Just where was James Crawford born?

As family historians we know that we should look at multiple sources for every fact we add to our tree. Three sources is a good rule of thumb, but “a reasonably exhaustive search” is required by the Genealogical Proof Standard.

A place of birth in the Toronto Necropolis burial register that puzzled volunteer indexer Marg Kelliher is a great example of why multiple sources are very necessary.

Birthplace of James Crawford in the Toronto Necropolis register

James Crawford, age 78, died in Toronto on July 5, 1919. Cause of death was senility. Here’s an image of his place of birth from the Necropolis register:

Digital images of Ontario death registrations for 1919 are available on Ancestry.ca so we could easily consult James Crawford’s death record to help solve the problem. Here’s an image of his place of birth:

Birthplace of James Crawford in the 1919 Ontario death register

Huh? We were still mystified.

The gravestones in the Necropolis were transcribed by OGS Toronto Branch and published in 2002. The transcription shows that James, his wife Margaret Henderson and six family members are commemorated on markers on plot L 147. James Crawford’s place of birth is carved in stone as: Enniskillen, Ireland.

Obituary for James Crawford of Toronto, in The Globe, July 8, 1919.

But is that what the burial register and death register were trying to say? Were those records providing more specific—or perhaps conflicting—information?

An obituary in The Globe on Tuesday, July 8, 1919, provides more clues to follow up but no resolution to the place of birth question.

If you can decipher (or even hazard a guess) about either bit of handwriting—or if you can add to the story of Mr. Crawford—we’d love to hear from you.

Would you like to join the crew of indexers working on the registers of Toronto cemeteries? Read more about the project here.

You can find the page of the Necropolis register where James Crawford appears here.

6 thoughts on “Just where was James Crawford born?

  1. In the Ontario death record, is it possible that “Island” was a mistranscription from notes or a mishearing of “Ireland”? Not a solution, but a possible simplification of the problem.

    • You may be right. If the first word starts with an “i” (mistaken for j) might it read “Inskil”? Inskil, Ireland bears some resemblance to Enniskillen, Ireland from the gravemarker.

  2. I retract my previous comment. I just looked up Enniskillen and lo and behold it’s known as the “Island County Town of Fermanagh”. Here’s a link to a map that shows the island. So the Ontario death record may well have been an abbreviated form of “Enniskillen Island”.


    That said, I can’t see anything that helps with the Necropolis register.

  3. I know a bit about County Fermanagh where it seems James Crawford was from. Unfortunately, he left Ireland before Griffith’s Valuation took place in that county so it won’t be possible to identify any Crawfords related to him who stayed in Ireland. However, I do know that there are two large lakes in County Fermanagh; Enniskillen is between the two lakes. There are many islands in both lakes, especially Lower Lough Erne. I looked at the parishes and townlands in the county that might be where James Crawford was from. One that I think is possible is the parish of Inishmacsaint. Inish can be written as “Inis” or “Inch”. (“Inish” is the Gaelic word for “island”.) Within the parish of Inishmacsaint, there is a townland called “Island”. Maybe James was born in the townland of Island, in the parish of Inishmacsaint?

    Regarding the “Enniskillen, Ireland” on the gravestone, it could be his family (probably his children) thought that place name would be more recognizable than Inishmacsaint.

  4. Pingback: Bulletin No. 1 » Enniskerry Local History

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