Thursday, 11 July 2013

James & Mary McLane Lightbody

James Lightbody was born in 1790 in County Down, Ireland. We know he listed his residence as Killinchy on the ship passenger manifest for the Magnet but we do not know if he was born there. He was the second child, first son of John Lightbody and Ann Hucking. 

In 1812 he traveled on the ship Magnet from Belfast, Ireland and was heading to New York, USA. He never made it! In July the ship was seized and taken to the Port of Halifax, NS as a prize vessel at the start of the War of 1812-1814. He, his sister Anne and her husband Hugh McCulloch and their four children spent some months in Halifax before James bought land in Parrsborough, Kings County, NS. We are not sure if this is where the family lived.

James would have been 22 years old when he sailed on the Magnet heading to a new life. He would be only 23 when be bought land in NS. Try to imagine what it would have been like to be 22 in 1812 and how very different 22 years old is today. To spend 6 weeks on the open water, have your vessel seized, be taken off that ship while your sister and her children remained with the rest of the crew and female passengers. You are made to work on the other ship and then about a week or so arrive in a place you most likely have never heard of. Almost unfathomable.

What kind of person was he like? While we may never know we can see some of him through the documents we do have. He appears to be a smart business mind, a merchant, and provided for his family comfortably. Based on the amount of money in the land transactions and monies both paid to and paid out in settlements against James, they had to have been in possession of money when they arrived despite the reports of poor Irish immigrants on the Magnet. 

In 1813 James bought a piece of land in Parrsbourogh, Kings County which is now Cumberland county. It was renamed about 1840.

Note Hugh McCulloch's name.... James' brother in law.

In 1816 he sold it to James Ratchford. The following year he married Mary MacLane and less than 2 years later their birth of their first son, John, was born in New York.

SIDE TRIP**** Now Mary McLane comes from another Ulster Scot family that settled the Great Village and Londonderry areas about 1770-1790. The McLane family or McClane/McClean figure prominently in the make up of the Lightbody descendants  Two brothers, Samuel and Anthony left Creene, Latterkenny, Donegal, Ireland and were part of the wave of Scottish who left and lived in Ireland for a generation or so before heading for New Scotland (Nova Scotia).

Samuel had a son Francis who married Mary Forbes and their daughter Mary McLane married James Lightbody. Mary's brother Robert married Ann Little and their daughter Martha McLane married Hugh Lightbody, James and Mary's son. ( 1st cousins which was a common practice).

Any through no coincidence it was Martha McLane's sister Catherine who married Andrew Vance and their son Almon Vance married Flora McLeod, the sister of Martha's son James Robert Lightbody's wife, Isabel. Confused? James Robert Lightbody and Almon Vance were 1st cousins and they married a set of sisters. That is how couples met back then. 

Anthony McLane, Samuel's brother, had a daughter Mary who married Lawrence Peppard. Three of their children married into the Lightbody Family. 

1. Elizabeth Jane Peppard married John McCulloch, the son of Anne Lightbody and Hugh McCulloch; 
2. John Peppard had a son Anthony Matthew Peppard who married Elizabeth Lightbody
3. Mary Peppard married Hugh Lightbody.

What makes it a bit more fun is that John Peppard (2.) his wife Jane Moore had a brother William and his daughter Mary Ann Moore married William Lightbody.

So that is four of the six siblings from Ireland married into the McLane Family in some way. 

Upon returning to Nova Scotia we find in 1821 James bought land at Remsheg Harbour, Nova Scotia (what is known as Wallace, NS) and he most likely bought land in Wentworth where he had five of his children before taking up residence in Wallace, NS for about ten years. By the early 1840's James and his family move back to Wentworth. 

In the early 1830's there was some judgement activity related to property in Wallace, NS where about 600 British Pounds (common currency) was paid out by James and in one case James and a William Angevine his brother in law (James sister Jane married John Angevine who had a brother William). There is no indication as to what the issues were about. However in 1839 there was a Judgement for James where he was awarded 1000 pounds.

In 1843 James sold the land in Wallace to his three older sons, John, Francis and James but in 1849 they gave their father Power of Attorney over the land in Wallace. In the same year these same sons deeded the Westchester land (a few miles from Wentworth) to their uncle William Lightbody. It would seem that the Wentworth/Westchester land was also sold to the sons at some point. 

The purpose of all of this can be found in 1850 census of Bath, Lincoln Co., Maine where James and his family moved to. James and his wife would only live there for just a short time before he moved back to Nova Scotia and settled in Londonderry, NS. 

August 8,1856, James had a Quit Claim deed created by where the land in Londonderry that James had purchased could be passed to his three sons, John, Francis and James. A second Quit Claim was issued including Hugh's name for the same year and location of Londonderry. Just over a year later James would die at the age of 67.

James and Mary's son Hugh moved back to Nova Scotia some time about 1856/1857 with his son James Robert and daughter Alveretta. There is still some confusion regarding the birth location of James Robert and the fact that Hugh shows up in the Bath, Maine 1860 census.  Both Hugh and his mother are listed in Bath, Maine on June 6, 1860 but there are no signs of his wife or children. They were staying with Hugh's sister Margaret and her husband Charles Harrington.

One logical explanation could be that he been visiting and his family remained behind or with other family. 

In the 1871 census for Londonderry, NS, Mary is listed as living with Hugh and his family.

James and his wife Mary McLane are buried in the Folly Village/Glenholme Cemetery where his son Hugh and his wife Martha are buried too. They are the only members of James' line to be there. With the exception of descendants of their grandchild, James Robert, who remained in the Truro area, the rest of their family are scattered over Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois and a few parts in between. It appears as if perhaps only one or two grand or great grandchildren actually ever made it to NY to live, their intended destination in 1812. I like to think, with no disrespect to New York, home was better in the gentle hills, green pastures and plentiful forests of Cumberland and Colchester Counties in Nova Scotia. I know, speaking personally, I can't imagine growing up anywhere other then their choice for home!

To my knowledge that is now no land owned by any descendant of James and Mary in NS just these graves where they rest.

A final note of interest about James and Mary's children are that they show up in genealogy records is Tarbat by Fearn, Ross & Cromarty vital statistic records. When this was first discovered researchers years ago thought we had hit a gold mine but it did not take long to realize that something was not right. While now we can prove the children were all born in North America, we can also prove why the show up in these Scottish records.

The minister of the church who baptized the children in Nova Scotia ( I do not recall his name) was from Scotland and when he returned back to Scotland he, or someone after his death, took the records with him and entered them into the books in Tarbat by Fearn in Ross & Cromarty. Now when they show up online it looks like James' family was from there but that is not the case at all.

In fact we still do not know where in Scotland James ancestors are from since records are not available to us.


  1. Hi Amanda, have you ever come across a William Lightbody in Pittsburgh, PA or a Hugh Lightbody in Jersey City, NJ? Both were from Ireland. Thanks, Rob

  2. Hello Rob, I have very little but did find a William b. 1874 who married a Nettie Sutton, his brother Hugh ( note says New Jersey), along with another brother James and sister Jane. Their father was William and William's father was John. I found this our from a Charlotte Younkins. Any relation to you?

    There is no immediate relation to my line despite the names all being the same. I roughly figured that John would have been born maybe about 1790-1800. Without knowing more names its hard to determine if there was a naming pattern used. The first born male is usually named after the father's father and the first female after the mother's mother. It was not always used.

    Not sure if this helps any. If this is your line but you don't know Charlotte I can send her your email address if your want to pass it along.


  3. Hi Amanda, Yes, they are related to me. Thanks! I might have to renew my ancestry subscription to see if I can take this any further. You just helped me get through a brick wall. My email address is

    My grandfather is Joseph Lightbody (b.1909 - d. 1995). His father was William (b. 1874 - d. 1947). I didn't know about James, Jane, and John. Does Charlotte Younkins have more information? You can give her my email address above.

    Thanks again! - Rob