Thomas Whalen and Margaret Coughlin

Pictured: Assumption of the Blessed Mary, Erinsville

When Thomas Whalen* was born in 1815 in Ireland, his parents John Whalen (1790-1850) and Bridget (nee Doyle) (1790-1860) were 25 years old.

*Authors note: there are some variations in the spelling of the name “Whalen.” As most documents related to this family spell it with “Whalen” or “Whealan” and not “Whelan,” I have used it here for consistency’s sake. Having a firm spelling of one’s name is a fairly recent occurrence.

I haven’t tracked down a supporting document, but another family researcher suggests that Thomas married Margaret Coughlin on June 16, 1849, in Camden, Ontario. At some point prior to the marriage, both Thomas and Margaret emigrated to Canada from Ireland. Thomas came with his family (his parents both died in Hungerford, Ontario). I’m not clear whether Margaret came with her family and it’s unknown whether the emigration occurred before or after the marriage. I have not identified either a civil or church record of the marriage.

Margaret Coughlin was born in (about) 1818 in Ireland, the daughter of Peter Coughlin and Margaret Wall.

The couple had nine children over a period of 15 years:

  • Anne Bridgette Whalen (1850-1931) married Stephen Kinlin  (1848-1920)
  • John Whalen (1852-1937) married Sarah Healey (1860-1946)
  • Bridget Whalen (1853-1917) married Thomas Joseph Cavanaugh (1857-1926)
  • Thomas Whalen (1855-1930) married Rose Anne Fenlon (1860-1906)
  • Peter Whalen (1856-1926) married Mary Cavanaugh (1864-1910)
  • James Whalen (1859-1937) married Bridget Cassidy (1871-1943)
  • Patrick Whalen (1861-1942) married Margaret Kehoe (1860-1959) and Bridget O’Reilly (1865-?)
  • Daniel Whelan* (1863-1938) married Bridget Phillips (1872-?)
  • William Whalen (1865-1917) married Sarah McGrath (1870-1913)

*Daniel Whelan changed the spelling of his last name in adulthood and most documents have the “e” first.

I haven’t located the couple on the 1851 Canadian census.

I haven’t located baptismal records for the couple’s first three children.

Thomas Whalen appears to be the first of Thomas and Margaret’s children to appear in the baptismal records at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Erinsville. The church was built in 1847 and did exist at the time the couple was married, but records for the building start later. Thomas was born on August 5, 1855, and baptized on September 24th.

Ontario, Canada, Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1923 (image via

James Whalen was born on December 14, 1859, and baptized on March 7, 1860.

Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records (index), 1760-1923 (image via
Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923 (image via

On the 1861 Canadian census, we find the family living in a log cabin in Hungerford, Ontario. Thomas, aged 45, is a farmer. Living with Thomas, we find Margaret (also listed at age 45), Anne (11), John (9), Bridget (7), Thomas (5), Peter (3) and James (1). There are several other Whalen families in neigbouring homes, including Thomas’ brother John and his wife Teresa at the adjacent property. The record suggests that two of the children are attending school.

1861 Canadian Census (image via

Son Patrick Whalen is born on August 20, 1861 and baptized at Assumption on December 22, 1861.

Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923 (image via

Daniel *Whelan is born on July 14, 1863 and baptized at Assumption on August 23, 1863.

Ontario, Canada, Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1923 (image via

William Whalen is the last child born on May 17, 1865. He’s baptized on July 30, 1865.

Ontario, Canada, Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1923 (image via

On the 1871 Canadian Census, we find the family, presumably in the same house as they’re still next to brother John. Thomas is age 54, with Margaret (53), Anne, John, Bridget, Thomas, Peter, James, Patrick, Daniel, and William. The family names on this record match, as do the ages for Thomas and Margaret, but for some reason, the children are all younger ages.

1871 Canadian Census (image via

An 1880 City Directory for Hungerford suggests that Thomas Whalen owned the land known at 9th Concession, Part Lot 29 Stoco.In 1881 on the census, we find Thomas (61) with Margaret (still listed at 53), Thomas (26) Bridget (24), Peter (22), James (21), Patrick (19), Daniel (17) and William (15). Only William is “at school.” Son John is now living in an adjacent home with his wife Sarah. Brother John is also still living in an adjacent homestead.

1881 Canada Census (image via

Margaret died on September 30, 1888, and is buried in Erinsville Roman Catholic Cemetery in Erinsville, Ontario. I understand there is a stone marking her burial site, but I don’t have a photograph at this time.

By the 1891 Census, Thomas is living with son William, who is now married to Sarah McGrath. In the home are the first two of their children, Margaret Ellen (Nellie) (1), and Mary Louise Blanche (May) who has not reached her first birthday. The census actually shows three other Whalen families in adjacent homes, including (as before) brother John and his wife Teresa, brother Peter and his wife Mary, and Thomas’ son Thomas Jr. and his wife Roseanne (nee Fenlon).

1891 Canada Census (image via

Thomas Sr. died on March 13, 1900, and is buried with his wife in Erinsville.

Are you related to this family? Do you have photos or stories you’d be willing to share? Please contact me using the comment form below or find me on Facebook! Want to know where this family fits in my tree? Check out the Index!


2 Responses

  1. Thomas Whalen is my 3rd great grandfather! His granddaughter Anna Frances ended up settling in Paris Michigan (Big Rapids) married to George C Battle. I am named Anna Frances after her and one of my brothers is names George after him! The Battle family still lives in the area to this day!

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AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

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