Fonds 78-008 - Frances Stewart fonds. 1978 additions

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Frances Stewart fonds. 1978 additions

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    • 1757-1890 (Creation)
      Stewart, Frances Anne

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    25 cm of textual records

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    Biographical history

    Frances Anne Stewart (nee Browne) was born May 24, 1794, daughter of Reverend Francis Browne and Anna Maria Noble, in Dublin, Ireland. In 1796, Rev. Browne died quite suddenly in front of his wife. The resulting shock left Frances' mother somewhat of an invalid until she died in 1809. Frances was left in the care of her great-uncle, Robert Waller in Allanstown, Ireland, where she was raised by Harriet Beaufort, who managed the household. Harriet was a well educated young woman, and sought to give Frances the same quality of education. Under Harriet's instruction, Frances received a much more academic education than was the norm for young girls of those days. In the summer of 1816, Frances, and her aunt Susan went to visit some distant friends, the Stewarts, who lived near Belfast. This is where Frances met her future husband, Thomas Alexander Stewart (1786-1847). They were married December 16, 1816. Thomas worked for the firm of Robert Reid and Son, which manufactured linen, cotton and silk. When the company ran into trouble, and eventually bankruptcy, Frances and Thomas decided to emigrate to Canada. The Stewarts went with Thomas' brother-in-law, and former business partner, Robert Reid and his family. The party of 27 set sail from Belfast Lough, on June 1, 1822. Seven weeks were spent on the ship before reaching Quebec. From there they traveled to Kingston, and then on to York, where Stewart and Reid were each granted 1200 acres, provided they settled in an unsurveyed township. Douro Township was suggested as a promising region. On September 9, 1822, Stewart and Reid traveled to the area with Richard Birdsall, the surveyor, and each chose land on the Otonabee River. Life in Douro Township was very isolated for Frances, but she managed well on her own, looking after her home and children. Thomas Stewart died in 1847 from typhoid fever, and Frances Anne died several years later on February 24, 1872 at Goodwood. Extensive biographical information on the Stewart family, plus friends, neighbours, and associates, may be found in accession 02-001.

    Custodial history

    This fonds was in the custody of Miss Browne of Montreal, Quebec until it was donated, via Joyce Lewis, to the Trent University Archives.

    Scope and content

    This addition to the fonds consists of correspondence of Frances Stewart and her mother's family (the Wallers). Some letters relate to her upbringing in Ireland. The remaining correspondence concerns her life in Douro Township as one of the first pioneers. Frances describes pioneer life and its attendant hardships, the settlement and development of the Peterborough area and Douro Township and social, family, religious and economic life in early Ontario. Some correspondence concerns the publication of 'Our Forest Home'.

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    The letters were donated by Miss Browne of Montreal, P.Q. via Joyce Lewis.


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        Materials are fragile; researchers will be requested to use the transcripts and photocopies found in 94-006.

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        Associated materials

        Associated material located at the Archives of Ontario.
        For related records see: 69-1003, 71-001, 75-011, 93-1013, 94-007, and 02-001.

        Trent University Archives has prepared an on-line display which features the letters, diaries, drawings and photographs of six women pioneers of the Peterborough area. Frances Stewart is one of the women highlighted. In addition, selected letters of Frances Stewart have been transcribed and are included below as links to this finding aid. Please visit the virtual exhibit featuring Frances Stewart, Anna Leveridge, Harriet Pengelley, Susanna Moodie, Catharine Parr Traill and Isabella Miller by clicking here.


        This fonds along with 74-1006, 77-1006, 92-1002, 94-006 , 94-007, 02-001, 98-005, 97-023 and 94-1001 are additions to 74-1005.

        General note

        Located in Large Materials Cabinet - Drawers 43-45. The original Stewart Letters held in Trent University Archives have been transcribed. All are available in full-text by clicking on the links below. The transcriptions were prepared from an earlier typescript. Spelling conventions in the original letters and in the typescript have been transcribed as found. No corrections nor updated grammatical usage has been employed. Trent University Archives gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Canadian Council on Archives for this important project.

        General note

        A synopsis of the contents and dates of the correspondence is provided below.

        Box 1


        1: James Waller, correspondence (letters from and concerning the death of) July 31 [1750] - August 25, 1759. James Waller died of a "bloody flux" following a naval attack on Hughly near Calcutta in January, 1757. Letters 1-5

        2: William Waller, correspondence (letters sent to a variety of people) December 12, 1779 to July 10, 1789. Much on Irish farming and land transactions. Letters 6-21

        3: William Waller correspondence (letters sent) June 14, 1790 to August 28, 1801. Most of the letters are written to Waller's niece Harriet Beaufort from London between June 20, 1796 and August 18, 1797. Letters 22-33

        4: Frances Browne correspondence (letters received) February 10, 1800 to October 4, 1809, plus n.d. Miscellaneous letters. Most of the letters are written by her mother, Anna Maria Browne, discussing family affairs and Frances Browne's upbringing. Letters 34-63

        5: Frances Browne, correspondence (letters received) May 16, 1810 to October 3, 1818. Miscellaneous letters. Many of the letters are from Frances Browne's cousin and guardian, Harriet Beaufort, discussing family affairs and offering motherly advice to an adolescent girl. Letters 64-83

        6: Frances Stewart, correspondence (letters sent) April 1, 1822 to November 23, 1823. Miscellaneous letters Journal September, 1822. Frances Stewart kept the journal during the sea voyage from Belfast to Canada. The papers reveal the primitive conditions of early pioneer life, the need to adapt quickly to those conditions in the basic struggle for survival. They give a picture of first settlement in the back country of Peterborough (Scott's Mill) and Douro township. There is also much on the early development of such towns as York and Cobourg. Letters 84-112

        7: Frances Stewart correspondence (letters received) January 1, 1824 to February 13, 1829. Letters from friends and relatives, mainly from Ireland. Very few of Mrs. Stewart's sent during the period.Letters 113-135

        Box 2

        Folders Cont'd.:

        8: Frances Stewart correspondence (letters received) January 25, 1830 to April 21, 1834. Letters from friends and relatives chiefly on family matters. Only one letter sent by Mrs. Stewart describing the building of their saw mill. Letters 136-150

        9: Frances Stewart, correspondence (letters received) June 11, 1835 to July 2, 1839. Letters from friends and relatives on family affairs. Extracts from two of Mrs. Stewart's letters in which she describes a boat trip to Fenelon Falls and was entertained for a couple of days by Mr. Wallis, and visited also John and Anne Langton.Letters 151-169

        10: Frances Stewart, correspondence (letters received) April 9, 1840 to November 6, 1849. Letters from friends and relatives on family affairs. There are eight letters written by Mrs. Stewart. Several letters on the death of Thomas A. Stewart in 1847. Two letters from Ellen and Bessie Stewart concerning excursions to Fenelon Falls and Stony Lake. A letter dated April 16, 1841 with a description and diagram of Auburn. A letter dated October 1843 re the Bishop at Peterborough and a trip from Mud Lake to Fenelon Falls. Letters 170-208

        11: Frances Stewart, correspondence (letters received) September, 1850 to [1858]. Two letters from Mrs. Stewart. Letters 209-216

        12: Frances Stewart, correspondence (letters sent) August 6, 1861 to January 1, 1872. Several letters from Mrs. Stewart to her granddaughter, Frances Browne, in which she related some incidents of her early childhood. Also an exchange of letters between Helen Browne and her brother Herbert, July 11 to December 5, 1878. A Peterborough Review, March 1, 1872, obituary of Frances Stewart; a letter re rice gathering on Rice Lake (Letter 230). Letters 217-233

        13: T. Arnold Haultain, correspondence (letters sent August 20, 1889 to January 20, 1890. Letter to Mrs. E.S. Dunlop, Mrs. Stewart's daughter, regarding the publishing of Mrs. Stewart's book Our Forest Home which Mrs. Dunlop had edited. Letters 234-253

        14: Frances Stewart, miscellaneous undated family correspondence (letters received). Letters 254-278, plus fragments and extracts

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