Bannon, Wendy: John Bannon Sr. 1777 - 1854

by Wendy Bannon

An important clue we received to assist in our research was via correspondence with a researcher who had obtained a copy of a brief biography written by Isabelle Honeywell a granddaughter of our mystery ancestor John Sr. Her father was his second son, named John as well and he was born in County Down, Ireland on October 24, 1824. Isabelle’s notes state that his mother was Isabell MacQuatters of Scotch decent, while his father was an Irish Presbyterian, a stone mason and a pensioner, lame as a result of being wounded in the West Indies.

Transcripts from War Office records

Subsequent research had led to the War Office records and the National Archives of Canada. According to these records, our ancestor was born in Muckney,(Muckno) Monaghan about 1777. He was a private in the 68th Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion, Capt. Lucas’s Company stationed in Dublin from February 1799. He appears to have remained in Dublin until 23 February, 1800 and was then stationed in England; Dover in June and Canterbury September and October. He appeared to be in the 2nd Battalion on 24 June 1800 (still led by Capt. Lucas) and records have him present for 31 days and has 29 days allowance in lieu of beer. The paylist to 14 July 1800 has him stationed at Swinley Camp, present for 5 days on a march and 26 days allowance in lieu of beer (landed at Deal and on to Swinley Camp. (Ashford, Kent). About 16 November of 1800 the 2nd battalion departed for the West Indies and appear to have arrived on 24 December 1800.

Our ancestor and his battalion were stationed at Dominica and Saints, Barbados from January 1801 through March 1802. On the 12th of April 1802 he was wounded in the thigh while at Prince Ruperts during an action against the Mutineers of the 8th West Indian Regiment. His wound became “diseased” and on 23 October 1802 he was officially discharged and recommended as “a fit object of His Majesty’s Royal Bounty of Chelsea Hospital”. His service with the 68th Regiment was four years. He was described as being 5’ 10 ½”, age 22 at this time. Our John Sr. embarked for Europe on the 24th of November 1802 and appears to have collected his pension from 12 December 1803 until his death (Asphodel Township) on 7 August 1854 at age 76.

According to the Honeywell notes, the family left Ireland in 1831 on a journey that took six weeks and there was smallpox on board the ship. They came to Little York (now Toronto) where they first settled and our ancestor worked at his trade of Stone Mason. Granddaughter Isabelle in her biography remarked that John “fished from a scow where the big Union Station stands at present.” However, her grandfather had a dream of owning his own land (having always paid rent in Ireland).

Petition for land

In 1832, John Sr. applied for a grant of land. Records at the National Archives of Canada confirm that as a discharged soldier this mystery ancestor had petitioned and was granted a free grant of land. This request was “In Council 8th June 1832” and “Recommended by John Strachan”. NAC documents show that on the same day in Council it was “ordered that John Sr. a native of Ireland now of the Town of York, Mason shall receive a Grant of One Hundred Acres of Land, free of expense, as a discharged soldier from the 68th Regiment of Light Infantry.”

Land Grant

Today, a multitude of this information is accessed through the internet. About 10 years ago, the UK National Archives databased all the pension files and with the combination of name and regiment, our ancestor surfaced again and as we had originally suspected, John Sr. had also served in the 68th Foot Regiment “8th Royal Veterans Battalion”. In 1816, he was discharged for a second time but at age 37 and after 5 years 5 months service.Britain had been manning two wars during this period in history; the war with Napolean in Europe and in Canada, the War of 1812. The British Army was not averse to hiring amputees for stores, garrison duty, etc. so it is not that unusual for John to sign up again for a second stint. The timing would be correct and we believe after discharge in 1816, he married Isabell and most likely all the children were born in Ireland.

Family notes: John and Isabell farmed their land. Honeywell says “they took up land near Round Lake. They had to go to Peterborough for their provisions – walk through the woods about 30 miles and carry their flour on their back. They got lots of fish out of the lake.” The two sons farmed for many years and the line of Robert used the Irish naming pattern for three generations. All the children married locally.

    • Robert, b. 1818, married Dinah Ryan

    • John Jr. b. 1824, married 1) Mary Ann Burgess 2) Rachel Montgomery

    • Sarah Ann b. 1825, married James McWilliams

    • Agnes, b. 1827, married John Brooks

    • Mary Jane, b 1830, married James Burgess