Category Archives: Forrest

Duff & Forrest Family Photo – c1882

An absolutely priceless photo recovered through some computer wizardry today, courtesy of my cousin Catherine Duff.  The photo was taken at Braco, the Duff Family home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia about 1882.

[Click to enlarge or download.]

Duff & Forrest Family at Braco, 1882

Duff & Forrest Family at Braco, 1882

Duff & Forrest Family 1882 (detail)

Duff & Forrest Family 1882 (detail)

My 3x great-grandfather Reverend William Duff is in the doorway.  He was 74 years old at the time.

Identified in the front row, left to right, are my great-great-grandfather John Forrest (1842-1920), his wife Annie Prescott Duff (1847-1930), their son George Forrest (1878-1958), his brother Archie Forrest (1875-1946), Rev. Duff’s daughter Maggie Duff (1853-1939), William Forrest (1873-1939) who was also a son of John Forrest and Annie Duff, and two women who are not positively identified.

Annie Fairbanks (1822-1899), who was Rev. Duff’s sister-in-law is identified as being one of the women in the photo.  She moved in with the family when her sister died in 1856 and stayed there until her death.  She would have been 60 in 1882.

I know from two other photos that Maggie Duff and her sister Bella were like two peas in a pod, and I feel like the woman standing next to Rev. Duff looks very much like the woman seated with the hat, so I tend to think that the standing woman is Bella Duff, the younger of the two.

My cousin Catherine and I feel that the older woman is probably Annie Fairbanks, and the woman seated to the left of her might be one of John Forrests sisters, either Helen or Isabella.  Helen would have been 42 and Isabella would have been 50 years old in 1882.  Since the woman doesn’t look much older than my great-great-grandmother Annie Duff (who was 35), I’m guessing it’s more likely Helen.  The photo I have of Helen does bear a strong resemblance to the woman in question.

There is another woman living with the Duff family in the 1881 census (taken almost this same time).  Her name was Emma Gow, a 75 year old widow from Scotland.  There’s some possibility that the older of the two women seated at the right is Emma Gow, but it seems less likely than one of the scenarios above.

Letter From Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks – Summer 1855

This is a partial letter written by my 3x great-grandmother Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks to her cousin Mary Martha Fairbanks Twining.  In the  letter, presumably written in the Summer of 1855, Jane discusses sewing and missing home.

To my great surprise and delight, Jane also mentions having “Dr. & Mrs. Forrest” to tea.  This would be Dr. Alexander Forrest and his wife Barbara Ross MacKenzie, who were also my 3x great-grandparents.  Jane’s daughter Annie would marry their son John Forrest in 1871, but in 1855 the Forrest family was living in Lunenburg along with the Duff family.  Fifteen years before they were married, the parents of my great-great-grandparents were friends.  It’s just a lovely discovery.

This is another letter where Jane employs the “cross-writing” style (known under many other names) on two pages.  Apparently, this style became popular in Britain to save money on postage.  Once you get used to it it’s not hugely more difficult to read than the normal style, but sometimes there are places that are still challenging to transcribe.

[Transcription follows.  Click on images to enlarge or download.  Letters courtesy of Catherine Duff and Family.]

Pages 5 & 8

Pages 1 & 4

Pages 6 & 7

Pages 2 & 3


== Page 1

it is loose ‘round the waist for her now as I think she is thinner since the warm weather.  Your kind offer of sewing dear Mary I mean to accept, although I am sure notwithstanding your occupations are different from ours that your time must be much taken up.  There are so many things occurring where you are to interfere with sewing that I should think you could not get through much particularly during the summer. However I will not refuse such a good offer and am going to ask you to make baby her frocks.  She

== Page 2

always wears coloured as she sits too much upon the floor to agree with white clothes.  I must ask you to purchase sufficient cambric and materials for us and make them up in any way you like.  I was looking for one to send but can find none that fit excepting those she is wearing, but I daresay you could judge or Kate could supply you with something.  She was a year old on Saturday and although quite fat is short and small for that age.  Get any colour you like for her frocks and if they don’t really fit I can easily alter them. The sewing work is a great boon.  I was

== Page 3 [Sideways]

just thinking how I could manage to make them.  I will ask Mr Duff to have the parcel-box sent to you when he arrives and if it could be sent to Bauld and Gibson on Thursday coming he would get it in the morning.  Whatever extra charge there is for the bonnet and whatever you spend for the other things if you do not see Mr Duff please send the account. How much I would like if it were in my power to see you all this summer.  But the more I think about it the greater seems

== Page 4 [Sideways]

the impossibility of leaving home.  Your letters give me a good deal of information about our friends that I do not hear from other sources.  I am always so glad to get them.  I am writing in great haste as I am expecting Dr. & Mrs. Forrest [Dr. Alexander Forrest and his wife Barbara Ross MacKenzie] to tea and they will be here immediately but I know you will sense both under the circumstances.  You must give much love to Martha, your mother, and Annie, I am, grieved to hear Isabel [likely Mary’s sister Isabella May Fairbanks] is so poorly.

love dear Mary, your affectionate,

Jane E. Duff

Letter from Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks – 13 Nov 1855

A partial letter from my 3x great-grandmother Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks Duff to her cousin Mary Martha Fairbanks Twining.  In this letter my grandmother mostly discusses some sewing Mary had done for her and the family, knitting with her sister-in-law, and the education of her children.

[Transcription follows the letter itself.  Click on the images to enlarge or download.  Letter courtesy of Catherine Duff & Family.]

Pages 1 & 4

Pages 1 & 4

Pages 2 & 3

Pages 2 & 3


Braco Nov. 13th 1855

My Dear Mary,

I received a large parcel from you on Friday quite unexpectedly as I did not even know the Packet had left Lunenberg [Nova Scotia].  We had had a good deal of stormy weather and I thought she was still here.  The chemises were in very good time and fitted me very nicely.  I am greatly indebted to you for the pains taken with them.  The workmanship was excellent and the hem edging just what I liked. I thought the cotton very strong and good.  It is a real luxury to have a whole set again after wearing such rags as I have been doing for the last few months. The children too feel the comfort of theirs.  How you

== Page 2

managed to get through them so quickly, I don’t now, for there is a great deal of sewing in them and had it not been for your kindness I should have been without for some time longer for I cannot sit at my sewing long at a time and now in the evenings I do not feel very able to exert myself in that way.  But with all your help, we have got on nicely with our work and are beginning to feel that we may almost take some rest now.  Aunt Margaret is a grand knitter and having promised some now I could work.  She is busy preparing the children’s feet for winter.  She says I must tell you with her love that we never would have got on at all without your assistance as it comes just when most-needed and which we greatly [appreciate].  The enormous contents of the parcel gave a great

== Page 3

deal of pleasure.  You are almost too kind dear Mary for you are continually remembering the children in one way or other and they want me to send a great deal of love and say how much they thought of what you sent them that I fear would not be an easy matter, for Annie is half-crazy about the frock collar (having an extraordinary fondness for dress), and William is greatly taken up with his book.  They still go to school and I hope may make some progress although unfortunately we have not such a thing as a good school here.  The little coat and pinafore were very nice and will be very useful indeed the latter is a nice pattern.  I am much obliged to you for thinking of the shirts.  I have a few, but these are very nice indeed and I am glad to

== Page 4

have them.  I don’t think you have charged me with all I owe you in the amount, for I think there must be some things unpaid yet.  I am sure about two or three parcels one 1/3 and the other 9 1/2.  I did not put them down at the time but perhaps you will remember yet.  You must not defraud yourself for you have had trouble enough with my things.  I intended asking you to purchase me some material for a dress for my Annie but when writing last to Annie as I wanted her to fit me with a pair of slippers, her feet and mine being somewhat of a size, I asked her to get it and send in the same parcel, but very likely she has not bought it yet so I mean to trouble you about it as it was nearly as nice looking woolen plaid.  I expected about 2/6 a yd, I wanted enough for dress

Alexander Forrest & Barbara MacKenzie – Portraits

I was contacted today by a 4th cousin from the Forrest side of my family.  This person sent me three lovely colorized portraits which were taken about 1865.  The first is of my 3x great-grandfather Dr. Alexander Forrest (1806-1875), the second is of his wife, Barbara Ross MacKenzie (1805-1880), and the third is of their daughter Helen Forrest Glendinning (1840-1926).

The portraits have been in his family for generations, and seem to be perfectly preserved. A real treasure!

Dr. Alexander Forrest

Dr. Alexander Forrest

Barabara Ross MacKenzie

Barabara Ross MacKenzie

Helen Forrest Glendinning

Helen Forrest Glendinning

All photos courtesy of John Hardesty.

Photos of William Menzies Duff & Family

William Menzies Duff (1849-1920) was the son of my 3x great-grandfather, the Reverend William Duff, about whom I’ve written before.  He was the brother-in-law of my great-great-grandfather Reverend John Forrest.  William was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on 27 Jan 1849, the second of seven children born to Rev. Duff and his wife Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks.

He is listed with his father and siblings in the 1871 Census for Lunenburg.  His mother had died in 1856 when William was 7 years old.  On 6 Mar 1877 he married Elizabeth Harriet “Bessie” Hunter (1852-1909), the daughter of Robert Hunter and Elizabeth Jane Smith.  William is listed as a merchant on the marriage record.

The Duffs had six children: William Fairbanks Duff, Jean Hunter Duff, Prescott Blagdon Duff, Robert Hunter Duff, Kenneth Gordon Duff, and Annie F Duff.  Robert was a private in the 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion, and was “struck in the head and knee by enemy shrapnel near Hill 70” and was killed in action near Lens, France during the First World War in 1817.

Robert Duff Death and Burial Record, 1917

Robert Duff Death and Burial Record, 1917

The Duff family lived in Bridgewater, near Lunenberg in Nova Scotia from 1881 through 1911 where William worked as an Accountant.  Bessie died in 1909, and William is found in the 1916 Census for Winnipeg, listed as a widowed, retired lodger.  He died in Bridgewater on 23 Aug 1920, and was buried in Brookside Cemetery.

My cousin Catherine Duff, a descendant of William’s son Prescott Blagdon Duff, was kind enough to send me several family photos.  I thought I’d put them here with her captions.


William Menzies Duff, c 1885


Elizabeth Harriet Duff (nee Hunter) with son William Duff c1885


Elizabeth Harriet Duff née Hunter c1880


Family of William Menzies Duff

“Standing back:  William (Bill), Gordon, Jean; Seated:  Elizabeth Harriet Duff, Robert (Bob), Ann, William Menzies Duff; Seated front:  Prescott Blagdon Duff (my grandfather)”


“Picture at Hunter House 1933:  Prescott Blagdon Duff (left), Maggie Duff and Bella Duff (not sure of order), George Forrest (right).”  Maggie and Bella Duff were sister of William Menzies Duff.  George Munro Forrest was William’s nephew, the son of my great-great-grandfather John Forrest and his wife Annie Prescott Duff.


“Picture at Hunter House 1933:  Jean Forrest, Agatha Forrest (née McLeod) and Marion Louise Duff (née Tanton, bottom, wife of Prescott Blagdon Duff)”.  Jean Fairbanks Forrest was the sister of my great-great-grandfather John Forrest, and Agatha was the wife of George Munro Forrest (pictured above).

This is an interesting document.  It’s a poem written by William Menzies Duff in January 1901 on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s death and King Edward VII’s ascension to the throne:


Lines suggested by the
Death of Queen Victoria and Accession of Edward VII


The Queen is dead! And long live the King!
‘Tis ours to bear the oft repeated cry
Replace the echo of vanished years,
Marking an epic on an Empire’s chart.
Victoria the Great and Good is dead;
For her whose virtues sanctified a throne,
Gaining her subject’s love – a world’s esteem.
Since first this world from dark chaos emerged,
And man elected to obey man’s rule
Ne’er saw she such an Empire – such a Queen,
The virtues of whose life and reign outshone
The blazing lustre of her jeweled Crown;
Whose Sceptre wielded by her royal hand,
Freedom and Justice gave throughout the land.
God gave her length of days and long to reign
O’er countless millions of the human race;
Her task completed, now she hears th’acclaim:
“Well done!”  In presence of the King of Kings,
Angels and Sainted ones the tribute raise –
True Woman!  Peerless Empress!  Stainless Queen!


Hail Edward Seventh! Of illustrious line,
Accept the homage of an Empire’s sons;
Thy rightful claim to Greater Britain’s throne
Is sacred through the Royal Mother’s dower.
On this the dawn of a New Century,
Most noble Prince! thy destiny takes shape,
Not one, but Races, thou are called to rule,
And, Sire! we trust thee with and Empire’s fate.
As Prince, thine honoured course, long years, we’ve marked,
Pronounced thee Worthy to receive the Crown;
As King, we deem thee nobly brave to stand
“In that fierce light, which beats upon a throne”.
Progress, throughout the Grand Victorian Age,
The Watchword was of Britain’s wide domain:
Guard well, Oh King! thy rich inheritance;
So Liberty shall keep what she has won.
And that bright Jewel, which is thine and ours,
The people’s idol, Alexandra, Queen,
Thy noble Consort, Denmark’s fairest flower!
May God his riches gifts on her outpour,
Changing all grief to joy, in this sad hour.

Bridgewater, N.S. January 22, 1901.

John Prescott Forrest – Found At Last

As I have written about in a previous blog (John Prescott Forrest (1884-1947)), my great-grandfather John Prescott Forrest left his family (or was told to leave by his wife Lulu Cairns) sometime between 1926 and 1930.  To my knowledge, none of his four children ever heard from him again.  No cards, no visits, no phone calls, no word of his death.  Nothing.  His fate was a mystery.  My grandmother died not knowing what had become of her father.

John Prescott Forrest, about 1913.

John Prescott Forrest, about 1913.

At the start of my family research I was able to determine that he had remained in New Jersey and eventually was working as the partner of a Gerald Liebow and living in Vineland, NJ in 1942.  Another clue came about a week ago when I received the obituary of his brother Archibald Alexander “Archie” Forrest.  It said that Jack was still living in Vineland in 1946.  Other family documents I had received from the Halifax National Archives noted the year of his death as 1947, but that could have been a guess.  I decided to ask the Cumberland County vital records office (the county where Vineland, NJ is located) if they could look for his death certificate.  They informed me they couldn’t do it.  I had to either have the exact date of his death or be in the office in person.

So, I did what anyone would do.  I hired a stranger on the Internet to go get it for me.  And, to my surprise… that plan totally worked!

My great-grandfather, John Prescott Forrest, died on 4 May 1947 in the town of Elmer, New Jersey, just a mile or two outside of Vineland where he had been living since 1942.  He was listed as a “retired salesman”, living at “R.D. #1, Elmer, Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, New Jersey”.  His cause of death was listed as “possible coronary occlusion”, so a likely heart-attack.  He was only 62 years old.

John Forrest Death Certificate

John Forrest Death Certificate

John Prescott Forrest, d. 4 May 1947; Place of death, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; Residence, R.D. #1 Elmer, Pittsgrove Twp., Salem Co. [New Jersey]; SS 155-18-3559; Divorced; b. 4 September 1884; Birthplace, Nova Scotia; Occupation, Retired Salesman; Father, John Forrest, b. Nova Scotia; Mother, Annie Duff, b. Nova Scotia; Cause of death, Possible Coronary Occlusion; Burial, Silver Brook Crematory, Wil. Del. [Wilmington, Delaware]; Informant, George M. Forrest, 250 Post Rd., Rye, NY.  Source:  1947 NJ Death Certificates, Microfilm 972 (Trenton, NJ:  State Archives)

It says his remains were taken to Silver Brook Crematory in Wilmington, Delaware.  I have no idea why.  As far as I know no member of my family has ever even been to Delaware.  They say he is not there, so it’s likely that Jack’s brother George was given his ashes.

It is emotional and exciting to finally know what happened to my great-grandfather.  It does raise a huge number of new questions, but there’s time now to find the answers.

A Letter from John MacKenzie – 1831

Among the collection of Nancy Prescott Forrest is a copy of a letter from my 4x great-grandfather John MacKenzie to his daughter Margaret MacKenzie McNab.  It’s rather heavy with quotations from scripture.  It’s clear that the MacKenzies were very religious people.  John’s son Hugh became a minister.  His daughter Margaret had a son who was a minister.  Another grandson, John Forrest, was one of the foremost Presbyterian ministers in Nova Scotia.

The letter tells of the death of Isobella Ross, my 4x great grandmother.

Culnauld [Nigg Parish, Scotland], 5 March 1831
My dear daughter,

With a heavy and sorrowful heart I have sat down to inform you that your dear mother is no more in this world.  She departed this life the 28th last at 2 o’clock afternoon and was interred 2nd last in the church yard of Nigg aside her father and mother.  She was poorly long ago, only that she was getting little a little, now and then, she was since days in a great strait with a severe pain in her bowels, always throwing up, nothing would remain on her stomach – at first she took it to be the last message – all the means that was used in subservience to him who hath appointed them and can only give success to them – was of no avail for it was death – her feeling and speech remained until the last minute and she could take the drink with her own hand.

Dear daughter, I am now as a Pelican in the wilderness – it is a speaking and trying Providence and I have much need of grace and counsel from God to carry aright under it – to be submissive to his will – if any of my fellow creatures would do me any hurt – I would both ask who did it, and why did he do so – but when God doth anything to us we must remember – he is the potter and we are his clay vessels – yea break them in pieces at his pleasure – and there is none can stay his hand or say to him what dost thou – the gardener gathers at his pleasure the flowers and fruits of his garden – sometimes he cuts of the buds sometimes he suffers them to bloom, sometimes he gathers the green fruit, sometimes he stays till they are ripe – and every body thinks he may do with his own what he pleaseth and shall not the Almighty God have liberty much more to dispose of all that grows in his territories at his pleasure – we ought to guard against immoderate grief and excessive sorrow for this (is) sinful and offensive to God – Now grief is sinful and immoderate when it makes us grudge at God’s dispensation or murmur at his will – I do not mean to make light or to be unconcerned for the death of parents or dear and near friends – God will have us neither to despise his load not to faint under it – Heb. 12C, 5V, – God is displeased with those that are stupid and insensible under such afflictions – why they despise his rod and make light of his corrections – hence he complains of these – Jer 5C, 3V – “I have smitten them but they have not grieved” – he wills however – to feel his hand to induce into the meaning of God – for our grief will not be to no avail to the dead – we must bewail our dead hearts while it is day and strive to make our call and election sure.

I wrote today to Harthill – if Barbara will not come home I do not know what to do – as I am always poorly.   My foolish thoughts were going before your dear mother but the great ruler thought otherwise – your Aunt had a fever and she could not go to see her sister but she recovered a little a few days ago – but not able to travel but Sabbath last when she heard from them that were at the church that her sister was mentioned in the church – she came here at the glooming of the night, tender as she was – I am afraid this travel will be against her – your uncle had not much rest in one place – back and forward – I ordered Hugh to write to your Sister – you will direct to your Uncles – make offer my compt’s [compliments] to Mr. MacNab and children. Your uncle and aunt joins me here with their compt’s to Mr. MacNab – not forgetting yourself and the children.

I remain, my dear daughter, your afflicted Father

John MacKenzie