The Canter Family
The Ancestors of Mary Anne Canter
Printed by Richard Canter, Francis Street, Limerick, 1823

Canter Family Album

G6 (unknown) (unknown) Joseph Palmer
(ca 1730 - ca 1800)
Sarah Spunner
(1735 - ca 1820)
(unknown) (unknown) (unknown) (unknown)
G5 James Canter
( - )
Frances Palmer
(ca 1783 - )
(unknown) (unknown)
G4 Richard Palmer Canter
(ca 1795 - 1834)
Mary Travers
(ca 1795 - 1867)
G3 Mary Anne Canter
(1826 - 1902)
Origins and Arrival in Ireland
The Canters were an Anglo-Irish family. The maps in the website give the best clue as to their origin, as in 1881 the largest concentration was in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and was relatively uncommon. From other sources, the name seems to date back to the 13th / 14 C. in England and that it was continental in origin - perhaps Norman or from the Northern France / Netherlands region?

In Ireland the name Canter was very rare. Combining all of the records I can find in Ireland, the Canters were almost certainly a single family living in and near Limerick City from ca 1700. While some events listed in the IGI are in Dublin, it seems likely that these were also members of the Limerick family. Their most likely origin in Ireland was as Williamite settlers / soldiers / administrators, arriving in Limerick ca 1690-1700.

Life in 18th Century Ireland (ref 8)

In 1770, Humphrey Palmer, a Queens County farmer and the grandson of a Williamite settler died. His son Joseph Palmer had married well and he and his wife Sarah Spunner instantly sold his fathers farm and bought Cuffesborough, a newly built house some six miles away. Joseph and his family were definitely upwardly mobile. The previous year, his cousin Robert Palmer had been elected MP for Portarlington. His son Thomas was courting an heiress from County Sligo. One daughter was shortly married to one of the Whites and another married a nephew of Thomas Prior, the founder of the Royal Dublin Society. The Palmers were not at that stage landed gentry, nor were they well connected. They were, however, typical of a blossoming middle class whose aspirations have given us one the greatest treasures of the landscape of 20th century Ireland - the buildings that Maurice Craig so aptly describes as Classic Irish Houses of the middle size.
Looking forward 90 years, James Canter, who was probably the Great Grandson of the original Canter settler, married Francis Palmer, who was the Great Grand Daughter of a Williamite settler. Frances was the daughter of Joseph Palmer and Sarah Spunner. The story of her family in the sidebar adds considerable weight to my speculations on this page, regarding the origins and social status of the Canters.

The neighbours of the Palmers in Laois included the Whites (subsequently the Earls of Bantry), Priors and Barringtons who we will come across again in marriages to the Canters.

A near neighbour of the Palmers at Castlewood, on the banks of the Nore was Henry French Barrington, a brother of Jonah Barrington. Jonah's autobiography (in 3 volumes) of 1845, "Personal Sketches of His Own Times", is a fascinating account of life in Ireland from the late 17th C. The book is written anecdotally and is extremely readable. It can also be downloaded from Google Books.

More circumstantial evidence that they arrived in Ireland in the late 17th C. is the Census of Ireland for 1659 which lists the "Tituladoes Names", the names of the largely English gentry. If the Canters were in Limerick at that time, given their social status in the 18th C. directories, I would have expected that they would have appeared in this Census as Tituladoes. However, apart from a possible misprint "Carter", they are not included.

In the next sections it will be seen that in the 18th & 19th centuries the family continued to live near Limerick and remained a small group. For example "The Irish Ancestors" 3 website (using the 1846-64 valuation), while underestimating the number, lists only seven Canter families in all of Ireland, all in Limerick.

Apart from Limerick, the family was closely associated with the place names Ballyvarra, Coolbreedeen and Killeengarriff. Ballyvara and Coolbreedeen are adjacent townlands in the Parish of Killeengarriff, now on the eastern boundaries of Limerick City. As usual the complex nature of Irish districts must be understood to make sense of the records, see the table opposite.

Civil parishKilleengarriff
Electoral Division/WardBallyvarra
Poor Law Union?
Roman Catholic ParishCastleconnell in Killaloe Diocese
Today? District Council
Administrative Districts for Ballyvarra
1700 to 1800
In this section I will construct the family up to James, father of Richard Palmer Canter.

Warning - this is highly speculative

The following table shows the relevant Canter records from the IGI and early Trades Registers (also see the full list of Canters in Ireland from the IGI), which is sorted by date:

Date Name Event Source
ca 1700 John Canter Birth at Ballyvara, Limerick IGI, member
ca 1721 John Canter Marriage IGI, member
ca 1732 Jane Canter, dau of John Birth at Ballyvara, Limerick IGI, member
ca 1737 James Canter Birth at Dublin IGI, member
ca 1734 Alice Canter, dau of John Birth at Ballyvara, Limerick IGI, member
(also shown as b. ca 1745)
ca 1753
(see note 3 below table)

Jane Canter Marriage to Mathew Barrington
son of Benjamin Barrington & Anne Waltho
IGI, member
13/10/1760 James Canter Attorney Freemen of Limerick 1746-1836 5
ca 1762 James Canter Marriage to Catherine Connor,
St Audeon, Dublin
IGI, member
31 May 1764 Mr John Canter Marriage "to the agreeable Miss Wakely" Freeman's Journal Dublin
bef 1765 Jane Canter Death IGI, member
29/5/1765 John Canter Gentn., the Younger Freemen of Limerick 1746-1836 5
ca 1765 Alice Canter Marriage to Benjamin Barrington
son of Benjamin Barrington & Anne Waltho
IGI, member
(see note 2 below table)

James and Richard Canter Solicitors, Main St., Englishtown Ferrar
born ca 1787
(see note 1 below table)

James Canter Soldier RWIR
born ca 1775
(see note 4 below table)

John Canter Ordinary Seaman Royal Navy, HMS Minotaur, 1804
13/10/1794 James Canter Gentn., Ballyvara Freemen of Limerick 1746-1836 5
  1. From "62 Royal West India Rangers (RWIR) who settled in New Brunswick (now part of Canada) in 1819":
    James Canter, joined the RWIR 11/12/1816 from the 28th foot. Age 33 (in 1816), born St. Johns Limerick.
  2. Originally known as Main Street in Medieval times, this is now known as .
  3. Both the Gentleman's Magazine of 1846 and Annual Register of 1846 (by Charles William Wason) in recording the death of Sir Joseph Barrington describe Jane as "daughter of John Canter of Ballyvara", almost certainly the John Canter b 1700.
  4. From HMS Minotaur: John Canter, 29, Corke, Ireland, Ordinary Seaman

    Thus, the first two generations of the family were possibly like this:

    G9 ?? Canter the settler
    (c.1670 - )
    G8 ?? John Canter
    (c. 1700 - )
    = c. 1720
    G7 ?? James Canter
    ( - )
    =ca 1762,
    Catherine Connor
    Richard Canter
    ( - )
    Jane Canter
    (ca 1732-ca 1765)
    = ca 1753,
    Mathew Barrington
    (ca 1717-ca 1765)
    Alice Canter
    (ca 1734- )
    =ca 1765,
    Benjamin Barrington
    (ca 1732-ca 1765)
    John Canter
    ( - )
    the younger
    Ballyvarra (note the IGI variously shows this as Ballyvarra, Ballyvara & Ballyvard) is significant, connecting Richard Palmer Canter's father James back to John Canter b 1700.

    Unfortunately the IGI evidence is from member supplied information rather than church records and so must be treated with care.

The Barrington Family

The Canter's association with the Barrington family confirms their social status as 'gentry'.

  1. Samuel Barrington, born est c.1650, settled Limerick 1691, bur St. Mary's Cathedral, Limerick, 1693, having had issue:
  2. Benjamin Barrington, had issue:
  3. Alderman Benjamin Barrington (he held the office of Sheriff of County Limerick in 1729), born est c.1700, mar 1724 to Anne Waltho and had issue:
  4. Crocker, Matthew, John and Benjamin. Matthew Barrington married Jane Canter and had issue:
  5. Sir Joseph Barrington, 1st Baronet, born 21st Feb 1764, founded, with his sons, Barrington's Hospital, Limerick, they also built Barrington's Bridge, cr 1831, died 10th Jan 1846, age 81 yrs, having had issue:
  6. Sir Matthew Barrington, 2nd Baronet, of Glenstal Castle, born 21st May 1788, Crown Solicitor for Munster.
Note that the Barrington's had property near both the Canters and the Whites & Palmers and so were probaly the link between these families.

The following may indicate that the Barringtons and Canters remained in contact into the 19th C.:
Two letters to Matthew Barrington, Esq. from Walker, John, civil engineer on proposed southern railroads in Ireland with an introductory letter to the Right Hon. Thomas Spring Rice, M.P., Chancellor of the Exchequer... and an explanatory map. Goldsmiths' Library, University of London Limerick, printed by R.P. Canter, 1837 Ireland.

James Canter & Francis Palmer and their family (G6 and G5)
James was probably the son of one the the 2nd generation solicitor Canters.

ca 1766 James born IGI shows his birth as ca 1766 in Dublin (was this actually a baptism at St Audeons?)
13 Oct 1791 James (from Ballyvara, Limerick) m. Francis IGI shows marriage to Fanny Palmer ca. 1791 in Dublin
ca 1796 Richard Palmer Canter born
ca 1795 Joseph Palmer Canter born, Diocese Of Killaloe (IGI) The Palmer name probably means he is their son.
ca 1815 Peter Palmer Canter born The Palmer name probably means he is their son (ref Kent Jaffa)
While still speculative, the next two generations probably looked like this:
G6 James (ca 1766- )
= 13 10 1791
Frances Palmer
G5 Richard Palmer Canter
(ca 1796-1834)
=3 5 1817
Mary Travers
Joseph Palmer Canter
(ca 1795-1876)
=ca 1820
Elizabeth White
Peter Palmer Canter
(ca 1814-1860)
=ca 1838
Elizabeth Heath
There are a number of items connected to the Canters on the Limerick City Museum website. Some items of printing are shown on the next page and some leases below.

Item 43433:

Lease, manuscript on parchment. Lease of four plots of land in the St. Francis Abbey area to Simon Kent, tanner, by Edmond Sexten Pery, 1780.

Lease, manuscript on parchment. Indenture; lease of 4 plots of land in the St. Francis Abbey area, by Edmond Sexten Pery to Simon Kent, tanner, dated 11th November 1780. Properties are described in relation to Henry Holland's holdings, widow Creaghe's holdings, Butt and Leaders's holding, Mr John Canter's holding and John Sutherland's holding; mention of street leading to County courthouse, the lane leading to the Hospital, Sir Hartstonge's Mall. Written on one side, with bottom edge folded up and fastened together at two points with red tape. Red wax over tapes at front of document, both with same seal of a shield inside a diamond; left has signature of Edmond Sexten Pery around it, right Simon Kent. Four plans are held in place by the left tape; each plan is drawn in ink on white paper and shows an outline of the plot with neighbouring landholders named; they have subsequently been numbered 1 to 4 in pencil and the cardinal points have been added to each plan also in pencil. Each sheet of paper is watermarked with parallel line, in addition two have a crowned garter surrounding the Royal Coat of Arms, and one has "JS". At top left is affixed stamp duty stamp, faded grey paper, embossing difficult to decipher but contains a harp; brown on white stamp, crown over GR, on reverse. Circular black rubber stamp "22/ Pence" below paper stamp. On reverse signatures of witnesses, Patrick Arthur and John Dowdall Hammond. Folded twice, then from both ends to centre, then in half. Outside annotated with contents. On same side "4/12" in pencil "No 4/8" in brown pencil, and rectangular rubber stamp with ms additions "Barrrington & Son/ 10 Ely Place/ Strong Box/ Box [38]/ No. [1b]". 1997.0234-236 held together by red ribbon.

Item: 23884:
Leaflet. Advertisement: Reward of 10 guineas for apprehending and lodging in jail David Fitzgerald, accused of trespass and theft of hay and potatoes at Oughelly, 27.11.1784. Signed Catherine Canter, Ann Canter. Printed by W Goggin. Co Clare?
Item 43445:
Assignment, manuscript on parchment. Deed of assignment of part of the lands of Coolbrideen in the County of Limerick, Simon Kent Esq. of Limerick and John Barry, Stationer of Limerick, dated 21st October 1809.

Assignment, manuscript on parchment. Deed of assignment of part of the lands of Coolbrideen between Simon Kent of Limerick eldest son of Simon Kent of St. Francis Abbey, tanner, deceased and John Barry of limerick stationer, dated 21st October 1809. Refers to deed of 7th July 1792 between Earl of Clanbrassil, 1st part, James Canter of Ballyvarra in Liberties of Limerick, 2nd part, Simon Kent of St. Francis Abbey, Co. Limerick, 3rd part and George Halloran Limerick 4th part, John Canter indebted to John Kennelly, chandler deceased, William Crilley of Limerick Merchant, John Hayes administrator of John Canter, part of land of Coolbreedeen held by Ewer Benn and the other by John Harty. Written on two sheets of parchment, the lower indented across top edge and turned up at bottom and fastened to upper at sides with strips of parchment; at bottom centre two strips of pink tape, with red seals on front. Seal matrices unclear, signatures of the two parties to left of seals. At bottom of page a receipt signed Simon Kent and witnessed John Boyse and James Dwyer. Witnessed on reverse by John Boyse and James Dwyer; note that the deed entered in Registry signed by John Griffin. Single blue embossed paper stamp duty, with lead strip at centre, on upper and lower leaves; on lower in rectangle "Geo III" over crown over harps over "Two Pounds", on upper Crown over rectangle with Harp over "Ireland" inside over "V Shillings"; paper stamp on reverse of both, brown on white, crown over "GR". Below embossed stamps on both leaves a circular black stamp, "2 Sh/ 6 Pen". Folded from top and bottom to centre and folded in half, then from either end to middle and in half. Annotated on outside as to contents, with "John Boyse/ Agent" at bottom.

(Coolbrideen is a townland of Limerick in arish Murroe & Boher.)

This raises a number of interesting questions and possibilities:

Misc Notes
  1. Registry of Deeds Dublin: Abstracts of Wills, By P. Beryl Eustace, Eilish Ellis, Irish Manuscripts Commission (Google Books)
    James Canter of Wine Tavern Street, gent listed as a witness. (? date - unfortunately just a snippet)
Notes & References
  1. International Genealogical Index
  2. Ferrar's Limerick Directory of 1769
  3. Irish Ancestors
  4., The Irish Times
  5. Freemen of Limerick 1746-1836
  6. Pigot's Directory of Ireland - 1824
  7. The Barrington Family
  8. Life in 18th Century Ireland