Unexpected Heritage: Where are your ancestors from?

Unexpected Heritage: Where are your ancestors from?

This guest post is by Legacy Tree Genealogists, the recommended research partner of MyHeritage.

Finding Heritage in Unexpected Places

About a year ago, we received a referral from MyHeritage for a client who requested we research her direct paternal ancestor, John Lucy, of Ontario, Canada, allegedly of Irish heritage. Our client explained that her father had recently died and that he would have loved to know the history of his name. She had been trying to trace the Lucy line herself with no success. Although she wished she had begun the research before her father died, she felt this was a way for her to honor her father’s life. She was also planning a trip to Ireland soon and hoped to visit her ancestral towns. She said “I would be so happy to just make the first connection back to the UK. That is what my father always wanted to know.”

A survey of Canadian censuses between 1871 and 1901 established that John Lucy was born in Cumberland, Ontario in the early 1840s, and his religion was noted as Wesleyan Methodist. However, neither John nor any of his children appeared in the Wesleyan Methodist Baptism records in the Cumberland area. At this point, research temporarily halted as we had reached the end of a project.

Meanwhile, the client located a Wesleyan Methodist marriage index entry for a John Lussiers and Ann Hannah who married in Cumberland on 22 August 1864, and she requested we research the Lucy family. In the marriage record, John was reportedly born in Cumberland, the son of “E[xe]brus and Delia Lussiers.” The name “E[xe]brus” was obviously a poor transcription of an unknown name, as we knew these marriage registers were the result of several subsequent handwritten copies. An immediate concern with correlating John Lucy and John Lussiers was the apparent French spelling of his surname. We knew, from previous research, that John Lucy’s ethnicity was consistently identified as Irish after 1871. However, learning this new possible spelling and ethnicity led us to recognize John in the 1861 census:

John Lucier enumerated in Cumberland, Ontario in 1861

John Lucier enumerated in Cumberland, Ontario in 1861


John Lucier, 14, lived in the R.P. Lindsay household.[1] They lived in Cumberland – the same place John Lussiers listed in his marriage record. We were surprised to see that John Lucier was identified as Roman Catholic, unlikely for someone who would only three years later be married in a Wesleyan Methodist Church. Upon closer inspection, we developed a hypothesis which would explain the apparent conflict. John was listed as one of three non-family members in the household of a Church of Scotland minister. This young boy may have been taken in by Rev. Lindsay when his parents died or were otherwise unable to care for him. So, although John Lucier was a baptized Roman Catholic, he was living in a house where everyone else was a member of the Church of Scotland. He would have become familiar with and was probably following the Presbyterian tradition.

John may have had mixed ancestry, with his father French and his mother Irish. He may have chosen to more closely identify with his Irish roots, particularly since his wife was Irish. To test this hypothesis, we turned to John Lucy’s children and found that they indeed frequently identified themselves as having French lineage. Analysis of the later records for two of John Lucy’s children demonstrated evidence that the family likely had both French and Irish heritage. This supported our hypothesis that John Lucy was also known as John Lussiers and that he married Ann Hannah in 1864.

A search for John Lucy/Lussiers in the 1851 census did not yield any positive results, most likely because the surviving 1851 census is not complete, so we returned to the 1861 census for more clues. Interestingly, there were two Lucier families in 1861 in Cumberland. The families of Frances Lucier and Baptist Lucier appear next to each other in the census. Of note, Frances Lucier’s wife was Adelaide, and they had a daughter, Delia.[2] The similarity of Adelaide to John’s mother’s name – Delia – was compelling. Moving to French Catholic parish records, we discovered the baptismal record for a John Lucier, son of Francis Lucier and Adelaide Dirmont/Diamond, born in Cumberland on 30 August 1844 and baptized on 12 November 1844 at the parish St. Gregoire-de-Nazianze in Buckingham, just across the river from Cumberland.[3]

Baptismal record of John Lucier 12 November 1844 at the parish St. Gregoire-de-Nazianze.

Baptismal record of John Lucier 12 November 1844 at the parish St. Gregoire-de-Nazianze.

The Catholic Church records of Quebec and some areas of Ontario are a fantastic collection. The French-Canadian church records served as civil registration records until the beginning of the 20th century. Copies of all the church records were sent annually to the appropriate courthouse. In the 1940s, L’Institut Généalogique Drouin (The Drouin Genealogical Institute) microfilmed these records at courthouses across Quebec and in other areas with large French Canadian populations.

In addition to the Drouin collection, an extensive, seven-volume genealogical reference was developed by Father Cyprien Tanguay in the late-19th century. “The Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families from the Foundation of the Colony to the Present Day,” also known as the Tanguay Collection, is considered one of the most comprehensive resources for French-Canadian genealogy.

Using these excellent resources, we were quickly able to track John Lucy’s paternal line back 200 years to the immigrant ancestor, Jacques Lussier, son of Jacques and Marguerite (Darmine) Lussyé of St. Eustache, Paris, France, who married Catherine Clerice (also born in Paris) on 12 October 1671 at Notre Dame du Quebec, Quebec City, Quebec.

Our client was thrilled. Of her father, she said, “I know he would be ecstatic.” She continued,

I am so impressed with the level of work that you have done. That cannot have been easy at all but it looks like we made a breakthrough this time. That is so exciting.

There is nothing more satisfying than breaking through genealogical brick walls and helping our clients realize their heritage, perhaps especially when it is different than what the family always believed. Our client may not be able to visit the Lucy ancestral village in Ireland this summer, but they may now be considering adding a stop in Paris!


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[1] 1861 Canada Census (population schedule), Cumberland, Russell, Ontario, ED 1, p. 12, [R.P.] Lindsay household, http://myheritage.com, subscription database, accessed January 2017.

[2] 1861 Canada Census (population schedule), Cumberland, Russell, Ontario, ED 1, p. 7, Francis Lucier household, http://myheritage.com, subscription database, accessed January 2017.

[3] Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 (index and image), the baptism of John Lucier, 10 November 1844, Buckingham and Grenville, Québec, http://ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed January 2017.


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  • Kay butler

    May 29, 2017

    Sounds wonderful. I’m also working on the family tree of WRAKESTRAW

  • Kay butler

    May 29, 2017

    Wrakestraw. Mollie Richter My grandfathers mom

  • margaret aie;llo provost

    August 23, 2017

    Had my DNA tested a few years ago with ancestry,how can I get the info to you.I am not too good with computers and will have to print instructions out.I was born Margaret Aiello now Provost.Thank you.

    • E


      August 24, 2017

      Hi Margaret,

      To upload your DNA results from ancestry, please see: .

      Esther / MyHeritage Team