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Family Biography - James Spearin & Rachel Doherty, Canada

James Spearin and Rachel Doherty came to Canada from Co Limerick Ireland in 1834, also known as "the year of the short corn" James was a stonemason. The two settled in Blanchard County.,St. Marys, Ontario. James immediately built a stone cottage for his wife that stands to this day, and is still owned by a Spearin. James and Rachel had 11 children: James, George, Mary (x2), Wyndham, Rachel, Gerald, Harriet, Sam, (?), Elizabeth and Alice. You will note there were two Marys, as the first Mary died when she was 3 years old. Later they had another daughter and they named her Mary as well. This was common in those days. To my knowledge all of the children were born in Ireland.

Alice who we are descended from, came to Canada when she was 4 years old. James had several brothers. John, Tobias, and Luke. His brother John, a carpenter, who married Catherine long, emigrated to Canada prior to James. John and Catherine arrived around 1823. This was also their honeymoon. The voyage lasted 7 weeks. They landed in Quebec, as did most immigrants of the time. They first settled in Quebec and began their family. They had a daughter named Anne. Sadly enough Anne died as an infant. The couple were so heartbroken that they returned to (Dublin ?). There they had 11 more children. Harriet, John, Catherine, Hartwell, Luke, Ann, Amelia, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, George and Margaret. They then gathered the entire family, as did James, and returned to St Marys, Ontario in 1844. They first stayed with their married daughter, Harriet, in Simcoe County. Then he and his son-in-law came to Blanchard County where his brother James had settled.

Luke Spearin came to Canada and settled in Quebec, they moved to St Marys as well. He had 3 sons. Tobias Spearin remained in Ireland, but his son James, came to St Marys Ontario. Many of their descendants still live in Ontario.

Apparently the Spearin name is not Palatine, as once thought, but it is of German origin. The Spearin's became closely connected to the Palatines by inter-marrying in their community. It appears that Spearin's have been in Ireland for some time. They appeared in the "register of deeds" in 1703. This was for the sale of an estate, including a manor house for 2000 pounds. It would be hard to believe that poor farmers from Germany could have accumulated enough money to purchase this type of estate and sell it before 1729. It is possible that a Luke Spearin might have picked up land sometime in the late 1690's. In 1640 Oliver Cromwell had confiscated all the land from the Catholics and redistributed it when William of Orange ascended the throne of England with his wife Mary in 1690. It could very well be that Luke Spearin was a retainer of William of Orange (i.e. a Williamite) and he was granted land. By confiscating and redistributing land, the English were able to exert a strong influence in Ireland. An interesting note is that "Luke" is used by higher social classes in Germany, and not generally found among the Palatine Germans. That is another clue to the Spearins being of German origin, but not Palatines.


Dan Holden

June 2011 



June 2011

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Last update: April 2011

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