Joseph Carley 1772 from Wexford Ireland

I could not find a direct connection to this family yet, but I found so many interesting facts in this family’s history that parrallels mine. This family comes from Wexford, Ireland near Carleybrige and moves to Elizabethtown (Brockville) where one of my family members Colonel Bartholomew Carley, was one of the early pioneers of that town.


Joseph Carley

Born: 23 April 1772 in Cornwall, Co. Wexford, Ireland

Died: 5 April 1865 near Lyndhurst, Ontario

Occupation: Shipwright

Religion: Anglican

Elizabeth Free

Born: 12 February 1779 in County Wicklow, Ireland

Died: 9 May 1870 Near Lyndhurst, Ontario

Buried in the grave yard of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, New Dublin, Ontario (formerly Christ Church, Lamb’s Pond).

Note: The name “Free” is the name given on a marriage license issued in 1802 in the Parish of Killurin. Unfortunately, no family record discovered to date includes the family name of Joseph’s wife.


Leonard 3 October 1802 – January 1852

William 13 October 1804 – 13 February 1854

Martha 16 November 1806 – 4 December 1874

Anne 23 December 1808 7 – May 1873

Mary 7 May 1811 8 – June 1811

John 29 September 1812 – 25 October 1843

Elizabeth 15 August – 1815 1879

Thomas 3 September – 1818 5 November 1897

Joseph 28 August 1821 – 31 July 1902

Walter 23 April 1824 – 1905

Ruth 24 March 1827 – 25 November 1890

Joseph, his wife Elizabeth and children Leonard, William, Martha and John are buried in New Dublin


The Village of Cornwall is situated below Enniscorthy and about 12 miles n.w. of Wexford, an ancient town on the Irish sea. The River Slaney enters Wexford County from the north and flows southward through Enniscorthy, at which point navigation is possible for barges of large size. In the times past the river offered opportunities for shipping and hence also for shipwrights.

Wexford County was one of the earliest English settlements in Ireland. In the time of James I (about 1603) a system of “plantations” was set up to quell the rebellious Irish. Protestants loyal to the Crown and the Church of England were sent to live among the native Catholic population.

Edward MacLysagnt in The Surnames of Ireland states that “Carley is an English name long established in County Wexford”. He adds that there is a place named “Carleysbridge” in that county. The Gaelic equivalents for (Mac)Carley are: MacFhearghaille, MacCarrelly, MacCarley, MacKearly, MacErrelly, MacKyrrelly, MacErril, MacKerlie, Carrolly, Carley, Kerley, Kirley.

There was a lengthy period during which the Anglo-Irish minority lived at peace with their neighbors. The Chronicles of Enniscorthy record that on June 24, 1768, George Carly was made a freeman of the town. This allowed him such privileges as operating a business, voting and paying taxes. No family connection with George Carly is known but it may be assumed that other members of the Carley family met with similar success in the same period. In the 1790’s Napoleon occupied England’s attention and the Irish tried a new revolt. Wexford men went out to do battle. Napoleon promised to send them help but a storm at sea forced him to recall his ships. The rebellion culminated in the Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1798. Skirmishes continued and in a few weeks 30,000 had been killed. What began as a political battle of Irish against English ended in a series of confused encounters between Irish Catholic and Protestant. It is against this background that one must see the marriage of Joseph Carley and Elizabeth Free* in 1802. At the time of his marriage Joseph was 30 years old. He could hardly have escaped the effects of the turmoil around him. Service in the militia was compulsory. There is a story told by the family of Joseph Leonard b. 1833 that “the Carley’s house was burned down and they had to hide in the fields”. In 1821 there was a serious famine in southern Ireland, as bad as those to come in the 1840’s. Emigration from Wexford County increased rapidly. Many of the emigrants headed for Canada and especially the area near Brockville, Ontario.


The First Ontario land record for Joseph b. 1772 is dated 1831. A story persists, however, that the family, or some of them, emigrated before that date. Foster Carley says his father told him that they came over when his grandfather was two years old, i.e. 1823. There are no written records (as far as is known) that can be used to verify this. It is, however, possible that the older sons, Leonard and William, came to Canada with other emigrants from Wexford to explore the land and prepare the way for the family.

The Carleys emigrated before the cholera epidemic of 1832 and were spared the horrors of that experience. A story persists that they came in their own boat. There is usually some truth in such family “legends” and the story cannot be dismissed out of hand. It is not likely that they owned a ocean-going vessel, although they might have had some influence with a captain or owner in Ireland. On landing at Quebec they would probably change to a smaller boat. At Montreal they would be obliged to change because of the Lachine rapids. If they had built barges on the Slaney, the prospect of building their own boat for use on the St. Lawrence would not daunt them. There were over 58,000 emigrants to Canada in 1831; some of them would have to wait a considerable time for transportation upriver. The Carleys could have built a “batteau” large enough for their own family group and had it hauled up by steamer or other means. All of this is speculative, of course, and impossible at this date to verify.

They sailed from Cork, probably in the spring of 1831, and their first purchase of land was in Elizabethtown Township where many families from Wexford chose to settle.


The Carley farm was situated about six miles north-west of Brockville at a site known today as Glen Buell. Two or three miles east on a connecting side road lies the settlement known as New Dublin.

Assessment records exist for Elizabethtown Township from the time of earliest settlement. In 1832 they show the following

under the name Joseph Carley (owner’s name only is given):

Lot 31, Concession 7

195 acres 20 cultivated

175 uncultivated

2 horses

2 oxen

3 milch cows

2 horned cattle

number in family: eleven

4 males over 16 (Jos. Sr., Leonard, William, John)

3 males under 16 (Thomas, Jos. Jr., Walter)

2 females over 16 (Elizabeth Sr., Anne)

2 females under 16 (Elizabeth Jr., Ruth)

The column showing type of house is not filled in. Tax on an assessment of 88 pounds: 4 pounds, 10 1/2 pence. Neighbors in the area include Henry Berry, John Green, John Simmons, Rice Free, Reuben Mott. An article in Ontario History (December, 1971) describes settlers in nearby concessions as being members of the Irish Yeomanry who fought on the Loyalist side in 1798 and received grants of land in Elizabethtown in return.

In 1833 Joseph purchased the rear of Lot 16/4 (80 acres) and his assessment rose to 110 pounds. In 1836 he added Lot 30/8

(20 acres) and Lot 29/6 (50 acres). In 1839 he sold the 80 acres in Concession to Henry Berry. At the same time he was purchasing land for his sons and giving gold as dowry to his daughters.

The number of animals varies from year to year and the total in family diminishes as marriages take place. By 1845 the total in family is five. The 50 acres in Concession 6 were sold in that year. A wagon appears on the list for 1847 and a “wagon kept for pleasure” in 1850. In the final year (1851) assessment is 140 pounds, 8s. The family was still not rich (compare assessment Reuben Earl 365 pounds). But the property in Concession 8 and the “home” farm in Concession 7 were sold for more than 600 pounds. They were not poor either.

In 1852 Joseph and Elizabeth moved to Leeds Township and finished out their days at the homes of their daughters Anne and Elizabeth. They attained the age of 93 and 91 years, respectively.


Born October 13, 1804

Died February 13, 1854

Farmed the land on Lot 2, Concession 6, Leeds Twp., Leeds Co., Ontario near Seeley’s Bay on what was know as the “Big Hill” south of the village.

Married on November 16, 1840 to Ann Townsend * by clergyman Rev. Robert Garry a Wesleyan Methodist. William and Ann had one son, Joseph Thomas Carley, Born in 1842 or 1843. Ann died in 1843.

Married Elizabeth Dormand on April 25, 1844 at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard and Mary Dormand (variously spelled Dormond, Dorman). She was born on March 12, 1825 and was baptized at Wiltse (near Athens) on 28 May, 1826, by John Wenham.

Elizabeth Dormand Carley was a traditional pioneer wife and frontierswoman. She was a crack shot with an American musket, able to kill deer; she chased wolves with firebrands. There was excellent hunting and fishing in Leeds Township and many of the early settlers took full advantage of it.

William and Elizabeth had four children;

Leonard (1845-1897

Elizabeth (1847-1894)

Mary (1851- )

William (1853-1920)

Elizabeth outlived William by five years. She died April 10 1859. In the years following, the two eldest sons, Joseph T. and Leonard, appear to have fended for themselves with the aid of friends or neighbors. The youngest son, William, was taken to live with Aunt Anne Green. Elizabeth went to live with Thomas Foxton and his wife who had two young children. There is no record of Mary.

The next few years were probably difficult for all of William’s children. In 1869 a letter of guardianship was drawn up authorizing William’s brother Joseph to act as guardian to Elizabeth, Mary and William. However, by 1871 all three had returned to the home of Anne Green. By 1875 or so all were married and setting up homes of their own.

Leonard Carley

Leonard married Susan (Susannah) Rich* in 1868. Both of Leonard’s parents had died by the time he was 14 years old. He worked as a sailor on the St. Lawrence River before his marriage. He and Susan lived in the old log house (later the sugar house) on the farm of William b. 1804. Their first four children were born between 1869 and 1876.

In the 1871 census the household consists of Leonard age 25, Susan age 20, William age 2 and Sarah Gainford, who is listed as servant, age 25. Sarah was a neighbor and friend who was probably on hand to attend the birth of baby Thomas. Leonard, Susan and their four sons left for U.S.A. in 1876. They followed Trayton Rich, then a widower, who had moved into Sanilac County, Michigan, to lumber the white pine forests. They built roads of logs, traveled long distances on foot and carried the supplies they needed on their backs. Their first daughter, Elsie, was born in Custer Township, Sanilac Co. in 1880. After severe forest fires in 1880 and 1881, the lumbering was destroyed and they turned to farming.

Leonard was active in getting the local school started and was on the school board; he was fairly well educated for that day. He also helped to start the Methodist church across the road from the farm. Four sons were born between 1883 and 1893, the last two being twins.

After Leonard’s death, Susan carried on the farm. About 1909 she sold the property with the big farmhouse and barn on it and moved to Flint, Michigan with Thomas and the three youngest sons. She died in 1923.

Leonard and Susan had 9 children:

William Edmund Aug 1869 – Mar 1953 Barber

Thomas E. 1871 – 1924 Carpenter

Albert Edward October 1872 – 1961 Carpenter-Contractor

Alvanley Apr. 1876 – 1949 Farmer-Bridge Builder

Elsie Carley Hill March 1880 – Feb. 1959

Leonard 1883 – 1948 Lumbering, General store

George Herbert 1887 – 1953

Alton Feb. 1893 – 1957 Factory worker-salesman

Clarence Feb 1893 – 1974 Factory worker-salesman

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