The Talbot Settlement
Between 1791 and 1794, Irish born Colonel Thomas Talbot explored the thick, mixed deciduous forest wilderness on the shores of Lake Erie with the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. After finishing his tour of duty, Talbot, unable to forget the wilds of Canada, sold his commission and emigrated to upper Canada in 1803.
As an officer, he was granted 5000 acres of land for his service. With the help of Simcoe, he arranged a deal with the crown:
'that 200 acres shall be allotted to him for every family he shall establish thereon, -50 acres thereof to be granted to each family in perpetuity, and the remaining 150 acres of each lot to become his property, for the expense and trouble of collecting and locating them.'
This land was kept in reserve for him along the shores of Lake Erie. By the time the colonial government forced him to wrap up his operations, his settlers had populated a swath of Ontario land land running from east of London clear to Windsor. Violently contemptuous of government red tape, he was a continual headache to land officials; yet he managed to settle 27 townships, thousands of settlers, and they cleared over � million acres.
Living the life of a hermit in a log house on a cliff above Lake Erie, he had a steady stream of immigrants, would be settlers, visit him to strike a bargain for land. The settler would go to a special window that was much like a wicket in a post office. He would state his business, and if the Colonel had no reason to object to him, out came the Colonel's maps of the area and the settlers name was inscribed in pencil on a 50 or 100 acre parcel. If the Colonel took exception to someone he would dismiss them immediately, and if they resisted, he was not above setting the hounds on the hapless visitor. The eccentric Colonel was truly one of the great characters of Canadian history having pioneered the most successful non-governmental land settlement program in Canada.
In 1835, James CHALK and John PRESSEY heard about the Colonel, and made their way to Port Talbot.
A Pressey family history states that:
"They sailed up the St. Lawrence River and through Lake Ontario until they arrived at Toronto.� Here they were forced to leave the boat and go in a wagon from there to the shores of Lake Erie, where at Fort Erie, they entered a ship once more on the last lap of their journey to Port Burwell.
By this time their money was almost exhausted and the two brothers [the story mistakenly says that John's brother was present] together with John's oldest son, George, who at this time was a lad of sixteen years, walked the remainder of their journey.� On their arrival at Port Burwell, which at that time contained only a few houses, their combined money amounted to but seventy-five cents."
So far, it has been confirmed that the 1836 emigration brought the following Downton families into the settlement:
James and Ann PRINCE, George and Mary and John and Eliza LIGHT, William and ? EDMONDS, Thomas and Sarah PRETTY, George and Mary? PRESSEY, Some of the BUNDYs, Thomas and ? ALLEN,�and Issac and Lucy DEARE.
The following people have been located, near, but not in the settlement: William and Sarah BAMPTON (and the POORE boys, from her first marriage), and William MUSSEL.
Investigation into the wherabouts of the others is on-going, contact the webmaster if you have any information.