Why They Came


The picture is of Sarah Willoughby, daughter of Charles Willoughby and Sarah Langrill who married John Barber. John Barber and Sarah Willoughby had Gordon Barber (and others) who married Annie Alice Green; they were my father's parents.

Charles Willoughby brought his family from County Wicklow, Ireland to Eramosa Township, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada in 1849. Earlier that year, Charles had married Sarah Langril (of the Langrill, Langrell families of Cappagh, Aughrim, Co Wicklow), at Ballinatone Parish Church. Charles' parents were John and Sarah, and Sarah Langrill's parents were William and Sarah (nee Stephenson).

The Willoughbys were of Kilpipe Parish and farmed on the Coolattin Estate lands, with their farms and land-tenancy being in the Townland of Killavaney. Willoughby Corners at the Tochar (or Togher) is nearby and the town of Tinahely is just a few miles to the south-east.

In the Ireland of those times, many families were being evicted from their lands, refused the extension of their tenant farms in this time of increasing financial stress and poverty. The dreadful years of the Irish Famine, particularly around 1846, contributed to the stress on profits for large land owners like Earl FitzWilliam, owner of the Coolattin Estate properties. However, FitzWilliam was more generous and helpful than most landowners of the time, as he removed tenants in an orderly and relatively-kindly fashion, even contributing towards their passage to new places such as North America, Australia and New Zealand.

The Willoughbys (and Langrills) were Protestants and thus, although in a minority as far as numbers were concerned in predominantly Catholic Ireland, would have enjoyed a relative place of prestige and privilege. The dreaded (and dreadful!) penal laws were for Catholics and not for them, but in the end, no doubt, stresses created by famine and poverty, too-large families given land scarcity or cost to rent them, and perhaps a serious lack of work, all were major factors in Charles and Sarah’s decision to join the many others who were leaving (many forced to and some choosing such an exodus) – to begin new lives in new lands.

More Inspiration: