Wednesday, 27 June 2012


George Howson (1790-1879) was listed as a victualler in 1817, living at West St. Helen's in Abingdon, Berkshire.  A victualler is described as either a supplier of  provisions or an innkeeper.  I have no idea which category George Howson fell into to.  I do know when he lived in Thurlow Township, in Ontario he was described as a market gardener.

I thought I would check out the pubs and taverns of Abingdon.  I tried a search for George as a licensed victualler on the National Archives at Kew but didn't find his name.

There is a wonderful website that records historical information about Pubs in England.  Here is the link Dead Pubs in England  There were over 100 pubs listed for Abingdon, must have been a thirsty crowd that lived there.  There were even several listed on West St. Helen's,  no joy there either.

When George Howson died in the Belleville area in 1879, he left a will.  There were 3 executors:  Thomas Cox, Michael O'Neill and Michael Graham.  I think Michael O'Neill may have been a relative of  George's daughter-in-law, Bridget as her maiden name was O'Neill.  There are several Michael O'Neill's listed in the 1881 Census for Belleville, so I'm not sure which is the correct Michael.

However it started me thinking that perhaps the other executors may be related.  I started a Google search using the names of "Howson" and "Cox".  I found  a genealogy forum that mentioned the surnames Abraham, Howson and Cox and Berkshire England.  It appears that a Catherine Abraham born 1756 married a William Howson.  From that family tree there was also a Phillip Cox who married an Ann Abraham.

Here's where it gets interesting.  Phillip Cox had a son also called Phillip.  This Phillip married a Mary Ward and they emigrated to Belleville Ontario about 1832.  Now this is about the time that George Howson and his wife Jane Lay and their 2 sons are reported to have come to the Belleville area as well.  Thomas Cox, the executor, is the son of Phillip and Mary Cox.

I was in contact with a lady who has done quite a bit of research on the Phillip Cox family.  We tried to find a connection but it remains elusive.   She also told me that Mary Ward's father James  married a Teresa Howson as his second wife.  According to this researcher, the Cox family were Roman Catholics and came to Canada to escape religious persecution.  I contacted the Catholic Library in England to see if I could find any information about my Howson and Lay families.  No Howson or Lay names were found.

The Cox and Howson families seems to have been close.  George Howson (1820-1856) and his wife Bridget O'Neill were the sponsors at the baptism of one of Phillip Cox's children at St. Michael's church in Belleville.  Then just to add to the mix with the Meehan side of the family, Ellen Meehan 's (1845-1901) husband Thomas Bolger (1850 - 1910) was the witness at a wedding that connects with the Cox family as well.

I have found some other Howsons in the Oxfordshire area, so for now my search continues.

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