Many of the Shiels family in Canada are descendants of James and Ellen (Neilson) Shiels. For many years, we have been trying to tie them into our existing family. Thanks to the hard work of Rose Olson, we can now tell their story. Rose wrote a book in 2011 titled “Hands Across the Sea” that details the family history of James and Ellen and their many descendants.
The book also shows ancestors back to 1690 with James Shiel and Helen Mirrielies Shiel. You may notice the different spelling of the last name which was common in the past.
James Shiel (1690)
James Shiel was born in 1690 in East Lothian, Scotland. This is one of 32 Scottish counties and is located east of Edinburgh an includes the land all the way to the coast.
He married Helen Mirrielies on October 25, 1712. Helen was born in 1691 in Salton, East Lothian, Scotland to John and Helen (Cockburn) Mirrielies. They only had one son, William.
William Shiell (1713)
William was born July 5, 1713 in Gladsmuir, East Lothian, Scotland. This is a small village east of Edinburgh and just west of Haddington, Scotland. William lived in East Lothian his whole life.
He married Elizabeth Dunlop about 1739. Elizabeth was born April 8, 1716 in Bolton. Bolton is a hamlet and the third smallest parish in East Lothian, Scotland. It lies approximately 2 miles south of Haddington and 20 miles east of Edinburgh.
William and Elizabeth had six children: John (1740); Martha (1741); Janet (1749); George (1750); Helen (1751) and Allison (1753). All of the children were born in Gladsmuir except George and he was born in Haddington.
George Shiels (1750)
George was born in 1750 in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. He was the fourth child and second son for William and Elizabeth (Dunlop) Shiell.
George married Agnes Burns on September 11, 1774. Agnes was born September 11, 1748 in Borthwick, Midlotian, Scotland. This is about 16 miles southwest of George’s home. George and Agnes had 8 children: Margaret (1776), William (1777), James (1782), John (1785), Ann (1788), Robert (1790), George (1793) and Elizabeth (1798).
James Shiels (1782)
James Shiels was born July 14, 1782 in Fala and Soutra, East Lothian, Scotland. James married Euphemia Montieth on July 6, 1811 in Canongate, Edinburgh, Scotland. Euphemia was born in 1787 in Gladsmuir, East Lothian.
Census records show that James was an agricultural labourer in Gladsmuir and later in Bolton. James died in Bolton in 1851 and Euphemia passed away in 1859.
James and Euphemia had 7 children, George (1814-1860), Agnes (1816-1883), Mary Somners (1818), Francis Somners (1823), Jane Somners (1825-1877), James (1829-1903) and Euphemia (1831).
George raised a large family with many descendants that remained in Scotland.
Francis also raised a large family with many descendants that remained in Scotland.
James Shiels (1828-1903)
James Shiels was born on July 15, 1828 in Gifford, Haddington, East Lotian, Scotland. He was the 5th child of James and Euphemia (Montieth) Shiels.
On January 23, 1852, James married Ellen Neilson in Bolton. Ellen was born in 1831.Census records show James as an agricultural labourer and Ellen as a servant at Antereny House.
James and Ellen had 2 sons while living in Bolton. Hugh Neilson Shiels (1852) and James (1854). In 1855, the family emigrated to Canada and settled on a farm near Holstein, Ontario in the Mount Forest area. James and Ellen had 5 more children there: John (1858), Francis (1859), Thomas (1860), George (1865) and Martha (1867).
Ellen passed away on May 15, 1894 in Egremont, Grey County, Ontario. James passed away May 2, 1902 in Tacoma, Washington, USA. He had moved there to live with his son John.
Thomas and George never married and spent their lives near Egremont, Grey County, Ontario. Martha Married James Slessor and moved to the Carmen Manitoba area. The remaining 4 brothers all raised large families with many descendant across Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Some family members also emigrated to the Tacoma Washington area in USA.
More details on Hugh Neilson (1852), James (1854), John (1858) and Francis (1859) will be posted later in the members section.