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Welcome

Welcome to Liffiton Family History at www.liffiton.net. This site explores history and genealogy related to the Liffiton surname, which originated in England around 1758.

Take Google Maps to Littleham

Take a Google Maps trip to Littleham. The cottages were torn down in the 1930s and the stone bridge is gone, but the church remains at the junction of Littleham Road, Castle Lane and West Down Road.

Go to http://maps.google.com and search for Littleham at Exmouth, Devon, England. Use the satellite and street views.

Stanley Cup Champs
This photo collage of the Stanley Cup Champions for 1906-1908 sold at auction in 2009 for Canadian $3,218. Ernie Liffiton is in the lowest rectangle to the far right. Click on it to see the image closer and look in Photos - Hockey for the largest view.

Littleham Village from a card postmarked 1910. Click photo for the full image.

News

Richard Liffiton the younger lived in Liffiton Cottage in 1844 and 1851.

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The Young Mr. Liffiton of Jane's Letters from Ireland

In 1884, Jane C. Mahon met a young Mr. Liffiton traveling on the Steamship Vancouver. Photo: Norway Heritage www.norwayheritage.com

Sometimes the historical record is sparse on who, what, where. In a woman’s diary titled Jane’s Letters from Ireland: 1884-1886, I came across this entry for June 30, 1884.

"I know quite a number of the passengers now, a young Mr. Liffiton of Montreal, all the Beatty family, a Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Burke, Mr. Allen one of the owners, but it takes some time to find out their names.”

The writer, Jane Caroline Mahon, was a twenty or twenty-one-year old American girl from Detroit on her way to Ireland. She was traveling on the Dominion Line steamship Vancouver from Quebec to Liverpool, the first leg of her trip. Some years later she would become a distinguished artist known for her watercolors under her married name, Jane C. Stanley. The Smithsonian Institution exhibited her work in 1944. The dust cover of her published journal describes Jane’s writing as “a fascinating picture of the upper class middling life of nineteenth century Ireland, as well as an insight into the early development of a young artist.”

Learning about Jane the artist was interesting, but I wanted to know more about the young Mr. Liffiton of Montreal.

Jane gives us few clues, but she does mention Mr. Liffiton one more time. Several ship passengers, including Jane, planned to perform in a Friday night concert during the voyage. On July 4, she wrote “The concert programmes came out … they were sold by auction and those with portraits went for 3 to 5 shillings. I did not invest but Mr. Liffiton gave me one. He has a pretty good voice but sings rather out of tune and strains himself.” And later, “Our concert went off pretty well on the whole, though some of the gentlemens’ songs were dreadfully out of tune. Several people that had promised to perform backed out.”

So, our unidentified young Mr. Liffiton comes through history to us as a man who sang out of tune. We can’t be sure he performed in the concert. He might have, singing dreadfully out of tune. Who was this young mystery man?

There are two possibilities. In 1884 two adult Liffiton men – brothers - lived in Montreal. The younger, William Thomas Liffiton, was 32. He had married ten years before and already had five children. He worked at John H. Jones & Co., “Importers of Watches, Clocks, Jewellery (sic), Fancy Goods, Cutlery, and Electric-plate Ware, 198 McGill.”

His older brother, Charles Albert Liffiton, was thirty-five years old in 1884. He was single, as he wouldn’t marry until 1885. He was a founder and owner of the import-export firm Bourgeau, Heron & Liffiton, “Manufacturers and Importers of Coffee, Spices and Mustard, Trade Coffee and Spice Mills, 43 College.” He is known to have travelled internationally for his business, and seems the most likely to be mystery man.

However, the clincher for this story is the passenger list of the City of Rome, a steamship that sailed two months later from Liverpool to New York. It arrived in New York Harbor on September 1, and the passenger lists identified CA Liffiton as a Canadian on his way home to Montreal. Either he carried a lot of coffee samples, or maybe he packed a lot of clothes. He checked nine pieces of luggage.

Solved – CA Liffiton was the young man Jane met. He was the young man with the good voice who sang out of tune.

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