The theme of this blog is "Quebec City." The importance of Quebec City in the lives of the Frampton Irish should not be understated. I was once told that the family lore of a Frampton Irish descendant included a story of how their Frampton Irish ancestor had traveled from Ireland to Boston and then traveled north to Frampton. It is sometimes difficult to accept that a person’s family lore might not be true! I had to answer this by stating that in my opinion I did not believe this to be true. In fact, in all of my research, I have never come across any information of any settlement of the Frampton vicinity coming from the U.S. to the south.
Access to the lands in the Frampton vicinity had always progressed from the Quebec City area. The "Craig Road" was one of the first routes to be improved that led from Quebec City south into the Chaudiere River valley with a connection to Ste. Marie de Beauce. The "Craig Road" into this area was not completed until 1810. It would eventually be extended in the form of the "Kennebec Road" to the U.S. border and connect with routes in Maine, but in the early days there were perhaps nothing but trader and Indian trails to the U.S. The Kennebec Road led from Quebec City to the Kennebec River Valley in Maine. It passed through the Chaudiere River Valley and the Town of Ste. Marie de Beauce. Roads from Ste. Marie to Frampton would not be constructed until 1817. So the road to Frampton was always through the port of Quebec City and Ste. Marie de Beauce would be the initial gateway to Frampton.
So I can say with some confidence that all the Frampton Irish set foot in Lower Canada for the first time at the port of Quebec City. This was actually very fortunate because for the most part the Irish were welcomed there. There were employment and housing opportunities available in the port and there was already a fledgling Irish community present. Irish surnames are found among the following occupations in Quebec City from 1812 to 1819: shoemaker, tavern keeper, navigator, merchant, ship carpenter, clerk, tailor, ship captain, and painter. The Quebec Emigrant Society was founded in 1818 to provide assistance, advice, information, shelter and food.
Nancy Schmitz, in her book, Irish for a Day, Saint Patrick’ Day Celebrations in Quebec City, 1765-1990, stated: "In Quebec City this Irish presence meant that there were almost a thousand English speaking Catholics in 1819."
Probably most of the Frampton Irish spent some time living in Quebec City prior to settling in the Frampton vicinity. In fact this would be somewhat of a necessity as a farm being established in the "waste land" would require several years before it could produce enough crops even to provide for a family’s subsistence. Also, some may have also occasionally resided in Quebec City during periods of employment there after they established farms in the Frampton vicinity in order to the raise necessary cash. So ties between the Frampton Irish community and the Quebec City Irish community were strong. My research has found many specific examples of the Frampton Irish being employed and being residents in the Quebec City area. The following is a list of their names, occupations (if known), locations, and year(s) they were living there: Walker Birnie, Quebec City, 1826 to 1831; George Beatty, laborer, Quebec City, 1821 to 1825; Owen Bird, joiner and carpenter, Quebec City, 1831 to 1832; Robert Blakiston, sailmaker, Quebec City, 1820s; Patrick Byrnes, Little River St. Charles, 1815; Dudley Colcough, clerk, Point Levi, 1817;
Bernard Connolly, yeoman, Quebec City, 1834; James Coyle, Little River St. Charles, 1831; Patrick Daly, tavern keeper, Pres de Ville, 1816 to 1841; John Dillon, snuff maker, Quebec City, 1827 to 1828; Thomas Donahue, publisher, Lower Town, 1838; James Falls, laborer, Quebec City, 1835; Joseph Garthwaite, joiner, Quebec City, 1821; Andrew Hennessy, school teacher, St. Peter Ward, 1838 to 1851; Jeremiah Kilduff, laborer, Quebec City, 1825 to 1832; Joseph Knowles, laborer, Quebec City, 1834; John Lally, laborer, Quebec City, 1834; James Lennox, carpenter, Quebec City, 1829; Edward Lilly, navigator, Quebec City, 1826; Edward Manes, Quebec City, 1827; Michael Marrigan, tailor, Quebec City, 1831; George Matthews, sawyer, Quebec City, 1838; Timothy McCarthy, laborer, Pres de Ville, 1831; Robert Mills, mason, Quebec City, 1825; Martin Murphy, Jr., merchandise sales, Quebec City, 1828; Miles Murphy, yeoman, Little River St. Charles and Sillery, 1806 to 1817; Andrew Murphy, Sr., clerk, timber inspector, ship carpenter, Quebec City, 1806 to 1825; Patrick Murphy, carter, Quebec City, 1836 to 1881; Andrew Murphy, Jr., timber stower, Quebec City, 1840 to 1873; Thomas Murphy, tavern keeper, Woolf’s Cove, 1834; Peter Murphy, farmer, Ancienne Lorette, 1806 to 1821; Michael Murphy, stevedore, Lower Town, 1833 to 1842; John Nicholson, shipyard operator, Levis, 1843; Cornelius O’Brien, laborer, Quebec City, 1844; John O’Toole, Point Levi, 1832;
Michael Quigley, mason, Quebec City, 1823 to 1840; Finlay Ross, Point Levi, 1832; John Sheehan, mason, Quebec City, 1829 to 1835; Daniel Sheehy, policeman, Quebec City, 1866; Archibald Smith, laborer, Quebec City, 1826; Kenneth Sutherland, Quebec City, 1821; John Tackney, laborer, Quebec City, 1854; William Weeks, Quebec City, 1826; John Wilson, grocer, Quebec City, 1826 to 1851; Joseph Wilson, store clerk, Quebec City, 1836 to 1839; James Wright, tavern keeper and stevedore, Diamond Harbor, 1833 to 1850; and Robert Wright, laborer, Quebec City, 1806 to 1821.
This substantial list shows that if a researcher wishes to find all the records of their Frampton Irish ancestors, they must go beyond the records of Frampton alone and expand to searches of the records in the Quebec City vicinity. For example, the very first church records found for the Frampton Irish were the marriage of Robert Wright and Mary Murphy in 1809 at the St. Gabriel’s Presbyterian Church in Montreal and Andrew Murphy and Mary Mackie in 1809 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Quebec City. Both of these families were known to be Catholic, yet these marriages were found in Protestant records, which I have found in my research was not all that unusual. So records of all religions should be searched. In my research I have found records of the Frampton Irish is the following registers: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, 13 records; Chalmers Presbyterian, 1 record; Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, 46 records; and Aubigny Anglican Church in Levis, 76 records. I have also found numerous records in the parish register of Notre Dame de Quebec Catholic Cathedral in Quebec City.
The Irish Catholics in Quebec City attended mass and were members of the parish of Notre Dame de Quebec. In 1828, the Irish congregation and was allowed to use the church of Notre Dame des Victoires in Lower Town. However, records of their events were included in the Notre Dame de Quebec register.
Many cities in North America would come to have ethnic neighborhoods commonly referred to as "Chinatown, Germantown, etc." Such it was with the Irish neighborhood of Quebec City, although it was never given the name "Irishtown." The Irish primarily inhabited the area of Lower Town where most of the "maritime" jobs could be obtained. Robert Grace in his The Irish in Quebec, An Introduction to the Historiography, stated:
Yet another Irish colony in Quebec City became known as Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. Honorius Provost’s history of the parish traces the development of the parish and the Irish community. The continuation of Champlain Street out to Cap Blanc "...constituted their [the Irish people’s] principle habitat and remained so for over half a century." As early as 1818 the Irish were numerous among the Catholic population of the area. By 1877, the Irish element was "...overwhelmingly dominant. Diamond Harbour and Pres-de-Ville constitute their uncontested fortress."
Recently one of my client’s was interested in finding more precisely the Quebec City neighborhood in which his Frampton Irish ancestor Timothy McCarthy lived in. I was able to quickly answer that it was most likely in the vicinity of Lower Town. He told me that he had found his ancestor in the 1831 Lower Canada census in Quebec City. So I started by finding that entry in the census. It was listed among several pages where the location was given as "Basse Ville, Cap Diamond." The approximate translation would be "Lower Town, Cape Diamond." Cape Diamond is the tremendous escarpment that rises abruptly from the St. Lawrence River and Upper Town and the citadel of Quebec is situated on the top of it. Among the numerous Irish names on these pages was "Patrick Dailey, aubergiste (inn keeper)." I was very familiar with this person as he was married to Helen Murphy, daughter of my ancestor Miles Murphy. I had found numerous notaire records on Patrick Daly as he was quite active in renting houses, flats, and rooms in the buildings that he owned in a location called "Pres de Ville." In some of these records he was referred to as a "tavern keeper" and in later records as a "grocer." So I was able to specifically locate the client’s ancestor in this same neighbor and judging by the numerous Irish names found in Pres de Ville in the 1831 census, it was clearly the "Irishtown" of Quebec City.
Pres de Ville stretched from the King’s Wharf upriver to Diamond Harbor. Even from around 1822 it included several Irish business men. It was also the center of many ship building enterprises representing employment opportunities for the arriving Irish. In fact, James Young, ship builder, was a neighbor to Patrick Daly. Patrick Daly’s many "lease agreements" found in various notaire registers showed that he seemed to have a preference for renting rooms to the Irish, most merely listed as laborers.
The principle landing place for newly arriving Irish passengers was between Queen’s and McCallum’s wharves. This is right near the Market Place in Lower Town near the intersection of Champlain St. and Mountain St. It would have been a short walk from the landing place to either Thomas Murphy’s tavern at Irvine’s Wharf or Patrick Daly’s tavern at Pres de Ville. Perhaps they were sources of information to them for jobs in Pres de Ville and would tell them to contact their brother-in-law Andrew Murphy (Frampton first settler and Captain of the Militia) about settlement opportunities in Frampton.
Incidentally, one of the major properties in Pres de Ville was purchased in 1815 by Montreal brewer and steamboat operator John Molson. Some of the Frampton Irish laborers who lived in Pres de Ville may have been employed by him. So the next time you enjoy a Molson’s beer, you can think of this interesting connection to the Frampton Irish and the "Irishtown" of Pres de Ville.