Sunday, December 27, 2009

Part 1

Results of recent research into descendants of Charles Grant in the Sydney - Glace Bay area of Nova Scotia, Part I

Douglass L. Grant

Sources: An unpublished card file in the Beaton Institute of UCCB, constructed by Elva Jackson, provided the first information about the earliest generations of the family in Cape Breton. Partly based on that file, Blair Grant of Glace Bay constructed a much more extensive family tree which is too large to reproduce here in its entirety. Patricia (Patsy) Grant, also of Glace Bay, also provided a very extensive document, compiled by Georgina (Munroe) Grant of Wildwood, Alberta, which largely deals with the descendants of John Spur Grant in that part of Canada. Additional information has been obtained from the Baptist Archives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; records of Knox, Gordon, and Chalmers United and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic churches, all from the Beaton Institute; marriage records of Cape Breton County, 1864 - 1908; personal family tree of Joan Grant Jerrott of Dominion; and several newspaper obituaries. The Mormon website ( has also been extensively consulted

With a very few exceptions, the Grants of the Glace Bay area are descended from a family which resided in Ball's Creek and the Northwest Arm through most of the nineteenth century, and are ultimately descended from Charles Grant, a stonemason who arrived in Sydney with Governor Desbarres in 1785. Charles' wife, according to legend, was Nancy (presumably, Ann) Gordon, reputedly the daughter of a Scottish laird. So far, no marriage of a Charles Grant to an Ann Gordon has been found.

{An intriguing note, which may be a complete red herring. A Charles Grant is listed as a soldier who was invalided at Louisbourg in 1760. Is it possible that "our" Charles had actually visited Cape Breton as a soldier of occupation, or possibly even took part in the second siege in 1758? If true, that would push his birth back to at least 1744, and so he would have been 75 at his death in 1819, a very ripe age for that era, but not totally impossible. So far, I haven't figured out how to check this one out.}

Their son, Peter Grant, was probably with them when they arrived, since his own son, John (1819-1899), stated in the 1891 census that his father had been born in Scotland. A birth of a Peter Grant on 21 April 1769 at Interavon, Banff, Scotland has been found, with parents Charles Grant and Ann Middletown. This is the only child of this couple in the Mormon database. It is possible that Ann was married twice, first to Middletown, then to Grant, but that is pure speculation at this time.

Most of the present-day Grants in the Glace Bay area are descendants of one of two sons of Peter, John (1819-1899) and Peter (1823-1896). [Elva Jackson misstates the date of John's death as 1902, which was the year of probate of his will.] Another brother, Alexander, is reported by Elva Jackson to have sold his share of the land and left the province in 1852. However, an Alexander Grant, then aged 45, was living in Ball's Creek in 1871 with wife Mary Ann and eight children aged from 7 months to 16 years. However, the entire family had disappeared from the area by 1881.

Peter (the younger) was baptised in Calvary Baptist Church, North Sydney, in 1844. He married Mary Ann Dolman, and moved from Ball's Creek to Port Morien about 1866, then back to Ball's Creek before 1881. They had eight known children: Ulvilla or Udvilla (m. James Boutilier, 6 January 1873), Annie (m. Andrews, founded Port Morien Andrews clan), Ellen (m. Dan Matheson), Henry (m. Susan Stacey), Arthur (m. Phoebe Phillips 11 December 1890, killed in mine 1899), Bertha (b. 1868), Eliza (m. John MacMillan, 23 September 1889), and William (b. 1858, m. Martha Rankin). [Among William's eight children is Harold Dolman Grant (d. 1962), the father of Blair Grant. It is known that Arthur and Phoebe had three children, but nothing further is known of that line.]

John married Maria Jefferson (1828-1909). Joseph Jefferson was a Loyalist from Virginia who also arrived with Desbarres and received a grant of land along the Northwest Arm. Most probably Maria was his granddaughter, but that is not yet firmly established. Both John and Maria were also baptised in Calvary Baptist Church, North Sydney, in 1844, Maria on exactly the same day as Peter. While the couple lived most of their lives in Ball's Creek, they are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Glace Bay, in the oldest section near the southwest corner. [Incidentally, former U. S. President Thomas Jefferson had a daughter named Maria, which may be the origin of this name, considered unusual among Protestant families of this era. No relationship to the former President is claimed! Yet!!]

John and Maria had ten known children: William, Edward, Walter, James, Alexander, Milford, Alonzo, Martha, Caroline and Theodore. The order of the first two is not certain. Of those ten, five brothers moved to Glace Bay or Dominion: William, Walter and James after 1881 but before 1891, Alonzo by 1901, and Theodore after 1901. Theodore was certainly in Ball's Creek in 1898.

Edward attended Acadia and McMaster Universities, and became a Baptist minister. He was most likely the Edward Grant ordained in 1876 at Calvary Baptist Church. He served in three communities in New Brunswick, in Dartmouth and in Truro. He married Nancy Woodworth, and they had one daughter, Vivian, who apparently never married. Both survived him at his death in 1927. Edward is buried in Brookfield Cemetery, near Truro.

Milford was a witness at the wedding of his brother William in 1879. The count of survivors given when William died in 1917 can only be correct if Milford were still living at that time, but he is not listed as surviving when Edward died in 1927. Nothing further is known about him.

Information about three others is given in Edward's obituary. Alexander was then living in Massachusetts. One of the women was living in North Bay, Ontario as Mrs. Smith, the other in Maine as Mrs. French, but it is not clear which was Martha and which Caroline. Nothing further is known about any of the three.

Of the five who came to the Glace Bay area, it is fair to say that Walter's family has been amply documented in Georgina Munroe Grant's volume, and the only detail that can be added about James' family is that his son Neil, born in 1894, died in 1917 and was buried from Knox Presbyterian Church, as it then was.


William married Margaret MacKenzie, the daughter of Malcolm and Jessie MacKenzie, Scottish immigrants, on 9 October 1879. They had an infant daughter, Maria, in 1880, while still in Ball's Creek, but that child is not recorded in the census after 1881. They had three sons, all of whom were apparently born in Glace Bay: John Edward (1881-1956), Alexander Malcolm (1886 - 1945), and William Henry [Harry] (1889 - 1963). William died in 1917 and was buried from Knox Church. Margaret died in hospital in Sydney about 1925. So far, no precise date of death is known for her, nor has their grave been located.

Children of William and Margaret:

John Edward married Katherine Anderson (formerly married to a Lewis), and had a son William (b. 1919), still living in Sydney and daughter Kathleen Lillian Hansen (1925-1974). William has a son Gary (grandsons Richard and Sheldon), and daughter Louise (grandchildren David, Debbie, William; great-grandson David Jr.).

Alexander married Agnes Lynk (1891-1974) in 1909. They had a daughter Irene (1910-1998, m. John William Warren) and a son Byron (1912-1982, m. Hughena MacDonald). Irene's children are Courtney (died at age 4), Hubert (deceased, three children), Thelma (deceased, one daughter, Marsha Eileen MacDonald), and Deanna (two daughters). All her descendants reside in Ontario. The author, Douglass Lloyd Grant, is the only child of Byron and Hughena; he has a son Cordell (b. 1979) and daughter Ingrid (b. 1981).

Harry married Catherine Coady (d. 1 May 1971). The following children are known to have been born to them and baptised in St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Reserve Mines: Bridget, Edna Frances, John William, Gordon Edward, Dorothea Elaine, William Murray, Walter Eric, Bernard Alonzo and Joseph Jules Melburn between 1921 and 1932. Six survived him at his death in 1963: Margaret (Mrs. Malcolm Livingstone), Edna (Mrs. Robert Dunn), Melbourne, Gordon, William and Alonzo. [Investigation of his descendants is ongoing.]


Alonzo Grant was born in September of 1865, according to the 1901 census. Elva Jackson indicates that he was born in 1862, and that he married twice: first to Rebecca Boutilier, second to Catherine MacDonald. Only the second is in the marriage records, on 24 December 1888. His known children were William (b. 1883, evidently of the first marriage), John Edward (1889), Stanley (1891), Sarah (1893), Daniel (1897) and Alonzo (1899). He died on 12 January 1931, and is buried in Gordon Church Cemetery, Reserve. Catherine died 21 January 1955, and is also buried in Reserve.

Alonzo the younger married Helen Victoria McCuish on 30 August 1926. Victoria died of TB on 17 October 1932. He subsequently married Elizabeth Clarke, date unknown. Their known children are Alonzo (the third), b. 25 June 1936, and Kenneth Revere, b. 5 October 1937.

Alonzo (the third) married Catherine Edith Davidson on 31 August 1959.

John Edward was born 6 November 1889, and married Annabelle Johnstone. They had three daughters: Ethel Fern (b. 5 July 1925, m. Donald Eagles 17 June 1952), Marjorie Christine (b. 23 April 1928, m. Murdock MacLean, who died; remarried); and Jean (m. Bennett).

Research on this branch of the family is ongoing.


Theodore Melbourne Grant was born in 1870. He is not listed (anywhere in Cape Breton) in the 1901 census, so it is possible he was living elsewhere for a time. [His mother Maria is also missing from this census, so it is possible she was living with Theodore's family at this time.] He married Sarah Beaton in Sydney on 2 March 1898.
Their children were John Edward Theodore, Alexander, Margaret Jannet, Anne, Mary Belle, and Melburne. Theodore died 10 January 1934 and is buried in Dominion. Sarah died 21 June 1944, and her burial is recorded as in Greenwood Cemetery, Glace Bay.

Children of Theodore and Sarah:

John Edward Theodore's birthdate was recorded as 14 May 1898 at the time of his death on 18 July 1962. (His daughter Joan Jerrott gives his birth year as 1899, and advises that he went to work in the mines at the age of 12.) He married Catherine Elizabeth McQueen on 17 March 1931. They had one daughter, Joan Katherine, born 3 May 1937; she married Malcolm Jerrott on 23 April 1960. He is buried in Forest Haven Cemetery, between Sydney and Glace Bay.

Margaret Jannet (b. 1905) married Charles Higginbotham on 24 August 1929. They had a daughter, Margaret Ross Higginbotham (Naugler) on 26 May 1937.

Mary Belle married Donald John MacLeod on 15 May 1935.

Research on this branch of the family is also ongoing.


Finally, I have received a family tree from Angus Grant of New Waterford, whose grandfather had the same name. There is no Angus anywhere in the lists I have seen here, nor anywhere else in the exploration I have done so far. I therefore have no idea, as yet, where (or if) that branch of the clan fits into this picture.


Version completed March 12, 2000; modified March 16, 2000.

1 comment:

  1. Re Peter Grant, son of Charles and Nancy:
    "A birth of a Peter Grant on 21 April 1769 at Interavon, Banff, Scotland has been found, with parents Charles Grant and Ann Middletown."

    More specifically, the baptismal record from Scotland's People has "Peter, natural son to Charles Grant alias McRobie in Balnelan (Balnellan) by Ann Middletown in Kelmachly, was baptised 21st April 1769. John Grant Lagmore & Samuel Middletown in Kelmachly, witnesses"

    When I looked for a baptismal record for a Charles McRobie, I found a two records for Charles McRobbie, both in Inveravon parish in Banffshire:
    1) "September 11, 1748 - Charles, son to Peter McRobbie and Isabell McPhaile in Drumndgrain was baptised said day. Witnesses Charles McRobbie and John McPhaile in Tullochcarron
    2) Charles, son to John McRobbie & Margaret Stuart in Eskemulach was baptized June 15, 1748