The William Bryant Family of Westminster Township Surveyor General Office York, 20th August, 1816
I have the honour to acquaint you for the information of His Excellency the Lt. Governor that the Lot #32 in the 1st Concession of Westminster was reported by Sheriff Bostwick in the year 1812 to be settled upon and in some measure improved by one George Norton, and I have not heard of his removal from it.
Wiam Bryant and William Hart, discharged soldiers of the 82nd Regiment are willing to relocate in lieu of the aforesaid lot. The lot #36 in the 2nd concession of Westminster under the usual rules and regulations, which I request you will be pleased to submit to His Excellency.
(Signed) Surveyor General
And so begins the story of the Bryant family in Westminster Township.
William Bryant was born on Nov. 10, 1783 in the parish of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England. On Nov. 10, 1806, he enlisted in the British army with the 82nd Regiment at Uxbridge, England. Personal Information entered into the Regimental Book at the time showed him to be 5 feet 7 inches tall having brown hair, hazel eyes and a “fresh complexion”. His trade was listed as a labourer.
For the next eight years, the regiment fought in many major battles throughout Portugal, Spain, and France in what is known as The Peninsular War fought by the British and their allies against the French armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1814, with Napoleon on the run, the 82nd received orders to travel to America to protect the British colony of Upper and Lower Canada from the invading American forces in what is now known as The War of 1812.
In May, 1814, their ship departed from Bordeaux, France, for Quebec. Through August, September, and October, 1814, the 82nd saw action against the American forces at the Siege of Fort Erie, and the Battle of Cook’s Mills. The Treaty of Ghent was signed December 24, 1814, finally allowing peace to return to the North American continent.
William Bryant was discharged from the British army on February 24, 1816. For his service in the army, he was originally granted 100 acres of land, being the East of Lot 36, Con. 2 Westminster Township, while William Hart was granted the West of the lot. However, William Hart died very early on, and William Bryant was given a second land patent for William Hart’s property, giving him a total of 200 acres.
William received the General Service Medal awarded to surviving members of the British forces as approved in 1847. His medal had 6 clasps on it for the battles of:
- Rolica (also known as Roleia), 17 August 1808
- Vimeiro, 21 August 1808
- Vittoria, 21 June 1813
- Pyrenees, 25 July to 2 August 1813
- Nivelle, 10 November 1813
- Orthes, 27 February 1814
In an early article on the History of Middlesex County featuring his son, William Bryant Jr., William Senior is mentioned as having been wounded in battle at some point during his military career though it does not describe in what way or the severity of his wounds.
For four years after the war, William stayed in the Niagara region, and it was here that he met and married Susanna Wright. They had their first child in 1817, and finally made their way to their new home in Westminster in late 1818 or early 1819. There the family settled into pioneer life, clearing their land, farming and raising a family. He and Susanna had 3 more children before she passed away in 1828.
On November 24, 1828, William remarried to Lavina MacAaulay and the wedding btook place in St. Thomas, Ontario. Witnesses to the marriage included local Westminster Township residents Andrew Beattie, Calvin Burtch, and William Walters. A fourth witness was William’s old friend and sergeant from the 82nd Regiment, Richard Tunks.
Together William and Lavinia had an additional 10 children, making 14 in total.
The Bryant family was of Wesleyan Methodist faith, and William was a steward and class leader in his church, and took great interest in religious matters.
Transcribed records of the Westminster Township council meetings show that on the first Monday in January, 1834, William Bryant was one of 13 men appointed Overseers of Highways.
Births, Marriages, Children, Deaths, Burials
William Bryant was born on Nov. 10, 1783 in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England. Soldier, Farmer. Married his first wife, Susanna Wright in 1817 in Niagara County. Married his second wife Lavina McCauley Nov. 24, 1828 at St. Thomas United Church. He died Oct. 24, 1868, London, Middlesex County, Ontario. Buried in Brick Street Cemetery, London, Ontario.
Susanna Wright, First Wife: born Oct. 1, 1800. Died March 28, 1828, Middlesex County, Ontario. Buried in Brick Street Cemetery, London, Ontario.
Margaret Lavina (or Lavinia) MacAaulay, Second Wife (she went by Lavinia): Born c1806, Westminster twp. Died July 13, 1897. Buried at Brick Street Cemetery on July 15, 1897. No headstone.
The 10 children of William Bryant and Lavina McCauley are:
All children here were born in Westminster twp.
Levi Bryant was born June 20, 1829. Married Nancy MacLean in
Wardsville, Ontario on Nov. 14th, 1853. He was a farmer. Their children are Margaret, John, Donald, Albert, Alice, Catherine, Hector, and William.
The 1871 census lists him as living at Lot 36, Conc 2 Westminster, and his occupation at the time was a miller. He was listed as having allittended his mother, Lavinia’s funeral in 1897 and came home from Vermontville, Michigan to do so.
And Time Marched On!
A copy of an 1860’s muster roll shows that all of the Bryant men who were of acceptable age volunteered their services for the local militia. This time period would coincide with the Fenian raids.
We are now into our 8th and 9th generation of the Bryant family tree, and hundreds of descendants. And it all started from a man who, after fighting in two wars spanning ten years, surviving injury, disease, the elements, and anything else life could challenge him with, settled down to raise a family in the Township of Westminster, in the District of London, in the Province of Upper Canada.
Submitted By Jeff Bryant
London, Ontario, Canada
Veteran SummaryWilliam Bryant
Private, 82nd Regiment Prince of Wales Volunteers
Place of Birth
Chesham, ON, CAN
Place of Death
Westminster Township, ON, CAN
Died on: 24 OCT 1868
Reason: Old Age
Location of Grave
Brick Street Cemetery, 370 Commissioners Road West
London, ON, CAN
Latitude: 42.955639N Longitude: -81.280616