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 Ottawa Yeildings 


Preface:  Agar's grave marker was my first confirmation of the family's link to Glensharrold, Co. Limerick. Agar named his home Glensharrold and my great great grandfather, Agar's brother, named his Kansas homestead, Glen Sharrald. It seems to me that all or most of the Yeilding's in America must be linked to this family in Limerick. They owned thousands of acres in the county and together with the Eagar's, Tallis', Blennerhassett's, Maunsell's, and Massy's into which they intermarried, owned, more or less, 10% of land the of that county. These families were all Anglo-Irish landed gentry in the counties of Limerick and Kerry.

I have invested some time in the libraries of Ottawa during recent visits and have put together some of the history there, but as you must know discovering the answer to one question only raises several others. In any case I hope you will find Agar's story interesting. Here you have a photo of Agar's grave marker in Beechwood Cemetery.Agar's Grave Market, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Canada His body was moved there at it's opening in 1882 from Ottawa's North Hill Cemetery which is no longer in existence. It reads: "...Agar Yeilding, son of the late Richard Massy Yeilding, of Bellevue, Co. Limerick, Ireland. He died in his home Glensharrold near Ottawa City." It also lists his wife Mary Campbell of whom I previously had no knowledge.  This was my first acquaintance to the fact that Agar's father was named Richard Massy Yeilding, as was his brother.  Glensharrold, Agar's home, was a stone house at 16 Rear St. (later renamed Cliff St.) near where the Supreme Court of Canada now sits.

In the 1820's England was urging loyal subjects to populate the vast openness of Upper (Ontario), and Lower (Quebec and the Maritimes) Canada. Since the end of the War of 1812 there were ongoing boarder clashes with various US based groups. Parties in the US dreamed of uniting Canada with the US and there were elements within Canada that shared that idea or at one of gaining independence from Britain. Thus, Britain wanted to populate Colonial Canada with loyal subjects that would ward off such an outcome. The authorities felt so insecure moving troops and supplies along the St. Laurence seaway that in 1826 they commissioned the construction of an "inland" navigation canal from the eastern end of Lake Ontario (Kingston) to Montreal. The canal followed the south flowing Courirel River to the north flowing Rideau River (thus the name Rideau Canal), then down the Ottawa River to Montreal. The engineer commissioned to build the canal was a Colonel John By.

Where the Rideau flowed into the Ottawa River there existed only a small lumber mill and supporting activities making up the village later named Hull. Across the river from Hull where Colonel By built his construction headquarters on the banks of the Rideau a town sprung up called Bytown. Construction on the canal was completed in 1832 and by that time the population of Bytown had grown to almost 2000. The canal construction supported many new businesses and the commerce that would then flow along the canal would guarantee its continued growth.

About this time the Yeilding party from Limerick sailed up the St. Laurence to Montreal, then a city of about 20,000. Montreal at the time was the home of a large Irish (mostly Catholic) contingent. Thousands of whom helped build the Rideau Canal. Family lore has the arriving party consisting of only Agar and Richard Massy. However, according to the 1850 census of Batavia, New York, Richard had a son, Richard Jr. (21 at the time) who was also born in Ireland. Thus, I believe Richard Jr. was with Agar and Richard Sr. when they arrived in Montreal about 1830. Perhaps Junior's mother died during child birth. There is no record of her at all. She remains a great mystery that needs solving. By the way, both Richard Massy and Richard Jr. specified their occupations as Veterinary Surgeons. Richard Jr apparently traveled to the Detroit area from Batavia where he married, fought in the Civil War with the Michigan Militia, and raised a family of five. The rest of the family migrated to Grant Co., Wisconsin in 1855.

In about 1834, apparently while in Montreal, Richard Massy, and in 1836 Agar, married - Richard to Margaret Blake (of Ireland), and Agar to Mary Campbell (also of Ireland - probably Co. Antrim). Richard Sr., Margaret, Richard Jr., their two new children, William Massy (b. 1835) and Fannie Belinda (b. 1837), made their way to Batavia, New York by 1838. My father's Grandfather, Alexander Tallis Yeilding was born there in Batavia to Richard and Margaret in August of 1838, their third and last child.

Agar stayed in Canada and moved to Bytown. There he acquired some land where he raised beef cattle and opened a shop where he sold groceries and leather goods. Agar is listed as a butcher, tanner, and leather merchant. His store is listed as being located in "Lower Town" (a blue collar, mostly Irish. section of Bytown) on Rideau Street in the 1851 directory. The actual location was only about 400 yards from the canal across from which is now the location of Canada's Parliament buildings. I have attached an old painting looking at the last lock of the Rideau Canal looking east down Rideau Street as it looked in 1845. It is not very clear but it gives you the idea of how things looked back then. On one of the hills to the far left is where the Beechwood Cemetery is now located. The Canadian Parliament buildings would be built out of the painting on the right, behind where the artist is show sitting on a rock while his companion stands behind him.

In 1874, William Pittman Lett, the son of another Irishman, published a book written entirely in prose entitled "Recollections of Old Bytown and its Inhabitants" - published by the Bytown Historical Society. In it he had this to say about Agar (note the misspelled name):

"...And Charles Baines, an old time lawyer,
Stood here professional top sawyer;
He owned a bull dog, arrant thief!
Who plundered Agar Yielding's beef;
And when friend Yielding sought for law,
To deal with canine of such maw,
'Why, there is just one simple way,
' Said Charley, 'Make the owner pay;'
'I thank you for your judgment brief,'
Said Agar, 'pay me for the beef,
Seven and sixpence worth of prog,
Was bolted by your big bull dog.'
'All right,' said Charley, like a flash,
And quickly handed o'er the cash;
But as friend Yielding turned to go,
'Come back', said Charley, 'for you owe
Just seven and sixpence for advice,
So hand it over in a trice.' "

The entire text of Lett's "Recollections of Old Bytown" can be read at

In 1840, England passed an Act of Union in which, among other things, Canada was provided with a colonial parliament, and Upper and Lower Canada was renamed Canada West and Canada East respectively. In 1854, Agar stood for election to Parliament to represent Bytown. By then Bytown had a population of about 8,000. Agar was nominated to represent his party (Conservative or Tory) by, Nicholas Sparks (a rich and very influential man of the time who it is said made his money by discovering gold on a plot of land he bought for only 60.) and seconded by Alexander Gibb, publisher of the Ottawa Gazette. The opposition (the Liberal or Reform Party) was divided by the fight between two eventual Members of Parliament, R.W. Scott, and Henry James Friel (one of Ottawa's first mayors).

Agar and Mary had nine children, seven daughters (Fanny, Annebella, Mary, Richardina, Belinda, Agnes, and Alexina) and two sons (James & John W.). John was to take over Agar's business in 1869 (named New Dominion Butchery & Tanning Shop, later J.W.Yeilding Flour & Feed) only to have it closed, or sold, by 1880. I don't know where John went from there, maybe Toronto. The other son, believed to be James, still needs to be confirmed.  Only one of the daughters married, Alexina.  She divorced at the age of 33 after about 15 years of marriage, and moved back into the family home around 1891-92. Until her divorce she lived with her husband and children in the house next door (374 Slater St.) to the Yeilding's (370 Slater St.).

In 1869, Agar (in ill health) was a Conn. Life Insurance agent and had acquired a commission as an "Issuer of Marriage Licenses," an easy but lucrative operation which his daughter, Fannie, would inherit upon his death in 1873, and enjoy the rest of her life. This was likely a political consideration, or preference, much like the appointment of a Post Master's Commission was in the U.S. Until the family died out in 1932 with the death of Mary Massy Yeilding, Agar's daughters worked mostly as clerks in the Department of Indian Affairs, and Department of Finance.