The Hawleys of Victoria and Inverness Counties
In Those Days in Victoria County
Captain Matthew Hawley was born in Woodbury, Connecticut in the 1740s. His great-great grandfather Joseph Hawley first set foot in North America around 1639 and became a prominent, wealthy resident of Stratford, Connecticut, on the sea coast near the mouth of the Connecticut River. Among his activities were that of shipbuilder and owner, including the schooner “John and Esther.”
Joseph Hawley was born in Parwich, a small farming village in the midlands of England. In fact, numerous generations of Matthew Hawley’s ancestors settled in Connecticut, having been born in England. Records reveal the Hawleys living in England as far back as the 1500s.
Captain Hawley was a United Empire Loyalist who arrived in Nova Scotia aboard the “Argo” in the 1780s after a seabound journey from New York. He is said to have been the owner of a small fishing/ transport boat which he anchored near his home along the Northeast Brook in Mabou.
Captain Hawley fathered children with two partners Chloe Brown of Connecticut, and Abigail Squires who was thought to be a native of Newfoundland. Abigail was an Irish Catholic whereas Matthew’s ancestor Joseph Hawley was a Puritan separatist from the Church of England. HAWLEYS TO INGONISH
Having originally settled on the Inverness side of the island, Matthew and Abigail’s son Matthew and his wife Margaret (Horsford) eventually moved from the Brook Village/mabou area to Ingonish in the 1850s. By the 1861 census, they are listed in Victoria County and engaged in fishing. By the 1881 Census, over forty Hawleys appear as residents in the area. Every Hawley is identified as of American origin, even though wives were often of Scottish and Irish origin. A CURIOUS CHANGE
Although all of Captain Hawley’s ancestors were English, and the Hawleys of Ingonish were listed in the 1881 Census as American in origin, a sudden historical shift arises not twenty years later. Curiously, by the time of the 1901 Census, the fifty Hawleys of Ingonish state that they are of Irish origin. Perhaps they were remembering their ancestor Abigail Squires who was of Irish descent? Significantly, the Ingonish Hawleys also became Roman Catholic, while most of their cousins in the Mabou and Port Hood area were Presbyterian or Baptist.
Whatever the cause for the curious change in family tradition, the descendants of that pioneering group of residents in Victoria County were industrious and helped to establish a strong fishing profession still present today.