Sordid Tale of the Steamer The Montreal

A group of immigrants arrived on the shores of Quebec aboard The John Mackenzie. It had sailed from Scotland, its passengers full of anticipation and excitement, the date June 26, 1857. The 250 passengers upon their arrival to Quebec City disembarked only to find their way onboard The Montreal, heading to the next stop on their journey, Montreal.

There were up to 300 passengers onboard The Montreal when a fire broke out near the boiler. The two lifeboats quickly filled and were swamped. With limited choices, people remained onboard as long as possible before jumping in the water, many ended up with severe burns. It is estimated 248 people died in the incident.

I came across information on The Montreal when researching a relative, Robert Andrew Jeffrey. Robert is mentioned in the newspaper as he helped in the recovery of the bodies. What an incredibly grim task.

The Montreal Herald And Daily Commercial Gazette, Thursday, July 9, 1857 col. 3 reported that

“…of the bodies recovered, one hundred and thirty have been picked up by a boatman named Robert Jeffery, who is well known to be a strictly honest man, and who went up to the wreck in the same Steamer as the Mayor, on the night of the occurrence; the remainder of the bodies have been recovered by Michel Barribeau, Joseph Belieau, and the Water Police.”

Reports following in the newspaper condemn the recovery of the bodies claiming thefts of the victim’s belongings as rampant. The Commercial Gazette’s article is defending the recovery process of the victims as other newspapers reported that

“Quebec is the head quarters of two sets of the greatest scoundrels and ruffians on the face of the earth, crimps and immigrant runners.”

and that “…crimps have been reaping a rich harvest by robbing the bodies of the dead”

The victims were mostly laid to rest in Quebec City.

A partial list of passengers was found here – List of passengers

More information on The Montreal can be found here – Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Robert A Jeffery The Montreal 1857

Clip of the article from the newspaper mentioned above

The newspaper was accessed through the BAnQ website where the full article can be found.



Quebec TipTypes

A photograph is a glimpse into the past

Amy Johnson Crow and her #52ancestor challenge have us picking a favorite image this week.

This is not an easy task because I have a wide range of photographs from various family lines. I decided to pick from the pictures I have of unknown people.

This image is a tintype, without a doubt I believe it was taken in Quebec because of the clothing. I have calculated the date of the image to be anywhere from 1870-1900. I cannot attribute it to any family members, but believe it is from the Norton or Jeffery families who lived in Montreal and Quebec City. The children are absolutely adorable.


Unknown family members, likely the Norton/Jeffery family who lived in Quebec City and Montreal.


I couldn’t help but add this picture, also a tintype. I believe it to be the same boy as in the above picture.

If you have a clue about who these children are or the dates of the tintypes I would love to hear from you.

John Alexander & George Jeffery

John Alexander Jeffery was the first-born son of Robert Jeffery & Elizabeth Tipper. They had him baptized at St. Gabriel’s Presbyterian church in Montreal on Dec. 7, 1818. There is little to be told about John, other than he died in Quebec City at the age of 21 years and is buried in an unknown location. The burial record wrongly states he was thirty years old when he died.

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 12.15.02 PM

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church 

Robert & Elizabeth’s son George was born in 1836 and died the following year at the age of 17 months.


Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 2.50.33 PM.png

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian CHurch, Quebec City


Two lives cut too short.

In Summary of the Jeffery children series:

Robert Jeffery & Elizabeth Tipper had a total of nine children, three passed away as young children and one as a young adult, I have not found a burial location for any of them, and even more strange is a burial location is still as of yet unknown for the parents.

In exploring my research for these posts I have:

  1. Added more documents to the family tree.
  2. Discovered/rediscovered the birth location for George Robertson husband of Elizabeth Jeffery.
  3. Found the marriage record for Elizabeth Tipper’s parents, which gave me her mother’s maiden name. (it has been ages since I added information on my direct line so a very happy day)
  4. Helped to highlight the census records I am still missing for family members.

Spellings I have come across for this surname – Jeffery, Jeffrey, Jefferey, Jaffary, Jaffray, Jaffery, Jefferies, Jeffries and so on. I chose to use the spelling Jeffery in writing this series for unity in my posts.

Writing this series has been a great way to review my research and help me to pinpoint what records I am lacking for the family and also a way to delve a little deeper into the lives of the Jeffery family members.

If you connect or suspect you connect to this Jeffery family do not hesitate to write me and let me know. I would love to find a cousin to collaborate with!

Robert Andrew Jeffery

Robert Jeffery lived until he was 69 years old, and during his lifetime he was married three times and had twenty children.

Robert was one of three sons born to Robert Jeffery and Elizabeth Tipper, he was the only one to have children, and have them he did.

Robert’s first marriage was to Delphine Guenet at Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City. A Catholic marriage meant a change for the Scottish Presbyterian Jeffery family. Dephine gave Robert five children, only three survived infancy. Delphine died in 1855 and Robert married again.

His next wife was Sara Duclos, they signed a marriage contract in May of 1856. Their marriage took place in the Catholic Church in Lévis, Quebec. Six children were born to the couple with only four that survived infancy.

In 1862 tragedy struck the family, when son Antoine drowned. I wonder if Joseph Dube who also died from drowning was with Antoine on that sad day. Antoine was Robert’s son from his first marriage.

JEFFERY, Antoine obit The Morning Chronicle Jul 5 1862 p2.JPG

The Morning Chronicle Jul 5 1862 p2

There are a few mentions of Robert in the Quebec Gazette, which is useful in understanding his financial situation. The description below mentions where his land was located. The second clipping from the Quebec Gazette is a judgement against him and sale of his land.

JEFFERY, Robert - location mentioned

A lot of land next to Robert Jeffery’s for sale found in the Quebec Gazette, 9 Dec 1871

JEFFERY, Robert A. Quebec Gazette

city  Robert Jeffery, Quebec Gazette 7 Dec 1878.

Sara Duclos Jeffery died in 1872 leaving Robert with seven children. In the space of a couple of months, Robert marries his third bride, Odile Brousseau. Together they had nine children and I have found that two of their children died at a young age. This would mean in 1886 when their last child was born Robert potentially had fourteen children living, likely his oldest children had moved on to households of their own. When Robert’s last child was born he was 59 years old!

In his lifetime Robert was a boatman, but I am not sure in what capacity. I picture him shipping product for merchants between Quebec City and Lévis but I am unsure at this point if that was the nature of his work.

There are numerous Notary records referring to Robert, many of the documents refer to business deals, leases and sales. I did find one Notary record dated 1873 (in English) in which Robert promises his sons Francois-Xavier, George & Robert Andrew that the deed he is signing will be ratified when they come of age. I am sure more treasures will be found when I focus on this area of my research.

Robert died at the age of 69 in 1897 and is buried in Beechwood Cemetery, Quebec.

JEFFERY, Robert A obit 4 June 1897 Morning Chronicle

Quebec Morning Chronicle 4 June 1897

JEFFERY, Robert A obit 2

Obituary for Robert Jeffery

Many of Robert’s children left Quebec and settled in, Maine, Massachusetts and other locations in the USA.

* I have to give credit to Dr. William Arthur Jeffrey who did extensive Jeffery research in the 1970s. Arthur was a descendant of Robert and his third wife Odile through their eldest son Arthur Theophile Jeffery. I did not have the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jeffrey as he passed away before I had an opportunity but someone shared his research with me. His research was my starting point of my genealogy research on the Jeffery family. Dr. William Arthur Jeffery’s memorial on Find-A-Grave

More reading on Robert Andrew Jeffery’s sisters can be found following these links – Caroline, Margaret, Hannah, Elizabeth, Mary Anne, Harriet & Julia Heathfield





Violence in 1840 – A Fearless Female

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out? Blog prompt from Lisa Alzo.

March 19, 1840 is the day my 41-year-old great, great grandmother Elizabeth Tipper laid charges against her attacker. Her attacker was a 5’7” dark-complected man who physically attacked and threatened her life.

March 19, 2015 marks 175 years since that day. The harsh reality of discovering this information was a shock; I had no idea of the horrors that her and her children went through. You see her attacker was her husband. Domestic violence is in my family tree.

I am not sure how often women had the confidence to stand up to their husbands in 1840 or are listened to; Elizabeth did just that. They listened

Elizabeth & Robert Jeffrey married in St. Andrew’s Church, on February 2, 1818 in Quebec City. Robert was a Scottish immigrant to Canada, a stone mason by trade. Children started arriving soon after, first a son John and then daughter Mary both born in Montreal. Mary died the following year, but children continued to arrive until Elizabeth had given birth to nine, with six surviving infancy. Being a Mason, Robert and his family went where there was work, Montreal back to Quebec City and in 1832, St. Etienne de Beauce. Robert signed a contract to build a mill for George Pozer. This answers the question, as to where my great grandmother received her name Hannah Pozer Jeffrey. With the building finished the family travelled back to Quebec City.

The evening of March 19th, 1840 was the last straw for Elizabeth. She took a step that she had avoided till now and went to the police filing a complaint. Was my great grandmother Hannah a witness to this? My daughter Jordan is eight, the same age Hannah was when the events unfolded. Did Hannah hear her dad say to her mom, “…death was waiting for her…” How many times had Hannah heard that? What else had she witnessed her father do? Not being the first time that he had attacked her mother. According to the police report her father had “been in the frequent habit of beating and ill-using…” her mother.

Forgiveness granted, as is so often the case in domestic violence situations. Elizabeth is hoping that Robert is a changed man, and that bringing the charges against him worked, that he won’t do it again. She reconciled with Robert and their last child Julia Heathfield Jeffrey arrives in 1842. The story is not over though, Robert doesn’t change, things do not go well for Elizabeth.

Less than a year later she had him arrested again, and he served a month in prison this time.

Elizabeth finally stopped forgiving Robert, in the 1851 census she is living with her daughter Elizabeth in Quebec City, and Robert is gone. Elizabeth passes away two years later at the age of 54 “after a lingering illness of eight months, which she bore with becoming resignation”.

Quebec Mercury April 12, 1853

Quebec Mercury
April 12, 1853

Elizabeth (Tipper) Jeffrey, may be one of my most Fearless Female. This white ribbon is for her.

ribbon_japan [Converted]

*I am very thankful to Elizabeth LaPointe for researching the prison records and to the BanQ Quebec Archives for their on-line databases but in this case specifically for Inmates in the Prison of Quebec 19th century.