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The Bassett Family

The Bassett (occasionally seen as Barrett) Family come from Oxborough, Norfolk, England. James Bassett and Mary Edlow had 8 children of which 3 would end up immigrating to Canada: David, Henry, and Thomas.


David (1792-1858), his wife Mary Parnell (1798-1966) and their eleven children: Rachel (1820), Maria (1829), David (1832), James (1833), Elizabeth (1837), James (1839), William (1841), Priscilla (1844), John (1846), George (1846), and Jane (1849) would settle in Quebec.


Henry (1799-1866) would initially settle in Quebec like David (1842 Census) but would make his way to Hope Township by 1861.


Thomas, however, did not have as straight-forward a journey to Canada. Thomas (1797-1866) is noted to have black hair, hazel eyes and mole on his right cheek. He would marry Mary Collette in 1818. They would have several children together: twins James and David in 1819, Mary in 1826, Elizabeth in 1829, Lucy in 1831, and Susan in 1835. In Dec 1835 however, Thomas was involved in a murder. Thomas had been convicted of several minor offences prior to the 1836 charges. In fact, there seems to have been quite a bit of criminal activity with charges being laid against several brothers for various crimes: John Basset in 1851 for larceny and again in 1852... and again in 1854, a co-conspirator in 1854 named Charles Bassett was acquitted.


The story goes that the Monday after Northwold Fair Night, a gang of poachers decided to go get some pheasants. They snuck onto Mr. Jones' land and began shooting. Mr. Jones, the bailif and some companions Mr. Case and Mr. Beechley came down to the corner of the Three Corner Plantation and realized there were several individuals illegally on the land and shooting game. They were told to come out of the wood they were hidden in and they responded "Blast you, we came for pheasants, and pheasants we'll have". Bassett, realizing that the gang may not be up to the fight, suggested that they be going. So the gang ran towards Flatt's Mill. However, in their haste, they threw the boat over a bank and jumped into it, causing their boat to sink. The bailiff and company were still giving chase on horseback. Mr. Case saw the men along the long bank and road on to Flatt's Mill as he passed the mill he saw 6-8 poachers armed as they came over the bridge. A confrontation ensued and Case the bailiff caught one of the poachers by the collar, named Sucker. Howes, another poacher was shouting that one of them has been caught. Bassett said that they had to go back and help their friend. A large brawl then ensued between the two sides. Case the Bailiff was beaten with the guns and thrown into a ditch. He stood back up and was knocked back down. The labourer, also named Case, was knocked down by the side fence of the Mill. Although not putting up more of a fight, Sucker took his gun and struck the laborer in the head with the butt end of it. The others were quite shocked but Sucker just laughed. The gang ran off and went their separate ways at Gibbet Lane. Although alive when they left him, the labourer would succumb to his injuries the next day. The gang would be arrested rather quickly and Bassett would be convicted of manslaughter, which was downgraded from murder due to the location of the brawl.


The other men were named Sucker (23), Bruce (21), Dawes (21) and Joseph Staines (37). Another man named Beales (18) was acquitted. For a more detailed version of the story, see Michael Carter's Poachers and Peasants. Bassett was convicted in 1836 and sent to Van Dieman's land in Australia on the boat, the Henry Porcher. He arrived on November 15 1836 in Tasmania. In the England 1841 Census, his wife Mary and the children are listed but Thomas is not. He is recorded on several documents in Australia/Tasmania. He would be granted a conditional pardon in 1845 and in 1846 he was returned to England. In 1850 however, he was again charged and found guilty of larceny. This time he was sentenced to serve two months. It was between 1850 and 1856 that the family came over to Canada. Initially they settled in Bowmanville (1861 census) but eventually they would settle in Hope Township. We know they were around Port Hope in 1856 as both Thomas and his son James are mentioned in reports when a schooner called Niagara wrecked and came ashore in Port Hope. Captain Wood and Robert Campbell both would drown trying to rescue the crew. The third sucessful attempt to save the crew included Thomas and James Bassett. This seemed to have been a turning point for Thomas as he did not have any arrests in Canada and had a relatively successful adjustment.


Notes from the Wesleyville Church Centennial booklet state that James Bassett bought a farm on lot 30. He cleared the land with a stump puller and built a house on the hill north of Lakeshore Road. Along a side road several other houses were constructed. Mrs. Brown is noted as James's sister. James would marry Mary Bryce and they had five children: Mary Ann, who married Joseph Darke, Louisa, who married Richard Brock, James Jr, who married Ellen Jane Burley, and George, who married Alice Kermon and lived at lot 24.


He is listed on the 1901 census as being a Butcher. Their children were named Ethel and Percy Walter. Percy married Florence Meadows but died at the age of 31 in 1899. James and George were both honoured for their services for the Sunday School.

John Basset Death 1880.jpg

John Bassett 1880 Death Record

Thomas Grave Marker

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