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Entry Page to the Hurley Family of Peterborough 

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On board the Star, one of nine ships which carried the Irish immigrants of the 1825 Peter Robinson settlement to their new home in Upper Canada was the family of Denis
Hurley. The family which consisted of Denis, age 40 and his wife Catherine 40, Bridget 19, Michael 17, Margaret 15, John 8, Honora 4 and Ellen 2 months, were among the 2024 chosen from among 50,000 applications submitted to Peter Robinson. They Left Kerry 

Among the Robinson papers is a recommendation by Lord Bantry of ten families - Denis Hurley, Peter Downey, Jeremiah Connors, John B. Sullivan, a Fitzgerald, Barry and Crowley family (Christian names not decipherable by this writer) and two other families whose surnames could not be deciphered.  
Dated Mar. 1825 is another recommendation also signed by Bantry. “Denis Hurley and Jeremiah Connors are the persons that I recommended _____________. I certify to my knowledge of their honesty and good conduct and recommend them as proper subjects to be forwarded to Canada.” 
Apparently as the date for sailing approached, Denis had not had a reply from Robinson. Dated April 28, 1825 is a petition from Denis Hurley, Jeremiah Connors, James Maguire, Daniel Fitzgerald, reminding Robinson that they had been recommended by Lord Bantry and that their families were in dire distress and waiting in Cork City hoping to hear that they had been included among those chosen to emigrate.

The only other information we have of the Hurley family is that their former residence was Kilmanoque, County Cork
From Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, Volume II, published in 1839, we find that Kilmonoque was a parish in the barony of Kinnalea, County Cork, province of Munster, 5 miles (N.E.) from Kinsale on the southern coast, containing 1217 inhabitants. The parish (this reference is to a civil parish - a division of land - and not an ecclesiastical parish) comprised “3113 statute acres ---the sail is for the most part rich; about one-fourth is under tillage, and the remainder principally in large dairy
farms -- the system of agriculture is very indifferent.” (quoting Lewis). Another item to note is that Lewis states that “in the R.C. division, the parish forms part of the union or district of Clontead.” Today the parish church is situated at Belgaoly (in Gaelic BEAL GUALA).
  From the information given by Lewis, we can realize how heavily populated this parish was. Less than three acres of land per person and scarcity of land we know was one reason for so many wishing to emigrate in 1825. But it is not fair to do a mathematical division and state ‘three acres per person. There were the landlords who owned large estates - “the remainder principally in large dairy farms,” states Lewis. So how much land did Denis Hurley and others like him have to eke out a living for their family? But difficult as the situation must surely have been, he also had to pay rent to a merciless landlord, pay tether to the church of Ireland; he could not purchase land. Sean O’Faolain in The Story of Ireland states:“Under this regime the people became utterly broken.  They lived for the greater part in conditions of horrible misery. Their traditions were being taken from them; they saw no hope of preferment for themselves, or their generations.” (p. 33)

It is true that by 1825 there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The great Daniel O’Connell appeared on the scene about 1807. To again quote O’Faolin, O’Connell “by the colossal force of his personality, untiring energy ----floods of oratory----gradually lifted them out of their torpor, gave them hope and self-respect, discipline and self-reliance----(p. 36). But it would be more than thirty years after O’Connell’s death in 1847 that the Irish Land Act would be passed (The Land bill of 1881). The British Government’s promise of free passage to Upper Canada, a grant of 70 acres of land to every male between the ages of 18 and 45, assistance in the first year in the way of rations, tools, etc. must have seemed like Heaven on earth to these oppressed people. 

Well, back to the Denis Hurley family. We know that the Star  sailed Cave of Cork (Cabh) May 13, within a few days of the other eight ships. The journey across the Atlantic to Quebec City took more than one month. They then proceeded by steamer to Montreal, walked across Montreal Island to Lachine and then embarked on Bateaux for about a 12 day trip to Kingston. From Kingston, they traveled by steamer to Cobourg and then by ox-carts over the hills on the rough road to Sully (Harwood). A special boat had to be constructed which could navigate the Otonabee River as Peter
Robinson said “at this Season there was not water sufficient to float a boat of the ordinary size over some of the shoals. “ The last group reached Scott’s
 lains about October 30.
Robinson reported that the location was “complete before the winter commenced and I had a small log cabin built for the head of each family on their respective

Denis Hurley was assigned Lot 15 (west ½) concession 7 in Asphodel. The thirty-six families who settled in Asphodel were all from County Cork with the exception of one family from Tipperary and two families from County Limerick. 

Robinson stayed with the settlers until 1827 and made notations on the passenger lists of those who died, were born or left the settlement. And so from these records we learn that Catharine, wife of Denis Hurley died in Asphodel 24 Sept., 1826. Seven deaths are recorded for this township for the year 1826 including three members of one family - John O’Brien, his wife Margaret and child. The long journey, the delay in getting to their land and their first exposure to a Canadian winter took its toll and we know that ague and malarial fever were prevalent that first year. 
After their years of hardship in Ireland and their arduous labours in their new land, what a heartbreak it must have been for them to part with a loved one. Especially without the consolation of family and friends so far away in Ireland. 

The Hurley name next appears in the Northumberland Militia return, 1828, - Michael Hurley and several other Young men of the families who settled in Asphodel in 1825 are listed as the 2nd company, Asphodel. 

Michael’s name is listed among the Muster Roll of Capt. Richard Birdsall’s company which was mustered on January 8, 1838, for service following the outbreak of the
Mackenzie Rebellion in December 1837. 

Early assessment rolls for Asphodel Township provide the following information about the Hurley Family:

Year-Land uncultivated-cultivated-Males over 16, under 16 
Females over 16, under 16 
1826 100 acres - 
2 1 2 3
1827 98 2 
1 2 - 
1828 98 2 
2 1 - 
1831 90 10 
2 1 1 

Using the ages given on the passenger list, the family listed for 1826 is probably after Catharine’s death which, it would appear was the result of childbirth as there are 3 females listed under the age of 16. Bridget and Margaret appear to have left home by 1827. However it does not seem possible to reconcile exactly the ages given for these years with the ages on the passenger list. 

Name Year Land Uncultivated Cultivated Males>16 
<16 Females >16 <16
Denis 1840 65 35 
1 2 1 3
Michael 1840 90 10 
1 1 1 2
Denis 1841 65 65 
1 2 1 1
Michael 1841 90 10 
1 1 1 2 

In 1840 Michael’s age is give as 27 (again if he were 17 in 1825, this age should be 32). He is married and has three children. Through obtaining birth certificates of some
of his children born in 1849 and 1851 from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Hastings, we learn that Michael’s wife is Bridget English. A perusal of the 1825 immigrants reveals that Bridget is the daughter of Richard and Judith
English form Templeterog, Tipperary who settled Concession 1, Lot 6 Asphodel. Michael and Bridget were married about 1833.

The township papers for Lot 15, Concession 7, Asphodel and held at the Provincial Archives, Toronto contain a letter written by Denis Hurley, December 12, 1832 evidently to Peter Robinson. He asks that his son John may have Lot No. 12 in the 10th Concession of Asphodel “which is a Clergy reserve -- and he is willing to pay the valuation for it -- my son Michael is working on the last half of my lot No. 15 in the seventh Concession -- I hope your honour will grant this request as being one of your emigrant settlers and I expect you will help me to keep them together. “
Another letter dated Oct 1835 and addressed to the Right Honourable the Earl of Elgin and written on behalf of Michael Hurley by his attorney Robert Denniston states that Michael “is desirous of purchasing the East half of lot number fifteen in the seventh Concession of the Township of Asphodel upon such terms and for such prices as your Excellency may see fit under the circumstances disclosed in the affidavits of your memorialist Thomas Haley and Nicholas Keating ---.” An Index to Land Patents issued to about 1850 for the township of Asphodel shows that West ½
Lot 15 Concession 7 was granted to Dennis Hurley on 18 November 1842. Michael’s name does not appear and later records indicate that the East half Lot 15 Concession
remained the property of the Crown until 1869. Why was Michael not granted the property that, according to his father’s letter of 1832, he was already working at that date? Was it because he was not able to perform the settlement duties required or he was not able to perform them within the allowed period of time. We can only speculate! That he did continue to live on this land until after 1861 and that he had a rapidly growing family - eleven children between the ages of one year and twenty-four in 1861 - we do know from the records. That is all. 

Denis Hurley, in the meantime, had remarried probably about 1830. His second wife was Johanna Keating. The Keating’s evidently came to Asphodel after 1825 - Nicholas Keating was one of those who provided an affidavit on Michael Hurley’s behalf in his request for land in 1835, previously referred to.

The Abstract Index for the West half Lot 15, Concession 7 shows that Denis Hurley Sr. granted to the Episcopal Corporation of Kingston two acres of land for L5. A history of the diocese of Peterborough published in 1976 throws further light on this information. In the account of the development of St. Paul’s Parish, Norwood we read:
“One of the first schools of the district later known as S.S. No. 6, Asphodel, a log building was built about 1832 on the Hurley farm on a piece of land adjoining the present cemetery.

The First Catholic Church was erected on the cemetery grounds, not far from the above school, about the year 1840. It was a frame structure which faced south and located at the south east corner of the present cemetery. The site of this church is discernible by the elevation of earth which covers the foundation.

In 1856 the school burned down and the church was used as a school rooms until a new brick school was built in 1868 ----By 1869 the ‘cemetery’ church in Asphodel
had become inadequate and Father Quirk undertook the construction of the present stone church in the village of Norwood……

The original cemetery of the parish was on the site of the first church and is located on the Sand Road which leads to Rice Lake. The first burials therein were made as early as 1828 - Bridget Berry and Richard English who was killed by a falling tree.” (p 213, 214) (The Richard English referred to here was the father of Bridget, Michael
Hurley’s wife.) 

This same source also tells that “until 1847, when the Parish of Hastings was established, a priest from Peterborough visited the Catholics of Dummer and Asphodel
------In 1847 Father Bernard Higgins was appointed pastor of a large area which included what is now the parishes of Norwood, Warkworth, Campbellford and Hastings which was his parochial headquarters. Mass was celebrated in the Asphodel Church every third Sunday ---On January 24, 1850, the Stations of the Cross were canonically erected in the Church by Bishop Phelan of Kingston. “ (p 213)

Every little bit of information is precious when you try to re-create life as it was for “them” one hundred and fifty years. Especially so when you have no old letters, diaries or journals to help fill in the blanks. Richard A Dean’s history of the village of Norwood includes the following episode. He relates that the first settlers in Dummer Township arrived in 1831. Their first necessity was the creation of a shelter for each family. They began to run low on food, especially flour. They had been told of Keeler’s Mills (the name by which Norwood was known then) but had little or no idea where it was located. They started out early one morning and after walking all day, found that thy had gone full circle and were back at their starting point. It took them two and one half day’s travel to reach the mill - only to be told by the manager, Mr. Lang that he had neither wheat or flour. However Mr. Dean continues, “Lang informed them that ‘Hurley’ had some wheat for sale, two miles further west ‘along the bush road.’ On they went to Hurley’s and found that he did indeed have some wheat but it was not yet threshed. There was nothing to do but get to work and flail it out. This they did.  They threshed as much wheat as the four could carry, stayed overnight with the Hurley’s and back to the mill again----” (p 18)

A small white tombstone situated about midway along the eastern side of St. Paul’s Cemetery, Norwood, records the death of Denis Hurley “who departed this life
December 1, 1850, aged 69 years.”

One thing that is very noticeable when doing genealogical research is the discrepancy in the ages given for census records, deaths, etc. Denis’s age on the passenger list was 40 which would make him 65 years old in 1850.  Since no person over the age of 45 was eligible for the immigration, it is possible that parents of families lowered their ages in order to be among the fortunate ones chosen by Peter Robinson. This latter fact seems quite probable as an examination of the ages given on the passenger lists revealed that many of the wives were only fourteen or sixteen years old when their first child was born.  
Mulvaney’s History of Peterborough County’ gives Denis’ age as eighty-three when he died. Richard Dean quotes the same age - a fact which he probably took from Mulvaney. It is altogether likely that 69 years is closer tohis correct age.

Records at the Provincial Archives provided a copy of Denis’ will made November 27, 1850 and signed in the presence of witnesses Walter Scott, Robert Scott and Thomas Myles. The will reads in part, “I give and bequeath to my wife Johanna after my death the farm of which I am now possessed - being the West half of Lot 15 in the 7th Concession of Asphodel ---after her death, I will that my eldest son Michael have two acres of the S.W. quarter of the said farm. I will that my two sons Timothy and Denis have the remainder of the farm equally divided between them.” The will was signed in the presence of “Johanna Hurley (her mark), William Scott and Denis

The 1851 Canada West Censes for Asphodel Township lists Johanna Hurley - Farmer, born Ireland age 59, Widow. Other members of the household were Johanna Born Ireland age 28 (evidently one of the daughters of the first marriage - although names do not continue), Alice, born Asphodel age 20, Denis and Timothy, born Asphodel, ages 16 and 14 respectively. The agricultural census for the same years provides the following information for Lot 15 W ½ Concession 7 in the name of Johanna Hurley - 

“98 acres - 30 cultivated - 20 acres crops - 10 acres pasture
68 - uncultivated
Wheat - 3 acres - bushes - 20 Hay - 5 tons
Peas - 3 acres - bushels - 30 Wool - 50 lbs.
Potatoes - 1 acre - bushels - 100 Maple sugar - 50lb
Rye - 3 acres - bushels - 20 Butter - 150 lbs.
Oats - 10 acres - bushels - 20 Pork - 3 barrels.

Bulls & Oxen - 4 Sheep - 16
Milch cows - 3 Pigs - 10
Calves and heifers - 3 Horses - 2
Value of livestock in dollars 233. Type of house - log, 1

Michael Hurley’s family on the same census return is recorded as follows:

Age (1851)
Michael Hurley - Farmer Ireland 
Bridget Ireland 
Catharine Asphodel 
John      Asphodel 

John, Denis, Richard - attended school 1851 

Records of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Hastings,
Ontario show that:
Patrick was born July 10, 1849, baptized July 22, 1849.
Daniel was born June 1, 1851, baptized June 29, 1851.

The Agricultural Census 1851 for Michael Hurley, Concession
7, Lot 15 E ½ was as follows:

100 acres - 75 uncultivated, 25 cultivated; under pasture 0;
under wood or wild - 75. Wheat - 8 acres - 150 bushels; Hay
- 4 tons
Peas - 3 acres - 50 bushels; Oats - 7 - 250 bushels;
potatoes - 1 acre - 60 bushels; wool - 50 lb. ; Fulled cloth
- 17 yards, flannel - 40 yards, Bulls, oxen, steers - 3 ;
Calves or Heifers - 2, sheep - 18, Mitch cows - 2 Pigs - 7,
Butter - 70 lbs, Beef - 3 Barrels, Pork - 3 Barrels.

Log House - 1 story.”

No comparison has been made with the other settlers as to their relative prosperity. But if we assume that what Denis Hurley had acquired in the first twenty-five years of settlement was the norm, then Michael seems to have done equally as well. But no doubt most of Michael’s produce went to support his ever-growing family. But again the question comes up -why was he not granted the land as he had requested in 1835? Unfortunately the answer is lost in the mists of time.

The Canada West 1861 census for W ½ Lot 15, Concession 7 lists Johannah Hurley age 65, Denis, farmer, age 25; Timothy, teacher, age 23. There is no agricultural record for this census.

Michael’s family has increased by three in 1861: 
Jeremiah - 8 yrs old, James - 4 yrs. old and Elizabeth 1,
making a total of 11 children. Other information given:
Births in 1860 - 1
2 houses 2 cows 9 pigs
Value of livestock in dollars - 233

Quantity of land attached to tenement - 50 acres.
Capital invested in Real and Personal estate - 483
Average no. of hands employed - 5 male, 2 female.

Parish records state that Elizabeth was born May 21, 1860 and was baptized June 10, 1860.

In 1871 (Dec. 14) Timothy sold his share of the farm left to him by his father’s will to his brother Denis for $500 “except two acres off the S.W. corner.” Since according to the terms of her husband’s will Johanna was to have the farm until her death, we can assume that Johanna must have died during this year, although her name is on the 1871 census roll. Listed as living with Johannah is Margaret Hurley age 15, born in Ontario.

Timothy Hurley was the enumerator for this census for Division 2, Asphodel Township. He is listed as age 33, a merchant, his wife Mary (Ford); their children Theresa, 7, a child age 5(name not legible), Mary 3 and Joseph 1, Denis, Timothy’s brother is listed as age 30., his wife Mary (O’Shea) 29, their children Mary Elizabeth 2, Henrietta 9/12 and William Daly age 16 (a ‘home boy‘). [Read 1881 Census]

Michael and Bridget Hurley and all of their family had left Asphodel before the time of this census.

On Feb. 12, 1869, The Crown granted to Denis Hurley the East ½ Lot 15 Concession 7 - the Land where Michael had been living. Dennis now had 200 acres of land. On July 3, 1875, Denis granted to the Trustees of School Section No. 6, Asphodel 5 3/10 square chains for $1.00 “reserving a right of way.” This property was acquired no doubt for the new school which was built to replace the school burned in 1856 and referred to previously. It may be of interest to note here that the location of the first school was just outside the present entrance to St. Paul’s Cemetery. Wild apple trees growing there were said to have grown from apple cores thrown away by the students. 

By 1871, what of the family who had left County Cork in 1825? 
Denis and Catherine are dead, Michael, his wife and family of eleven children have left Asphodel Township where he had resided since 1825, John Hurley, for whom his father requested land, never did settle in Asphodel and to date no trace of him has been ‘unearthed’; Michael’s sisters - well the females lose their family surname when they marry and without family records, how do you trace them?

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