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Charles Benedict Sr.

Born Born 13 June 1788 State of Vermont
Died Died 10 May 1857 unknown
Married Married 1st 12 April 1820 Mary Burwell at Elgin Co., Ontario
2nd 22 Dec 1835 Sophronia (neé Smith) Crawford


  • Father: unknown
  • Mother: unknown

Children with Mary Burwell:

Children with Sophronia Crawford:

Charles’ Early Years

Charles Benedict Sr. was born in the State of Vermont, June 13, 1788.1 When just a boy, he moved with his parents to the State of New York. In his young manhood he came to Canada and was a soldier in the War of 1812.2

The land on which the village of Wallacetown now stands was granted by the Crown to COL. TALBOT in 1803. For several years afterwards the Wallacetown district remained an unbroken forest. It was very low, swampy land, not attractive to the homeseeker. In 1813 a man arrived who saw possibilities in the area and decided to make it his home. He was CHARLES BENEDICT and he purchased from Talbot 60 acres which he developed into the first clearing on sight of the present Wallacetown. Later this farm was bought by John Pearce, one of the first Port Talbot Settlers, for his Son, William Pearce, when he married and moved to a home of his own in 1820. (From TALBOT TIMES Newsletter of the Elgin County O.G.S. Vol. XXII issue Three September 2003)

Charles and Mary

Charles settled on Lot 12, North Talbot Road East, and lived there 20 years James Burwell settled on Lot 13, North Talbot Road East, in 1812 and died there. On April 12, 1820 he was married in Elgin Co., to Mary Burwell, who was born October 6, 1796, daughter of James Burwell and Hannah Frazee. Her father was a British soldier of the Revolution2.

Mary died July 19,1834 in Southwold Twp., Elgin Co., and is buried in The Burwell private cemetery, lot 12 North side of Talbot Road East in Southwold Twp., Elgin Co., Ontario. (Mary's Death from "Ancestral File"

Sophronia Crawford Smith's Early Years

Sophronia Smith was married on April 18, 1826 to Samuel Crawford. He was later killed, as mentioned below.

A certain amount of lawlessness was inevitable in a pioneer soci­ety, at times involving some of the most worthy inhabitants. The case of Penuil Stevens illustrates this. In April 1831 he was sum­moned to appear at the Court of General Quarter Sessions in Sand­wich, to give evidence against Garret Lee and Company of Howard (Morpeth) for selling liquor without a licence. But a group of six­teen men of the neighbourhood seized him, tarred and feathered him, and threatened him with great bodily harm if he appeared. A grand jury indicted these men for aggravated assault and riot, but only four were tried, and only one convicted and punished. Bench war­rants were issued against the twelve others, and a reward offered for the apprehension of each by the court. None was taken, although, as Charles Eliot wrote in 1833 to the lieutenant-governor's secretary, two were then resident on the spot. Eliot blamed this condition on the aged sheriff William Hands. "Senile imbecility in a sheriff subserves to embolden transgressors to bring disrepute upon a police."

Lee's store at Howard was also the scene of the killing of Samuel Craford, eldest son of John Craford of the lake shore. A feud between the Crafords and the Parkers, who were neighbours, had been going on for years. apparently growing out of a boundary dispute. In 1830 both parties appeared before a grand jury at Sandwich, each charging assault by the other; and the Crafords were bound in the peace for a year. In 1831 John Parker accused John Craford of burning his barn; and Craford was heard to say something about Mrs. Parker murdering a child. Craford was said to have chased Mrs. Parker with an axe. John Parker had once aimed a gun at Samuel Craford, and had threatened to kill him.

The trouble culminated on the afternoon of October 3, 1832, when an arbitration of the land dispute was made by two magistrates at the schoolhouse in Howard. The decision was in favour of the Crafords, and although both parties signed the award the Parkers departed in anger. A little later both went to Lee's store, half a mile away, where a dispute between the Ruddles and John Kennedy was being arbitrated. Drinking and abusive language followed. When Mrs. Lee closed the store for the day the Parkers and James Moody got on their horses to leave, but became infuriated by taunts from John Craford. In the ensuing fight Samuel Craford was beaten over the head with clubs by James Moody and Parker's stepson, Francis Larue, so that he died a few hours later.

Larue, Moody, and John Parker and his wife, were arrested and taken to Sandwich jail, from which Larue later escaped. The others were tried at the assizes the following summer; James Moody was convicted of murder, and the Parkers of manslaughter. Both parties appealed to the lieutenant­-governor for clemency, the Parkers on the ground that they had been imprisoned ten months before trial and their affairs at home were going to ruin, as their children were all under fourteen years of age. Moody's plea for a pardon was reinforced by a petition signed by thirty-one inhabitants of the vicinity, who believed the killing was not premeditated. Even Chief Justice Robinson, before whom the trial was held, had not passed sentence became he believed the indictment was insufficient to support a conviction for murder.

James Moody was either pardoned or sentenced for manslaugh­ter, for he was later living in Essex County. The Parkers moved to Malahide Township in Elgin County a few years alter the trial.

Soon after the death of Samuel Craford, his brother Thomas attempted to defraud the widow and her infant son of their rightful inheritance. This eventually led him into a long-drawn-out conflict with the Pattersons, who claimed under a prior grant, and an almost successful deception of the Executive Council.

In 1817 John Craford had received a patent for the southerly half of Lot 100 fronting on Lake Erie, containing 100 acres. Four years later he sold the farm to his eldest son Samuel for £300, but continued to live there with the rest of his numerous family. In 1826 Samuel married Sophronia Smith of Southwold in the London Dis­trict and brought her to his farm, where they resided until the death of Samuel in 1832. Sophronia then moved to her father's home in Southwold with her three small daughters and a son, Samuel Phil­ander Craford, who was born shortly after Samuel's death.

A little later Thomas Craford persuaded Sophronia to lend him the deed of the old Craford farm. Thereupon he and the rest of the Crafords continued to occupy the farm, pretending that it still be­longed to John Craford. But about this time it became known that there was a prior crown patent covering nearly all the land described in the patent to Craford. The original patent had been issued to William Hands of Sandwich in 1804. Although no survey was then made in Howard, Hands received a block of 1,200 acres extending from the lake northward along the townline road between Howard and Harwich, described as Lots 1 and 2 in the First, Second, and Third Concessions from Lake Erie. These lots were assigned metes and bounds in conformity with the surveys on the Thames, where the lots are 29 chains 80 links in breadth. But when Burwell sur­veyed the Township of Howard in 1816, he allowed the lots on Lake Erie only 20 chains each, thus producing an extra lot, Lot no. 100, which has actually comprised in the Hands grant, with the excep­tion of a strip 40 links wide. Craford received the patent for this lot in 1817, without the Council or anyone else realizing that most of it had already been granted to Hands.

Sophronia Craford petitioned the lieutenant-governor and Council in 1835, stating that she had learned of the grant to Hands, and realized that it would be useless for her to resist his claim. She there­fore prayed permission to surrender her farm, in return for a grant of an equally good situation in the Western or London districts. She told how Thomas Craford had obtained the deed from her, and to establish her claim and that of her son Philander she sent along all neccessary documents, including a certified copy of the record of the transfer from the Kent Registry Office. The Council recommended that her request he acted upon, and an order to that effect was issued.

In the meantime John and Thomas Craford and their families continued to occupy the farm in Howard, and apparently no one in that region knew that it did not belong to them. They learned of the prior grant to Hands, but hoped to retain the property on the ground of many years occupancy and the special features of the case. The farm was now quite valuable, with good buildings and about sixty acres of cleared land.

All went well until Leslie Patterson of Dunwich Township, who had purchased the Hands' block in 1832, decided to take action against the Crafords. Leslie's son Walter served a notice on John Craford, signed by John Prince, one of the three boundary commissioners, that the latter would meet at Walter Patterson's house in Howard on February 24, 1840, to survey the Patterson estate. Craford's attorney, Gideon Ackland of London, attended on behalf of his client, but made no appeal against the award of most of the Craford farm to Patterson, advising the Crafords that the Boundary Commissioners could not try title. Early in 1841, however, Patterson brought an action of ejectment against John Craford, obtained judgement by default, and in March of that year Deputy-Sheriff Mercer and five men turned the Crafords out while Walter Patterson took possession for his father.

John Craford now appealed to the governor and council, and without mentioning the action of ejectment and the writ of possession obtained by Patterson, stated that he and his "large and help­less family" had been ejected from the land merely on the judgement of the Boundary Commissioners. He had not appealed the judgement because his lawyer had advised him that the Commissioners could not try title. He asked compensation of £510 as the value of his land and improvements, an estimate made by three local residents. The Council, on the recommendation of the Land Committee, rejected the plea on the ground that Craford had recourse to an appeal at law and that he should have enquired as to title before apply­ing for his patent.

Thomas Craford, for his father, appealed against the order-in-council in February 1843. He stated that no person had ever thought of questioning title on authority of the Crown; and then sent affidavits from several of the oldest inhabitants that no survey of that part of Howard had ever been made previous to Burwell's survey. He had eight children and his aged and helpless parents to support. If he could not regain the land, he requested that it should be valued by the Crown agent, and other land given him to cover the valuation.

For some reason this petition failed to reach the Council until July 1844. On September 6th of that year the Council wrote to Thomas Steers, representing the Crafords, requesting answers to a series of questions as to the procedure under which the Crafords were ejected. The reply was that John Craford knew of no action other than the award of the Boundary Commissioners, and that he had not defended on advice of his lawyer, who subsequently died before the eviction. This letter indicated to the Council that the eviction was illegal. The Land Committee reported on May 26, 1845: "This is a case of unusual hardship, and the Committee recommends that the Commissioner of Crown Lands be instructed to report on the value of the land and improvements, with a view of granting scrip for same; if that can be dune under the authority of the Land Act." It was soon found, however, that this could not be done under the Act, and the Committee advised that Craford submit his claim, with their recommendation to Parliament at the next session.

Thomas Craford appealed against this decision, and in September the Committee went over the whole case again in great detail. No action at law appeared to have ever been instituted, consequently there was no judgement or execution; therefore Craford must have been illegally evicted and had a right of action at law to recover damages from the wrongdoers. But it appeared that Craford had been in possession for thirty years before he was put off; so Hands and those claiming under him must have been out of possession for the same period. Under a provincial statute of limitations of 1834, the latter would then be precluded from bringing an action to recover unless it came within one of the exceptions to the Act. The Committee advised that these facts of title and possession should be made clear before indemnity could be granted; Craford might bring an action against the parties by whose authority he was turned out, or an action of ejectment to recover possession.

Under an order-in-council to this effect a trial took place in 1846 at the assizes for the Western District. A jury found against Craford, on the ground that the statute of limitations did not hold good against the owners, because they had lived part of the time outside the province; and that Craford could not recover damages for loss of his improvements because they were not made in consequence of an erroneous survey. The jury, of course, was acquainted with the fact that Craford had been evicted after judgement in default in an action of ejectment. The Council had also learned of it the previous November through a letter from John Prince; and the Land Committee now decided that Craford could make another application stating the true facts, but they did not think it would do any good.

A few days after the Committee's report, the truth of the Cra­fords' trickery was revealed in a letter from Leslie Patterson. He had discovered that the Government in 1835 had issued an order for lands to be assigned elsewhere, in lieu of lot 100, for Sophronia Craford and her son Philander, and that the other Crafords had no right to any of the improvements or the land which they claimed. This ended the matter, as far as the Government was concerned, until 1857 when Sophronia Benedict, widow of Charles Benedict and former widow of Samuel Craford, made affidavit that Samuel Philander Craford of the Township of Raleigh was her son and the son and heir-at-law of Samuel Craford; and that no appropriation of land had taken place on the order-in-council of November 5, 1835. The Land Committee then recommended, on February 1, 1858 (Charles Benedict had died the year previous), that the patent to John Craford for lot 100 should be cancelled, and that compensation be made to Samuel Philander Craford according to the report of the Commissioner of Crown Lands. This was approved in Council the following day3.

Charles and Sophronia

After the death of Mary Burwell, Charles then married Sophronia Crawford, and to this marriage came: Sarah A., born Sept. 21, 1836, married William Pardo; Louisa, born June 30,1838, married R. J. Morrison; Elizabeth, born Feb. 5, 1840, married James Toll; Elisha, born July 2, 1842, married Salome Pardo; and Elias, born March 1, 1844, married Villa Kennedy, and resided in Michigan2.

The Final Years for Charles

Charles drew a 200-acre farm on the north side of the Talbot Road, in Lot 12, Southwold township, County Elgin, and he lived there until early in the fifties, when he located in Raleigh township, County Kent, and at the time of his death May 10, 1857, he owned a farm near Cedar Springs2.


Marriage - 18th April, 1826-Samuel Crawford, of Howard, W.D., yeoman, and Sophronia Smith, of Dunwich, spinster, were this day married by me, by banns. Witnesses-Orrin Ladd, Montgomery Smith, Willis Smith.
per St. Thomas Marriage Register for Church of England

London Dist - part 8 - - - Marriages performed by Rev. Thomas Huckins (Huchins?), Freewill Baptist Church; Return #212 Dec 22, 1835 Charles Benedict to Sophrona Crawford both of Southwold by banns. Wit: Alvin and William J. Smith.
per email from Don Elliott

Some notes on the children

  • Elijah Benedict; born 30 June 1821 in Elgin; married Maria Wilson; she was born 1830; died 11 Mar 1889 in Ontario
  • Hannah Benedict; born 4 Nov 1823 in Elgin.
  • James Benedict; born 22 April 1826 in Elgin.
  • Mary Benedict; born 5 April 1829; married to Elijah Gilbert.
  • Sophronia Benedict; born 1830. Possibly, Sophronia Craford,(Adopted.) Birth after Mary too soon!
  • Charles Benedict, Jr.; born 30 March 1831; died 15 Aug 1889.
  • Philander (Lang) Benedict; born Sept. 21, 1832, in Elgin Co. (Possibly Samuel Philander Craford, Adopted.)
  • Ann Benedict; born 10 April 1833 in Elgin.
  • Sarah Ann Benedict; born 1836; died 1885.
  • Louisa Benedict; born 30 June 1838 in Elgin County.
  • Elizabeth Benedict; born 5 Feb 1840 in Southwold Twp, Elgin, Ontario, Canada.
  • Elisha Benedict; born 22 July 1842 in Elgin, died 25 Feb 1885.
  • Elias Benedict; born 1 March 1844 in Elgin. An E. J. Benedict (merchant) b. Abt. 1843, Southwold Ont., died 28 Feb 1885 Kent Co. Harwich Twp., from Maybe Elias.

  • All children on 1851 census (next, below).

  • Charles and Sarah Ann both married into the Pardo family: Charles married Loius Louisa Pardo. Sarah Ann married William Henry Pardo. The Pardo spouses were sister and brother, children of Thomas Pardo.

Census of 1851

Person Occupation Birthplace Religion Age Sex Status District Page
BENEDICT, Charles farmer Connecticut Baptist 62 M married - - 175
Sophronia   Connecticut Baptist 48 F married - - 175
James laborer Canada West Baptist 25 M single - - 175
Mary   Canada West Baptist 22 F Single - - 175
Sophronia   Canada West Baptist 21 F single - - 175
Charles laborer Canada West Baptist 20 M single - - 175
Philander laborer Canada West Baptist 19 M single - - 175
Sarah   Canada West Baptist 16 F single - - 175
Louisa   Canada West Baptist 13 F single - - 175
Elizabeth   Canada West Baptist 11 F single - - 175
Elisha   Canada West Baptist 9 M single - - 175
Elias   Canada West Baptist 8 M single - - 175
Elijah farmer Canada West Baptist 30 M married - - 175
Maria   Canada West Baptist 20 F married - - 175

- 1851 Census for Southwold Twp, Elgin Co., Ontario; available at Woodstock Library ; Woodstock, Ontario.


  1. "Genealogy of the Benedicts in America", Vol. II by Elwyn E. Benedict; 1st pub. 1969; orig. avail. at Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, DC.
  2. "Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent Ontario"; published 1904 by J. H. Beers & Co., original at Central Library, Chatham, Ontario
  3. "The Valley of the Lower Thames 1640 to 1850"; by Fred Coyne Hamil; pub. University of Toronto Press (undated); original at LDS Church Family Centre in Calgary, Alberta

-- JimBenedict - 03 Feb 2006 -- JenniferBay - 03 Feb 2006 -- DonaldElliott - 27 Aug 2007
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