Families of The Derry

U N D E R   C O N S T R U C T I O N

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The Derry" while recognized as a community for almost two hundred years has never been officially recognized as a place name on a map.   Yet  "The Derry" is a well known location throughout  the larger community of southeastern Lanark and southwestern Carleton Counties, Ontario.  The Derry compromises the former school section, SS No. 6, and generally recognized as lots 17 through 26 of concessions 5 and 6 Beckwith Township.  

In "The Story of the Derry", (p. 52), George Kidd writes about origin of "The Derry" as the name of this community.

The origin of the name "Derry" is directly connected with this farm (S.W. 1/2 Lot 22, Concession 5, Beckwith; Robert Ferguson farm).  The story is told by James D. Ferguson of Winnipeg:  "The word 'derry' means a grove, such as is comprised principally of ash, oak or birch trees.  It seems probable that my grandmother, finding all these trees growing on her son's farm gave the place this name, which eventually came to include the whole community."  Mr. Ferguson states further: "There is a song which I heard sung long ago, but I remember only the chorus-
Hame, Derry, hame: and it's hame we ought to be
Hame Derry, hame: to our ain countree
Where the ash and the oak and the bonnie birchen tree
Are all growing green in our ain countree."

There is a place in Perthshire of the same name.  The fact that it is always spoken of as "The Derry", and not "Derry" seems conclusive evidence that the word is the Gaelic name for a grove, containing especially those trees mentioned in the song.
  The baptismal records for Donald Ferguson's children all include "Donald Ferguson in Derrie and his wife Mary Ferguson his spouse had their son baptized";  providing additional insight about the origin of the name given to the community.

Until the last quarter of the twentieth century, many of the farms were owned by descendants of the pioneers who had arrived beginning in 1818. The  Ferguson, Kidd, McLaren, McDiarmid, and Stewart families lived on farms carved out of the forests by their ancestors.  Other families associated with the settlement of the Derry - Leach, McEwen and Davis lived nearby as did descendants of the Scott family.  But a decade into the twenty-first century much has changed.  Only one surname of the pioneer families, i.e., Kidd, is found on the many mailboxes which line both the sixth line, now Kidd Road and the fifth line, now Ferguson Road.  A great-great-great-granddaughter of Angus McDiarmid lives in the home which he built  and a great-great-great-granddaughter of Samuel Leach lives nearby in the fourth concession overlooking the farms of The Derry.

The history of the Derry is well documented, beginning with George Kidd's, The Story of the Derry, published in 1943.  Two recent books Beckwith: Irish and Scottish Identities in a Canadian Community, Glenn Lockwood, 1991 and Founding Families of Beckwith Township 1816 - 1846  by Carol Bennett McCuaig, 2007 add to the early work undertaken by Dr. Kidd. 

The information presented on this website builds on previous works and focuses on the genealogies of each family as well as the relationships among them through marriage over several generations.  The  format of this site follows "The Story of the Derry" as the family information is organized by the farm which each family settled.

Several families who resided in the fourth concession but were connected to The Derry are also included on this website.

Enjoy your journey on this site.  If you have questions about the families listed on this site, or can add even the smallest bit of information please contact the webmaster.  Often a small bit of information about one person provides many links across several other families as well.

 Regional Map (copyright Google.com, 2009)

Belden's Map of Beckwith Township, 1879, showing 'The Derry' & farms
(click to enlarge)

Air Photo  (copyright Google.com, 2009)

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S. S. No. 6, Derry School
(from the collection of John & Leona Kidd)

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