Christopher Chant 1
- Born: Martock, Bower Hinton Chapel
- Christened: 17 Apr 1789 2
- Marriage: Jane Male in 1820
- Died: 19 Jun 1864 at age 75 1
- Buried: Pioneer Cemetery, Burford Twsp, Brant Co.
Thanks to Janice (Carter) Nickerson for permission to extract this information from her work, "The Chant Family History"
Christopher was the patriarch of 'our' branch of Chants. He was born, raised, married and had his children (with one possible exception) all in Somerset, England in the nearby parishes of Martock, Shepton Beauchamp, South Petherton and Stoke-Sub-Hamdon. In 1820 he married a woman named Jane Male. She was born in 1800, so was a full 11-13 years Christopher's junior. Research into her background have so far been fruitless as, again, there were many f amilies of that name in the area. He and Jane had nine children christened in a Wesleyan Methodist church in South Petherton. One of them must have died young since there is no further mention of her. She was the first, Sarah, baptised in 1820. The dates seem to indicate that she may have been born out of wedlock, not an uncommon occurrence at the time. Actually, there are indications that for at least the lower classes, it was common to regard betrothal as the acceptable time when sexual relations could begin, thus they could have been well within generally accepted limits. Following Sarah, were, Caroline Amelia, Mary Ann, Jane, John, Elizabeth (Betsy), Harriet Selina, Christopher Hull, and Joseph Horatio. Another girl named Nell (possibly Helen or Ellen) was likely born in 1839 or 1840 and died before reaching adulthood. No record of her birth, christening, or burial has yet been found, but we know she once lived because her brother Joseph Horatio wrote a poem in her honour many years later. Here is that poem:
MY SISTER NELL AND I
We strolled down by the river side,
My sister Nell and I,
To watch the waters onward glide,
And vessels passing by.
On Nature's floor of lovely green,
Bedecked with flowers of gold,
The purple sassafras as sheen,
Which trumpet vines enfold.
We played our youthful games for hours,
And told our childish tales;
Adorned each brow with fragrant flowers,
And slept 'neath cooling gales.
For I was then but nine years old,
And she was only seven;
Yet joys like ours can ne'er be told - -
They savored much of heaven.
Close by the bank, in shady nooks,
The waxen lilies grew;
We called them fish, and with our hooks
To shore full many drew.
With these I made a wreath for Nell.
She was so good and pure,
They seemed to suit her brow so well,
Yet could not long endure
The heated brow and dewless air - -
The river suits them best;
But graced awhile her golden hair,
As dove would silken nest.
Frail like the lilies, too, was Nell.
The fever's scorching blast swept by,
and my fair flowerette fell,
And to the dust was cast.
But now she blooms in glory land,
Close by the tree of Life;
Better to bloom at God's right hand
Than in this world of strife.
I hope some day to meet her there,
And as in days of yore
We plucked the lilies, pure and fair,
Up there we'll gather more.
Christopher and Jane probably lived in Stoke-sub-Hamdon. In 1840 or '41 Christopher and Jane packed everything they owned and made the difficult trip across the ocean to seek a better life in the New World. His father had passed away a few years previous to this, his mother earlier yet, so his ties to England were probably not terribly strong. Nonetheless, he did have brothers and sisters there. The trip could have taken anywhere from 4-11 weeks to reach Montreal where they likely would have landed. His inheritance of 30 pounds probably wasn't a great deal, in fact, passage to Canada for his large family probably cost him between 35 and 70 pounds. Not being wealthy, the Chants would have travelled in steerage. This mode of travel was crowded and uncomfortable at best and dangerously unhealthy at worst. They were fortunate enough not to have emigrated in any of the worst years for cholera, but they probably were not free from disease on the boat. The only precautions that were taken to guard against disease were to ask each passenger as they boarded whether or not they were healthy. Not surprisingly, this failed to weed out the sick. Births and deaths on board were commonplace. It is possible that the Chant's were among those to become parents (albeit for the 10th time) during the journey, since Nell apparently was born about that time. More likely, she was about one year old. Imagine travelling crowded into the lower deck of a ship for six weeks with nine children aged 1 through 20!
In Canada and on Joseph Horatio's birth register, Christopher's occupation is given as 'tailor', although he was also called a merchant one time.
The Chants arrived at Brockville, Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1841 and stayed there for a few years until they moved to the Niagara region in 1844. In Niagara Township, Christopher bought property in 1848. He paid 32 pounds for it and took out a mortgage on it for 100 pounds. The family lived in a frame two-story house and the property was valued for tax purposes at 100 pounds in 1852. The family lived on the same property until 1856 when Christopher sold it for 175 pounds. During this time he farmed a little (one acre or so) and kept 1 cow valued at 3 pounds, no dogs, horses or 'pleasure' carriages. While in Niagara, two of Christopher and Jane's daughters and one of their sons married. Both daughters and their families moved with their parents to Burford in the late 1850's. According to the 1852 census of Niagara township, the two boys Christopher and Joseph, of respective ages 15 and 17, were going to school. It was unusual at this time for sons as old as this to be still in school. It was probably this advantage that allowed them to pursue non-farming vocations later in life.
Around 1856 Christopher and family moved to Burford Township in Brant county. The eldest son John may have been the instigator in this move since for one, he had married a girl from Burford four years previously, and second, it was John who purchased the land in Burford. For the next 8 years Christopher and Jane lived with John and his wife and family. In 1864 Christopher died. Jane stayed on with her son until her death nine years later.
Christopher made a will in 1859 that for some reason was not probated until 1884, 20 years after his death. In this will he left his two village lots, in Cathcart, Burford to his wife for the remainder of her life and then to his eldest son John. He also left all the household furniture and personal effects to Jane. The will was witnessed by his youngest son Joseph and his son-in-law Josiah Soper.
The fact that Christopher left almost all of his property to his eldest son was in keeping with the old English system of primogeniture. By this time in Canada West (as Ontario was called at the time) there was no longer enough land for all children to inherit some, so it was normal for one son to receive the land while the others found work in other occupations. In this case John became a farmer, Christopher chose the trade of cabinet making and Joseph went into the Clergy. All the daughters were already married by this time so there was no need for Christopher to provide for them in his will. Each had probably received a dowry of some sort when they married. Historian David Gagan tells us that a typical dowry at this time in English Canada included a feather bed, bedding, a cow, some clothing and from $100 to $500.
Christopher and Jane are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Burford Township, Brant County. Christopher lived to age 75, Jane to 73.
Christopher Chant, Josiah Soper, his father Joseph Soper (a patent medicine man), John White, and Peter Fox, all lived close to one another in Niagara in the late 1840's and early 1850's. They subsequently all lived next to one another in Burford in the late 1850's and 60's. The fact that Christopher's sons-in-law followed him to Burford might suggest that either he was a powerful man or that he was well liked. It seems clear that this group of men (and likely their families) were close.
Noted events in his life were:
• Baptism, Jan 1791, Bower Hinton At Martock.
• Occupation. Tailor
Christopher married Jane Male, daughter of John Male and Mary Rowswell, in 1820. (Jane Male was born on 13 Feb 1800 in Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset England, christened on 29 Apr 1800 in Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset England,2 died on 8 Mar 1873 1 and was buried in Pioneer Cemetery, Burford Twsp, Brant Co..)