Skip to content

Augustus Jones

Augustus Jones surveyed the very land upon which I am writing this. Now known as Central Elgin, it was for 200 years called Yarmouth Township. Jones surveyed the southerly portion in 1799. The Baby (pronounced ‘Bawby’) family of the Detroit-Windsor area controlled/owned all of these lands, but never lived in this area. It was not settled until after the War of 1812. Many of the first settlers were Quakers from New York State and a lot of their descendants are still here. One of them, Sally Martyn is running for council in the upcoming election. She still lives in Sparta, which was largely settled by Quakers. She lives on part of the farm settled by her ancestors in about 1815.

The Talbot Road, which ran through the middle of the township, and the lots on either side were surveyed by Mahlon Burwell (brother of Lewis) in 1809 and 1810. These lots were all taken up by 1812. Mahlon Burwell surveyed the north portion of Yarmouth Township after the war and there was little settlement until the 1830s—and then, mostly by Scotch and English immigrants.

The Burwells were Quakers. They lived in Bertie Township when they first settled in Upper Canada. Mahlon joined the Masonic lodge in about 1805 and when the Quakers became aware of this fact they tried to get him to renounce his membership. He refused and consequently was expelled from the Society of Friends. After Mahlon settled in this area, about 1809, as did several of his relatives, I never heard that any of them were attached to the Friends or Quakers. They were all Church of England, that I knew of. Burwell was a quite prominent Mason and was one of those who started the first lodge in St. Thomas in 1817. He was the first Worshipful Master of said lodge. I have the original charter of this lodge. I am going to present it to the St. Thomas lodges in the near future. It is, I believe, the only surviving document of a lodge chartered by the Schismatic Grand Lodge at Niagara. There are still Burwell descendants in the St. Thomas area.

Lewis Burwell lived for a time in the Port Talbot area, probably with his brother Mahlon. There is a rather famous map that Lewis did of the lands surrounding Col. Talbot’s estate at Port Talbot. The map is dated 1813 and it is important as it gives the location of all of the buildings in the area. I think that Lewis ended up in the Brantford area, or possibly in Burford. Lewis, it seems was always in the shadow of his more prominent older brothers, Mahlon and Adam Hood. I have a small scrapbook compiled by Lewis Burwell’s daughter Caroline. It dates from the 1840s and contains the obituary of Lewis. Poor Lewis does not even rate a mention in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, which to me is a glaring oversight.

Submitted by Don Cosens