Clark and Hogg Family History

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Robinson Lyon 1810-1885

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Robinson Lyon was the brother of
George Lyon
, Catherine Lyon and Robert Lyon
Robinson Lyon 1810 - 1885
Robinson Lyon was the seventh child and third son of Baillie George Lyon and Elspet Philip. He was born in Inverurie in 1810, noted in the Parish Register: "Baillie George Lyon, Vintner in Inverury had a son by his wife Elspet Philip born January 22 and baptized 5th of February and named Robinson before witness James Philip and James Thomson both there."

Family researcher Antoinette Nielsen, whose husband Fred is a descendant, states that Robinson was well educated in the fine arts. His education evidently was comprised of music and dancing lessons as well as horse back riding. He was known to be a superb horseman and a superior violin player.

He had a child out of wedlock at the age of 20 with Mary Ann Banks, the daughter of the town doctor. He had met her at his dancing lessons with the dance master, Mr. George Balfour. The birth of the son is recorded as follows in the Parish Register: "1830 - Robinson Lyon, son of Baillie George Lyon, had a son in fornication with Mary Banks born 18th April 1830, baptized 22nd current 1830 and named George Balfour, before witnesses Baillie George Lyon his father, William Hosey, his uncle, and George Balfour, dancing master all in Inverury."

Robinson married Mary Ann shortly after: "Robinson Lyon and MaryAnn Banks both in this parish were contracted on 03 October and after proclamations on one sabbath were married on 30th of October 1830 by the Minister."

Another Register entry appears in 1831: "Robinson Lyon, farmer in Conglass had a child by his wife Mary-Ann Banks born 5th August, baptized the 20th current and named Robert before witnesses James Stephen and William Morrison in Burgh Muir of Inverury." The final entry to appear is in 1834 for a girl named Elspet born on July and baptized on August 5th witnessed by Baillie George Lyon, William Morrison and Mrs. Alex Munro, midwife. Other research states that in Inverurie, Robinson had taken up the occupation of his father, that of inn-keeper.

Researcher Nielsen concludes that Baillie George Lyon must have died in 1835 or 1836 and that Robinson came to Canada in 1835. It is known from his tombstone in Bass Cemetery in Inverurie appearing in research completed by George Mackenzie of Glasgow, Scotland that Baillie George died in 1837. It is noted in other research that Robinson Lyon came to Richmond, Ontario from Scotland three years after the death of his younger brother Robert in the Duel which took place in 1833; thus, the date of emigration to be used will be 1836.

On arrival in Richmond, Ontario, Robinson ran a hotel in that location. The family was to experience considerable tragedy very soon in their lives. Their son Robert, a child of 5 years, died. Then their older son George Balfour Lyon was accidentally shot in a hunting accident. All of this took place in their arrival year of 1836. Robinson Jr., from whom researcher Nielsen's family is descended, was born in Richmond in 1838 and a brother William in 1841. In the 1851 Census, we find the family of Robinson Lyon Sr. (41 years of age) living in Bytown in the West Ward with his 2nd wife Flora (25) and his sons Robinson Jr. (13) and William (10 yrs.) and two young daughters Betsy (3) and Mary-Ann (1).

It must be assumed that his first wife Mary-Ann Banks had died just before the time of the move from Richmond to Bytown. He had married Flora McMi(u)llan in Packenham, Ontario in 1848.
"March 24, 1848. At manse in Packenham, 14th inst. by Rev. Mr. Mann, Robinson Lyon Esq, Bytown to Flora, 6th daughter of Mr. John McMullen of Cumberland."

In 1846-47, Robinson opened another hotel in Bytown (later Ottawa), The Exchange Hotel. The hand-written lease appears in the Ottawa Archives: "Innkeeper Robinson Lyon Indenture 10th day of 1847 will pay yearly to Nicholas Sparks 72 pounds on quarterly installments of 18 pounds with no deduction, defalcation or abatement for the property situated in Bytown and inscribed as Lot No. 11 N. of Sparks St. and extending toward Wellington St. along the old market place...."
This location was on the corner of what is Sparks St. and Lyon St.

Based upon information in a book "The Lyon family" by Jim McTavish.

  Advertisement of Lyon's Exchange Hotel 1846
In the book "Pioneer Inns & Taverns" by Guillet, an interesting picture of Old Ottawa Taverns is painted through quotations and poems.


As Bytown is not overrun with Americans it may probably turn out a moral, well-behaved town and afford a lesson to its neighbours. -John Mactaggart: Three Years in Canada.

Ottawa is a sub-arctic lumber-village converted by royal mandate into a political cock-pit.
-Goldwin Smith.

BYTOWN, as Ottawa was first called, owed its early importance to lumbering and as the terminus of the Rideau Canal, an important military work intended to avoid danger from possible depredations of the republican and democratic Americans. At first Bytown was intended to be fortified, but instead it became a wild and turbulent village, full of lumbermen, Irishmen, and liquor. Charles Daubeny, who was there in 1837, noted that the Irish retained `their lawless habits, and in this wild country it is not very easy to bring them under the dominion of law'. The streets of Bytown, at least in wet weather, he found `almost impassable from mud': and `puddles, or rather ponds' were allowed `to collect at the very threshold of the houses'.

Among many taverns was Isaac Firth's near the Slides Bridge,

... an old John Bull.
Of milk of human kindness full,
Of rotund form and smiling face,
Who kept an entertaining place
For travel-worn and weary fellows
Who landed where Caleb S. Bellows
Out on `the Point' his habitation
Built in a pleasant situation,
Before the days when piles of lumber
Did first fair Nature's face encumber.

And then there was the musical hotelkeeper, Robinson Lyon, and his predecessor Joseph Kirk, both of whom kept tavern in James Elder's pioneer Bytown schoolhouse. In 1846 Lyon advertised that he had `enlarged and improved his House in such a manner that lie can now offer to them such accommodations as are not to be surpassed this side of Montreal'. The best and choicest viands and wines supply his table, and he pledges every effort `to render his customers both comfortable and at home'. He adds that his Livery Stable will provide Saddle Horses and `every sort of seasonable Vehicle', and that his Omnibus will carry passengers free of charge. `Stages', he concludes, `will run daily from the Exchange Hotel to Aylmer to meet the Steam Boats on the Chats Lake.'
Although Bytown was its original name
it later became known as Ottawa,
now the capital of Canada.
William Lett has this to say of the hotel:

In fancy I away have stepped
From where his school James Elder kept,
In that old house remembered well,
After, as Joseph Kirk's Hotel,
Ere it was haunted by a sound
Which shed such melody around,
Sweet almost as the songs of Zion.
From violin of Robinson Lyon,
Who drew such music from its strings
Scotch reels, strathspeys, and highland flings,
And Irish jigs in variation,
As made one feel that `all creation'
Could scarcely match his wizard spell'
Twas he that played the fiddle well!

The Exchange Hotel burned down in 1854 and though Robinson suffered considerable loss, being uninsured, he managed to re-establish himself in his trade moving to Arnprior, a town further up the Ottawa River where he managed another hotel in about 1857. The Census of 1861 finds him in Arnprior listed as Inn-keeper and owning a house, a stable, a hay house, ice-house, 2 sheds, 2 horses, 1 cow, 1 pig, and having 4 servants Isabella and Margaret McMillan, Mary Wesiman. Robinson is 50 years old, his wife Flora is 33 years of age and born in Scotland. Children are Robinson Jr. (22), William (19), Elizabeth (12), Mary-Ann (9). Isabella (8). George (5) and John B. (1) Flora's tombstone reads that she was born on July 22. 1826 in Glengarry. Another two children, Alexander and Florence were born after 1861.

Researcher A. Nielsen speculates that Robinson Lyon probably retired from hotel-keeping in 1880, a conclusion reached from reading the following in Historical Sketch of Lanark County dated 1887:

Lyon's Hotel - (J.B. Lyon proprietor) corner Madawaska and Hugh Streets known for 30 years. centrally located in Arnprior fully equipped contains 24 bedrooms, 2 parlors and 8 sample rooms. Robinson Lyon (1810-1885) the late proprietor of the hotel was most widely and favourably known and his son who has conducted it for 7 years makes an excellent successor being most competent and very popular.
  old Ottawa Taverns - Public Archives of Canada
Researcher A. Nielsen suggests that Robinson Lyon Sr. retired to Richmond, Ontario around the age of 70 years. This conclusion is highly unlikely since there were almost no Lyon family members left in the town after 1880. It is likely that Robinson retired in Amprior and regularly visited his son Robinson in Ottawa. At this age around 1880, Lyon was decorated as the best violinist in Canada by Queen Victoria through her son-in-law, The Marquis of Lorne, who had married her daughter Princess Louise and who had become Governor General of Canada. Robinson Lyon Jr. had married Margaret, a cousin by her father to the Marquis. Robinson Sr. regularly had entertained his son's celebrated guests. It is quoted that "He was the possessor of an unusual combination of talents, being an accomplished horseman and a skilful violin player. In the Caledonian Society's Hallowe'en Concert at Montreal in the year 1866 `R. Lyons' (sic) was declared the best violin player in a contest in which five competitors each had to play a reel, a strathspey and a Scottish air."

Robinson Lyon is buried in the Arnprior Presbyterian Cemetery (Albert Street Cemetery, Arnprior, Ontario) with his wife Flora. Also buried there are a daughter Margaret - January 15, 1867, aged 5 days, the daughter Mary Ann Lyon who died of heart disease on Nov. 16, 1870 at age 19 years and George Inveruary Lyon (spelling error on tombstone - Inverurie) who died at Fort Steele on Aug. 6, 1898 at the age of 43 years.
where is daughter Margaret on tree ?
Left - Odd shaped stone - Front Face Robinson Lyon born at Inverurie Scotland Jan. 13, 1811 (note - date of birth listed here is incorrect - Birth Date was Jan. 22, 1810). Died at Arnprior Nov. 17, 1885  
East Face - George Inverurary Lyon 1898
West Face - Robinson's second wife Flora McMillan 1903
Middle - Flat Stone - Mary Ann Lyon 1870
Right - Small Vertical White Stone - In Memory of Margaret, 1867  
Sister Mary Lyon (b. 1805) died in Kincardine O'Neil, near Aberdeen.
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