Connecting Brett Siblings

CAUTION: This post has been updated based on new findings and collaborative research with others. Please use with caution and consult the updated post Connecting Brett Siblings Revisited.

So … we’re off to Ireland soon (thanks to Arthur’s eclectic connections to various digitization projects around the world). This time we will be staying in Ballymote. If you’ve read other parts of this blog (which is admittedly stagnant from time to time), you will recall that George Brett (the letter writer) dated his letters to his brother John (my ancestor) from Ballymote. The ruins of Ballymote Castle, which was a key location for the Co. Sligo Bretts in the 1600s, will be within walking distance.

Before we leave, I thought I should review my last set of conclusions (tenuous as some of them may be) about the Bretts who immigrated to Canada and settled in various parts of Ontario. As I have never shared my conclusions on this blog, I think it’s time to do so – both for posterity and for critical examination by others.

A couple of years ago I immersed myself in every piece of evidence I had ever collected in an attempt to connect the various Ontario Brett families. It has always distressed me that the Bretts of Essex County appear to exist all alone – without sufficient connection to any of the other early Brett families. Drawing on my experience with logic and deduction (learned primarily by studying for the LSAT and obsessing over Sudoku puzzles for many years), I decided to record the outcome of my reasoning and was pleasantly surprised with the results. Here is what I wrote …


Making clear connections between various lines of the Sligo Bretts has been difficult due to the lack of official records. Using correspondence and anecdotal information, it may be possible to tenuously, and in some cases almost definitively, connect siblings.

Fact #1

Patrick Brett and Eliza Craven of Achonry. Patrick was the son of a John Brett with 9 sons, according to information of Mrs. Ada Brett Kerr on a visit to Sligo in 1932 to Henry Brett of Streamstown, Achonry. (Source: Bill McGee’s “Early Bretts of Co. Sligo, Ireland”)

Discussion:

Although some researchers have identified the oldest patriarch as being a George Brett (source unknown), this small piece of information from Ada Brett Kerr suggests that John Brett with 9 sons is a useful starting point.

The passage does not eliminate the possibility that John Brett also had daughters.

Conclusions:                 

1) The patriarch of this family is John Brett, a man who had 9 sons.

2) Patrick Brett (born c. 1790s) was one of John Brett’s 9 sons.

Fact #2

On August 9, 1920 Henry Brett of Streamstown, Achonry, Ballymote, County Sligo wrote to Miss Minnie Brett in Toronto, the youngest daughter of Jasper Brett and Elizabeth Jenkins. 

“… If you are of the same family as I am, your father must be from the parish of Achonry. He lived near the Achonry Church. His father’s name was George. They emigrated to Canada about 70 or 75 years ago. If your family is of this statement, your father and my father were cousins.” (Source: Letter to Emily Ermina (Minnie) Brett, shared by Marna Gariepy)

Discussion:

We know that Minnie Brett’s parents immigrated in 1850 on the Royalist, 70 years prior to the date of Henry Brett’s letter. Her father Jasper (1822-1885) was the eldest son of George Brett (b. 1785) and Jane Jackson.

We know that Henry of Streamstown(1866-1947) was the eldest son of John (1822-1907) and Cecelia Brett. John was the eldest son of Patrick Brett and Eliza Craven of Achonry.

Conclusions:

3) If Minnie and Henry’s fathers (Jasper and John) were cousins, then their fathers, Patrick and George, were brothers.

4) Patriarch John Brett had 9 sons, including…

George (b. 1785 m. Jane Jackson)
Patrick (b. 1790s m. Eliza Craven)

 Fact #3

 Uncle George’s family are all living in that quarter. You may see some of them are your way. I believe they are comfortable.” (Source: George Brett letter, June 16, 1875)

Discussion:

This statement appears in the George Brett letters. George (1825-1880) was the eldest son of Jasper Brett and Celia Meuberry. He was a successful cattle farmer who never left Ireland. He was writing to his brother John (1825-1880), the patriarch of the Essex County Bretts.

This statement follows a reference to the letter-writer’s sister Jane and her husband Thomas Clark(e) who settled in the Ottawa Valley. George Brett and Jane Jackson settled in Mono Township. “Living in that quarter” could refer generally to the area lying north of Toronto.

Conclusions:

5) It is probable that “Uncle George” is George Brett of Mono. If true, then George Brett of Mono and Jasper Brett (father of George the letter writer and John Brett of Essex County) are brothers.

6) Patriarch John Brett had 9 sons, including…

George (b. 1785 m. Jane Jackson in 1817)
Jasper (b. early 1790s m. Celia Meuberry in 1812) – TENTATIVE
Patrick (b. late 1790s m. Eliza Craven before 1822)

Fact #4

“As for Patt the Boy he is not in America but home. He came home this time six years with £60 and remained until he spend this, most of it in drinking & sporting, then went off again to the states, and remained there with uncle Christy’s son in law at Brickmaking until he made up sixty more & started for home again…” (Source: George Brett letter, September 23, 1874)

Discussion:

“Patt the Boy” is Jasper Brett’s youngest son, brother of George the letter-writer and John Brett of Essex County. Their sister Mary and her husband William Sadler/Sadlur lived at times in Philadelphia, PA, where Patt the Boy took up residence off and on, working for Uncle Christy’s son-in-law at brickmaking.

We know that Christopher Brett (b. 1799) married Elizabeth Allen in 1817 (Killala/Achonry DMB) and had 10 daughters and 4 sons. Their daughter Elizabeth married James Hammond, who ran a successful brickmaking business in Pennsylvania. James Hammond is “uncle Christy’s son in law”. (Source: Jackie Norris)

Other mentions of Uncle Christy’s family include:

  • Patt the Boy “went to live with Charles Brett of Aconry and stopt there until he fell in fashion with his servant girl and was going to get married to her but was prevented by uncle Patt’s two sons.” (Source: George Brett letter, September 23, 1874)

Note: Charles Brett of Achonry is Christopher Brett and Elizabeth Allen’s youngest son. Charles and Patt the Boy are cousins. (Source: Jackie Norris)

Patrick of Streamstown had three sons (John, George and Henry). The important point is that George refers to him as “uncle Patt”.

  • “I have to let you know that Charles of Aconry’s first wife died, leaving two children, boy and a girl. He got married again to John Allen of Rathbarrons youngest daughter and got two hundred pounds with her.” (Source: George Brett letter, February 23, 1876)

Note: We know that Charles of Achonry married Anne Brett, daughter of Thomas Brett of Kilmacshalgan. When she died he married Kate Allen of Rathbarron. (Source: Jackie Norris)

  • “Uncle Christy’s Mary is still living an old maid. Celia is married to uncle Patt’s son John the marauder.” (Source: George Brett letter, February 23, 1876)

Note: Christopher Brett and Elizabeth Allen did have a daughter, Mary, who appeared not to marry, and a daughter Celia who married her cousin, John Brett (1822-1907), eldest son of Patrick Brett and Eliza Craven.

Conclusions:

7) This is strong epistolary evidence in support of the claim that Christopher Brett (b. 1799 m. Elizabeth Allen), Patrick Brett (b. 1790s m. Eliza Craven) and Jasper Brett (b. early 1790s m. Celia Meuberry) were brothers.                        

8) In Fact #2 above, we established that Patrick and George were brothers. Adding in this new information, we can conclude that Patriarch John Brett had 9 sons, including…

George (b. 1785 m. Jane Jackson in 1817)
Jasper (b. early 1790s m. Celia Meuberry in 1812)
Patrick (b. late 1790s m. Eliza Craven before 1822)
Christopher (b. 1799 m. Elizabeth Allen in 1817)

Fact #5

Patrick of Cloonarara, Sligo writes to George Brett (1835-1905) after his father’s death. George’s father was Henry Brett (1791/2-1877), who married Catherine Cuffe and settled in Mono Township, like George Brett and Jane Jackson:

…I have no real friend in Ireland but George Brett, son to Jasper Brett, a man whom your Father loved dearly. G. Brett lives in opulence on a large farm near Ballinacarrow and has two other large farms and possesses of an immense stock of cattle of all kinds.” (Source: Patrick Brett letter, November 16, 1877, shared by Bonnie McKenzie Hollender)

Discussion:

The George Brett referenced here is clearly the letter-writer George Brett, son of Jasper who most likely passed away before George Brett’s letter-writing began in 1874. Although Jasper is not referred to as an uncle, it is possible that he and Henry were brothers. More research is needed on this point.

Conclusion:

9) Patriarch John Brett had 9 sons, including…

George (b. 1785 m. Jane Jackson in 1817)
Jasper (b. early 1790s m. Celia Meuberry in 1812)
Patrick (b. late 1790s m. Eliza Craven before 1822)
Christopher (b. 1799 m. Elizabeth Allen in 1817)
Henry (b. 1791/2 m Catherine Cuffe in 1828) – TENTATIVE                            

Fact #6

Margaret Brett (1784-1866) married Allan Shaw in 1809 (Killala/Achonry DMB), immigrated to Canada in 1829 (obit) and housed two daughters of George Brett and Jane Jackson in her home as of 1851 (census) – Mary and Ellen. (Source: Marna Gariepy’s Henry of Streamstown family tree on Ancestry)

Discussion:

Born one year apart and early in the birth order, Margaret and George are probably siblings. More research is needed on this point.

Conclusion:

10) Patriarch John Brett had 9 sons and possible 1 daughter, including…

Margaret (b. 1784 m. Allan Shaw in 1809) – TENTATIVE
George (b. 1785 m. Jane Jackson in 1817)
Jasper (b. early 1790s m. Celia Meuberry in 1812)
Patrick (b. late 1790s m. Eliza Craven before 1822)
Christopher (b. 1799 m. Elizabeth Allen in 1817)
Henry (b. 1791/2 m Catherine Cuffe in 1828) – TENTATIVE

 

 

15 thoughts on “Connecting Brett Siblings”

    1. Looking for relatives of Minnie Brett have very old documents Id like to share. Married to Gus Brett… Minnie passed in Burnably BC in 1952-3 I beleive… Dont know what happened to husband Gus Brett. Any info greatly appreciated have old documents Id like to share with this family.

    2. My nans dad was James Brett her name was Eleanor i think her brothers were John Brett Jim Brett Gus Brett Danny Brett and Mike Brett, she had a sister Agnes and i think 2 others but not sure of their names, my nan married into the Maye family they lived in Tubercurry Sligo.

  1. I appreciate the work you’ve done here. It’s helped me fill in a number of gaps. Henry Brett of Rosemont is my 3rd great-grandfather. I hope to learn more about his father John. I’m also trying to determine the relationship with Clara Brett Martin (first female lawyer in the British empire), who lived close nearby in Mono Township.

    1. Hi Robert.

      My apologies for the late reply.

      I believe Clara Brett Martin is descended from James Brett (1780-1862), but I am happy to be corrected. Her father was Abraham Martin and her mother Elizabeth Brett (1831-1910), daughter of James Brett and Elizabeth Brown.

      If you find a connection between James Brett (1780-1862) and Henry Brett of Rosemont, please let me know.

      In this blog post about connecting Brett siblings, I did not mention Henry of Rosemont as I’ve been unable to definitively identify him as a brother to those listed or as a son of John with 9 sons. If you have information on this connection, please let me know. I can be reached by email at lbrett7@yahoo.ca.

      Thank you for reaching out. It would be wonderful if we could connect more of the Ontario Bretts from Sligo as I’m certain that most of them are related.

      Laurie

  2. Laurie, I am descended from Dr. Thomas Henry (1808-1878 ) born in Sligo and died in Orangeville Ontario.
    He married Margaret Brett (do of James Brett, b. 1820 Ireland, d. 1891 in Orangeville Ont. ) in 1837 in Orangeville Ontario Canada.

    Previously I have researched the Henry and Brett lines separately but I have just discovered that there must have been a family connection between the Brett’s and Henry’s going back generations, It makes sense that families who emigrated to North America, might try to settle close to each other. I had previously reviewed your blog and didn’t see the connections but other researchers tell me you have done a lot of research. My tree is an Ancestry “kearnsjulie” and anything you are willing to share will be appreciated.

    1. Hi Julie.

      My apologies for the late response. Unfortunately I have not made a direct connection to James Brett (1780-1862), but I believe others have.

      Bill McGee’s webpage outlining his Brett family research results continues to appear on the internet at http://www3.sympatico.ca/wfmcgee/Brett/
      If you haven’t already reviewed it, it’s certainly worth a look.

      I suspect that most of the Ontario Bretts with a Co. Sligo connection (in the area stretching from Ballysadare to Tobercurry) are related in some fashion, but it’s very difficult to sort out exactly how. The same place names appear in many of the records and I would hazard a guess that anyone with connections to Achonry (the place and the cathedral) is probably a relation. Today, the cathedral continues to stand alongside several adjoining graveyards, but there is little evidence that it once had a noteworthy population.

      I am happy to review this further and can be reached by email at lbrett7@yahoo.ca.

      Thank you for reaching out.

      Laurie

    2. Hi Julie. I’d like to review your Rathbone Family Tree but I can’t find it on Ancestry. I’ve had correspondence from someone who seems to be connected to your line but I need to do more research. If you’re willing, would you send me the URL to the page in Ancestry? I find Ancestry very clumsy sometimes (or maybe it’s me). ~ Laurie

  3. Dear Laurie,
    I am a great great great granddaughter of the Jasper Brett whose son George married Isabella, they had Cecila Brett who married Henry Hamilton, who had George Hamilton, who had George Hamilton, my dad! My grandfather George had been raised by Celia and Henry in Co. Leitrim, but their son George bought a farm in Collooney Co. Sligo where my dad grew up. You have provided so much interesting information. Thank you! I was particularly interested to see that George Brett must have left land/money to his family, as they most definitely did not grow up wealthy in Co. Leitrim. Would be very interested in his letters. I grew up in Dublin, and now reside in Chicago. I have been in touch with Yvonne Dane, my 2nd cousin I believe. Kind regards, Sandra

    1. Hi Sandra. It’s great to hear from you. Did you find the link to George Brett’s letters? This link should take you straight there: https://hangingonalimb.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/geo-brett-letters-1874-78.pdf

      When I wrote the early posts I’m not sure that I understood land ownership in Ireland and how it passed (if at all) from generation to generation.

      When we were in Ireland a few years ago we were so excited when we found George and Isabella’s graves in the cemetery at Rathbarron church. His brother (my gt-gt-gt grandfather) John is buried not far from where we live. From the letters it would appear that they tried to stay in touch near the end of their lives.

      We travel to Champaign, IL several times a year (pre-Coronavirus) to visit our son. He is currently home from UIUC and teaching remotely. When the world returns to whatever the new normal is going to be, perhaps we’ll have a chance to meet. I can be reached by email at lbrett7@yahoo.ca.

      Stay safe!

      Laurie

    2. Hi Sandra.
      I’m reviewing various correspondence I’ve received in the last year related to the Brett family and I’m interested in knowing whether you’ve had any luck finding Isabella’s maiden name or any information connecting Jasper Brett to his siblings. Since you have a closer connection to Ireland than most of the people I communicate with I am hoping you might be able to fill in a few blanks. It seems to be universally frustrating to connect Jasper to other Bretts, but I’m still digging away at clues. If you have a chance, please let me know if you’ve made further progress on this.
      Thanks!
      Laurie

  4. One more thing to add, two young girls came to visit my dad in Dublin in the early ’90s. They were from Saskatoon Saskatchewan. I’m pretty sure they were from the Hamilton/Brett family line and the name Mowbray was mentioned. I don’t know who they were – may have been a relative traveling with her friend. They were late teens and stayed in a hostel in Dublin where I dropped them off after their visit. Any idea who they might have been? Thank you!

    1. Sorry. I don’t know who these girls were, but I’ll keep an eye out for them. It was only recently that I realized Cecelia Meuberry was likely Cecelia Mowbray. If we get back to Sligo in the future I’ll check for Mowbrays at the local history centre since Meuberry came up empty.

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