The Dodsons: Did You Know We’re Related to Queen Catherine Parr of England?

I love the story of the Dodsons. Probably because I knew very little about Great Grandma Nellie Dodson Wallace. New stories are like new love .. so full of possibility and promise. So much to be discovered.

Nellie Dodson was Grandpa Wallace’s mother. The Dodsons, along with the Parrs (hence the connection with Queen Catherine), arrived in Comber Ontario from England. According to Grandma’s account:

“The Parrs and Dodsons were originally tenant farmers on a large scale, having their own fox hunting etc. back in England.

An incident in regard to Richard. Parr Sr. (back in England)- he was riding to a fox hunt when his horse jumped a hedge — the saddle girth broke leaving Mr. Richard sitting on the hedge and the horse continued on to the hunt.

They, afterwards, went into railroad contracting. In year 1841, thinking to better their fortunes by going to a new country. They sailed 17 in number, including the families of George Dodson, Richard Parr and John Parr in the vessel The Virginia, and after nine weeks sailing landed in New York on July 4. (The vessel on the return trip was lost with all on board). The Parrs and Dodsons stopped at a hotel, but could not get good accommodation as they told them all the servants had gone to the celebration July 4, as that was the day the Yankees licked the British.

They of course were very indignant at such a speech. They did not want to live under a foreign flag and so set sail for Canada. They left New York going up the Hudson on Erie Canal to Buffalo, and then came over to Canada settling in the township of Whitby, remaining there until the year 1842. The Dodsons then went to Bayfield, Huron County. They only remained there one year as there was so much cold weather. After leaving Bayfield, they went to Chatham and was there for some time living in the barracks, and then to East Tilbury at Valetta, staying about a year. Then they moved to West Tilbury (just east of Comber) settling on Lot 13, Middle Road North.”

The link to Queen Catherine Parr? I found, through a series of British records, that Great Great Grandma Esther Dodson was born Esther Parr of Redmile, England. Grandma’s books also say that Esther was born in Redmile, so that’s one indication that I was looking at the same Esther Parr. (Consistency between various records is an indication that you’re looking at the right person). In the 1300’s, one of the members of the House of Parr was granted 100 acres in Redmile, Leistershire, and thus the family lineage was continued in that part of England. (I don’t think they were the prosperous part of the Parr family, otherwise they wouldn’t have ended up in Comber..;)

The other thing I find interesting about the Dodson story is the reference to their work as railroad contractors in England. The early 1800s, when George Dodson and Esther Parr Dodson were building their lives and families, was during the biggest railway building epoch in British history. I found Great Grandpa Richard Elisha’s Dodson’s baptismal record, in Godstone, Surrey. I have since found out that the Godstone line was the very first public railway line in the world.

Here is more from Grandma’s history of the Dodsons of Comber:

“On June 15 1858, Richard Elisha Dodson (our great great grandfather) shot his arm while pigeon hunting. He put his gun on a log while he went to fasten their board which was loose. And when he reached for his gun it discharged. On account of being so far from a doctor he had to have his arm taken off above the elbow. He went to Normal School in Toronto and he taught school for 12 years near Ruscomb.

Richard Dodson was married to Emma J. Morris May 18, 1868 by Rev William King of North Buxton. Rev. King used to come to preach on Sunday. The roads were very bad and he said he could not come back on Wednesday so he stayed over and they were married on Monday but they had their celebration on Wednesday. Richard’s wife stayed with his father and mother carrying on the work while Richard was teaching (VF note: about five miles down the road in Ruscomb, too far to come home every night in those days) Many a time she heard the wolves howling.

It was during this time that the Fenian Raid was expected. The Dodsons had food up in the barn in case they came. One night they heard a horseman coming. But how happy they were when Richard found them in the barn. It was not the Fenians, it was Richard.

When Grandma Wallace (Nellie) was born, Grandpa Dodson went to Chatham to get a bed for the baby. His brother William (Uncle Billy) accompanied him. Grandpa found a cradle which suited him and as he got it second hand, and as they were to take the train home, they walked to the station, Grandpa carrying the cradle on his shoulders with his head through the bottom. Uncle Billy was so embarrassed that he would not walk with him. That is is the cradle that I used for my five children. My daughter Mary Catherine Brown (VF note: now of Goulais River, Ontario) has it today.

Children born to Richard and Emma Jane were:

1. Nellie Gertrude (Wallace) born Feb 8 1874, died Oct 13 1910 (our great grandmother)
2.Emma Jane Elizabeth (Mellus) born Apr 3 1876.
3. Esther Mary Beatrice (Elliott) Oct 7 – 1878- Jan 31, 1947
4. John William born November 3 1880 – died ???
5. Amy Priscilla (Hewson) – Mar 29 1882 – ???
6. George Richard Dodson – Mar 14 1884 – ???
7. Florence Edna (MacGillivray) – Jun 20 1886 – Jan 10 1944
8. Arthur Edward Dodson – Jul 1 – 1889 – ???

Obviously I have some research yet to do.

Richard Dodson was one of the earliest gentlemen scholars of the area. He was also very involved in his church, St. Andrews Presbyterian, which later became St. Andrews United Church. He was one of the first elders of that church and passed away only three years before the current church was built.

Great Grandma Emma Jane got a bit of a bad rep in our family. As the story goes, when Great Grandma Nellie died, my grandfather (then 12 years old) stayed on the farm in Woodslee with his father John. Aunt Rosie (then 6) and Aunt Amy (5) went to live with Richard and Emma Jane. The story has come down through the family that she was a Mean Grandma. Looking at GG Grandma through a different lens .. she had just lost her eldest daughter. The little girls lost their mother. No wonder they all had such a bad time of it. (The girls came back to the farm when Great Grandpa John married Mary Victoria Parsons. She was the mother that the little girls knew, and the grandmother that my mom and her sisters knew.)

Thinking about Nellie makes me sad .. I’ve seen pictures of her. Her picture in on her tombstone in Macdowell Cemetery in Comber. She looks so young. My Aunt Cath says she sees Nellie’s eyes in her son Bill, now an RCMP officer in British Columbia). Grandpa Wallace had her eyes too.


Posted on November 20, 2011, in Essex County Families, schools and churches, Wallace Family and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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