David Willson 1778 – 1866

220px-david_wilson_ontario_archivesDavid Willson was born 7 June 1778 in the Nine Partners Grant, Dutchess County, New York.  He was the second son of John Willson and the first of his second wife, Catherine, “poor but pious Presbyterians.”  His father passed away at the age of 14.   Willson married Phebe Titus, daughter of Israel Titus.  Phebe’s sister had married David’s brother Hugh L. Willson.  Phebe was born 18 October 1777, a birthright member of the Society of Friends, and was disowned by the Creek Monthly Meeting 17 September 1794 for “going out from plainness and keeping company with one not of our society,” presumably Willson.  In 1798, David appears to have joined his brothers in purchasing shares in the sloop, The Farmer which sailed out f New York harbour for the West Indies.  In the spring of 1800, the elder brother, Hugh, sold his share in the ship and emigrated to Upper Canada to be followed the next year by David and the rest of the family.  Willson acquired a Crown grant in East Gwillimbury, Lot 10, Concession 2, in 1801, and remained on his farm there until his death in 1866

Willson, David and Phebe

Ebenezer Doan 1772-1866

Ebenezer Doan Jr. was born 9 September 1772 in Bucks County Pennsylvania to Ebenezer Doan Sr. and Anna Savilla Sloy. Ebenezer and his brother John apprenticed with their older brother Jonathan (one of the most famous builders in the mid-Atlantic states) to become Master Builders in their own right. Ebenezer moved to Georgia to make money to buy a farm. He moved to Yonge Street in 1808 with his second wife Elizabeth Paxson and joined the Children of Peace in 1813. In 1818 they moved to East Gwillimbury, Lot 13 Concession 3 where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Ebenezer was the Master Builder of the Sharon Temple and probably the Second Meeting House as well. Ebenezer (but not the rest of the family) resigned from the Children of Peace on 25 April 1840, probably as a result of the sect’s failure to curb its members during the Rebellion of 1837. He died 3 February 1866 at the age of 93.

Doan, Ebenezer stone


Sarah Hughes 1778-1865 and Enos Dennis 1781-1857

Sarah Hughes was born 6 October 1778 in Catawissa Pennsylvania to Job and Elenor Lee Hughes. She emigrated with her Quaker minister father to Yonge Street in about 1804. She was married on 19 March 1807 in the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends.

Sarah’s husband was Enos Dennis, born 10 January 1781 to Levi and Sarah Dennis, probably also in Catawissa. Enos served as the Clerk of the Yonge Street Monthly Meeting in 1808. Both Sarah and Enos were disowned by the Quakers in 1812/13 for joining the Children of Peace, but Enos’ name does not appear in the list of the builders of the Temple.

Enos was a miller, first in partnership with Amos Hughes at what is now Glenville Pond, and later near Holland Landing (just upriver from where Old Yonge Street crosses the Holland River). William Lyon Mackenzie wrote in 1828 of his stay at the Dennis home.

Although Enos never appeared on any membership list of the Children of Peace, both he and Sarah are listed as members in the 1851 census. Enos Dennis died 22 May 1857 aged 76. Sarah Hughes Dennis died 11 April 1865, aged 86.



Murdoch Mordecai McLeod 1765-1847

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Rachel Terry McLeod 1769 – 1848

Murdoch McLeod was born 6 October 1765 in the Highlands of Scotland to Daniel and Cathryn McLeod. As a young man he emigrated to North America and by the 1780s was settled in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Murdoch was not born into the Quaker religion – he was likely raised in the Church of Scotland. However, he soon met and married Rachel Terry, a Quaker.

Rachel was born 9 February 1769 to David Terry and Grace Davis. Rachel was no stranger to the problems involved in marrying outside the Quaker faith – her father David Terry was disowned for marrying her mother Grace Davis who was not a Quaker. David appears to have rejoined the faith and Rachel was raised as a Quaker. It is not clear when they married but by 1790 the first of their twelve children were born.

The atmosphere in Pennsylvania was not as welcoming to Quakers as had been hoped; Murdoch and Rachel joined a group of family members who decided to take their chances in Canada. In about 1806 the McLeods arrived in York County with several of Rachel’s siblings and their families.

On 13 April 1807 Murdoch petitioned Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Gore for land. He wrote that he and his family (a wife and eight children) had arrived ten months ago from Pennsylvania. He was in possession of 500 pounds and had “made the affirmation of allegiance and is desirous to occupy and improve a vacant lot of land of the crown”.   A grant of 200 acres was made – Lot 72 Concession 1 on the West side of Yonge Street, King Township.

Murdoch and his family began attending meetings at the Yonge Street meeting house in Newmarket, joining fellow American immigrants Ebenezer Doan, Israel Lundy and others listed in an undated register of Friends.

Murdoch Quaker meeting records 2.jpg

However, by 1812 Murdoch had joined the Children of Peace. The Yonge Street Monthly Meeting book made the following note on December 7th1812:

“Murdick McLeod has for some considerable time past declined attending any of our Religious Meetings and attends the Meetings of those that have separated from us and appears disposed to continue with them”

Follow up on January 14th1813 noted that the Committee met with Murdick but that he did not make satisfaction to them. Testimony was to made against him at the following meeting and his departure from the Quakers was formalized.

In July of 1820 Murdoch purchased Lot 11 Concession 2 in East Gwillimbury and moved closer to the Sharon Temple. Murdoch and Rachel remained members of the Children of Peace for the balance of their lives. Most of their children prospered and married. Some remained in Upper Canada, some returned to the United States.  The McLeod family was involved in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion along with other members of the Children of Peace. Tragedy struck the McLeods as a result – their son Alexander was convicted of treason and received a sentence of life in prison. He was convicted on 18 July 1838 and transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 16 March 1839. Sadly, the ship’s records noted that he died on August 3rd1839.

In his will written on March 13th1847 Murdoch instructed that “I give and grant into the hands of the Trustees of the Charity Fund belonging to the society of the Children of Peace established in Sharon in the said Township of East Gwillimbury the sum of fifty pounds for the benefit of the Poor of that society” and also noted “I direct that my body be decently intered in the Burying ground situated on the northwest corner of Lot 6 in the third concession of said Township of East Gwillimbury”. Upon his death on June 28th1847 Murdoch was buried in the Sharon Burial Ground as per his instructions. Rachel died in December of the following year and is buried beside her husband.

Daivd Willson hymn

David Willson wrote this hymn in Murdoch’s memory

McLeod, Murdick










The Morris Family

Ann Williams Rowland Morris 1807-1876

Richard Morris 1808-1884

Ann Williams was born in 1807 in Llanfeugan, Breconshire Wales to William Williams and his wife Dina. She was baptized on May 8th 1807 in the Aber Independent Congregational Chapel. Ann’s first husband was Edward Rowlands, son of Rowland Jones Rowland and his wife Jane. He was born in Dolgelly Merionethshire North Wales in 1806 and baptized in the Old Congregational Chapel on August 14th 1806.

It isn’t clear when Ann and Edward married but their first child William was born in 1831, followed by Catherine born in 1833 and Edward Jr in 1834. The family appeared to have changed their religious affiliation as Edward was baptized in the Methodist church. Shortly thereafter Edward died and Ann remarried. Her second husband was Richard Morris.

Richard Morris was born in North Wales on August 19th 1808. The exact town of his birth and his parents names are unknown as is the date of Ann and Richard’s marriage. According to the 1841 Wales census the family was living in Llanenddwyn Merionethshire. The family had grown to include Evan, born in 1837, Sarah born in 1839 and Owen born in 1841. Richard was employed as a Sadler, Ann an agricultural labourer.

Morris 1841 Wales census 2

According to Ann’s obituary the family sailed for Canada in 1842. Included in the family group was Ann’s seventh child Bennett, born in 1841. By the time the 1852 census was taken the family was living in Sharon. Six more children were born to the family in Canada: Jane born in 1843, Anna born in 1845, Hannah born in 1847, John born in 1849, Thomas born in 1851 and Alice born in 1853. Richard continued to work as a sadler and harness maker.

Morris 1851 Canada census 2

The Morris family were not members of the Children of Peace. In the 1851 census the family notes that they do not belong to a church. In the 1861 census Richard and Ann are listed as Universalists, the rest of the family Church of England. In the 1871 census Richard and Ann and their three youngest children are all listed as Methodist New Connexion members.

Ann died on April 28th 1876 at the age of 68 years, 11 months and 10 days. The duration of illness was given as four months though the cause of death was not given. The obituary from the Newmarket Era notes that she was a kind neighbour and faithful wife and mother.

Newmarket Era May 5 1876, page 3

She left behind her husband and 11 children (she was predeceased by two of her children. Richard moved in with his son Thomas after Ann’s death. He died on June 14th 1884 at the age of 75 years 9 months and 26 days. Newmarket Era 20 Jun 1884 page 3





Morris Richard (posted) 2

Ann and Richard had respectable lifespans but several of their children died early:

Edward Rowland was born on 14 December 1834 in Merionethshire Wales, the third child of Ann Williams and her first husband Edward Rowland. Edward joined his parents and siblings on the trip to Canada in 1842 settling in East Gwillimbury. Not a lot is known about his short life. The inscription on his tombstone tells the sad story of his demise: he drowned on Sunday morning June 27 1847. His step-father erected the tombstone.

Rowland, Edward


Evan Morris was born in March 26th1837 in Golgelly, Merionethshire Wales, the first born child of Ann Williams and Richard Morris. He emigrated to East Gwillimbury with his family in 1842. There he met and married Lovina Leppard on 20 October 1858. The couple settled in East Gwillimbury where Evan farmed and worked as a carpenter next to other Leppards, relatives of Lovina. Evan and Lovina raised six children: Richard, Jane, Annie, Rachel, John William and Ellen. Religion was listed as Methodist or Christian, though Lovina was listed as a member of the Children of Peace in the 1852 census before her marriage. Evan and Lovina had been married 38 years and were not doubt looking forward to growing old together when tragedy struck – Evan died on 28 May 1897 at the age of 60 years 2 months and 2 days after a sudden fall while helping build a barn. The story is told in the Newmarket Era of June 4 1897:

Evan Morris accident

He was buried in the Burying Ground on 30 May 1897. Lovina lived another 25 years dying on May 7th1922 of exhaustion resulting from bronchitis with emphysema. She was buried beside her husband.









Bennett Morris was born on 13 December 1841 in Llanenddwyn Merionethshire Wales, the fourth child of Ann Williams and Richard Morris, and the last to be born in Wales. He crossed the ocean as an infant in 1842 and settled in East Gwillimbury with his family. Perhaps the journey or the harsh Canadian weather did not agree with Bennett. He contracted tuberculosis and died of consumption at the age of 28 years, 10 months and 7 days on August 28 1870 and is buried beside his parents.

Newmarket Era 2 Sep 1870 page 3




Alice Morris was born on 24 September 1853 in Sharon, the youngest child of Ann Williams and Richard Morris. Tragically, she was the second Morris child to contract consumption and die young. She passed away on 3 June 1880 and was buried near her siblings and parents.

Newmarket Era 4 Jun 1880 page 3 2

John Peregrine Morris was born on April 5 1848 in Sharon, the 8thchild of Ann Williams and Richard Morris. He married Rachel Kirton of King on 26 Sept 1877. Rachel was born on 24 May 1854 in East Gwillimbury. John worked as a carpenter and the couple raised three daughters: Frances, Emma and Ethel. Their fourth child, a son Seth was born on November 1st1887. I could not find a record of her death but it appears that Rachel died early in 1888, likely due to complications from childbirth. She was 33 years old. Sadly John died on 12 December 1888 at the age of 40 years, 8 months and 7 days due to inflammation of the lungs, 6 days duration. This left four young orphans aged 8, 7, 4, and I. The children were scattered and were taken in by various relatives. I could not find an obituary for either Morris. They are buried side by side in the Burying Ground.

Matthew Lilley 1799 – 1847

Eleanor Bescoby Lilley 1809 – 1859

Matthew Lilley was born on November 21st1799 in the village of North Collingham, Nottingham, England. He was the middle child of five children born to Matthew Lilley Sr and Mary Coupland. Matthew in fact was the third in a line of Matthew Lilleys with his grandfather also having the same name. The Lilley family was well established in the Lincoln/Nottingham area and can be traced back well into the 17thcentury.

Eleanor Bescoby was born on April 12th1809 in the village of Cranwell, Lincolnshire, England. The Bescobys had a long history in this village and records were located dating back to the early 1600s. Eleanor was 3rdof 8 children born to William Bescoby and Bridget Foster.

Matthew and Eleanor were married on July 8th1828 in the parish of Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire. Matthew was 28 and Eleanor 19.

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The couple settled in Cranwell and in 1829 their first child Mary was born. She was followed by eight brothers and sisters: William (1830), John (1832), Robert (1835), Ann (1836), Eliza (1838), George Matthew (1841), Theophilus George (1843) and Charles (1844). The family was found in the 1841 census in Cranwell with Matthew’s employment listed as agricultural labourer. Matthew is listed in the pollbook for the 1841 British General Election where he is listed as a freeholder and cast his vote for Conservative candidates Lord Charles Worsley and Robert Adam Christopher (the riding of North Lincolnshire returned two Members of Parliament.

The Lilley family appeared to be a respectable upstanding family with deep roots in their Lincoln home. However, they would soon be on their way to Canada. A catalyst may have been the death of their eldest daughter at the age of 15 in 1844. She was buried in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s Church on December 29th1844. By the next year they were in Canada West heading for East Gwillimbury. No passenger lists could be located but this record from the Emigration Service Fund lists a Martin Lilley, wife and seven children seeking assistance on July 9th1845 to travel from Toronto to East Gwillimbury. They are listed as “indigent” – it appears that the cost of transporting 9 people from England to Canada had depleted the family’s savings.

Lilley Emigration Fund

The journey to Canada took a toll on Matthew and he died two years later on May 21st1847, at the age of 47 years, 6 months.

Lilley Matt Headstone2

The poem on his headstone is no longer visible

Children remember father dear

Come to my grave and breathe a sigh

Dear mother came and shed a tear

There father in the grave doth lie



Eleanor remained in East Gwillimbury with her seven remaining children. The family is listed on the 1851 Census.

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Sadly, Eleanor also died prematurely passing away on July 31st1859 at the age of 50. She is buried beside her husband in the Burying Ground