Ontario Historical Society 1929 - THE FIRST SETTLERS OF CLARKE TOWNSHIP

By L. A. M. Lovekin*

The first settler in the township of Clarke, 1796, was Mr. Richard Lovekin, a lawyer of Cork, who left his property in Ireland, part of what had been the domain of the Earls of Desmond, Kilcolman Castle. This he acquired from William Hingston whose family, or part, later settled in Canada where they are well known to-day in professional, political and ecclesiastical life. According to a deed, now in the registry office at Cork, Mr. Richard Lovekin "of Grainge, Co. of Cork, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on the 15th of March, 1779", acquired the Kilcolman property on a nine hundred and ninety nine year lease. The property was of value and most interesting historically. Three thousand acres of it had been "bestowed" on the "ruthless exterminator, but gentle poet", Spenser, with results that were tragically retributive. It may seem strange that the possessor should have so soon left it. But sixteen years later he turned his face westward leaving his newly acquired property, home and professional practice. But a correspondent writing to him from Cork in 1801 tell him that "times were bad when you left here yet they are ten times worse at present."

The continental wars and consequent burdens and lack of supplies, overshadowed the unfortunate island and the cloud was made more dense by internal dissension.

The late Mr. James Patrickson Lovekin told me that his grandfather was both esteemed and respected, but rebellion was afoot, the "spirit of '98" was in the air and acts of violence committed. So Mr. Lovekin, who was a loyalist like many of his neighbours, determined to seek, of not the "milder clime" visioned by Tennyson, at least a land which freemen tilled and in which "banded union" could not carry on a system of persecuting innocent, helpless and unoffending families. Mr. Lovekin's son, who accompanied him, was also a lawyer by profession.

Closely connected with the family of Mr. Peter Russell, President of Upper Canada after Simcoe, the family had doubtless heard of the promising prospects that lay before settlers in Canada. In the year 1796, under Mr. Russell's sign manual, a patent was issued granting Mr. Lovekin twelve hundred acres of virgin soil and two hundred each to two of his sons. These were selected in the township of Clarke, west of the site of the present village of Newcastle and east of that of the present town of Bowmanville. The family have continued their occupation of the land to the present day and a station on the Canadian Pacific Railway has very appropriately been named after it.

The senior member of the family, Mr. Frederick Lovekin, J.P., now occupies the section of the property known by the name of "Atlas" farm, named after the ship in which the family made their voyage to this continent on leaving Ireland. The "Pioneer Farm", the original settlement, is in the possession of a feminine member of the family and Kilcolman is owned by Reginald Lovekin. In passing it may be noted that from the year 1801, when Mr. Richard Lovekin was appointed a magistrate, the senior member of the family has always been a Justice of the Peace.

The story of their coming may be best told by Mr. Richard Lovekin (the second) who wrote a letter, still in existence, describing it, some time after the settlement, and a photograph of which is before me. The writer records the fact that "on September 20th, 1795, we embarked, at Pasage, on board the "Atlas" of New York, in all eight persons, namely, my father, mother, and sisters Mary, Eliza and Sally; Hester Alcock, servant; my brother John and myself. The ship was bound for New York but was first to go to St. Ubes in Portugal, for a load of salt. This, with uncommon bad weather for nearly the whole of the passage to America was the cause of our not arriving in New York until April 8, 1796. In the beginning of May 1797, we all landed in the township of Clarke in Upper Canada, having ha a small clearing made previously. Our house was the first permanent dwelling erected in the township. There had been a small hut built before at the creek* , next below us for the purpose of trading with Indians. My father died in Clarke on the morning of January 1, 1798. In the summer of 1803 news came of my brother Thomas's death in the East Indies. He was at the time a Lieutenant on board a 74 gun ship. My brother John left this place in October of the same year for London to receive a legacy which was left us by our brother Thomas" . . .

The letter continues with the consideration of private matters. The brother, John, died on his arrival in London. Hester Alcock proved a "true and faithful servant" and her ashes rest in the family cemetery within the bounds of the Kilcolman estate. This is now noted as a great orchard of thousands of fruit trees of various species, some like their owners being descendants of stocks brought from Ireland. And many relics are cherished by the family. These reflect the culture of the daughters referred to in the letter quoted above. One is a very well executed sketch of the ruined castle of Kilcolman and some fragments of remarkably beautiful embroidery. A pipe and punch ladle and other tangible reminders of the family exodus are carefully preserved. There is but one Kilcolman in Canada and this associated with a private property, but in Ireland twenty town lands and seven parishes bear the name. As to the presence of those bearing the name of Lovekin in Ireland there is some obscurity. A Shadowy claim has been made for one of the invading army of Strongbow. But though the name shows evident signs of Norman origin, this is in no way made good.

The family name is one of antiquity in England, in the County of Surrey and some others, and evidently of Norman origin. Authorities on the subject of "patronymic appellations" have alleged that it is the French "loup," wolf, in combination with the Saxon "kin". This is a questionable subject and there are many variations in the spelling in old documents. But the "authorities" referred to say that they all indicate the same family. I have half a dozen different spellings in documents, at times indicating the same person. For example, in the Hundred Rolls of the thirteenth century the name is spelt Lovekin and also Louvekyn. And in the Writs of parliament, fourteenth century, Richard Lovekyn is inscribed. In the household of Henry VIII there was a widow, Dame Philipa Lufkyne, and in the privy Purse accounts of the Princess Mary (1542) there is an entry, "Maistres Luffkyn, to give in alms 1o s," and a similar entry in the account book of 1543. Three years later an entry in the Faculty Office Records indicates that a marriage license was issued on behalf of the same lady and one John Osborne. Some four centuries later James Magenis Lovekin, an officer successively of the First, Eighth, and Twentieth Regiments of the Imperial Army, married, in India, a Miss Rosalie Osborne of the same family. His son resides in the western provinces of Canada. "So runs the world away!" and the family has contributed to every walk in life, both in church and state. One cleric, the Rev. Richard Lovekin, of Jesus Coll., Cambridge, was Rector of Ufford for fifty-seven years, dying at the mature age of one hundred and eleven years "having preached the Sunday before he died." Another, the Rev. John Lovekin, inducted to the Rectory of Colne Engayne, in 1768, held the Cure for a long term of years to the commencement of the nineteenth century. The "peaceful simple life" tends to longevity and content but the first named did not enjoy this blessing, for during the Cromwellian "sequestration" he was well nigh martyred and the story of the defilement and desecration of his church, as told by the "Commissioner" himself reads like a description of the acts of the Huns in the late war, or those described in the earlier verses of the seventy-fourth Psalm. Only ignorance and ferocious fanaticism bred of religious bigotry could have prompted such action. Edward Lovekin, a "citizen" of the sometime seat of capital of the Saxon kings, Kingston, Surrey, founded a chapel there and in company with his brother Robert, endowed it with property for the purpose of celebrating certain specific "Holy Rites." This Edward is described in letters patent issued in the reign of Edward III, as the father of the noted John Lovekin who was four times Lord Mayor of London and founder of the Church of St. Michael, Crooked Lane, in which he was buried, with his first wife. Some quaint rhymes on his tomb stated of his mayoralty, that he was twice elected by citizens and twice by commandment of his good Lord the King, and, further, "that such lovers of the commonwealth, too few there be," further that on his death "his flesh to earth his soul to God went straight." He later augmented the Kingston chapel with a hospital and school, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. The fabric of St. Michael's survived until it met its end in the great fire of London. The earlier foundations went into the maw of Henry VIII and his favorites at the time religion was uprooted, schools destroyed and the means of education obliterated by that modern Ahab. The Lord Mayor was a leading light in his day. A "stock fishmonger" he was evidently a man of affluence judged by the standard of his period, for it is recorded that in 1338 he contributed the large sum of £200 to the loan of £20,000 granted by the City of London to the King by the City for his expedition to France. His "mansion," overlooking the River Thames near London Bridge, appears to have been an imposing edifice and the great Hall of the Fishmongers' "Mystery," Guild or Livery occupies its site and some antiquarians assert contains a portion of the old residential structure. It may be noted that Sir William Walworth, the slaver of Jack Cade, was "servant" to this John Lovekin, that is "apprentice," and rose to prominence as a citizen. On the death of his "master" with great presence of mind, and courage, he married Dame Margaret, the widow.

How did it fall out that one of the family found his way to Ireland and there to remain and found a distinct branch? Research leaves the problem in obscurity but leads to the conclusion that to the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland and that period we must look for the "missing link." The relationship between the family, at the time numerous, now almost extinct, in Surrey and some of the eastern and northern counties in England, and its representatives in Ireland, is not only obscure but altogether missing. Careful research has failed to find it. Yet tradition may justify an assumption which will bring into the arena that strange character and "mystery man" Colonel Robert Phair or Phayer, some time Governor of Cork. It is known to the family that at the time of the Great Rebellion some one or more Lovekins became "rebels" and being in some way connected with the Phairs it may reasonably be assumed that one of them was the Phair's "Kentish Regiment" raised in 1649. How the Cromwell forces were, settled or "planted," in Ireland, is a matter of history of which perhaps the less said the better. But the Phairs and the Lovekins were evidently in close touch from the first. Some of the estates of Col. Phair were at Grange on the east side of Cork Harbour. Richard Lovekin who leased part of the Kilcolman estates, is described in the thousand years lease in 1774 as "of Grange". Phair was, at the outset, a very violent republican and a man after Cromwell's own heart. He was one of the three officers to whom the warrant for the "execution" of Charles I was addressed. But, with that of another, Huncks, his name is scratched out, both refusing the proferred "honour" and, it is recorded, erased by themselves. The name in the so-called "warrant" is spelt Phayr. As already said he was a kind of "mystery man." He was more than once in great danger and always in the end escaped punishment. Presumably there was something behind in the way of influence. He was a trusted agent of Cromwell.

The late Hon. Asa Burnham (Senator) son of Sarah Lovekin, the youngest of the "exiles" from Ireland, was in possession of a letter alleged to have been written by Cromwell to Col. Phair from Fethard, "in the verie bowells of Tipperary," and evidently brought to Canada by Mr. Richard Lovekin and preserved as a precious heirloom. He described himself as "Your very loving friend, O. Cromwell." Col. Phair was instructed to "rid the town of Corke of suspicious characters and ill affected persons as fast as you can and herein deal with effect." The letter in Senator Burnham's possession was written in very finished writing and should have been verified by reference to the handwriting of Cromwell in documents extant in England. It is assumed that the widow of Mr. Richard Lovekin, Sr., who survived her husband some years, divided the family "treasures" among her children and gave the letter to her youngest daughter Sarah, Mr. Burnham's mother. How it came into possession of the family is not known but the close association of the Phairs and Lovekins in Ireland is a self suggestive explanation. A copy of the same letter it appears was in the possession of a Mrs. Tryon, of Stamford, England, for many years as an hereditary possession. But the duplication is easily accounted for. The turbulence prevailing, and the dangers in travel and intercommunication, most likely prompted Cromwell to send more than one letter and probably by different routes. Both the Burnham and the Tryon M.S. were dated Feb. 9th 1649. The Lovekin-Phair relationship is made closer later on. Col. Phaire married, as his second wife, in 1658 Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert, whose daughter married the Rev. John Patrickson, M.A., a Chanter of Cloyne Cathedral, from which union descended Margaret, who in 1757 was married to John Lovekin, and Sarah to Richard Lovekin in 1767, the first settler in Clarke. Richard Lovekin, grandson of the latter, was the first white child born in Clarke. In passing it may be noted that the Cromwellian theory is strengthened by the fact that some one of the family made an appearance in what is now New England probably, about that puritanical period.

The Public Records, Dublin, though seriously disturbed by the severe action made necessary by the attempted armed rebellion a few years ago; contain records of the Marriage Licence Board and Church Registers in the dioceses of Cork, Ross and Cloyne. They record many entries, concerning the family, between the years 1686-1724. A Richard Lovekin of the latter period marries a Parcis Dowe and in 1778 a Parcis Lovekin marries Benjamin Barter. Earlier records indicate that some of the family appear to have been mixed up with Cromwell's infamous dealings with the Irish lands. The "Settlement" scheme does not appear to have been a very great success either socially or financially. The scene now changes once more from the old to the new world for the Kilcolman branch of the family. The gloomy conditions left behind disappear and rugged conditions take their place, but in front lie the promise of peace, plenty and hope. The seed then planted has, to-day, grown to a very large tree. It is to be regretted that owing to accidental circumstances the family records subsequent to the year of settlement were accidentally destroyed. They were of much interest and historic value notably those bearing on the Mackenzie-Papineau rebellion period. By a curious combination of circumstances it happens that most of the modern family history has been preserved in the United States. The daughters of Mr. Richard Lovekin, Jr., named above, with the exception of "Sally" who married Mr. Burnham, and so became the mother of the late Senator Burnham of Cobourg, married men from the U.S.A. Eliza married John Hartwell whose granddaughter, Mrs. Isabella A. Towne of Grand Rapids, Mich., is not an infrequent visitor to Canada. A lady of high scholastic ability, she has devoted a great deal of time and toil in delving into her family history and with her heart thoroughly in her work, she has made research which has been productive of a mass of information of great value. More even than that, within a year or two she has twice visited Ireland, England and Scotland and delved into almost every accessible depository of records likely to add to her accumulated wealth of knowledge of the subject so dear to her heart. I may here acknowledge the obligation I am under to her for much of the matter I have collected. Ebenezer Hartwell, brother of the above, married Mary the eldest of the daughters.

The early days of the settlement appears to have resembled others. There were the usual perils from Indians and flood and field. The family was one of culture and substance and they had neighbours of a similar class who settled shortly after or almost concurrently. Dr. W.W. Baldwin, father of the statesman, took possession of his allotment but did not remain long. He was one of the most prominent workers in early educational matters. The stream which runs into the lake at the point of settlement is known to-day as "Baldwin's Creek." It was at one time a favorite haunt of the lake salmon. The story of the gradual "filling up" of the district is an interesting one and the newcomers in very many cases were from the same locality as the pioneer settlers. In the new residence which recalls the famous name of Desmond, many relics are cherished by the family, among them a sepia drawing of one of the daughters named above, of the ruins of Kilcolman Castle, the Desmonds' stronghold; a punch ladle; a pipe and other objects of interest. There have always been many noted visitors to Kilcolman, among whom may be mentioned the notorious Joseph Willcocks, for a time the bosom friend of Peter Russell, the President of Upper Canada, Sheriff of the Home District and finally traitor, meeting his death fighting in the ranks of the enemy at Fort Erie. The strange eccentricities of this enigmatic character have recently been dealt with in a masterly manner by Dr. A. H. U. Colquhoun, Deputy Minister of Education, in The Historical Review. Willcocks, it may be noted, obtained a grant of land in the adjoining township of Hope. A fragment from his unpublished diary possessed by Dr. Wolverton of London is rather amusing.

"1800. Joseph Willcocks. Memorandum and Letter Book commencing 12th Feb. Memorandum side of Book. (Left Ireland December the first 1799 in the ship….)

Sunday 12th Oct. 1800….."A letter came from Mr. Willcocks from his son Charles mentioning his being at Mr. Lufkin's, about 40 miles from this requesting Cloaths to be sent to him, he sent them the next morning….

Sunday 4th 1801. I spent the most of the day preparing to go to Mr. Baldwin's.

Monday 5th. I sailed from York Bay in my own boat with Dr. Baldwin and two men that I gave a passage and after a most pleasing voyage we reached Mr. Baldwin's in the Evening. We left the Boat at anchor with all the baggage on board, our victuals and cloaths excepted.

Tuesday 6th. Got up twice in the night to see if the boat was safe and in the morning early a very heavy storm came and filled her with water, the things we left in her all floated on shore. We got everything safe but the doctor and I were recovering them frequently washed over with the waves. We got our breakfast, walked about and had for dinner boiled fowl, cold beef and potatoes. The sea continued to run immensely high. We drank tea and husked some Indian Corn in the evening.

Wednesday 7. The wind continuing extremely high, after breakfast I went to thrash with the Dr. in the Barn and after being there some we got to kill one of Dr. Baldwin's Cows and we had for Dinner boiled fowls and cold beef pye. After Dinner the doctor, his brother and I went on a canoe to carry the Boat into Dr. Baldwin's Creek and as we were waying anchor the Dr. fell overboard into the lake and I into the bottom of the Boat but soon got to rights again and carried the boat safe into harbour. Mr. (probably "Red." but not clear) Louffkin called to see us and after he, Mr. Baldwin and I got drunk.

Thursday 6th . . . Mr. Baldwin the Dr. and I spent the evening at Mr. J. Lovekin's. . . .

Wednesday 14 . . . I walked about the Land and saw Mr. J. Lovekin."

The Canadian Kilcolman has also been visited by some worthier and eminent, people, among them Captain Marryat. His pleasing book "Settlers in Canada" contains as one of its "threads" the story of the kidnapping of a white child by Indians. This he heard from the then chatelaine of the house who also supplied him with the Indian's "letter" written in symbols on birch bark, to be seen in the volume. In more recent times Mr. James Patrickson Lovekin was visited by General Maclennon the "scientific soldier" who is said to have, like Scharnhorst in Prussia after Jena, "organized victory" for the Northern forces. General McCook, a cavalry officer was with him. Confronted by the portraits of Generals "Stonewall" Jackson and R. E. Lee, they must at once have divined the sentiments of their host with reference to the controversy of North and South. Mr. J. Patrickson Lovekin, J.P., was a great admirer of both the Southern heroes. Both of the Northern American officers, many will remember, were frequent summer visitors to Cobourg. Changes consequent on marriages and other causes for division of the estate have necessarily arisen but more than a century and a quarter after the first "residence" was built the family are still flourishing within the boundary of the first allotment - a perpetuation too rare in Canada.

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