Gerrard Family Genealogy

Facts and Theories

- Philip Gerrard

April 2002

In attempting to research the history and genealogy of any family, there are always grey areas and details which are difficult to confirm. In some cases, the difficulty does not result from the lack of information, but rather from too much information, which cannot be properly correlated. In some cases, different interpretations of the same data can result in diverse and conflicting theories.

It is important to note the difference between what are "facts" and what are "theories." Facts are information which are generally based on "primary" historical records, and generally cannot be contested. By contrast, a theory is a proposed explanation, where the facts are absent. Factual information should always be based on primary historical documents, such as original birth, death and marriage records; census returns and legal documents (wills, deeds, etc). It should be remembered however, that even primary records can contain errors, such as mis-spelling of names, etc. Transcriptions of original documents, although based on primary resources, should be used with caution, since the possibility for errors is increased due to potential mistakes and interpretations by the transcriber.

Finally, in the absence of factual information, it is important not to get too invested in any one specific theory and not to convey that theory as "fact." Should new information come to light at a later date, it is difficult to retract and in the meantime others may have adopted the theory as factual.

There are a number of theories concerning the early origins of the Nova Scotia Gerard / Gerrard family which should be examined in this light. Some of these are presented here in an effort to discriminate between which are the facts and which are theories. The underlying purpose is to set out these issues as a basis for further discussion and understanding.

A) The Origin of Ann Huxford

This issue has been set out in greater detail before (see "The Origins of the Huxford Family "). Basically the only information presently known concerning William Gerrard's wife is that she married him on April 3rd 1754 at "Christchurch." Some early secondary sources refer to Christchurch as being in Hampshire County, England. Another reference in a family bible owned by Mary Anne ("Minnie" Gerrard) McCarthy indicates that "Christchurch" was in Placentia, Newfoundland (the original author and provenience of this source is not known). This information has been repeated by a number of sources. The precise date and place stated seems to indicate that it is based on some historical record. However, the original primary reference document has yet to be identified. As well, the actual circumstances of William and Ann's meeting are presently unknown and the subject of differing theories;

The England Theory has Ann Huxford meeting William Gerrard and marrying him at Christchurch in Hampshire County, England. Unconfirmed sources also indicate that some of their children were subsequently born at or near Ince in Lancashire County.

The Newfoundland Theory is based on documented primary source records of a Huxford family living there as early as 1732. However, it has not been confirmed that this is the family of Ann Huxford, and there is no direct reference to her in those records. If Ann did live in Newfoundland or met William there, then it would appear that they may have gone back to England (Ince) since secondary sources indicate that some of their children were born there. The entries in Mary Anne ("Minnie") McCarthy's family bible indicate that "Christchurch," where William and Ann were supposed to have been married, was in Placentia, Newfoundland and notes that their son Henry was also born in Newfoundland. However, the author and date of these entries has not yet been determined.

B) William Gerrard's Arrival in Nova Scotia

Similar to the origin of Ann Huxford, this matter has been dealt with in greater detail before (see "The Origins of the Gerrard Family "). At the present time, there is no confirmed date for William Gerrard's arrival in Nova Scotia, or his subsequent connection with Gerard Island. There are currently several theories of how and when he arrived;

The Direct Route Theory would have William and Ann arriving in Nova Scotia with their children, directly from England. At present, there is nothing to substantiate this theory. There has been no ship's passenger list found to date that identifies them.

The Newfoundland Theory as outlined above is based on documented references to an early Gerrard family in the Greenspond area of Newfoundland. This theory suggests that William was a fisherman there were he came in contact with the Huxford family. Once again, there is presently no primary reference for either William or Ann in Newfoundland.

The Cape Breton Island Theory is based on references to a William Gerrard ("Garrot " actually) as a fisherman at Baleine, on Cape Breton Island in the 1760's. The references appear to be based on one or two secondary sources which as yet have not been confirmed.

If William was present at Baleine in the early 1760's, it would have been a dangerous place to bring a wife and family. Baleine is the name of the cove on the north side of the Fortress of Louisbourg. In 1758, more than 20,000 English troops had just arrived and been garrisoned at Halifax. Later that same year, these troops went to Louisbourg under the command of Generals Amherst and Wolfe and defeated the French forces besieged there in their citadel.

Ten years earlier, a force of New Englanders had come up the coast from Massachusetts and defeated the French and captured the same fortress. But in the ensuing peace treaty between England and France, England gave it back to the French. So when hostilities broke out again in 1756-1763 and the English had to capture Louisbourg, for the second time in a decade, the victors did not make the same mistake twice. This time they took down the fortress and the entire town piece by piece and shipped the parts to Halifax to build that city. And in order to make sure there was nothing left for the French to re-build this time, the English naval artillery barraged what was left of the place over the next few years. After their victory in 1756, some of the 20,000+ troops that had been sent over from England, were then garrisoned at Louisbourg. If William is recorded at Baleine, then it is possible that he may have been part of the invading British force.

The Stepping Stone Theory combines the Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island theories. It ties back to the assumption of William and Ann meeting in Newfoundland and then moving to Baleine on Cape Breton Island and finally to Gerard Island. This theory would have to address the possibility that William and Ann returned to England to get married and may have had some of their children there; then returned to Newfoundland, then moved on to Cape Breton Island and then on to Halifax County. This seems to be somewhat contorted, and does not provide any explanation for William's title to Gerard Island. Also, it should be noted that travel in those days was by boat, and it was a long arduous and dangerous business even to go from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia once, let alone to England and back three times.

The Maryland / Virginia Theory - Another possible place of origin of the Nova Scotia Gerard / Gerrard family is the New England colonies, prior to the American Revolution. There was a long established Gerard family in the Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina area who can probably be traced back to the Lancashire Gerards in England (another theory). It is possible that William is connected to this colonial American family, but again does not explain the (unconfirmed) marriage to Ann in England or Newfoundland and the (unconfirmed) birth of some of their children in those places.

The Loyalist Theory ties William to documented references to a "William Gerrard" who served as a private in the Queen's Rangers during the American Revolution. As yet, there has been no positive connection established between these two persons. This theory does provide some reason for William being in Nova Scotia as well as a possible explanation for how he came into title of the island (i.e. a land grant for military service).

In some of these theories about where William came from, there is also an implied theory about the date of his arrival in Nova Scotia.

The Direct Route Theory has no specified date of arrival.

The Newfoundland Theory would have William arriving in Newfoundland prior to the (unconfirmed) date of his marriage to Ann Huxford (i.e. prior to 1754).

The Cape Breton Island Theory would place William there in the early to mid-1760's.

The Stepping Stone Theory would again rely on William arriving in Newfoundland prior to the (unconfirmed) date of his marriage to Ann Huxford (i.e. prior to 1754).

The Maryland / Virginia Theory would probably tie into the later Loyalist Theory and have William arriving in Nova Scotia as a refugee from the American Revolution in c. 1783 -84.

Other unconfirmed records which may help to shed some light on this puzzle include references to a land grant map of Taylor Head (on the east side of Spry Bay) dated to 1769, which apparently shows Gerard Island and uses that name. If this document can be confirmed, it could help support one of these theories over the others. At the present time, the earliest confirmed source from a primary record for the presence of the family in Nova Scotia is the bond for the marriage of William and Ann's daughter Ann (Nancy) Gerrard to "Cason Haws," dated October 5th 1785. Their marriage is also documented at that time in the records of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Halifax.

C) The Relationship of Henry and John Gerrard

Were Henry and John Gerrard father and son, or brothers ? There is no dispute that William Gerrard and Ann Huxford were the parents of Henry Gerrard. One scenario has it that Henry was their only child, and was apparently born on October 28th 1755 in England. This information has been repeated in many places, but as yet the primary source of this information is unknown. This flies in the face of what was the norm for families in those times, which usually saw several children in a family, except in situations where medical problems may have prevented it.

John Gerrard and other children of William and Ann, were then erroneously attributed to Henry from an assumed "first marriage" in England (spouse unknown) prior to his coming to Nova Scotia and marrying Lydia Boulden in 1801. There is no evidence of such a marriage and in fact there is primary documentation which directly disputes this assumption.

At that time, a "marriage bond" was required to be posted for marriages by licence, as a means of assuring the Crown that there was no legal impediment to the parties being married. These documents contain some genealogical information - mainly the parties names, their marital status, place of residency, occupation, the names and occupations of other persons who are co-signing the surety and the date the bond was signed - usually within a few days of the wedding.

The "marriage bond" for (supposedly Henry's oldest daughter) Nancy Gerrard's marriage to "Cason Haws" is co-signed by "William Gerrard, farmer." These are obviously the same parties since it is dated October 5th 1785, (i.e. the day after Nancy's wedding). But why would the surety for Nancy Gerrard's marriage be posted by her "grand-father" William instead of her "father" Henry ? One possible conclusion is that Nancy (and therefore Henry's "other children from his first marriage - John, Susan and Lucy) are actually William's children - i.e Henry's siblings.

This explanation is given further weight by the marriage bond for Henry's own marriage to Lydia Boulden. Lydia is listed as a "spinster," and Henry's marital status is shown as s "bachelor," (i.e. not a "widower" or "divorced"), thus dispelling the assumption of an earlier "first marriage." Therefore, in the absence of that earlier marriage, all of the children born prior to 1789 (the known date of William's death) and 1801 (the known date of Henry's marriage to Lydia), must be the children of William and Ann. Thus Henry, John, Nancy (Ann), Susan ("Susanna"), and Lucy (?) are all siblings and the children of William Gerrard and Ann Huxford.

Finally, Henry and John's relationship as brothers is conclusively confirmed in John's 1842 Petition for part of Gerard Island, which states that the Island had been previously Licenced by the "Petitioner [John] and his brother (the late Henry Gerrard)." In the subsequent surveyor's report in 1843, the surveyor states that he had been informed that certain property boundary stakes had been "set up by John Gerrard as a division line between his and his late brother Henry's families."

D) Gerrard vs. Garrett

One serious problem which runs through the Gerard / Gerrard family genealogy is the confusion with members of another contemporary family in the same area; in this case, the Garret family (with all of its variant mis-spellings). And to further confuse the issue, members of the Garrett family inter-married with various branches of the Gerrard family.

The "Garrets" appear to be a pre-Loyalist family from the Lunenburg area, whose name was anglicized from its original German form of "Gerhardt." And to add one final touch of confusion members of another "Garrett" family (of English origin) arrived as Loyalist refugees from the former American colonies after the Revolutionary War. However, it is the members of the earliest branches of the Lunenburg "Garrett" (Gerhardt) family which are most often confused with the Gerrards. An examination of their known history reveal them to be a separate and distinct family.

Johannes Gerhardt, a farmer from Darnstadt, Germany arrived at Halifax on September 6th 1752 aboard the "Gale", having departed from Rotterdam on June 9th 1752. [Not to be confused with Jacques "Girard", a labourer from L'Orbe, Berne, Switzerland who arrived a year earlier on June 12th 1751 aboard the same ship, the "Gale". This might be the origin of the other single 'r' Gerards" in N.S. usually concentrated around Lunenburg County].

Johannes was born on 8 March 1724, and was christened at Dalsheim, Worms, Germany on 2 April 1724. He died on 5 December 1795 at Lunenburg and was buried at Zionist Lutheran Church there. He was married twice (1) Anna Maria Catharina Mateis of Lampertheim, Germany [no other data known about her] and to (2) Anna Magdalene Westerland (also shown as Anna Margaretta Griesterland in another source) on 14 August 1753 at St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg. They are documented as having thirteen children.

Johannes and Anna's eldest son Reichardt (Richard) Gerhardt (date of birth is unknown) was baptized on 10 October 1754 at St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg. On 24 November 1783, he married Mary Ann Linck at St. Paul's Church in Halifax. Richard and Mary Ann have been erroneously identified as members of the "Gerrard" family by some sources. They had six (known) children:

2. Catherine Garrett (b. c. 1789, d. c. 1865 ?) married [c. 1813] Andrew Siteman (the son of Heinrich and Barbara Seidemann). Catherine and Andrew Siteman's daughter Sara Siteman married Henry Shellnut (the son of John Conrad Shellnut and Mary Elizabeth Glawson, and their daughter Angeline Shellnut married William Benjamin Gerrard (son of John Gerrard and grandson of William Gerrard and Ann Huxford).

3. Hannah Garrett (b. c. 1794, d. 3 Jan 1879) married [2 Dec 1823 at St. Paul's, Halifax] Isaac Daniel Weeks

4. Richard Garrett (b. 24 June 1800, d. c. 1865 ?) married [24 or 26 Dec 1826 at Ship Harbour] Charlotte Webber

5. Sarah Garrett (b. c. 1804, bap. 26 Aug 1804, d. 18 Nov 1899 married [24 Dec 1826 - a double wedding with Richard & Charlotte ?] Samuel Frederick Webber

6. Regina Garrett (b. 1805, d. 1897) married [24 Nov 1825] (1) John Peter Siteman and (2) Peter James Webber (date of second marriage unknown)

E) William or William Benjamin

Some sources have referred to Ann Huxford's husband (or Henry Gerrard's father, as the case may be) as "William Benjamin Gerrard." This reference has been picked up and been proliferated by many subsequent researchers. However, there appears to be some confusion here between William Gerrard and his grandson (i.e. John Gerrard's son), William Benjamin Gerrard, born c. 1804. At the present time, there is no known "primary" source which refers to the patriarch of the Nova Scotia Gerrard family as William Benjamin.

In addition, William, "the patriarch's," date of birth at Ince, Lancashire County in England (December 21st 1731) as well as the date of his marriage (April 3rd 1754) to Ann Huxford at "Christchurch" presently have no known documented sources.