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by Richard Corcelli.

THE SURNAME “Murphy” [Munster Sect]

In the Irish language, the name is O Murchadha meaning descendant of Murchadh [sea warrior]. The name Murphy is common throughout Ireland being the most common surname. It is more common in Munster province, particularly in Cork and Kerry where the Munster sept of the name originated. The Munster Murphys are associated with the Barony of Muskerry, County Cork and are said to be a branch of the Wexford clan. The Munster sept’s coat of arms is quite different from the Wexford Murphys.


The second phase of Peter Robinson’s emigration scheme was larger than the first. There were 2024 emigrants and they embarked on 9 sailing ships; the Albion, the Amity, the Elizabeth, the Fortitude, the John Barry, the Regulus, the Resolution, the Star, and THE BRUNSWICK.

The nobleman in Mallow who acted as agent was Charles Denham Orlando Jephson, MP,[1813-1888], of Mallow Castle.

He recommended the family of JEREMIAH MURPHY of Kilshannig Parish, County Cork, for emigration and his Embarkation Certificate #239 dated at Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, 25 April, 1825 states,

“…These are to certify, that the undermentioned Persons, of the Parish of KILSHANNIG in the County of CORK, Ireland have been received by me as Emigrant Settlers, to be conveyed to UPPER CANADA, and placed upon their lands, at the Expense of His Majesty’s Government.

Name- Jeremiah Murphy – Age 35 – Head of the family – Labourer.
– Susan Murphy – Age 30 – Wife
– Charles – Age 8 – Son
– John – Age 5 – Son

The Brunswick sailed, [along with the Albion, Fortitude and Resolution], on Tuesday May 10, 1825 and arrived at Quebec on June 12 with some dying during the crossing or soon after, likely in keeping with the mortality rate of the day.

“At 12 o’clock we weighed anchor in fine weather and the following morning we lost sight of the land of our nativity,” recorded Dr. Reade aboard the Resolution. “The wind shifted and blew strongly from the west. The poor people now became seasick and little order or regularity could be preserved. It was in my power to provide arrangements for the young children who did not suffer from sickness…

May 11. At 9:00pm a heavy gale began and several times I visited the lower deck during the night and found the children thrown out of their berths and their parents too much exhausted from seasickness to make the exertion. The gale lasted for two days, and during that period they were unable to propare nourishment for themselves. I caused gruel and tea to be made ready for all.”

When the weather improved, the Irish complained of a lack of potatoes but otherwise believed their rations adequate – a pound of salt pork and a pound of ship’s biscuits every day for men and boys over 14; half that for the women and girls and boys over 12; and a third for small children. The men got a half pint of rum every day, like the sailors, though Robinson disapproved when he heard of it.

After arrival at Quebec, they took a steamer ride to Montreal. At Quebec the travellers transferred to a river-steamer and proceeded to Montreal. From here west, one could, by paying prohibitive fares, reach Lake Ontario by alternate shifts of stage-coach and steamer, but by far the greater number travelled by bateau or by Durham boat. The bateau was a large, flat-bottomed skiff, thirty to forty feet long, eight to ten wide, and built sharp at both ends. It was propelled by oars and sails, and was likewise pushed along by pole or sail. Progress was necessarily slow. It often took a whole week to go from Montreal to Prescott. Sometimes as many as one hundred persons would be crowded together in a single thirty-foot bateau, scorched by sun or drenched by rain, as their rude craft crept reluctantly up the river. At last, at Prescott or Kingston transfer was made to a lake steamer, which carried the pioneers on to the lake port nearest their destination.

They were brought by York or Durham boats to Kingston and by mid July were living in army tents on the marshy flats beside the Cataraqui River mouth into Lake Ontario. Peter Robinson arrived there in August to take charge of the expedition, commencing first to Cobourg, 92 miles away. Then ox-carts were hired to take them over the hills on the rough road through the bush 12 miles to Sully, [now Gore’s Landing], on Rice Lake.

Robinson then had three scows built, 6 foot wide x 60 feet long, and transported on wheels from Cobourg and they then crossed Rice Lake. They then began the ascent of the rapids of the Otanobee River, usually navigable, but low water that summer resulted in members of the party having to deepen the channel. After 60 trips, he landed the 1900 settlers 24 miles north at Scott’s Plains, [also Scott’s Mills], later named Peterborough in his honour. They landed near the current site of the Red Oak Inn, (1990s), in downtown Peterborough where Robinson built two log homes facing Water St., two storehouses and a Government House.

JEREMIAH MURPHY and his family were settled on their lot in Emily Township sometime between mid-October and the end of November 1825, just as winter was settling in. They travelled by government scow from the Chemong end of the Communication Road around by Lakes Chemong, Buckhorn and Pigeon, near Pigeon Creek, to Emily Township, Concession 11, West 1/2 Lot 19, [100 acres].

Local axeman were hired to build crude log shanties for the settlers, – two men could build one in a day. Until the shanties were built, they lived in crude temporary huts made from mill slabs, bark and sods while others were made of poles standing up, boughs or branches interwoven and mud plastered over.

Then, in a little circle of sunlight hewn out of the forest, arose a new home within view of Pigeon Lake. The sills and walls were pine logs, peeled and notched. For the roof, hollow basswood trunks were cut the proper length and split in two so as to form troughs, which were then laid from eaves to ridgepole in two rows, the lower row bark side down, and the upper row with their edges fitted into the hollows of the lower. This was a rough covering, but shed water very well. All chinks in the walls and roof, inside and out, were packed with moss, which the children gathered by the sackful near at hand, and plastered over with clay. A hole covered with a quilt served as a door, until lumber became available. The tiny windows were fitted with sheets of oiled paper, as glass was not to be had.

At one end of the single room, a platform of poles served as a bedstead. At the other was the fireplace, floored and built up with stones. A chimney of sticks and clay usually surmounted this, but often many months elapsed before such a vent was added, and in the meantime the smoke filtered out through a gap in the roof after stifling the householders. As matches were unknown, and ignition had to be won from flint and steel, a fire was kept burning constantly on the hearth. To husband this precious blaze, a large backlog, two feet or more in diameter, would be dragged into the house by an ox. The beast would be unhitched in front of the fireplace, and the log rolled with handspikes to the back of the fire, where it would often last for three or four days.

The Peter Robinson Papers, [Ontario Archives & Peterborough Public Library], record that the Jeremiah Murphy family received 2 1/2 # pork, 2 3/4 # flour on Dec. 2, 1825, [which they received daily], as well as 2 blankets which were usually given to families with children. Another entry indicated they received 1 cow, 2 blankets and 2 axes.

Robinson continued the rations until November 1826 and records indicate some families were given tools such as an axe, auger, handsaw, hammer, nails, gimlet, hoe, kettle, frying pan, iron pot, 8 quarts of Indian corn, 5 bushels of seed potatoes….

By 1826, the Assessment Rolls indicated that the old settlers were increasing and prospering. In the 1826 census, JEREMIAH MURPHY is listed as having 4.5 acres of cleared land and 95.5 acres of wild land. The family size is listed as 4 with 1 male over 16, 2 males under 16 and 1 female over 16.

On August 18, 1834, according to the promise, after settlement and cultivation had been completed, JEREMIAH MURPHY received a Crown Patent for his 100 acres of land from King William IV of England, given under the seal of John Colborne, Governor of the Province of Upper Canada. [recorded by Robert Jamison, Attorney-General, Sept. 24, 1834]. A copy is in the Murphy family records held by Richard Corcelli.

By the 1841 census, the farm has improved to having 8 acres cleared with 92 acres wild. By now, the family size is 4, with 1 male over 16, 2 males under 16 and one female over 16.

Apparently, Jeremiah’s first wife Susan died sometime between emigrating in 1825 and in 1835/1836 Jeremiah married Eliza Lyons, the colleen from the neighbouring farm, [who, along with her family, was a shipmate on the Brunswick]. Eliza was 19 years his junior but bore him his son Thomas by 1837 and two other sons, William & Jeremiah [Jr.]. Their birthdates are not known.

As mentioned above, Elizabeth [Eliza] Lyons, [Lynes or Lines], also emigrated to Upper Canada from Mallow, Ireland as part of the Peter Robinson settlement. She and her family also were recommended by C.D.O. Jephson on emigration certificate #262. Her father Cornelius, 35, labourer; mother Sarah, 30; sisters Joannah, 19, Margaret, 14 and herself 16 as well as Cornelius’ brother, Patrick 14, embarked on the Brunswick along with the Jeremiah Murphy family.

The Lyons family was settled on the north half of Lot 20, Con. 11, Emily Twp, the adjacent lot to the west of Jeremiah Murphy and family on Lot 19.

JEREMIAH MURPHY died on February 10, 1847 and his will left the farm, all the livestock, farming utensils and household furniture to his widow Elizabeth Murphy, and after several mortgages given to both Wm. Cottingham amd Wm. Lundy, Elizabeth Murphy registered a Bargain & Sale to Wm. Cottingham in January 1864 for $525.

Eliza outlived Jeremiah and she was the prime beneficiary of his will as his widow in 1848, along with sons Thomas and William & Jeremiah. To his sons Charles and John from his first marriage to Susan he left six shillings and three pence, “…they being doing for themselves and having left me before they were of age, or before their assistance was any ways adequate to the trouble and expense of rearing said Charles and John Murphy to the time they left me to do for themselves…”.

In the above will, Jeremiah provided that his sons William and Jeremiah Jr. and his wife Elizabeth, “…do pay unto my son Thomas Murphy the sum of 25 pounds of currency to get him the said Thomas Murphy a suitable trade or enable him to purchase 100 acres of land by reserving 10 dollars yearly for 10 years for that purpose out of the profits arising out of said Lot No. 19 on the 11th Conc. Emily aforesaid….”

In January 1864, Thomas Murphy, “yeoman”, now resident in Mara Township, Ontario County, registered a “Quit Claim” to Wm. Cottingham on the Emily Township property for the 25 pounds, mentioned in the will.

On March 25, 1870, Thomas Murphy purchased North Half, 100 acres, Lot 10, Conc. V, Mara Township, Ontario County, [2 miles north of Brechin, ON], from John Birney. [price not mentioned on title]. The lot had been granted by Crown Patent to Hon. Henry Boulton in October 1847.

In 1873 Thomas Murphy married Bridget Carey, a local girl, and they set in to farming, raising a family and built a log house on top of the hill on Lot 10. They had 5 children and Thomas appears to have been a very prosperous farmer judging by his will.

Jeremiah was born in 1874, was a bachelor and died in 1903. Legend has it that he had a problem with alcohol and died of exposure in the barnyard after lying out all night. [uncorroborated]

Mary Catharine was born in 1876, married Dan Harrington in 1893 and they had 7 children and lived on the 9th of Mara Township.

Elizabeth was born in 1878 and first married Peter Kelly in 1903; he died and she re-married John Eddy Clarke in 1913, had 5 children. They lived near Uptergrove, ON, until, as a widow she died tragically in a house fire in Uptergrove in 1961.

Thomas was born in 1883 and married Mary Ellen Heitzner [Nellie], an Udney girl, in 1913. Their wedding reception was held at the Heitzner’s Udney homestead on Con.X, Lot 8. They left by train on their wedding night for a honeymoon with the groom’s sister Sarah [Murphy] O’Donnell at their farm in Verona, North Dakota.

They had 12 children, [Helen Mary, Margaret Aileen, John Thomas [Jack], Mary Ursula, Edward Joseph, William Jeremiah, Marcella Grace, Patrick Stanley, Reta Shirley, Donald Gerard, Joan Elizabeth, Robert Bernard], and lived their entire lives on the family farm on Lot 10, Mara township.

Sarah Ann was born in 1887, married Tommy Frank O’Donnell, a Brechin boy, in 1909. They moved to a farm in Verona North Dakota, near Fargo, ND and had 10 children.

The farm on the hill in Mara passed to three brothers, Jack Murphy, [until he bought the Pat Gaughan farm one concession north in 1952], Patrick [Bud] Murphy and Donald Murphy after Tommie and Nellie died in 1946 and 1947 respectively. Bud & Don, both bachelors, farmed the property until Don died suddenly in 1972 and Bud continued alone until the farm was sold in 1986.

The farm had been in the Murphy family since 1870, 116 years.

Note: On March 25, 1870, Thomas Murphy purchased North Half, 100 acres, Lot 10, Conc. V, Mara Township, Ontario County, [2 miles north of Brechin, ON]
Bud (Patrick Stanley) sold the farm in 1986 and retired to Orillia–ending 116 years of continuous ownership

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