- Born: 22 Feb 1794, Wexford County, Ireland 2245,2436
- Marriage: Mariah Bobier on 20 Apr 1815 in Castlecomer, Kilkenny County, Ireland 2432,2433
- Died: 1882, Ontario aged 88 2245
Notes for RICHARD DOBBYN: From the Chatham Daily News, December 1905. RICHARD DOBBYNE, EMIGRANT By Hopkins J. Moorhouse
This is the remarkable story of what truly befell one Richard Dobbyne in the year 1811. It tells the manner of his impressment aboard a privateer and his subsequent escape, settled in Western Ontario not far from Newbury and Bothwell and became one of the worthy pioneer settlers of Upper Canada. Three of his sons, old men now but hale and hearty withal, are still living - one at Shetland, Ont., one at Florence, Ont., and one in Manitoba. Richard Dobbyne, a young man at the time, had given up school teaching in Ireland and gone to Bristol, intent on leaving for Canada at the earliest opportunity. His young wife was to join him a few months later, by which time he hoped to have a home prepared for her. It so chanced that a merchant vessel bound for Canada was swinging in the anchorage and the town crier was announcing in the streets the exceedingly cheap berths she was offering for a number of young men who were not afraid of roughing their way across the ocean. That night the vessel dropped down the tide with Dobbyne aboard. Among those who had taken passage was a young fellow, Lloyd by name, and of honest appearance; he and Dobbyne were to share the same berth. The place was a mere hole and a small cobwebbed !amp, attached to a stanchion in the centre, cast a sickly twilight round about, while the atmosphere reeked with ill-smelling brine, tar and rotten hemp. Everything was rude and Dobbyne marvelled at the unusual thickness of the bulkheads and the strength of the beams. It might have been four of the clock when he was awakened by a strange noise overhead. It was pitch black all around but he felt that dawn must be very near. He could hear the water lapping the wooden sides of the vessel and knew by her motions and the sharp jarring of the rudder on its pintles that they were well out in the heavy swell of the Channel. Puzzled to guess the meaning of the bustling overhead he aroused Lloyd, whose face took on a startled look in the yellow blur of the stanchion lamp. It was with a vague presentiment that Dobbyn went to the door and found it locked on the outside. He shook it vigorously and instantly the bolts were shot back. The entrance way was blocked by a big seaman with a naked cutless in his hand, and on his face a grin that widened full into his whiskers. The young men realized the situation - they were trapped and all this offer of a passage to Canada was but a press-gang strategy. With a cry of despair Dobbyne sprang forward and would have had the seaman by the throat had not the door been slammed in his face. Richard threw himself on the little box that contained all his earthly possessions, remaining for a long time with his head buried in his arm. When the sun arose the merchantman had vanished, but in her stead a British privateer was standing away to the south under a full head of canvas. Where the brass signal carronade had stood on the afterdeck the night before, was now a long swivel ten-pounder. Fourteen guns ranged fore and aft and a number of small arms racks stood just abaft the masts. It seemed to Dobbyne that but for Lloyd's friendly presence he must have lost his reason during the weeks that followed. His wife would be in Canada within a month or two and he would not be there to meet her. Imagination was vivid and his helplessness maddened him. All sorts of desperate schemes were discussed to no purpose; then quite unexpectedly a way of escape opened. More than two months had elapsed since the Wasp left British waters but she had fallen in with scarcely a single prize that was worth the chase. Even after reaching southern seas on the lookout for West Indiamen she cruised about in vain, and one day found her making what little headway she could, west by north in a light wind, with discontent aboard from the captain down. The wind finally dropped out altogether and when morning broke the sails were idly slapping the masts as the vessel rode the swell in long-drawn rolls. Dobbyne and Lloyd were both on deck in the morning watch when a sail was reported off the starboard bow, and as the daylight rapidly increased they were able to make out the stranger about three miles distant. She was a brig with top-gallants and royals set to catch every breath. On the quarterdeck the captain and the first lieutenant carefully inspected her through their glasses. "Yankee, think you?" queries the former. "I th---ink so." That was all Dobbyne overheard but when he went below his jaw was set and a strange light was shining in his eyes. The next night closed in, dark and still. Some stars were out and a bit of moon hung low down near the western horizon, smearing the restless waters with silver. It sank and went out, leaving the ocean swell running beneath the star-gloaming into black ridges aglint with the fitful glows of the of the cold seafires. The watch were mostly grouped about the forward guns and the measured tread of the men on lookout pacing the fo'castle deck sounded loud in the weird stillness of the calm. Now and then the water lapped faintly against the counter as it met the swell, and a block creaked aloft. Away off to the north, a point of light revealed the position of the stranger. Night deepened. One of the watch stood near a atchway and, glancing about to satisfy himself that he was free from bservation, was suddenly swallowed up in the yawning blackness below. Dobbyne was crouching silently near an open gun port in the waist. He was clad only in a pair of light canvas trousers, but the perspiration stood out in great drops upon his brow and chest. His straining ear presently caught sound of a soft, catlike movement and peering through the gloom of the 'tween decks he discerned a dark form close beside a bulkhead. His heart gave a sudden leap, but it was Lloyd. "The line is out?" "Yes." "You are ready none too soon," he whispered. Eight bells struck. At once the boatswain's whistle piped shrill and clear throughout the ship and a scurrying of feet sounded overhead as the fresh watch tumbled up on deck. "Heaven grant you courage and strength," whispered Lloyd. A parting grasp of the hand and Dobbyne crept through the porthole to where the hempen line dangled to the black brine below. Noiselessly the water closed over him, the line relaxed and he was gone. "What think you is that yonder?" The second Iieutenant paused with his hand on the poop railing and pointed to a phosphorescent gleam that for an instant broke from the water a short distance off. "See! there it is again." The third lieutenant who had just come up from below glanced carelessly at the streak of light, now half a cable's length further away. It came, went, and some distance beyond reappeared and again went. "Something is swimming out there, Pearson." "Pest! Shark!" The Officer of the watch laughed vaguely to himself as he said it, and lighted a cheroot. Rolling over on his back Dobbyn slowly swam away. He was now at a safe distance from the vessel, a huge pile of shadow that reared up from the heaving blackness of the deep. Suddenly the silence was startled by a sing-song drawl from the deck. "Twelve of the clock, and all--'s wel--l." Then he knew that he would not be missed until morning. That swim Richard Dobbyne remembered to the end of his life. It was only hours that he was in the water but it seemed days and weeks. Ever since he had been old enough to paddle in rain puddles he had been at home in the water and this was a swim for life, but after a time his eyes grew dizzy with watching the rounded backs of the swell welling out of the gloom and bearing down upon him without end. The air became full of strange washings and through it all he was conscious of but one thing - that he must swim on and on towards the light that sat low on the water. He scarcely knew how, but at last he reached the brig. A lethargy was stealing over him, his limbs were numb and he had barely strength to crawl into the chain-wales by means of a loose rigging-rope before he swooned completely away. When he came to his senses, he could hear voices conversing in low tones and somebody was pacing backward and forward with tiresome regularity. Occasionally the water gurgled and somewhere a plank was creaking in unison to the tack-lea loft, as the swell rolled up out of the darkness and vanished to leeward. After a time he noiselessly made his way up the side and climbed inboard, standing near the quarterboat. Light was coming from the galley and the cabin skylight, while footfalls on the deck were plainly to be heard though the individual himself was invisible. Dobbyne was standing irresolute, when a figure came suddenly within the radiance of the skylight. He was very tall and his face was long, thin and sharp featured. A small, scraggy goatee clung to his pointed chin and as he peered over into the cabin below it was noticeable that he had a black eye in the green and yellow stage of convalescence. Having satisfied himself as to the condition of affairs below, this person, who might be the captain but was probably one of the mates, resumed his walk and Dobbyn lost sight of him. The watch were also invisible but the long-legged individual in charge of the deck was plainly the one to be dealt with. Accordingly Dobbyne stepped boldly forth, his bare feet spagging audibly across the planks. "That you, Hytes?" came shortly out of the gloom. "No, it's me,." said Dobbyne, stepping alongside the skylight. "You!" The man swore a full round oath which startled the negligent watch in the bows and brought some of them hurrying aft. "Who'n blazes are you?" he snapped out. Dobbyne told him and asked for an interview with the captain. The lanky individual finally opened the skylight and called down to the captain. "Eh? Oh yes! Alright, Rawlins - coming", cried a brisk voice below. "Thank heaven! the wind at last! What quarter, Rawlins?" "It's not the wind but a Britisher as swum aboard us an' would speak with you. Send'm down, Cap?" This speech was productive of many mumbled ejaculations which came up through the skylight, followed by a quick "Yes, yes, Rawlins - at once." A moment later, Dobbyne was standing before a lively little red-faced man with a bald head, a very round middle and a turned up nose. For the space of a full minute this much astonished, greatly bewildered and intently staring person could do nothing but click his tongue against the roof of his mouth and say, "Well, well, well!" Not until Dobbyn was in dry clothes and sipping a stiff bumper of grog would he listen to the story. "And were you not fearful of Lawyer Shark?" asked Captain Braceby (for that was his name). "Sharks!" cried Dobbyne in dismay. "Not once did I think of them." "You may thank your lucky godmother for that, my young friend, or 'twould be a monkey's fist to me were you not now cruising under water, rather than being aboard the brig Madison of New York." The whole-souled American skipper grasped him by the hand as he spoke and Dobbyne, feeling that he would not lack for friends aboard the brig, turned in with a thankful heart for a much-needed rest. Shortly after daybreak a breeze sprang up and no sooner did the breeze reach the privateer,than her courses filled on a northerly tack and she came bowling along, heading straight for the brig. A puff of smoke broke from her bow and the shot skipped athwart the American's bows. Captain Braceby frowned but he had anticipated something of the kind and made haste to arouse Dobbyne. "Let 'm come," he chuckled, "let'm come, but if they get you then I am a salamander.'' He quickly made his way to a small hatchway that led down into the run and after lighting a lanthorn he.descended and called up for Dobbyne to follow. The place was a section of the hold, styled the "lazarette". The light revealed a few barrels of pork standing about together with rum casks, jars of lime juice, casks of flour and biscuit, and several cases of tinned meats. The captain presently returned to the deck, leaving Dob byne securely boxed in an empty case. It was a desperate scheme but the American skipper was confident of its success and Dobbyne was ready for anything. He had reason afterwards to be thankful, as a search party boarded the brig amid the scowls and muttered threats of her crew, and after examining her papers ransacked the vessel in the hope of finding him. The lazarette was the last place searched and by that time Dobbyne was suffering much bodily discomfort. By that time also, the British officer in charge was thoroughly disgusted with the fruitlessness of his efforts and was partly of a mind to leave the brig without more ado. Nevertheless he ordered his seamen about and they made a hasty investigation. Dobbyne scarcely dared to breathe and the chills of suspense ran back and forth in his spine as he firmly braced himself and waited. No less than three times was the box shifted and once it was turned over on its side, but its secret remained unknown. At length the privateersman turned on his heel and strode toward. the hatch ladder. "If there is aught else in which we can oblige you." began the affable Braceby, bowing low, "believe me -" "Curse him!" cried the officer. "The sharks have got him and welcome they are." A month later Richard Dobbyne was in Montreal. An emigrant ship had sailed up the St. Lawrence not three days before his arrival and after some inquiry he discovered that his wife's name was on the ship's list. From a man who had come over in the vessel he learned that the party she had been with had left only the day previous for the Upper Province, but whether she had gone with them or not the man was unable to say. Then he went to the Government office and on the very threshold espied a familiar figure. Stumbling forward in his haste he shouted aloud, "Maria, Maria! Turning quickly she saw him and with a gasp of joy and a swift little run was in his arms. "Oh, Richard!" (Signed) Hopkins J. Moorhouse
Richard married Mariah Bobier, daughter of Gregory Bobier and Martha Willis, on 20 Apr 1815 in Castlecomer, Kilkenny County, Ireland 2432.,2433 (Mariah Bobier was born in 1796 in Ireland 2245 and died on 11 Dec 1869 in Euphemia Twp, Lambton County, Ontario 2245.)
1861 census, National Archives of Canada, Ontario, Lambton County, Enumeration district 1, twp of Euphemia, film C1040, page 22, line 41
DOBBYN, RICHARD, age 65, b. Ireland
DOBBYN, MARIA, age 64, b. Ireland
Dobbyn, Maria J., age 10, b. U.S. not immediate member of family
1871 Census, National Archives of Canada, Ontario, Bothwell, subdistrict (H) Euphemia,
film C 9894, page 43
DOBBYN, JOHN, age 50, b. Ontario, Church of England, Irish origin, lumberman
DOBBYN, JANE, age 46, b. Ontario, Irish origin
DOBBYN, RICHARD, age 74, b. Ireland, Methodist, Irish origin, farmer
DOBBYN, RICHARD, age 21, b. Ontario, Irish, farmer
DOBBYN, CHARLES, age 19, b. Ontario, Irish, farmer
DOBBYN, EDWARD, age 16, b. Ontario, Irish, farmer
Excerpts from "The Descendants of Gregory Bobier and Martha Willis" compiled by Diane M Mack
Children of MARIAH BOBIER and RICHARD DOBBYN are:
JOHN DOBBYN, b. November 08, 1819, Dunwich Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada; d. 1911, Melita, Manitoba, Canada.
ELIZABETH DOBBYN, b. May 01, 1821, (Talbot Settlement) Dunwich Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada; d. February 15, 1901, Delaware, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada.
RICHARD DOBBYN, b. September 21, 1822, Dunwich Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada; d. November 03, 1903, Shetland, Ontario, Canada.
WILLIAM DOBBYN, b. February 27, 1824, Dunwich Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada; d. January 24, 1917, Florence, Ontario, Canada.
HENRY DOBBYN, b. May 15, 1825, Dunwich Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada; d. 1825, Ontario, Canada.
HENRY DOBBYN, b. May 10, 1826, Bear Creek, Ontario, Canada; d. 1826, Bear Creek, Ontario, Canada.
JAMES DOBBYN, b. November 19, 1827, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada; d. September 12, 1896, Turtle Mountain, Manitoba, Canada.
MARY ANNE DOBBYN, b. January 13, 1829, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada; d. July 09, 1863, Raleigh Township, Kent County, Ontario, Canada.
THOMAS DOBBYN, b. April 21, 1830, Zone Township, Western District of Canada (now Shetland, Euphemia Township, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada); d. November 06, 1908, (home) Florence, Lambton County, Ontario, Canada.
HENRY DOBBYN, b. February 11, 1832, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada; d. 1832, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada.
MARIA JANE DOBBYN, b. February 1837, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada; d. 1837, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada.
MARTHA EMILY DOBBYN, b. July 1838, Euphemia Township, Kent District, Ontario, Canada; d. October 27, 1862, Raleigh Township, Kent County, Ontario, Canada.