Peter and Rebecca Ham

Peter Ham was George Ham's older brother and was born Sept. 26, 1791. Around 1815 Peter married Rebecca Wilson Lockwood who was born on January 11, 1801. Her parents were David Lockwood and Anna Fraser. Anna was from Albany New York and David was from Manchester, Vermont. David's family line can be traced directly back to Edmund Lockwood who arrived in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630.

Peter and Rebecca had a number of children that did not survive. The oldest surviving child was Elizabeth Maria Ham (b. 1818) who married Richard D. Finlay on July 28, 1835. Jane was apparently also born in 1818, lived to 1900, and is buried with her parents. John David was born in 1824 and it seems with George's selling of his share of the house to Peter in 1825, there would have been more space.

Peter Philip Ham was born in 1828 and never knew his father as Peter died of typhoid fever on January 12, 1829. 

Figure 1. Peter's death. Kingston Chronicle, January 17, 1829.

John David is described as starting life poor in Bath, and served as a midshipman aboard Lake Ontario merchantmen (1). He then went to work for John Stevenson as a clerk in Newburgh and was quickly promoted to partner. In a short time he bought out Stevenson and became one of the most influential merchants in the county.

John D. Ham married Josephine Hooper and they had a son John P around 1848. They also adopted Rose C. who was born 1865. In 1868 John P. died in a Napanee mill accident at the age of 20. As he was then quite wealthy, this tragedy lead him to retire from business.

John D. Ham was Warden of Lennox and Addington County in 1866 and 1886, It was John D. that pressed in vain to establish Newburgh as the seat of the county which was eventually settled in Napanee with the coming of the Grand Trunk Railway

The Great Newburgh File of 1887 destroyed his home in Newburgh whereby he moved to Napanee, purchasing the William's residence on Thomas Street where he lived until his death in 1893.

Rebecca and Peter's son Peter died in 1855 which except for Elizabeth, sealed the fate for their legacy.

We don't know what Rebecca did with the house following Peter's death. It's unlikely she continued the trade in goods from Montreal as she could not likely make business trips to Montreal as a woman - especially with young children. From graffiti associated with the Upper Canada Rebellion it seems she did profit by billeting the militia. In general, however, it is unclear how the 'store' was purposed from 1829 to 1840.

From 1840 to 1854 it appears she leased the 'store' end of the building to J.E. Hawley where he established a tavern.

The 1861 Census shows Rebecca living in the house with her widowed mother Hannah who, interestingly, was illiterate. Living with them was Mary Levitt, 18, from Ireland. Living on the store side were the widowed Margaret Middleton, 39, with her 18 year-old son William who was a labourer. She indicates she had an 18 month old daughter who had died in 1860 of croup.

The 1871 census shows Rebecca living alone with three Irish Catholic girls living in the 'store' - the sisters Isabella (19) and Eliza McGinn (22) and Eliza McGratten (22) - all dressmakers.

The 1881 shows Rebecca living with Sarah Appleby (30) from England and a dressmaker. It is unclear who lived on the store side - it could have been William Johnston (51, Puritan), his wife Mary (48, Anglican), and 5 children. More likely it was John Howard (53) a clerk, his wife Victoria (29) and their children Edward (18) and Donald (10), all Anglican and of Irish origin.

Ham House in Bath was a in very poor condition in the latter part of the 19th century. It had clearly not been painted for decades by the time it was re-sided in 1896 and many structural timbers were rotten. Rats ran throughout the house. Rebecca continued to live in the house until her death in 1886. How could this be, given her son John D. was so wealthy and influential? Given the stature of the Ham grave marker at the St. John's Anglican churchyard, clearly John D. did intervene after her death when the building passed to John D.

Another big question is why did John D. Ham keep the building until after his own death? We have no idea what the building was used for from 1886 to 1893.


1. Walter S. Herrington, History of Lennox and Addington, The McMillan Company of Canada Limited, 1913