How the Ontario Genealogical Society's Toronto Branch is making records more accessible—and how you can help

The truth of the original scribble

Last weekend, I came across an interesting fellow in the records of the Toronto Necropolis. Let’s just call him “John” for now. The Necropolis register showed John, aged 39, drowned on April 24, 1855, and was buried the next day. He was born in England. The plot was owned by Jane, presumably John’s wife.

John’s surname was Treiblecock. Unusual, and as you can see in the image below, someone had taken pains to see that it was corrected from an earlier version.

John Treiblecock’s name in the register of the Toronto Necropolis

Indexers working on both the York General Burying Ground and the Necropolis have seen many other variants of the surname—even as two words.

The Globe of Wednesday April 25, 1855 (page 2, column 7) supplied a few more details about John:

Coroner Duggan held an inquest yesterday forenoon on the body of a man named John Trebilcock, who was drowned a few hours previously in the river Don. It appears that a little girl fell into the stream and was being carried away by the current when the deceased ran to rescue her but his feet slipped off a log and he fell in and drowned. The child was saved by a person residing near the place. The deceased kept tavern for some time not far from the scene of the melancholy occurrence.

The census taken in January of 1852 shows John Treblecock, innkeeper, age 36, with his 23-year-old wife Jane, and children M-Jane (age 4), Elizabeth (2) and Joseph (1). John ran the tavern in a 2-storey brick house. (York Township, east of Yonge Street, District 42, Subdistrict 402, Division 2, pages 324 and 325).

So who made sure John’s name was recorded as “Treiblecock” in the Necropolis register? Was it his young widow with three small children trying to stay in control of one small aspect of her suddenly chaotic life?

I like to think so.

By the 1861 census, widow Jane Treiblecock had married David Mathers, tavern keeper, of Todmorden and two more children had been added to the household.

John Treiblecock is commemorated on the red granite Mathers obelisk (Lot D 201S) opposite the main gate of the Toronto Necropolis. The monument is much more recent than 1855—and unfortunately (in my opinion) records John’s surname as Trebilcock.

The red granite obelisk for the Mathers family (and Jane Mather’s first husband John Treiblecock) in the Toronto Necropolis, Lot D 201S (photo © Jane E. MacNamara, June 2010)


  • Toronto Branch’s transcription of Toronto Necropolis burial markers
  • 1852 and 1861 Census of York Township (see Researching Toronto for availability)
  • Toronto Necropolis register image is part of an ongoing FamilySearch Indexing project to index the records of the Toronto Trust Cemeteries. When the index is complete, researchers will have access to these digital images so they can consider the “original scribble.” Indexing is done online. You can help.

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