Robert Douglas of Montague, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada

New Scone Parish Church

New Scone Parish Church

In February 1849, Robert Douglas of Montague, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada, wrote to Grace Douglas, the daughter of John Douglas of New Scone, Scotland, encouraging her to emmigrate. Although nothing was known about Robert's parentage, they must have been closely related as Robert called her "dear cousin" and "near relation" in his letter. In the event, Grace chose not to emigrate and died of consumption on the 20th January 1855, but the letter provided tantalising hints for the family historian.

Copy of a letter from Robert Douglas of Montague, Canada to Grace Douglas in New Scone.

Montauge, February 12th 1849

Dear Cousin,

We are very happy to hear and learn from a letter that came from Peter McFarland, Perth, that you are intending to come to America, if we could give you any encouragement for to come, your occuptation as a dressmaker is very good in this place, both the the countrie and in villages. We are about six miles in the countrie from the village of Smith Falls and about twenty miles from Perth which is a pretty large town. We are in a great state whither to advise you or not, but we know that you would do better in this place than in Scoon. But to advise as a friend and a near relation to come to this place, I know that you will be better hear, but there one thing in advising there friends to come to this countrie, that after they land in this place they begin to murmor against there friends, but I hope better things of you if you will be spaird to land in this place amongeth us.

When you land in Montreall you will come up the Grand River to Bytown and then you will come up the Rido Canal to Kilmarnack Locks which is five mils from our place, which by inquirie of Mr Maitland the Lock Keper there, and he will give the derection to our place or send a gaiud with you, if you intend to come to America the incoming summer. You will write to us as soon as these few lines will reach your hand so as that we will be inquiring at the Post Office for an answer.

I hope that these few lines satisfie you at the present time as we dount want to say much in forsing you to leave your naitive place. You will let all our relations know that we are all well at present in this place. Also you will let us know whether my ant is still in the land of the living or not, as we never got any letters from them since we came to America, and you will let John and James, her sons, know that we wish them to write to us and to state to us about their mother, and you will let James [Menus] Perth know that we are surprised that he never rote to us a letter and you will tell him that this Countrie is good for his trade. You cannot get a coat made hear under seventeen shillings and sixpence ...... five shillings for fine trousers, three shillings and sixpence for cours and for ...... the same. And John I wish him to come to this place if he could thinck upon it, for I dount know where he is now, but I wish you to write to him and state to him that I wish that he would come to America or write to me.

We had a very dray summer last year in general throughout the whole Provence and the hay croap is light in general and the fall wheat is failed these few years back, and the spring wheat liekwise is taking the rust. The black sea wheat oats and Indian corn, pease and barley were excelent fine crops. Potatoes has failed hear in some places these two years past, but not to say in general. Some places is wors than other places but we had very few of ours tutched and the prices of everything is very low in this countrie, and money is very ...... Wheat per bushell if four shillings, barley two shilling the bushell, pease two shillings, oats ten pence the bushell, Indian corn two shillings the bushell, Porke eight dollars the barrel and beef five dollar the barrel, butter sixpence the pound. Cows are very cheap, and horses,and very little seal for them. Sheep is very low hear. Ewes seven and sixpence the peace, and weathers twelve and sixpence to fifteen shillings, lams five shillings one one shilling and threepence the pound.

We have five hundred acres of land in one block and got them all paid now and we have got about sixty or seventy acres of land cleared with a good stock of cattle and horses and sheep. We have five horses and eight milck cows besides young cattle and about sixty sheep, young and old. Lickwise I want to know where your other two brothers are, or if they alive or not, and what they are doing, and you will give all acquaintence and relations our compliments that you know and that we are very aunctious to hear of the wellbeing my father and there rest of the family are all well and all our friends and acquaintences in this place.

Peter Scott and Robert Scott, son, left this part of the country about two years ago and went up to Union Tract and is settled there, and it was his father that got the letter Mister Mcfarland sent out, and I got the letter last weeke, and I dount know whether he is write to McFarland or not, but I think he will not. Charles Frazer bought the land that Peter Scott had, and Frazer wife sends her complements to you. Alexander Stewart wife and John Scott wife send there complements.

We have had a fine winter as yet with little or no snow. We had a fall of snow yesterday about six inches which will make about a foot all over. William Douglas was at our place four years ago and he never wrote us since, for he was to leave the place where he was at that time. I add no more at present but remain your faithful friend.

Robert Douglas

You will derect as follows
Robert Douglas
5 Concession Lot no 16
care of James Maitland
Postmaster, Kilmarnock

[Addessed to]
Miss Douglas, dressmaker, Scoon, Perth, Scotland.


Notes on Robert Douglas of Montague, and his letter.

Robert's letter mentions the Grand River, which is now called the Ottawa River, and the town of Perth which was the military base of the area. The letter also mentions Bytown, which was named after Lieutenant-Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers, who supervised the construction of the Rideau Canal. Bytown originally seems to have been a timber camp, but grew with the building of the canal, and was renamed as Ottawa in 1855.

The letter says that Peter Scott and his son Robert had left the area two years previously, and were then settled further North. Bill Mains, who has been researching families connected to the Derry in nearby Beckwith, says that they settled near Listowel, Perth County, Ontario. Charles Frazer bought their land and Fraser's wife was sending her compliments, suggesting that Charles Frazer and his wife were well known to the Douglases back in Scotland and possibly came from the Blair Atholl area.

The letter also mentions a James Menus, and this was probably meant to be James Menzies, as the Menzies name is often pronounced as "Mengus" with a soft "g". For example, the Scottish politician, Menzies Campbell, is often referred to as "Ming" Campell.

According to the Street Directories of Perth, James Menzies moved to Castle Gable, Perth, at some time between 1838 and 1841, and lived at various addresses in Castle Gable until he died in 1863. The 1851 census provides the following information.

30 Castle Gable (Entry 156) St Pauls, Perth

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
James Menzies head 53y journeyman tailor Dull parish
Helen Menzies wife 48y Blair Atholl
Margaret Menzies daughter 8y Perth
Jean Douglas mother 83y widow Blair Atholl
James Douglas lodger 28y journeyman shoemaker Blair Atholl

There may be a connection with Entry 153.

Name Relation Age Occupation Birth-place
John Menzies head 48y shoemaker Blair Atholl
Ann Menzies wife 36y Blair Atholl

James Menzies never went to Canada as he died in Perth in 1863. His death certificate shows that he had been married to Helen Douglas, and was the illegitimate son of John Menzies and Jane (Jean) Douglas or Robertson. The informant was his half-brother, John Robertson.

The Old Parish records for Perth show that James Menzies and Helen Douglas had married in Perth on 19th November 1838, and they had two children baptised: John on 17th December 1839; and Margaret on 8th February 1843.

The death certificate of Helen Douglas (which mentions John Robertson, half-brother in law), shows that her parents were John Douglas, heckler, and Margaret Robertson. So James Menzies had married into a branch of the Douglases from Balcastle of Borenich, who already have their ancestory detailed in the Record Room of this web-site.

For details of this family see - The Family of John Douglas: From Borenich to Muirhead, Parish of Liff which has a family tree at the end of the web-page.

However, none of this gave any clue as to the identity of Robert Douglas, or any of the other people mentioned in the letter. The final avenue was to find out about the history of Lot 16, Concession 5 of Montague Township, and this has produced wonderful results.

Lot 16, Concession 5 of Montague Township was purchased by Donald Douglas, Robert's father, in 1832, and fortuitously Donald Douglas took the time to write his last will and testament in 1850 which, following his death, was registered by his son John in 1854.

Memorial No.280, Folio 282. Registered 3rd April 1854.

A Memorial to be registered pursuant to the Statute in that case made and provided of a Will in the words and figures following:

I, Donald Douglas of the Township of Montague, County of Lanark and Canada West, Yeoman, being weak and frail of body, but of perfect mind and memory, thanks be to God, calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, to make and ordain this my last Will and Testament that is to say as touching such worldly affairs and estate, wherewith it has pleased God to blefs me in this life, I give demise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form:

First: I give and bequeath to my son John my lot of land being Lot No. Sixteen in the fifth Concession of Montague with all houses thereon.. I also give to my son John the one half of my moveables. I give and bequeath to my son Robert, on condition that the said Robert, transfers to his brother John, Fifty Acres of the South Side of Lot No. Fifteen in the said Concession and Township of Montague. They will pay all my lawful debts equally and the following bequeathments.

I ordain and bequeath to my daughter Cathron, one sheep worth ten shillings; also my daughter Issabella one sheep worth ten shillings. Also to my daughter Grisal the sum of thirty pounds .... and also to my daughter Jannet one sheep worth ten shillings, all my stock and moveables already mentioned.

And I ordain and appoint Mr John McLain of Township of Montague, Robert Scott and Alexander Stewart both of Beckwith Township to be my executors of my last will and Testament .... hereto I set my hand and seal this Seventh day of December in the year of our Lord, 1850.

Signed sealed, pronounced and delivered by the said Donald Douglas as his last Will and Testament in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed their names. Donald Douglas X his mark.

James Buchanan
Charles Fraser

Which said Will is witnessed by James Buchanan of Montague and Charles Fraser of same place, yeoman, and this Memorial thereof is hereby required to be registered by me, the said John Douglas, one of the Devises therein named in said Will. This 30th day of March 1854.

John Douglas

Signed and sealed in presence of
James Buchanan
George C. Mittleberger
Registered 3rd April 1854 at 10.00am

This seemed enough evidence to trace the Douglas family back to Donald Douglass and Christian Menzies in Brae of Cluny, Parish of Dull, Perthshire, Scotland. There children were: Isabella (b May 4 1816); John (b Mar 12 1818); Robert (b Feb 26 1821); Janet (b Jan 8 1823); Alexander (b Dec 7 1824); James (b Jan 10 1827); Christian (b Jan 14 1831). Unfortunately, This cannot be the family as Donald Douglas, widower of Christian Menzies, crofter, died in Tom of Cluny 22nd March 1871. So, for the moment, Robert Douglass's mother cannot be identified.


(Generation 1) The family of Donald Douglass and .............

Name Baptised Married Date Residence Died
Catherine Feb 22 1804 John Robertson Dec 5 1834 Beckwith Township d. after 1850
Robert c1807 Isabella Scott Nov 15 1850 Montague Township h. 1871
w. Jun 15 1894
Margaret Nov 18 1810 . . . d. before 1850
Isabel Oct 17 1813 . . Montague Township d. after 1850
John Aug 14 1816 Rosanna Martyn Mar 14 1851 McNab Township h. May 29 1886
w. Dec 19 1901
Sep 15 1822 h1 James Scott
h2 Robt. Burrows
. Montague Township
(See note below)
h2 Dec 31 1886
w. Feb 2 1890
Grisel . . . . d. after 1850

(Note by Bill Mains: James Scott purchased lot 20SW and lot 19NE, Concession 5, Beckwith in 1837. The Burrows family retained the property until 1929. About 1948, this farm was purchased by Stanley and Keith Brunton, who were great-grandsons of John Scott (James Scott's brother). They sold it in the 1980's.)

Donald's daughter Catherine married John Robertson of Beckwith Township. The ceremony was carried out in the Bathurst District by the Rev. John Smith of the Presbyterian Church, on 5th December 1834. The witnesses were Alexander Stewart and John McArthur. It is possible that the first witness was Alexander 'Merchant' Stewart of Beckwith Township.

Their descendants are buried in St Fillan's Cemetery.

Donald's son John married Rosanna Martyn, the daughter of Thomas Martyn and Rose Anne Saunders who lived in Montague Township and were Irish by descent. The ceremony was carried out in the Bathurst District by the Rev. Solomon Milne of the Presbyterian Church, on 14th March 1851. The witnesses were Robert Scott and John Plunkett.

Their sons Richard and James were born in Montague Township but by 1856, when Maria Rose was born, the family had moved to McNab Township. The following year John sold Lot 16, Concession 5, which was about 200 acres. John died on 29th May 1886 and has a memorial stone in Flat Rapids Cemetery, McNab Township, which can be viewed on-line.


(Generation 2) The Family of John Douglas and Rosanna Martyn of Montague and McNab Townships

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
Jessie 1851 James Arnott c1873 Stewartville h. 1896
w. Feb 18 1878
James E. 1853 Mary Ellen Martyn Mar 14 1887 Grand Forks, Minnesota h. 1900
w. 1940
Richard Winfield 1856 Ida Helen Bailey Sep 21 1916 Kindersley, Saskatchewan h. Jul 28 1948
w. 1960
Maria Rose Sep 1856 Donald William Munro c1878 McNab Township h. 1893
w. Apr 7 1908
Margaret May 1858 unmarried . McNab Township d. Mar 21 1859
Susan Margaret Oct 12 1860 Angus McMillan Feb 18 1885 McNab Township h. 1926
w. after 1911
1863 . . . h.
Thomas 1864 . . . h.
Mary Jane Isabella Mar 13 1865 David Goodwin Phillips Sep 25 1884 Cut Knife, Saskatchewan h. Jan 4 1937
w. Jul 14 1947
Robert Jun 11 1868 Elizabeth Jane Laing Mar 2 1917 Cut Knife, Saskatchewan h. Sep 18 1939
w. Jul 6 1952
Jun 11 1868 name
. . h.
Lavina 1869 name
. . h.
Margaret 1874 . . . d.

James E. Douglas was killed in a bridge construction accident in Minnesota, sometime around 1900. His wife Mary Ellen Martyn had four children to bring up. In the 1901 Canadian census she and the children were living with James's sister, Maria Rose Munro in Sault Ste Marie, Algoma, Ontario. Later on Mary Ellen was remarried to Mathias Heapy and lived at Battleford.


(Generation 3) The Family of James E. Douglas and Mary Ellen Martyn of Grand Forks, Minnesota

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
John Armstrong Aug 24 1888 Grace Verna Moore Dec 11 1914 Ovenstown h.
Herbert . . . . h.
Eva . Hunter . . h.
Maria Rose . . . . h.
? . . . . h.


In 1845 Donald second son, Robert, purchased Lot 15, Concession 5, the lot next to one being farmed by his father and his elder brother John. The terms of Donald Douglas's will suggests that Donald gave Robert financial support in this purchase. It is also probable that Robert bought back the fifty acres when John sold the original holding.

On 15th November 1850 Robert Douglas married Isabella Scott, the daughter of John Scott, Lot 26, Concession 6, Beckwith Township. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Solomon Milne of the Presbyterian Church, and the witnesses were John Robertson and Donald McEwan.

The west half of Lot 14, Concession 5, was bought by Robert Douglas in 1856, and stayed in the Douglas name until 1955. The east half of the same lot was bought by another Douglas in 1928 and was still in Douglas hands in 1972.

It would seem that Robert died around 1871 as his will was registered at that time, and the property was transferred from the estate of Robert Douglas to that of Isabella Douglas and others, presumably her children Donald, John, Robert and James. This property remained with the Douglas descendants until at least 1980.

The 1861 census provides the following information about Robert Douglas's family.

Montague, Lanark South, Ontario, Concession 5, Lot 14.

Name Age Birth-place Occupation Religion
Robert Douglas 51y Scotland farmer Church of Scotland
Isabella Douglas 40y Ontario . Church of Scotland
Margaret Douglas 10y Ontario . Church of Scotland
Daniel Douglas 8y Ontario . Church of Scotland
Jennet Douglas 6y Ontario . Church of Scotland
Isabella Douglas 4y Ontario . Church of Scotland
John Douglas 3y Ontario . Church of Scotland
James Douglas 1y Ontario . Church of Scotland

In the 1871 census, Isabella is given as a widow, born in Ontario, of Scottish origin, Church of Scotland by religion and illiterate. This is slightly at odds with the information on her death certificate (Montague, Lanark ref: 008658). Isabella Douglas died 15th June 1894 aged 69 years. She is described as a farmer's wife, born in Scotland, and a Presbyterian. The cause of death is given as “burns from clothes taking fire and never healed, (six and a half years)".


(Generation 2) The Family of Robert Douglas and Isabella Scott of Montague Township

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
Margaret 1851 . . . d. after 1881
1854 Ellen Edwards Jan 15 1880 Montague Township h. 1936
w. 1942
Jannet 1855 . . . d. before 1881
Isabella 1857 . . . d. after 1881
John 1858 1w .............
2w Ann Code
1w .................
2w Mar 24 1908
Montague Township h.
James 1859 Melisa Code Jun 26 1895 Montague Township h. 1934
w. 1968
Robert 1864 . . . d. after 1895
Thomas 1876 . . . d. after 1881

John Douglas, 46, widower, farmer, Montague, son of Robert Douglas and Isabella Scott, married Ann Code, 45, Montague, Smith Falls, daughter of Abraham Code and Jane Willis. Witnesses: Mrs. D. M. Coburn and Mrs. J. H. Ferguson, both of Smith Falls, 24 March 1908 at Smith Falls.

(Grenville Co.) James Douglas, 35, farmer, Montague township, son of Robert and Isabella Douglas, married Melisa Code, 23, South Gower township, Montague township, daughter of George and Elizabeth Code. Witnesses: John Porter and Elizabeth Code both of Montague township, 26 Jun 1895, at the Rectory, Merrickville.

(Notes by Bill Mains: Jane Willis ws the daughter of William Willis and Esther Leach who sold the "Burrows" to James Scott. George Code might be the son of Abraham Code and Jane Willis.)


Robert's son Donald who was known as 'Daniel', married Ellen Edwards.

Donald Douglas, 26, farmer, Montague, son of Robert Douglas and Isabella Scott, married Ellen Edwards, 18, Montague, daughter of Robert Edwards and Margaret Fleming. Witnesses: Wesley Fleming and Catherine Edwards, both of Montague, 15 Jan 1880 at Toledo.

In the 1881 census Donald and his family were farming close to his father's property.

Montague, Lanark South, Ontario, District 111, Household 138.

Name Status Age Birth-place Occupation Religion
Donald Douglass M 27y Ontario labourer Presbyterian
Ellen Douglass M 20y Ontario . Presbyterian
Robert Douglass . 1y Ontario . Presbyterian

Daniel Douglas, Ellen Edwards and some of their family have memorial stones in St. Bedes Anglican Cemetery, Nolan's Corners, Ontario


(Generation 3) The Family of Donald (Daniel) Douglas and Ellen Edwards of Montague Township

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
Robert 1880 unmarried . . d. 1965
Margaret 1883 Herbert Devlin Mar 22 1906 Carleton Place h.
Ida E. 1885 Stewart Baker . . h.
w. 1970
Melville John 1886 unmarried . . d. 1978
Sarah Blanche Mar 3 1888 Abraham Code Jul 5 1916 Smith Falls h. 1958
w. Jan 10 1973
Lawrence 1899 unmarried . . d. 1939
Florence . . . . d.

Herbert Devlin, 22, moulder, Carleton Place, son of James A. Devlin and Eliza Jane Edwards, married Margaret Douglas, 23, Montague township, Carleton Place, daughter of Daniel Douglas and Ellen Edwards. Witnesses: Mrs. Mark Baker of Carleton Place and Annie H. Ryckman of Almonte, 22 March 1906 at Almonte.


Janet (Jennett) Douglass, the fourth child of Donald Douglass, married James Scott who was the son of Robert Scott, Lot 20, Concession 6, Beckwith Township. James had bought the adjoining parts of Lots 19 and 20, Concession 5 in 1837. After James died, Jennett married Robert Burrows of Montague Township who took charge of the farm. Jennett Douglass is buried in the Dewar Cemetery.

(Generation 2) The Family of James Scott and Jennett Douglass of Beckwith Township

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
Robert May 25 1842 . . . d. c1867
Jessie May 1 1843 . . . d. Mar 17 1917
Jun 18 1846 . . . d. Oct 11 1920
James May 1 1844 . . . d. c 1845

(Generation 2) The Family of Robert Burrows and Jennett Douglass of Beckwith Township

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
Ann c1853 Robert Ferguson . . h. Aug 20 1923
w. c1893
Edward Jul 11 1855 . . . d.
Margaret c1857 William Box . . d.
Daniel 1860 . . . d. Nov 8 1890
John c1865 . . . d. Feb 15 1898
Julia c1869 . . . d.
Robert Jun 22 1870 . . . d.
Arthur Nov 16 187.. . . . d.
James Feb 27 1878 . . . d.

(Notes by Bill Mains: Robert Ferguson was a descendant of Duncan McDiarmid who settled lot 22NE, Concession 5 in Beckwith. William Box was a brother of Alexander Frederick Box.)


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