Bishop's Waltham


The Udell Family of Markham, Pickering and Uxbridge

The history of the Udell and Brown families in Markham goes back to 1801 and includes many marriages with well-known families in the area during those formative years. The Udell family name is associated with the movement against the remnants of the oligarchy and towards democracy in the 1830s, as well as the period of unrest that followed. This included the rebellion of 1837/38, the incident at Montgomery's Tavern on 7 December 1837, the Markham Gang and the infamous spring assizes of 1846. Many members of the Udell family moved to Michigan in the period from 1840 to 1870, but a remnant remained in Canada. Thankfully this period led to Lord Durham's Report and to democratic reform. The following will provide a few notes of the families association and activities in the Markham area.  

James Brown petitioned for land as one who had served the Crown during the America War, he received lot 34, concession 8 in Markham on the 24th of December 1801. His son-in-law John Udell “the hunter” was to soon follow him to Markham.  In James' petition he stated that he had come into the province eighteen months before the date of the petition with his wife and ten children ranging from 21 years and down. He brought various animals and goods with him along with a desire to settle in Markham. James Brown was born on the 25 of April 1752 [1] in Taunton Somerset in England. He served with the British Navy during the war and also served [2] with the King's Royal Regiment of New York. Seven of James and Mary (Marr) Brown's children were born in Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. James was blacklisted in Pennsylvania and relocated to the Niagara region in 1799. Some members of James wife's family, the Marr's, and other families travelled up to Canada with them. 

Margaret was the eldest daughter, and second child, of James and Mary (Marr) Brown. Margaret was born on 24 November 1781 in Pennsylvania. She met and married John Udell in the Niagara region at the turn of the century. Mathew Udell, the father of John was born in Ellastone, Staffordshire in 1743. Mathew had served 14 years with the Green Howards before joining the 26th or Cameronian Regiment. He would go on to serve with the 26th regiment for 21 years before being discharged on the 12th of December 1800 [3] in Halifax due to age and infirmity. John Udell and his father Mathew Udell had come to Canada in 1787 with the 26th Regiment. They served in various places in Lower Canada and were relocated to Upper Canada in 1790. The regiment returned to Lower Canada in 1792. The son John, having served with the regiment for 5 years, petitioned for land in 1795 [4] and in 1796/97 was granted lots 33 in the 3rd concession and N1/2 of lot 33 in the 2nd concession in Beverley Township.  

The first evidence of John and Margaret's marriage is the baptismal record [5] in St. Mark's Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake, of May 21, 1804. This record lists James, John and Jane Brown; children of James and Mary Brown, immediately followed by James and Catherine Udell, children of John and Margaret Udell. 

Having received land in Markham in 1801, James Brown returned to the Niagara region for some time before permanently moving to Markham in 1804.  Just three years later his son in-law John Udell purchased 100 acres of lot 33 in the 3rd concession in Markham from Peter Miller.  I am not sure what year that John and his family moved to York County, however he did sell lot 33 in the 2nd concession in Beverley Township to William Read in 1808 and didn't purchase the south one-half of lots 32 and 33 in the 9th concession in Pickering from Phillip Cramer until 22nd of May 1815. These lots are right at the boundary of Pickering, Markham and Uxbridge and his family congregated on properties in each of the townships around these lots. In one of these property purchases he is referred to as John Udell “the hunter”. 

John also bought the south one-half of 13 6th concession from John Spanhouse on 31 May 1816 which he sold to David Wiseman one year later. In 1817 John Udell served [6] on the Pickering Town council.

In 1812 James Brown was one of 27 persons who contributed to pay for the deed of a plot of ground for the Dickson Hill cemetery where both he and his wife Mary Marr are buried.

In the Markham area the Udell's intermarried with the Robinson, Grant, Wideman, Kester, Long, Castor, Degeer, Johnson, Hunter, Kendrick, Lloyd, Kribs, Wilson, Clendenen, Pearson, Forsyth, Boyer, Morden, Cooper, Vanvant, Miller, Shaver, Pingle, Woodruff and other families.  

The following is a list of the children of John and Margaret (Brown) Udell, as well as whom they married:

  • James Udell (born abt. 1801), some believe that James married a Catherine Long. I have no record of this marriage if it did occur;
  • Catherine Udell (born abt. 1803). I have no record of what happened to Catherine;
  • Mathew Udell (born abt. 1806) married Mary Hamilton on 3 May 1825 in Markham, by banns. The witnesses were John Vanzant and Betsey Stover. (Marriage Register of Rev. William Jenkins);
  • William Udell (born 1807) married Margaret Laur on the 6th of June 1826 in Pickering, by banns. The witnesses were William Laur and Polly Udell. Marriage Register of Rev. William Jenkins);
  • Joseph Udell (born abt. 1808) married Rebecca Sampson on the 20th of May 1828, by banns. The witnesses were James Grig and Agnist Meddaugh (Meadow). (Marriage Register of Rev. William Jenkins);
  • Nancy Udell (born abt. 1810) of Pickering married Robert Meddaugh (Meadow) of Uxbridge on the 24th of June 1831 in Uxbridge, by banns.  The witnesses were Jacob Lang and Nancy Meadow (Meddaugh). The Marriage Register of Rev. William Jenkins. (HDMR 1:2);
  • Jane Udell (born abt. 1812) of Pickering married John Castor of Uxbridge on the 18th of December 1833 in Uxbridge, by banns. The witnesses were John and William Udell. (H.D.M.R. v.1 page 124);
  • Mary Udell (born abt. 1812) married Gilbert Bates in approximately 1828;
  • John Udell (my great-great-grandfather) married Eunice Spencer on the 23rd of December 1840 in Markham, by banns. The witnesses were John Pearson and Sarah Brown. (H.D.M.R v. 2 page 31); 
  • Hannah Udell (born abt. 1820) married James Rambourgh on the 6th of June 1836 in Markham, by banns. The witnesses were John Udell and Harriet Woodross. (H.D.M.R. v.1 page 303);
  • Finally George Udell (born abt. 1826) of Pickering married Catherine Kennedy of Markham on the16th of July 1844, witnessed by John Cook and James Kennedy by Rev Ludwick Kribs. (H.D.M.R. v. 2 page 150).

So in the 1830/40's the family was living on farms in Markham (Mathew lot 31 concession 9; and William lot 29 concession 10), Pickering (John and George on lot 32 and 33 concession 9) and Uxbridge (Joseph on lot 1 concession 2), all within a stone's throw from the joining corner of those townships. 

When the rebellion against the family compact arose in Upper Canada, led by William Lyon McKenzie, a period of significant turmoil resulted. This culminated in December of 1837 with the battle at Montgomery Tavern north of Toronto on Yonge Street.  Joseph Udell a son of John Udell “the hunter”, was one of the 100 or so people arrested after the battle. This is understandable in that farmers constituted a significant percentage of the “rebels” arising against the control being exercised by the family compact. I believe this resulted in a period of disruption for the Udell family in the Markham area. A good percentage of the descendants of the above noted children moved to Michigan State over the next 30 or so years.

Before that migration happened there is another family association that needs mentioning. Mathew Udell, his wife Mary Hamilton and children Elizabeth, Mary, Mathew, Susan and Abner were living on lot 31, concession 9 in Markham Township when in 1846 he was brought to trial as a member of the Markham Gang. He was charged with forging a 5-pound note, which has been referred to as “boodle”, and was sent to Kingston to serve a 5-year sentence. He died in jail leaving his wife and children. Reading through the information leaves me with mixed feelings in that the events of the rebellion and the trials seemed co-mingled in the proceedings. I wrote an article in Families [7] for those of you that may be interested. 

Portions of the Meddaugh, Rambourgh, Castor, many of the Udell family, and other relatives moved to Michigan.  Peter and Mathew, sons of William and Margaret (Laur) Udell, both born in the Markham/Pickering area, served in the Civil War in the Union Army. Mathew enlisted on the 26th of November 1861 with Company D, of the 1st Michigan Engineer's Regiment, and Peter followed him on the 6th of December. Peter died in Tennessee and is buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in South Madison, section c site 7150. Mathew deserted at Columbia Tennessee on 4 April 1862 less than a month after his brother died.  Maybe Mathew had encouraged Peter to join the army? Maybe Mathew deserted and went home because his older brother had died? I do know that Mathew went on to raise a family of ten children.  

Now I would like to speak to a few conundrums' that I am dealing with in my research in the Markham area. I believe that Joseph and Rebecca, and possible other of that generation, had more children that may be apparent from the 1851 and 1861 census. As previously mentioned Joseph and Rebecca were married in 1828. Joseph must have died before the 1851 census. The 1851 census lists Rebecca 33, Margaret 21, Charlotte 8, Jacob 6, Ira 3 and Edward 1. Since Rebecca was married in 1828 that would mean she was married at 10 years old. However, I believe the age of Rebecca (Sampson) Udell is in error. If you use the 1861 census her birth year would be 1808, the same as her husband Joseph, using the 1880 census would yield a birth year of 1812. .  It also seems unlikely that they would marry and not have children until some 16 years after they married (Charlotte).  I suggest the 1851 census should have Rebecca listed as 43. Margaret, born approximately over a year after Joseph and Rebecca were married in 1828, was I believe a daughter of Joseph and Rebecca. I also believe that there may be other children born of this marriage. For example there is an extra John Udell in the 1861 for Uxbridge that I cannot place.

There is also a James Udell of Pickering who married Mary Ann Miller of Markham on 9 October 1843; the witnesses were William Udell and James Rambo. I expect this James is the son of the eldest son James Udell born abt. 1801, since he was born before any of the other children were married.  

The other part of the puzzle is a Henry and Elizabeth Udell, brother and sister. Most records indicate a birth year for Henry as 1849 in Pickering. Henry married Mary Boyer on 7 November 1874. On his death certificate Henry is referred to as John Henry Udell. This record also lists his father's name as William Udell and his mother (actually his wife) as Mary Elizabeth Boyer.  Henry and his wife were living in Uxbridge in 1891 and in Parry Sound in 1901. They and their descendants lived in Huntsville for some time. Elizabeth married Andrew Miller on 6 September 1864. As far as Elizabeth is concerned her marriage certificate to Andrew Miller on 6 September 1846 lists her age as 18 years old, however there is a newspaper article that states she was 14 when she married, making her birth year sometime between 1846 and 1850. In any case there are records that say Henry and Elizabeth's parents were John and Sarah Udell.  Which John and Sarah?

The children of my great-great-grandparents John and Eunice (Spencer) Udell were George (born abt. 1841), Mary Jane (born abt. 1842), Catherine (born abt. 1844) and John (born abt. 1847). Eunice Spencer died and John married Margaret Westunberger. It would appear that most of the family living in the area had migrated to Uxbridge where John Udell may have operated an Inn. John and Margaret and most of their family moved to Sanilac, Michigan in approximately 1866, where his older sister Nancy and her husband Robert Meddaugh had moved earlier. John and Margaret had seven more children: Wellington, Washington, Sophronia Agnes, Ulysses Grant, Jemima Alice, Eunice and Nancy.  Both John and Margaret are buried in the Melvin Cemetery in Sanilac Michigan. 

My great-grandfather married a local Markham girl named Margaret Degeer. She was the daughter of Fanny Degeer and William Pearson. They moved to Orillia where some of their descendants still live. My grandparents George Wesley and Rosemary (Harper) Udell moved to Alberta about 100 years ago. However, there are still descendants of the family living in and around the Markham area. These likely include the descendants of Mary Jane Udell and John Jacob Lunau, their cousins the Brown family, as well as other descendents from the marriages summarized at the being of the article. I also understand that the house built in the 1840's by Mathew, grandson of Mathew Udell, the soldier who came in the 18 century, and a member of the notorious Markham Gang is still in existence in Markham.


1. The Brown Family Bible in the possession of Victor Gordon Brown.

2. Rolls of the Provincial (Loyalist) Corps, Canadian Command: Mary Beacock Fryer and Lt. Col. Wm. A Smy CD, the muster roll in question is signed by Major John Ross and received in Quebec City on 25 April 1783.

3. Mathew's petition for land dated 10 January 1802, Montreal.

4. Petition for land dated Aug. 14 1795 in Council Chamber, Newark.

5. St. Mark's Anglican Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

6. Ontario County: J.E. Farewell, page 13.

7. Families: OGS Volume 45 – Number 2, May 2006.