Thomas Rath (Wrath)                    Mini Bio


British Soldier from the 100th Regiment of Foot

in the War of 1812

Thomas Rath (Wrath)

Thomas Rath (sometimes spelled Wrath) was born on 3 June 1787 in Kilmallock (pronounced Kil-MAL’-leck) Parish in the County of Wexford, Ireland--about eight miles north of the city of Wexford.  These were troubled times with England exercising harsh dominion over the poor Irish people, and most particularly over the Irish Catholics.  Trouble had been brewing for many years but spurred on by the success of the American and French Revolutions, the Irish rose in rebellion in 1798 in what has sometimes been termed, “The Wexford Rebellion”.  Young Thomas was only eleven years old when this war broke out with his county being one of the hottest spots of the war.  Terrible atrocities were committed on both sides.  We do not know to what extent his own family was involved in this conflict but it seems highly likely that he may have known some of the participants.  Eventually the English military prevailed and many Irishmen were publicly hanged in the streets of Wexford.

These events would certainly have made a strong and lasting impression on young Thomas.  While yet in his teens, he left home and made his way north to the large city of Dublin were the only work he was able to find was that of a “servant”.  When he was just barely seventeen years old, the British Army came to Dublin to enlist young men into their service.  Considering his experiences in Wexford, it may seem strange that he considered this option, but work was difficult to find for a young Irish boy and this offered a solution.  On 4 September 1804, he enlisted as a Private in the 100th Regiment of Foot as an infantry soldier for an unlimited period of time.  His military papers indicate that he was 5 feet, 8 inches tall with black hair, brown eyes, and a sallow complexion. 

As soon as the enlistment quota was reached the young recruits were shipped off to Quebec, Canada for their first assignment in 1805.  The regiment was so large that several vessels were required to transport all of them to North America.  As they approached the long awaited shore of Nova Scotia, a violent storm arose that dashed several of the ships onto the rocks and over 100 men in his regiment perished.  Those who survived found their way to small fishing villages along the coast and were eventually carried in other ships to Quebec City where they were stationed until the dead soldiers had been replaced with new recruits.  In 1807 the regiment was relocated to other forts in Quebec and Montreal. 

Family tradition seems to indicate that on the transport to Canada, Thomas met a young Scottish girl, Mary McMillan who was onboard the same ship.  They fell in love and were married on 5 Dec. 1808 in St. Gabriels Presbyterian Church in Monntreal, Quebec.  [Thomas was a Catholic, but Mary, like most Scots, was a Presbyterian.  She allowed Thomas to raise their children in the Catholic faith, but that church never did recognize this marriage performed outside of the Catholic church, and as a result, their children were branded as illegitimate at the time of their Catholic baptisms.] 

By 1809, Thomas and Mary had been relocated to Fort George, Ont. at the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario.  Here their first two children’s baptisms were recorded: Amelia was christened in Niagara on 12 Nov. 1809 and her brother, James, on 18 Aug. 1811.  [Ontario Historical Society Papers & Records Vol. 3, p.27.  FHC film #105405 SLC]  We don’t know any more about either of these children, except that we suppose the daughter died young as they subsequently had another girl to whom they gave the same name—Amelia (or Emily)—our ancestor, who was born on 5 April 1820.

At this time, relations with the United States had boiled over with the US declaring war on Britain in the “War of 1812”.  Most of the action of this war was on, and around, Lake Ontario with the English being victorious in most battles.  The one bright spot for the Americans in this theater was in an eventual attack on Fort George where the Americans overtook the fort and pushed the British out.  We don’t know where Mary Rath was living, but if it was near the fort she would have had to flee with her babies and look after her own welfare somewhere else as Thomas was engaged in the battle and would not have been able to look after his personal family.  Many families of the soldiers were living in Toronto at this time and Mary may have gone there too.  About six months later, the British Army retook the fort, and from there, they were successful in crossing the river and taking the American’s Fort Niagara.  We do not know the specific role Thomas would have played in these battles but he was a common infantry soldier and would certainly have been directly involved.

After the secession of hostilities, Britain was struggling with a terrible plunge in her economy.  To reduce government expenses she began a huge down-staffing of the army.   With significant military operations in Canada, India, and South Africa, England could hardly afford to send ships to bring all of these soldiers home.  Neither did the British want a large influx of unemployed soldiers walking the streets with loaded guns who had been trained to use them.  To address both needs, England simply determined not to bring these men back home.  This decision was softened by offering early releases to the soldiers and a grant of 100 acres of land to any who would agree to remain in the country where they had last been stationed. 

In Canada, three new town-sites were laid out, one of these being Richmond, in Goulbourn Township, Ontario, about 40 miles SW of Ottawa.  In part, this town was located strategically to be a first line of defense between any advancing American invasion and the more populace town of Ottawa (which at that time was known as “Bytown.”)  Along with most of the other men in his unit, Thomas and Mary Rath accepted this offer and decided to become Canadian farmers in this new land.

In 1818, the 100th Regiment of Foot (which had recently been renamed to the 99th Reg.) was disbanded at Lachine, Quebec.  Thomas was 31 years old and still a Private in the military when he signed his discharge on 11 July 1818.  His commanding officer noted that Thomas’ general conduct had been “tolerably good”. 

By 1820 Thomas and Mary had relocated to the new town-site, even before this military settlement was officially ready to be occupied.  Although they were there by 1820 their land claim was not recorded until 2 March 1824.  On a registry prepared on that date, Thomas Rath was listed as the owner of the East 1/2 of lot #1 in the first concession of Goulbourn.  [Early Settlers in Goulbourn Twp and Area, as found on the Internet.]  The land was hard, surrounded by swamps, and covered with scrub trees.  The growing season was short so the life of a farmer was challenging, especially for someone who had been a soldier all his life.  A description of this community, as late as 1827, stated that it consists of “30 to 40 log houses, a small tavern with no roof.  It is surrounded by swamps… strongly recommended as the paradise of Canada [it is the] Purgatory”. 

By this time, Thomas and Mary would have had additional children but some of their names are unknown to us.  About 1820, probably near Richmond, in Goulbourn township, Ontario, their second daughter to be named Amelia was born.  Although she received the same name as her older sister, she was normally known as “Emily” (or sometimes “Emma”).  Along with her siblings, she grew up on their farm near Richmond until 22 Jan. 1849 when she was married in the St. Philips Catholic Church in Richmond to Andrew McDonald, a recent immigrant from Ireland.  She and Andy moved first to Ottawa (known at that time as “Bytown”) for a year, and then resettled on their own homestead on Stag’s Creek, Gatineau County, Quebec, where they remained for the rest of their lives.  

In the meantime, back near Richmond, Ontario, Thomas and Mary raised the remainder of their family of at least ten or more children.  All this time, Thomas appears to have been an active member of the local Catholic Church, attending faithfully at St. Philip’s Parish.  He even signed his name on the registration of the Catholic “Total Abstinence Society”, although his name appears much further down the list than his eager daughters, which may indicate that he was slower to make that commitment than were they, but still he joined with them.  At the same time, his dear wife, while allowing her children to be baptized and raised as Catholics, continued to attend the neighboring protestant Church and never did unite with the Catholics, at least not while living in this area. 

In the 1841 census, Thomas and Mary Rath were still residing in Richmond but many of their children were grown and gone.  In the 1851 census for the same area, Thomas indicated that he was then about 64 years old and was blind.  Farming was difficult and much of the burden now fell on the shoulders of his sweet wife Mary.

In 1858 Thomas’s lands were distributed to his heirs--Mary (wife) and Patrick (son)  [Registry of Deeds, Carleton Co., Goulbourn, Ontario, Canada.  FHC Film # 0200447 SLC], indicating that he had died prior to that time.  He was probably buried in the cemetery near St. Philip’s Parish, but the records and tombstones for that graveyard are very poor and no record has been found. 

His wife subsequently moved north to live with her daughter, Emily Rath McDonald and Andrew McDonald in Stagsburn, Gatineau, Quebec, where she eventually passed away on 7 May 1882 at an advanced age of about 90 years.  That area had been settled by Irish Catholics and although a proud protestant, Mary was buried in the local Catholic parish—St. Camille—in Farrellton, Gatineau, Quebec.


  1. 1. Rath vs. Wrath -- When we began researching this family our first finding showed the spelling of Thomas’ name as “Wrath” and so for many years we used this form of the name.  As time went by, we found more and more records that gave the spelling of “Rath” until it was just about an even split between the two alternatives.  Not wishing to change we continued with our original spelling.  However, of late, most of the more critical documents seem to favor the Rath spelling and so we have adjusted our records to reflect this version.  It should be noted that Thomas Rath was not able to spell his own name and used a mark “X” to sign.  So, it is doubtful that he even would have known the correct spelling if ever asked.

But, in searching Ireland for names of either spelling, we have come up pretty much empty handed.  However,         there are a lot of Irish place names that contain the word “rath”.  This comes from an old Irish word for a circular fortified earthwork enclosure used to defend against an enemy.  In other words, a simple dirt fortress or redoubt. 

On the other hand, there is no “wrath” spelling common in Ireland.  Instead, that is an English word for anger.  When one considers that most of the records which contain the spelling of either name were written by English persons, then it is easy to see how many of them would have written this using an English spelling.  Because of this, we now feel that the “Rath” spelling is probably the correct way and have therefore gone back to amend our earlier records.

  1. 2. McMillan vs. Gellmer (or Gelliner) -- The wife of Thomas Rath was Mary (sometimes listed as Mary Anne McMillan.  We found a specific record of her name on the marriage record for St. Gabriels Presbyterian Church in Montreal, Quebec.  (copy available on>Search>Canada>Quebec> Quebec Vital Records and Church Records (1621-1967)].  See copy inserted below:

Transcript of the above:

Montreal, Que

St. Gabriel Presbyterian



  1. T.Rath M. McMillan Marriage

Thomas Rath a Private in the hundredth Regiment of Foot now laying at Montreal over twenty years, & Mary McMillan of said place spinster aged sixteen years were joined in Marriage by publication of Banns at Montreal this fifth day of December one thousand eight hundred & eight in presence of these witnesses.


Thos X Rath



Mary X McMillan


{The names of the minister and witnesses are not easy to make out accurately.}

This document seems to make clear that Thomas’ wife’s name was Mary McMillan, and at age 16, would have been born about 1792 in Scotland.  This is the only document found so far that gives her last name this way.  There is only one other document found so far that lists her name at all.  That is for the baptism of her youngest child, John Rath, born 14 Aug. 1840 and baptized in St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Goulbourn, Ontario on 23 Aug. 1840.  In that document, it says that this baby was the son of Thomas Rath and Mary Anne Gellmer (or Gelliner).  Her name certainly does not look like McMillan.  However, we feel certain that this is the same woman.  Both women were born in Scotland at about the same time, were protestants (Presbyterian), both were clearly the mother of our Emily Rath McDonald, as she came to live with her in her aged widowhood.  We cannot account for the difference in the name.  However, we are inclined to accept the name as presented in the marriage record over the baptismal record of her son for the following reasons: 1) The marriage was performed in “her” parish, by the Presbyterian minister who knew her as one of his parishioners.  2)  She was present personally to give him her name and 3) It is likely that at such a tender age that she sailed to Canada with her parents and family and the minister probably knew them too... although this last point is conjecture.  In the case of the baptism of her son in the Catholic Church in Richmond, that Priest did not necessarily know her at all as she was not a member of his congregation and he could have easily misunderstood her name.  She may not have even been present for the ordinance.   In various census records, etc. her given name is sometimes listed as “Mary” and sometimes as “Mary Anne”. 

  1. 3.  Thomas Rath’s military discharge papers --

Notice that Thomas Rath gave his place of birth as the Parish of Kilmallock, near the town of Wexford, in the county of Wexford, Ireland.  He enlisted in Dublin on 24 Sept. 1804 at the age of 17 for an unspecified period of time.  He actually served for 12 years and 303 days and was discharged due to a reduction of the regiment.  He was 31 years old at the time of his discharge, which took place in Quebec City on 11 July 1818.

Map to Kilmallock Parish -- In the map above, of County Wexford, note the city of Wexford is located on the mouth of the river at the lower right.  From this point, go north on Hwy N11 for about 6 miles to the village of Oylgate.  Then, turn right onto an unnamed road but it is the only right turn available in the small hamlet.  Take this windy road for two miles in a generally easterly direction until you come to the end of the road at a “T” intersection where you must turn either right or left.  This intersection is the old parish of Kilmallock (pronounced: kil-MAL’-leck, with the accent on the second syllable).  There is no village there.  It is merely a farm land area of about 200 acres with several small farms and houses there.  We have no way of knowing just where the Rath family lived over 200 years ago. 

In the map above, the spot marked “A” is the Kilmallock “T” intersection.  The only thing still in existence that gives one an indication of the old parish is the Kilmallock cemetery.  To reach it, turn left at the “T” intersection and follow Rosemount Garden Road in a NW direction for 2000 feet, to where the road takes a right-hand turn.  At this point there is a small dead-end lane that takes off to the left at the corner, and there is also a sign at that point for the Kilmallock Cemetery, which is located immediately to the west of this spot.  It is the rather “white” area in the above photo just to the left of the bend in the road.  The older residents of the area understood that an old Catholic church once stood near this spot but none is there today.  The cemetery dates back to 1798, when Thomas would have been about eleven years old.  There are many old stones but none were found with the Rath name on them.

Today the nearest Catholic church is just about one half mile further up this same road to the NE direction in the village of Ballymum--St. Joseph’s parish church is located at the intersection of Rosemount Garden Road and Tullach Geal in the heart of Ballymum. 

Bette McDonald Nebeker in the Kilmallock Cemetery in County Wexford, Ireland.

The family of Thomas Rath lived in this small farming community and parish. 

No “Rath” names were found on any of the headstones viewed in this visit but some may be buried here.

Bette & Lionel Nebeker in the Kilmallock Cemetery -- 2011.

Gaelic shield on the Kilmallock Cemetery indicating that it was opened in 1798 until 1938.  Our Thomas Rath would have been only about eleven years old.  It seems likely that his parents and other family members may well have been buried here but tombstones that old do not seem to have been made sufficiently well to have survived.  It is interesting to note that this cemetery was opened in the same year as the Irish Rebellion hit this area.  It is also believed there there may have been a Catholic Church next to this site at the time the cemetery was opened, but no evidence of it exists today.