Location: Lincoln, Upper Canada
Two Comfort families moved to Upper Canada from New York State in the late 1700s / early 1800s, specifically to Gainsborough Township in Lincoln County, which is part of the Niagara Region. As you would expect, this area is close to Niagara Falls and the border between Upper Canada and the American border. A nice description of this area at the time can be found on the Exploring Niagara website.
Original Comforts in Lincoln County
(1) John Comfort U.E.L. (1741-abt.1790) and his wife Nancy Ann (Johnson) McDonald (abt.1746-1825) were United Empire Loyalists who left New York State for Upper Canada. They settled in Gainsborough Township of Lincoln County, and worked the land but hadn’t received an official certificate for it, as promised. Their son, Robert, applied and received a warrant for the 300 acres.
Robert's sons, including Jacob Comfort (abt.1802-abt.1846), eventually farmed the land, and other properties in Lincoln County, as did many other of Robert's grandsons. Ithamer Comfort (1832-1886) is the son of Jacob.
(2) The second Comfort family to arrive was another John Comfort, who may or may not be directly related to the previous family, and also arrived from New York State, this time in June 1812. He had previously left New York State for Nova Scotia, as a Loyalist, after "the American War", then returned to New York for family reasons. In 1812, he moved his family back to Canada, this time to Gainsborough Township in Lincoln County, and applied for a land grant here.
Comfort Family (1) Land Grant history
- 1796 : 300 acres in Township of Gainsborough, request by Robert Comfort, to Lt Gov John Graves Simcoe, on 31 May 1796, and granted on 3 Feb 1797. Application refers to Robert's father, John Comfort, who worked and improved the land, and had died about six years ago.
- 1808 : Gainsborough Township, Sixth Concession Lot holders, as of 21 Apr 1808 - includes Robert Comfort on three different properties, a couple Lanes, and many Snyders (future relatives!)
- 1810 : Payment for Patent of 200 acres to be paid by Robert Comfort (6 pounds 19 shillings 4 pence, plus 1 pound 4 shillings 9 pence for the survey) for additional 200 acres of land, awarded with only survey fees owing (see Fence Dispute details below)
Comfort Family (2) Land Grant history
- 1812 : Request for land, by John Comfort, farmer, originally of New York, lived in Nova Scotia, returned to New York, and once again returning to Canada, with his wife and seven children, address to Isaac Brock, Lt Gov of Upper Canada, request: Your Petitioner humbly prays Your Honor in Council may be pleased to Grant him such portion of the waste lands of the Crown as to You may seem meet. - York, 8th June 1812
- The next day, 9 Jun 1812, the petition was recommended for a parcel of 400 acres
- A note was added on 7 Feb 1815 that John Comfort has paid 13 pounds 18 shillings and 8 pence for the patent for a 400 acres c.f. 9 Jun 1812 (and an additional 2 pounds 9 shillings 6 pence to cover the ligutation of 1804)
- A letter of recommendation is in the file from the British Consul General Office, Col Thomas Barclay, dated New York, 21 April 1812, that would have accompanied the original petition
- 1819 : Petition for Land Grants for family of John Comfort on 3 May 1819 - - Petition of John Comfort of Clinton, (to Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lt Gov of Upper Canada), on behalf of his sons John Harris Comfort (26 y., who has a wife and two children), and Francis Comfort (almost 21 y.), natives of Nova Scotia, in the province since 1812; and sons-in-law John J. Patterson and Archibald Patterson, wheelwright, natives of Scotland, several years resident in this Province. Summary: John is requesting land for his sons and sons-in-law and their families.
The Great Fence Dispute
Robert Comfort and his neighbour Nathan Johnson share a fence line, originally based on the cornerposts set by the original surveyor of Robert's property, in 1796. In November of 1803, Nathan encroached upon Robert's property (moved the fence) based on a different survey, and took possession of 10 acres of wheat. After a lot of back and forth, it was determined that the two different surveys conflicted (based on a line divided into 38 or 39). Eventually, Nathan's survey was determined to have been done first, and because of the principle that "the King can't be wrong" (and hence his agents, which would be the surveyors acting on his behalf), the first survey "trumped" the second one. Robert lost the right to the fraction of land he thought he owned - but - the council gave him a grant for an additional two hundred acres, and just had to pay for the survey fees on it to take possession. (Nathan, apparently being a sore winner, also asked for two hundred acres for his time spent in court and the 1800s version of "pain and suffering" - editorial comment).
18 Sep 1804 - Dispute between Robert Comfort and neighbour, Nathan Johnson, regarding trespass, dispute over fence line, and 10 acres of wheat.
1806 - 1808 - Further evidence in the case of Comfort v Johnson
- Opinion by William Firth, Attorney General, on case of Comfort vs Johnson - trespass and encroachment case of 1804. Summary: Principle of the King shall not be deceived in his Grant - in this case, two surveys at different times, by the Crown, resulted in different interpretations of the property line. The first one should take priority.
- Character witness statements (for Robert Comfort)
- Surveyors' testimony, and a map noting the conflicting amounts
20 Feb 1810 - Payment for Patent of 200 acres to be paid by Robert Comfort (6 pounds 19 shillings 4 pence, plus 1 pound 4 shillings 9 pence for the survey) for additional 200 acres of land, awarded with only survey fees owing (see Land Dispute details below)
- Council decision of 20 Feb 1810 - Summary: Considering petition by Robert Comfort, improvements to his land, worked assuming the survey of his land was legitimate, and having spent a large sum of money to recover his property, that he failed merely from the Error in the Surveyor General's office of describing Lots in the Sixth Concession by the Line of the Fifth, on which they had no dependence.
- Under such circumstances, which no human's prudence could anticipate, as neither his own, or his Antagonist's Patent, bore the least reference to such a conclusion, the Committee recommend the Petitioner to the Protection of Your Excellency, and that his case may be submitted on behalf of the Crown, to the opinion of the Attorney General....
- ... And in the mean time that his actual Disbursements may be in part compensated by a Grant of Land in a favourable location not exceeding Two Hundred Acres.
- Note appended to case file:
- At the Trial, the Deputed Surveyor swore that the Land described in the Patent to Johnson, then in his Hand, was the identical Land on which the Trespass was supposed to have been committed by him, and being the oldest Patent, there was a Verdict in his favour.
27 Apr 1816 - Gainsborough Township papers - image 434 of 1454 - Nathan Johnson petition for land as a result of loss due to dispute with Robert Comfort
2 Apr 1819 - - Another petition by Robert Comfort - to defend against a counter suit by Nathan Johnson
Other Tidbits from Land Records
22 May 1806 - Gainsborough Township papers - image 437 of 1454 - Robert Comfort paying fees (for Frederick Gee)- for Lot N 7 Con 6 - on 22 May 1806, Robert paid for survey fees that were still outstanding on a grant from an order-in-council of 14 Jul 1796 to Frederick Gee, sixty years old. in 1795, was granted 200 acres on Lot 8 Con 6. In 1806, Robert paid his neighbour's outstanding fees, his neighbour Frederick would have been seventy years of age at that time. (Editorial comment: Nice guy that Robert!)
8 Aug 1796 - Gainsborough Township papers - image 448 of 1454 - original grant survey of 200 acres to Robert Comfort, North half of Lots 9 and 10, Conc 6
1794 -1796 - Gainsborough Township papers - images 472 to 516 - John Snyder - grant of 200 acres on Lot 17 Conc 6. Henry Snyder received the Lot 18 Conc 6 neighbouring. Adam Snyder received Lots 20 & 21 Conc 6. William Snyder Lot 23 Conc 6. Phillip Snyder Lot 24 Conc 6
- CLINTON TOWNSHIP - image 57 of 374
- Comfort Calvin
- Comfort Ephraim
- Comfort Ephraim Jr.
- Comfort Jacob
- Comfort Leander
- Comfort Norman
- Comfort W.A.
- GAINSBOROUGH TOWNSHIP - images 62 & 63 of 374
- St. Ann's
- Con 6 Lot 15
- Comfort Levi
- Con 6 Lot 15
- Con 6 Lot 11
- Comfort Freeman
- Comfort G. W.
- Con 6 Lot 10
- Comfort Nathan
- Comfort Benjamin
- Con 6 Lot 6
- Comfort Adam
- Con 6 Lot 5
- Comfort Ezra
- Comfort R E
- Con 5 Lot 3
- Comfort Wilford
- Con 6 Lot 11
- Con 2 Lot 9
- Comfort Alanson
- Con 1 Lot 6
- Comfort Alonzo
- Con 1 Lot 6
- Comfort Ithamar
- Con 2 Lot 9
This map of Gainsboro Township, Lincoln County, circa 1876, shows the locations of several of the Comfort family. (The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project)
Map of Clinton Township, Lincoln County, circa 1876. (The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project)
Location of Lincoln County in Southern Ontario, Canada
|Locating Lincoln County in Southern Ontario, in Canada|
Location of Clinton Township and Gainsborough Township inside Lincoln County
|Locating Clinton and Gainsborough townships inside Lincoln County|
The following maps (from 1876) have been edited from the originals available from the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project to highlight the properties owned by the COMFORT family (in yellow), and also the properties owned by other families related to the Comforts. LEGEND:
|Lincoln County - Families Legend|
CLINTON Township. (borders on Lake Ontario)
|Clinton Township, 1876|
GAINSBOROUGH Township (immediately underneath Clinton Township, where the original Comfort families settled, and the majority still lived and worked in 1876)
|Gainsborough Township, 1876|