Monday, 18 June 2012


George Howson is my 3x great grandfather and was born about 1790 - 1795 in England.  I think he came from the County of Oxfordshire, but this is still a work in progress.  He married Jane Lay in October 1816 in Abingdon, Berkshire.  The county boundaries have changed since then and Abingdon is now considered part of Oxfordshire. Jane was also born about 1790 - 1795 in England.

The Oxfordshire reference comes from a book "Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of York" (Canada) published in circa 1905.  There is paragraph  about George Plant who married Georgianna Adelaide Howson (granddaughter of George Howson)   " ...George Howson, who was born in Oxford, England where he married Jane Lay. In 1832 they came to Canada settling at Belleville, where Mr. Howson was a market gardener...."

I contacted the Oxfordshire Family History Society (FHS)  to see if I could find any more  information.  They found a few things for me:
  • George Howson and Jane Lay married in Abingdon, St. Helen 20 October 1816
  • Thomas Howson baptised in Abingdon, St. Helen 15 June 1817
  • Thomas Howson  buried in Abingdon, St. Helen 17 June 1817
George and Jane are listed as living on West St. Helen's Street and George's occupation is victualler.

I know that George and Jane had 2 other sons namely :
  • Thomas Howson born abt 1818  England
  • George Howson born abt 1820  England
These 2 sons came to Canada with their parents around 1832.  Unfortunately, their baptism records were not located within the Oxfordshire FHS records.  There was no record of George Howson (1790) being baptised in that area either.

I had a little more luck with Jane Lay.  According to the Oxfordshire FHS there were 3 Jane Lays baptised around that time period:
  • Jane Lay baptised 1795 Eynsham, Oxfordshire, parents Thomas & Christian
  • Jane Lay baptised 1796 Appleton, Oxfordshire, parents Daniel & Mary
  • Jane Ley baptised 1799 Abingdon, St. Helen, parents Dr. Hugh & Mrs. Eliza
Now the question is which (if any) is the correct Jane Lay/Ley?  I had high hopes for the Abingdon family, as that is where the marriage took place and it is often in the bride's home parish.    The family forenames also seemed to fit in with the information I had on the Howson family.   After researching this family I found that Jane Ley married some one else named Whitmore Smart  in Cornwall.  There was quite a bit of information on this family as there was a disputed will and land distribution involved.

George and Jane settled in Thurlow Township, Hastings, Ontario which is now part of Belleville Ontario.  The 1861 Census shows them on Concession 2 Lot 9 and George is listed as a Gardener.  Their older son Thomas was a tinsmith.  He  married Rebecca Reynolds and they eventually settled in Morrisburg, Ontario.  George (1820) married Bridget O'Neill and they lived in the Belleville area.  Sadly, George died quite young at the age of about 36 years, in 1856 in Belleville. 

Jane Lay died in Thurlow Township in 1876 and George Howson  senior died in 1879.  They are both buried in St. Michael's Cemetery in Belleville.

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