Bowles DNA Project
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John Boles Gaggin was born in about 1831 in Cork where he served in the Royal Cork City Artillery (militia) from Aug. 1, 1855 until December 1858.
In 1859 he obtained a Letter of Introduction from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor of British Columbia and emigrated to B.C. where he served as a magistrate and Assistant Gold Commissioner at Port Douglas, the southern terminus of the Harrison-Lillooet trail to the gold mines. He also served as Justice Of The Peace, County Court Judge, Deputy Collector of Customs and Sub-Commissioner of Lands and Works. While he was well accepted by the local population he apparently led a rather wild life as he is described in various correspondence as "you father of the fatherless", "the judge turned out to be a whale for a drink" and "this regular jolly Irishman from Cork". In 1864 facing some doubts about the legality of his money management he was assigned to duty at Lillooet. After being cleared of any charges in 1866, Gaggin was assigned to the Magistracy of Kootenay at Wild Horse Creek where he was reported to have "knocked off the drink in toto excepting lager beer". In 1866 the colonies of British Columbia and Victoria Island were united and Gaggin found himself dismissed. He died at Wild Horse Creek on May 27, 1867.
While this is not confirmed, the relative scarcity of the Gaggin name in Cork especially when combined with the Boles name, the date of his birth and the Irish naming conventions (eldest child being named after the father's father) all make it very likely that John Boles Gaggin, born about 1831, was the son of George Gaggin (son of John Gaggin) who married Jane Boles in 1830. This marriage is at 126.96.36.199.5 on the Thomas Boles of Cork's Family Tree page.
Read John Boles Gaggin's biography by Dorothy Blakey Smith in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. IX, 1861 - 1870 University of Toronto Press, page 295: text of John Boles Gaggin's biographyHere is the Letter written on Lord Bandon's behalf to the Secretary of State for the Colonies asking for a Letter of Reference to the Governor of British Columbia for John Boles Gaggin: (B.C. Archives, The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, document 12918, CO 60/3, p. 716, registered Dec. 13, 1858, Whitman to Lytton) Original Images of the letter: (click on each image for a full size view)
The requested Letter of reference: (addressed to Governor James Douglas through Gaggin)
and a Transcription: text
Unfortunately, the attachments referred to in the letter are not available online although they can be obtained from the BC Archives. They could be examined to see if Gaggin held any positions other than his service in the Cork Militia prior to his emigration. It is very interesting that someone as prestigious as Lord Bandon would personally request a Letter of Reference for John. While he was the Colonel of John's regiment he was also four levels of command his senior. His brother-in-law Henry Whitman states in his letter that 'Lord Bandon is prepared to state that Gaggin is a gentleman of good character' which would imply that the Lord knew John Gaggin very well. The Lords of Bandon were the descendants of the Gookin line of west Cork which adds weight to the possibility that the Gaggins were a branch of the Gookin line. See also Lord Bandon of Cork for a discussion of his connection to the Gaggin family. See also the story of The Gaggins of County Cork