Family of Robert Byers of Corraneden and Drumagolan


Irish Land Bill 1891 from Punch
Genealogical research should be about much more than lists of parents, children and their respective dates.

It’s just as important to understand the various individuals in their social, geographical and historical context.
So I urge you to read the surviving family letters, mostly from Robert (Generation 2) to some of his children in Australia (Generation 3).

Those letters are available on this page as downloadable PDFs.

LH pic: Cartoon from Punch, 1881, on the Second Irish Land Act which aimed to give tenants greater security.

The little men who punctuate the text throughout much of this webpage are from Punch, 21 May 1881.

The letters tell a story of bad weather, poor harvests, financial worries and payments for headstones – not to mention the Canadian soldiers meting out instant capital punishment on their Boer War prisoners.  

Added into that heady mix is a double murder at Lissacoppel, Ballyjamesduff, in Co Cavan, with Mr James Byers as a key witness.

Surely there's a radio documentary in here at least!
I am indebted to Cathryn Warren who supplied so much of the material on this page and who initially transcribed the letters.

Copies of the eleven surviving Robert Byers-related letters are held in the State Library of Victoria,
Melbourne. The originals are held by descendants of Isabella Byers (Robert Snr's daughter.

Generation 1
Beware: this is supposition, because certain facts do point in this direction, but unfortunately it is not exactly supported by Generation 2’s death date for Robert!
Joseph Byers
The father of Robert Byers (in Generation 2) was definitely a Joseph Byers, born c.1790s, and who died before 1873. Unfortunately in this instance, Joseph, like Robert, was a very common name amongst Byers families, so making it difficult to identify the correct one!
Man from Punch i
There is a possibility that the family listed below might include the relevant Robert Byers of Generation 2. However, when Robert Byers died in 1900, his age was given as 94, whereas this Robert from Fintavin would have been around 86 years of age.
Stated ages are often very unreliable up to the point where the Old Age Pension Act of 1908 came into force (01 January 1909). Sadly, in the case of Robert Byers, his age discrepancy, if there is one, is the wrong way round. Many people miraculously found themselves up to 10 years older, honesty winning over vanity to ensure they received their pension.
The Joseph Byers family (below), from the surviving 1821 census records, is for a single-storey house, number 8 in the townland of Fintavin, Parish of Lurgan, Barony of Castlerahan, County of Cavan.

Interestingly, houses numbered 1 to 5 were occupied by Watson families.
Joseph Byers, age 24, farmer with 21 acres; [born c.1797]
Jane Byers, his wife, age 29, spinner [born c.1792]
their children:
Robert Byers, age 7 [born c.1814]
Thomas Byers, age 6  [born c.1815]
James Byers, age 1 [born c.1820]
Patrick Lynch, age 20, house servant
Catherine Reilly, age 19, house servant
Man from Punch ii
Footnote: The Thomas Byers above, born c.1813, may be the Thomas and Lydia Byars, alias Lydia Byars of Fintavin, whose children were christened or baptised in Ballyjamesduff Presbyterian Church:
Jos[Joseph], aged 4 weeks, baptised 09.01.1849
Rob[ert], born 07.05.1851, baptised 16.09.1851
Jane, born 18.02.1854, baptised 26.04.1854
Sarah, born 13.11.1855, baptised 28.04.1856
Lydia, born 25.07.1857, baptised 04.10.1858
Samuel, born 15.09.1858, baptised (with Lydia) 04.10.1858 (“Lydia Byers”)
William, born 29.03.1860, baptised 23.07.1861 (again “Byers”)

Generation 2
There is a possibility that Robert Byars (son of Joseph Byers/Byars), who married Margaret Watson, might have been the child Robert, aged 7, above - a brother of Thomas.
From Robert’s second marriage to Ellen Edmonston in 1873 we know that his father was definitely a Joseph Byers – described then as “the late Joseph Byers”. Strangely, we have still to find a death date for Joseph because there is no obvious official registration of the death of a likely relevant Joseph Byers between 1864, when official registration began, and 1873.
Man from Punch iii
Fintavin seems a very likely contender for the mixing of Byers and Watson, given the proximity of the families – but that shouldn’t exclude the possibility of a Watson from Fintavin (or elsewhere!) and a Byers from elsewhere.
Corraneden, Drumagolan, Fintavin [Fintawan] and Gallonnambraher are neighbouring townlands, just to the north east of Ballyjamesduff. Their spellings in the various sources are highly variable and have not been 'corrected'.
Ballyjamesduff Presbyterian Church records give the following births and baptisms to Robert Byars and Margaret Byars née Margaret Watson of Coraneden (family records suggest that Margaret Watson was born in 1812 in Cullies, Co Cavan):
Anne Jane, born 23.10.1837, baptised 29.10.1837
Isabella, aged 1 month, baptised 01.08.1840 (family now “of Coronaden”)
[James, born c.1841 – not found in the church records so far – info from family]
William, aged about 5 weeks, baptised 01.02.1843
[Thomas, born c.1844 – not found in the church records so far – info from family]
Eliza, aged 6 weeks, baptised 31.12.1850 (family now “of Drumagoland”)
Robert, born 01.03.1853, baptised 01.04.1853 (“of Drumagoland”)
John (“Jno”) and Margaret, born 25.08.1855,
    (“children of Robt and the late Margaret Byars alias Margaret Watson of Drumagolan”)
There’s a real possibility that Robert also had a brother or cousin James, a sister or cousin Anne, and a brother or cousin Joseph, all living in a variously spelled Corraneden.
That proposition may be demonstrated by these listings, all from Ballyjamesduff Presbyterian Church records:
James Byars & Margaret Byars
                           alias Margaret Clydesdale of Coronaden
Robert, aged 19 days, baptised 23.02.1827
Mary, aged 10 days, baptised 06.10.1829
         (mother formerly “Clidesdale” & of Coronaden)
Are these next Ballyjamesduff listings for James Byars perhaps for the same person, maybe widowed in the previous years, or maybe another relative altogether?
Jam[es … page cuts off!] Byars & Margaret Byars
           alias Margaret Byars of Girsdon [?], cong of Bellasis
Man from Punch iv
Margaret, born 15.01.1835, baptised 17.01.1835
John, aged 3 months, baptised 20.02.1842
               (now of Coronaden, now clearly James … presumably the same people?!)
Sarah, born 16.02.1847, baptised 24.02.1847 (Coronaden)
James [shown as Jas], aged 1 month, baptised 25.09.1850 (“of Coronaden”)
Then there's this Anne Byars:
George and Anne Wilson alias Anne Byars of Coronaden
Thomas, aged 3 months, baptised 23.08.1849
George, age 9 weeks, baptised 21.01.1852
                ("son to George and Nancy Wilson alias Nancy Byars of Drumagoland")  
George, aged 7 weeks, baptised 22.04.1855 (“to Geo. and Nancy”)
                                                            – first George had presumably died.
And from the Bellasis Presbyterian Church records, these two Josephs may be a brother (an elder brother) and a nephew of Robert’s:
Man from Punch v
On 6 Dec 1850, Joseph Byars, farmer of Cornaden and son of Joseph Byars, marries Rachel McIlwain of Lisnamore, daughter of farmer Thomas McIlwain.
The witnesses were Samuel McIlwain and Joseph Byars.

The family of Joseph Jnr. and Rachel Byars, 'alias Rachel McElwaine of Coronaden' was baptised in Ballyjamesduff Presbyterian Church:
Thomas and William, baptised 16.05.1852
Mary Anne, born 26.02.1854, baptised 09.04.1854 
                                       (mother’s alias “Rachel McIlwain”)
Rachel, born 28.08.1856, baptised 28.09.1856
                                     (mother’s alias “Rachel McIlwaine”)
Margaret Jane, born 27.08.1858, baptised 19.09.1858
                                     (“Rachel McIlwain”)
Joseph (Jos.), born 15.02.1861, baptised 08.03.1861
                            (“son of Joe & Rachel Byers … McIlwain”)
James, born 29.06.1869, baptised 14.07.1869
                           (“son of Joe & Rachel Byers … McIlwaine”)
And to which branch of the Coronaden Byers families does this Joseph belong?
                                Properly this information should be listed somewhere under Generation 3!

Joseph and Martha Byers (sic) alias Martha Gilmore of Coronaden
Margaret Jane, born 01.07.1860, baptised 22.07.1860
                                                                       [marr. Hugh McNeil 18.02.1894]
Martha, born 02.10.1861, baptised 01.11.1861 [marr. John Tyrell on 03.11.1897]
Mary Anne, born 26.02.1865, baptised 29.03.1865
                                                                      [marr. Thomas Hobson on 01.10.1902]
John James, born 20.08.1870, baptised 09.10.1870
Eliza, born 24.02.1873, baptised 23.03.1873 (mother is spelt “Gilmir”)
                                                                     [marr. William Hugh White, 10.07.1907]
Joseph Henry, born 14.08.1875, baptised 05.12.1875 (mother is spelt “Gilmer”)
Possibly also Sarah, born ??, not listed, but married Alexander Watson 08.07.1903. Her father was given as Joseph Byers and she lived at Coronaden.
Her year of birth was c.1870 (she was 41 in the 1911 Census).

Or are there two Joseph Byers families at this time in Coronaden whose children were given similar names – and therefore possibly related in some way?
NB: The Mormon FamilySearch website gives the birth of another son, Thomas, on 18.11.1877 – this would most likely be the future Rev. Thomas Byers (see 1st Bailieborough / Corglass Church).
But back to the family under the microscope, that of Robert Byers and Margaret Watson:

Generation 3
Robert and Margaret’s daughter Isabella, along with a Joseph Byers (Isabella's grandfather, uncle or brother?), were the witnesses at Bellasis for the wedding on 20 August 1858 of James Brown and Maria Henry, both of Coronaden.
The Joseph Byers mentioned above was probably the same Joseph Byers who had been a witness at the Bellasis wedding of Henry Davison and Isabella Jackson, again both of Coronaden, on 29 June 1857.
Meanwhile Robert’s first wife, Margaret, died in 1855 (following childbirth, c.28.08.1855).
Robert Byers eventually remarried in 1873.
House from Punch 1891
On 21 February 1873, Robert Byers, widower and farmer of Drumagoland, married Ellen Edmonston, a widow living at Dettiem. Her father was the late James Hanna, a farmer; Robert's father was "the late Joseph Byers", also a farmer.
The witnesses were Sarah King and Nancy Wilson. The officiating minister was John King – perhaps Sarah was his wife?
The death of Robert Byers, aged 94, of Drumagoland, was registered on 4 March 1900.

His wife, Ellen, died 21 February 1900, aged 80 [but actually 89 according to Rev. King’s letter of 1900].

Robert’s death certificate gives the cause of his death as “Fracture of neck of femur 11 Days; Congestion of Lungs 3 Days”.

Robert and Ellen were buried in Bellasis graveyard.
I should tell you that Mr Jed Hans who attended your father was to write to you of his death but must have neglected to do so as he was preparing to go to America. Our church here has lost a lot of members in that way and that reminds me, you never sent me that subscription you promised me. We are always hard up. Ireland is not much the better for the changes in the land laws.
RH: Transcript of letter dated 3 December 1900 from Rev. King of Bellasis to William Byers in Australia.
Generation 3 comprises:      
Anne Jane, born 23.10.1837

Isabella, born c.01.07.1840, died 21.06.1931, Prahran, Victoria, Australia

James, born c.1841 (?), died 24.06.1916, Oak Forest, Cook, Illinois, USA

William, born c.25.12.1842, died 20.12.1919, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 

Thomas, born c.1844 (?)

Eliza, born c. 20.11.1850

Robert, born 01.03.1853, died 16.03.1915, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA
John, born 25.08.1855, died 15.01.1891, Warrington, Lancashire, England
Margaret, born 25.08.1855, died October 1900, Wharfedale, Yorkshire West Riding, UK

William went to Australia with his sister Isabella at a date pre-1862 (the year in which Isabella married John Stewart in Melbourne. Around 1860 seems most likely.

Let’s start with the youngest siblings: the twins, Margaret (or Maggie)and John (known as Jack).

Margaret Byers, born 25 August 1855.
Man from Punch vi
Margaret married Joseph Wright, a cloth finisher, in October 1877 in Leeds.

Joseph, son of William and Rachael Wright, was born in Leeds in 1855.

In 1861 he lived at 10 Speedwell Street; in 1871 he lived in Chancellor Street and was already employed as a Cloth Finisher; in 1881 Margaret and Joseph were living at 6 Ward Lane, Hunslet, Leeds and Joseph’s place of birth looks like “Woodfield Street”. Maggie simply states “Ireland”   
Their son Robert William Wright (known as Robbie) was born on 17.12.1881 and baptised in Leeds Parish Church on 18.02.1883. The family's home then was in Smeeton Place, Leeds, Yorkshire.                         
Business was poor, very poor.  Around 1886 they had moved to Dublin and Joseph was writing to Margaret's brother Robert Jnr. to see if he might lend him money to emigrate to Australia, to find work and then send for his wife and son. Alas, that never came to pass.
... Since father died we have been knocked about a bit and lost a lot of money with trade been so bad in Leeds that we was forced to give it up, and I wrote for a place and got it at once. But the pay is small and things are very dear here [Dublin] and rents is out of the question altogether and the factory is losing money fast. And there is some talk about it giving up.
RH: Transcript of letter from Joseph Wright to Robert Byers Jnr., dated 3 January 1886.
Note the reference to brother John being in Burma.

RH: Transcript of undated letter from Margaret Wright to her brother William Byers in Australia, c.1886.
There's a reference to brother James in USA and a request for money to assist travel to Australia.

By the 1891 census, the Wrights had returned to Leeds and were living at 132 Roker Lane, Pudsey, Yorkshire.

Joseph was 36, born in Leeds and still described as a Cloth Finisher; Maggie was 34, born Drumagoland, Cavan; Robert William was 9, born in Leeds.

Margaret died in October 1900. In the 1901 census, Joseph Wright, aged 47 is a boarder (one of three) with Thomas Hallas and family in 2 Bankfield Terrace, Headingley with Burley, Leeds, Yorkshire. there were four rooms for a husband, wife, two sons, two daughters, a servant and the three boarders! Joseph’s occupation was Cloth Finisher.                   
Also in the 1901 census, Robert Wright, aged 19, is a boarder (one of three) with Edward Barrett, his wife and the three boarders. Robert is described as a Woollen Cloth Finisher and an employer. Born in Hunslet, Leeds. Address: 1 Thompson’s Buildings (four rooms).
On 20.07.1901 widower Joseph Wright, aged 47, a Cloth Finisher of 1 Bankfield Terrace, son of William Wright, deceased, married Ann Elizabeth Walker, aged 39, a spinster who worked as a burler (removing knots or imperfections from wool) of 61 Dover Street. She was the daughter of William Walker, a labourer. Joseph Wright’s father, William Wright, was a cloth finisher like his son and grandson. The couple were married in St Andrew’s Parish Church, Leeds.                           
Harrison Buildings, Kirkstall, Leeds, 1901
In the 1911 census the Wright family lived at 5 Harrison Buildings, Kirkstall, Leeds.

Joseph Wright, aged 56 and born at Woodhouse Carr, Leeds, was an out of work cloth finisher; Annie E Wright, aged 50 was listed but apparently not at home - marked “away”.

Robert William Wright, aged 28, a cloth finisher, was also in residence. He was listed as born in Hunslet, Leeds.     
LH pic: Harrison Buildings, Leeds, 1901

John Byers, born 25 August 1855.
John Byers, Margaret’s twin brother, enlisted for 12 years in the 13th Brigade, British Army, in Liverpool on 14 March 1877. He was described as being born “in the Parish of Drumagoole … in the County of Cavan” and his age was given as 20 years, 10 months.

His "Proceedings on Attestation" was listed as No.1189.
The following day, 15 March, John Byers underwent the army’s medical examination.
His height was 5 feet 10¼ inches, chest measurement 35½ inches.
His complexion was “Fresh”; he had grey eyes, light brown hair and no distinctive marks.
His religious denomination was Presbyterian.

John’s service record states that his next of kin was his father, Robert.
Liverpool’s 13th Brigade Depot had been associated with the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot since 1873.

On 1 July 1881, the two battalions of the 8th (The King’s) Regiment of Foot became the 1st and 2nd Battalions, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment).

John Byers served with the 2nd Battalion:
Man from Punch vii
16.03.1877  to  22.09.1877
23.09.1877  to  20.11.1878
21.11.1878  to  20.10.1880
21.10.1880  to  02.11.1885
03.11.1885  to  03.04.1887
04.04.1887  to  22.11.1889
                 (“transferred to Home Base on 03.10.1889”)
John fought in the Afghan and Burma campaigns and was awarded a medal for the Afghan campaign, and a medal and clasp for the Burma campaign.
John was re-engaged “for the King’s Liverpool Regiment at Ranikhet [India] on the 8th August 1888 for such term as shall complete a total service of 21 years”.       
His service record notes that he “Died at Warrington”, 15.01.1891. The cause of his death at the Orford Barracks, Warrington, Lancashire, was attributed to pneumonia.     

Robert Byers, born 01.03.1853.
On 24 April 1879, in Bellasis Prebyterian Church, Robert, son of Robert Byers of Drumagoland, married 20 year old Rachel McIlwaine, daughter of John McIlwaine and Fanny McIlwaine née McGuire of Lisnamore.
One of the witnesses at this wedding was Rachael Byers. This may well be the daughter of Joseph and Rachel Byars, née McElwaine, of Cornaden who were married in Bellasis on 6 December 1850. Rachel Byers Jnr. was born on 28 August 1856, so in terms of age she was close to Robert's wife - and indeed was likely a distant or not too distant relative.
Robert Jnr. and his wife Rachel had a son, John James Byers, born 4 January 1880
Man from Punch viii
When Rachel died, early in 1881, Robert Jnr. emigrated, first to Australia in 1885, and then to the USA in 1895.

He died there, in Oak Forest Infirmary,
on 16 March 1915 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
Robert Snr. was much concerned about Robert Jnr.'s son John James who was presumably left in the care of the McIlwaine family (his mother's family).
John James Byers married Jane Williamson of Drumallaght on 8 November 1899 (see reference to this in Rev King's letter above, dated 3 December 1900).

The family is listed in the 1901 census:  a Presbyterian family living at house no.11 in Billis, Termon, Cavan.  John James Byers, aged 22, his wife Jennie, aged 26, a recently born son John Robert Byers, and two ‘relatives’ - John Williamson, aged 50 and Samuel Williamson, aged 16.
Shortly after that 1901 census, Robert Jnr.'s son, John James Byers and family moved to Glasgow. They appear in the 1920 USA census, living in Brooklyn. Some of their subsequent descendants are detailed in this PDF - an abbreviated version of Cathryn Warren's work (RH side).

William and Isabella, both married (William to Anne Jane Toppin; Isabella to John Stewart (see the next letter)), are well settled in Australia at this time.

Robert Jnr. has not been very good about keeping in touch with his father.

Nor has he sent any money home! 
I was always waiting for a letter from you to let me know how Robert is doing as he is not writing to me. He promised to me that he would send to me as I said to him the land here is not paying. Nothing here. Only auctions every day in this town.
RH: This is the full transcript of Robert Snr.'s letter, dated 1 May 1888, to William Byers in Australia.
The reference to "Farrel's son" is to a grandson - a child of his eldest daughter Anne Jane who married Robert Farrell.
Letter - Robert Byers to William May 1888.pdf Letter - Robert Byers to William May 1888.pdf
Size : 102.863 Kb
Type : pdf
In this next letter, dated 9 July 1890, Robert Snr. refers to his son John, then in Warrington "in good health"; to his daughter Maggie, her husband and their son; to the atrocious weather - frosts through to July ... and still no news of Robert Jnr.
I wrote a month ago to Robert. I got no letter from him since you wrote. If you could write to him, I wish you would, and put him in mind of what he ought to do. He has a boy here getting very big and stout – and a good play boy he is. I will write now again to him. If he answers them.
RH: This is the full transcript of that letter from Robert Snr. to William.
In this next letter, Robert Byers Snr. refers to money left by his son John (Jack), the lack of a minister for the church, the continuing bad times for farmers and the murders committed by William Buchanan (more of that shortly).
Copies of the originals of all these letters are held by Melbourne’s Victoria State Library.
Above: The beginning of the 23 April 1891 letter.

RH: The ending of the same letter.

I got no letter from Robert this two years. I heard he wrote to Lisanymore but I don't know did he send any money. My advice to him, if he intends to look after his boy, he ought. He is getting too great a head. He does not come here for I would be scolding him.
RH: This is the transcript of Robert Byers Snr.'s letter, dated 23 April 1891, to William Byers. "His boy" is a reference to Robert Jnr.'s youngest son, John James.

Robert's mention of Buchanan refers to the double murder in which a James Byers of Lateaster (still to be identified in case he's related to someone here!) was a key witness.

This was the mention of the case in the New York Herald, Tuesday 10 February 1891:

A man named William Buchanan has been arrested by the police and is held for trial on charge of having murdered a man named Reilly and the latter’s wife. The Reillys were caretakers on a farm at Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan. The motive of the crime is said to have originated in an agrarian dispute.

 The case was well covered in the Anglo-Celt newspaper which quoted extensively from witnesses, particularly James Byers. The listing of other witnesses, including the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary makes a remarkable who's who for the locality.

... when I entered the first thing I remarked was the old woman lying on the floor, her feet towards the centre of the kitchen; she was lying on her left side and fully dressed in her usual way; she had her boots on; I also saw the body of her husband on the floor; he was lying on his right side facing the front window; his feet were towards the hearth; his head about 9 or 10 inches from his wife’s; they lay at right angles ...
 "... after a prolonged sitting, [the jury] announced a disagreement, and the prisoner was put back to the next assizes."

The trouble is, I have failed to find an outcome to this case.

Was William Buchanan hanged? Was he imprisoned? Was he acquitted?
RH: This PDF provides some of the evidence and lists many of those who were involved in some way or other.
Double Murder 1891.pdf Double Murder 1891.pdf
Size : 81.135 Kb
Type : pdf

Eliza, born c. 20.11.1850

More information sought about Eliza ... nothing is known about her and she may have died in infancy.
Thomas, born c.1844 (?)

More information sought about Thomas ... It's believed he died in Chicago.

William, born c.25.12.1842, died 20.12.1919, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
As noted earlier, William went to Australia with his sister Isabella,  pre-1862.

William's future bride, Anne Jane Toppin, travelled to Australia in 1868.
RH: The Cutty Sark, a 963 ton three-masted clipper, built in Greenock in 1868.

Photo courtesy of the Brodie Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Cutty Sark, Brodie Collection
Thanks to online postings by Michelle Hird, it appears that William Byers married Anne Jane Toppin on 16 August 1871 in Australia.

Anne Jane Toppin was born in Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland on 24 May 1844 (another source has her birth in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone, Ireland, in 1846).

Her parents were Francis Alexander Toppin ("Sergeant in Army") and Olivia Faulkner (born c.1823).

Michelle Hird has identified Olivia and Anne Jane's voyage to Australia on board the Southern Ocean which arrived in March 1868 (leaving Plymouth in England on 29 November 1867). 
Olivia was said to be 45, Anne Jane was 22.

William and Anne Jane's children were Margaret Watson, May, Robert James, William Francis, Alexander William, Margaret, Isabella Anne and Olivia Jane.
Robert James Byers, born 20 August 1875, fought in the Boer War and was a prisoner of war in 1900. See his letter to his mum (below).

May Byers was born in 1879 at Whittlesea, Victoria.  She married John Popplewell Hird in 1913 and her sister Olivia J Byers was a witness.

An online posting from Kerry Jones reveals that William's son Alexander William Byers married Elsa Wilhelmina Trost whose parents were
Franz Trost (born in Dresden, Germany) and Georgina Josephine Mouritz.

Margaret married Duncan Stewart.

Isabella Anne Byers, born in 1877 in Prahran, Victoria, Australia,  to William Byers and Anne Jane Toppin, married Philip Smart (1864-1929). They had five children.
RH: Newspaper death notice for William Byers from the Family Notices published in The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) on Tuesday 30 December 1919:
BYERS - On the 20th December [1919], at Windsor,
William Byers, relict of late Anne Jane, eldest
son of late Robert and Margaret Watson (Cavan),
son-in-law of late Francis Alexander and Olivia
Toppin (Belfast, Ireland), loved father of Robt.
James (Kyneton), Wm. Francis (Kelvin), Alex.
Wm. (Cavendish); Mrs. Phil Smart (Strathbogie),
Mrs. John Hird (Brighton), Mrs. Duncan Stewart
(Hopetown), Olivia (Lily), and late Margaret
Watson, brother of Mrs. John Stewart (Windsor),
aged 76 years. (Home papers please copy.)
          Father in Thy gracious keeping,
          Leave we now our loved ones sleeping.
One of the surviving family letters is from William Byers's son, Robert James Byers (Bob), to his mother, Anne Jane Toppin. It is dated 18 August 1900.
RH: This somewhat shortened PDF, courtesy of a more extensive one from Cathryn Warren, details the family of William Byers and their descendants.
Another day the New Zealanders had 13 Boers prisoners, and they met some Canadians, who asked them if they wanted to hand over their prisoners; well the N.Z.s were glad to get rid of them; so they handed them over to the Canadians who took them away to a quiet place, and shot the 13 of them. When asked what became of them, the Canadians said that the Boers escaped.
RH: This is the transcript of the complete letter from Lance Sgt. R.J. Byers of the Australian Mounted Rifles:

That letter surfaced again in 2010 in the Edmonton Journal of Sunday 18 April when Richard Foot of Canwest News Service quoted from it in an article discussing accusations about the Afghanistan conflict.

Afghanistan accusations replay of Boer War.pdf Afghanistan accusations replay of Boer War.pdf
Size : 240.645 Kb
Type : pdf

James, born c.1841 (?), died 24.06.1916, Oak Forest, Cook, Illinois, USA

James Byers worked as a teamster in Chicago. Cathryn Warren has located him in the 1910 USA census. He was married to Mary [original family surname unknown]. They had a son named James Byers married to Margaret ?. It was this Margaret Byers who was the informant on Robert Byers Jnr's death certificate. She was living at 7226 South Wabash Street, Chicago with James Jnr.
More information sought about James ...

Isabella, born c.01.07.1840, died 21.06.1931, Prahran, Victoria, Australia

On 2 December 1862, in Melbourne, Isabella married John Stewart from Dundee, Scotland. He died on 1 June 1909 in Prahran. They had ten children, detailed in this shortened version of Cathryn Warren's descendants' report (RH):

Anne Jane, born 23.10.1837

Anne Jane Byers married Robert Farrell, though the marriage record has still to be located.

Cathryn Warren writes: "I have wondered if they were perhaps living overseas at an earlier point in their relationship. Later on they were living in Palmerston, Dublin. I have found birth records for Margaret Isabella Farrell, William Farrell and Robert Farrell. There may well be more children. I haven't been able so far to locate any further records of the Farrell family, e.g. deaths, etc."

More information sought about Anne Jane ...