The Burtons of Black Cape and their Descendants
The original Burtons of this family arrived in the Gaspe about 1818 with their two small children, Hannah and William. Five more children were born in Canada. Whitehaven, Cumberland, their home town in England, was a centre for heavy industry in the early nineteenth century, and such towns were usually ruled by a tiny minority of the very rich, while the poor lived in misery. Conditions were so bad that riots and protests were to follow in the 1820’s and reform in the 1830’s.
From data in the land claims book in the Canadian Archives, Ottawa, it seems that Edward Burton speculated in land during these early years of settlement. He would settle on a piece of land, clear it, cultivate some crops, and then sell the improved land to settlers who would thus avoid the most difficult part of settling an area. If this picture of the Burton family’s early life is true, it depicts a difficult style of living, consisting of many hardships, ---the equivalent of emigrating from England several times over.
The life span of the original family of Burtons in Canada covers 110 years, stretching from the height of Napoleons power to the beginnings of the jazz age. Six of the original family (excluding Francis) had 64 children and the family has gone on from there. The largest number of offspring of one person in the family has been the 21 children of William Burton, 11 with his first wife Sarah Kerr and 10 with his second wife Mary Adair. In that space of time the family had fanned out across North America, helping in the settlement of new areas to the west and eventually reaching the west coast. Now there are Burtons in all areas of Canada except the Yukon. In the United States they have spread from Maine to Alabama and west to California and Washington.