The Chaffey Family of Brockville

Benjamin Chaffey, Sr. (1779-1832)  was born in Stoke-sub-Hamden (5 miles west of Yeovil) and it is from Benjamin and his close relatives that the Chaffey surname flourished in Canada, the United States and Australia.

His father  Benjamin Chaffey (1749-1806), was in the wool stapler and woollen manufacturing business.  His grandfather was Richard Chaffey (1707/10-1795), and the the line has been charted back to Richard Chaffie of Stoke-sub-Hamden who died in 1631 and then to Richard Chafy (1475-1523).

Those in the family owned a stone quarry on Ham Hill overlooking Stoke-sub-Hamden and Norton, quarried for its golden stone for building since Roman times.  He married Frances Elswood (1785-1865) in 1804.

Prior to leaving Somerset, Benjamin had been sued by his older brother Richard  (1773-1828) for debts owed to Richard.  He emigrated from Somerset to Canada in 1816, with his wife Frances, and sons Benjamin Chaffey, Jr. (1806-1867), Mary Randall Chaffey (1808-1860), William Chaffey (1810-1890) and Richard Chaffey (1813-1852).    His brother Samuel Chaffey also emigrated with them.

In that year Benjamin obtained an Imperial Land grant at Perth, Ontario including an island since called “Haggart’s Island” on which they lived for a year in a cabin made of blankets. The grant was cancelled by Canadian officials.

Benjamin and Samuel moved to Brockville in 1817.  There they entered the mercantile trade as B&S Chaffey, set up a small distillery, and rented nearby farm and mills from Daniel Jones.

Based on their success, the Chaffeys were asked by settlers from the township of South Crosby to erect a mill there.  The brothers agreed and Benjamin secured a lease to the land for a suitable mill.  Construction began in the summer of 1820 under Samuel’s direction.

In one account Benjamin was reported to being charged by the British government for bringing in goods for sale in Upper Canada without paying import duties.  Sometime near 1818, Benjamin, deeply in debt, moved to Zanesville, Ohio, likely to escape his creditors or debts owed to the estate of Daniel Jones.  Here George Chaffey, Sr. (1818-1884) was born.

He and Frances also had other children all born in Brockville; Sarah Chaffey (1815-1855), John Chaffey (1820-1878), Susan Chaffey (1823-1917), Frances Chaffey (1826-1853), Elswood Chaffey (1827-1868) and Emily Chaffey (1829-1859).  There is some conjecture as to how long and for what reason Benjamin remained in the US.  It could have been until 1828. However, this would have meant that some of his children were born elsewhere.

After Samuel Chaffey died in 1827, Benjamin contested the property his brother owned at Chaffey’s Mills and Samuel’s wife petitioned Colonel By to resolve the issue.  Benjamin claimed ownership by virtue of the lease and his former partnership with Samuel.  Samuel’s wife, Mary Anne, contested as she was in possession and that the claim that her husband had made the improvements.

In 1828, Benjamin began a machine shop in Brockville, in which three of his sons, William Chaffey, John Chaffey, and George Chaffey, Sr. worked.

Benjamin Chaffey built tugs in his shipyard in Brockville for towing rafts to Montreal and a steam operated floating grain elevator that helped farmers and millers. However, he contracted typhus caring for Irish immigrants, and died in 1832.

Benjamin Sr.’s daughters married two brothers who were lawyers in Brockville. Susan Chaffey married Stephen Richards, Jr., who served as the Minister of Agriculture in the first cabinet of the Province of Ontario, and Frances Chaffey married Andrew N. Richards, the future Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

(from the Chaffey Family of California Genealogy)

(The ommision of the historical story of Benjamin Chaffey, Jr. is evident here in this edited selection. Benjamin Jr. did not move to California and died in Brockville in 1867.)


Frances Elswood Chaffey

(1785 – 1865)


George Chaffey, Sr.

(1848 – 1932)


Benjamin Chaffey, Jr.

(1806 – 1867)


William Chaffey

(1810 – 1890)

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