Attempts to identify the children of Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington must start with Alice’s will, written on 28 January 1832, just two days before her death. Her will names seven children, quite possibly all of the children alive on that date. Children, other than those mentioned in the will, have also been proposed by researchers. Those children, too, will be discussed here.
Because of the paucity of records during this time-period, dates and locations of birth for the oldest children are problematic; only the last two children have known birth dates and places. Dates of birth for the other canonical children mentioned in Alice’s will are inferred from the stated age at death in parish records. Daughter, Ann, along with sons, William and Robert, have left more than one reported age at certain dates in their lives, perhaps allowing for a narrowing down of estimates for the time in which their births occurred. To date, Sarah has left only one date. Calculating birth dates from ages reported on census returns, and particularly ages reported at death, can be inaccurate. If the ages that are reported at various times through a person's life are consistent with one another, it is at best a likelihood that the person consistently reported the age he or she thought they were. But in an era when birthdays weren't nearly important as they are now, without the ubiquitous filling out of forms asking for birthdates and age that we endure, birth years may have been confused.
Following are the children of Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington mentioned in the will of Alice Pennington on 28 January 1832. William’s and Jane’s names have been rearranged on this list, from the order in the will, to be in probable chronological order of birth:
- Ann Flowers (also known as Nancy), b. ca 1776; d. 27 Feb 1843 in New Carlisle, Quebec at 67 years of age. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884, Protonotaire Bonaventure Registres d'état civil, M177/23] Counting back from her reported age at death, reported age on the 1786 Oath of Allegiance [RG 4, A-1, Vol.29, pp. 9408-9423, Reel C-3001], and her reported age at the 1784 Lot Drawing. [Flowers, A. D. (1973), The Loyalists of Bay Chaleur. Vancouver, Precise Instant Printing, p. 74] Ann was probably born during the approximately seventeen months between 4 Aug 1775 and 11 Jan 1777. That knowledge, combined with Robert’s known presence in England during 1774 and 1775, indicates that Ann may have been born in the British Isles and was very probably conceived there. (This indicates the likely presence of Ann’s mother, Alice Pennington, in the British Isles, and also Alice’s possible birth there.) Ann Flowers married George Forsyth, probably before 1800. (indicated by the reported age at death of her daughter, Ann Forsyth, in 1880 and from that, allowing an inference about a possible marriage date for George Forsyth and Ann Flowers. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884])
- Sarah Flowers, b. ca 1778 but possibly later, probably somewhere in Quebec; d. 27 May 1860 in New Carlisle, Quebec, with the informant reporing and age of 82 years. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Counting back from her reported age at death indicates that Sarah may have been born in 1777 or 1778. Sarah Flowers married first, James Astles, probably before 1800 as indicated by stated age of son John on 1861 Census [1861 Census, Cox Township--Part 1, County of Bonaventure (Transcript) Genealogical Society of the Bay of Chaleur]; and second, Farquhar McRae. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884]
- William Flowers, b. ca 1782, probably somewhere near Montreal; d. 21 Feb 1854 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Counting back from the age reported at his death, from the age reported at the time of his entry in the 1816 Relief Book [1816 Untitled Relief Book, New Carlisle Courthouse], from the age reported at the Oath of Allegiance in 1786 [RG 4, A-1, Vol.29, pp. 9408-9423, Reel C-3001], and from the age reported at the 1784 Lot Drawing [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 74], William was most likely born during the approximately thirteen month period, 13 Jan 1782 to 20 Feb 1783. William Flowers married Mary Chatterton on 10 Sep 1805. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884]
- Robert Flowers, b. ca 1786 in Cox Township (New Carlisle), Bonaventure Co., Quebec; d. 26 Apr 1872 in in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Counting back from the known dates at his recorded age at death at 86 yrs old, at his stated age in the 1816 Relief Book, and his reported age at the 1861 Census [1861 Census, Cox Township--Part 1, County of Bonaventure], Robert could well have been born between 12 Jan 1786 and 28 Jan 1786. Put another way: In order for Robert to have been his stated age at the known dates of each of these three events, he had to be born between 12 Jan 1786 and 28 Jan 1786.
- Jane Flowers, (also known as “Mary Jane”) birthdate is problematic but probably occurred between 1787-96; d. between 12 Jan 1852 and 1881, possibly in 1870 or early in 1871, in Dundas Co., Ontario. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Birth date is inferred from age of 52 reported on the 1861 Census of Jane’s oldest known child, Elizabeth. [1861 Census, Cox Township--Part 1, County of Bonaventure] That would make Elizabeth’s birth date, ca 1809. Assuming Jane Flowers was 21 or 22 at the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth, would make Jane’s birth date approximately 1787-88. Further support for her birth being before her probably younger sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, is indicated by the absence of a birth or christening record for Jane in the same register in which those sisters are among the first to appear. [New Carlisle, Shigawake, Hope Town and Port Daniel Presbyterian Church, 1811 à 1884, Protonotaire Bonaventure Registres d'état civil, M177/24] However, an as yet unanswered question poses itself: If Jane were born before Margaret or Elizabeth, why is she not mentioned until after them in the will of their mother, Alice Pennington? Obviously, there are a lot of assumptions being made here in an attempt to narrow down a birth date for Jane; hopefully, additional records will be found that will help narrow down her birth date. Jane Flowers married William Billingsley. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884]
- Margaret Flowers, b. 3 Apr 1789 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec [New Carlisle, Shigawake, Hope Town and Port Daniel Presbyterian Church, 1811 à 1884]; d. 23 Jan 1860 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Margaret married William Gallon. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884]
- Elizabeth Flowers, b. 13 Jul 1794 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure Co., Quebec [New Carlisle, Shigawake, Hope Town and Port Daniel Presbyterian Church, 1811 à 1884]; d. 12 Jun 1877 in Shigawake, Bonaventure Co., Quebec. [New Carlisle and Paspébiac Anglican Church, 1811-1884] Elizabeth married John Sullivan. [Hope Town, Shigawake, Port Daniel Anglican Church, 1858-1877 (Transcript), Genealogical Society of the Bay of Chaleur]
Speculation swirls around two other possible children because the number and gender of Robert’s children listed in early musters seem to indicate their existence. It is possible that these musters are in error. It is also possible that these were children who died relatively early in their lives.
Unknown male Flowers, b. ca 1779 Two early musters, the Lot Drawing Muster of 1784 [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 74] and the Oath of Allegiance Muster of 1786, enumerate a male child of Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington who is unaccounted for by the age evidence of his possible male siblings, William and Robert. This unknown male child would be about three years older than William, the commonly accepted first-born male of Robert and Alice. However, the existence of this unknown male is problematic because of a possible overlap in what is known about the possible birth date of Sarah.
A.D. Flowers in his book, Loyalists of Bay Chaleur, must have noted this unknown male on the 1784 Lot Drawing list. [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 74] According to A.D., a female child [no doubt, Sarah] did not come to the Bay of Chaleur with the rest of the family because she was left behind, ill, in Quebec. [Flowers, A. D. (1973), pp. 96, 121] The question that arises: Did A.D know about Sarah’s situation from some source no one else has been able to find again, or is this his conjecture regarding Sarah based on her absence on the 1784 Lot Drawing list, and an unknown male’s presence on it?
One explanation would posit that there was a mistake on the 1784 Lot Drawing list and the recorder tallied the four-year old, incorrectly, as a male, instead of as a female. An additional evidentiary twist must be added, however. A male child, consistent with the age of the 1784 male, also appears on the 1786 Oath of Allegiance! Could the recorder of the 1786 Oath of Allegiance Muster, then, have made the same mistake as the recorder supposedly did in 1784? Or was Sarah born after the 1784 Lot Drawing list?
To believe, however, that there was an unknown male child, you have to believe that Sarah was left behind, not just for a few months, but for at least seventeen months. Or you have to believe that Sarah was born after the 1784 Lot Drawing list.
There is possibly a third muster in existence that could shed some additional light on this problem. Raymond Garrett's website has an index, however, of that muster that may, when found, contain similar age and gender data for children found in both the 1784 Lot Drawing and 1786 Oath of Allegiance musters. Unfortunately, while some of the twenty-one musters on which the index is based have recently been discovered, they do not include the muster which includes Robert Flowers (he is in the index). If that muster can be found, and if it contains age/gender data, it could provide an answer to the dilemma of the unknown male.
Until that muster is found, to conclude that this childthat was recorded as a maleis Sarah, you have to believe that a recorder, or recorders, made the same mistake in recording the gender for the same child in two different musters separated by seventeen months. To conclude, on the other hand, that there was an unknown male, you have to account for Sarah’s absence for at least that same seventeen months.
Unknown female Flowers, b. ca 1784. Several years ago, Earle Irvine first made me aware of the existence of a Polly Flowers who lived in the Bonaventure County area and who had married a Richard Mauger/Major before 1803. (There are no known children from this marriage. Richard Mauger/Major later married Angélique Loiselle, in 1809, in Paspébiac.) [St. Bonaventure Parish Register 1771-1811, p. 75] Polly Flowers was buried in [New] Carlisle in 1803. [St. Bonaventure Parish Register 1771-1811, p. 75]
It is just conjecture, however, that this Polly’s parents were Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington. The only thing that supported this idea was that there were no other Flowers who could be Polly’s parents in that area at that time. When the 1786 Oath of Allegiance list was uncovered recently, it provided additional support for Polly as the daughter of Robert and Alice. The age of the one-year old daughter listed by Robert in his oath of allegiance on 12 Jan 1786 is unaccounted for by the age evidence of the known daughters. Moreover, her probable time of birth would not be inconsistent with a young woman named Polly Flowers to have married Richard Mauger/Major before 1803.
Since Robert Flowers could have been born between 12 Jan 1786 and 28 Jan 1786, and the unknown female was reported as a one-year old on 12 Jan 1786, it’s probably reasonable to assume that she was born sometime in the six or seven month period between the lot drawing of 4 Aug 1784 and Feb or March of 1785. (Since there are many other one-year olds reported on the 1786 Oath of Allegiance, and none of them are aged in pre-one-year old months, it can probably be assumed that anyone less than a year old is recorded as a one-year old. With this assumption, it would be possible for the unknown female Flowers to have been born after 13 Jan 1785 and still be reported as a one-year old. It is likely, however, that she was born during the last few months of 1784. If this unknown female child was Polly Flowers, the wife of Richard Mauger, it would place her age at about nineteen in 1803.)
There are two additional children proposed by A.D. Flowers in his book, Loyalists of Bay Chaleur, for whom I have not been able to find any evidence.
“George” Flowers, b. ca 1780 [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 141] A.D. Flowers says that Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington had two additional male children: George Flowers, b., ca 1780 and James Flowers, b. ca 1788 [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 145] (It is doubtful that A.D. ever saw Alice Pennington’s will.)
According to A.D., George Flowers married an Ann Forsyth and had six children. [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 141] These children that are attributed to “George” are the children of others, primarily those of William Flowers and Mary Chatterton. The “George” Flowers that married an Ann Forsyth quite probably never existed.
However, it’s very possible that A.D. Flowers knew of these children’s existence, couldn’t find the correct parents, and attributed them to an unknown male child of Robert Flowers and Alice Pennington that he found listed at the 1784 Lot Drawing. [Flowers, A. D. (1973), p. 74] This male, then, mistakenly becomes the father to the children that cannot be connected to the actual parents.
Where, then, did A.D. Flowers come up with the name “George?” It's possible that he merely confused George Forsyth and his wife, Ann Flowers, with “George” Flowers and his “wife,” Ann Forsyth.
Similarly, I’ve never found any evidence for the existence of the “James” Flowers whom A.D. also seems to have confused with Robert’s and Alice’s son, William Flowers. The children who are attributed to this “James” are also among the children of William Flowers and Mary Chatterton.
It is indeed possible that there was an unknown male born ca 1780 and that A.D. Flowers learned through either a written or oral source that his name was actually George Flowers or James Flowers. To the best of my knowledge, however, such a source has yet to be found again by any other researcher. In any case, the “George” that A.D. proposesthe one that he states married Ann Forsyth, and with whom he had six childrenthat “George” Flowers almost certainly never existed; nor did “James” exist as either the husband or father that A.D. concluded that he was.
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