© Michael Harrison 2009
This the tombstone of Mary Hutchinson, my great great great grandmother and wife of William Harrison (1781-1836). Four years after the death of her first husband she married Thomas Smyth on April 27, 1840. She is buried in the cemetery at St. Patrick's Church, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County (present day The Gore Road and Mayfield Road in the City of Brampton). This is one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries in the Toronto Region.
Mary's obituary appears in the August 22, 1856 edition of the Toronto Mirror and reads: Died - On Sunday the 17th inst., after a lingering illness, which she bore patiently and resignedly, Mrs. Smyth, wife of Mr. Thomas Smyth, Etobicoke, at the good old age of seventy-two years. Mrs. Smyth was one of our early pioneers in the duties of a Christian Mother, and having lived to see her children's children grow up around her, has not departed to the heavenly home of her ancestors in the Faith. May she rest in peace: may her soul find rest.
Thomas Smyth was a native of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Originally he was a farmer but later operated the Claireville Hotel in Claireville. Thomas donated land for the first Catholic School in Etobicoke Township, York County. It was located in Highfield and built in 1840. His son James C. Smyth married Mary Hutchinson's daughter Ann Harrison in St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Wildfield on July 20, 1841.
According to William Perkins Bull's From Macdonell to McGuigan: the History of the Growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Canada, Thomas Smyth and Mary Hutchinson were the only neighbours to come to the assistance of Colonel Baldwin and his wife at Clogeneagh Lodge in 1847 when typhus broke out at the makeshift hospital the Baldwins had created in their home to administer to the many sick emigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. Both helped care for the sick and while Thomas helped Colonel Baldwin build the coffins for the many who died, Mary helped Mrs. Baldwin prepare the bodies for burial in the makeshift cemetery that remains undiscovered.
It sounds like Thomas Smyth was a very spiritual man for part of his obituary in The Canadian Freeman of June 16, 1870, reads:
In his death the helpless lost a friend, the orphan a father, and the dying, one of the truest benefactors; in fact as the priest who preaches the funeral oration said 'the old parish priest is now no more'; and many, we are sure, have since said the same in their hearts....The large attendance, at his funeral, of his neighbours, both Protestant and Catholic bears ample testimony on his sterling qualities as a neighbor (sic), a friend, and a Christian.