Chapter One

Patrick Morrissy and Mary Phelan

When Patrick Morrissy and Mary Phelan and their children arrived in New Brunswick in 1837 the family settled on Beaubear's Island near Miramichi. There was an active ship building industry on the island, the first ship launched from Davidson's shipyard on Beaubear's Island was the 300 ton "Miramichi". Patrick Morrissy was a tradesman, a saddler by profession. He was not a young man when he arrived, he may have been as old as fifty-five years of age and at least one of his sons was accompanied by his wife and young children. Patrick and Mary's children were in their late teens and early to mid-twenties. Patrick and Laurence, two of Patrick and Mary's sons, married soon after their arrival in New Brunswick. However, the family did not live for long on Beaubear's Island, within two years they bought land near Barnaby River and began farming.


View of Beaubear's Island, from Miramichi

Barnaby River is situated about ten miles south of Nelson-Miramichi. Perhaps the family moved from Beaubear's Island to the Barnaby River area early in 1838, a year after arriving in New Brunswick, as the ship building industry on Beaubear's Island was already declining and entered an economic depression in 1841. At this time, most Irish immigrants to Canada went into farming, and certainly free or inexpensive land in Canada was an incentive for coming here. The Morrissy homestead was in the Scemiwaggon River Ridge area near Barnaby River and Jane Morrissy Allan tells me that her brother Dick Morrissy still owns some acreage of the original homestead. By 1866, both Patrick and Mary had passed away and the homestead was occupied by their son John, who died unmarried in 1881 when he was seventy-five years old, and their daughter Mary who had been widowed around 1856 and had four grown children living in the area.

Patrick Morrissy and Mary Phelan had six children that we know of, all of whom were apparently born in Ireland. However, their great granddaughter, Lily McCabe of Montreal, writes in a 1956 letter to Kathleen ("Tally") Morrissy of Newcastle that they "came with sons & one daughter". William Morrissy informed me that the children's names are as follows: Catherine, Laurence, John, Patrick, Michael, and Mary. I do not have the birth dates for Catherine or for Michael, who may be the oldest. I also do not have any information regarding a possible seventh child of Patrick and Mary who is said to have stayed behind in Ireland when the family moved to Canada. There is also Richard Morrissy who will be discussed in the next chapter.

It is possible that Patrick and Mary were both born around 1785, assuming Patrick was around twenty-one years of age when their son John was born in 1806. We do not have the exact dates for when either Patrick and Mary were born or for when they died and curiously, we don't even know where Patrick is buried.

There is no known grave for Patrick Morrissy in the Miramichi area and because of this there is some confusion about his final years, but the following seems to me the most common version of his story. One of Patrick and Mary's sons returned to Ireland from New Brunswick, and although we have the names of six of their children we don't know this son's name, as all of the children we know of can be accounted for in the new world. Perhaps this was an older son who never came to Canada with the family; instead he stayed behind in Ireland. It is possible this son immigrated to Canada with the family but returned to Ireland sometime afterwards. Patrick Morrissy's wife Mary Phelan died sometime between 1840 and 1866 and it was this event that possibly led to Patrick returning to Ireland to visit this son.

Lily McCabe, in a letter written in 1956 (see Appendix Four), mentions what most of the family thought had happened to Patrick Morrissy: "One of the sons went back to the auld sod after a few years, our Progenitor Patrick went to visit this son after the death of his wife & died at home." It is possible that one of the sons returned to Ireland and was visited by his father who subsequently died, and then later on the son decided to return to Miramichi. If this was John Morrissy, it might account for his living with his widowed sister Mary back at the family's homestead at Barnaby River in 1886. If John Morrissy died in 1881 he would have been around seventy-five years old.

Another version of the family history says that Patrick died soon after arriving in Canada and this necessitated the family leaving Beaubear Island. Around 1840 they bought a homestead in the Barnaby River area and began farming; many Irish immigrants came to Canada because of the prospect of owning their own land. This version comes from a history of the Millae family in New Brunswick that was compiled by Dave Gilliard with the help of Edith (McWilliam) McAllister. Edith McAllister was the corresponding secretary of the Miramichi Historical Society and the great granddaughter of Catherine (Kate) Morrissy, for whom Laurence Morrissey was the baptismal sponsor.

Mary Phelan

We know that Mary Phelan was buried in the Newcastle area because we have her grandson William P. Morrissy's letter to his uncle Laurence Morrissey, in which William invites Laurence to return to Miramichi to visit his old home and visit "poor dear grandmother's grave", and here he is referring to Mary Phelan's grave (see Appendix One). It is most likely that Mary Phelan is buried at St. Patrick's Church in Nelson, not far from Newcastle. This is also the church where Laurence Morrissey married Johannah Meany.

We don't know much about Mary Phelan. We do know she was the mother of at least six children and she must have done a good job raising them, they all turned out law abiding and good citizens. She was married to Patrick Morrissy for at least thirty-five years. She moved to a new country and made a new life there for herself and her family. She faced physical hardship and discomfort homesteading in New Brunswick. She was remembered with fondness by her grandson William Morrissy, and most likely by her other grandchildren as well.

Some of Patrick and Mary's Grandchildren:

Next, I will go into greater detail regarding the descendants of Patrick and Mary's son Patrick Morrissy and his wife Rose Farrell, and also some of the children of Patrick and Rose. According to the 1861 census, Patrick Morrissy and Rose Farrell's two oldest daughters, Catherine, 21 and Mary, 17 worked as domestic servants. Their other children were all students at this time: William, 15; Patrick, 12; Ann, 10; John Veraker, 6; Jane, 5; and Edward, 3. The youngest son, Frank, was born in 1863. William Morrissy's importance for us is his 1866 letter to Laurence Morrissey (see Appendix One) with its abundance of detailed information on the family. There is no better single source of information from that time than that of William. William Morrissy was born in 1843 and died in 1898 in Brooklyn, New York, where he practised medicine. He had two children, John or Francis and Rosemary Morrissy. Below, I will discuss respectively Catherine, John Veraker, Frank, and Edward Morrissy.

Catherine Morrissy's Descendants

Catherine is the oldest child of Patrick and Rose, and the god-daughter of my great great grandfather, Laurence Morrissey. Catherine (born Newcastle, late December, 1839; died 1895) married Edward Millea on 3 February 1864 and they had six children including twins, Edward and William born in 1866, and Rose Ellen who was born in 1870. Rose Ellen Millea married George F. McWilliam on 11 January 1898 and they also had six children, including G. Roy McWilliam. Roy McWilliam (born Sydney, Nova Scotia, 1904; died, Ottawa, Ontario 1977) was a Member of Parliament in Ottawa from 1949 to 1968. Another of their children was Edith Margaret McWilliam (born Newcastle, 1909; died Newcastle, 1987). She married E. Feldman McAllister and they had five children. It was with Edith McAllister that my brother corresponded in the late 1970s regarding family history. She is the author of a short history of Newcastle and for her work as a librarian and the new library in Newcastle was dedicated to her in 1992.

The Honourable John V. Morrissy

A son of Patrick and Rose, John Veraker Morrissy (born Newcastle, New Brunswick, 13 August 1857; died Chatham, New Brunswick, 31 July 1924), married Joanna Dunn on 5 May 1879 in Dalhousie, New Brunswick. He owned a furniture and farm machinery store in Newcastle, which by 1918 had branches in Dalhousie and Caraquet. He was the President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The AOH was begun as a secret organization in Sixteenth Century Ireland to keep alive the Catholic faith after the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I enacted penal laws that disenfranchised Catholics in Ireland.


John Veraker Morrissy, seated
center (Photo by Olie Larsen)

As he became more established, John V. Morrissy entered politics and was elected an alderman in Newcastle on 23 August 1899. His wife, Mrs. John V. Morrissy was elected to the first board of trustees of the school in Newcastle in November 1899. As his ambition grew, John V. Morrissy turned his sight to provincial politics and served three terms (1903, 1908, and 1912) in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. The Morrissy Bridge (officially opened on 12 November 1914) connecting Newcastle and Chatham was his special project and is named after the Honourable John V. Morrissy who was Minister of Public Works in the New Brunswick government at that time. The Morrissy Bridge was built by Dominion Bridge Co. Limited of Lachine, Quebec and The Foundation Co. Limited of Montreal. It was this bridge that my grandmother, Edith Sweeney mentioned when she spoke of New Brunswick and that the family settled in New Brunswick when we first came to Canada.


Morrissy Bridge, Opening Day,
12 November 1914 (Photo by Olie Larsen)

John V. Morrissy ran unsuccessfully as a Liberal Party candidate in the federal elections of 1896, 1900, and 1917. He was finally elected a Member of Parliament for Northumberland, NB in the 1921 election and he and his wife moved to Ottawa.

The Honourable Charles J. Morrissy

Of John V. Morrissey's five children only Charles married; his wife was the former Ellen Hennessy. Charles Joseph Morrissy (born Newcastle, 18 January 1881; died Newcastle, 22 April 1932) followed his father into a political career. He served as Mayor of Newcastle for three years, then he was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick in 1920, and as a Member of Parliament for Northumberland, NB in 1926. He was certainly following in his father's footsteps, and achieved much in his political career. He retired from politics in 1930 at the end of his first term in the House of Commons in Ottawa. He was only fifty-one years old when he died in 1932. Charles Morrissy and Ellen Hennessy had five children: Kathleen ("Tally"), Aileen, William, Francis, and John. Kathleen attended McGill University and was the first social worker in New Brunswick. Charles' son John Morrissy became a judge in New Brunswick and is the father of Bannon and William (both mentioned above), Kevin, Brendan, and Charles. John V. Morrissy and his son Charles are buried in the cemetery at St. Mary's Church in Newcastle.

Frank Morrissy Moves to Minnesota

Patrick and Rose's youngest child Francis ('Frank') Morrissy was born in Miramichi in 1863. Rose died when Frank was only five years old and Frank didn't marry until he was thirty-six. Frank Morrissy married Louise Holt at St. Patrick's Church in Montreal in 1899. They moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where Frank worked for a horse and buggy company. I understand that Louise Holt's family originally settled in Quarryville, a few miles from Miramichi, where they ran a post office, and that Louise was born in Chatham, New Brunswick. Frank and Louise had two sons, Hugh and John. Both sons majored in art at St. Thomas College and both became commercial artists. Frank provided very well for his family. His son Hugh Morrissy worked for the major department stores in St. Paul and later, when he was about forty years old, he started a detective agency. Frank and Louise's other son, John Morrissy worked for LIFE magazine from when it began publishing.

Frank Morrissy worked in the horse and buggy business until the automobile took over and his company switched to manufacturing car accessories. Frank and Louise died of cancer about a year apart, around 1926, both in a nursing home.

Edward Morrissy Moves to British Columbia

The Dictionary of Miramichi Biography states that Edward Morrissy (born Newcastle, 1858) "and his wife, Sarah [M] Campbell, a native of New Westminster, B.C., were separated in the late 1890s." Edward worked for a railroad laying track in Western Canada and Oregon in the United States. The marriage failed and Edward and Sarah's three sons, Francis, William, and Herbert were sent to live with relatives in New Brunswick. After a while the two older boys returned west to live with their mother, but Herbert stayed with his aunt Jane Morrissy Quinn, one of Edward's sisters.

Among circumstances working against the marriage was that Sarah Campbell was fourteen years younger than Edward Morrissy. Some time after the divorce Sarah Campbell remarried, to a Captain Riggs, and lived in Seattle, Washington. Jane Morrissy Allan tells me that her grandmother Sarah Campbell died in 1964 and that Jane received a diamond ring from Sarah's estate.

The son who didn't return to his mother in the United States was Jane's father, Dr. Herbert Morrissy (born Seattle, Washington, 25 May 1895), who was raised by and "lived with his aunt Jane (Morrissy) Quinn in Newcastle." Herbert Morrissy accomplished much: he earned a B.A. from St. Francis Xavier University in 1916; served overseas in World War One; studied at McGill University where he earned his M.D. in 1924; and studied at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbour where he specialized in pediatrics. He then returned to Newcastle where he practised medicine until his death on 18 December 1968.


"Back row. Brother Paul (center) wife Maureen & son Sean. Daughter Katy in front (red hair, black dress). Daivid Daigle & wife Astrid, Charles Allan & Jane (me!), Dick Daigle & (front) wife Kim. Bob Daigle (front) a friend, sister-in-law Milena Morrissy (wife of brother Dick from Vancouver), my sister Kathleen & husband Paul—parents of Dick, David & Bob.
My family but for my brother Dick. Now you can put faces to names."
—Photo and back notation from Jane Morrissy Allan of Miramichi, NB, 1999.


Jane Morrissy Allan of Miramichi, New Brunswick, daughter of Dr. Herb Morrissy, with Stephen Morrissey, Westmount, Quebec. Spring 2000.

Father Whelan, later Bishop Whelan (there was a Bishop Whelan High School in Montreal), performed the marriage ceremony of Dr. Herbert Morrissy and Mary (Calder) Duffy at St. Patrick's Church in Montreal in April 1938. They had four children: Paul (born 1939); Jane (born 1940); Richard (born 1942); and Kathleen (born 1943). The name I always heard referred to regarding my grandmother's visit to Newcastle was that of Dr. Herb Morrissy, who made such a lasting positive impression on my grandmother and other family members from Montreal who met him. Dr. Morrissy only met his mother again when he was sixty-five years old. Dr. Morrissy's father, Edward Morrissy lived the rest of his life in British Columbia. Edward died in Penticton, B.C., on 17 December 1940 at the age of eighty-one years.

Husband: Patrick Morrissy:
Born: approximately 1780-1785 in Clonmel / Carrick-on-Suir / Mullinahone area of County Tipperary, Ireland.
Died: date and place unknown, perhaps in Mullinahone, County Tipperary, Ireland.

Wife: Mary Phelan:
Born: approximately 1785, perhaps in County Tipperary
Died: between 1840 and 1866, probably Newcastle, New Brunswick
Children: John, Michael, Mary, Patrick, Laurence, Catherine

1. John Morrissy:
Born: 1806, Tipperary, Ireland
Died: around 1881, Newcastle, N.B.
Note: Possibly never married

2. Michael Morrissy:
Born: around 1806, Tipperary, Ireland
Died: not known, perhaps in Newcastle, N.B.
Note: Edith McWilliam of Newcastle suggests that the brothers John (1) and Michael (2) above, might have been twins. Michael's two sons moved to the United States in 1865; he also had two daughters and both married and moved to Kent County, NB.

3. Mary Morrissy:
Born: 1809, Tipperary, Ireland
Died: date not known, Newcastle, N.B.
Married: a Gill
Children: In the 1861 census Mary Morrissy is listed as a widow; her children, still living at home at that time, were Mary Gill, Honora, Patrick, Thomas

3.i. Mary Gill, age 18
3.ii. Honora Gill, age 16
3.iii. Patrick Gill, age 14
3.iv. Thomas Gill, age 12

4. Patrick Morrissy:
Born: 1815, Tipperary, Ireland
Died: 3 August 1881, Newcastle, New Brunswick
Married: Rose Farrell on 28 October 1838, St. Patrick's Chapel, Nelson, NB
Spouse's death: 10 July1868, New Brunswick
Spouse's death: 10 July 1868, New Brunswick
Children: Catherine, William, Mary, Patrick, Anne, John Veraker, Sara Jane, Edward, Francis

4.i. Catherine Morrissy:
Born: Newcastle, late December 1839; she is the god-daughter of her uncle Laurence Morrissey
Died: possibly 1895
Married: Edward Millae on 3 February 1864
Children: Six children, including twins Edward and William, Frank, Rose

i.1. Edward Millae
Born: 1866
Died: 1922

i.2. William Millae
Born: 1866

i.3. Frank Millae
Born: 1868
Died: 1911


Rose Ellen Millea, a daughter of Catherine Morrissy and Edward Millae, married George Freeze McWilliam in January 1898.

i.4. Rose Ellen Millae:
Born: 12 July1870
Died: 30 March1958
Married: George Freeze McWilliam on 11 January 1898
Spouse's Birth: 27 July 1874
Spouse's death: 22 November 1961


George Roy McWilliam, Member of Parliament from 1949-1968

4.i. G. Roy McWilliam
Born: 21 July 1905, Sydney, Nova Scotia
Died: 15 May 1977
Note: G. Roy McWilliam served as a Member of Parliament for Northumberland, NB from 1949-1968.

4.ii. Edith McWilliam
Born: 1909, Newcastle
Died: 1987, Newcastle

4.ii. William Morrissy:
Born: 1843
Died: 1898
Married: name unknown
Note: William Morrissy became a Doctor of Medicine and moved to Brooklyn, New York where he married and had two children, John or Francis and Rosemary. (See Appendix One.)
Children: John or Francis, Rosemary

ii.1. Rosemary Morrissy:
Married: J. Power
Died: in 1909, in childbirth

4.iii. Mary Morrissy:
Born: 1845, Newcastle
Died: 1870, Newcastle
Unmarried: a nun

4.iv. Patrick F. Morrissy:
Born: 1849, Newcastle
Died: 1921, Newcastle
Note: He earned a B.A. and worked as a teacher in New Brunswick for forty-five years.

4.v. Anne Morrissy:
Born: 1851, Newcastle
Married: John Clarke around 1877
Note: The family moved to Waterbury, Connecticut around 1887.
Children: Jennie (born 1878), Edward, Reverend George, Reverend Fred, Frank, Mary John Veraker Morrissy;
Born: 13 August 1854, Newcastle
Died: 31 July 1924, Chatham, NB
Married: Joanna Dunn on 5 May 1879 in Dalhousie
Spouse's death: 1930
Children: Charles, Renaud, Molly, Francis, John

vi.1. Charles Morrissy:
Born: 18 January 1881, Newcastle
Died: 22 April 1932, Newcastle
Married: Ellen Hennessy
Spouse's death: 1948
Children: John, Kathleen, Aileen, William, Francis

1.i. John Morrissy:
Born: 1909
Died: 1979
Married: Jeanette Patterson
Note: John Morrissy was a lawyer and Judge in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
Children: Kevin, Brendan, Charles, William, Bannon, Kathleen

1.ii. Kathleen ('Tally') Morrissy:
Died: 2003

1.iii. Aileen Morrissy:
Married: L. Day

1.iv. William Morrissy:
Married: Jessica Meighan
Died: 9 May 1957

1.v. Francis Morrissy:
Married: M. Taylor

vi.2. Renaud Morrissy:
Died: 1904

vi.3. Mary Rose (Molly) Morrissy:
Born: 1888, Newcastle
Died: 1955, Newcastle

vi.4. Francis Morrissy:
Died: 1885

vi.5. John Morrissy

4.vii. Sara Jane Morrissy:
Born: 1855
Married: a Quinn; she also raised her brother Edward's youngest son, Herbert Morrissy, after Edward's separation from his wife.
Children: Frank Quinn and Nan Quinn

vii.1. Nan Quinn:
Married: a Durick
Children: Rosemary, Josephine, Anne

1.i. Rosemary Durick:
Married: a Hawkins

2.ii. Josephine Durick:
Married: a Gunter

3.iii. Anne Durick:
Married: a Foley

4.viii. Edward Morrissy:
Born: Newcastle, 1858
Died: 17 December 1940, Penticton, B.C.
Married: Sarah Campbell of New Westminster, B.C.; the couple separated in the late 1890s. Spouse's death: 1964, probably in Seattle, WA
Children: Francis, William, and Herbert

viii.1, viii.2. Francis and William Morrissy:
Note: Francis and William were raised in the United States by their mother, Sarah Campbell.

viii.3. Herbert Morrissy:
Born: 25 May 1895, Seattle, Washington
Died: 18 December 1968, Newcastle, NB
Married: Mary (Calder) Duffy, in April 1938 at St. Patrick's Church in Montreal.
Note: Dr. Herb Morrissey was raised by his aunt, Sara Jane Quinn (4.vii).
Children: Paul, Jane, Richard, Kathleen

3.i. Paul Morrissy:
Born: 1939
Married: Maureen Casey
Children: Sean, Kate, Richard

3.ii. Jane Morrissy:
Born: 1940, Newcastle
Married: A. Haden; second marriage to Dr. Charles Allan of Montreal.

3.iii. Richard Morrissy:
Married: Milena

3.iv. Kathleen Morrissy:
Married: Paul Daigle
Children: David, Robert, Richard

4.ix. Francis Morrissy:
Born: 1863, Newcastle
Died: 1926, St. Paul, MN
Married: Louise Josephine Holt at St. Patrick's in Montreal, 6 June 1899
Spouse's father: Hugh Holt
Spouse's mother: Lea Bayley (both parents from Newcastle, NB.)
Died: around 1927, St. Paul, MN
Note: Members of the family still reside in St. Paul, MN
Children: John and Hugh

ix.1. John Morrissy:
Married: Kathleen
Children: Ann, Kathleen (Kit)

ix.2. Hugh Morrissy:
Born: October, 1900
Married: Bernice Orth, born March 1901
Children: Pat, Mary Lou, Hugh

2.i. Pat Morrissy:
Born: November 1928
Died: 2000

2.ii. Mary Lou Morrissy: Died: 1951

2.iii. Hugh Morrissy:
Born: 25 March 1932
Married: Delores
Spouse's birth: 16 June 1933
Children: Rosemarie, Gina, Antoinette

iii.1. Rosemarie Morrissy
Born: September 1956, St. Paul, MN

iii.2. Gina Morrissy
Born: April 1958, St. Paul, MN

iii.3. Antoinette Morrissy
Born: August 1961, St. Paul, MN

5. Laurence Morrissy:
Born: 1818, Tipperary, Ireland
Buried: 19 January 1904, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, Montreal
Married: Johannah Meany around 1837, in Miramichi, N.B.
Spouse's burial: 29 April 1880, Montreal
Note: It is Laurence Morrissy's family line that will be followed below.
Children: Patrick, Thomas, Michael, Mary, Patrick, Margaret
Second marriage: Emma Marie Mercier
Children of second marriage: John L. Morrissey

6. Catherine Morrissy:
Born: Tipperary, Ireland
Died: possibly on 12 April 1893
Buried: possibly Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, Montreal