FROM: Lilliesleaf, Roxboroughshire,
Scotland TO: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
by Bob Carswell
According to the Statistical Account of Scotland (1845) for the parish of Lilliesleaf in Roxboroughshire (which may explain how my KERR ancestors got to Canada), "Upon the death of Sir John B. Riddell, Bart of Riddell, in April 1819, who farmed the greatest part of his estate, the lands were immediately laid out in grass. Such a rapid change compelled those who had been employed in cultivating his extensive domains to seek a livelihood elsewhere, and hence the immediate declension of the population in the next
succeeding year was 68. These lands have almost wholly continued in grass ever since. Several families and individuals have emigrated to British North America and the United States at various periods during the last ten years."
JOHN KERR was born in 1791 in Roxboroughshire. His wife, ELIZABETH DAVIDSON (the Mrs Kerr on list of first member of Erskine Church) was also born there in 1794. A hind (skilled ploughman) by earlier profession, he and his wife had four children born in Lilliesleaf before coming to Canada where he took up work in Montreal as a blacksmith, a trade he probably learned around the farm.
Their children were:
1) Mary KERR, born in Lilliesleaf
10Marc1817 (who married my ancestor, the volunteer fireman JOHN
McKINLEY at Erskine Church March 19th,
5) ANDREW KERR was born in Montreal
(most likely place) on 11June1825. Records indicate he was baptised at
Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Montreal 17August1825 (died
In Montreal John KERR worked as a blacksmith (documented by entry on son Andrew's baptismal entry in 1825). Therefore in 1833, Mary KERR my ancestor would be 16 and probably working away from home. Hence the 3 people at Erskine church that day in 1833 would most probably be John Kerr, wife Elizabeth (with Andrew (2) as a year old child) and Agnes aged 13.
JOHN KERR died in Montreal 8January 1849 2 months and 10 days before his eldest daughter married my ancestor JOHN McKINLEY (he died 5 years later in the Cholera outbreak of 1854, 7 months before his son, my next direct ancestor was born.). JOHN KERR was buried in the old Dorchester grounds along with his two infant children who died in 1830. All three were removed to Mount Royal Cemetery on Nov. 5th, 1867 to be buried again there along with his wife ELIZABETH DAVIDSON who died 24Sept1867.
Their eldest daughter and other Kerr children eventually ended up in Ottawa. Mary Kerr is buried as Mary Lewis in Beechwood Cemetery. She moved there to be with her youngest brother's family after her second husband died. Hence the beginning of my Ottawa McKinleys.
JOHN McKINLEY, Mary Kerr's first husbland
and WILLIAM LEWIS, a machinest and John McKinley's
best friend (as well as being Mary Kerr's second husband) are buried side-by-side
in an unmarked grave in Mount Royal Cemetery. She was married to John McKinley
for 5 years and William Lewis for 10 years. I suspect after the grief of
losing two husbands in 15 years and being about 49 sher did not expect
to marry again.