Is Charles Mason a Genealogical Connection?

John Mason and Mary Hislop's Headstone in Donegal Cemetery
John Mason and Mary Hislop’s Headstone in Donegal Cemetery

It was a gorgeous fall day here in Southwestern Ontario. I was spending time with my parents and we thought it would be a perfect day to roam the countryside visiting cemeteries for genealogical pleasure. We had always talked about going to Donegal to visit the graves of the Mason’s that brought my mother’s family from Scotland to Canada.  Today we were going to do it.

John Mason is a dead-end for me.  I know he was born in Scotland but I have no record or mention of parents or siblings.  I know he had 4 children but have only ties to the line that is mine directly.  Where are the other Masons’?  For a long time, I couldn’t find Charles, John’s oldest son.  There was a Charles Mason buried in Donegal, ON but dates didn’t match up.  I did eventually find Charles in Manitoba.  He had started his own adventure, a story for another time.

At Donegal today, I got to see John’s and his wife, Mary’s, grave stone.  I could read it.  The original picture I have of the stone is taken too far away for me to make out the inscription.  Standing in front of it in person though, I could see that it read “John Mason – a Native of Co of Haddington, Scotland”.  I knew that already from the records I had gathered.  Stepping back to the next row, I could read the stone for Charles Mason.  This would be the Charles Mason that I had already ruled out as a connection because the dates didn’t match.  Interesting though, he was also listed as a native to Haddington County, Scotland.  This got me thinking.  Could he still be a connection?  He was the only other Mason in close proximity to John and Mary in the cemetery and his stone was with their’s.  The dates would suggest perhaps John and Charles were brothers.  I pondered this because in the extensive search that I had done for John Mason in Haddington (or East Lothian), Scotland only yielded a few results for any Mason in that area at that time so for there to be a Charles “Mason” coming from the same county in the same time period was striking.

Charles Mason's Headstone in Donegal Cemetery
Charles Mason’s Headstone in Donegal Cemetery

Not wanting to let this go and not sure where to go for answers at the current time (my normal work life leaves little time for extracurricular research in the fall), I thought I would plug this new connection into Ancestry.com to see if it might generate hints that could confirm the connection.  Being so I am only inferring my own hypothesis on how Charles Mason may fit into the picture, I included the following disclaimer to anyone who may find it in my online family tree:

“The relation indicated for this Charles Mason is not 100% confirmed.  There are not any documents that I have found to show a definitive sibling relationship between Charles and John Mason.  The relationship is inferred based on the fact that they both come from Haddington in Scotland, they show up separately in Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland at the same time and Charles is listed with John’s family in the 1861 Canadian census.  I am suggesting that perhaps they are brothers but because they are 10 years apart, they do not show up together in the same establishment but did live in proximity to each other.  Both boys show up as farm labourers at 15 years of age.  I’ve imputed Charles into my family tree to see if there might be hints generated that might shed more light onto either Mason that might connect them definitively”.

I shall report any updates should I unveil more.  Stay tuned…

Scottish Heritage

Scottish Heritage
Scottish Heritage

I’ve known from an early age that I had strong English roots on my mother’s side. Her mother’s father was from Kent, England and her mother’s grandmother was an orphan that came from England as a British Home Child. And up until 2 years ago, I assumed that Mason, my mother’s father’s name, was English too. I’ve always identified with my English heritage. I chose to go on a study-semester to London, England during my 3rd year in university to immerse myself in the world my ancestors walked. Although it was incredible and I could feel the energy of my forefathers amongst me, it was a weekend trip to Scotland that caught my attention. I felt connected to the people, the landscapes, the atmosphere.  I was drawn to Scotland.

Turns out, the Mason’s that my family’s ancestry comes from, is from Scotland.  I was a bit surprised but pleased.  Perhaps this could explain the strong connection I felt when visiting there.  From what I have uncovered through Ancestry.com, my 3 X great-grandfather, John Mason, came from Dunbar, Scotland.  There were several John Mason’s as one can imagine so I hope that I have the correct one.  The one that I have been following is listed in the 1841 Scottish census as having an address of Little Pinkerton, Dunbar, Scotland.  I’ve looked it up and it seems to be a small settlement close to the East Coast of Scotland and East of Edinburgh.  Records show that he married Mary Hislop in 1846 in Ancrum, Scotland and they had 4 children beginning in 1847 when John was 22.  Their first son was Charles, second Walter, a girl Christina and the youngest, William born in February, 1856.  It looks as though they began their trek to Canada only weeks after William was born.  The family shows up on the passenger list for the ship, Ontario, that departed from Liverpool and arrived in New York on May 21, 1856.  Sadly, William is indicated as having died during the journey.

John and his family settled in Perth County, Ontario in the Township of Elma.  He was a farmer.  Many of my ancestors were farmers.  He is buried in Donegal cemetery in Perth county having lived a short life of 40 years.  I wonder why his life was cut short?  I have travelled through Donegal in the past completely oblivious to the fact that I am a direct descendant of someone who used to breathe the air there.  I have got to get there to do some research and just be present.  I’d also like to be able to get further back into the lifeline of John Mason from Dunbar, Scotland because the Mason name has some rich history and I have a feeling there is more to learn.