described immovable property of which he declares to be in possession as propietor to wit a certain village lot or emplacement situated lying or being in the said Village of Huntingdon in the County of Huntingdon known as lot number one hundred and three on Wellington Street containing half an acre of land in superficies to the same ... (?) less and bounded in front to the south east by said Wellington Street in rear to the North West by James Feeny on the North East side by William Sparrow (?) and on the South west side by the heirs or representatives of the late William Smith with a dwelling house and other buildings thereon erected. To these presents also append and interwined (?) Dame Elizabeth Clemow wife of the said donee who doth hereby well and truly authorise her for all and every the purpose hereof who for and in consideration of these presents did and doth hereby renounce as well for herself as for and in the name of the children born and to be borne of her present marriage all dowery rights or hypothecs (?) of dowery and other matrimonial rights and claims which she and her said children have or may have demand or pretend into or upon the hereby mortgaged parcel of land as collateral security and for further guaranteeing the faithful and punctual fulfilment of the above charges conditions and obligation the said donee expressly promises and binds and obliges himself his heirs and assigns to keep the buildings on said premises constantly insured to at least the amount of six hundred dollars currency. 27

In 1881, as the Census Enumerator for the Huntingdon village district, William Walter Corbett records Catherine, aged 85, still in Huntingdon village, living with his family: William, book-keeper, 36; his wife Elizabeth, 31; and children Walter, 7; Maude, 5; and Violet aged 2. Also "boarding" at the house, is a 17 year old, Anglican Irish dressmaker named Martha McNabb. 28

1891 finds Catherine, aged 96, still in Huntingdon village, and still living with the Corbett family of William, book-keeper, 46; his wife Elizabeth, 42; and children Walter, 17; Maude, 15; Violet, 13; John, 9; and Cleophine aged 6. 29

Catherine Byers nee Henderson, (actually aged 97 years) dies on 26 and buried on 28 December 1892, at Huntingdon. 30

Catherine Henderson, relict of the late Robert Byers, died at Huntingdon PQ, aged 99 years. A native of Linlithgowshire, Scotland. 31

With no known surviving children, and with Catherine effectively "willing" all her possessions to William Walter Corbett upon her death, sadly it would seem, there would appear to be no surviving direct descendants of Robert Byres jnr and his wife, Catherine Henderson.

  • 1. GROS : OPR Marriages 661/00 0040 0226 - Abercorn
  • 2. GROS : OPR Births 666/00 0010 0126 - Abercorn
  • 3. GROS : OPR Births 661/00 0030 0209 - Abercorn
  • 4. Ancestry : Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967
  • 5. Ancestry : Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967
  • 6. Ancestry : Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967
  • 7. Huntingdon Registry Office : Volume # 5, Deed # 919, page 488 – dated 16 October 1836
  • 8. Huntingdon Registry Office : Volume # 5, Deed # 920, page 488 - Survey of Field Lot # 54
  • 9. Huntingdon Registry Office : Volume # 5, Deed # 921, page 489 & 490 – dated 9 May 1837
  • 10. Canada Gen Web : Huntingdon Volunteer Paylists 1838
  • 11. Family Search : Census, Lower Canada 1842, images 73-77
  • 12. St Martine Registry Office : Deed # 191, page 276 & 277 – dated 27 February 1843
  • 13. St Martine Registry Office : Deed # 256, page 346 – dated 14 June 1843
  • 14. St Martine Registry Office : Deed # 257, page 346 & 347 – dated 14 June 1843
  • 15. St Martine Registry Office : Deed # 400 – page 522 – dated 30 March 1844
  • 16. Ancestry : Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967
  • 17. Ancestry : Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
  • 18. Library and Archives Canada : Census 1851- page 13
  • 19. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 3308 – page 276 – dated 18 March 1865
  • 20. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 4436 – page 143 – dated 19 February 1867
  • 21. Library and Archives Canada : Census 1871 - page 28 & 29
  • 22. Library and Archives Canada : Census 1871 - page 2
  • 23. Gleaner Extracts : 1875
  • 24. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 8495 – page 53 – dated 18 July 1877
  • 25. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 8495 – page 53 – dated 18 July 1877
  • 26. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 11474 – page 439 & 440 – dated 30 November 1877
  • 27. Huntingdon Registry Office : Deed # 11474 – page 439 & 440 – dated 30 November 1877
  • 28. Library and Archives Canada : Census 1881 - page 6
  • 29. Library and Archives Canada : Census 1891 - page 12 & 13
  • 30. Family Search : Huntingdon Burials 1892- Image 24
  • 31. Gleaner Extracts : 1892