Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Judge Marcus Doherty and his family 1

As I've written here, Judge Marcus Doherty was a lawyer and distinguished jurist who served as a judge in the Quebec Superior Court from 1873 to 1891. He was appointed to the bench by the government of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald.

Marcus met his wife, Elizabeth O'Halloran, the youngest daughter of immigrants from County Cork, when he was studying law at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Marcus was a classmate of one of Elizabeth's brothers. She was only 17, but Marcus was smitten and so they married in November 1843 and settled first in Granby, where they began their family, which grew to 12 children born between 1844 and 1867:
  • Ellen Elizabeth (1844-1919) never married
  • Thomas James (1845-1894) Q.C., never married
  • Marcus (1847-1856)
  • Mary Louisa Cecilia (1851-1919) m Patrick Walter Kavanagh, three children
  • Daniel O'Connell (1853-1878) never married
  • Charles Joseph (1855-1931), K.C., MP, married Catharine Lucy Barnard, five children
  • Anna Maria (1857-1944) never married
  • Margaret Agnes Mary (1859-1894) took religious vows, known as Rev. Madam Mary of the Annunciation
  • Elizabeth Mary (1861-1926) m Judge Henry W. Mulvena, three children
  • Sarah Curran (1863-1863)
  • Marcus Emanuel (1866-aft 1931), lawyer, never married
  • Michael Joseph (1867-1907) accountant, never married
3462 (formerly 38) rue Ste-Famille, 2016
By 1851, Judge Marcus and his growing family had relocated from Granby to Montreal. He was an active member of Montreal's St. Patrick's Society, serving as its president in 1858 and 1861, and earning a good reputation. By the 1861 census, they were living at 38 Ste-Famille, a house that still stands today, but re-numbered 3462.

During those years, Marcus had offices in what today we know as Old Montreal, in a building that till standing today, mentioned here. In the 19th century, the building's address was 59 Little St. James Street. Today the street is known as rue St-Jacques.

59 Little St James Street
Following his 1873 appointment, Judge Marcus was assigned to the St. Francis District, in which the city of Sherbrooke is located. While in Sherbrooke, Judge Marcus was regarded as a leading citizen, serving as a member of the Sherbrooke chapter of the St. Patrick's Society and giving the English language welcome when St Patrick's parish was dedicated at its first mass in 1873. Judge Marcus is mentioned in Pioneer English Catholic of the Eastern Townships, published in the 1930s by Rev T. J. Walsh, SJ.

The family lived in Sherbrooke, Quebec, from 1873 until 1882, when Judge Marcus was re-assigned back to Montreal.

Judge Marcus must have liked Ste-Famille a lot, because he moved the family into number 24 Ste-Famille in 1882, when they returned from Sherbrooke. That house also still stands today, as number 3442 Ste-Famille.

3442 (formerly 24) rue Ste-Famille, 2016 
With such a large family, the censuses of 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 all included servants to help Elizabeth Doherty in running her household.

Three of Judge Marcus' sons also became lawyers: Thomas, Charles and Marcus E. They shared offices at 590 Sherbrooke St W, for many years, joined by their father after he stepped down from the bench in 1891. That building no longer exists. The space today is occupied by a large Universite de Québec à Montréal student residence at the corner of Sherbrooke and St-Urbain Streets, the always helpful staff at the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Quebec (BAnQ) tell me. I walked this block during a recent visit to Montreal.

When he died in July 1903, Judge Marcus was memorialized in several newspapers, including this item in the July 6, 1903 edition of The Gazette.

Judge Marcus and several family members are buried in Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery on Mount Royal in Montreal.

The never ending story continues....


  1. Dear Margaret,

    Greetings from the Morin family, direct descendants of the Doherty family of Montreal. Charles Doherty's daughter Elizabeth (1910-2002 or so) married Jean Morin in Montreal in the 1930s. Charles was Justice Minister of Canada when Robert Borden was Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1921) and lived on Forden Avenue. His daughter Elizabeth married into a French Canadian real estate and political family, the Morin/Desjardins. Alphone Desjardins was a Federal Cabinet Minister and mayor of Montreal. Jean Morin was a lawyer and ambassador. we would be happy to communicate with you and swap notes about the family tree. Best wishes, Francoise Morin and Chris Lyons

    1. Dear Francoise and Chris. I am so happy and excited to hear from you. If you click the contact me icon on the right nav bar of this page, you can email me directly. I hesitate to include it in this message for fear of bots or spammers. Francoise, was Elizabeth Doherty your mother or grandmother? I've done so much research on your Irish ancestors, and have told a few of those stories already here. Looking forward to hearing from you, cousin!