by Marjorie Goodfellow

My great, great grandfather Robert Goodfellow emigrated from Scotland about 1820. As yet, no record of embarkation or debarkation has been found. Why did he come? It is assumed that he landed in Quebec, but that is not proven. With whom did he come? Was his emigration assisted in any way? Some answers to these questions will be suggested below while others are still to be investigated.

Robert’s birth record has not been found but the names of two of his siblings indicate that he is the son of Robert Goodfellow and Helen Lies. His reported age at death suggests a birth date of 1793 and that, too, fits into the order of their offspring. Robert Goodfellow’s wife, Janet Thomson, was a native of Innerleithen, according to her tombstone. There is a record of Janet, born January 5, 1792 in Innerleithen to John Thomson and Janet Pow; this is our Janet.

Robert’s name does not appear in an 1819 census of Valcartier taken by Messrs. Stuart and Neilson, proprietors of the land at Valcartier, but he was there on April 3, 1821, when he signed a lease renting a sawmill property in Valcartier, complete with house, from John Neilson. According to the lease, he was to have possession by May 1st. On May 29, Robert signed a petition addressed to the Commissioners of the Jesuit Estates requesting a lot of land for himself and for each of his two brothers, William and Andrew, in the 5th concession of the undeveloped part of the Seigniory of St. Gabriel. From these facts, I assume that Robert emigrated in 1819 or 1820, worked somewhere, possibly in Quebec City, until the Spring of 1821, earning some money and at the same time looking around for prospects. He and Janet must have been in Quebec when their child was born in March 1821 and so they might have arrived during the shipping season of 1820.

Family tradition says that seven brothers came to Canada together “on a sailing ship”. Who were they? Where did they settle? Did any sisters come also?

I have found the emigration from Roxburghshire to Canada of the Goodfellows listed below at approximately the appropriate time.  This goes some way to confirming the family tradition, adjusting it to include cousins. In any case, several Goodfellows – brothers or cousins – emigrated, singly or with families, during a five-year period, but not on the same ship! Let us count Robert as number one in the series.

2. William Goodfellow, born in 1787 to Robert Goodfellow and Helen Lies, appears in Valcartier with Robert, at least for a time. He lived in Valcartier, as is stated in document number 278 of notary Vaillancourt’s files which records his purchase from John Neilson and Andrew Stuart of the northwesterly ½ of Lot 5 and the southeasterly ½ of Lot 6 at Lake St. Jacques situated in the fief of St. Ignace in the parish of St. Ambroise on September 23, 1823. (Robert signed a similar document – no. 279 – on the same day.) He signed another legal document as a resident of Valcartier in 1827. It appears that he did not have a family or at least none in Canada. He left the region at an unknown date and established a farm in Monaghan township, Peterborough County where he died on August 26, 1848. In 1845, he sold his Valcartier land to Robert. 

3. Andrew Goodfellow was born about 1794 in Roxburghshire to Robert Goodfellow and Helen Lies. He married Isobel Young in Lilliesleaf on February 14, 1818. The records of their first three children, Robert (August 27, 1819), William (May 26, 1821) and Archibald (June 9, 1823), all born in Lilliesleaf, indicates a later arrival in Canada for them. Information about later children – Elspeth (December 13, 1825), James (May 3, 1827), Andrew (February 25, 1831), George (June 26, 1834), Jane (August 10, 1840) and Ellen (birth date unknown) – was provided by Keith Goodfellow of Peterborough. Andrew died on October 26, 1852 in Monaghan township.

4. James Goodfellow (born to William Goodfellow and Agnes Simson on February 13, 1778 at Bowden, Roxburghshire), together with his wife, Margaret Hay, and children, Adam, William, Christian, Mary, Margaret, and Agnes, came from Roxburghshire and settled in Albion Township, Upper Canada, in 1820.   The Upper Canada Land Records show that James was assigned the west half of Lot no. 4 in the 6th concession, Township of Albion, County of York, in the Home District in 1819.

As for James’ children who were born in Scotland, I found the births of Adam (16 November 1810), Christian (15 August 1812), and Mary (17 October 1814) all registered in the Eckford OPR with James Goodfellow, millar in Ormiston, and his wife Margaret Hay given as the parents. Other children’s names supplied to me by Helen Parr Goodfellow are William (born ca. 1811), Margaret (born ca. 1816), Agnes (born ca. 1820) and James (born ca. 1824).

5. John Goodfellow, born in Roxburghshire, came to Simcoe County to take up land, bringing with him his mother, Agnes Simson, widow of William Goodfellow, and at least one child from his first marriage. Mrs. Agnes Simson Goodfellow died in Upper Canada on June 27, 1827, aged 84. Margaret Goodfellow Baker’s research shows John, who married for the second time in Canada to Catherine Tivy, had another eleven children. Upper Canada Land Records include a petition for land signed at York, June 16, 1819 by one John Goodfellow who stated that he was born in the County of Roxburgh and that his age was 26.

6. Adam Goodfellow, brother of the above John and James and husband of Janet McKenzie, also settled in Simcoe County. In the Ancrum records (OPR 780/3), I found the proclamation of the marriage of this couple on 24 June 1810. I did not discover any children born to them in Scotland. Margaret Goodfellow Baker has supplied the names of three children: John, Jessie and James.

There is apocryphal information about a possible seventh. Apparently, he set out with one or more of the others and when the ship stopped at an Irish port, decided to disembark. He made a life for himself in Ireland and members of the next generation, emigrated to Canada and established themselves in Quebec. If true, who could this be?

As well, I have found traces of women named Goodfellow of an age to be connected to us in the Quebec City census returns. One of them, Jane Goodfellow, married Charles Timmony and raised a family in the Sillery area. However, I have not been able to make the links.

The Roxburghshire roots of all six men above are to be found in Bowden parish records. From the writings of others, it seems unlikely that there is any contemporary connection between them and what we will call the “Hawick” group. The constant use of given names such as Robert and William makes the unravelling difficult unless one sticks to the Bowden parish. Then, it becomes clearer and the Scottish naming pattern tradition helps.

Robert, who married Helen Lies on June 17, 1782 in Selkirk, was probably born to James Goodfellow on April 12, 1747 in Ancrum; his mother’s name is not mentioned in the baptismal record. Robert and Helen were married on June 17, 1782 in Selkirk. Their firstborn son, James, born in Lilliesleaf on February 3, 1783 was named after his paternal grandfather, as was the Scottish tradition. His future remains a mystery. The other children are as follows. Thomas, born November 2, 1785, stayed in Scotland and married Isabella Renwick. William appears above. John was born about 1788; I have no further information about him. My Robert comes next and then Andrew, above. Helen was born on October, 1795 and married John Turnbull on July 22, 1825 in Bowden parish. Margaret was born in 1799 and married George Turnbull on January 12, 1822 in Lilliesleaf. The last, as far as I know, was George, born April 5, 1800 in Lilliesleaf. Did James, John, Helen, Margaret or George also come to Canada, with or without families? Perhaps.

Helen Lies Goodfellow came to Canada and joined her Monaghan township sons. It is probable that her husband, Robert, died before she emigrated. Helen died in Monaghan on November 16, 1837.

William Goodfellow and Mary Bone, residing in Midlem, Bowden Parish, had the following children,  James (born 1738 in Selkirk County), William (born June 30, 1743 and husband of Agnes Simson), John, (born November 18, 1750) and Adam (born May 23 and baptised August 8, 1753). All but James were registered in the Bowden OPR. 

William, husband of Mary Bone, was probably the son of James Goodfellow, in the parish of Selkirk, and Marrion Turner, in Bowden parish, who were married in Bowden on June 24, 1712. Their children, all of whom were baptised in Bowden parish, are William (born March 21, 1714), Jennet (born August 21, 1715), Margaret, (born November 17, 1717), Marion (born February 8, 1719), John (born August 12, 1722), and James (born November 4, 1723). In 1723, the father, James, is stated to be residing in Midlem.

The connection between the immigrant ancestors of Marjorie Goodfellow and Margaret Goodfellow Baker is probably through James and Marrion Turner. Some relationship is certain: an exchange of photographs shows a startling resemblance between Ward Goodfellow, Margaret’s father, and Edgar Goodfellow, Marjorie’s father, as well as between Margaret’s aunt, Isabel Goodfellow Jacks and Marjorie’s aunt, Hilda Goodfellow Walters. Other features, such as recessive ear lobes, seem to appear in both families and their present day descendants.

In addition to research in Scotland at Edinburgh’s genealogical resources, I corresponded with many people. Helen Parr Goodfellow, Bolton, gave me the first clues in 1975. Margaret Goodfellow Baker had done research on her line and generously passed it on to me. Keith Goodfellow, Peterborough, did the same for his ancestors. Diana Gendron cast a critical eye over my attempts to constitute family groups. I am grateful to them all.

Article published on this website with the permission of the author.  It was originally published in the “Connections” Journal of the Quebec Family History Society, Spring 2015, Volume 37, Issue #2, p.6