Canada is currently celebrating it’s 150th anniversary in 2017. Coincidentally Emily Weddall was born 150 years ago too. Read more:

Emily’s ancestors, the Graisberrys, emigrated to Canada, where their descendants still live today.  One such relative was her uncle Richard Lyons McArthur. Born in 1826 he was her mother Emily’s only brother. Emily McArthur was born a year after, and appeared to be very close to her older brother, that may have come to pass because of the early loss of their father who died in 1829.

Both sibling lived together with their mother for most of their lives, the greater part in Dublin while Richard completed his education at Trinity College. He was ordained a Deacon in 1849 and a Priest a year later. His first parish it appears was in Copgrove, a small parish near Ripon in Yorkshire, where his mother and sister moved along with him. His mother Mary died in 1855 and sometime after that he emigrated to Canada to take up a position in the church at St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. His sister Emily followed some time later and stayed on as his housekeeper. They bought a house on Duke St. St Catharines, but only lived there less than a year. Richard contracted Scarlett Fever and died within days. The grave of Rev. Richard Lyons McAthur

For the short time he spent in his Canadian parish Richard Lyons McArthur was well liked and sadly missed. His kindness was noted by the parishioners and his memory lasted for decades as expressed in his obituary from a unknown local paper:

“On Saturday morning last the Rev. Richard Lyons McArthur, Curate of the English Church in this town, aged 30 years.

The deceased had not been among us quite a year, and yet had made himself beloved and respected by all who were honored with his acquiescence. In addition to Mr. McArthur’s clerical duties he added many others calculated to to endear him to the inhabitants of this town – such for instance as visiting the poor and needy, the sick and infirm. To those who required help his hand was open in offering charity to those who required instruction, he was “apt to touch.”

We have suffered a loss not seen to be supplied in the death of this gentleman. Mr. McArthur was quite a young man but has been cut down by two days sickness. Scarlet fever took hold of him and not withstanding the able medical attendance of Dr. Mack, such was the virulence of the disease, that he lasted but from Tuesday till Saturday. The deceased was a young Englishman, who had chosen Canada as his home, and the sphere of his spiritual labours. He was rich, and had invested largely in our Provincial institutions. How mysterious appear the ways of Providence to us in the removal of much usefulness and the means and dispositions to do such good. The poor blessed him, the children loved him, and the close observer of, character respected him. Unobtrusive and deeply pious he “did good by stealth, and blushed to find it fame.” Mr. McArthur’s remains were followed to the grave by a large and respectable portion of our inhabitants.”

Emily must have been heartbroken and at a loss to what to do now that her only brother had passed and her service to him was over. She rented their house and returned home to Ireland.

With her own fund to live on and investments in Canada and a house there too she was for all intents and purposes an independent woman. It was still Victorian times and independence was not the order of the day for young ladies from Emily McArthur’s background. She may have enjoyed her freedom while it lasted but a few years later she was matched up with Rev. William John Burke, more than twenty years her senior. In October 1861 she became the second Mrs. Burke.


Dublin Evening Mail 28 December 1849