Miscellanea Manitobiana

No. 2
The Croftons of Brandon, Manitoba,
and their cousinship with the British Royal Family

By John Blythe Dobson

In our recent perusal of a 1911 Crofton genealogy, we found mention of two siblings of this name who settled at Brandon, evidently in the late 19th century.[1] While a check of the LDS website (www.familysearch.org) turned up further nothing on the Canadian branch of the family, the RootsWeb website took us to Linzi Meryl’s Linzi’s Family, at http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=:2306353, which extended the line two generations forward, supplying the names of four children and four grandchildren of one of the settlers, although with scant detail of the persons’ places of residence.[2] Thus, while it is not clear whether this family has living members in Manitoba, the possibility that there are still descendants living somewhere in Western Canada seems strong enough to warrant discussion here of some of their interesting connections.

Two points touched on in the 1911 genealogy immediately intrigued us. One is the puzzling discussion of Ernest Augustus Crofton (living 1832), who was probably a great-grand-uncle of the Henry Crofton who appears under generation 11 in the pedigree below. It is stated: “He claimed to be entitled to the Mount Temple estates [in co. Sligo], through his mother [Frances Harwood, of unstated parentage], who was by a line of female descent a descendant of Capt. Lawrence Hyde (brother of Lord Clarendon), whose elder daughter married, secondly, Mr. Temple, of Mount Temple. From this is may be inferred that Ernest Augustus was [claiming to be his father] Philip’s eldest son. The claim was quite absurd.” It is unclear whether the writer meant that the absurdity lay (a) merely in the claim of Ernest Augustus to have been his father’s eldest son; (b) more seriously, in the claim that his mother was a representative of the Temples; or (c) still more seriously, in the claim that his mother was descended from the Hydes in any manner.[3] The “Lord Clarendon” referred to was probably the 1st Lord, but with the materials at our disposal we have been unable to verify any of the other connections suggested. In any case it is difficult to see how a descendant of his sibling can have had any claim to the Mount Temple estates, which have regularly descended to the heirs of the first Earl of Clarendon to the present day. But it would certainly be interesting to see how far the claim of Hyde descent could be rehabilitated, as it would almost certainly furnish a royal line for the Croftons.

The second point of interest is the appearance of the name Ussher, the alliance with which figures in the Crofton pedigree in a part from which the Croftons of Brandon can certainly claim descent, and which forms the basis of the lineage presented below. The Usshers were one of the most distinguished Anglo-Irish families of the 16th and 17th centuries, figuring substantially in the ancestry of H.M. the late Queen Mother, born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon,[4] and perhaps including the famous chronologer, James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armaugh.[5] The degree of the relationship is slightly closer than that which the late Queen Mother shares with many Americans through the Elizabethan ancestors of Great Migration immigrants.

  1. Arland Ussher, Mayor of Dublin in 1496-71, living 1471, the first known ancestor of this family. He m. Anne Berford, whose parentage Paget was likewise unable to trace.
  2. Christopher Ussher, Mayor of Dublin in 1518 and 1524, d. 30 Jan. 1526. He m. Anne/Alison FitzWilliam(s), daughter of Thomas FitzWilliam(s) alias Merrion.
  3. John Ussher, Mayor of Dublin, d. 1 May 1600. He m. Alison Newman, d. 1601, daughter of William Newman, Mayor of Dublin.
  4. William Ussher, of Donnybrook, co. Dublin, Clerk of the Council, b. ca. 1588, knighted 1603, will dated 28 Dec. 1657. He m. Isabella Loftus, d. 11 Nov. 1597, daughter of Sir Adam Loftus (1533?-1605), Archbishop of Armaugh and afterwards of Dublin, Lord Keeper, Lord Chancellor, and Lord Justice of Ireland,[6] by his wife Jane, daughter of Adam Purdon, of Lurgan Race, co. Louth. (The Archbishop and his wife were ancestors of H.M. the late Queen Mother through two different lines.[7] They were also ancestors of the Viscounts, later Marquesses, of Ely.[8] They were probably not, however, as once claimed, ancestors of the Wesleys, founders of Methodism.[9])
  5. Arthur Ussher, of Donnybrook, Dublin, b. say 1605, d. 2 March 1628 by drowning, in the River Dodder.[10] He m. Judith Newcomen, d. 1652, eldest daughter of Sir Robert Newcomen, 1st Baronet,[11] of Moystown, Kings County, by his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Molyneux, Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland.[12] Sur­prisingly, her ancestry, for all its considerable distinction, does not include any traceable royal lines. However, through their son Sir William Ussher of Portrane, she and her husband were direct ancestors of H.M. the late Queen Mother.[13]
  6. Beverley Ussher, of Kilmeadon, co. Waterford, b. say 1644, d. 1683. He m. (1) Joan, daughter of Sir Percy Smith. He m. (2) by 1683, Grace Osborn, daughter of Richard Osborne, of Ballyntaylor, co. Waterford, by his wife Elizabeth ——.
  7. Arthur Ussher, of Cappagh, Camphire, co. Waterford, b. 1683, d. 1768. He m. Lucy Taylor, daughter of Berkeley Taylor, of Askeaton, co. Limerick.
  8. John Ussher, of Cappagh, co. Waterford, Ireland, b. ca. 1743, d. 8 March 1789. He m. possibly 8 June 1761,[14] Elizabeth Musgrave, daughter of Christopher Musgrave, of Ballyin, co. Waterford, Ireland.[15]
  9. Arthur Ussher, of Camphire, b. 30 March 1764 at Cappagh, co. Waterford, Ireland. He m. probably in Dec. 1787 at Limerick,[16] Margaret Hewetson, daughter of The Rev. John Hewetson, J.P., of Suir View, Ireland.[17]
  10. Sarah Ussher, b. say 1800. She m. by 1824, Richard A. Pearson, of the 1st Dragoon Guards, and 87th Regiment, or Royal Irish Fusiliers, d. 1866, said to have been a son of James and Sarah (Sparrow) Pearson.[18] He served in the Peninsular War.
  11. Hannah Mina Pearson, b. 1824, d. 1886, her parents’ only child. She m. 17 Feb. 1848, Henry Crofton, b. 12 May 1818 at Aughnacloy, co. Tyrone, d. 6 Oct. 1861 at Dublin, son of William Edward Crofton, Captain in the 50th and 91st Regiments, by his wife Alicia, daughter of William Moore, of “The Bawn,” Auchnacloy, co. Tyrone. Two of their children came to Manitoba:
    1. Mary Hermine Crofton, b. 10 Nov. 1857, living 1900. She m. —— Mercer,[19] of Brandon. Manitoba birth registrations through 1901 do not list any child of such a couple, whatever the name of the father.
    2. Charles Moore Crofton, of Brandon, b. 30 or 31 Jan. 1861, d. 10 April 1953 at Vancouver, British Columbia.[20] He is not found in the LDS index to the 1881 Canadian census, and so was presumably not yet in the country at that time. He m. 18 Nov. 1885 at Brandon,[21] Elizabeth Hodson (called Hudson in the marriage record, but Hodson in the birth records of their two children Arthur and Lucy), b. 26 Oct. 1865 (according to the 1901 census), living 1901. They were enumerated at Doly, near Brandon, in the 1901 census.[22] Issue:
      1. Arthur Crofton, b. 13 March 1886 in the R.M. of Daly.[23]
      2. Richard Crofton, b. 14 Nov. 1888 (according to the 1901 census). He m. 1 Jan. 1918 at Brandon,[24] Grace Constance Lillith Plows, and according to Linzi Meryl had: Evelyn Crofton; Eileen Crofton (who m. Frank A. Schultz); Francis Gordon Crofton; Vernon Crofton.
      3. Lucy Crofton, b. 18 Oct. 1890 in the R.M. of Daly.[25] She m. 25 Sept. 1908 at Brandon,[26] Joel Smith. We do not know if there was issue of this marriage.
      4. (according to Linzi Meryl) Dorothy Crofton, b. say 1892, d. 1940; m. William ——. Was this daughter missed in the 1901 census?


1Henry Thomas Crofton, Crofton memoirs; an account of John Crofton of Ballymurry, Co. Roscommon, Queen Elizabeth’s escheator-general of Ireland, and of his ancestors and descendants, and others bearing the name (York, England, 1911), 258.
2Although Ms. Meryl’s treatment of the recent Croftons is persuasive, especially as she has clearly not seen the 1911 Crofton genealogy and is not copying from it, some of her estimated dates require correction, as the resulting pedigree is chronologically impossible in the early portions.
31911 Crofton genealogy, p. 252. Note the further difficulty, in that under the treatment of Ernest Augustus Crofton’s supposed younger brother, Philip Crofton (father of William Edward, and grandfather of Henry), it is stated on p. 253: “Some records assert that he was a member of the Longford House family [of Croftons], but this seems to be an error.” This is all somewhat off-hand, and in the complete absence of onomastic evidence for the alleged connection we are surely entitled to ask on what grounds it is claimed.
4Gerald Paget, The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, 2 vols. (Edinburgh & London, 1977), 2:40 ff. Paget’s work on these families is really superb, and we are much indebted to it for our account.
5For Ussher, see Rosemary Coleby, Melian, available online at http://worldconnect.genealogy.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:900330&id=I317. This is our main source for generations 6-10 of the pedigree below. Unfortunately, we have not had access to the Rev. William Ball Wright, The Ussher memoirs; or, genealogical memoirs of the Ussher Families in Ireland (Dublin & London, 1889 and 1899).
6See the DNB.
7Paget, op. cit., 2:91 bis, one of these being a descent from Arthur Ussher and Judith Newcomen, below.
8Complete Peerage, 4:63-66.
9G.J. Stevenson, Memorials of the Wesley Family (1876), maintains that his subjects were descended from the alleged marriage of Bartholomew Westley (d. 1671), Rector of Charmouth, Dorset, with Anne Colley, daughter of Sir Henry Colley, of Carbery, co. Kildare, by his wife Anne, daughter of Adam Loftus. However, Charles Evans, in “The Ancestry of the Wesleys,” Notes and Queries 193 (1948): 255-259, at p. 256, notes that “Anne Colley does not appear in the elaborate pedigree of Colley in Lodge’s Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iii (1789), 64.”
10“Ussher of Eastwell,” Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1855 ed., 1252-53.
11See Burke’s Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies.
12Gisborne Molineux, Memoir of the Molineux Family (1882), p. 83, states that he was born at Calais in 1581 (a misprint for 1531), and was descended, “it is supposed, from Sir Thomas Molyneux, second son of Sir William Molyneux, of Sefton [in Derbyshire], Knight Banneret.” This would be very interesting if true, but there is no mention of him in the account of the Molyneuxs of Sefton in The Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, 8 vols. (London, 1906-1914), 3:67-74.
13Paget, op. cit., p. 40.
14Unsourced entry in the IGI and LDS Ancestral File.
15At least this is his residence as stated by Rosemary Coleby, Linzi Meryl, and others. Several patrons’s submission records indexed in the IGI assert his identity with Christopher Musgrave of Tourin, who m. Susannah, dau. of James Ussher by his wife Jane Donellan; but we have been unable to verify this claim.
16“Arthur Usher [sic] m. Dec. 1787 in Limerick, to Miss Hewitson [sic].” See Irish Marriages; being an index to the marriages in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, 1771 to 1812... (London, 1897), p. 445. However, an unsourced IGI entry gives the date as 3 Jan. 1788, which is possible.
17Arthur Ussher and his wife are mentioned incidentally in Joseph Jackson Howard and Frederick Arthur Crispe, Visitation of Ireland, 6 vols. (1897-1918), 1:9.
18“Mr. Pearson, surgeon, of Abbey Street, m. Apr. 1789 to Miss Sparrow, of Queen Street” (Irish Marriages, p. 352).
19The 1911 Crofton genealogy calls him Alfred Mercer, while Linzi Meryl calls him David Mercer.
20British Columbia Death Registrations, no. 1953-09-005220.
21Manitoba marriage registrations, no. 1885-001130.
221901 Census of Canada, Brandon District, division 2, p. 1, PAC microfilm no. T-6431.
23Manitoba birth registrations, no. 1886-17710445.
24Manitoba marriage registration, no. 1918-003000.
25Manitoba birth registrations, no. 1890-002378.
26Manitoba marriage registrations, no. 1908-002933.


Miscellanea Manitobiana, no. 2
URL = library.uwinnipeg.ca/people/Dobson/Manitobiana/issues/002.cfm
Published by John Blythe Dobson, 1170 Spruce Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 2V3, Canada
This page created 4 October 2003
Revised 6 February 2004