The Burwell family emigrated to Upper Canada in the aftermath of the American Revolution, settling in the Niagara District in Bertie Township. A son, Mahlon Burwell, born in 1783, trained as a provincial land surveyor and came to Port Talbot in 1811 to work for the District's Crown Land Agent, Thomas Talbot. He surveyed most of the townships in the London and Western Districts and laid out the town plot of London. He was appointed to several key offices in the district including Registrar, was the Chairman of the Court of Quarter Sessions, the regional government of the day, and was elected several times to the Colonial Assembly. He was regarded as the region's contribution to the Family Compact.
He married Sarah Haun in 1810 and together they had 8 children. Several of his sons rose to positions of local significance within their communities, including Isaac Brock Burwell of Caradoc, John Burwell of Port Burwell, a community founded by his father, Hannibal the creator of this collection and Hercules, who succeeded him as Registrar of Middlesex.
Hannibal took over Mahlon's estate in Elgin County near Port Talbot and lived there with his family until 1871 when he moved the family to London. There he entered the city's elite, supporting the Church of England as had been the family's tradition. Hannibal's daughter Hannah married Rev. David Williams, destined to become the Bishop of Huron and the Archbishop of Ontario.
Of Hannibal's sons, only Alfred E. is represented in this collection. He received his father's papers and associated artifacts which after his own death in 1943, passed to his niece Mary Gweno Williams (later Mrs. K. Boughner) and thence to her daughter, the donor, Rebecca Boughner.
Records were in the custody of Colonel Mahlon Burwell, ca. 1835-1846; from 1846-1886, to his son Hannibal Burwell; 1886-1943 to his son Alfred E. Burwell; 1943-1968, to his niece Mary Gweno Williams Boughner; 1968-2013, to her daughter Rebecca Boughner (the donor).
Scope and Content
The Burwell Family fonds is primarily comprised of the personal and buisness papers of Hannibal Burwell (1825-1886), his son, Alfred E. Burwell (1871-1943) and his daughter Hannah Alberta Eliza Burwell (1864-1929), later Mrs. David Williams.
There are 20 related artifacts including two family bibles, a portable writing desk belonging to Hannibal's father, Mahlon Burwell (1783-1846), a prominent surveyor, Justice of the Peace and MLA, Albert Burwell's South Africa War medals and volunteer service medals and a portrait of Mahlon's daughter Louisa Burwell (1818-1834).
The fonds is divided into the following series:
-Associated Artifacts series, ca. 1800-1914
-Books series, 1808-1931
-Personal Documents and Ephemera series, 1810-1932