In the evidence recorded in the Upper Canada Land Petitions (1836-7), Abraham Irish's son asked for U.E. status for his father, saying: "he came into this Province in the year 1790 and settled in the Township of Ernest Town where he remained until the day of his death."
Abraham Irish Sr., son of Peter Irish, was born in Vermont in about 1768 or 1772. The exact date is not known.
The story of this family is a good example of the restless movement of pioneers on the American frontier. Abraham's grandfather, Jesse Irish, a Quaker, was born at Tiverton, Rhode Island in 1712. Jesse Irish moved to New York, and Abraham's father, Peter, was born in an area of Dutchess County, which was known as "Quaker Hill". In 1743 the whole Irish family moved on to Danby, Vermont. Peter Irish married Mary Corey. Abraham was their 3rd child.
As Quakers, the Irish's could not take part in armed combat on either side, and so the rebels mistook them for British sympathizers, no doubt causing much distress. After the Revolution, Abraham's father, Peter decided to move his family again, this time to Canada. He sent his son, Abraham, ahead to reconnoiter. Then the rest of the family followed.
In 1802, Abraham's father, Peter, received a grant of land in Haldimand Township, and moved on once again, but Abraham remained, as did his older sister Sarah, who married Weeden Walker. So it is that for all intents and purposes, it is Abraham Irish Sr. who founded the Ernestown line.
Abraham married twice. His first wife was Rebecca Cook: his second wife was named Elizabeth but her maiden name is not known. It is said that Abraham sired 9 children. Researcher, Constance Murray, has been able to reconstruct the family as follows:1. Eunice ("Eunie"), born in 1790, married Silas Babcock.
Abraham Irish Sr. died in 1823. In 1836, his niece, Sarah Walker swore an affidavit to assist her cousins in their quest to have Abraham Irish given United Empire Loyalist status. In the affidavit, she said: "she was well acquainted with Abraham Irish, late of the Township of Ernestown, deceased, during the Revolutionary War with the United States, and knows that he was commanded and employed by the British Government to watch in the house top for the purpose of giving them information when the enemy should approach..." So perhaps the suspicions of the Rebels were not quite groundless after all.
With thanks to Constance Murray for sharing her careful research