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Kittson History

John Kittson was the first known member of the family who came to Canada in 1759 from Halifax, Yorkshire, England according to some records.

The old parish registers of the ancient church of Brington, near the city of Northhampton shows some records of the Kittson family and relationship to ancestors of George Washington. Alice St. John is indicated as his first wife, who was probably in Ireland.

It is also indicated that John had a brother with him and that they both fought with Wolfe at Quebec.

John may have died at that time, but other records show maybe fifteen years later.

In Ancestry.Com for the Irish Records Index, 1500-1920, there is an entry of a John Kittson who died in Islandanoon. It is not specified where that is, but the resistry of his death is in a small booklet for the Diocese of Ardfert & Aghador in County Cork's South West corner. It says his death was on July 1st 1779.

The time is right according to some records and would be about the time of his son's (George's) birth which is also a match with some records and the place of his birth being in County Cork. It appears that John's second wife was, Julia Calcutt. Julia (1756-April 24, 1834) was from Newton-Limavady, Ireland and by John she had:

George Kittson was the first Kittson in North America. He arrived in Canada as a baby sometime around 1777-1780, with his mother Julia Calcutt. The father of George is still unknown.

George Kittson, who lived between 1759 (1780 by other records) and died July 26, 1832, was with another woman who bore him a son William Kittson.

In the Ft. Nisqually Journal of Occurrences William states his birth date as October 25th (1794?). After her death (Unknown) George married Anne Tucker on 2/23/1801 and it is said that she is the one who adopted William Kittson as her own, resulting in stories of him being an adopted son. A new theory as to the origins of William Kittson comes from copies of old records in microfische showing a son "Alexander" born to (Unknown) and baptised 19th September, 1794. Sponsors are listed as Madame Desautell & James Caldwell. "illeg" is listed in margin.

There is no trace of any Kittson or Calcutt in North America, prior to the first baptism of Julia Henry, daughter of Julia Calcutt in 1780. Details of Julia Calcutt's voyage to Canada as well as her origins are unknown to us. We know that once in Montreal, Canada, she was living with her son George and Alexander Henry "the Elder", stepfather to George.

In Montréal on October 22 1780 Julia gave birth to the first of five children she had with Alexander Henry between 1780 and 1786. On all five baptism records at Montreal Anglican Christ Church, the parents are identified as Julia and Alexander Henry. Julia and Alexander Henry married at the Montreal Anglican Christ Church on June 11 1785, after the birth and baptism of four of their children.

It is possible that they had been married before in Europe, perhaps under another religious denomination; but then why the need to remarry in Montréal? It is also possible that they were not married prior to 1785 and for some personal or legal reason could not, or did not, want to get married until that date.

Alexander Henry, stepfather of George Kittson, had acquired fortune and fame in the fur trade of Canada, having associated first with French Canadian fur traders as early as 1760, living for the next 16 years in the Canadian West where he became one of the original founder of the powerful Northwest Company. In 1776, at the age of 37, he retired from active trading in the hinterland and settled in Montreal as a merchant and trader. He became quite active and influential in Canadian life. In the fall of 1776 he travelled to England and France, with many letters of introduction, including to Abbé de Lacorne who in turn introduced him to the court at Versailles. He returned to Montréal in the spring of 1777. He returned to England in the fall of 1777. His last visit to Great Britain was in 1780, likely returning to Montreal in the fall of the same year. It is generally thought the main purpose of these visits to Europe was to try to interest officials or financial backers in funding exploration and development ventures to the northwest of North America and Siberia. He apparently went to England, Ireland and France where he was received by the Queen Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Did he meet Julia Calcutt during one of these voyages? After which she decided to emigrate?

Records show that Alexander Henry had been the owner of a large stone house and lot on Notre-Dame St. (north side) near St-Pierre St. in Montreal in 1785 and was still the owner in 1805. The approximate location and maybe the house in question is indicated by the arrow on the photo taken in 1852 from the steeple of Notre-Dame Basilica. In 1789 Alexander bought a smaller stone house and lot on St-François-Xavier St. between St-Paul St. and Notre-Dame St. He was still the owner in 1805.

Both houses had dependencies.

Notre-Dame Street House

Lot #26

Lot size= 10,224 square feet (french)

House footprint = 1,772 sq.ft.(fr.) stone

Vault footprint= 773 sq.ft.(fr.) stone

Shed footprint=276 sq.ft.(fr.)

St-François-Xavier Street

Lot #182

Lot size= 4,446 sq.ft.(fr.)

House footprint = 1,158 sq.ft.(fr.) stone

Vault footprint= 772 sq.ft.(fr.) stone

Stable footprint=153 sq.ft.(fr.) lumber

Dependency footprint=153 sq.ft.(fr.) stone


In 1831, after Alexander's death, Julia had her garden surveyed by a William Henry (her son or a grand son?) a certified surveyor. This garden was situated on the corner of what is now St-Urbain St. and Dorchester in the Saint-Laurent Ward, immediately outside of the western wall.

According to family tradition George was born at sea while his mother was travelling from Cork Ireland to North America to join her husband, a British Army officer, who was travelling on a different ship.

This officer, whose name is said to have been John George Kittson, died at sea or shortly after arrival either of sickness or battle. One version in a branch of the family put this death in 1759 while another puts it in 1775.

His wife and baby were placed in officers quarters in Montreal, Saint-Jean, Chambly and then Sorel. This John George Kittson is said to have been either a captain or a colonel and that he was present at the fall of Quebec in 1759. This family tradition is speculative and is likely based in on a memorandum written by Norman W. Bethune, a great-grand-son of Julia Calcutt, about 1888 and based on his recollection of what his mother had told him many years before.

Sources: for family genealogies

Kittson County Historical Society, Lake Bronson, MN, Cindy Adams

Roxanne Woodruff, Portland, OR