James Stewart (b.1787) and Margaret McCormick (b.1799), County Antrim to Canada

Looking for information on James Stewart (b. 1787) and his wife Margaret McCormick (b. 1799) who emigrated from co. Antrim, Ireland to Prescott County, Ontario, CANADA between 1831 - 1833.
They emigrated with 4 children born in Ireland:
Michael (b. 1824)
Robert (b. 1826)
Catherine (b. 1830)
Rose Anne. (b.1831)

4 more children (James, Margaret, Elizabeth and Mary) were born in CANADA.

Prescott County, Ontario, Canada
James Stewart and Margaret were not the only emigrants in the late 1820's - early 1830's. They were part of a small pocket of Antrim and Londonderry County settlers. These include McCrank (Ballycastle / Torr), McAllistar (Cushendall), McKinley, McPhee, McDonnell, McAuley, Darragh.

All the families were Catholic and help found the Curran, Centerfield and Pendleton communities.

The family history speaks of originally coming from Scotland. James and Margaret were both born in Ireland as per the 1851 Canada Census. James is noted as the earliest teacher in Prescott County.

Based on the last names, all the families appear to be Scottish in origin. I suspect they would have been part of the MacDonnell plantation in the 1600's or perhaps came after the '45.

I feel the Stewart's came out of the Glens of Antrim. The line uses the first name of James and Robert. I believe Michael came from the McCormick side.

Parish records (Culfeightrin)
I reviewed the parish records at PRONI and found the a baptismal record for Mary Anne Stuart (1831) with James and Margaret McCormick as parents. Sponsors were Daniel Stewart and Mary Hamilton. The baptism was from Culfeightrin parish.

I am interested in Stewart's found Goodlands, Knockbane, Torr or townlands in the Ballycastle area.

St. Patricks, Ballyvoy
There is an old stone for a Stewart McCormick in this cemetery. There is also one for a Mary Stewart McCrank. There are more recent stones for a Robert, Mary, Jane Stewart. I am interested in knowing more about these peoples.

I'm hoping someone in the area might see something in the above that might help me. I feel I have pretty much exhausted my research and hoping there is someone with regional information. I'd like to visit the Glens area in the future. There is an interesting Canadian history for these families as well I'd like to share.

R.L.J Stewart, Spencerville, Ontario, Canada
Can’t help with your specific family but as to possibly family origins, it’s widely reported that many of the current families in the Glens are descendants of McDonnell tenants (often RC) who came from McDonnell lands in Scotland ie principally Islay, Jura, Kintyre. Many came in the 1500s, pre the main Ulster Plantation. As a consequence, the form of Irish spoken there was often indistinguishable from the Gaelic spoken in Arran, Kintyre, Islay etc. The McDonnell Factor or Estate Manager in 1624 was Archibald Stewart of Ballintoy, from the Isle of Bute, who probably brought some tenants with him from that island.

Looking at the 1630 Muster Rolls, the Earl of Antrim had at least 15 or 20 Steward/Stewarts on his lands in the baronies of Dunluce and Glenarm. He is also noted as owing an Alexander Stewart £200 in 1638. So the name was well established in the area in the early 1600s, if not before.

The links with Scotland remained strong in the 1700s and 1800s (and arguably still are today). In 1711 a correspondent of Richardson, J. Maguire, noted the following:

I met many of the inhabitants, especially of the baronies of Glenarm, Dunluce and Kilconaway, who could not speak the English tongue, and asking them in Irish what religion they professed they answered they were Presbyterians ... I had the curiosity to go to their meeting on the Sunday following, where I heard their minister preach to them in Irish at which (though I think he did not do it well,) they expressed great

devotion ... His audience, (as I understand) was composed of native Irish and Highlanders (Richardson 1711: 16).

Robert MacAdam wrote in 1873:

Even yet the Glensmen of Antrim go regularly to Highland fairs, and communicate without the slightest difficulty with the Highlanders. Having myself conversed with both Glensmen and Arranmen, I can testify to the absolute identity of their speech (Ó Baoill 2000: 122).

Thank you very much Elwyn for the information. It's very pleasing to get some confirmation on some of the theories I have based on the reading I have done. It's what has really keyed me into Glens area for mine and the related families (I missed one, the McFall's). I'm hoping that if I could get a break-through on one I might find a connection to lead me deeper into my past. It's a longshot so I am taking my best guess at the townlands. I know there were Stewart's in Goodland and that there was also a school there. I know my GGGGrandfather taught school at the home of his neighbour when he came to Canada.

These families that settled in Prescott County came late 1820's - early 1830's and were part of a large migration from Ireland to Canada. It was a prescient move I suspect based on some of the agricultural and economic failures that were occurring in Ireland. They had money to make the trip and invest upon arrival (the Stewart's patented a 100 acres and bought a 100 more). The were also very active in business (the two oldest sons went into the lumber industry and lived out there lives in Ottawa and Montreal respectively). I wonder if many families left the Glens in their entirety? Was there a pattern (some families stayed back to hold their leases in Ireland?) I would like to know more about how the people lived at that time. Any reading suggestions would be most appreciated.

I have pictures of James Stewart and Margaret McCormick if this might be of any use.

I have done a book on the Ballintoy Stewarts from the Isle of Bute but am not sure if there is a connection based on religion. I not sure how socially, religion may have played a role in where they may have lived. I have to admit a naivety to the religious aspects of the time being from Canada. I tend to agree that my Stewart's lend themselves to the McDonnell settlements. From what I glean from my reading is that religion was very much a product of geography, that Catholics in the Glen were somewhat isolated from changes. I have also read that the Christian faiths in the Glens, for the most part, got along well. Would this have been due to a shared connection with Scotland? I find the history books I read about it express a political description of the times that doesn't seem to really describe how regular people actually lived.

I much enjoyed my trip to PRONI (Belfast) a couple of years ago but the polarizing effect religion has played on the modern society was quite an eye-opener. Ireland and Northern Ireland have such a convoluted history. I'm hoping that if I can find a connection in the Glens I can convince my wife for a trip in the area. She is a MacDonald from the Isles and it looks a short ferry trip to Scotland.

Thanks Again


For detailed descriptions of the Glens and how they lived in the 1830s, I’d recommend the OS Memoirs. They were compiled in order to get a thorough description of each parish, essentially for tax purposes, though they had other uses as well. Those for the Glens of Antrim were compiled in 1830 – 1838. The Ulster Historical Foundation published them in the 1990s, and I would contact them for a copy. For the Glens you need Parishes of County Antrim IV, Vol 13. It’s 133 pages. It describes the natural features of each parish, local economy, history, woods, population, buildings, mills, schools, medical dispensaries, religious make-up, customs & traditions, emigration and migration, sometimes with names and numbers. And so on.


On Bill McAfees’s website, you’ll find an interesting interview with a farmer from around Ballymoney about farming in that area in the 1840s. The interview was conducted by the Devon Commission, one of the periodic reviews the Government set up to try and address discontent over land ownership in Ireland throughout the 1800s. (If you can’t find it, let me know, I can send you a transcript).


If you have time spend in PRONI again, I suggest looking at the Antrim Estate papers. They are PRONI’s biggest single holding and consists of tens of thousands of documents (Series D2977). If you search on the PRONI database you can find all sorts of reports from the Antrim Estates managers to the Earl detailing conditions on the farms at various times. (They seemed to submit a sort of annual report to him each year). I saw an interesting report in the late 1840s from one manager whose remit covered the Glens in which he reported warning the tenants from growing only potatoes to feed their families and recommended a spread with turnips and other similar vegetables instead. Many tenants had said they only had limited land, you could get more potatoes from a plot of land than any other crop, they were also low maintenance and so they’d just take the risk. I found this very interesting because it doesn’t fit with the image commonly projected of absentee English landowners being indifferent to their tenants fate during famine times. Antrim was evidently neither absent nor indifferent. It also perhaps suggests that some tenants were a bit thrawn at times.

The Board of Guardians minutes are also worth reading as they give regular (weekly I think) snapshots into local issues and behaviours. (Ballycastle & Larne are the two Poor Law Unions that are likely to interest you most). There are reports about the local economy and the impact it was having on the population, outbreaks of diseases. Attempts to introduce vaccinations (and the reluctance of a lot of people to have them). All sorts of local detail. During the famine you can read how the local boards struggled to cope, and how they created local road building projects and other public works, to enable the starving to earn some money to feed themselves. (Many such roads are still known today as famine roads).

The local studies section at Ballymena Library is worth a visit. They keep the local studies material for all of Co Antrim. You could ask them for any books they have on life in the Glens or other areas you are interested in. The staff there are very helpful.

But you would need a couple of days to study all this material in any detail. There’s a lot of it.

You ask whether many families left the Glens in their entirety. I can’t really speak for the Glens, but for Co Antrim as a whole, my observations relate to how well off the family was. If it had a reasonable sized farm that was doing OK, it was usually passed on to the eldest son (and so some family stayed). The other sons however were mostly expected to make their way in the world, which is why many headed for Glasgow, the USA, Canada or wherever. The daughters would hopefully be married off (and so might stay too or leave according to their husband’s fate). However if you were lower down the food chain and were a weaver or agricultural labourer, then increased mechanisation led to the gradual disappearance of both types of work, and so those families had little choice but to leave completely. Likewise some smaller farmers gave up, especially around the time of the famine. If they didn’t leave Ireland they at least moved to Belfast where there was work in the mills for the women and work in the shipyards and support factories for some of the men. So a mixed picture, I suppose. In the years 1841 to 1851, according to Bill McAfee’s information, the population of Co Antrim just decreased by 2% as opposed to 15% for Ulster & 21% for Ireland a as whole. So migration out of Co Antrim was much less than elsewhere, though as Belfast was growing at the time, some loss in rural areas must have been balanced by them moving there. However the Glens (due to their remoteness and the poorer land in some parts) may have seen a much bigger exodus. I don't know.

If you search PRONI’s e-catalogue under the ref T2279/2 you will find a quite interesting account of life in Tyrone in the 1800s. Not the same as the Glens but revealing all the same.

It is indeed a short ferry trip to Scotland. You can get from Larne to Stranraer in about an hour, on the fastest sailing.

Locals in the Glens will tell you that in olden times, if they were under attack, they would light fires on the tops of the hills in the Glens. The fires could normally easily be seen in Scotland and their compatriots there would then sail over to provide assistance and support. So evidently there was a good ferry service then too.

Thank you again Elwyn. The insight and resource tips are invaluable.

I have a copy of "OS Memoirs Co. Antrim IX Vol. 24". It's from here, under "Social Economy" that I find Culfeightrin as a likely source as it mentions the name Stewart is common in the area and of Argyllshire origin. I have a copy of "Life in the Glens of Antrim in the 1830's" from the Glens of Antrim Historical Society 1968 which gives a nice description of Layd parish. "Irish Folk Ways" by E. Estyn Evans also provides an interesting description of tools and life of the times.

If James Stewart had an older brother who kept the farm I suspect his name would have been Robert.

I might as well cast a wide net. I'm going to add all the names of the County Antrim and Londonderry settlers that settled Prescott County, Canada Here:

James Stewart and Margaret McCormick
John Stewart and Margaret McFall
Daniel McCormick and Rose McGill
Alexander McAllister and Catherine McFall
Daniel McAuley and Alice McClare
Alexander Hamilton and Catherine Murray
Hugh McKinley and Margaret Craig
John McCrank and Bridgit Brown
Michael McKinley and Catherine Skelly
Robert McAuley and Margaret Madden
James McFall and Catherine Scullion
Andrew Darragh and Mary Kain
Archibald Darragh and Nancy McKinley
James Darragh and Elizabeth McAuley

Other early families I have not traced are: McBride, McDonnell, McPhee, Beggs, McAllister and Harrigan.

A description of this settlement (alternately known as Irish Settlement, McDonald Hill, Darragh Settlement or Centrefield) can be found in "History of the Counties of Argenteuil, Quebec and Prescott, Ontario: From Earliest Settlement to the Present (1896)" Thomas, Cyrus.

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Any chance you would have a rough dob of the James Stewart, father of Mary Anne (b-1831)? I've the family tree of the Stewarts of Benvan (in Goodland townland) back to 1759 but it's quite possible there are ones missing from it due to emigration.

McCormick, Stewart, and Scally (sp-Skelly) were neighbours in the Murlough area of Culfeightrin parish (a catch-all name for Knockbrack, Bighouse, Torglass & Goodland townlands) in the 1830s. McFalls came later, I've heard of McCrank before but can't find it in the records at the moment.
Thank you very much for your interest.

James Stewart would have been born around 1787. Margaret McCormick would have been around 1799.

Those Townlands were ones that I was keying in on. I would be most interested in any information you have on those families to see if I can link them up with what I have on my end.

Other info...

I have some info that the last McCrank farm was in Fairhead, east of Ballycastle.

I have been looking at the Skelly family of late. I have a John Skelly (1820) - Margaret McKinley (1833) family. Both were born in Prescott County, Canada.

A later family to emigrate in the 1840's were the Harrigans : Neil Harrigan (1806) - Helen McCormick (1805). I think they came out of Belfast.

Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you


I would like to add to your group, my great-great grandparents immigrated from Antrim, Ballycastle in the 1800's to Plantagenet Ontario. It is possible the Margaret McCormick (1799) may have been related to John McCormick born in 1814. He was married to Catherine McCann and had one son, Daniel 1859. You reference - Centrefield which was an area in the outskirts of Plantagenet and near the McCormick settlement. I was told that Daniel was 4 years old when they immigrated, thus they probably settled somewhere around 1863.

RS, I'm going to pass this thread on to one of the local historians to read but 90% of those surnames you mention in the 7 Sept post are still in Carey. I'm hoping the digitizing of the parish records by the NLI in Dublin will help fill in the gaps pre-Griffith's Valuation. I couldn't read the microfilm for Culfeightrin in PRONI for the 1840s.

This is all I have on the Benvan Stewarts that might be of use, it's possibly missing a generation in between though.
John Stewart (Benvan) (1759-08.01.1843)=Catherine ? (1759-17.01.1843)
James Stewart Sr (?-1868) =Catherine Scally (1822-06.10.1912) (Cushendun)
Their children - Catherine (1852-22.10.1933) (married Gillan), James Jr (1853-27.04.1949), Annie (1862-1911), Rose (1858-1939), Patrick (Australia), Andrew (1855-1891)
See also - http://www.antrimhistory.net/the-benvan-stewarts/

The only info I have on the McCormicks in Murlough (apologies if I'm reposting anything above):

1831 - Daniel McCormick in Knockbrack (Tithe Applotment)
1832 -PRONI - D2868/C/40
5 April 1832
Assignment of lease from Daniel McCormick Junior, of Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim, 1st part; John McCormick, of Murlough, Co. Antrim, 2nd part; Daniel McCormick Senior, of Murlough, Co. Antrim, 3rd part; Dennis McCormick, of Murlough, Co. Antrim, 4th part; to Patrick McAleese, of Lime Park, Co. Antrim, 5th part; of 46 acres of Tobernagola, Co. Antrim. Consideration £200.
1838 - OS Memoirs for Culfeightrin - refers twice to McCormicks in Bighouse (the giant's grave and the church)
1839 - Daniel McCormick, Murlough, died in 1839 and Dr James MacDonnell (landlord) took his executors Daniel & Denis McCormick for court to pay his debts. A Denis McCormick, of Murlough, farmer, was declared bankrupt in Perry's Bankrupt & Insolvent Gazette of 27th July 1839.

Valentine's survey of Murlough on the 12th of May 1834 (in PRONI) has the tenancies numbered in the same way as the later Griffith's Valuation, if I can find the accompanying documentation it might provide some more clues. It's also possible that all the answers are in the graveyard too though.

Also is your wife one of the MacDonald's of Sanda? Dr James MacDonnell's GGG-grandmother was Mary MacDonald of Sanda as far as I can make out.
Hello Mary Lee,

I haven't been able to confirm the link between my GGGGrandmother Margaret McCormick and the other McCormick families that settled in Prescott County. It's safe to assume that they are likely related.

James Stewart and Margaret McCormick emigrated in the early 1830's.

The two McCormick lines I have looked at are:

Daniel McCormick. (1818 - 1880) and Rose McGill. They emigrated in 1847 to Prescott County.

John McCormick (1810 - 1894) and Catherine McMann (1822 - 1896). I also saw a spelling of "Caughan" for McCann. As per your info looks like they came in the 1860's. John and Catherine's marker state they came from Ballycastle (I have attached).



Thank you for your time and for taking the time to pass this information along locally. I'm pretty sure I have narrowed it down to the right area but it would be a great thrill to pick up the family line in County Antrim. I'm hoping someone may have information that I can't access. The McCormick / Ballycastle connection is just more confirmation that I'm in the right area.

It would be nice if they would digitize the parish records. I had to go to PRONI to look at the micro-fiche. It took me 3 days to look through all of it. This is were I picked up on Culfeightrin based on the names I saw in the parish records.

Elwyn has indicated there are estate records at PRONI that may be worth viewing.

Thanks for the Benvan Stewart information. It's an interesting possible connection.

There is some mention of Stewart's in relation to Glenmakeeran (John Stewart) in the O/S memoirs Culfeightrin (Giant's Grave and Druidical Erection). There is a relationship to Bonamargy graveyard.

My wife is a MacDonald but haven't looked into exactly where they came from; Generally, from the Hebrides, Scotland. Her family were coal miners in Glace Bay, Cape Breton so they took a different route to Canada.

Thanks Again

A picture tells a story as well. I figured I would put a face to the name so I have attached a photo of James Stewart (1787 - 1876) as a young man and old. Both pictures taken in Canada.

The Stewart line in Canada is still marked by very blue eyes. The James in this photo has a very pronounced jawline. Perhaps any Stewart's that still reside in the area may recognize some of these facial features.



My Great great grandfather Daniel McCormick was born in Ballycastle in 1854 to parents Daniel McCormick and Elizabeth Lafferty and christened in Ramoan Parish church ... The parents appear to have been unmarried at the time , but perhaps married later , however I can find no trace of them in the records , my gx2 granddad moved to the Glasgow/Port Glasgow/ Greenock area some time later and I have recently tracked down my fathers long lost family still living much to his delight , but would love to get further back in time with my ancestry research ....
Trying to find McCormick/Cassidy/Rankin relatives in Ballyvoy, Ireland and Ontario, Canada.

My great great grandparents, Henry McCormick (DOB Mar 1832) and Ellen Cassidy (DOB 1833) were born in County Antrim, Ireland. Ellen's mother was Margaret Rankin (DOB: 1798 Ireland, DOD: 20 Feb 1849 Ballyvoy, Ireland). Henry and Ellen married in Ballyvoy, Ireland on 28 Dec 1848 in Culfeightrin Parish at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, sponsors were Mrs. McCormick and Peggy Cassidy.
They had 2 children in Ireland:
Mary Ann McCormick (Baptized at St Patrick's R.C. Church in Ballyvoy on 11 Mar 1849, sponsors were Stewart McCormick and Jane Kerr). Mary Ann died before Apr 1851 in Ireland)
John McCormick (Baptized at St. Patrick's R. C. Church in Ballyvoy, Ireland on 28 Apr 1850, sponsor was Daniel McCormick).

Ellen Cassidy and baby John McCormick emigrated to New York with Ellen's father, Henry Cassidy (DOB: 1783 Ireland) brother (Alexander Cassidy (DOB: 1830 Ireland) and 2 sisters (Catherine Cassidy DOB: Feb 1828 Ballyvoy, Ireland) and Margaret "Peggy" Cassidy (DOB: 1835 Ireland) on the Baroque Elphinstone from Greenock, Scotland to New York. Baby John died on the way to America and was buried at sea. Henry McCormick must have emigrated earlier as he was not on the Elphinstone.

They lived in New York - possibly Syracuse from 1851 - 1856 or 1857. They had 2 children in New York:
Ellen McCormick (DOB: 1852)
Margaret McCormick (DOB: 25 Mar 1854)

They moved to "Canada West" probably somewhere in Ontario about 1856 or 1857 with their daughters Ellen McCormick (DOB: 1852 New York) and Margaret (DOB 25 Mar 1854 New York).

They had 4 children in Canada:
Mary Ann McCormick (DOB: 24 May 1858)
Henry Charles McCormick (DOB: 22 Mar 1859)
Catherine Jane McCormick (DOB: 28 Feb 1860)
Stewart Daniel McCormick (DOB: 20 Mar 1863)

For some reason they moved from Canada to Ridgeway, Wisconsin in 1864 to a farm near Ellen Cassidy's 2 older brothers Henry Cassidy (DOB Nov 1815 in Ballycastle, Ireland) and Alexander Cassidy (DOB: 1830 Ireland).
They had one child in Ridgeway, Wisconsin:
Alexander James McCormick (DOB: 26 Mar 1865)

Would appreciate any information - particularly looking for what townland in the Ballyvoy/Ballycastle area they may be from and birth/baptismal records for children born in Canada and what relatives they may have lived near in Canada.

Thank you!