by Marjorie Clark
The first settler in Puslinch Township was known as “the Welshman”. He lived on lot 13, rear concession 7 and lot 13, front concession 8 in 1827, before the township was surveyed and before any other settlers lived in the vicinity. The township was then known as the Clergy Reserves, a virgin forest inhabited by wild animals, including bear and Grey wolves and visited by the occasional Mississauga hunting party.
The 200 acres of land was registered to him on Jan. 2, 1829, after Puslinch was surveyed. His name was reported by W. F. MacKenzie in his “History of Wellington County”, published in the Guelph Mercury in 1906, as Humphrey Lowarch and by James Laird, in his contribution to The McPhatter Letters, as Humphrey Loveradge. His name was actually Humphrey Llywarch.
He built the first shanty, a rudimentary shelter hastily constructed prior to a log house, on lot 13 in the 7th concession in the township and lived on his property until his death about 1834. Peter Robinson stated in his Apr. 6, 1836 letter to the Commissioner of Crown Lands that he was “a very industrious and sober man” and he made a considerable clearing on the lots, no easy feat for one man with an axe in old growth forest.
An Oct. 20, 1829 newspaper notice in the Gore Gazette reported a dark bay horse, with a white star on the forehead and all four legs black, about fourteen hands high stolen from Humphrey Lowarch in the Clergy Block of Gore District. This was a major loss.
Humphrey Llywarch was still alive and recorded on the 1833 census of Puslinch. However, his was also the first death in the township, according to James Laird, quoted in The McPhatter Letters. John Hammersley wrote that the Welshman was buried on his own property, in what became the orchard of the next owner, Adam Weir. There were no cemeteries in Puslinch at that early time in our history.
Humphrey Llywarch had only his final instalment on his land remaining to be paid at his death c.1834. He left his wife, Sinah, a son, David, and possibly other children, Sinah and Jane or James. After that, Sinah Llywarch lost the greater part of her cattle to wolves and was unable to pay that instalment.
In a letter written Apr. 5, 1836, on behalf of Sinah Llywarch, a request to Sir Francis Bond Head, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, was made to allow her to relinquish one of the lots to the Crown Lands Department and use that money to make the final payment on the other, lot 13, rear concession 7. This petition was submitted with the signed support of adjacent neighbours in April 1836. They were: Robert Johnston, Morgan Cassin, Duncan McFarlane, Patrick Mahon, Dominic Mahon, Francis Beattie, William Beattie, James Kidd, James Lynch, Thomas Todd, Thomas Bailey, James Cook, James Black, Duncan Stewart, John Cockburn, Hugh Cockburn, John Hammersley, Richard Ellis and George Ellis. The letter was forwarded to the Crown Lands Department.
Whatever occurred as a result of this appeal, I have been unable to ascertain. However, Adam Weir purchased lot 13, rear of concession 7 in 1843 and I have found no trace of Sinah Llywarch or her children after that date.
Annals of Puslinch 1850-1950, the Aberfoyle section, contains the following remarks about Humphrey Llywarch: “The legend was long retained that after he died his ghost would appear, so that some settlers would gallop their horses when passing this place on the Brock Road at night.”