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Finlay MacIntosh, Immigrant (1773-1867)

On February 2nd 1819 Finlay MacIntosh submitted a petition for land to the Crown, the very same day as Donald and David MacIntosh, John Morrison and Norman McNeil. These five grants formed the settlement of Glenelg or Black River. The family history recorded by Deedie Meservey in 1950 records six sons of John MacIntosh including Donald, Finlay and David. We naturally suppose that the three MacIntosh grantees were brothers.

After [John's] death, his widow & the eight grown children came to Canada to settle... They had been granted lands on the Ottawa River, but when their ship reached Quebec & later Montreal, the Indians were very war-like. Travel was all by trail or canoe, & the Indians were ambushing canoe travellers from the banks of the rivers. The family stayed in Quebec two years, and were influential enough to have their grants changed to a new location in Kent Co., N.B... 1

From Donald & David's petition we can date these events to 1816-1818.

The Memorial of Donald McIntosh, David McIntosh, Norman McNeil and John Morrison, Humbly Sheweth that your Petitioners are British Subjects, natives of Scotland, from whence they immigrated to Canada in the year 1816, and from thence to Bucktush in June 1817, where they now live, are all married, Donald McIntosh is 36, David MacIntosh 28, Norman McNeil is 48 years of age and has nine children, John Morrison is 48 years of age and has five children, and have never received any Land from the Crown,... 2

But the history Finlay provides in his land petition is very interesting in juxtaposition with Deedie's and his brothers':

"...The memorial of Finley McIntosh humbly sheweth that your petitioner is a British subject, a native of Scotland from whence he immigrated to Canada in the year 1801[?], & from thence to Bucktush in June 1818 where he now lives, is married and has nine children, is forty six years of age and has never received any land from the Crown... 3

Clearly Finlay did not travel to Canada with the rest of the family -- he was there in 1801. I wondered for a while whether he was indeed the brother Deedie described. The facts of the matter may never be known, but my current theory is that he was, but more than that, he was the trailblazer -- the first of the family to set out from the Highlands to try to make a way in the New World.

Coming to New Brunswick: A Fiction

It is 1801. The Highland clearances have begun. In the village of Bernera, in Glenelg opposite the Isle of Skye, the family of the old veteran John MacIntosh sees some hope for economic improvement in the New World. They feel they are eligible for land in the colonies in return for John's service to the Crown some forty years earlier at Quebec, where he lost a leg. Finlay, with his young bride, volunteers to sail to Canada to try to collect this debt from the Crown. He promises to write his family from Canada once he has scouted out the circumstances there.

Finlay arrives in Canada to find that the promised allotment of land is not forthcoming. Maybe the natives are restless, as Deedie says. Or maybe the colonial bureaucrats have as little time for poor Scottish tenants as their landlord did back in the Highlands. Or perhaps it is just the eternal administrative footdragging, familiar to anyone who's tried to get something out of the government since the time of the Babylonians. In any case, Finlay makes do in the Canadas without a grant for fifteen years, his family growing to nine children in the meantime.

In 1816 worsening conditions in the Highlands and rumors of an improved outlook in Canada convince his mother and brothers that it is time to follow him. In the summer of 1816 they sail for Quebec in the company of McNeils and Morrisons, families into whom the MacIntosh sisters Ann and Flora have married.

But on arriving in Quebec they find that the long-awaited land is still not forthcoming. David & Donald leave Montreal the following summer on the rumor of better prospects in New Brunswick. When they arrive at the port village with the odd-sounding Indian name of "Bucktush" they find that here, at last, the Crown is hearing petitions and issuing grants to able-bodied British subjects for nothing more than the promise of improvement. They also find that there are Scots like themselves trickling into the area. They send this news to their brother Finlay, still in Canada, and he and his family move to Buctouche the following summer.

On a February day in 1819 the brothers and their in-laws McNeil and Morrison gather in front of Wm. Hannington, JP, to submit petitions to the Crown for land on which they can raise their families. Their petitions are succesful, and Glenelg is reborn in the New Brunswick.

Let me emphasize that the above is fiction, incorporating such few facts as I know them, and doubtless incorporating many falsehoods that further research may yet reveal. For instance, is there any reason to suppose that land grants were harder to come by in the Canadas in 1801-1816 than in New Brunswick in 1819? Is there any documentary evidence of Finlay trying to obtain land in Canada? It turns out there is,4  but since his name is so common it's hard to be sure it's him.

Finlay's Descendants

Deedie left us no indication of who Finlay's children were, and census and Presbyterian church records don't reach back early enough to give us firm information about that. However, I've indulged in some further speculation on this subject, largely based on the observation that certain MacIntoshes appearing in Kent County census records indicate that they were born in one or the other of the Canadas in the period during which Finlay said he lived there (1801-1818). There are also some assorted notes among the my family's genealogical records describing one person or another as "Probably one of Finlay's descendants."

According to Deedie's account, but no other source, Finlay married Ann Frazer. They had at least nine children by 1819 (per Finlay's land petition), but we know the names of none for certain. I speculate that the following four individuals may be children of Finlay and Ann.

We have a minor problem in that Kenneth cites his birthplace as Upper Canada (or Ontario) while Euphemia gives hers as Lower Canada (or Quebec). However, Finlay did not indicate which Canada he resided in, so it is possible he was in both at different times. It is also possible that one of the children, or more likely still one of the census takers, was unclear about which Canada.

Ann, wife of Finlay McIntosh, died the 20th of November 1845 at age 72. 11   Finlay McIntosh, age 96, passed away on the 13th of March 1867. 12

Andrew and Fanny

Andrew MacINTOSH of Buctouche married the much-younger Francis Smith THOMPSON of Cocagne in Buctouche on 20 August 1844.6 In 1861 they were still living in Wellington parish with their children and the elderly Finlay. They removed to Upper Mills, Charlotte County, where on 9 November 1880 Andrew's death is recorded at age 75 years and 5 months.

Andrew and Francis had the following children:6,14

Kenneth and Isabella

Kenneth appears in the 1861 and 1871 censuses in Wellington Parish and in Weldford Parish in the 1881. 8  All we know about Isabella is that she was born about 1814 in either Nova Scotia or Scotland.

Kenneth and Isabella had the following children:

Another candidate for a child of Kenneth is Alexander MacINTOSH who appears first in the 1881 census in Weldford parish at age 40. Please see this page on the Weldford Parish MacIntoshes for more on him.

1. Elizabeth Meservey, manuscript ca.1950
2. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS108, microfilm F4184, petition of McINTOSH, Donald (1819)
3. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS108, microfilm F4184, petition of McINTOSH, Finlay (1819)
4. Library and Archives Canada, "Lower Canada Land Papers", RG 1 L 3L Vol. 135 (film C-2545). "Archibald McMillan (1761-1832), merchant, sponsored the emigration of over 400 settlers from Lochaber, Inverness-shire, Scotland to Lower Canada in the fall of 1802. Upon their arrival in Montreal, McMillan applied to the Executive Council for land grants, but numerous delays ensued and the initial grants were not made for over three years. Before that time, however, many settlers had left McMillan's group. These emigrants had been attracted to Glengarry County, Upper Canada, where they found an established group of Highlanders and received grants without difficulty." The name Finlay McIntosh appears on several different lists of migrants in this file.
5. Daniel F. Johnson, Vital Statistics from New Brunswick Newspapers. Vol. 1? citing NB Royal Gazette 17 Jan 1826
6. Vital Statistics vol.10, citing Gleaner & Northumberland Schediasma 7 Sept 1844
7. National Archives of Canada, 1861 Census. NB/Kent/Wellington p.31 #1202-1208
8. National Archives of Canada. In 1861, NB/Kent/Wellington p.61 #2420. In 1871, NB/Kent/Wellington e-1 p.53 family #163. In 1881, NB/Kent/Weldford e-2 p.50.
9. Vital Statistics vol.6? citing Weekly Observer 5 Feb 1833
10. National Archives of Canada. In 1861, NB/Kent/Wellington #3817. In 1881, NB/Kent/Wellington f-1 p.25 hh.93
11. Vital Statistics vol.11, citing Headquarters 3 Dec 1845
12. Vital Statistics vol.24, citing Morning News 18 Mar 1867
13. St. Croix Courier of Dec. 2, 1880. From "MCINTOSH - At Upper Mills, November 9th, Andrew McIntosh, formerly of Buctouche, Kent Co., aged 75 years and 5 months"
14. National Archives of Canada, 1881 Census. NB/Charlotte, Dist.26M p.9 hh.43

I've compiled a collection of references to many different Finlay MacIntoshes of Kent County here, as an aide to my research.

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This page last updated 2006 July 19.