An American Family History

Jane Eliza Thomas Belford

Belford Sisters
Edith, Ethel and Lizzie Belford
on the steps of their Lisgar
Street home

from a family album belonging to Simon Fuller

The Province of Upper Canada was established in 1791 to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States. It included all of Southern Ontario and part of Northern Ontario.

Jane Eliza (Jennie) Thomas Belford was born about November 9, 1838 or 1839 in Toronto, Canada. Her parents were John Morgan Thomas and Mary Lewis. She was baptised July 7, 1839. The sponsors were Jane (Attilia) and Alexander Smith.

The Dumfries Reformer Marriages reported that she was married to Charles Belford on November 14, 1864 in New York at the Church of Ascension by the Reverend Edward O. Flag.

Charles Belford was born on June 7, 1834 in Cork County, Ireland. His parents were William Belford and Mary Cook. He immigrated to Toronto in 1857.

Charles and Jennie's children were:
Ethel Jane Belford Fuller (1866),
Edith Louise Belford Beament (1870),
Elizabeth (Lizzie)
Garner Belford (1871),
Maud Alice Belford, (1872),
Charles Audley Belford (1875),
Albert Victian Belford (1877), and
John Alexander Belford (1879).

Charles was the corresponding secretary of the Ontario Literary Society between 1860 and 1861. He was editor-in-chief of his great-uncle James Beaty's paper, The Leader, from 1867 until 1871.

At the time of the 1871 census they were living in the St. David's Ward of Toronto. The household consisted of Charles age 34, Jennie age 31, Jane (Ethel) age 4, Edith age 1, and Jennie (Lizzie) age 3 months as well as Charles' 16 year old brother, Alexander and two servants.

In 1872 Charles was appointed chief editor of The Mail, and in 1876 he co-founded the publishing firm of Belford Brothers, which published a journal of literature and art, Belford's Monthly Magazine, as well as British and American reprints.

Albert died at 3 months in October, 1877.

Charles resigned from The Mail and Belford Brothers in 1878 due to ill-health. In 1879 he was appointed secretary to the Dominion Board of Appraisers and moved to Ottawa. (from the Dominion Annual Register and Review, 1880-1881, p. 392.)

Charles died on December 19, 1880 of consumption which he had had for three years.

In 1881 Jennie and the children were living in the Wellington Ward of Ottawa. The household consisted of Jennie age 40, Ethel age 14, Eda (Edith) age 11, Lizie age 9, Maude age 8, Charles age 5, and John age 2.

The city of York was incorporated as Toronto on March 6, 1834. The city grew and developed significantly during the the 19th century. The Irish famine brought a large number of Irish immigrants to the city and they became the largest ethnic group.

Toronto 1856
Toronto 1856

Children of John Morgan Thomas
and Mary Lewis
  • Charles Lewis Thomas
  • Thomas Lewis Thomas
  • Elizabeth Sheppard Thomas Musson
  • Susannah Matilda Thomas
  • Eliza Mary Thomas Treahy
  • Jane Eliza (Jennie) Thomas Belford
  • Francis John Thomas
  • Mary Sophia Thomas
  • Celia Ann Thomas Brodie
  • Mary Sophia Thomas
  • John Joseph Thomas
  • Edward George Thomas
  • Tuberculosis (TB) is a common and often deadly infectious disease. It was called consumption. It usually attacks the lungs and the symptoms are coughing blood, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.




    The peak period of Irish immigration to Canada was during the Great Famine between 1845-1849. Most immigrants went to Canada because the fares were lower. Ships that reached Canada lost many passengers and even more died while in quarantine. From the reception station at Grosse-Ile, most survivors were sent to Montréal. The typhus outbreak of 1847 and 1848 killed many of the new immigrants. An economic boom following their arrival allowed many men to work in on the expanding railroad, in construction, in the logging industry, or on farms.

    Charles Belford, journalist and publisher was born in Cork, County Cork, Ireland, 25 April 1837 of Irish Protestant parents; m. in Toronto, Jennie Thomas, 11 Nov. 1864; d. Ottawa, 19 Dec. 1880.

    Charles Belford came to Toronto with his two younger brothers, Alexander and Robert J., in 1857. Charles had been trained in Ireland as a draftsman but he turned to newspaper work in Toronto and went on the staff of the Leader, published by his great-uncle, James Beaty. In 1867 he succeeded Charles Lindsey as editor-in-chief of the newspaper, which ceased publication shortly before the end of 1871. Belford was a vigorous writer and in March 1872 he became editor of a more outspoken Conservative organ, the newly formed Toronto Mail. This was the Toronto mouthpiece of Sir John A. Macdonald, whose fortunes were soon to be overshadowed by the Pacific scandal in 1873 but whose loyal supporter Belford nevertheless remained. In 1876, while continuing his editorial duties with the Mail, Belford entered into partnership with his two brothers to establish the publishing firm of Belford Brothers. Their stock-in-trade was the publication of cheap, pirated reprints of popular British and
    American authors, notably Mark Twain.

    The first Canadian Copyright Act of 1872 had been disallowed, but the act of 1875 made it legal to reprint in Canada any American book not coming under the imperial copyright act of 1842, which protected editions published first in the British Isles, or not registered in the Department of Agriculture, Ottawa, within 30 days of publication in the United States. The Belfords' publishing venture was within the law. At the same time, however, it was in part a reprisal against American publishers who pirated British authors and harmed their Canadian counterparts by flooding the market with cheap reprints. Belford Brothers published unauthorized editions of American subscription books which did not conform to the Canadian act of 1875 and sold them to retail outlets by mail order at prices undercutting the American editions. Thus they turned the tables on American publishers who indignantly accused them of sharp practice. Other Canadian publishers soon followed the Belfords' lead.

    Belford Brothers operated from 1876 to 1878, during which time the firm published, in addition to pirated reprints, a journal of literature and art, Belford's Monthly Magazine, and a few Canadian books. Among the authors published were Twain, W. D. Howells, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Anthony Trollope, May Agnes Fleming [Early], Jean Talon Lesperance, and G. M. Grant. Children's books, religious tracts, reference works, books of travel and adventure, biographies, and autobiographies appeared in rapid succession.

    Charles Belford withdrew from the firm in 1878 and his brothers reorganized the business with a new partner, G. M. Rose, as the Rose-Belford Publishing Company. Within a year there was another shake-up: Alexander and Robert Belford withdrew, and with James Clarke formed Belfords, Clarke, and Company with headquarters in Chicago where Alexander married a daughter of Walter McNally of the publishers, Rand McNally Company.

    It was a physical breakdown that made it necessary for Charles to dissociate himself from his brothers' publishing activities and to give up, at the same time, his editorship of the Mail. An able organizer whose counsel was highly regarded by the Conservative party, he had worked to a state of exhaustion during the federal election campaign of 1878, and collapsed on the night of the Conservative victory. By autumn 1879 he was sufficiently recovered to accept an appointment as secretary to the Dominion Board of Appraisers and move with his family to Ottawa. He was still in frail health, however, and died the following year, survived by his wife, two sons, and four daughters.

    The Great Famine or the Irish Potato Famine was between 1845 and 1852. About a million people died and a million more emigrated. It was caused by a potato blight. The famine permanently changed Ireland.

    Samuel L. Clemens (1835 – 1910), was known by his pen name, Mark Twain. He grew up in Hannibal, Missouri which is in Ralls and Marion Counties.

    During the American Revolution a Tory or Loyalist was used in for those who remained loyal to the British Crown.

    By Meriel V. M. Beament Bradford in The Beechwood Way, Volume 5, Issue 18

    The Belford sisters Left a Lasting Legacy

    Women have a way of disappearing in cemeteries. They are often buried beside their spouse and subsumed under the husband’s family name. On the Fuller monument in section 39, featured in the Winter 2010 edition of The Beechwood Way, is inscribed the name of Ethel Jane Belford, May 28, 1866-Jan 10, 1939. Ethel Jane and her sister, Edith Louise Belford Beament (1869-1957) lie close beside each other, as Edith is buried across the way in section 51 in the Beament family plot.

    These women were the daughters of Charles Belford, journalist and publisher, and his wife, Jennie. Charles Belford was unsuccessfully sued for literary piracy by Mark Twain and in 1872, as editor of the Tory paper, The Toronto Mail, became a strong supporter of Sir John A. Macdonald and was instrumental in helping him overcome the effect of the Pacific scandal of 1873. Charles subsequently assisted Macdonald in winning the hard fought election of 1878, thereby putting the Tories back into power which they retained until 1891.

    Soon after the 1878 election, accompanied by Jane Eliza (Jennie) Thomas, the daughter of a Toronto piano and organ builder, Charles brought his young family of six children to Ottawa. Here he assumed the position of Dominion Appraiser (chief customs officer) and looked after the Irish vote for the Tories. Having worked on the 1878 election campaign “to a state of exhaustion," Charles died just before Christmas 1880, leaving his dependents without any visible means of support. His body was kept at Beechwood until the spring when it was taken back to Toronto for interment. The bereaved Belford family remained in Ottawa living in Wellington ward and becoming part of the Ottawa social scene.

    Ethel Jane [Belford] made an excellent marriage to Thomas William Fuller III, Chief Architect Dominion of Canada, and produced two children, Caroline Belford Fuller and Captain Thomas George Fuller IV, known as the “Pirate of the Adriatic" for his WWII exploits.

    Edith Louise [Belford] also made a very successful marriage, having met her future husband, Thomas Arthur Beament (1870-1958), an up-and-coming young lawyer, at an outing of the Bytown Bicycle Club. Prior to her marriage at age 28, Edith supported herself and helped the Belford family finances by working as a “typewriter" in Sir John A.’s civil service, no doubt a position the PM helped her acquire as a way of assisting the family of his old campaign supporter. Edith was an innovator, both as a young working woman and as the first woman to ride a bicycle in Ottawa, having taken lessons at the Riding Academy in New York’s Central Park and importing her own machine to Canada. Thomas Arthur and Edith Louise built a new house for their growing family at 9 Marlborough Avenue, now the Embassy of the Ivory Coast.

    The two sisters were close and spent their summers at Britannia in adjacent cottages, where their children could play together while the husbands commuted to their offices in the city. Pictures from the early days at Britannia show the families in the Beament automobile, supposedly the first automobile in Ottawa. Other photos show the patriotic fervour of the young Tom Fuller, playing soldiers and cowboys and Indians with his older sister Carol and the Beament cousins. The Fullers continue to live in Britannia and have maintained contact with some of the Beament clan still resident in the Ottawa area.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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