I am trying to fill out the timeline of tailor George Hindley, his wife Ann/Hannah Drake, and their family between 1841 and 1847.

A rough timeline of the family can be seen by putting some of the collected historical records that are likely to belong to the family in chronological order:

  • about 1818 According to Hannah's entry in the Williamstown, Massachusetts town records (see below) she was born in Sheffield, England, the daughter of Jonathan Drake. (Birth date estimated by FamilySearch website.)
  • about 1819 According to George Hindley's entry in the Massachusetts town records (see below), he was born in Sheffield and his father's name was Samuel (no mother's name is given, and the field for the birthplace of his parents is blank). (Birth date estimated by FamilySearch website.)
  • 6 June 1841 an Ann Drake and a George Hindley are enumerated in the same 1841 Census household on Bailey Street in Sheffield (HO107/1338/4/23/2); Ann is from Yorkshire; George (tailor) is Not from the County
  • August 1841 from MARRIAGES in Sheffield Independent, 14 August 1841, page 5:

On Sunday last, at Upper Chapel, by the Rev. B. T. Stannus, Mr. George Hindley, tailor, to Miss Hannah Drake. (I do not have the records from the non-conformist church register yet.)

This is consistent with the Q3 Marriage Registration for George and Hannah in SHEFFIELD Registration district Volume 22 Page 448 (the marriage estimated to be between late June - September of 1841). The GRO certificate records a marriage which took place at Upper Chapel on 8th Aug 1841, solemnized by B.T. Stannus. It says George Hindley, tailor, of full age, is the son of Samuel Hindley, shoemaker. George's residence at time of marriage is Rockingham Street. Hannah Drake, of full age, daughter of Jonathan Drake, Joiner (?), residence at the time of marriage is Broad Lane. Witnesses are J. Bridgeford and May Butler; the registrar is Benjamin Kidmore. (I have not identified the witnesses or their relation to the couple.)

  • 1844 5 Feb eldest son Samuel is born in Toronto, Canada (at the time, part of York County), according to Samuel's 1884 Naturalization petition or "second papers" from the Superior Court at Pittsfield Massachusetts in Berkshire County.

  • 1845 Probable date of entry of the family to the United States. Samuel's Petition for Naturalization asserts that he arrived in North Adams in 1845. While the area has been settled since 1745, North Adams was not incorporated under that name until 1878 (it was previously the northern part of the city of Adams). Williamstown is to the west.

  • 1846 (calculated) Albany, New York: birth of daughter Mary Jane (date from Williamstown, Massachusetts town records, from her 1904 marriage to her second husband, Charles E. Ormsbee); her 1900 Census record gives her birthdate as Jan 1846 but lists her birthplace as Massachusetts

  • 1850 The family is enumerated in Adams, Berkshire County, in the US Federal Census

  • 1855 The family is enumerated in Williamstown, Berkshire County, in the Massachusetts State Census.

  • 1856 30 Jun Hannah (Drake) Hindley entry no 23, Deaths Registered in Williamstown aged 38 years 2 months (no days recorded).

  • Another important waypoint for the timeline is July 1, 1867, the date for Canadian Confederation -- well after the Hindley family is in the US.

  • 1885 06 Nov entry 233 Deaths Registered in the town of North Adams, Massachusetts (Berkshire County): George Hindley, tailor, resident of North Adams -- dies age 66 (no months, days are recorded).

I have many other records for the family's residence in Williamstown and Adams, before Samuel eventually moves to North Adams; he is listed in the North Adams City directories starting in 1876.

In her webinar Find Your American Ancestor Using Canadian Records, presented at the Minnesota Genealogicial Society, Kathryn Lake Hogan suggested several categories of records which might be productive to search:

  • Maps
  • Immigration
  • Land Records
  • Vital Records
  • Employment Records
  • stories about people visiting e.g. in Newspapers
  • Military Records

Not all of these categories apply for this particular time period.

For example:

Immigration records -- The first set of passport indexes available on Find My Past start in 1855. Canadian passenger lists (for the England to Canada leg of the journey) begin in 1865, well after the family was already in the US. Outbound passenger lists from England start even later, in 1890. Border crossing records from Canada to the USA did not begin until 1895. A surname search (using the search terms Hin*, Hen* and Han*) did not find any Hindley families or likely variants in the Library and Archives Canada pre-1865 Immigrants to Canada online searchable index.

Naturalization Records -- All of the known children except for Samuel were born in the USA. Samuel's Petition for Naturalization is dated "the fourth Monday of October 1884".

Clues to Naturalization can be found in the US Federal Censuses for 1870. Both the 1865 Massachusetts State Census and the 1870 US Federal Census records which I believe belongs to Samuel's father George Hindley have tick marks in the column for "Citizen of US", but I have not found Naturalization papers for him so far. (Only District Court naturalization records for Berkshire County are online; the local court records for the county are on microfilm. There are no good candidates in the New England Naturalization Index.) In the June 1863 Civil War Draft Registrations, the remarks say "Claims Alienage" so that places George's Naturalization after this draft record but before Census day in 1870 (assuming both records are accurate, which may not be the case).

So my records wishlist / to do list, so far, is:

  • find George Hindley's Naturalization papers, if any exist, to see what they assert about the family's date of entry into the United States
  • check land records around Toronto (just in case) and find something about Samuel's birth from local records in Toronto. (Ontario Civil Registration does not begin until 1869.) There are land records and newspaper indexes of births on microfilm, listed in the Family History Library Catalog.
  • Look for information about church affiliation, to see if I can find church records. E.g. I do not know if the family is connected to Rev. W. J. Hindley of Toronto (and Winnipeg in 1915).
  • the hideously unspecific look for whatever I can find in newspapers, city directories, travel guides, and other records. I'll start with the FamilySearch Wiki's article on Ontario Genealogy and the Family History Library Catalog, but pointers to little-known resources about Toronto would be appreciated.
  • Identify the witnesses on the marriage certificate of George Hindley and Hannah Drake from Upper Chapel; order the records from Upper Chapel from the archive (in Sheffield).

At the moment, I don't have any information about George Hindley and Hannah Drake's siblings, and I haven't done FAN club research to see if I can find more pointers back to Toronto or other parts of Canada. This is something I'd like to explore as I find out more about the family's time in Canada.

Also on the 'To Explore' list: ActiveHistory.ca's posts about Canada’s Historical Newspaper Digitization Problem -- here's part 2 from Feb 2014.

Update: a researcher sent me a record for Samuel that indicates his father George Hindley was Methodist and his mother Hannah was Catholic.

(Information about other resources I've consulted and searches I've already tried are in my self-answer.)


4 Answers 4


Toronto Public Library has some scanned publications available about the history of Toronto. Local History & Genealogy

Toronto had 5 ‘wards’ in 1843 according to Wikipedia and the outlying areas (if they lived in the 'country') which could be anywhere from Richmond Hill to Holland Landing (Simcoe County) north of the city and also communities to the west.

Historical Maps: Searching for information about the various Wards around Toronto in that time period presented the thread Historical Maps of Canada on the Skyscraperpage.com forum with a Map of Toronto 1894 -- which then refers to this book: Historical Atlas of Toronto by Derek Hayes published by Douglas & McIntyre (2009) ISBN 978-1-55365-497-1

Which then led to Goad’s Atlas of Toronto -- Online!, but unfortunately not for 1843.

Historical societies: York Pioneer and Historical Society and the Ontario Historical Society may provide further tips to researching in the time frame for Toronto.

Some book resources:

Books you need to do genealogy in Ontario: an annotated bibliography. 1996, 2nd edition 2000 by Ryan Taylor, a very well known genealogist in Ontario who worked at the Allen County Public Library genealogy department. Unfortunately for the genealogy community he passed away a number of years ago.

You also mentioned searching for Land Records: I found this resource: A guide to Ontario land registry records published in 1994 by the Ontario Genealogical Society. The Toronto Family History website has a good online guide to land records.

Newspapers: Oh and have you seen this? T. F. Woods & Co's Canadian Newspaper Directory. Containing accurate lists of all the Newspapers and Periodicals published in the Dominion of Canada and Province of Newfoundland. It's provided on Bill Martin's website and is quite hard to read, but it’s free. He transcribed it faithfully before the days of scanning and pdf’ing, bless him. Look for his webpages on Rootsweb.

City of York 1793-1997

Another interesting resource found on the Toronto Public Library local history and genealogy department blog: Research Guide to the City of York

Although a bit hard to sort out the information, they provide a very good sample of book titles in their collections on the history of the City of York.

For example, these titles intrigue one to imagine they may contain lists of names of early settlers?

  • Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of York, Ontario: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Many of the Early Settled Families, by J. H. Beers & Co. 1907
  • York, Upper Canada Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants, 1797-1823, edited by Christine Mosser. 1984.
  • Hi, Penny, welcome to G&FH.SE! Not to worry -- I can clean up your answer and fix the links. If you want to know what we're all about, check out the companion area Genealogy & Family History Meta and the help center. If you find new resources and want to add to your answer, use the edit link under your answer. Have fun exploring the site!
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 0:38

Searching for and investigating any Canadian hints in the Hindley family's known FAN club might be my next step as it could add more people and points for research.

The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society has information and guides to types of records, including the 1842 census records for Toronto, and various links on its website which may help you, for example to a couple of early directories and to the Archives of Ontario. http://torontofamilyhistory.org/researching-toronto-ancestors/

Olive Tree Genealogy has information on Canadian Ships Passenger Lists Before 1865, and other records like the Hawke papers which are often helpful for your time period: http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/ships/tocan1400-1800.shtml


City Directories

The Toronto Public Library has a wide range of City Directories, some of which are available online.

For the period I am looking at, they have:

The same directories are at Ancestry.ca, where the 1843 Toronto directory and street guide is listed as Toronto City Directory, 1843-1844 by Francis Lewis. Browsing these for any Hindleys, Handleys, Hendleys, etc. was unproductive.

Other search results for Ancestry.ca

  • Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896 (Original data: Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896. CO 384 records at TNA) has a result for an Alex Hindley for 1843
  • entries for Hindley from the Canadian Genealogy Index:

William Hindley Living 1842 Yarmouth Township Elgin Ontario


John Handley Living 1842 Niagara Lincoln Ontario

Broadening the search with wildcards H?ndl*y yielded a result for a Samuel Hindley in the database UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Registers of Soldiers Who Served in Canada, 1743-1882 with a "residence date" of 25 Nov 1845 (one clue that I have suggests that George's father's name may have been Samuel). From looking at the image, that seems to be Samuel's date of admission, with a notation for the 28th that may be a death date. (This may not be a relative, but it's another line of inquiry that could be followed up later.)

Other resources


Part of the problem you are encountering is that Canada was not a country until 1867 and there was no requirement to archive documents prior to 1865. You can try doing an ancestor search on the Library and Archives website, but it is likely that you are researching earlier than the records exist:


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