Robert Gordon Kilpatrick was born on the 23rd December 1851, at the town of Prescott in Grenville County, Ontario.1 Just four years before, his family had completed a harrowing sail across the Atlantic, fleeing the Irish famine and losing three family members en route. Robert was the seventh, and last, child of Samuel Kilpatrick (c.1803–1894) and Jane McCay (c.1806–1886). Robert was also the only child born to Samuel and Jane in Canada, his siblings having been born and raised in Lislea townland, parish of Kilrea, county Londonderry. Finally, Robert was the sole surviving son: his namesake, Robert, was born in Ireland in 1835, but had died at the age of five years. His two other brothers, Willie John and Adam, had perished as wee infants during the family’s flight from Ireland.2
We can only imagine Jane’s and Samuel’s feelings in early 1851 when it became evident that they could anticipate the arrival of the new weean by year’s end. Jane was well into her mid-forties, and she’d lost two small children and her sister, Margaret McCay, on the voyage to Québec. They’d had four years to adjust to the new conditions of life in the northern reaches of Upper Canada, and were probably enjoying a new state of equanimity. Jane and Samuel probably felt disbelief, joy, anxiety, and a myriad of other, conflicting emotions. One wonders, also, whether a burden of great expectations might have been lurking, however unwittingly, to be visited upon the new child, the only surviving son.
When Robert Gordon was born, his father was forty-eight years old and working as a labourer. Three sisters still lived at home: Mary (1837–1887), Saragh Jane (1839–1901), and Margaret (1842–c.1871). The family lived in a small, wood frame house on the north side of James Street in Prescott, halfway between Centre and Edward streets. Their next door neighbours were, to the west, William Robinson, a carpenter from England, and to the east, Mrs. (Ann) McDonell or McDonald.3
The family lived around the corner from the church that they attended, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, which stands at the intersection of Dibble and Centre streets. The church had just been rebuilt as a stone structure to replace the small, twenty-eight-year-old frame church. An elegant stone building with a large arched gateway, called Grenville College, graced the property across the street from the Kilpatricks’ humble house.4
In the late 1850s, young Robert would have received only an elementary education at one of the six Common Schools in the town: John Dempsey’s school, Will Speller’s, Joseph Dickey’s, Richard Ballard’s, Mary Kelly’s, or Caroline Foster’s.5 These schools probably taught only the rudimentary levels of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and children would have attended for just three to five years.
In 1858, Robert’s sister, Mary, married a county Antrim man, Archibald McLister.6 Two sons were born in Canada, Robert and William John, before Archie and Mary removed to Summit County in Ohio in the early 1860s.7,8
In 1866, his sister, Margaret, married a county Down man, David Ferguson, who was living in Augusta township.9 Sadly, Margaret had died by the time the 1871 census was enumerated,10 within five years of her marriage. As was the case for so many young women in the nineteenth century, complications of childbirth were the likely culprit though, to date, no record has been found of a child born to the marriage.
The 1871 census recorded Robert as a Clerk which, in those days, meant working as a writer in a legal firm, a bookkeeper in accountancy, or a shop sales clerk.11 By 1881, Robert was recorded as a “taylor;” in fact, his occupation was enumerated as tailor’s cutter in subsequent censuses.12 Tailors in the town included Miles Burns, an Irishman aged sixty-five; Albert Davis, a 47-year-old merchant taylor from the States, and his brother, George; William H. Dunn, merchant taylor, a young man of Robert’s age; John Smith, another American, of middle years; Gordon Allan, a Scotsman; David Barr; John Goligher, an older Irishman; and, Joseph Haynen, a merchant tailor from Ireland.13 George and Albert Davis were natives of Pelham, Massachusetts, and traded as clothing dealers in Prescott.14 William H. Dunn had a workshop and retail outlet in a stone house in the midde of town, and even served as mayor of Prescott for a couple of years in the 1870s.15 Thus, there were several, good opportunities in Prescott where Robert might have learnt his trade.
Sometime after 1881, Robert moved to Port Hope, Ontario. There, Robert Gordon Kilpatrick and Sarah Selina Huggins were married by the Rev. S.H. Eastman, Presbyterian minister of St. Andrew’s Church in Oshawa, on the 30th August 1883. Witnesses included Thomas Wallace, of Oshawa, and Catherine Huggins, Sarah’s sister.16
From this point, Robert Gordon and Sarah Selina commenced a rather frenetic tour, consisting of one- to three-year sojourns in cities across central Canada and the western provinces. This can be demonstrated by showing the years and places of the births of their children, interleaved with other family events and census data:
- 1884: Port Hope, Ontario – birth of Margaret Jane17
- 1885: Peterborough, Ontario – birth of Albert Samuel18
- 1886: St Thomas, Ontario – death of Robert Gordon’s mother, recorded in the archives of St Thomas Cemetery Company as having occurred at Robert’s house in that city.19,20
- 1887: Winnipeg, Manitoba – death of Albert Samuel,21 and birth of Robert Edwin at Fort Garry.22,23
- 1890: Brandon, Manitoba – birth of Stephen Douglas24
- 1891: Victoria, British Columbia – living in Johnson Street Ward25
- 1892: Toronto, Ontario – birth of John Stuart26
- 1894: Toronto? – birth of Catheline (birth not registered) 27
- 1896: Toronto – birth of Alfred William (registered by his older sister, Maggie, who was but twelve-years-old) 28
Whatever the reasons behind these moves, the course of the family’s next few decades appears to have been more settled in Toronto. Whatever peace and quiet they enjoyed was marred, however, by three traumatic events, the second of which was shared with many other families, worldwide.
First was the death of their eldest daughter, Margaret Jane, in 1911. In November 1910, Margaret had gone to New York City to marry William Hughes Jones.29 While there, she bore their child, Sarah Bernice Jones, in January, 1911. In November 1911, the baby died of acute meningitis,30 and a scant seven weeks later, Margaret succumbed to tuberculosis.31 Both deaths occurred at the Kilpatrick family home, 269 Berkeley-street in Toronto.
Next came the Great War. Two of Sarah Selina’s three surviving sons enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: John Stuart,32 and Alf.33 Understandably, their mother had fits over these enlistments, in particular, because Alf had signed up under age. Imagine her state of mind, then, when Alf was taken prisoner! To her great relief, both of Sarah’s sons returned home, more or less intact.
By 1921, Robert Gordon was an inmate of the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital.34,35 As to why, the reasons are lost to history. The family (unless there were a select few who knew otherwise) were told that Robert Gordon had died.36
During the last few months of her life, Sarah Selina lived with her son, John Stuart, and his wife, May, at 103 Jones Avenue in Toronto. On the 28th February 1928, Sarah Selina Kilpatrick née Huggins died of a cerebral haemorrhage.37 Her body was buried in Mount Pleasant cemetery.38
My mother remembered the day that word came by letter about a year later, that Robert Gordon had died in the hospital at Whitby.39 She said that everyone was dumbstruck, as they’d all understood that the poor man had died nearly ten years earlier.40
Whatever his travails, and because of them, may the soul of Robert Gordon Kilpatrick rest in peace.
Source citation: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “Robert Gordon Kilpatrick of Prescott, Upper Canada.” Biographical sketch for R.G. Kilpatrick (1851–1929), and family outline. Published to Arborealis, online at arborealis.ca/family-history/irish/kilpatrick/robert-d1929/, accessed [insert date of access].
See also: — The blog article entitled, “Kilpatrick family history :: originating from Lislea townland in the parish of Kilrea, county Derry.”
- St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Prescott, Upper Canada. Solemnization of a Baptism. Robert Gordon Kilpatrick, son of Samuel and Jane Kilpatrick. Source: B. A., Archives Technician, Presbyterian Church in Canada (31 May 2011).
- Kilpatrick Family Bible. Inscribed by Samuel and Jane Kilpatrick, who recorded the deaths of their two young sons and of Jane’s sister, Margaret McCay, in the fall of 1847. Held by the family of the late R.S.K., Ontario.]
- Canada 1851 census. Household of Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane, his wife; in Prescott, Grenville County, Upper Canada. Original record: Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. Archival ref. microfilm C-11724, page 37, line 18; enumeration district no. 12, sub-district no. 105. Digital images online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2011-05-25).
- Morris, John A.H. Morrises’ History of Prescott, 1800–2000. Prescott, Ontario: St. Lawrence Printing Company Ltd., 2001.
- Canada 1861 Census. Prescott, Grenville County, Canada West. Original records: Canada, “Census returns for 1861.” Archival ref. LAC microfilm C-1026. page 30, Enumeration District no. 2, East Ward, pg. 30; held by Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; Digital images online at ancestry.ca (accessed 2011-05-25).
- Hancocks, Elizabeth, C.G. County Marriage Registers of Ontario, Canada. Vol. 20: Leeds & Grenville. Agincourt, Ontario: Generation Press, 1987. Marriage of Archibald McLister, age 36, son of Daniel and Mary McLister, and Mary Kilpatrick, age 20, daughter of Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane M’Kday, 2 August 1858.
- Canada 1861 Census. op. cit.[/efn], [efn]Thomas’ Buffalo City Directory. Published by Franklin Steam Printing House, June 1864 (pg. 245). “McClester, Archibald, lab. h. 4 Centre.” Digital copy hosted online by ancestry.ca (accessed 2015-04-23, by subscription).
- U.S. 1870 Census. Household of A. [Archibald] McAllister [McLister], age 40, with wife Mary (36), and children: William J. (7), Daniel (6), Samuel (3), and Charles (1); in Norton township, Summit County, Ohio. Original record: 1870 US census, population schedules; held at National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. Archival microfilm M593-1270, ref. pg. 331B, image 666, enumerated 9th June 1870. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed , and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2011-05-25).
- Hancocks, Elizabeth, C.G. County Marriage Registers of Ontario, Canada. Vol. 20: Leeds & Grenville. Agincourt, Ontario: Generation Press Inc., 1987. Marriage of Margaret Kilpatrick, daughter of Samuel Kilpatrick and Jane M’Kay, and David Ferguson, son of Samuel Ferguson and Eleoner Halladay, 9 October 1866 (pg. 37).
- Canada 1871 Census. Household of David Ferguson, age 45, widower, with children: J. William (16), Elizabeth (15), Mary (13), Robert (11), and Samuel (9); in Augusta township, Grenville County, Ontario. Original record: Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada, RG31-C-1, Statistics Canada Fonds, microfilm reels C-0999 to C-9975, etc. Archival ref. District: Grenville South, District no. 69, Division no. 1, Subdistrict: Augusta, Subdistrict no. a. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2011-05-08).
- Canada 1871 Census. Household of Samuel Kilpatrick, age 60, with wife Jane (62), son Robert (19), and grandson Robert McLister (12); in Prescott, Ontario. Original record: Census of Canada, 1871; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; microfilm C-10003. Archival ref. district no. 69, South Grenville, sub-district B, division, Prescott Town east of Center Street, page 27, family no. 114. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2011-05-25).
- Canada 1881 Census. Household of Samuel Kilpatrick, age 70, with wife Jane (80), and children: Sarah J. (35) and Robert (26); in Prescott, Ontario. Original record held by National Archives of Canada (Ottawa), microfilm no. C-13230. Archival ref. district no. 106, subdistrict B, page 17. Transcript hosted online by the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, http://www.familysearch.org (FHL film no. 1375866) (accessed 2003-10-03).
- Canada 1881 Census, op. cit.
- Parmenter, Charles Oscar. History of Pelham, Mass., from 1738 to 1898. Pelham: Press of Carpenter & Morehouse, 1898.[/efn] Joseph Haynen, an Irishman from county Down, also ran an extensive tailoring business in Prescott.[efn]The Prescott Journal newspaper, 6 October 1927. Death notice for Joseph Haynen (1840–1927); transcribed by Phyllis Haynen, and posted to the HAYNEN-L mailing list 21 July 2005, online at archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com (accessed 2014-09-10).
- Magnan, Gillian. “Salvaging a piece of history.” In, The Ottawa Citizen, 11 August 2011.[/efn],[efn]Magnan, Gillian. “Historic home captures couple’s attention.” Citing the house owned by William H. Dunn, tailor, former mayor of Prescott, Ontario (1870s). In, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 11 August 2011.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of Marriage.Extract: Robert Gordon Kilpatrick and Sarah Selina Huggins married 30th August 1883 by the Rev. S.H. Eastman in Oshawa, Ontario; witnesses: Thos. Wallace, of Oshawa, and Catharine Higgins [sic] (file no. 008889). Original record: Archives of Ontario. Photocopy obtained from the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (2004-02-12). Note:—Finding the marriage certificate for Robert Gordon Kilpatrick and Sarah Selina Huggins proved very difficult because his surname was registered as Kirkpatrick and hers, as Higgins.
- Canada 1891 Census. Household of Robert [Gordon] Kilpatrick, Sarah Kilpatrick née Huggins, and family, Victoria, British Columbia; Johnson Street ward, district no. 4: Victoria City, family no. 30, schedule no. 1, page 5. Original record: Statistics Canada fonds, microfilm reels T-6920 to T-6427, held by Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. Digital images online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by by Alison Kilpatrick 2011-04-14).
- St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario. Solemnization of a Baptism. Extract: Albert Samuel, son of Robert and Sarah Kilpatrick, 22nd November 1885. By letter from C.J., church secretary, to Kathryn Steel, 29th February 1980.
- St. Thomas Cemetery Company (St. Thomas, Ontario). E-mail from L.C., 16 March 2004, citing the burial of Jane Kilpatrick, 10th October 1886, at the home of her son, R.G. Kilpatrick, aged 90 years [sic].
- St. Thomas Daily Times, 11 October 1886. Death notice for Jane Kilpatrick née M’Kay, who died 10th October 1886 at the home of her son, Robert Kilpatrick (2004-03-16).
- Province of Manitoba (Canada). Index of Deaths. Extract: Albert Samuel Kilpatrick, died 13th December 1887, Winnipeg. Registration no. 1887,002310. Index entry online at: web2.gov.mb.ca/cca/vital (accessed 2004-03-16).
- Interview with Dorothy May Causton née Kilpatrick (1922–2003) .
- Canada 1891 Census, op. cit.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of Marriage. Extract: Stephen D. Kilpatrick, age 26, resident of Toronto, born in Brandon, Manitoba, bachelor, bricklayer, Presbyterian, son of Robert Kilpatrick and Sarah Huggins; Helen R. Dickson, age 28, resident of Toronto, born at Edinburgh, Scotland, spinster, Presbyterian, daughter of David Dickson and Janet Robertson; witnesses: Robert Edwin Kilpatrick, 54 Galt Ave., Toronto, and Margaret Dickson, 269 Berkeley street, Toronto; marriage solemnized 10th January 1917 by the Rev. Robt. Herbison, Richmond Hill, denomination: Presbyterian. Original record: Archives of Ontario, Marriage licence no. C15628, issued 6th January 1917, by R.G. Galbraith, Issuer of Marriage Licenses at Toronto. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2008-06-24).
- Canada 1891 Census, op. cit.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Statement of Birth. Extract: John Stuart Kilpatrick, born 23 January 1892 at Farley Avenue, Toronto, resident in 1955 of 82 Bellefair Avenue, Toronto; father: Robert Gordon Kilpatrick, Farley Avenue, Canadian, Irish, age 41 years, born in Ireland [sic], occupation: tailor; mother: Sarah Selina Huggins, Farley Avenue, Canadian, Irish, age 38 years, born in Ireland [sic], housewife. Original record: Registrar General, Province of Ontario. Archival ref. registered 17 August 1955, registration no. 501885. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2008-06-24).
- Canada 1901 Census. Household of Robert Gordon Kilpatrick, Sarah Selina Kilpatrick [née Huggins], and children: Maggie, Robert, D. Steavon, S. John, Cathelian [sic], and Alfred; in Toronto, Ontario. Original record held by National Archives of Canada. Archival ref. reel no. T-6498, district no. 117, Toronto City East, sub-district B-25, ward 2, pg. 8. Microfilm copy accessed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2002.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Schedule A.—Births. Extract: Alfred Kilpatrick, son of Robert Gordon Kilpatrick and Sarah Selina Huggins, Toronto, Ontario; informant: Maggie Kilpatrick [Alfred’s sister], registered 6th November 1896. Original record held by Archives Ontario; archival ref. MS 929, registration no. 047389. Photocopy obtained through the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (2002).
- The City of New York (New York, USA). Department of Health. Certificate and Record of Marriage. Extract: William Hughes Jones, groom’s residence: 142 E. 96 St., age 28, white, widower, bricklayer, born at Manchester, England, father: William H. Jones, mother: Sarah Jones; and, Margaret Jane Kilpatrick, bride’s residence: 418 East 83rd St., age 26, white, single, born at Port Hope, Canada, father: Robert Gordon Kilpatrick, mother: Sarah Huggins; marriage solemnized by James A. McCague, clergyman, resident at 321 W. 136th St., marriage solemnized at 7 W. 11th St., Borough of Manhattan; witnesses: W.A. Morentz, Alton D. Byrd. Certificate no 25764. Copy certificate purchased by Alison Kilpatrick from the Municipal Archives, New York City Department of Records and Information Services, received 2014-10-28.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of Death. Extract: Sarah Bernice Jones, died 8 November 1911, 269 Berkeley Street, Toronto, County of York; cause of death: primary-acute meningitis, 10 days; secondary-cardiac paralysis, 2 days; physician, R.C. Coatsworth, 296 Parliament street. Original record held by Archives Ontario. Archival ref. file no. 006228. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2008-06-23).
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of Death. Extract: Margaret Jane Jones [née Kilpatrick], died 23 December 1911, 269 Berkeley Street, Toronto; cause of death: pulmonary tuberculosis, 4 months; physician, W.B. Thistle, 171 College street. Original record held by Archives of Ontario (Toronto); file no. 096994. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2008-06-23).
- Canada. WWI CEF Personnel Files, 1914–1918. Extract: John Stuart Kilpatrick, Private, 124th Battalion (attached to Canadian Engineers), regimental no. 769998. Original record held by Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa), Accession 1992-93/166, Record Group 150. Digital images online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2017-08-12).
- Canada. WWI CEF Personnel Files, 1914–1918. Extract: Alfred William Kilpatrick, attested into the 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles, 31 July 1915, regimental no. 113340. Original record held by Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa), Accession 1992-93/166, Record Group 150. Digital images online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2017-08-12).
- Canada 1921 Census. Extract: Robert Gordon Kilpatrick, age 58; in Whitby Hospital, Whitby, Ontario. Original record: Statistics Canada, series RG 31, held by Library and Archives Canada, Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, Ottawa. Archival ref. Ontario East, district no. 109, sub-district no. 46, Whitby Town – Insane Asylum, page 15. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2013-12-22).
- Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, history and description of the facility, online at Wikipedia. Though constructed between 1913–1916, the hospital was commandeered by the Canadian government for use as a military convalescent hospital during the Great War. The facility became available for civilian use in 1919.
- Interview with Dorothy Causton, op. cit.
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of a Death. Extract: Sarah Selina Kilpatrick [née Huggins], died 28 February 1928, at 103 Jones Avenue, Toronto, County of York; cause of death: primary-cerebral haemorrhage, sudden; contributory: a previous haemorrhage, 3 mos.; physician, E.R. Hastings, 791 Queen E.; informant: Robert Kilpatrick, son, 42 Haslett Ave.; buried at Mt Pleasant cemetery, Washington & Johnston, undertakers. Parents cited as Samuel Huggins, b. England, and [—] McLister, b. England [sic]. Original record held by Ontario Archives, Toronto. Archival ref. registration no. 002239. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed by subscription, and transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick, 2014-09-10).
- Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826–1989. Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Extract: Sarah Kilpatrick, aged 73 years; born in England; died 28 February 1928 in Toronto; married; buried 1st 2nd March 1928; cause of death: haemorrhage; plot no. 19, section no. 5, lot no. 3; ground property of: Alfred W. Kilpatrick; medical attendant: R. Montgomery; deceased’s nearest relation: Alfred W. Kilpatrick, 103 Jones Avenue; undertaker: Matthews Burial. Toronto Trust Cemeteries ref. Vol. IV, 1920–1931. Digital image online at familysearch.org (accessed 2017-08-06).
- Province of Ontario (Canada). Civil Registration of a Death. File no. 1929-05026/38. Robert Kilpatrick, 30 January 1929, age 75 years, born at Prescott, occupation: Salesman, dry goods, name of parents not recorded, cause of death: broncho-pneumonia, father’s birthplace and mother’s birthplace not recorded, informant: Mrs. Sarah Kilpatrick;* cemetery: Necropic, Toronto; information extracted for genealogy, 6 July 1979, by N.A. Vetere, Deputy Registrar General, Office of the Registrar General, Toronto, to Kathryn Steel, Sutton, Ontario. *Note: This is an odd feature of this genealogical extract, as Sarah had died the year before! The original certificate contains the following additional information: male, Canadian, married, born in Canada [Prescott not mentioned] in 1853; length of residence: 9 yrs. 2 dys.; physician: Dr. W.D. Montgomery, Ontario Hospital, Whitby; name of informant: Mrs. Sarah Kilpatrick, 140 Leslie St., Toronto, wife; date of burial: Feb. 1, 1929; Mathews Burial Co., undertaker; physician attended from Nov. 1923 to Jan. 30/29; primary cause of death: senile changes; contributory: broncho-pneumonia. Original record held by Archives Ontario; archival ref. file no. 1929-05026/38. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2013-10-11).[/efn],[efn]Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826–1989. Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Robert Kilpatrick, aged 78 years; born at Prescott, Ontario; died 30th January 1929 in Toronto [sic]; buried 1st February 1929; cause of death: broncho pneumonia, senile changes; plot no. 19, section no. 5, lot no. 3; ground property of: Alfred W. Kilpatrick; medical attendant: R. Montgomery; deceased’s nearest relation: Alfred W. Kilpatrick, 103 Jones Avenue; undertaker: Matthews Burial. Toronto Trust Cemeteries ref. Vol. IV, 1920–1931. Digital image online at familysearch.org (accessed, and extract by Alison Kilpatrick, 2017-08-06).
- Interview with Dorothy Causton, op. cit.