When I first became interested in my family’s history, my Dad recommended that I write to our cousin Elizabeth Leitch to get more information. Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Judge James Leitch, who was Dad’s Great-Uncle. Elizabeth was more than gracious. She gave me a list of the entries in the family bible, which she was custodian of, and a copy of the following history, written by her Aunt Tressa in the 1940s. This was my first glimpse of the family’s history.
A lot of people like to put down the family histories produced by mostly female members of the family, researched and written by essentially amateurs in a time before easy access to sources. I have checked Tressa’s work against sources that she did not have access to at the time, so I can make corrections, but I applaud her work. I also thank her for doing this work, and writing down the family stories as she knew them. It was a great starting point for me in my work.
Tressa (Theresa Elizabeth Leitch) was born in Cornwall, Ontario August 31, 1890, the daughter of James Leitch, KC and his wife Elizabeth Strickland. Tressa never married and lived most of her adult life in Ottawa. I heard it said somewhere that she was a secretary for the Canadian Senate, something I have yet to confirm. She was a bookkeeper and a stenographer. She died in March of 1971, and was buried with her parents in Williamstown, Ontario.
Here is her history – where I have found new information I have included it in [ ].
James Leitch Frue-Neal
Archibald Leitch [James] Jean Frue Neal [Jean Frew]
William Leitch Nicholas Bryden
James Leitch Elizabeth Strickland
John S Leitch Jennie MacKinnon
John Mack Leitch Martha Stewart
James Leitch buried at Saltcoats, Ayrshire, Scotland, 1842 monument erected by son William. [Cannot find monument]
Archibald Leitch CE
Factory architect, 36 Dale Street, Liverpool, and WB Leitch, CE Eastfield, Mossley Hill Road, Liverpool.
From Burke’s Peerage (1940) it would appear that Sir William Leitch, an engineer was knighted recently . Daddy [Judge Leitch]tried to get in touch with these Leitches when in Liverpool, as he thought they were distant cousins, and from above, who was their great-grandfather, had been Daddy’s great-granduncle.
David Bryden Janet Halliday
William Bryden Agnes Newall
Nicholas Bryden William Leitch
James Leitch Elizabeth Strickland
DAVID BRYDEN buried at St Michael’s Church, Dumfries, Scotland, 1822. His wife Janet in 1830. Monument erected by great-grandfather Bryden’s two brothers, James and Christopher.
ROBERT NEWALL great-grandfather of Agnes Newall (our great-grandmother) died 1817 buried at Kirkbean Churchyard, near Dumfries, Solway-Frith County. Mother and Daddy drove from Dumfries, where they stayed at an inn called the King’s Arms to Kirkbean through Maxwellton, and passed the Airdrie Farm, home of the Newalls still there in 1911.
Mr Frank Allen, an old friend of Aunt Blacklock’s [Agnes Bryden Blacklock] was still living at Dumfries at that time, and I think his descendants are still there.
A FEW PARTICULARS CONCERNING THE LEITCHES GLEANED FROM AUNT TINA, 1941
[Christina Leitch daughter of William Leitch and Nicholas Bryden, 1865-1947]
Great-grandfather Archibald [James] Leitch, had one brother, John Leitch, was a master of one of the first Cunarders, and was among the first to navigate the Gulf of St Lawrence in a Cunarder. Their home in Scotland was at Saltcoats, on the southwestern Atlantic coast, at that time a manufacturing town particularly noted for its fishing industry and market. (A biography of daddy’s gives Grandfather Leitch as born at Ardrossan – I believe that this is just a short distance from Saltcoats) [The towns sit side by side]
Great-grandfather Leitch’s maiden name was Jean Frue Neal [Jean Frew according to her marriage registration]. She had three daughters, Christina who married Mr Hunter, Mary who married Mr Neal, and Jean, who did not marry; and the one son William, our grandfather.
They came to Canada in 1832 in Great-granduncle John’s own ship. Grandfather at that time was sixteen years of age. He was very anxious to follow the sea as a career, but great-grandmother had lost so many of her relatives at sea, that she could not bear to have her only son become a sailor, so to satisfy his adventurous spirit, they migrated to Canada.
They settled in Lancaster for a short time (Great-grandfather’s grave in old cemetery at Lancaster) and great-grandfather engaged in contracting with his father-in-law, Mr Neal. Great-grandmother often accompanied him on his work and at one time they lived in Lachine.
Their son, William, our grandfather continued in the stone masonry and contracting business and with Mackenzie brothers (Honourable Alexander Mackenzie, Prime Minister of Canada) built the stone masonry of the Beauharnois Canal. On these contracts Mackenzie would collect his men and others at night and talk to them on temperance and kindred subjects.
In 1847 grandfather settled on the land on the South Branch, and in March 1848 married Nicholas Bryden, daughter of William Bryden and Agnes Newall Bryden.
Great-grandmother Bryden, whose maiden name was Agnes Newall, was born in the Solway Frith country, past Maxwellton on the road from Dumfries to Kirkbean. The name of their home was Airdrie. She had two sisters who married respectively Mr Brown and Mr Copeland. Mr Brown was the laird of Lang Botrom farm and was considered quite a match; however, they were apparently quite gay, and lost their money. The Newall brothers and the Browns came to Canada eventually to farm; the Newall brothers settling on a farm on the South Branch (Christie Farm I think) that their eldest brother had acquired on a deal that fell through, and Great-grandmother came out to visit them on their farm. [Concession 4 Lot 3 in 1824] The brothers Newall died without children.
Great-grandmother Bryden, William [Actually David]Bryden , son of David Bryden, Dumfries and his wife Janet Halliday, came to Cornwall to visit his friend the Reverend Dr Leith, who was the first minister of St John’s Church. Great-grandfather Bryden came from Boston where he was visiting his brothers James and Christopher, who had settled in Boston, and were engaged in the shipping business. Great-grandfather had been destined for the church, and had taken two years of his theological courses in Edinburgh, but owing to a little weakness in the direction of the wine when it was red made him feel unfitted for the clergy. The Newall brothers were great friends of Dr Leith, and great-grandfather met their sister Agnes, when he was visiting Dr Leith in Cornwall. They were married in 1826, and settled at Williamstown, great-grandfather opened a general store there. They had two daughters, Grandmother Leitch (Nicholas) and Grandaunt Blacklock (Agnes). The sisters were educated at the convent in Williamstown as schoolteachers.
Grandmother Leitch was married to grandfather in 1849, and they built a home on grandfather’s land, the present farm owned by Auntie. I think at that time the farm included what is Uncle David’s land now, and part of the old Newall farm, and the land across the road that went to Uncle Hugh. The Newall brothers left to their sister, Great-grandmother Leitch inherited fifty acres of this land from her mother.
Great-grandfather Bryden’s two brother, James and Christopher, remained in Boston, and did not come to Canada. Christopher did not marry, and I believe part of Daddy’s education was paid for by a legacy from him. In his will he also made provision for his cat, and Daddy said left in his wardrobe 20 pairs of shoes. James Bryden married and his descendants are still the suburbs of Boston. [See Family Farm Post]
James and Christopher erected the monument to the memory of their father David Bryden and their mother Janet Halliday that is in St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries, Scotland. [Monument indexed in church monument survey – full graveyard – I couldn’t actually find the stone]
After all the grandeur of the Strickland lineage, I must tell you that Heraldry gives the name Leitch as coming from the city of Leith in Scotland. [Actually name is an occupational surname coming from the term for Doctor – leech] The Coat of Arms and Crest are as follows:
HISTORY OF THE LEITH-LEITCH SURNAME
(This is taken from a United States source. Will look it all up in Burkes some day)
According to Lower’s “Patronymica Britannica” the surname of Leith or Leitch is of great antiquity in Scotland, and those who bore it held, in a remote era, vast possessions, including the barony of Testalrig and others in the shire of Midlothian and territory of Leitch whence it is presumed the name is taken.
The pedigree is traced only to the year 1350. The baronets family descend from William Leith, who was provost of Aberdeen in 1350. According to Douglas there were at the latter end of the last century six distinct families of Leith, all of whom could trace their origin to that personage.
Some authorities claim that Leitch or Leith is a local or place-name, derived from some township, village or parish somewhere in Scotland bearing the name of Leitch or Leith.
[Not trusting the above origins information – and reminds me a great deal of the modern equivalent of coats of arms booths at Scottish festivals – a lot of hooey hinting of noble origins, without any solid evidence – Sorry Tressa]
LEITCH FAMILY COAT OF ARMS:
Armorial Coat: gules on a bend engrained or between the six fussils of the second three escutcheons azure.
Gules or red, denotes military fortitude and magnamity. It is also the “Martyr’s Colour”
Fussil is shaped very much like the lozenge. Denotes travel and labour
Escutcheon (of pretence) superimposed upon a shield of arms is in testimony of the claim of a prince to the sovereignty of the country so represented.
Crest hand holding serpent. Explanation, pledge of faith sincerity and justice, serpent and wisdom