My ancestor, Thomas Kirby is believed to have been born in Quebec in 1838, at some point he and or his family moved to Kirby, Ontario where he married Elizabeth A Tremaine. I can't find any birth records or record of his family at all. Suggestions, ideas?

I had found on Familysearch.org an 1871 census which has him listed as 33yrs old at the time of census and his birthplace listed as Quebec. It listed my great grandmother as his child (Emma Jane Kirby) and their religion as Bible Christian. Their place of residence at that time is listed as being in Durham county, Oshawa south.

I had also used the free search today on Ancestry and found a Thomas Kirby who listed his employment as housepainter. On that census though he listed his birthplace as Ontario (though he did list his parents as being born in England). This was in an 1891 census for Ontario and it had them listed as living in Bowmanville Ontario. So I'm a bit confused as to the records and how to figure out which is fact. My dad said his mom wouldn't talk much about her family so he doesn't know enough about any of them to confirm or deny any of what I have found.

  • 2
    Hi Kristine, welcome. You say you can't find any record of his family, but you must have something to know he was born in Quebec in 1838. Could you please include details of any records you have that show where and when he was born, otherwise we are probably just going to tell you things you already know. It would also be useful for you to include a reference to his marriage record, since that is the earliest record you have. Basically, the more details you add, the better answer you'll get.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 15:33
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    I've just added your comments to the main part of the question – in future you can add information to your questions using the edit button right below the post. Don't be alarmed if these comments get removed now that the information is in the main post.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 17:56

1 Answer 1


I see that when Thomas and Elizabeth married in Ontario in 1860, Thomas was residing in Oshawa and Elizabeth in Whitby.

Therefore, this looks to be a likely bet for them on the 1861 census of Canada (image available on Ancestry.ca). East Whitby, Ontario, Canada West (roll C-1058-1059, p 4):

Charles Kirby, Labourer, b. England, W[esleyan] M[ethodist], age 55, married
Mary A. Kirby, b. England, WM, 51, married
John H. Kirby, Painter, b. England, WM, 29, married
Huldy Kirby, b. U[pper] Canada, WM, 25, married
George Kirby, b. U Canada, WM, 2
Thomas Kirby, Painter, b. U Canada, married during the year, WM, 23, married
Elizabeth F. Kirby, b. England, married during the year, WM, 25, married
Charles Kirby, Weaver, b. U Canada, WM, 18
Joseph Kirby, Weaver, b. U Canada, WM, 16
William Kirby, b. U Canada, WM, 14
Daniel Kirby, b. U Canada, WM, 11

And then on the 1851 census of Canada: Whitby, Ontario, Canada West (roll C_11742, p 41):

Chas. Kirby, ..., b. England, No Religion, age 44, married
Mary Kirby, b. England, No Religion, 40, married
Nancy Lacant, b. England, No Religion, residence Uxbridge, 23, married
Jane Kirby, b. England, No Religion, 16, single
Thos. Kirby, Labourer, b. U[pper] C[anada], No Religion, 14, single
Chas. Kirby, b. UC, No Religion, 10, single
Joseph Kirby, b. UC, No Religion, 9, single
Wm. Kirby, b. UC, No Religion, 6, single
Daniel Kirby, b. UC, No Religion, 2, single
Susanna Lancount, b. UC, No Religion, residence Uxbridge, 2, single
Chas. Lacount, b. UC, No Religion, residence Uxbridge, 1, single

You can see in 1851 and 1861 it says he was born in Upper Canada, which included much of southern Ontario. Quebec was in Lower Canada, so that may just be a mistake on the 1871 census.

A search of Bill Martin's Wesleyan Methodist baptism index shows several Kirbys, including Thomas's next youngest brother:
bap. 27 Jan 1842 at Gananoque, Leeds Twp., Johnstown: Charles Kirbey, s. of Charles & Mary Ann, b. 26 Jan 1842 at Gananoque.

So this places the family in Gananoque in 1842. On a quick search I have been unable to locate a birth or baptism record for Thomas.

It appears Charles had a military background – it may be him in lists of the 4th Batallion Incorporated Militia. This may be why they ended up in Canada. There are many avenues of research to pursue here, and it will help you better determine where the family was in 1838. Start by taking a look at Canada, British Army and Canadian Militia Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, 1795-1850.

The next step would be tracing when and why the family immigrated from England to Canada. It must have been just before Thomas's birth – about 1837 – since his sister Jane was apparently born in England.

It is relatively straightforward to trace Charles and Mary back in England, but that's beyond the scope of this question. Investigate the various marriages and deaths of Thomas's siblings – many of them include Mary's maiden name. You need to fill in some other gaps first, but when you get to that point I'll suggest you start your search Allerthorpe, Yorkshire, England.

  • wow, thanks! I had wondered about some of the information. Now I have a direction to dig in :) Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 16:54

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