The Family Farm: Transatlantic Strategy and the Newall Family of Dumfries, Scotland and Cornwall, Ontario.

by Gillian I Leitch, PhD

CDCI Research Inc.

Presentation at Canadian Historical Association – Poster Session, June 2, 2015

Poster created for session.
Poster created for session.

Proposal

In the early nineteenth century Upper Canada, the ownership of land was an important key to survival.  Much of the literature dealing with the settlement of immigrants on the land has concentrated on local strategies of ownership, through the generations of a nuclear family.

This presentation will expand the understanding of ownership by examining the purchase of a farm on the South Branch of Cornwall Township.  Dumfries architect Walter Newall bought it in 1824, sight unseen.  Ownership of the farm rested in Scotland, first with Walter, and when his finances were less secure, with his brother Archibald. The farm was for him and his six siblings a transatlantic strategy for family survival.  The presentation will examine the initial purchase of the land in Cornwall, the relationship of the siblings, tenancy and court actions from 1824 to 1870s when the land passed into the hands of one branch of the family.  It will demonstrate how the land which was used by the various siblings when they arrived in the area, and by the subsequent generations,  was strategic, providing members a means to establish themselves in Canada over an extended period of time, while maintaining its security in the hands of their successful Scottish brothers.

While the Newall family’s arrangement was similar to intergenerational strategy highlighted in Catherine Anne Wilson’s Tenants in Time, it differs by virtue of its transatlantic nature, and that its Scottish owners never visited Canada.  The land itself was occupied by only some of the Newall siblings and their families, but served all those who immigrated to Cornwall Township, many of whom purchased their own land in the vicinity.  Had its owner not died intestate in 1858, the relationship of this land to the family would not have come to light.  As it was all siblings, in Scotland and Canada had to use the courts to decide its ultimate fate, which served the interests of the extended family in the area.

Family Strategy

By the 1820s settlement in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry had changed in nature. The free land grants to the original loyalist population had all been taken up. These first settlers had done the hard work of improving the land. The land had been cleared, and most had farm building and houses already set up. It was a good place to farm. But to gain access to the land it had to be bought.

In Catherine Ann Wilson’s Tenants in Time: Family Strategies, Land and Liberalism in Upper Canada, 1799-1871 [ (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008) p.26], access to land represented security against poverty. In order to secure access to that type of security strategies were employed by families to secure access to land. This included renting, intergenerational arrangements which saw land run by younger family members, and testamentary arrangements which provided younger members, cash in lieu of land, or small land bequests from larger holdings.
By employing various strategies, the costs associated with farming could be spread out over a period of time; the burden shared by the extended family, and ensured that the next generation would have a means of support. Strategies typically were employed by nuclear families, parents obtaining land in the interest of their children.

Stiles, H.M., History of the Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board: An Historical, Biographical  and Descriptive Account of the Dairying Industry in the Cornwall District, with Specially  Written Articles by Prominent Dairying Experts (Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board, 1919) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onstormo/cboard/index.htm (Accessed 16 May 2015).
Stiles, H.M., History of the Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board: An Historical, Biographical
and Descriptive Account of the Dairying Industry in the Cornwall District, with Specially
Written Articles by Prominent Dairying Experts (Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board, 1919) http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onstormo/cboard/index.htm (Accessed 16 May 2015).

The Newall farm fits into some of these strategies employed by the region’s settlers, providing security and a living for a number of family members through several generations of the extended family. It however differs from what is considered the norm, in that ownership up to the 1859 was vested in the family which remained in Scotland. Essentially in the hands of the more prosperous and likely more stable members of the family. Its ultimate ownership by one branch of the family came about only after some legal wrangling, puzzling land sales, and family agreement. Throughout this period, however, the farm served the needs of the extended family through its various stages of settlement and several generations.

Newall Family Chart
Newall Family Chart

Socio-Economic Background

Robert Newall and his wife Nicholas Murphy owned large farm holding at Airdrie, in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. [Nicholas is used here as a feminine name and is not a typo. Nicholas as a girl’s name is present among several generations of the family] There they lived and raised ten children. From the inventory taken at the time of Robert’s death in 1817 he left his farm at Airdrie, implements and debt owed to him valued at £1943.15.7 ½ to his wife, as he died intestate [Estate of Robert Newall, 1817, CC5/6/19/213, Scottish National Archives; Inventory of Estate of Robert Newall, 1817, SC15/15/41/2/477, Scottish National Archives] The family was prosperous, and it is clear by the career paths of some of his sons, the family was able to educate their children, and likely invest in some aspects of their future lives. However, there were ten futures to settle, and not all could be reasonably accommodated on the family farm in Airdrie. Of them, four of them seemed to have fairly comfortable paths already made.

Margaret (Peggy) Brown had married William Brown in 1807 [Marriage, 29 December 1807, Parish of Kirkbean, General Register Office for Scotland] He was a successful cattle dealer, and in 1806 bought Longbedholm Estate for £4240. Unfortunately there were problems, attributed to partnership with “a man of no capital” and an ambitious cattle drive to London only to have them die enroute [Murray, Marland The Canadian Glen Falloch Murrays (Cornwall: Onyx Printing, 1987) 130] William Brown declared bankruptcy in 1813, losing the property [Hume, David, Decisions of the Court of Session, 1791-1822 (William Blackwood & Sons, 1839) 123]

Archibald Newall was a merchant in Glasgow. For some time he was a part of the partnership of Muir, Fairlie and Newall in Glasgow, which “was principally connected with the East India trade.” [Powell, Avril Ann, Scottish Orientalists and India: The Muir Brothers, Religion, Education and Empire (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010) 27] He later set up a partnership with his brother James as West India brokers [Pigot and Co’s National Commercial Directory of the Whole of Scotland and the Isle of Man, (London: Pigot & Co, 1837) 566] This would have ended with James’ early death in 1828. At the time of his death he was a collector at the Merchant’s House in Glasgow [View of the Merchant’s House of Glasgow Containing Historical Notices of its Origin, Constitution and Property (Glasgow: Bell and Bain, 1866) 565] He was widowed, with no children.

Walter Newall of Craigend, Dumfries Archives
Walter Newall of Craigend, Dumfries Archives (Wikicommons)

Of the children, Walter was by far the most successful of the Newall children. He worked as an architect, engineer and cabinet maker in Dumfries for over fifty years. He was a trained architect, and this would not have been achieved without some access to funds, and also some connections. He had a large practice, and conducted a variety of buildings from homes, churches to observatories. His clients included the Duke of Buccleuch [DSA Architect Biography Report – Walter Newall, Dictionary of Scottish Architects, http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200326 (Accessed 15 May 2016)] Apart from a period of time in the 1840s, when Newall apparently experienced some financial difficulties, [A list of debts, paid in 1844, totalled £260.1.4, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/6, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives] he was extremely successful, and owned not only a home in Dumfries, but also a farm at New Abbey, where he retired [MacKenchnie, Aonghus “Walter Newall, Architect in Dumfries,” Transactions of the Dumfrieshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (LXIII, 1988) 82] He never married.

The Newall Farm

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881).
Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881).

It is perhaps no coincidence that Walter Newall purchased Concession 4 Lot 3 in 1824 just about two months after the death of his mother, Nicholas Murphy, in Dumfries [28/02/1824 Murphy, Nicol [OPR Deaths 821/000090024 Dumfries, Scotland’s People, http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk (Accessed 30 April 2015). A family tree in the Walter Newall Fonds places her death at 1 January 1825- GD130/1/3/20(2), Walter Newall Fonds, Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives] The land was clearly purchased at that time to provide a living for his two brothers, John and Robert. It is unclear what the two men had done previous to this purchase, but it is likely that they worked their family farm in Airdrie for their mother, who was the legal owner. John was 46 years old and Robert was 42.

Receipt dated 15 July 1824, GD 130/3/15(2), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.
Receipt dated 15 July 1824, GD 130/3/15(2), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.

Once settled in Upper Canada, the brothers were, according to a family history, visited by their sister Agnes [Leitch, Tressa, “A Few Particulars Concerning the Leitches Gleaned from Aunt Tina, 1941,” Unpublished, 2] She married one of their friends from Dumfries, David Bryden, also settled in the area, in January of 1827 [Wilson, Thomas B, Marriage Bonds of Ontario, 1803-1834 (Lambertville, NJ: Hunterdown House, 1985) 106] Their daughter Nicholas was born six months later. David Bryden was a blacksmith in the nearby town of Williamstown. David Bryden and John Newall apparently conducted business together, as they appear in a few court cases as partners during the late 1820s [Sullivan v Newall, 1828, Eastern District Court Case Filings, RG22-410-0-1313, Archives of Ontario; Blacklock v Bryden, 1831, Eastern District Court Case Files and Filings, RG22-410-0-1875, Archives of Ontario].

Agnes Newall Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinnear.
Agnes Newall Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinnear.

Their sister Janet (aka Jennet or Jessie) immigrated in 1829 to Upper Canada with her husband Joseph Copeland and their 4 children. It appears that they lived on the Newall farm. When John died that year it was Joseph Copeland, and not his brother Robert, who dealt with the details of the estate, and was appointed administrator [Estate of John Newall, 1829, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Surrogate Court Estate Files, RG22-198, Archives of Ontario] It is not clear what occurred on the death of Robert Newall in 1835, but it likely that the Copelands continued to farm the Newall property.

The last member of the family emigrated to Canada in 1837, Margaret (Peggy) Newall and her husband William (aged 53 and 60 respectively). The emigration was most likely as a means to offer opportunities for their only surviving son Robert, aged 25. According to one family history, the Browns originally settled on Concession 5 lot 10, and then moved to Concession 5 Lot 1 [Murray, Marland The Canadian Glen Falloch Murrays (Cornwall: Onyx Printing, 1987) 132] It is not clear that these lands were purchased, however, there was a purchase of a small plot in Concession 4 Lot 3 not owned by the Newalls by William Brown in 1841 [Land Registry Book, Concession 4, Lot 3, Stormont – Land Registry Office #52, Cornwall, Ontario].

In 1841 Walter Newall was apparently having some financial difficulties, and he sold the family farm in Upper Canada to his brother Archibald for undisclosed sum. The land remained in the family’s hands.

William Leitch and Nicholas Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinear.
William Leitch and Nicholas Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinear.

By the 1850s the family had grown in size, and age. The children of Robert Newall and Nicholas Murphy were aging. The youngest daughter, Nicholas, who lived with her brother Walter in Dumfries, was in her early fifties, Archibald, the eldest was in his 70s. Many of the cousins were also adults, and some had already married and had children. Nicholas Bryden had married William Leitch who owned the farm on Concession 4 Lot 1. Walter Copeland was one of the youngest of the cousins. He was sent to Scotland to live with his Uncle Walter and Aunt Nicholas as a child [1861 Census, New Abbey, Kirkbean, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, National Archives of Scotland]. He worked on his Uncle’s farm at New Abbey. He would eventually inherit the estates of both on the death of Nicholas in 1872.

Walter Copeland, A-01212, Royal BC Museum and Archives
Walter Copeland, A-01212, Royal BC Museum and Archives

During this period the Copeland family move from the Newall farm to their own property on Concession 4 Lots 9 and 10 [Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881) http://web.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/aboutatlases.html (Accessed 16 May 2015)].

In April 1858 Archibald Newall died intestate. This meant that the estate had to be distributed according to law to his family, but the question lies – who inherits? In Scotland, Nicholas Newall claimed her brother’s estate. According to the records of the papers filed in June 1859 in Scotland, Nicholas was the only claimant, and acted as Executrix patrie qua nearest (nearest kin). The documents never mention any of the surviving siblings, particularly Walter who lived with Nicholas, nor of any of his Canadian holdings. The documents specifically state “estate situated in Scotland.” [Estate of Archibald Newall, 1858, SC36/48/44/719, Scottish National Archives; Inventory of Estate of Archibald Newall, 1858, SC36/48/44/357, Scottish National Archives]

In Canada West, the land there was also now without a legal owner. There was therefore a problem for those there as to who gets the land. The first signs that this might actually prove to be a contentious issue is a note in the hand of Walter Newall, dated the 4 May 1859. In it he states that as an interested party in the matter of the estate, he supports the administrator of the estate John Copeland, and wants an arbitrator to settle the differences between Copeland and William Leitch. [Note dated 4 May 1859, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/15(1), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives] There is no mention what the differences were and no court documents can be found as to the arbitration or the original dispute.

Note dated 4 May 1859, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/15(1), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.
Note dated 4 May 1859, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/15(1), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.

Court documents in Ontario date from September 1858 for the administration of the estate of Archibald Newall’s Canadian properties. The file includes a number of signed statements from the surviving family members – notably Walter Newall, his sister Nicholas, and Margaret Newall Brown, now  living in Scotland. The Canadian sisters Agnes Newall Bryden and Janet Copeland also sign statements regarding the estate. For the process, Walter and Nicholas grant John Copeland Power of Attorney, and all approve John Copeland as administrator. Strikingly the Canadian statements are all witnessed by William Leitch. The documents in effect demonstrate an agreement by the surviving siblings to divide the estate in Canada in fifths. The matter was deposed and settled at the end of January 1859 [Estate of Archibald Newall, 1859, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Surrogate Court Estate Files, RG22-198 no 6, Archives of Ontario] It appears that the Brown family continued to farm the land. And there things remained until 1867. Nicholas Newall sells her share of the land for $1 to her nephew Walter Copeland. He then sells the land to his brother Archibald Copeland for $1. Agnes Newall Bryden sells her land to her daughter Agnes Bryden Blacklock; Margaret Brown, Janet Copeland and Agnes and Thomas Blacklock sell their land to Archibald for $1; Margaret sells another part of the land to her grandson Malcolm; Archibald then sells Agnes Blacklock her land back for $1, and she sells it to her sister Nicholas Leitch for $1(and a trade of land). These land transactions all are operated under a covenant [Land Registry Book, Concession 4, Lot 3, Stormont – Land Registry Office #52, Cornwall, Ontario] All land transactions after 1868 are outside of the family, and for market prices. By 1881 when the Stormont Dundas County Map was published, James Brown owned the west half of Lot 2, the East half of Lot 3, while his brother Malcolm owned 40 acres of the west half of Lot 3 while James Johnston owned the other portion (the land previously owned by Nicholas Leitch). [Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881) http://web.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/aboutatlases.html (Accessed 16 May 2015)]

Archie Copeland, A-01210, Royal BC Museum and Archives
Archie Copeland, A-01210, Royal BC Museum and Archives

The movement of the land 8 years after the land was legally split amongst the surviving siblings comes at a time when the siblings were in their last years. The covenant meant that the land had to be traded amongst the family members – clearly for a limited time – for a $1 fee, or a symbolic price. Agnes Bryden Blacklock sold her land, bought it back, and then sold it again. Archibald Copeland acted as a general clearing house, acquiring the land and then dispersing it as required to other family members. Ultimately, the Browns were able to gain control of the land that they had farmed for at least part a decade, and land which remains in the hands of the Brown family to this day.

lot 3 con 4 cornwall twp

Timeline

1824     Nicholas Murphy dies   (Scot)      Lot 3 Con 4 bought by Walter Newall (Scot)
1827     Agnes Newall marries David Bryden (Ont)
1828     James Newall dies   (Scot)
1829     John Newall dies (Ont)  Copeland family immigrates to Ont.
1835     Robert Newall dies (Ont)
1837     Brown family immigrates to Ont.
1840     Walter Newall in financial difficulties  (Scot)
1841      Walter sells land to Archibald Newall  (Scot)
1846      William Leitch buys Lot 1 Con 4 (Ont)
1853      Joseph Copeland Sr dies (Ont)
1858     Archibald Copeland dies intestate  (Scot)   Court filing by John Copeland (Ont)
1863     Walter Newall dies  (Scot)
1864      William Brown dies (Ont)   Robert Brown buys Lot 2 Con 4 (Ont)
1866      Robert Brown dies (Ont) Walter Copeland buys Nicholas Newall’s share of land (Scot)
1867       Agnes Bryden gives her share of land to Agnes Bryden Blacklock (Ont) Land sold by Brown, Copeland and Blacklock to Archibald Copeland (Ont) Final sale to Malcolm Brown (Ont)
1868    Margaret Newall Brown dies (Ont)  Agnes Newall Bryden dies (Ont)
1871     William Leitch dies (Ont)
1872    Nicholas Newall dies  (Scot)

Photo Credits

Stiles, H.M., History of the Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board: An Historical, Biographical and Descriptive Account of the Dairying Industry in the Cornwall District, with Specially Written Articles by Prominent Dairying Experts (Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board, 1919) www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onstormo/cboard/index.htm (Accessed 16 May 2015).

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881).

Land Registry Book, Concession 4, Lot 3, Stormont – Land Registry Office #52, Cornwall, Ontario.

Receipt dated 15 July 1824, GD 130/3/15(2), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.

Note dated 4 May 1859, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/15(1), Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives.

Portrait of Walter Newall, Dumfries Museum (Wikicommons)

Photograph of Archibald Copeland, A-01210, Unknown photographer, Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Photograph of Walter Copeland, A-01212, Photographed by Kyles and Moir, Royal BC Museum and Archives.

William Leitch and Nicholas Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinear.

Agnes Newall Bryden, from the collection of Marion Kinnear.

Primary Sources

General Register Office for Scotland:

28/02/1824 Murphy, Nicol [OPR Deaths 821/000090024 Dumfries, Scotland’s People, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk (Accessed 30 April 2015).

Marriage, 29 December 1807, Parish of Kirkbean

National Archives of Scotland

1861 Census, New Abbey, Kirkbean, Dumfrieshire

Estate of Archibald Newall, 1858, SC36/48/44/719, Scottish National Archives; Inventory of Estate of Archibald Newall, 1858, SC36/48/44/357

Estate of Robert Newall, 1817, CC5/6/19/213, Scottish National Archives; Inventory of Estate of Robert Newall, 1817, SC15/15/41/2/477

Dumfries and Galloway Council Archives

Family tree, GD130/1/3/20(2), Walter Newall Fonds

Note dated 4 May 1859, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/15(1)

A list of debts, paid in 1844, totalled £260.1.4, Walter Newall Fonds, GD 130/3/6

Archives of Ontario

Sullivan v Newall, 1828, Eastern District Court Case Filings, RG22-410-0-1313, Archives of Ontario; Blacklock v Bryden, 1831, Eastern District Court Case Files and Filings, RG22-410-0-1875

Estate of John Newall, 1829, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Surrogate Court Estate Files, RG22-198

Estate of Archibald Newall, 1859, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Surrogate Court Estate Files, RG22-198 no 6

Stormont Land Registry Office #53, Cornwall

Land Registry Book, Concession 4, Lot 3, Stormont – Land Registry Office #52, Cornwall, Ontario.

Land Registry Book, Concession 4, Lot 3, Stormont – Land Registry Office #52, Cornwall, Ontario.

Will of Agnes Newall Bryden, 1868.

Secondary Sources

DSA Architect Biography Report – Walter Newall, Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200326 (Accessed 15 May 2016).

Hume, David, Decisions of the Court of Session, 1791-1822 (William Blackwood & Sons, 1839).

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties Ont (Toronto: Beldon & Co, 1881) http://web.library.mcgill.ca/countyatlas/aboutatlases.html (Accessed 16 May 2015).

Leitch, Tressa, “A Few Particulars Concerning the Leitches Gleaned from Aunt Tina, 1941,” Unpublished.

MacKenchnie, Aonghus “Walter Newall, Architect in Dumfries,” Transactions of the Dumfrieshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (LXIII, 1988).

Murray, Marland The Canadian Glen Falloch Murrays (Cornwall: Onyx Printing, 1987).

Pigot and Co’s National Commercial Directory of the Whole of Scotland and the Isle of Man, (London: Pigot & Co, 1837).

Powell, Avril Ann, Scottish Orientalists and India: The Muir Brothers, Religion, Education and Empire (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010) .

View of the Merchant’s House of Glasgow Containing Historical Notices of its Origin, Constitution and Property (Glasgow: Bell and Bain, 1866).

Wilson, Catherine Anne, Tenants in Time: Family Strategies, Land and Liberalism in Upper Canada, 1799-1871, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008).

Wilson, Thomas B, Marriage Bonds of Ontario, 1803-1834 (Lambertville, NJ: Hunterdown House, 1985).

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