Brief History of Richard W. Sturdy

Detroit, Michigan
September 27, 1948

Founder of this branch of the family in Canada and the United States

This branch of the Sturdy family is very old, retreating back into time for over four hundred years, according to existing records in England and Ireland; in fact, it is one of the eldest families recorded in Burk's Peerage. According to some authorities, in the dim past the family was Spanish.

However, this family, although living in Ireland, is wholly English with few or no [sic] inter-racial marriages until the present generation, when they began to marry into families partly of other nationalities. This, of course, is the leavening process of this country and good for the nation.

About 1642, in order to better control the turbulent Irish, the English Governinent colonized English families in North Ireland, and these families were the tenants of the "Gentry" who had received large grants of land from the Crown.

In 1642, this English family of Sturdy received a patent of land from Charles I and settled in a place called Ballyconnell in Caven County, Ireland. For nearly two hundred years the family lived there as English gentlemen until 1830, which brings us to Richard Sturdy, and his wife Margarate, 1736 - 1832, and his son Richard Sturdy, and his wife Sarah, 1789 - 1849. This Richard's wife died in 1820, and he married a second time to an Irish Lady. Sarah was English and this branch of the fanily is descended from the first wife.

About this time, 1830, due to economic conditions and political disturbances in Ireland, described as "convulsed", several of the young men of the family came to America, but not at the same time, and located in different sections. Among these were three brothers, sons of Richard and Sarah, -- Hugh, Oswald and Richard.

Hugh came to Canada and settled in Goderich, Ontario, where many of his descendants still reside. The old homestead, over one hundred years old, built of dressed stone, is kept in good repair and is still in use by the family. At one time it was the only house in the "woods" between Hamilton, Ontario; and Lake Huron, a distance of one hundred miles.

Oswald came to Pennsylvania and for a time was located at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, but soon moved west to Kirkwood, Missouri, about fifteen miles from St. Louis, Missouri, where he bought a large tract of land and built a homestead of hewn logs. This homestead also is in good condition and is now in use and occupied by his descendants, -- many of whom are still located there? Both families have produced many prominent and professional men, soldiers and public officials, and well-to-do farmers.

When Richard came to America he landed in Montreal, Canada, with his father's secretary who accompanied him as a sort of monitor until the young man become settled, but the secretary took a liking for the new country and instead of returning to Ireland as instructed, stole the Captain's watch and with all of Richard's money, decamped for parts unknown, Later the secretary was located in Philadelphia, doing very well for a man of his circumstances. At the present time there is an old prominent and wealthy family in Philadelphia whose founder in this country is this same secretary.

Richard, who was left penniless in Montreal, started immediately for the South in pursuit of the culprit, but without success, and thus made his way to Schenectady, New York via Albany, arriving there in 1831.

Schenectady at that tine was a small city inhabited nostly by people of Dutch ancestry, and at that tine the English and Irish were persona non grata; furthermore, there was little or no work to be had. Richard had received a good education, but no special training. However, he did know about horses, having spent a good part of his life fox hunting. Due to this fact, he was able to secure employment as coachman for Dr. Eliphalet Nott, President of Union College, but this menial occupation was irksome to the former Master of the Hunt, and he talked Dr. Nott into making him janitor of the college. It must have given Dr. Nott satisfaction to have a janitor who knew his Latin! They became great friends. Later, he went into business for himself, building houses and selling them. He built the steeple on the old Christ Church that used to stand on State Street.

He was a large man over six feet tall, weighing around one hundred and ninety pounds, -- all bone and sinew, -- very clever in argument or debate; so much so that Dr. Nott often would come to his home and argue the burning topics of the day. Then the Doctor would leave for home and half way up the "hill" would think of some "clincher", when he would return and they would go at it again until two or three o'clock in the morning.

In 1852 Richard rode to Albany on the train pulled by the DeWitt Clinton.

He became a citizen of the United States October 9, 1839 in the Court of Common Pleas, City and County of Schenectady, New York, and the citizenship papers were signed by Arth. Campbell, Clerk of the Court. In 1843 he married Rebeccah Melvina Bullock, who was born in Albany, New York. Through this marriage his descendants are connected with the old Stuyvesant Family of Poughkeepsie, New York, also Christopher Yates, father of Governor Joseph C. Yates. Children of this union were: William Sylvester, Richard, Amy, John, Jessica, and Lydia. Of these, Richard was the only one who married and had children. William Sylvester, who died at twenty months of age, is buried in St. George's Churchyard. His home was located on Nott Street, and the exact spot is now occupied by a turntable owned by the American Locomotive Company. He died September 12, 1885 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Sedalia, Missouri.

His wife is buried in the old section of Vale Cemetery, Schenectady, New York.

The family Coat-of-Arms is a helmet over a shield, with an upraised arm holding a spiked club.

The only member of the family remaining in Schenectady County, at this time, l948, is Richard Oswald Sturdy and family, of Scotia, New York.

Also from: FREDERICK L. STURDY of Detroit, Michigan [1949] is a poem titled Sturdy's Cow

Note: The family history of Richard Sturdy, the poem Sturdy's Cow, and the photo of the Sturdy home was sent to me from a distant cousin, Diana McCaig, who still lives near the Sturdy place in Ontario, Canada.



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