© Christopher Earls Brennen



There is some belief that the Pickering family originated in the village of Tichmarsh in Northamptonshire, England. It is certainly the case that a Thomas Pickering took part in the Tudor plantation of Ireland for the following are excerpts from the State Papers (Calendar), Ireland, Vol.XXIII, page 360 :

Cork, Jan.14, 1568: ``.....McSweeney [the local chieftain] is at large. Apsley is drowned. Pickering is taken with all their ships and furniture.''

Limerick, Feb. 1, 1568: ``.....Pickering and Apsley are alive and cruelly kept by McSweeney.''

Dublin, Feb. 7, 1568: ``.....McSweeney may have pardon on giving up Apsley and Pickering''
``Thereafter Apsley was sent into Kerry to lay waste what he can. He is later captured by the Earl of Thomond who executes some of those with him and took many of the horses''

Elizabeth, Vol.LIX, page 121, 1577: ``Sir Nicholas Malbie Lord Deputy sends Thomas Pickering to declare his just claim to the cess oats, his former suit recommended.''

The first record of a definite ancestor is as follows:

Thomas Pickering of Ballycairn was born in 1663 and married Jane Everett in 1709 in Dublin. Ballycairn is about three miles from Ballymagin. Thomas appears in the Hearth Money Rolls(?) for County Antrim in 1663. Their son:

Thomas Pickering lived in Gornamoney and married Mary Swain of Magheralin in 1750.


The children of Thomas Pickering and Mary Swain:
  1. Ruth Pickering was born in 1751.
  2. William Pickering, our ancestor, was born in 1760 and lived in Ballymagin, Magheralin. He was probably married twice, first to Martha (?Wilson?) and second to Charity Bell (1761-1837) of Lurgan in 1795. Charity died in 1837 and William in 1843.
  3. John Pickering of Ballymagin.
  4. James Pickering.


Newforge House
The children of William Pickering and Charity Bell:

  1. Jane Pickering was born in 1796 and, in 1816 in Ireland, married Thomas Moffit or Moffatt who was born in Scotland. Right after their marriage they emigrated to Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, Canada where their son, William was born. They moved back and forth between Cornwallis and Boston before finally settling in Boston. Their son:
    1. William Moffatt was born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.
  2. Eleanor Pickering, our ancestor, was born in 1798. She married Stothard Mercer in 1819 and their story is told in chapter 9. Eleanor, who was also known as Ellen, died in 1854.
  3. James Pickering was born in 1799. He married Selina Spence in Soldier's Town Church in 1833 and they lived in Newforge House, Magheralin. James had a small linen mill whose remains can still be seen at the back of the house. He also owned a lime kiln and had farming interests. A branch of the family still lives in Newforge House. James died on May 27, 1846, aged 47 and Selina died on Feb.9, 1892. They are both buried in the Old Graveyard at Magheralin where their gravestone reads: ``In loving memory of James Pickering who died 27th May 1846 aged 47 years. Selina Pickering his wife who died 9th February 1892. And their children, William James, Charlotte Emma and Selina Jane'' The children:
    1. William James Pickering was christened in the church of Magheralin on Jun.15, 1834 and died in 1836.
    2. Joseph Pickering was born in 1836. He emigrated to the United States, had a son James and died in 1917.
    3. Charity Pickering, also known as Cherrie, was born in 1838. On May 12, 1858, she was married in the Parish Church of Magheralin to John Coote, a commercial traveller from Magheralin whose father was James Coote, a farmer. They emigrated to Australia. Charity died in 1918.
    4. Elizabeth Anne Pickering was born in 1841 and married Henry Mathers who was born in Lurgan on Oct.26, 1833. Henry became a very prominent citizen of the Lurgan and Magheralin area of County Down. He was a linen manufacturer specializing in linen table damask and linen cambric hankerchiefs. He was a J.P. for County Down and chairman of Moira Rural Council and of the Lurgan Poor Law Board of Guardians. He was a local preacher in the Methodist Church and a Good Templar. Elizabeth and Henry lived at Newforge House, Magheralin, and had a number of children listed below. Elizabeth died in 1916.
      1. John Edward Mathers was born in 1862 and died in 1868.
      2. Cherry Mathers was born in 1864 and died in 1868.
      3. James Pickering Mathers was born in 1866 and followed in his father's footsteps as a linen manufacturer and a local preacher. He married Hester Rosanna Gaynor and they had issue:
        1. Henry Mathers was born in 1898, married Althea Stafford-Badge and died in 1934.
        2. John Mathers was born in 1901 and died in 1920.
        3. Elizabeth Wright Mathers was born in 1903 and died in 1987.
        4. James Pickering Mathers was born in 1906.
        5. Robert Ulrich Mathers was born in 1908 and married Emily Waddell. They had two sons John Waddell Mathers (1944-1963) and Robert Henry Mathers (1947-). Robert died in 1987 and Emily in 1968.
      4. Anne Jane Mathers was born July 8, 1868, and married James Mercer (see chapter 9).
      5. Henry Leslie Mathers was born 1871 and farmed in the Magheralin area. He married May McRobert and died in 1941. They had a daughter:
        1. Audrey Mathers.
      6. Joseph Mathers was born 1873 and became a Methodist minister. He married Lily Decourcey and they had a daughter:
        1. Sheila Mathers.
      7. Selina Mathers was born in 1878 and married the Robert M. Kerr, a Methodist minister.
      8. William Mathers was born 1882 and worked as a government employee and a local preacher. He married Ben(?) Kerr and died in 1947.
    5. Charlotte Emma Pickering, mentioned on the above gravestone, probably died young.
    6. Selina Jane Pickering, mentioned on the above gravestone, probably died young.
    7. Selina Pickering was born in 1845. She married Robert McDade and they had a son, James, who emigrated to the United States. James McDade had a son, Fred.
  4. William Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin on Jan.15, 1804. He signed a Wesleyan Methodist Society quarterly church ticket in 1841. He married Elizabeth Ruddell in 1836 and they lived in Tullyloob, Moira, and at Kilminioge. William died in 1847. They had three children:
    1. James Pickering (1838- ).
    2. William Pickering (1841-1929) married Charlotte McDade, the daughter of Rev. John Scott McDade who was probably the closest friend of his fellow Methodist minister, Rev. John Northridge (see Chapter 12). When McDade died in 1910, Northridge wrote a long and interesting obituary for the press. This is probably the William Pickering of Monbrief listed as a resident of Lurgan in the 1886 County Down Directory. Jill Watson of Oxford is the granddaughter of William and Charlotte Pickering.
    3. Samuel Pickering (1843- ).
  5. Charity Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin on Mar.23, 1806. She signed Wesleyan Methodist Society quarterly church tickets in 1826, 1834 and 1835. In 1831 in Ireland Charity married William Hull and they emigrated to Canada, settling in Peel County just northwest of Toronto, Ontario.
  6. Eliza Pickering was born in 1807 or 1808. In 1829 in Magheralin she married James Hewitt and followed her sister Charity and husband William Hull to Canada where they stayed with the Hulls in Peel County for a short time. Then they moved west to Grey County near Georgian Bay on the Huron peninsula of Ontario.
  7. Maria Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin on May 28, 1809. She married Robert Brown on Aug.20, 1830.
  8. Robert Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin on Sep.22, 1811. He signed a Wesleyan Methodist Society quarterly church ticket in 1837. He married Mary Watters.
  9. Ann Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin in 1813 and married John McCann on Dec.5, 1839. She signed a Wesleyan Methodist Society quarterly church ticket in 1835. Ann married John McCann.
  10. Isabella Pickering was christened in the church in Magheralin on June 9, 1816. She signed a Wesleyan Methodist Society quarterly church ticket in 1833. On Jul.3, 1843, in Magheralin she married Alexander Humphries, born in Derryadd Annaghdroghill in 1822. Alexander was the son of Alexander Humphries and Jane Eleanor Venert. They had nine known children, all born in the Lurgan area where Alexander was a linen and cambric merchant like his father. However, in 1865, Alexander and Isabella and their family emigrated to Canada where they arrived in Quebec and first settled in Weston, then in Long Lac in Frontenac County, then moving to Elzevir Township (around Madoc) where they lived for 20 years. Finally in 1886 the family moved to Tweed, Ontario. In Madoc and Tweed Alexander worked as a commercial traveller and a general insurance agent. Alexander died in 1897 and Isabella in 1900. The children of Alexander and Isabella:
    1. William Alexander Humphries was born in Lurgan in 1844 and died in Benson, Saskatchewan, in 1923(?).
    2. Thomas Humphries was born in Lurgan on Dec.28, 1845, and died in Bracebridge, Ontario, in Feb.1882.
    3. James Pickering Humphries was born in Lurgan on Sep.9, 1847, and died in Bracebridge, Ontario, on Nov.1, 1909.
    4. Jane Venerd Humphries was born in Lurgan on Oct.29, 1849, and married Robert Finley Houston in Tweed on Nov.4, 1872. They had 4 children. Jane had long auburn hair that Lydia Howard Houston thought was beautiful. Jane died in Tweed, Ontario, on Oct.21, 1917. The children of Robert and Jane Houston:
      1. John Finley Houston was born on 7/12/1873 and died on May 31, 1928.
      2. George W. Houston was born on Dec.9, 1875, and married Lydia Jane Howard and they had two children:
        1. George Finley Houston
        2. Isabelle Mary Houston married Lloyd Joseph Oakes and they had 3 children:
          1. Jane Mary Oakes married Clint William Magill and they had a daughter, Anne Mary Magill who married Daniel James O'Brien and had a son Daniel Magill O'Brien.
          2. Susan Elizabeth Oakes
          3. David George Oakes
      3. Sarah Isabel Houston was born in 1878.
      4. Ethel Houston was born in 1881 and died in 1883.
      5. Edith Houston was born in 1884 and died in 1886.
      6. Frederick Houston was born on Oct.2, 1891, and died on Dec.1, 1940.
    5. John Venerd Humphries was born in Lurgan on Jul.11, 1851, and died in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1921.
    6. Emma Venerd Humphries was born in Lurgan on Feb.26, 1853, and died in Estavan, Saskatchewan, in 1922.
    7. Joseph Pickering Humphries was born in Lurgan on May 18, 1855, and died in Tweed, Ontario, in 1895(?).
    8. Alexander Humphries was born in Lurgan on Apr.1, 1857, and died in Annaghdroghill, Armagh, on Sep.17, 1859.
    9. Edwin Alexander Humphries was born in Lurgan on Feb.13, 1861, and died in Rochester, Minnesota, on Mar.21, 1919.

Jane (left), John (center) and Edwin Humphries (right)

Much of the above information on the Pickering family was obtained from a Pickering/Mathers bible in the custody of the Robin Mathers family who currently (1989) live in Newforge House, Magheralin. It was given to the author by Jill Watson. Information on the Canadian branch was provided by Jane Magill (jmagill@suddenlink.net).

Last updated 7/30/99.

Christopher E. Brennen