John Mulhall and Family

John Mulhall was born around 1798 in Ireland, maybe Laois. Along with his wife, Margaret Bradley, he immigrated to and died in Montreal, Quebec. I believe their family was from Kilkenny, close to the border with Laois. A John Mulhall and Margaret Bradley had three children baptized in Castlecomer, Clough, Kilkenny and their birth dates (and names) loosely match up to the family that ended up in Montreal.  If this is the same family, here’s the parish in where they were baptized.


In or around 1842, the family emigrated to Montreal. I believe the immigrants were John and Margaret, along with at least four children: Mary, Elizabeth, Ann-Justine, and Thomas. In Sept 1842, they baptized a daughter Margaret. I was never able to find further records of her, although a B. (I think -it’s quite illegible) Mulhall was on their census in 1861 and was the same age… In 1844 they buried another infant son, John.

John Sr. was a labourer and trader. In the earlier years, the family is not recorded in censuses or Lovell’s directory, but they are in church records. John pops up in Lovell’s in 1852 and in 1854 is living on McCord St., where he remains till 1859, when his wife Margaret dies. I believe his son Thomas stays there a year longer, while John moves to Farm St. where he remains until his death in 1873. John is recorded as a labourer and trader. This area of Montreal was near the docks and was predominantly Irish shanties. The homes were crowded, ramshackle, and squalid; they were torn down in the 1940s.  Now Farm St. is completely off the map and the neighbourhood has been replaced with warehouses. Below is a picture of Montreal in 1854. The area the Mulhalls lived in was on the other side of St Patrick’s cathedral, which was presumably less picturesque.


Mary: Their eldest daughter (that I know of) was born around 1827. She was my Great X3 grandmother. In 1847 she married William Hughes, but he died just 6 months later in the midst of a Typhus outbreak. The following summer she married John Taugher, my Great X3 grandfather from Galway with whom she had at least 8 children; six survived to adulthood. She was not able to sign her name at either ceremony. Mary died in 1886, around the age of 60.

In her father’s 1870 will, she was given all his property – movable and immovable. In the years after his death there appears to have been a kerfuffle about the house she inherited. It seems as though her husband had some debts and offered her property as collateral and there was a disagreement about his right to do so. It went to the Superior court and that verdict was appealed in the Court of Queen’s bench. I guess I have to brush up on my 19th century legalize, because I can’t figure out who won – just that the original verdict was overturned in the higher court. I really don’t know why Mary inherited it all when she had other siblings. Here’s a snippet from the legal documents.


Elizabeth: She was born around July 1835 (or Dec 1837 or sometime in 1830 depending on which records you look at). The Clough records have her baptized in 1830. I don’t know much about Elizabeth except that she married Michael McGurn and had at least 8 children. Unlike her older sister Mary, she was able to sign her name. They remained in Montreal, where she died in 1919. I have no idea why she wasn’t in her father’s will. I also have no idea why the people in her household didn’t seem to have jobs.

Ann-Justine: She was born around 1837, according to her death record (or 1834 according to Clough records, or 1835 according to the 1851 census). Ann was the only family member in the 1851 census (which is sparse at best) and was an “infirme” resident in the hospital of Montreal. My guess is that she had been ill with Typhus and brought there by her family. She was cared for by Les Soeurs Grises (the grey nuns) and joined their ranks to help the sick and poor in 1855. According to their documents, she was an orphan who became a nun, although her parents are listed on her death certificate and were alive when she became a sister. Were they unable to care for her when she was ill and gave her up?  The nuns cared for typhus victims and it is said that they physically carried the stricken from their immigrant coffin ships to ambulances and fever houses. Death tolls vary, but at least 6000 Irish immigrants in Montreal died from Typhus in 1847. After the epidemic, the sisters dedicated their lives to feeding the poor. The image below was taken 1889-94. Ann-Justine died in 1896. I can understand why she didn’t get into the will, what with her vow of poverty and potential parental abandonment.


Thomas: He was born in 1840 according to the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Thomas Mulhall was also baptized in Clough in 1839. In 1861 he was a labourer on the census and living with his widowed father. I believe he in in Lovell’s directory in 1859 in their previous house on McCord St – at that time he was listed a smith. In the 1871 census,  he was listed as a sailor. I was not able to find any further record of him in Montreal, nor is he buried in the cemetery where his father and siblings are. I also have no idea why he didn’t make it into the will, which was written in 1870, when Thomas was presumably living with his father.

There is a Thomas Mulhall that pops up in 1873 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England and marries a Kate Gorman, with whom he has two sons. This guy is also from Kilkenny and born at the same time. They are living on Edmund St. in 1881 and she dies a year later. He sends the boys to some distant relatives and disappears. It seems like a stretch, but I wonder if it’s the same fellow. There don’t seem to be other Thomas Mulhalls born at that time in Kilkenny and the dates line up – he’s not found in Canada after 1871 and not found in England before 1873 AND he was a sailor… who knows? According to the 1881 census he was a smith, which he’d also once been listed as in Canada. Below is an image of smiths in Montreal at the turn of the last century. It looks like a hard day’s work.


The records from the time are scarce, but they what we do know conjures up images of rather dreary lives. It’s likely the Mulhalls came from poor Irish farms, where they were barely surviving, to live in a filthy industrial (see image below – 1895) city where they toiled but survived. John and Margaret’s children had large families and some of their descendants are still in Montreal today.



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