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Welcome to the Sharpe family page of my family history website. This page covers the ancestors and descendants of Alexander Donald Sharpe and his wife Linda Winifred Isobel Tasker of Kent County, Ontario. If you are just arriving here for the first time then you may wish to start here.
Please Note: This page is intended only as a narrative historical overview of this family. There is additional detailed information available for almost ever person presented on this page. To avoid the unnecessary work of double-entering some data, the additional information can be found in the accompanying GEDCOM database. Please make sure you click on the INDEX button at the bottom of the page so you don't miss out on potentially valuable additional information.
The four ancestral lines of this family are:
The name Sharpe is a variation of the name Sharp which is a characteristic surname. In other words, it is probably based on a nickname given to an early ancestor who could be described as "sharp" or "keen, active, and quick". It is derived from the Middle English term scharp. Variations include Shairp (primarily Scottish) and the Germanic Scharff or Scharfe, while Scherpe is the Flemish and Dutch version. The English form of the name is found just as commonly with or without the final "e" and within the same families. No historical significance should be attached to the variant spellings. In Scotland, the Sharpes were a cadet clan of the Stewarts, which meant that they came under the protection of the Stewarts -- generally associated with the Stewarts of Appin.
Click here to learn more about surnames.
Our Sharpe family comes into known history in the early 19th century in England. The earliest verifiable ancestor is Henry Haywood Sharp who was born in 1823 in Derby, Derbyshire, England. Henry's grandparents have been tentatively identified as:
John Sharp's birth has not been confidently identified. If John's marriage has been correctly identified as occurring in Halifax, Yorkshire, England then only one plausible birth can be found in the IGI, namely John Sharp b: 8 MAR 1768 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England as the son of Mungo Sharp. However insufficient research has been done at this point to have any confidence in this birth. At present, John's birth must remain officially as unidentified. John Sharp married on 16 APR 1797 in Halifax, Yorkshire, England to Elizabeth FARRAR. Her birth family has not been identified. John Sharp and Elizabeth FARRAR are believed to have had one child:
It is not known for sure that John Sharp's parents were John Sharp and Elizabeth Farrar. What is known is that Henry Haywood Sharp (shown below) had a relative named Elizabeth A. K. Farrar. What her exact relationship was to Henry is unknown. What is also known is that in 1797 an Elizabeth Farrar married a John Sharp in Halifax, Yorkshire, and they are just the right ages to be the grandparents of Henry Haywood Sharp. It seems reasonable to suggest that Elizabeth Farrar was Henry's grandmother.
John SHARP is believed to have been born ABT 1790 in Yorkshire or Derbyshire, England as the son of John Sharp and Elizabeth Farrar, shown above. John married on 26 DEC 1814 in Duffield, Derbyshire, England (about 5km north of Derby) to Sarah DRAPER b: 16 MAY 1794 in Ripley, Derbyshire, England, daughter of William Draper and Sarah Fletcher.
John Sharp is not listed in the parish register as the father of Henry Haywood Sharp. Henry's birth record in the IGI indicates only his mother's name, Sarah. John Sharp and Sarah are listed as the parents of the other three boys. (The OPRs have yet to be consulted for this family.) Henry Haywood is the only child in Alkmund parish that is listed without a father. The IGI shows only one mother named Sarah married to a Sharp -- John Sharp. Since there is only one Sharp family with a mother named Sarah then it is a solid supposition that John Sharp is also the father of Henry Haywood Sharp. This supposition is strengthened by the above information regarding Henry's relative, Elizabeth A. K. Farrar.
[Another published genealogy the Sharp family lists Henry Haywood Sharp's parents as James Page Sharpe and Elizabeth Spencer of Lancashire, England without documentary evidence. I believe that account to be incorrect.]
John Sharp and Sarah Draper are believed to be the parents of the following children:
Fredrick married secondly on 08 MAR 1873 to Rebecca FISHER. She was born in 1833. They are found in 1881 living at 88 Douglas St., Litchurch, Derby, England. Fredrick is working as a blacksmith.
Henry Haywood Sharp was born ABT 14 SEP 1823 in Saint Alkmund, Derby, Derby, England as the son of John Sharp and Sarah Draper, shown above. Henry came to North America sometime before 1849 when he is recorded marrying Barbara Farslow. Henry's marriage is recorded in the Dibean Marriage Collection for St. Clair, Michigan, USA, as is the marriage for his brother-in-law, Joseph Farslow. It's not known if they were residing in Michigan at the time or if this is the record of an itinerant Methodist preacher travelling in Kent County, Ontario, Canada (which is not far from St. Clair, Michigan, USA), or if they eloped. Since the Farslow family was residing in Bothwell County, Ontario, Canada at that time (and prior) and as Henry began having children in Kent/Bothwell County only two years after his marriage, then all of these explanations are equally plausible.
A published genealogy for Henry Haywood Sharp has been found by Peter Groen, 2000 Hillwood Drive, Lake Orion, Michigan, USA 48360. Groen names James Page Sharpe and Elizabeth Spencer of Lancashire England as Henry's parents. This family appears to have been residing in St. Clair, Michigan, USA at the time. At this point it appears the Peter Groen's research is incorrect and that John Sharp and Sarah Draper are his probable parents. However it cannot be stated with absolute certainty.
There are three persons named Henry Sharp(e) found in the 1841 census for St. Alkmund, Derby, England, all about the right age to be Henry Haywood Sharp. He may be the Henry Sharp shown with an elder Thomas Sharp (presumably his uncle) and working as an apprentice china manufacturer. Henry is not found in the 1850 census in Michigan, USA. The 1851 census for Bothwell/Kent County, Ontario, Canada no longer exists and the 1861 Census shows Henry living in Camden Gore, Kent County, Ontario, Canada and working as a farmer.
Henry Sharp married on 16 AUG 1849 in St. Clair, Michigan, USA to Barbara FARSLOW, b: 30 DEC 1831 in Ontario, Canada, daughter of John Farslow and Barbara. Henry and Barbara moved to a farm in Camden Township, just outside of Dresden in Kent County, Ontario, Canada. They had the following children:
Thomas married secondly to Betsy Ann REEK
The 1901 Census shows the families of Thomas, Samuel and John all adjacent to each other with only one neighbour intervening. Other census records show the Sharpe family were also close neighbours with the Taylors, Prangleys, Farslows (who seem to have moved with Barbara), and the Cuthberts. They were all within just a few farms of each other. These names come up elsewhere in this family history.
Henry and Barbara's oldest sons, Thomas, Samuel and John, continued farming. It is believed that Samuel inherited the family farm. It's worth noting that Thomas Sharp was the only sibling in this family to retain the Sharp spelling with no 'e'. Why did the family farm go to the second son instead of the first as would be customary? Could the supposed dispute over farmland have been between Thomas and Samuel? When Samuel later sold the family farm, did this widen the rift between the brothers? It seems quite possibly so.
Samuel Sharp was born b: 23 JUL 1853 in Camden Township, Kent County as the son of Henry Haywood Sharp and Barbara Farslow (shown above). Samuel Sharp(e) was a farmer. He owned a farm just outside of Dresden where he raised his family. His eldest son, Ernest, initially followed in his footsteps and purchased the farm right next door to Samuel where father and son could farm side-by-side. Samuel Sharpe married on 24 NOV 1881 in Kent County, Ontario to Rebecca WINTERS b: 18 JAN 1860 in Kent County, Ontario, daughter of John Winters and Mary Elizabeth Culp. Samuel and Rebecca continued on the farm and had the following children:
Dick Wright, a nephew of Leo Harold Sharpe and Harriet May Perry on the Perry side, hosts a blog on Dresden history at: http://dicktheblogster.blogspot.com . On his blog he makes mention of his "Auntie Mae" (Mary Jane "Mae" Sharpe nee Cuthbert, below). Dick recalls:
Joining Danny Burns, Kingsley Shaw and Doug Oliphant at the home of Mae Sharpe [Mary Jane "Mae" Sharpe nee Cuthbert, below] for quartet practice sessions. Poor Mae had a lot of patience because none of us were good singers. The highlight of the practices came when she served us orange juice and sugar cookies. We must have performed before a live audience at least once, but if we did I can't remember it.
Walking up Hughes Street with my mother on some of those summer evenings to join my Aunt Hattie (Sharpe) [Harriet May Sharpe nee Perry above] and cousins Jim and Norma on their front porch. We'd talk and laugh, many times till well after 11 o'clock. The Rigsbys, Hendersons, Tedfords and Morgans would often drop by. One day a fellow just back from the war, Bill Johnston, joined us -- and never left.
Buying a bottle of pop, generally Orange Crush, from Ern Sharpe and playing the pinball machine (the only one in town) in his Supertest gas station.
Ernest and Mae Sharpe with sons, Alec and Gordon
Ernest Leroy SHARPE was b: 19 NOV 1881 in Camden Township, Kent County, Ontario, as a strappingly handsome man, married on 23 OCT 1907 in the town of Dresden, Kent County, Ontario to the comely Mary Jane "Mae" CUTHBERT, b: 24 DEC 1884 in Dresden, Kent County, Ontario. She was the daughter of the local leather-worker in Dresden. Her ancestry is presented on the Cuthbert Family Page. Ernest loved farming and he loved working on his father's farm. Unfortunately his passion for farming was not shared by his wife, Mae. She did not enjoy rural living and longed for a more urban life in town. Mae convinced Ernest to sell the family farm and move into the town of Dresden. Ernest opened up a hardware store and a gas station in town and Mae became the organist at the local Presbyterian Church. Ernest always regretted selling the farm.
Ernest Sharpe and Mae Cuthbert had two sons:
Formerly Ernest Sharpe's hardware store
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Formerly Ernest Sharpe's hardware store - side view
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Formerly Ernest Sharpe's Gas Station (behind the hardware store)
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Alec and Winifred Sharpe's house
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Ernest and Mae Sharpe's gravestone
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The following section has nothing to do with our family history research and may only be of trivial interest to Sharpe family members.
When I began work on this family research neither my wife, Heather, nor I had ever heard of the McVeans of Dresden, Ontario. One day I remarked to a close friend that my wife's family came from Dresden. Our friend remarked that her family also came from Dresden. We had no idea the connections we were yet to uncover, as we, having only known each other a couple of years, discovered that our ancestors have apparently known each other for nearly two hundred years! Here are some of the more interesting connections between the Sharpes and the McVeans of Dresden, Ontario
|Our McVean friend and I are both Presbyterian clergy.|
|Our McVean friend lives on an adjacent street only one block away from us in Hamilton. Nearly 100 years ago our ancestors, Ernest Sharpe and the McVeans, lived on adjacent streets, only one block apart, in Dresden.|
|The Sharpes and the McVeans both attended St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Dresden where the men in each family were prominent, long-standing, and well-respected elders.|
|Osgood and William McVean bought their first mill from Thomas Taylor of Dawn Mills and slid the Taylor mill downstream on the ice from Dawn Mills to Dresden. Thomas Taylor was the great uncle of Mae (Cuthbert) Sharpe. Mary Jane's great grandfather, Captain William Taylor, built the mill.|
|Albert Sharpe built and operated the first movie theatre in Dresden. Marion McVean was one of the piano players for the theatre.|
|James Sharpe was an accountant for the O&W McVean Mills Company|
|Marion McVean and Mae (Cuthbert) Sharpe were both long-time organists and choir directors at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Dresden. It's possible that Mae was Marion's direct successor.|
|Ernest Sharpe owned one of the first two hardware stores and gas stations in Dresden. The McVeans owned the other hardware store and the first gas station in Dresden|
|Alec Sharpe and Osgood McVean both played clarinet together in the Dresden town band.|
|James H. McVean married Alice Prangley, the aunt of Mae (Cuthbert) Sharpe thus connecting the two families by marriage and thereby creating a common aunt and uncle between our two families.|
Three Henry Sharps have been identified in St. Alkmund parish in 1841. One of which is recorded as being born outside the county and can hopefully therefore be discounted. Another is a sawyer working for a carpenter. And the third is an apprentice china manufacturer. This is interesting as Derby is the home of a Sharp family who were famous pottery makers in the 19th century: http://www.sharpes.org.uk - founded by Thomas Sharpe in 1821 in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, about 10 miles southwest of Derby.
Res: Court 4, St. Alkmund, Derby, Morleston and Litchurch Hundred (all born Derby)
IGI shows Thomas Sharpe m 5 APR 1819 in St. Alkmund to Mary BUTLER. Children:
- Charles 21 OCT 1821
- Emma 17 NOV 1822
- William 15 FEB 1824
- Marianne 3 MAY 1827
- Henry 12 DEC 1829
Res: #4 Brook Street, St. Alkmund, Derby, Derby, Morleston and Litchurch Hundred (all born Derby except noted)
Res: City Road, St. Alkmund, Derby, Derby, Morleston and Litchurch Hundred (all born Derby)
From Romantic Kent, p 364:
In pioneer Days Louisville was a community of much promise. On July 30, 1835, John Sharp surveyed part of Lot 15, front concession, into village lots.
James William SHARPE, born 15 AUG 1848 in urban Ontario, barrister and Manager of Dresden Bank Co., resided in Dresden, m Francis Ronaldson Dickson, b 8 APR 1848 in urban Ontario. James gives his ethnic origin as Scottish in 1881, but religion as Church of England. All children alive in 1881, residing in Dresden, Bothwell, Ontario. Residing in 1901 in Dresden Bothwell.
James William Albert SHARPE and Sarah Ann Lewis
Ida SHARPE, dtr of William Sharpe and Rowena Campbell, birth witnessed by another Ida Sharpe (not yet identified)
There is a Benjamin SHARPE residing in Chatham in the late 18th century whose ethnic origin is given as "German" and is thus likely unrelated.
Joseph SHARP and Isabella REID
|Derbyshire Genealogical Research||http://www.genealogy-links.co.uk/html/dby.lookup.html|
|Sharpe's Pottery, Swadlincote, Derbyshire
(It is believed these Sharpes are no relation.)
|Kent County Genealogy||http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~essexandkentcountytranscripts/|
People researching this family include the following. If you wish your name added to the fellow researchers' list, please contact me.
|Hamilton, Ontario||all branches of this family|
|Michael Kaehn||Victoria, British Columbia||all branches of this family|
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This page was last updated on March 22, 2011