In search of my McCreary-Magee-McGee Codd/Code Ancestors 
in Lanark County, Ontario, Canada

The M'CREERY and DALZELL and other families from Armagh          





1820 Emigration from Armagh

I am indebted to the many researchers who have contacted me in the process of searching for their Irish roots, who have contributed pieces of the puzzle which unfolds below. After several years it remains a partially solved puzzle, and I welcome future contributions to this page from the folks whose ancestors lived at one time in Armagh, Ireland.

Before I begin, let me lay out what this story is about, and how it impacted the people who participated in it. British North America was sparsely populated at the time of the War of 1812, when the expansionist attempted and failed to annex its northern neighbor - which was still some 50 years away from being a country in its own right. The border with the United States the St. Lawrence River, as seen in the map below, had its settlements at Prescott, Elizabethtown (Brockville), Gananoque and Kingston and a farming population which was pushing slowly northward. Roads were little more than forest trails, and transport was largely by foot. Could this rural backwash sustain another American attack? It seemed unlikely, when the idea emerged that the area not right on the border could be opened up to farming settlement, and that it could be populated by settlers experienced in defending themselves - who would form militias to do so when required. What better place to find such settlers than in the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Government official, Peter Robinson (Peterborough was named after him) got the job done - transporting settlers in 1823 and 1825 - which initiated a steady stream of emigration.

While the largely Protestant loyalists had emerged victorious, the aftereffects of a viciously fought war had rendered their previous hegemony precarious at best and about to crumble at worst. Here were a rag tag people, loyal to their Crown and fervent about their religion - who were unwelcome where they lived. It was time for them to move, and the attraction of support by the Crown, the hope of a promised land, pushed them to step forward. Few were prepared for what they would find - eight miserable weeks at sea - rampant infection aboard ship - and then a trek through heavily forested  no man's land to more heavily forested 100 acre bush lots - which would, for the most part, have to be cleared before they could grow anything - or own the land. Two stirring accounts of their experience have survived. The first account involved my CODD relatives from Aghold Wicklow who travelled on the Mary & Bell in 1817. They would venture as far as Kitley Township, and would establish an inn where the road forked - one trail going north to Perth and the other northeast to what would eventually become Smiths Falls. Many settlers would sojourn at Kitley before moving northward, and some would return here to settle. The second account of a traveller on the 1821 voyage of the David of London details the travails of Scottish settlers, escaping overpopulation, who would find different difficulties here - but never overpopulation.

James Magee and his brother (or half brother), William were most certainly among the "advance scouts" who trekked through the wilderness from Brockville to the fledgling military settlement of Perth with John and Samuel Boyd of Keady, Armagh in August of 1820, reaching the area on the border of Lanark and Ramsay Townships which would be called Boyd's Settlement. Whether they, themselves were from Armagh or not, they had a brother, John Magee in Portadown, Armagh who would arrive a year later, followed by others in their family by 1823.

At Boyd's Settlement they would meet up with other Magee folk who were not from Armagh, but from far away -  what was then called County Carlow - and would later become northwest Wicklow County - Aghold Parish at Coolkenno.

They could not have come alone. Emigrant settlers travelled in groups. Henry Hammond, whose wife was a Boyd was there in August 1820, and I suspect at least two other August '20 settlers - John Conn, and William Brown  and perhaps even John Totton - may have come from Armagh. Andrew Stephenson (or Stevenson) also married to a Boyd, would join them in 1824.

From Aghold Parish in 1820 there were Thomas Codd, Edward Hopkins, Thomas and Lancelot Jackson, Henry Martin,  Robert and Samuel Wellwood, and John Poole  - joined  by 1822 by John Warren, George Codd, William Dowdall and Charles and Fosse Sterne.

We know little about the early settlers except that the Boyds were Wesleyan Methodists (Samuel was a Sunday School teacher in Ireland) - and that John Wesley had paid several visits to Portadown in Armagh between 1767 and 1785, attracting a large following there. Many, but not all of the Aghold, Wicklow group were Methodists as well. We remain uncertain of the exact location of the origins of the Armagh emigrations - except that the earliest - the Boyds the Hammonds, the Stephansons were from the Keady area.

County Armagh occupies a small area -  30 miles from north to south and 15 miles from east to west. While one is tempted to group the Parishes of Tynan, Derrynoose and  Keady (surrounding the town of Keady) - and perhaps Newtownhamilton - as separate from the parishes of Mullaghbrack and Loughgilly (surrounding the town of Markethill), such a grouping is  arbitrary. The Parish of Drumcree, to the north contains the town of Portadown -with a large Methodist  population around the time of emigration (1820s). The earliest (1820-22) settlers were definitely from the Keady area.

For a detailed analysis of the possible origins of the Armagh emigrants to Lanark County CLICK HERE.

The 1823 Emigration From Armagh  

James McCreery (1788-1852), his wife Elizabeth  (nee Magee) (1783-1871) brought their 6 children and Elizabeth's mother - also Elizabeth Magee age 67 (b. 1756),  in 1823 from County Armagh. Logically - but not certainly - the 1820 arrivals - the Magee brothers had come from the same area as the McCreerys. Canadian Father of Confederation Thomas D'arcy McGee was known to have been Elizabeth Magee McCreery's nephew.

With the McCreerys, and settling next to them in Ramsay Twp.  in 1823 - were Thomas Dalzell and his wife the former Margaret Magee. Preceding them, in 1821, John Magee (parents listed as GEORGE MAGEE and ELIZABETH TOTTON )had arrived from Portadown with his wife, the former Jane Woolsey, said to be from a wealthy family (? Lord Woolsey) for whom John Magee had worked as a coachman. John and Jane MAGEE's family married several of Thomas (b.c. 1785- Jan. 21 1860) and Margaret (b.c. 1785 - 1860's) DALZELL's family before moving on (or perhaps back) to Elizabethtown (Brockville), and eventually to the United States.

The red question marks  represent the yet-unknown links between JOHN MAGEE's family and his sister-in-law Elizabeth M'CREERY and Thomas D'Arcy McGee - who would frequently visit her at Boyd's Settlement and perform legal work for the family in the 1850's. We'll return to this.

Additional information is available about the offspring of JOHN & JANE MAGEE CLICK HERE.

Thomas (b.c. 1785- Jan. 21 1860) and Margaret MAGEE (b.c. 1785 - 1860's) DALZELL raised a family in Ramsay Twp. which included Elizabeth, Mary and John seen in the above MAGEE Family Tree, and at least two other children whose marriages shed further light on their origins in Armagh ...

1.) JAMES DALZELL (DEZELL) (1811-Mar. 5 1874) married ELLEN HARRIS of Ramsay Twp.

2.) THOMAS DALZELL (June 10 1828- Dec. 31 1896) m. (Aug. 3 1847) ANN MARIA BENSON (1825-1901), daughter of Samuel Benson (b. 1801/ 03) & ELIZA BELL LEMINGTON of Portadown, Armagh.
's brother WILLIAM BENSON (b. 1828) married MARY JANE (or ANN JANE)  MAGEE, in 1867 or 1868 -  daughter of WILLIAM MAGEE and ELIZABETH DALZELL (Tree above).

Their son, SAMUEL BENSON (b. 1868) married a McCreery descendant MARGARET ELIZABETH McCREARY in 1906. Another son, WILLIAM EDGARTON BENSON (b. 1875)  married ETTA ESTHER McCREARY in 1903, and later  ALICE DEZELL (1931) daughter of  THOMAS and ANN MARIE DALZELL  (above).

3.) JANE DALZELL (Jan. 14 1821- Aug. 29 1897) married WILLIAM McCRUM (1814-1884) in 1839, living in Kitley Twp. near  another  DALZELL family member - ROBERT DALZELL and his wife  MARGARET DAVIDSON.

Family members have located the McCRUM family homestead in Tynan Parish near the remains of a MOONEY homestead. ROBT. DALZELL's sister NANCY married ROBERT MOONEY. They emigrated to Kitley in 1831 with ROBERT DALZELL, shortly after  Roman Catholics in that village had captured 20 Orange men women and children  ~ drowning them in the village creek, burning their homes and selling their possessions. An older brother, THOMAS DALZELL later located in Kitley.  JANE DALZELL McCRUM and her sister ELIZABETH DALZELL MAGEE were mentioned in ROBT. DALZELL's will. ROBERT DALZELL (b.c. 1785) seems to be either a cousin or nephew of THOMAS DALZELL (b. c. 1775) of Ramsay Twp. as he already had a brother Thomas. - and so could not have been his brother.

Irish residents paid a Tithe Applotments to the Church of Ireland (whether members or not) and so such records create a Census of a sort. Thomas Dalzell of Corryhughes, Derrynoose appears on a 1825 List while Robert Dalzell of Canagh, Derrynoose appears on a 1827 List.

MARGARET DAVIDSON, wife of ROBERT DALZELL would also seem to have come from Derrynoose/Tynan. The 1796 listing of flaxgrowers in Armagh reads:

Davidson              Alexander            Armagh               
Davidson              Daniel                  Tynan                  
Davidson              James                  Armagh               
Davidson              Joseph                 Armagh               
Davidson              Matthew               Tynan                  
Davidson              Thomas               Derrynoose

Thomas DALZELL was not the only DALZELL who emigrated to Ramsay.  JAMES DALZELL, THOMAS' brother, occupied a nearby farm (as will be seen below), and had a son JAMES DEZELL (1823-1859), who married (1845) MARGARET McCREERY 
(1823-1913) daughter of JAMES and ELIZABETH MAGEE McCREERY. Another older brother, WILLIAM DALZELL later emigrated from the U.S. to Montague Twp. - becoming established there.

It is tempting to assume that MARGARET MAGEE DALZELL was the sister of ELIZABETH MAGEE M'CREERY. But such conjecture eventually require proof - which may never be found.

The DALZELL families known to be in County Armagh in this era derive, in addition to the Tithe Applotments of 1825 and 1827 from the Flaxgrowers' List of 1796 - some 30 years before this emigration. These are:

The information known to date strongly locates the ROBERT DALZELL, MOONEY and McCRUM families at Tynan/Derrynoose.

 While it links this family constellation to the THOMAS/JAMES/WILLIAM DALZELL family of Ramsay Twp., and the related McCREERY and MAGEE families, the weight of evidence suggests, if anything, a connection of the latter families to the area around Portadown, Drumcree Parish, and perhaps the parishes of MULLAGHBRACK and LOUGHGILLY which lie directly south of Portadown.

The jury remains out!

  The trail became intriguing when, on the internet, I discovered among the  Ramsay Township (Lanark County) neighbors of the McCreerys a Sarah Magee (1772-1823) and a Margaret Magee (1788-1868) as slightly earlier emigrants - both of whom were born and raised in County Carlow - a long way from County Armagh. Here's where the fun began!

Back to the Emigrations to Lanark before 1823 - enter the WARREN family

A search revealed that  Sarah Magee (thought by some to be a brother of William and James Magee/ McGee) came to Ramsay Twp, Lanark County earlier - in 1822 as the wife (or widow) of George Warren* with son John Warren (1791-1871), daughter, Elizabeth Warren (1793-1867) and son Thomas Warren (1802-1874) - from County Carlow. Shortly after arriving in 1822, by 1825 Thomas Warren married a  Margaret Magee ( of Carlow)** - with 1820 settler JAMES MAGEE as a witness.

The Warrens settled on Ramsay Con. II Lot 3, the McCreerys, one to two years later on adjacent Con. 3 Lot 3, and there is some  evidence that a Magee (? Elizabeth Sr.) was granted Con. II Lot 3.

* I hear from members of almost all of the families mentioned here. Eleanor Aldus, for example, is from the Warren and the James families. She tells me that she has doubts about the name George Warren and continues to research.

** The marriage of Thomas Warren to Margaret Magee on April 18 1825 was officially witnessed by James Magee and Andrew Carswell - suggesting that she was James' sister. (Ottawa Anglican Church Records) James later married Thomas Warren's sister Elizabeth Warren (see below).

The origins of  William and James Magee remain obscure

The Magee - McGee Ambiguity

 Elizabeth Warren (1794-1861) married James McGee (or Magee  as the case may be) 1799-1883) in 1824. Her mother was Sarah Magee Warren and her brother, Thomas,  would marry Margaret Magee of Carlow a year later.  In 1820, James Magee/McGee had been assigned  Con. XI Lot 1W in Lanark Township, adjacent to Con XI. Lot IE which was granted on the same day to William McGee/ Magee (1795-1864)  - apparently (but not definitively)  his brother (see letter below from William Magee to Captain MacMillan).

James Magee and Elizabeth Warren  had a daughter Margaret in 1845 - who married William Argue in 1864.

A third brother - John McGee (or Magee ) who is detailed above - received Lanark Township  Con. XI Lot 7E in 1821. His stay in Lanark Township was brief. He moved his family to Grenville County briefly before the next generation's moving to Wisconsin in the 1840s. John McGee (or Magee) was, as seen above, the father of William Magee (1813-1853) who is buried in the McCreery- Magee plot at Boyd's Methodist Cemetery.

Some Clarity Amidst The Confusion

In 1827, Colonel Marshall, who had been in charge of the settlement,  surveyed them to see how they were faring.  William Magee wrote the following letter to Captain Alexander MacMillan:

                                       Perth ,July 7 1827

In reply to your different questions I beg to state that I was located by Colonel Marshall in August 1819- I have at this moment under improvement at least Twenty acres and I have in addition Twelve Acres chopped which will be ready for Crops next year- I possess one Yoke of Oxen of the very best kind, Two excellent Cows, one Bull, 12 Hogs, one Potash Kettle which I paid Twenty three Pounds fifteen shillings for- My Brother and myself have provided provisions each one year for John McGee, wife and six children (my Brother) and James McCreary (Brother in Law). I hadn't five Cobs (translation: shillings) commencing and at this moment I do not owe one Shilling.

                                                                                             Wm. Magee

This letter establishes William Magee's relationship to James McCreery (brother -in-law), to John McGee (brother) and (apparently) to James  McGee* (brother) - even though James is not actually named in the letter (and often spelled his name McGee). 

* CONJECTURE: The John Magee-James McGee relationship is not absolutely established. John Magee's parents were listed as George Magee and Elizabeth Totten - while James listed his parents as William McGee and Elizabeth _______ at the time of his second marriage to Mary Braden/Braiden/Bredin in 1862. (Anglican Church Records, Ottawa). I concluded that John and William were full brothers - and that James was William's half brother after George Magee died and Elizabeth, his widow married William McGee. - a brother of Thomas D'arcy McGee's father James. This remains unproved, and gives rise to the red question marks on the Family Tree seen above. .

William Magee was an early pillar of the newly forming Methodist Church and a hard worker. He and his wife, Sarah (nee McCall) (see tombstone at Boyd's Methodist ), did not, it would seem, have children (though they may have acted as foster parents). There was some kind of adoption, formal or informal, of one WILLIAM BAILEY, whose father had been engaged by the community to come out from England to teach school at Boyd's - and who died shortly after arriving. William Bailey would marry one of William Magee's nieces - Sarah Dalzell (Dezell)   on his death in 1865 William Magee left the following will:

Last Will and Testament written by William Magee, April 8th, 1864.

Memorial No. 96
A Memorial to be registered pursuant to the statute in such case made and providence of an Instrument in writing in the words and figures following, that is to say, the last Will and Testament of William Magee of the Township of Lanark in the County of Lanark and Province of Canada, yeoman.  I, William Magee, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life and being of sound mind and memory, blessed be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say:

To my adopted son William Bailey, his heirs and assigns, the whole of the farmland and premises upon which I now reside, being composed of the front half of Lot Number 1 in the Eleventh Concession of the aforesaid Township of Lanark.  And also the front half ofLot Number 20 in the Twelfth Concession of the Township of Drummond in the aforesaid County of Lanark containing by admeasurement 83 acres and one half of an acre, be the same more or less, to have and to hold the same unto him, the said William Bailey, his heirs and assigns forever.

Secondly, I will and bequeath to the aforesaid William Bailey all my personal property conjointly with his wife Sarah Bailey, otherwise Dezell, subject to the following condition: that is to say, that he pay to the Trustees of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of the Second Lot of the Eighth Concession of the Township of Lanark for the purpose of assisting said Trustees to build a new church, the sum of £10, which sum I will and bequeath to them the same to be paid to them out of my personal property so soon as they begin to build said church.

Thirdly, I give and bequeath unto John Dezell, son to Margaret McCreary otherwise Dezell, and to his heirs and assigns all my right title and interest in the front half ofLot Number 8 in the Third Concession of the Township of Ramsay in the County of Lanark aforesaid to have and to hold the same to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

And lastly I hereby nominate and appoint Joseph McCreary, Township of Ramsay aforesaid, yeoman, and Alexander Tibbet of the Township of Lanark, yeoman, and William Bailey, my adopted son, yeoman, as Executors of this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all former wills by me made.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 8th day of April in the year of Our Lord 1864.

A Visit to Boyd's Methodist Cemetery

 The picture became slightly clearer after a visit to Boyd's Methodist Cemetery in the summer of 2003. The James McGee referred to above is much later recorded in the (nearby) Carleton Place newspaper as dying at the home of  James McCreery's son - Joseph Campbell McCreery (1819-1903) on October 6th 1883 when there were no Magees or McGees of record still in Lanark County - and was buried in the McCreery plot at Boyd's Methodist Cemetery.  Note the spelling as McGee. For more on JAMES McGEE click HERE.

While James McGee had married Elizabeth Warren, shortly after he first arrived, the tombstone records James McGee's date of death as Oct. 6 1888 and his wife as Mary BradenElizabeth Warren's tombstone is found at the St., John's Church of  Ireland (Anglican) Cemetery about half a mile away.

 Joseph Campbell McCreery inheritted the family homestead at Ramsay Con. 3 Lot 3 and the mantle of responsibility for the McCreery family (the spelling gradually evolved to McCreary) . Joseph's older brothers, William and John moved off to settle Montague Township, leaving Joseph in charge and he responded by becoming a scion of the community, donating land for a school and supporting his family and others. His middle name suggests that he had a Campbell grandparent. His picture (right) showed up in an unusual way. In the mid 1980's I caught wind of an auction sale at the McCreery homestead (Ramsay Twp. Con. 3 Lot 3) when it was being sold. This picture had been found in the barn, and it was clear that none of the bidders recognized the man in the picture who had dominated life in the neighborhood for many years. I bought the picture for $2.00 - there being no other bidders - convinced that it was my great great grandfather. My mother, who had spent many summers at the homestead as a guest of his son, Hiram McCreary, did not recognize the man in the picture, but contacts with other family members resulted in other pictures of Joseph with his family (see below) making it clear that this was indeed whom I thought it might be. Joseph Campbell McCreary, a contemporary and first cousin of Thomas D'arcy McGee - married Harriet Bailey, daughter of the ill-fated schoolteacher and sister of William Bailey listed in William Magee's will.



Presbyterian church records (Perth) show that John Magee's son - William Magee (1813-1853) married Elizabeth Dezell, daughter of  1823 settlers Thomas Dalzell* and Margaret Magee (Ramsay Concession II, Lot 4W) in Perth in 1834. Frankly, the parentage of William Magee remains obscure. While listed as a son of John Magee and Jane Woolsey by one family branch, a very interesting and primitive Family Tree composed by his granddaughter, Emma Magee / McGee suggests that William Magee (1795-1865) was William's father. As William was born in 1813 in Ireland, William senior would have been 18 at the time. To have a look at this fascinating and encyclopedic Family Tree, which details both William's descendants, and the families who married into the Magee clan,  CLICK the picture on the right.

William Magee
(1813-1853) is buried in the McCreery plot at Boyd's Methodist Cemetery, and was certainly Elizabeth Magee Sr.'s grandson (they share a common tombstone). The older William Magee (McGee) (1795-1865 - partial tombstone found) and his wife Sarah (nee McCall 1812-1861) are also buried there (see their tombstone on the right, above). William and Sarah Magee (by reports) had no children. Sarah's sister Mary Jane is said to have married a Harris - from a settler family who were located nearby.) 

On the other hand, it has been posted above that William Magee (1813-1853) who died young of rheumatoid arthritis - was the son of John Magee and the nephew of William Magee (1795-1865).

William Magee (1813-1853) - married Elizabeth Dezell in 1834 and they had six daughters (between 1835-1849) Alice, Margaret, Anne Jane, Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah - and one son - John Magee. Elizabeth Dezell Magee is buried in the family plot in Chesley, Ontario, where she lived with her son John  Magee until her death in 1877.<><>

From this generation, John Lowe Magee (see below) and Alice Magee from Ramsay Township were the parents of William (1858) and Elizabeth (1863) while in Lanark County. They had several other children later (see full family tree), moving first to Ottawa, and later to the United States. Alice was the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Dezell) Magee who married in 1834 - naming their children after John's father and grandmother (who was still alive until 1843). It also seems likely but not certain that William and Elizabeth Magee's family - including John Magee lived at Ramsay  Con. II Lot 3.

<>Descendants of the Magees

We now have pictures of four (including Alice below) of the seven descendants of William and Elizabeth Magee - John, Margaret and Elizabeth, dating from as early as 1863 or 4, thanks to the participation of Mrs. Barbara Mitchell, who has been also able to supply a fuller family tree of this branch of the family. If you have a specific interest in it, you may choose to access this lineage, including pictures of these family members by clicking here.

It is interesting that the period between 1845 and 1870 saw the movement of several of the second generation settlers to better farming land further west in the Bruce Peninsula and onwards to the United States. This migration was such that by the time of the 1881 census, there were no Magees or McGees living in Lanark County. 

John Lowe Magee who married Alice Magee from the family of William and Elizabeth Magee as not a Magee by birth but  - a Lowe. Rather he was the adopted son of one of the Magee families (seemingly James McGee) and took on their name, and also married Alice Magee. Thus the Magee name continued in this family - but the lineage was through the mother - not the father. This family moved to Ottawa in the 1860's and eventually to the United States. 

Alice Magee ("the real Magee"), pictured on the left,  was born in 1835 and died in 1911 at Superior, Wisconsin.

She and carried the Magee genes as the daughter of William Magee and Elizabeth Dezell. She is pictured on the left. Alice and John Lowe Magee lived remarkably long lives (John to 102) and had many children, who are recorded on their own separate page .

John Magee, Alice's brother (son of William and Elizabeth) married Nancy Dunfield, moved in the 1870's to Scone in Bruce County and later to Chesley. Margaret Magee married William Mitchell and they had two children Elizabeth and William. Sadly, both parents died when their children were quite young and their children were split up, with William being taken in by John and Nancy (Dunfield) Magee and Elizabeth by another as yet unidentified related family. These siblings were reunited around the time William was 18-20 and eventually married a brother and sister - the Penny's. 

John (1831-1901) and Nancy (1846-1933) Magee, who eventually emigrated from Ramsay Township to the United States had ten children, one of whom - Emma Magee developed an interest in genealogy and became the unofficial keeper of the family tree while pursuing a long career with the Salvation Army. Emma was born in 1877. She functioned as the family record-keeper - and people sent news of events in their family to her. One interesting story she related was of her grandfather William Magee (1813-1853) being so crippled with arthritis that undertakers has to build a special coffin in which to bury him (at Boyd's Methodist Cemetery).

One can imagine the difficulty she went to to gather thousands of bits of information before the beginning of the 20th century. Genealogy data was not always as accessible as it is now, and was undoubtedly a labour of love. While it has many inaccuracies which can be attributed to the time during which the information was collected and the spread of the family to far flung locations, it is a virtual lexicon of family activity.

The Second Generation James McCreery Family

With this, we will now pass to the generation who were D'arcy McGee's first cousins - the children of James McCreery and Elizabeth Magee (junior) - John (1810-1888), William (1812-1892) Mary (b. 1818), James (1816-1881) Joseph Campbell McCreary (1819-1903) Elizabeth (1821-54) Margaret (1823-1915) Anne (b. 1826) and Alice (who is linked to the Halpenny family by marrying William Halpenny, son of  John - whose father was killed in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.) 

 John McCreary and his brother William moved to Montague Township along the Rideau River (and Canal) between Smiths Falls and Merrickville, marrying Mary Livingston and Margaret Hamilton respectively. Mary, who accompanied them married a Cotnam. James moved to the Arnprior area and married Elizabeth Wallace. Joseph inheritted the family homestead in Ramsay and married Harriet Bailey. Elizabeth remained in Ramsay and married a Hamblin. Margaret remained in Ramsay and married James Dezell. Ann married George Argue and Alice married William Halpenny .

The connection between the McCreery and the Dezell families is especially notable. The 1837 Cess Roll for Ramsay Twp. places James McCreary at Con. III Lot 3W and Thomas Dalzell at Con III Lot 3E , while James Dalzell is at Con. II Lot 4 E. In the 1840's James Dezell, who was said to be the McCreery's "hired man" married Margaret McCreery and moved to a piece of land he had bought in nearby Kitley Twp. and later to Bruce County. James Dezell (1823-1859) was killed in a farming accident, and Margaret brought their five remaining children (one had died to this time) back to Ramsay to live (at Ramsay Con. I Lot 1). We have a picture of the three Dezell brothers from this family - L to R John Dezell (1854-1930) William Dezell (1851-1942) and James Dezell (1849-1940). There was also Elizabeth Dezell (1859-1952) who married Edward (Ned) Cooke and later William Nassau Crampton.
  The Second and Third  Generation McCrearys

Here I will stick to the line of  Joseph Campbell McCreary who became the family patriarch when his older brothers moved to Montague Township and who farmed the McCreery homestead for most of the nineteenth century. Joseph married Harriet Bailey, whose father had come to Ramsay (Con. II Lot 4E) to be the schoolteacher - and died shortly after arriving. Joseph donated land for a new school on Con. II Lot 3 in  1861 - a log building which is long since demolished. 

Joseph and Harriet also had a large family. William James (1849-1922) married Alicia Code, daughter of Thomas Codd, while his brother John McCreery married Alicia's sister Margaret Code (1859-1945)- who was my great grandmother.

Elizabeth died as an infant (1853-55) and Elizabeth (II) married James Moffatt. Samuel, born in 1857 disappeared, seemingly after a competition for the hand of a young lady who married one of his younger brothers. Joseph (1859-63 died young, and Joseph (II) (b. 1861) marred Alice Paul. Hiram, who would inherit the farm married Catherine McKay. George Wellington McCreery (1865-1930 married Christina Snedden, and Robert Nelson McCreery (1867-1949) married Edna Elliot. All surviving siblings but Samuel appear in a 1890ís family photograph (below.)

In the centre are Harriet (holding a picture of the disappeared Samuel) and Joseph Campbell McCreery. On either side of them are Joseph and Alice (Paul). On the far right of the back row are my great-grandparents John and Margaret (Code). Next to them are William and Alicia (Code). The single man next to Alicia is Robert, who is yet unmarried. Margaret (between her parents has her hand on her father's shoulder. James Moffatt her husband is to the right of Joseph. The remaining two couples (back right) and middle right) are Hiram and Catherine (McKay) and George and Christina (Snedden). The last members of this family cluster died in the mid 1940ís. Hiram passed the farm on to his son William Harwood McCreary, who passed it on to his son Daniel McCreary whose daughters are in their 40ís. The farm has passed to other hands. 

Post Script

No Magees  remained in Ramsay by the 1881 census. John Magee's family was gone - as suggested by a 1944 article in the Carleton Place paper. They have since been traced to Chesley in western Ontario. In any case, the densely-treed unfarmable 100 acres in question (Concession II Lot 3, Ramsay Township, Lanark County), crossed in the southeast corner by present day Highway 7) which seems at various times to have been owned by James McCreary, Joseph Campbell McCreary, William Magee, John Magee/McGee - was owned by a Robert Cornett by 1881. Just north of Con. II Lot 3 lay Con. 3 Lot 4 whose west half was owned by the Dezells (Margaret McCreery - Joseph's sister Margaret was married to James Dezell) while the East half of Lot 4 was owned by the Baileys (William and Mary (nee Hillman) of Essex, England, whose daughter Harriet was my great, great grandmother. 

I spent extra effort on this continuing mystery because it is this branch of my family which would have kept the McGee/Magee surname related to Thomas D'arcy McGee alive in Canada. Not that there weren't other branches of McGee's family. Thomas D'arcy McGee is linked to at least one half-brother who came to Canada as well - a John McGee, variously named John M. McGee and John J. McGee, Fourth Clerk of the Privy Council. But, that's another story. And there undoubtedly will be yet others.

I remain interested in the research of others, especially in the generations which precede the emigration from Ireland. I remain interested in the Magee/McGee connection and its further ramifications. As I receive the inevitable corrections, I will update the site accordingly. My research has carried me as far as it could, and father than I expected, and it ends here. Who will take it further?

Brian C. Bailey, husband of Nancy
Son of Irene Margaret Ross (Bailey)
Grandson of Mary Zena McCreary (Ross)
Great grandson of John McCreary and Margaret Code
Great great grandson of Joseph Campbell McCreary and Harriet Bailey
Great great great grandson of James McCreary and Elizabeth Magee
Great great great great grandson of Elizabeth Magee

 Brian Bailey can be reached at 819-827-0561

<> You can reach me by e-mail  at

Brian also manages the YCLC Canada Inc.  Web Site which hosts his work with youth -which can be reached by clicking here.

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<>Two overarching realizations struck me as a result of my hours of research. The first was that the people I located were a hardy lot who lived long lives. Among those in the direct line which stretches back six Irish generations, these people -  largely without the benefit of hospitals and medical care as we now understand it - to a person, they lived on into their late 80's and 90's. At the same time, by 1880, only the most hardy, stubborn, persistent of the early settlers remained in Ramsay and Lanark Townships. This was an inhospitable piece of dense forest, quite different from the hospitable farmlands of Armagh,  Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow. Farmland was gained by painstaking dawn to dusk labour, with only their deep faith to keep them working together. As one drives from Carleton Place to Perth along Hwy. 7 one passes the site of Boyd's Settlement which is largely gone - but which has sent out a hardy stock into the world - well prepared for long productive lives.
One of the little-known offshoots of the rocky Ramsay soil - which sent the next generation looking for better farming land in Western Ontario - was the invention of the game of basketball. James Naismith, a Scottish settler's son from the same period, lived a little further to the north, close to present day Almonte. The settlers' children joined in the labour to clear farmland of endless  hand-sized rocks - still seen in the piles in the middle of Ramsay farm fields. The children endlessly threw rocks on the pile  - and invented a pastime called "duck on a rock" - by which they aimed their missiles at a particular rock atop the pile, seeing who could come the closest. Remembering this childhood family duty in Ramsay Township, Naismith developed the idea for basketball.  While basketball was developed in the United States - we know its origins.

*The Dalzell / Dezell name is seen in several spellings - Diziel, Dizell, Dizzell - but the "correct" spelling is Dalzell - originating in Scotland.

A part of the reason for multiple spellings for the surname DEZELL or DALZELL is that its Scottish pronunciation  is D L (i.e dee - ell) which has resulted in the spelling being rendered many ways:

 The Scottish surname Dalzell is of territorial origin, from the old barony of Dalziel, in Lanarkshire. It is the surname of the Earl of Carnwath, from County Lanark. The name has different spellings, like Dalyell, Dalyiel, Dalziel, Deill, and they all are pronounced as "Dee-Yell". or simply DL. Some bearers, however, call themselves Dal-Yell, Dalzell, and some Dal-zeel. The name is in fact an old Gaelic locative meaning "at the white dale" (Gaelic Dailghil). 

An alternate account of how this Scots name was derived:

During an 11th century battle, one of King Kenneth's favorite officers was captured by the Picts, and hanged as a warning.
The King called for a volunteer to recover the body. Many were reluctant, but one of his warriors stepped smartly forward, shouting, "I Dar, I Dar" (Dal Ziel, Dal Ziel). He carried out his mission, and as a reward was given land and elevated to an earldom.

In Shetland Dalziel has been substituted for the native Yell (derived from the name of the island of that name). Other bearers of the name write it Deyell or De Yell. Thus, this surname suffered the following alterations through the years: Daleyhell and Daleyhelle - 1397; Daliel and Daliell - 1649; Dalliell - 1511; Dalyhell - 1392; Dalzelle - 1390; Dalzell - 1504. The first of the name appears written in 1259. when the Baron of Daliel served on an inquest. Thomas de Dalielle of the county of Lanark rendered homage in 1296, and safe conducts were granted to Sir William Dalyelle and William Dalyelle, his son, in 1415. In more recent times we have Sir John Graham Dalyell, author of the "Darker Superstitions of Scotland, 1835". 


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