By Maureen (King) English


George English and his wife Bridget lived in Maryborough – which has been renamed Portlaoise – Ireland. George died in Ireland before his family’s departure for New Brunswick. The mother, Bridget, was born in Ireland in 1782 and came to Canada. There were 5 girls -Ann, Sara, Eliza, Mary and Bridget – and 3 boys -James, Michael, and Martin.

All five girls (Ann, Sarah, Eliza, Mary, and Bridget), left Ireland in 1836 aboard a “timber ship” apparently bound for the Miramichi, but it docked in Saint. John. The family story tells of the girls walking from Saint John to Nelson, Miramichi carrying their good shoes in their hands most of the way so they wouldn’t wear them out. 

Work was found for them to earn their keep.

Sarah English worked for the Cunard family in Chatham and traveled extensively with them to Boston, Halifax, and Liverpool, England. The Cunard family were well known within the shipping industry and were involved in shipbuilding and the world-famous Cunard Ship Lines. It is believed she worked for them until about 1881. The 1881 census shows Sarah and her niece, Susan, living on the front street in Nelson operating a hat shop. During Sarah’s travels with the Cunard family, she purchased a Sanctuary Lamp and donated it to St.Patrick’s Church in Nelson. It has recently been restored and is installed in the side chapel. It is mid-Victorian (probably made in the 1860’s) and made of solid brass.

English family image1 sanctuary lamp
Sanctuary Lamp, St. Patrick’s, Nelson, Miramichi
English family image 2 sanctuary lamp
Detail of Sanctuary Lamp

Mary English married Maurice Scully and worked also for the Cunard family.

Eliza English married Thomas Noonan and lived in Cains River. She died a few weeks after her second child was born.

Ann English married Thomas Rattigan and lived in Nelson, Miramichi.

Bridget English was married twice. She first married Philip Quinn, and then Michael Egan. It is believed that Bridget and Michael moved to Maine, USA.

The 3 boys, James, Michael and Martin, along with their mother, Bridget landed in Nelson from Ireland in 1844. Most of the English family settled in Nowlanville and Nelson. There are literally thousands of descendants of these brave people who left behind a life of destitution for hope of a better life in New Brunswick, Canada.


English, Earl J., Nelson and It’s Neighbours, Chatham, Walco Print & Litho Ltd., 1987