Aitchison Reuse

Isabella (Hargreaves) Hoyle

From there to here, and back

As with many of us, much of the information I initially received about my ancestors came from my older relatives. And, in some cases, they were very right; in others, they were very wrong! Finding documentation is helpful, but sometimes we have to fill in the blanks with our common human experience.

My great-grandmother, Isabella Hargreaves, was born on July 22, 1854, Burnley, Lancashire, England[i]. She was the fifth of seven children born to John and Elizabeth (Dobson) Hargreaves. There were also four older siblings from John’s first marriage. What a full house! The family resided on Godly Lane, which is now called Ormerod Road. There is an interesting article about Godly Lane and the Godly Lane Cross here.

On August 5, 1874, Isabella was married to John Richard Hoyle at St. John the Evangelist in Accrington, Lancashire, England[ii].  John and Isabella resided in Accrington when their eldest son, John Richard, was born in 1876. Their second son, William was also born there in 1879. The family emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, the same year. Sadly, William died in Hamilton the next year. Three daughters were born to them in Hamilton: Mary Elizabeth, Annie and Isabella.

By 1888, the family was living in Regina, Saskatchewan. They were enumerated there on the 1891 Canada Census. Interestingly, in 1901, John Hoyle was the enumerator for the census. He very clearly noted that his religion was ‘Millenial Star’ while Isabella was Methodist. That was another search altogether. Four more children were born John and Isabella in Regina: Sarah Ellen, James, Lucy and Benjamin Hargreaves.  Tragedy struck the family again 1902 when their daughter, Sarah, died at the age of 14. Four years later, daughter, Isabella, also died. She was 20. Both died of illness. The family returned to Hamilton shortly thereafter.

Sometime after removing to Hamilton, Isabella visited her son, John R. Hoyle, at his home near MacLeod, Alberta, Canada. Since John immigrated to the United States in 1914, it is most likely her visit was prior to that. Two pictures have been shared with me by a descendant of John’s adopted daughter, Nellie Walsh.

Isabella died on September 17, 1925, at the age of 71 in Hamilton, Ontario[iii]. Her address at the time was 321 Cumberland Avenue. She is buried in the Bartonville Cemetery in Hamilton.

When I think about the times in which Isabella lived and her travels from northwestern England all the way to western Canada, I am awed. Perhaps reading between the lines a little, I can feel her angst as she traveled with a toddler and an infant over the Atlantic ocean; her sadness as she buried her sweet little son and her darling daughters, he excitement (I hope) as she explored new places, and her satisfaction with her family that surrounded her in Hamilton, Ontario.

[i] England, Lancashire, The Burnley Union, birth registration (.jpg copy), Isabella Hargreaves, 1854; General Register Office,, vol. 174 pg. 08E; downloaded 18 January 2024, digital copy in possession of Joleen Aitchison.

[ii] “England Marriages, 1538–1973”, , FamilySearch ( : 11 March 2020), Isabella Hargreaves in entry for John Richard Hoyle, 1874.

[iii] “ – Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947.” – Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May. 2014.