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Anne Brooks' Ancestry

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

by ANNE BROOKS

"There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young"
Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Prowse General Store, Murray Harbour

In 1876, John BROOKS, one of the early pioneers who settled in 1822 in Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island, was asked to reply to a 99 question survey which was distributed to community leaders of that time. The purpose of the document was to record life in the “old” days thereby providing an overview of life during the very early development of communities on the island.

John BROOKS was a teacher and had no shortage of words. His answers were lengthy, often overflowing to the back of the page; his script was decorative and his responses thoughtful. They demonstrated his command of the English language, his humor, and his religious fervor. This document is a wealth of information going far beyond the confines of censuses and vital records. Not only does John BROOKS answer questions about life in the old days, but in so doing, he often shares a fragment of himself as a human being which increases its value immeasurably. His script and responses to the first seven questions can be seen here.

 Old Malton Parish Church (1)

John BROOKS married Frances BROWN on 18 February 1822 in Old Malton, Yorkshire, England. The entry in the parish register can be seen here. In the survey, John reported that he and Frances left England in the same year they were married and travelled to Prince Edward Island. They sailed on the Barque Mary, one of the ships belonging to John CAMBRIDGE, the local land developer of Murray Harbour. Relying on his memory of an event which had occured 54 years previously, he was able to name the captain, "Elsdon", and thought there had been about 60 passengers onboard. The ship left from Bristol and landed in Charlottetown on the 3rd of June, 1922. These facts are supported in a shipping document at the P.E.I. Archives stating "03 June 1822 - Mary - of 374 tons, Capt. Henry Elsdon, from Bristol, with 31 passengers and baggage." He remembered a larger group than really was, but a minor detail after so many years! He stated there were no births and only one death during the voyage. When asked what they had to eat on the long journey, he replied, “As the Master said, we had fish and potatoes one day, and potatoes and fish on another; when all else failed we had lobster”.

 John Brooks' signature in 1876

Many pages later, his concluding statement, “These answers have been hastily written during the intervals of a busy season, errors and defaceing will be met with, but if pointed out they will be corrected and made more comprehensive. Such as they are, they are humbly submitted, to the gentlemen who are interested, therein by their Humble Servant, [signed] John Brooks”, demonstrates the seriousness with which he undertook this task. The transcription of this document can be read in its entirety here

John BROOKS and Frances BROWN, raised eight children all of whom but one, married and had children of their own. Honeybrook Farm in Murray Harbour, pictured below, was the home of Ray BROOKS, a great grandson of John BROOKS; Ray passed away in 2006. Living descendants remain in Murray Harbour but many more have spread across Canada and beyond. Of the seven surviving children born to John and Frances, only John, Joseph, and Frances remained on P.E.I., although many of their children did not. Thomas and his wife eventually followed their own children off the Island, spending the later part of their lives in Massachusetts; Hannah settled in Maine after a short time in New Brunswick. Henry remained in Canada but went as far west as possible, to Vancouver Island. Almost without exception, none returned to Prince Edward Island.

 



 Honeybrook Farm  Land ownership map  Murray Harbour Cemetery
 Brooks headstone

I have compiled a 59 page document, available on CD, in pdf format, which follows the lives of John and Frances, and each of their children. It also contains a short segment on John BROOKS’ siblings who remained in England; one of them, Thomas, had grandchildren, some of whom eventually made their way to British Columbia. Although the surname BROOKS has disappeared from this particular line, descendants are alive and well.

From Scagglethorpe, Yorkshire, to Murray Harbour, P.E.I. contains many photos and original documents; it is written in narrative form, some families having more information than others. There are no living individuals included. Please contact me here for further information.

February 2009

REFERENCES

1. Old Malton

  

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