Western Ontario Shaddocks

This page recounts the life and times of James Shaddock (1801-1865), one of three sons of William Shaddock (1766-1856). He is shown as the middle son of the patriarch in this diagram of the Burrington Shaddock Family Tree.

See a diagram of the entire Yarnscombe Shattocke family tree here. To see where the Yarnscombe Shattocke tree fits into the Shattocke family tree, click on this link to the Experimental Shattocke Phylogenetic Tree.

Shaddock Brothers

The story of William Shaddock(1766-1854), is recounted on the Burrington Shaddocks page.

William Shaddock was born in Warkleigh, Devon a village even smaller than Burrington, Devon only a few miles away. When he was a young man he moved to Burrington where he married Sarah Hammet. He was described as a "yeoman," probably meaning he was a tenant farmer. Later in life he fell on hard times.

He had eight children, one who died as an infant. There were four girls and three boys.

When I first wrote this page, the documentary evidence for my descent from Thomas Shaddock (b. 1834) was circumstantial. Subsequently I was able to definitely prove that my paper trail was correct using DNA studies. But I think the first faltering steps I took in looking for my ancestor in England makes a good story. So I am going to tell you how I came to identify Thomas Shaddock of Burrington, Devon as my 4th great grandfather.

Thomas Mitchell Shaddock (1834-1912)

Thomas Shaddock (1834-1912)

On the left, Thomas Mitchell Shaddock (1834-1912) was the son of James Shaddock (1801-1865) who emigrated to Canada. Image preserved by Jim Scott and his mother Eileen (nee Shaddock).

Thomas Shaddock was part of the massive wave of immigrants from North Devon to Upper Canada, which I have described on the Diaspora page. But how did I find his birth place? I began with his parents names. If I knew his parents names, and an approximate birth date, I had a good chance of finding his baptism certificate.

I knew that James and Mary were the English born names of Thomas Shaddock's parents from his documented marriage to Catherine Nichols in 1861. On the marriage record Thomas said he was born in England. Additionally, his descendants had Thomas Shaddock's original Bible with the names "Mary" and "James" entered as his parents. I also knew Thomas was born in England because all of his census records stipulate England as his birthplace. Oral history places his ancestral grounds in Devon.

In my research, I looked for Thomas Shaddocks all over England. The most likely candidate was found in Devon. In fact this Thomas is the only one even close to being the exactly the right age and the right father (James) and mother (Mary).

19th Century farm labourers

The Story Told in the Records

Let me summarize the story of Thomas Shaddock before I relate how I found him.

James Shaddock, the father of Thomas and son of William, was an agricultural worker and was very poor and illiterate. His grandfather was better off, actually owning his own land. But long before Thomas' birth, his grandfather William lost the family farm and became impoverished.

Thomas never went to school. His father probably hired him out as an agricultural servant. It would be poverty and dim prospects in Devon that drove him to emigrate to the new land of opportunity in the Huron Tract of Canada West (MacGillivray Township). He was soon followed by his sister Elizabeth, who settled in the same area (the Huron Track) among Methodists.

She and her husband probably came to Canada seeking opportunity and religious freedom, helping turn the wave of immigration to Canada from her homeland in Devon, England into a tidal wave. Other people in his village and his step sibling James Snell also emigrated to what is modern day Ontario in 1849. His uncle Richard probably moved to Canada to practice his trade, masonary, in the rapidly developing township of London. The Shaddock siblings are found in the same area of a new settlement in Canada West, called Biddulph. In the 1871 Canada census Thomas Shaddock declares his religion as Methodist. His wife came from a Methodist family. She was born in Canada to English immigrants who homesteaded in the MacGillivray area. Their children would become Methodists.

By 1881 Thomas Shaddock had acquired his own farm, crawling back from servitude on a farm in Devon to a higher social status (yeoman) in Canada.

The portrait of him shown at this top of this article shows a confident man in his best clothes projecting an image of a gentleman. It is quite a transformation from how he must of looked going out to the fields in Devon only a few decades earlier. He must have felt a great deal of pride in what he had accomplished in his life, from impoverished beginnings to a farmer living free on his own land.

That is the summary, now I will describe the steps I took to find him in England.

The Shaddocks in England

The most likely candidate for Thomas in England was born in 1834. That was a problem, because when I first looked for him, most family researchers said he was born in 1830. There was another problem. The name of the Thomas Shaddock born in England was Thomas Mitchell Shaddock, born in Burrington, Devon. That middle name does not appear in any of the documents of the Thomas Shaddock in Canada. However, there was no record in England of a Thomas Shaddock born in 1830. There are some born within five years of that date but their parents names are not James and Mary.

There was a James Shaddock who married Mary Minard in 1800 in London and they believed by some family researchers to be the James and Mary identified in the Thomas Shaddock bible. But Thomas Shaddock in Canada was born more than three decades later. Mary would have had to have had Thomas in her fifties.

In fact there was only one candidate close to the right age; born to a James and Mary in an agricultural area. I found a baptism certificate dated 1834 for Thomas Mitchell Shaddock born to a James and Mary Shaddock (nee Mitchel) in Burrington. It is common practice in England at this time to use the mother's maiden name as a middle name for one of her children.

In the 1841 English census I found a Thomas Shaddock (seven years old so born in 1834), son to James Shaddock, mother's name missing. In the 1851 census (age 16) he does not show up in his father's household but rather shows up as an agricultural servant in another Burrington household. His middle name (Mitchel) has been dropped. The usual length of service was a year. This would give Thomas the money he needed for passage to Canada.

Modern view of Moorend, Burrington. Thomas was living in this area during the 1841 census. Click on the image to enlarge.

The farmer he was living with in 1851 at the age of 16 or 17 is John Cole, who had 17 acres. John Cole had a wife, four daughters and a son. There are two other servants working and living at the farm: William Snell (23) and Robert Heal (14). Remember that last name: Snell. You are about to encounter it again...and again.

It is possible the man Thomas was working for, John Cole, were friends or relatives of the Shaddock family. Richard Shaddock, Thomas' uncle, married a Cole. In 1834 he married Ann Cole (1809-1885) in Burrington. In the 1841 census he is living in South Wood, Burrington with his wife and three daughters, Mary Jane (6), Melissa (3) and Emily (1). A decade later, Richard and Ann emigrate to Canada. He findd work as a mason in London, Ontario in 1850, a few years before Thomas emigrated to Canada.

In the 1851 census the farm house that John Cole lived in was called "Higher Elscott". Elscott is now known as Aylescott. You can get a bird's eye view of the farm here:


Check out the pictures along the bottom of the Google maps page. You are looking at the countryside that Thomas Shaddock toiled in.

This is probably the farm where Thomas Shaddock learned to become a skilled farmer. The surrounding countryside would look drastically different when Thomas would emigrate to Canada to till his patch of land wrestled from the forest.

It took me a while to identify Mary Shaddock, Thomas' mother. Her maiden name was Mitchell. She was born in Burrington. Her parents and her grandparents were also born and raised in Burrington. How do we know that the James Shaddock in the 1841 census, shown living with his children and others but with no wife recorded, is the husband of Mary Mitchell? We have their marriage record.

Marriage between James and Mary Mitchell 1923

The marriage license for James Shaddock and Mary Mitchell in 1823.

Apparently Mary's father Amiel participated in the ceremony as a witness. That links the "Mary" James Shaddock married to Mary Mitchell.

There is a lot an old record can tell you. We know James and Mary were illiterate since bride, groom, and bride's father had to sign their names with an "X." That means that all the members of the family had to either work at home or go out to the fields to work. No time for school.

The next time we encounter James Shaddock, Thomas' father, is in the 1841 census. He is a widower. So the James Shaddock in the 1841 census is possibly the husband of Mary Mitchell, who died in 1838. Are there other ways to connect the James Shaddock in the 1841 census to the James Shaddock who married Mary Mitchell? In the 1841 census, the first child born to the widower James Shaddock was born on Feb 6 1824. Her name was Eliza and she was born in the year after the marriage date. Well, her baptism certificate says her mother is Mary. The youngest child in the 1841 census is Ann, age 2. So she was born around the time of Mary Mitchell's death. She would have been 44 at her death. My guess is she died in childbirth.

Another baptism record is for James' namesake, James, who was born in 1832. His mother is Mary Shaddock.

James son james baptism 1832

Apparently the family was living in a house or on a street called Frogmire.

There is a website called "the Devon Mitchells" that has a lot of detail about Mary's family: http://www.devon-mitchells.co.uk/getperson.php?personID=I59&tree=Burrington.

Mary Mitchell's father Amiel signed the James Shaddock and Mary Mitchell marriage record. Unfortunately it appears Mary's mother had to endure her daughter's death. She died two years after her daughter's death.

And here is Mary's death certificate dated 1838:

Mary Mitchell's death certificate

Note that where she last lived was the house that her husband James Shaddock is found living in with the children in the 1841 census: Moorend. I think this is pretty strong evidence that she was the wife of the widowed James Shaddock in the 1841 census. And look at something else which is very sad. The vicar that officiated at her wedding to James Shaddock, Rev. James Buckingham, signed her record of death. How much sadness there must have been in the Shaddock household. Thomas was only 10 years old.

We can be almost certain that Thomas Shaddock was born in 1834. His mother Mary began producing babies the year after her marriage ceremony and had a child every two years thereafter until her death in 1938.

James Shaddock had a large family and he was an agricultural worker toiling from dawn to dusk. What was he to do with his young family with no wife? He got married again to a widow, Ann Snell. Her maiden name was Stediford. She had been married to Simon Snell, an agricultural labourer, who died just two years earlier in 1842. She was born in Atherington, Devon and moved to Taunton, Devon by the 1841 census. She had three children by Simon Snell, Ann (18), William (16) and James (12).

Thomas' family had expanded. On Ann Snell's baptism certificate her father is recorded as being a yeoman residing at Bragamore. That puts him in a higher social class than James Shaddock. But four years later he is recorded as a labourer, living in a "tenement." The Snell family lost their land and social standing.

Doubtlessly the elder William Shaddock, the living family patriarch, was at the wedding of his son James and Ann Snell. On the marriage document Ann Snell is listed as a farm worker, and the town is so small that all these people knew each other, perhaps passing each other every day. Morning grandpa!

Rev. Buckingham was retired and would not officiate at a James Shaddock family tragedy that happened in 1854. Thomas' sister Elizabeth had married a shoemaker's son on May 3rd 1854 when she was 26. Just over a month later, on June 12th, the new vicar, Rev. Davis, officiated at his funeral in the same church, Holy Trinity. James Beasley was 32 years old.

However there is a surprise waiting the diligent genealogical detective. Thomas' sister Elizabeth does not appear in English censuses after her husband's death, but does shows up in the 1861 census in Canada, married to a Methodist by the name of James Husk. The most likely birthplace for James Husk is in the area of Ugborough roughly 500 km due south of Burrington.

The location of James Husk's birthplace can be extrapolated from where they were married, in the little village of Ermington, just to the east of Plymouth. If I were writing this as a novel I would have her elope with the preacher's son, although that could hardly be a sin since he was a Methodist. Since he will become an agricultural worker in Canada, it was likely that his occupation in the Ugborough area was agricultural worker. Indeed in the 1841 census in England we find an "apprentice" agricultural worker in the Winter family in Ugborough, not far from Ermington. His name is James Husk, and he was 13 years old, exactly the right age for our James Husk. We have a baptism certificate for James Husk in the area, born in 1827, although the record is for a baptism is in an Anglican church. He does not show up in a subsequent census, or on a death record, which is always the smoking gun that points to emigration in this kind of research.

In many towns Methodists were unwelcome, often stirring up controversy and occasionally angry mobs. However Burrington actually had Wesleyan Methodist and Baptist chapels in 1841. The migration of people from Burrington was motivated by the desire to practice their religion in a more tolerant environment in British North America. This is confirmed by the account on the Bideford 500 website. Apparently there was a heavy concentration of "Bible Christians" (a Methodist denomination) in the northwest sector of Devon, exactly where Burrington is located.

Methodism broke from the Anglican church and was part of the evangelical movement in England. If the Shaddocks were deeply religious they might have been upset with Elizabeth's conversion and would have considered her marriage outside the Anglican church as improper. There was a major exodus of Methodists from Devon in this period, seeking religious freedom. But I actually don't think this was the case. Thomas himself became a Methodist later in life. And he married a Wesleyan Methodist! So despite the fact that vicar Buckingham officiated at so many Shaddock events, I think there had been some conversions in the family. This is another important link between the Shaddocks in the Huron Tract and the Shaddocks of Burrington, Devon. The emigration of the Shaddocks to Canada may have been to seek religious freedom.

James Husk and Elizabeth were married in Ermington in 1855. Their first child was born in Canada in 1858, so they must have traveled to Canada between 1855 and 1858. The port of Plymouth was just 30 km away, one of the major departure points for emigration to Canada. If I were a novelist, I would have them hasten on to the port for their escape to Canada. But it is just as likely James Husk's parents lived in or near Ermington.

The Canadian census form in 1861 Canada West shows Elizabeth and her husband living with Methodists neighbors in a wood frame house. James Husk is listed as an agricultural worker and the couple have two children (Eliza and Leah). Was Eliza named after her mother's dear sister back in Devon? Did Elizabeth and her brother travel with the Husks to claim their future in the Huron Tract? We find them living in the same township in the 1861 census.

In any event, Elizabeth and her husband eventually moved to Kincardine Township and lived the rest of their lives there. Elizabeth died in 1897 and her husband in 1903. We have Husk relatives in North America.

The Shaddock Brothers in Devon

Let's backtrack to England and look at the rest of the family.

According to the records James Shaddock died in 1865 at 64 years old in Burrington. His second wife Ann had died twelve years earlier at the age of 51. They had a hard life.

James Shaddock, Jr.

James Shaddock

What happened to the Shaddock boys? I tell the story of the older brother, James Shaddock, jr. in a sub-page of this one. He responded to the social and economic forces that drove Shaddocks out of Devon by traveling north and becoming a miner in an industry feeding the industrial revolution. (I tell his family's story in a sub-page of this one.) Meanwhile his older brother John by 1851 had moved to a village about 25 km northeast of Burrington called Knowstone. I'll drop you off there:


This is a tiny, tiny village. I think "cottage industry" is the term to describe what Robert was doing in Knowstone. He is living and working with William Hill as a "cordwinder," probably as an apprentice, making shoes.

Ten years later, in the year of the 1861 census, younger brother James is working as an agricultural laborer and living in his older brother John's house. John Shaddock has moved to Tiverton, Devon about 45 km east of Burrington. In Tiverton there might have been enough local population to make shoe making profitable. He may have opened his own "bootmaking" shop, or was working for a bootmaker. Moving away from Burrington to find work was a family practice.

John (age 29) had married Delilah Allen (28) in 1854. She was from Milton Abbas in southeast Devon which is some distance from Burrington, Devon where John was born. I think this generation of people had become more mobile in their quest for work. They were married in the rather large center of Exeter, located between their birth towns. They would have no children. In the 1871 census we find them still living in Tiverton. Delilah was the daughter of a farm labourer. She had two sisters, Eliza and Sara. Her mother had died when she was young.

John Shaddock

John Shaddock

John Shaddock of Tiverton

What about his brother John? Delilah, Robert's wife, had died at age 57 in 1890. In the census next year (1891) he has become a type of servant, called a "gameskeeper," to a large estate. The census must have been taken when his wife Delilah was alive. The census also shows that a servant by the name of Mary J. Knowles was living with them. She was only 12 years old. In the 1891 census we still find him at the age of 60 widowed and still in a village near Tiverton called Cruwys Morchard, working as a gameskeeper. His cottage was called Wood Head Cottage on Meriefield Hayes street. Did the industrial revolution kill John's boot making business? It probably did.

I haven't found children for him. The only other member of his household is Jane Vincent, 13 years old, a student, described as his niece. It took some digging but I finally found out that Delilah's sister Eliza had married John Vincent in 1849.

In the 1901 census, at age 72, he is still living there and working as a gameskeeper and has a niece Sarah J Vincent (23) living with him and working as a housekeeper. We have her Cruwys Morchard School admission record, which gives her father's name and residence. Her date of birth is October 1877. That is the same date of birth of Jane and Sarah J.

Since Sarah Jane at 23 is exactly ten years older than Jane at 13, we can assume both are the same person. He has been living with his niece for a long time. In the Milton Abbas 1881 census she was living with her grandfather, bricklayer, John Vincent and grandmother Eliza. She was age 4, and going to school. It took me a while to find if Sarah Jane was his niece or his wife's niece. I found a marriage in 1849 in Blandford. Her father says in her school registration form he is from Blandford, which is in the Milton Abbas area. This is the John Vincent who married Eliza Allen, Delilah's sister.

Turns out that the niece Sarah Jane Vincent (1876-1946) became the wife of John's nephew (brother James son) William in 1910. Curiously that was a year after John Shaddock's death in 1909. I think this testifies to the close family relations among the Shaddocks. It must have been comforting for John Shaddock to have his niece looking after him until his death, especially if he did not have children. There are moments of joy and sorrow in everybody's life.

It is also testimony to the close family networks formed by the agricultural families of Devon. As we saw earlier, the village of Burrington was a tight network of interlocking families.

John Shaddock dies at the age of 80 in Tiverton, dying at almost the same age as his brother Thomas. I wonder if Thomas got news of his passing? We know at least one of his nieces could read and write. "Dear Uncle Thomas. It is with regret..."

A few years after I wrote this I finally made contact with James Shaddock, jr.'s descendants in the north of England. I tell their story on the Yorkshire Shaddock's sub-page of this one. And I found Sarah Jane. She was living in Middlesborough with her son and daughter in 1939. It is a thread in the Burrington Shaddock family story that will never be lost again.

William the son of James

William Shaddock

William Shaddock Mystery

There is another James' son born in 1826 called William, the first born, named after his grandfather perhaps in the Shaddock tradition. At age 13 he has left home and is working at a farm owned by Robert Baker in Burrington. At age 27 in 1851 he is working at a farm owned by George Alford and his unmarried. In the 1861 census William at 33 years of age, is working at the James and Mary Babbage farm in Chulmleigh about 5 km southeast from Burrington. He is working as a carter, someone who drives a horse and cart, usually loaded with hay or another crop. He is unmarried. In the 1871 census ten years later he is recorded as a visitor to the Bater family in Swimbridge, Devon. William is not a candidate for a Shaddock brother who accompanied Thomas to Canada. There is no William Shaddock close to the right age in Canadian censuses...nor could I find him in the U.S. or Australia.

So now the portrait at left is complete, the three Shaddock brothers looking a bit stiff and uncomfortable in their Sunday best and it took a long time for the photographic negative to expose. A collective selfie. United.

The fact that we have this portrait, handed down to the hands of Eileen Scott (nee Shaddock) is evidence that the Shaddock brothers did remain in contact. I was told by her son Jim Scott that the photographs had been in the family for years, and not a recent acquisition.

Indeed the Bideford Heritage website has this to say about photographs like this:

"Later in the century stiffly posed studio photographs were exchanged; the sitters in mothballed Sunday best that bore no relationship to the workaday clothes normally worn. Many of the photographs that were sent to Canada came from the Bideford studios of W.H. Puddicombe or W.C. Murphy."

Does that not fit exactly with what we see in the pictures that have come down to us from our Shaddock ancestors? Distantly separated brothers, probably illiterate, communicating by pictures of themselves. Letters were equivalent to emails, and pictures were equivalent to smartphone selfies posted on facebook.

There were four Shaddock brothers born to James and Mary Shaddock. The pictures passed down in the Thomas Shaddock family show that there are four Shaddock brothers, one in Canada and three in England.

Shaddocks in Canada

Ontario Shaddocks

My research on the Canadian Thomas Shaddock began with the Canadian censuses, particularly those in 1851, 1861 and 1871.

There had been Shaddocks in Canada prior to these censuses. There is a Shaddick family that settled in New Brunswick in 1820. I was eventually to discover that they were actually very distant relations of the Shaddocks in Ontario. (See the New Brunswick Shaddick page.) There was another Shaddock even earlier, a descendant of the Tawstock Shaddocks who was in Canada in the early part of the 19th century, but apparently died young and left no children. (See the Grantham Township page.)

The 1861 census shows that a handful of other Shaddocks have arrived in Canada West. There is a Richard Shaddock, born in 1847 in England. He corresponds to a Richard Shaddock born in 1847 in South Molton, an area in north Devon, England. He may be a very distant relation, as Shattocks and Shatticks had resided in North and South Molten for several hundreds years prior to this. He is found in an area of western Ontario called the Huron Tract, where Thomas Shaddock, our ancestor is found.

In the 1861 census we find a Richard and Ann Shaddock and their children in the new city of London, Ontario. These are Thomas Shaddock's uncle, aunt and cousins. (See Richard Shaddock 1807-1881).

William Snell

Remember that name Snell? William Snell was the name of an agricultural laborer working alongside of Thomas Shaddock in the 1851 census. He was age 23. He was Thomas' step sibling. In the parlance of his time, William and his brother James were brothers to Thomas Shaddock.

Like Thomas they belonged to a family that had a diminished social standing in the community when Simon Snell lost his farm just a few years before Thomas' birth.

We know there were two Snell brothers that became brother-in-laws to Thomas Shaddock when their mother Ann married James Shaddock in 1844, William and James. The 1851 census tells us that Ann's son William Snell was living with her and her second husband James Shaddock. He is described as a laborer. After that he disappears from the English census. Where does he appear again? Did his brother James emigrate with him to Canada?

His brother James is found in Canada. The proof positive that James Snell emigrated to Canada is a second marriage by James Snell to Mary Balkwill (1834-1921) in "Huron" in 1890. On the marriage record are the names of James Snell's parent, Simon and Ann Snell.

James Snell's first wife was called Elizabeth Joanna (sic) Huxtable. She was born in Burrington, which means her parents were living there. In the archives we find that they were married in Canada in 1854. Their first child, Selina Ann Snell, was born in 1855. In the 1901 census, James Snell states that he settled in Canada in 1849. So he did not travel with Elizabeth Husk, his sister-in-law and Thomas' sister. James Snell was just 17 when he traveled to Canada.

Since his father-in-law had moved the family from Burrington to Canada sometime in the 1840s, I suspect it might have been the Huxtables who helped make it possible for Burrington residents, like our ancestor Thomas Shaddock, to settle in the Huron Tract.

With the Snells in Canada, I decided to investigate James Husk's in-laws. I found them in Canada. Since I have not found a marriage record for Elizabeth Huxtable and James Snell, and James immigrated to Canada when he was 17, I am guessing they were married in Canada. Did some contact between the families facilitate the marriage and James Snell's passage to Canada? Perhaps, but as we will see there were other Snells already in the area.

Source: Canadian Illustrated Scenery

Elizabeth's father William Huxtable (b. 1791) left a trail through the records that would prove to be a revelation in my quest to resurrect's Thomas Shaddock's history. In the English 1841 census he is found in Burrington with his wife Joanna (1796) and their daughter Elizabeth (1833), age 8. He owned a farm in Burrington so James Snell married a socially more prominent family than the Shaddock brothers in Devon. But here is the surprising turn of events. Sometime between 1841 and 1851 William Huxtable migrated to the Usborne Township, just next door to the one Thomas Shaddock migrated to a decade or so later. (See the map of Canada West below.) In the Canada 1851 census William Huxtable (66) is shown living with his wife Joanna (60), his daughter Elizabeth (19) and a Thomas Huxtable (26) who is described as a laborer. (William's birth date is off by six years, but his wife's and daughter are the same as the earlier record.)

William Huxtable owns a farm. Did he sell the farm in Burrington and use the money to purchase land in Canada?

At this time the Canada Company which owned the Huron Tract was promoting their holdings in Canada to English farmers. The Usborne Township records preserve some interesting historical detail for our story.

Usborne was named after one of the first directors of the Canada Company, Henry Usborne who had great faith in the investment potentials of Canada. This Township is bounded on the north by the Township of Tuckersmith, on the east by the Township of Hibbert, Fullarton and Blanchard, all in the County of Perth; on the south by the Township of Biddulph, in the County of Middlesex; and on the west by the Township of Stephen and Hay. It has an irregular shape and contains 42,681 acres. Until 1845 it had only 283 inhabitants but increased to 1,484 by 1852. The major crop was wheat, then turnips, oats, potatoes, peas and hay. Sheep were important livestock, followed by hogs and cows and a considerable dairy industry was developed in butter and cheese. For many years one of the staple crops in Usborne was maple sugar and maple syrup.

The early settlers in the township were James Willis and William McConnell and who settled in the area that was later called Exeter and largely responsible for the original development of this settlement. Long before Exeter, another area called Devon which was 3 miles to the south of Exeter was developed. In this area a Devonshire man, John Balkwill, cleared four acres about a little over a mile south of Exeter. He returned to England and was so enthusiastic about the prospects of a new and more prosperous life in the Huron Tract that he attempted very successfully to convince a good number of his friends and neighbours to come out to this country. The first of these was his brother-in-law, William May, who arrive with his family in 1832 and registered his land in 1833. Between 1833 and 1835 several of Thomas Balkwill's brothers came out and took up land on both the Usborne and Stephen sides of the London Road. Another Devonshire man, George Snell, settled in Usborne. A brother of James Balkwill who arrived in 1835 was so good in urging new settlers to take up land in this area that the Canada Company made him its constable and agent for the Usborne Township District.

Was the George Snell in the Usborne area related to the Snells in Burrington? There are two interesting clues that tease us. George Snell only lived a few farms down the road from the Huxtables where James Snell's future wife was living in 1841. And James Snell's second wife had the same last maiden name (Balkwill) as George Snell's wife's maiden name. I think it is very probable that the Snells who first emigrated to the Usborne township may have facilitated James Snell's emigration to Canada. And one last tantalizing clue. George Snell in the 1851 census had a William Snell of the right age living as a laborer in his house. He looks like his oldest child. But was he? Is he the missing brother of James?

Passengers embarking. From Illustrated London News, July 6, 1850.

In fact this clearly shows the nature of migration from the Devon to the townships in Canada West. The majority of English settlers in the Huron Tract came from the Devon area, a fact attested to by place names in Ontario like Exeter and even Tiverton, the town in Devon that Thomas's brother John lived in for most of his life. I think that is the case because William Huxtable and other residents of Burrington do not show up again in English records subsequent to 1841. It could have been a business decision by William Huxtable to cut his losses in England and find opportunity in the Canadian colony. He was laying the foundation for a better life for his family. He was quite old though, and probably died because he does not appear in subsequent censuses. Or perhaps his farm failed and he moved on to another place.

In any event in the 1861 Canada census we find James Snell and his wife with their three children Selina (5), Bertha (4) and William (2). All the children were born in Canada.

And there is a surprise when you review the 1871 census in Canada West, Elizabeth Shaddock, Thomas Shaddock's sister, and his brother-in-law James Snell, lived in the same township, Biddulph. And guess who else lived in that town? Thomas Shaddock. The Shaddock and Snell families all settled together in one area of the Huron Track. The map below of the entire Huron Tract shows just how close these families were to each other. The townships they lived in are at the bottom end of the Huron Tract. Click on the link below the map to see a large map of the area, and use your mouse to zoom in on the Biddulph and MacGillivray townships.

Huron Tract

Click here to see the entire map of Canada West.

For perspective, Biddulph is only about 43,000 acres in size and in 1848 had a population of only 1500 people.

Our ancestors came from a tiny village in Burrington, England. They were related to each other. Earlier in their lives they passed each other in the street in Burrington. They must have moved to the same area in Canada for the kind of mutual support they would require carving out a life in the Canadian wilderness.

The presence of his sister, brother-in-law and his brother-in-law's new family in Canada was additional evidence that the Thomas Shaddock born in Burrington in 1834 is the same Thomas Shaddock who is our ancestor.

What about James's brother-in-law William Snell, who had worked on a farm in Burrington with Thomas Shaddock? The 1861 Canada West census shows that the Huron Tract had more than one William Snell living in the area. And again in the 1871 census there are two Williams of the exact right age with farms in the Huron area. James' brother disappeared from English censuses, so it is very likely that he emigrated to Canada about the same time as his his "brother" Thomas Shaddock. One more tantalizing clue: one researcher on Ancestry has William Snell in Canada married to Mary Isaac, birth date 1828. Thomas' aunt Honor Shaddock married a Burrington Isaac and had a child Mary Ann, baptized 1827. And a daughter of William Snell and Mary is Susanna, the same name as the young woman living with James Shaddock, Thomas' father in 1841.

Honor Shaddock's nephew Richard Shaddock (1837-1906) had married an Isaac, Mary Jane Isaac. According to Reverend Dr Bernard Susser in the "Exeter Papers in Economic History No 3: Industry and Society in the South West" (University of Exeter, 1970) many Isaacs in Devon were descended from German Jews who had emigrated to Devon sometime after 1730. My own search for the Isaac family produced Devon Isaacs going back to the middle of the 16th century, with most males named Abraham. The 1857 book "An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. With an Essay on Their Derivation and Import" by William Arthur lists the Isaac name as of Jewish origin.

In any event there was a lot of talk of the land of opportunity in Canada among the younger generation in Burrington, part of it drummed up by the agents of the Canada Company looking to make a profit on the land they had purchased from Canada's original settlers, the first nations people. (Their business venture proved to be a disappointment to the investors though.) And there was definitely a family who had moved to Canada in the 1840s that have connections to Thomas Shaddock. So the picture emerges of a small town in England (Burrington) whose citizens were part of the great migration of Devon farmers determined to find new life in the fertile soil of the Huron Tract in Canada West and to escape poverty, servitude and lack of opportunity back home.

Lil Roberts, daughter of Ann Shaddock, and her husband Gilbert.

Ann Shaddock

As I said earlier, I think Mary Shaddock (nee Mitchell) might have died in childbirth. Her last child was Ann Shaddock, born in 1838. She appears in the English census records after her birth until the 1851 census. Then she disappears from subsequent censuses. There is no record of her marriage or death. Where does she reappear? Again I would have to say Canada West. I cannot build a strong case for this, but there are a few people on ancestry.ca that think Ann Shaddock, sister to Thomas Shaddock, emigrated to Canada West. Her death certificate specifically says that her birth place was "Devonshire." And the Ann Shaddock that marries John Lorenzo Hickey and raises a family in Ontario is the exact right age. There are no other candidates in Devon that are the right age. If this is the same Ann Shaddock then she died young (age 42), like her mother. On the death certificate her cause of death was anemia from prolonged uterine bleeding.

The picture of Lil Roberts comes from a descendant, Theresa McLean, whose genealogy traces Lil's mother "Annie" back to Burrington, and makes her the daughter of James Shaddock (1801-1865). See the West Bloomington Shaddocks page for an interesting family connection between me and Sally Shaddock.

Thomas in Canada

Between 1818 and 1855 no less than 106 known sailings of ships from Bideford to Canada took place.

Bideford Heritage website

Let's reiterate the reasons why Thomas might have uprooted himself from England, crossed a dangerous ocean and planted himself in the middle of an area of Canada whose humid summers and bitterly cold winters I have personally experienced through the window of car. (I lived in Toronto for eight years.)

Shaddock and Snell ancestors were recently impoverished, as Simon Snell and William Shaddock literally lost their farms. The surplus labor from the large families of agricultural workers created a huge problem for local parishes which provided aid to the poor and found their costs skyrocketing. The solution was to export people overseas to places like British Canada by helping finance their relocation through a scheme called "assisted passage." This may have been the source of funds that allowed the Shaddocks, Husks and Snells to emigrate to the Huron Tract in Canada West. (Although the Huxtables may have financed James Snell's passage so that he could join them in Canada and marry their daughter.)

As I said before, the area of the map outlined in red is called the Huron Tract. This was the land the government of Canada West, working in collaboration with local business people, bought from first nations people and divided up for resell. The area Thomas Shaddock settled in is at the southern part of the Huron Tract, in MacGillivray.

We know that Thomas Shaddock arrived in Canada sometime in the 1850s, because he tells an enumerator in 1901 that he first emigrated to Canada in the 1850s. The last digit of the date on the census form is hard to read. It looks like 1850 but there is no Thomas Shaddock in Canada in 1850. Thomas might have difficulty at the age of 68 remembering the exact date of his entry into Canada half a century earlier. And Thomas Shaddock does show up in the 1851 census in England, and is shown to be 16 years old.

We know from the 1861 census that when Thomas first arrived in Canada, he was living with a family as an agricultural laborer. He lived with Samuel and Jane Cobbledick and their six children. Samuel is described as a "yeoman," meaning he owned his own land. Samuel was born in England (31 Dec 1821, died 11 Nov 1909) to parents William and Grace. I have found Samuel's baptism record in England, at Launcells, Cornwall. Among other siblings, he had a brother William born 1815 in Upper Canada. Samuel's wife Jane Allan (1824-1890) was born in Ireland. Samuel died in the same area he was found in the 1861 census (Exeter, Huron County, Ontario). All their children were born in Canada, the oldest fifteen.

William and Grace were Samuel Cobbledick's parents. According to a history of the Cobbledick family (http://www.coveduck.com/history/09cobbledick.htm), William Cobbledick emigrated with his wife Grace to Orono (Durham County) in 1835. (Indeed the 1851 census shows a William "Cobledick" owns a farm in Durham County.) This explains why I could not find William and Grace Cobbledick in English censuses after 1835. He must have brought over his family with him because Samuel's baptism was in England. According to this history the Cobbledick families were from Devon and Cornwall. I think this makes it probable that Thomas Shaddock was not brought over by the Cobbledicks, as he was only age one in 1935. However, since the Cobbledicks are from roughly the same area in England as the Shaddocks, it raises the possibility that the Shaddock and Cobbledicks knew or were related to each other back in England. We might never know. Just for fun, let's imagine Christmas at the Cobbledick family, with the parents visiting from Orono. Thomas Shaddock and old William Cobbledick are by the fire talking about what past Christmas celebrations, food and gifts back home in England.

Okay, now that we find ourselves in Canada West, let's look into Thomas Shaddock's new in-laws, the Nichols.

Catherine Nichols family

Catherine Shaddock, her daughter and grand daughter

Shown at the left is Catherine Nichols in old age with her daughter and her grand daughter. The picture was kindly supplied by Jim Scott from his mother Eileen's family archive.

William Nichols and his wife Catherine show up in the 1851 and 1861 censuses. In the 1851 census he was a labourer, working on farms in the area of MacGillivray. By 1861 he owned his own farm and the family was living in a log house. (See Where They Settled) They are Wesleyan Methodists. (Thomas would become a Methodist late in life.)

William Nichols was born in England, whereas his wife Elizabeth (nee Teal) was born in Ontario. The Nichols name traces back to the Norman Conquest, so it is of ancient French origin. However, in the 1881 census Catherine tells the enumerator that she is of Scottish descent. The 1891 census asks where her parents were born, and she tells them "England." So where does the Scottish heritage come from? Catherine's mother Elizabeth maiden name is "Teal." And that is considered to be of Scottish origin. So those Shaddocks who are her descendants may have a drop of Scottish blood, and a drop of French blood.

The marriage certificate for William Nichols and Elizabeth Teal spells their names differently, Nickles for Nichols and Tell for Teal. On their daughter Phoebe's death certificate the names are spelled Nichols and Teal, so it is likely that is the correct spelling.

In 1861 Catherine is living with her parents while the census shows a "Thos" Shaddock living alone in the same area. "Thos" is a short form of Thomas. So Thomas disappears from the English census (present in 1841 but absent in 1851) and does not show up in the 1851 Canada West census but does show up in the 1861 Canada West census and subsequent censuses. This adds weight to the probability that the English Thomas Shaddock, born in 1834, is indeed our Canadian immigrant settled in the Huron Tract, the land of opportunity.

Thomas was living on the Cobbledick farm in 1861, but that year he married Catherine Nichols. What do we know about Catherine? Catherine's father had three daughters and a son (see the tree I have built on Ancestry.ca).

William must have been glad to welcome a fellow Englishman into the family and take on responsibility for one of his three daughters. Daughters could be a big financial burden! Since Thomas is shown living in the same area as his father--in-law in succeeding years, I assume he was welcomed into the family. Indeed because he did not acquire his own farm until many years later, and was listed in a subsequent census as a laborer, I wonder if he worked on his father-in-law's farm? William was 47 when the 31 year old Thomas joined the family. William Nichols son Morland is only 3 when Thomas married Catherine, so I think William Nichols could have used the muscle and maturity of his new son-in-law. Thomas Shaddock would have learned his farming skills on the Cole farm (Higher Elscott) back in England. His skill set is an important thread connecting the Thomas Shaddock in Ontario with the Thomas Shaddock in Devon.

Thomas moved has new family to the neighboring area of Biddulph by 1871. William (name misspelled as Nickles) shows up in the 1871 census with his family, without Catherine in MacGillivray.

Old log cabin from Canada's national archives.

The Case for Thomas Mitchell Shaddock

But what is the most important piece of evidence that the Thomas from Burrington is the same Thomas as the one who settled in MacGillivray and married Catherine Nichols? It may be a discrepancy in the records.

Thomas Shaddock's date of birth is widely reported as 1830. It even shows up on his gravestone. But I have reason to believe that is incorrect.

The information on his death certificate, supplied by his son Enoch Shaddock, omits the date of his birth, yet states his age as 84. He died in 1912, which would mean he would be born in 1828. The father's name is omitted, and for the mother's name "Catherine ?" is entered. If Enoch Shaddock looked after the funeral arrangements, he provided a different age at time of death (82 years) and a different year of birth (1830) to the supplier of the gravestone.

Let's look at the records we find earlier in his life. His marriage record of 1861 states his age as 20 and he was born in 1841. However, his wife's date of birth is given as 1843 which would make her two years older. In fact she was nine years younger. There were 40 percent more men than women in the Huron area, so she had a lot of choice. And she married very young. In fact she married at age 17, the day before her 18th birthday.

However, there is another date provided in the clear handwriting of the enumerator who visited the Cobbledick farm for the 1861 census. Look at the age Thomas provided to the government official.

Thomas Shaddock is shown to be 27. That means it is almost certain he was born in 1834 not 1830. What about the census in 1771, ten years later? His age is given as 37. Born in 1834. In the 1881 census, he is said to be 49, which would place his date of birth in 1832. In the 1891 census he is entered as 60 years old, which would place his date at about 1830. In the 1901 census he is now 73 and his birthdate is entered as 1828. He is growing younger as we progress in time! He dies eleven years later, which should have made him 84, but instead his grave says he is 82. Getting younger again. I think he was 78 when he died. I think that the two census takers in England and the first two census takers in Canada got it right. They all had the same date.

Do we blame this on mistakes made by census takers and the official who entered his age on the wedding record? Apparently not! On census records Catherine's age is entered consistently as 1844. On the marriage license it is entered as 1843. Thomas or his wife were highly inconsistent in stating his age for the records.

There is no Thomas Shaddock born in 1830 anywhere. We have from the younger Thomas himself that he was born in 1834. I choose to believe him.

Another little bit of evidence is the birthday given by Thomas Shaddock to the 1901 enumerator. He says he was born on January 1. His baptism date on the Burrington register kept by vicar Buckingham is March 9, 1834. Church officials encouraged people to baptize as quickly as possible after birth and we would expect the fastidious and devout Buckingham to encourage Thomas Shaddock's parents to do so. Since Thomas Shaddock's baptism was 23 months after his brother James' baptism, and previous births we staggered at two year intervals, we can be reasonably sure of Thomas Shaddock's birth year.

The person who ordered his gravestone in 1912 did not ask Thomas! And the work of enumerators in 1881 and 1891 was sloppy, spelling his last name incorrectly and possibly misspelling his daughter's name Melissa as Malissa. Thank goodness vicar Buckingham back in England was so careful with his records.

Thomas Shaddock baptism record dated 1834. Shows his parents names as James and Mary. And his father was an agricultural labourer, just like his son.

DNA Evidence

The final piece of evidence that seals the case that Thomas Mitchell Shaddock, born in Burrington, England 1834 is the same Thomas Shaddock who died 1912 in Parkhill, Ontario is DNA evidence. I had my YDNA tested to the 111 marker level, along with Cliff Shaddock, who should be my fifth cousin according to the paper trail. My fifth cousin David Shaddick was also tested. Both are well-documented descendants of William Shaddock 1766-1856 or Burrington, grandfather to Thomas Mitchell Shaddock. Both were found to be a genetic distance of "2" from me. The probability that we shared a common ancestor five generations back is 80%.

On the 16th of March, 2016, I received the final definitive proof of the connection between Thomas Shaddock of Western Ontario and Thomas Mitchell Shaddock of Burrington, Devon. Sixteen months previously, I set in a quest to prove or disprove that Thomas Mitchell Shaddock (1834-1912), baptized in Burrington, Devon and Thomas Shaddock of western Ontario, who married Catherine Nichols (1843-1931) were the same person. There was no paper trail that connected the two. In fact the case I had for connecting the two was based on compelling circumstantial evidence but no hard evidence. The final proof came with my 4th cousin 1X removed, David Shaddock's results. David Shaddock is a Rochester Shaddock, and I am a Western Ontario Shaddock. I am a descendant of James Shaddock (1801-1865), son of the Burrington Shaddock founder, William Shaddock (1766-1856). David is a descendant of James' brother Richard (1807-1881). When you compare the 111 markers (STRs) of our respective YDNA tests they are identical! That means that since our common ancestor, William Shaddock, there has been no marker mutations in the 111 markers tested. Other descendants of the Burrington Shaddocks, our 5th cousins David Shaddick and Cliff Shaddock are at a genetic distance of 2 from me and David. The only way these four results can form this genetic relationship is if my documented ancestor, Thomas Shaddock of Western Ontario and Thomas Mitchell Shaddock of Burrington, Devon, are the same man. This is the power and utility of genetic genealogy.


The research I did on our Shaddock ancestors has helped me understand how I arrived at who I am as a Canadian. You might think Canadian multiculturalism and tolerance is an invention of Canadian bureaucrats trying to unify a country founded by immigrants from all points on the globe in a vast and thinly populated land. But I realized after looking into the lives of early Shaddocks, Nichols, Procuniers, Teeples, Cobbledicks, Snells and others that our tolerance for the religion and ethnicity of our neighbors has been passed down by the pioneers who first wrestled life from the Canadian wilderness and learned that tolerance was the highway to mutual security, support and prosperity.

Thomas Shaddock was perhaps the most ambitious grandson of a (formerly) gentleman farmer. Thomas left England to escape poverty and servitude back home in Devon. In the 1871 Canada census he was working as a laborer in the Biddulph Township, next door and east of the MacGillivray township. By the 1891 census he was described as a farmer in MacGillivray township. He was living free and proud on his own land. His gamble on Canada paid off. He did better than his brothers who stayed home.

But he must have felt the pain of separation from his family in Burrington. As far as I can determine the Shaddock family back in England was a hardworking, religious and loving family. Thomas brought those values to Canada. Thomas Shaddock would have found a new family in the Nichols relatives. Would he have missed his family back home? I don't think he forgot his family in Devon. Why do I think that? He named his first-born child after his father, James Shaddock.

I will now outline the genealogy of the Western Ontario Shaddocks.

Western Ontario Shaddocks Genealogy

It was traditional to name the first male child after the father's father (James), the second male child after the mother's father (William) and the third child after the father's grandfather (Thomas). That works out perfectly for Thomas Shaddock's first three sons, James, William and Thomas. Under this common system of naming sons, the fourth child would be named William, but there was already a William, so he was named Enoch instead.

Click here to read the family history of James Shaddock (1862-1933), my great grandfather.

Thomas Shaddock 1834-1912 (wife Catherine Nichols 1843-1931)

James K Shaddock 1862-1933 (Margaret Isabelle Watson circa 1867-1930)

Frederick Earle Shaddock 1896-1957 (Annie Capitola Procunier 1893-1972)

Conrad Watson (Ted) Shaddock 1922-1969 (Lyla Ruth Gendron 1926-2015)

Donald T Shaddock 1923-1991 (Eleanor Elizabeth Whittle 1926)

Eva May Shaddock 1893-1936 (Thomas Day McMullen 1893-1925)

Robert McMullen (died in infancy)

Malissa Shaddock 1864-1896 (William H. Conner b. 1857 d. ?)

William Shaddock 1866-1949 (Margaret Ellen Thomson 1879-1933)

Inez Jean Shaddock 1905-1923 (no husband)

Gladys Edith Edna Shaddock 1911-1989 (Hugh Richard Hodgins 1907-1962)

Ivan Richards Hodgins 1935-1999

Anna Margaret Hodgins 1937-1998

Mary Ellen Hodgins 1948-1948

Thomas Shaddock 1868-1927 (Mary Elizabeth Fenton 1869 - 1951)

Austin Laverne Shaddock 1893-1976 (Lola Ray Barclay 1893-1966)

Kenneth Reed Shaddock 1922-2007 (Helen -1979) (Rose -2006)

Reed Shaddock

Mark Shaddock

Olive Annie Shaddock 1899-1943 (Earle Mervin Walls 1900-1983)

Enoch Wood Shaddock 1870-1933 (Rose Ellen Low 1874-1934)

Bertha Ann Shaddock 1897-1983 (Charles Bruce Harmer 1894-1985)

B Edward Harmer 1920-2002

Leslie Earl Shaddock 1898-1984 (Evelyn Ruth Young 1908-2006)

Alma Maxine Shaddock (Charles Albert Thompson)

Earl Shaddock (Abbie Eleanor Nichol)

Sadie Shaddock

Ralph Shaddock (Catherine Ida Hughes)

Norman Shaddock (Shirley Lightfoot)

Eileen Shaddock (Eric Scott)

Alberta J. Shaddock (Ralph Steeper 1916-1995)

Cynthee Beatta Shaddock 1874-1946 (William John Hamilton 1869 - 1948)

Roy Hamilton 1900-1968 (Della Elizabeth Dundas 1910-?)

Vera Hamilton 1896-

William Erle Hamilton 1914-1961 (Abigail Flynn 1918-1972)

Elaine Hamilton (William Yearley 1933-1991)

Erle Hamilton (Mona Schade)

John Douglas Hamilton 1948-1993

Elaine Hamilton 1903-1923

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