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FLINT Brothers

Settlement in Canada

The Flints lived at Westminster/Hall’s Mills as the children grew to maturity. Hannah is said to have operated a school in her home. Robert farmed his acreage and worked intermittently as a mason. Moreover, He trained his three sons in the mason’s trade. He specialized in a unique type of architecture.

“. . . Flint constructed distinctive cobblestone structures in the Byron area, using techniques similar to those he used for flint buildings in England. His three best known buildings are St. Anne's Church (ca. 1855), his own cottage (ca. 1838), and a cottage built at the corner of his farm for his son Pirney (ca. 1856; later enlarged). . . .”1
“Your Father built a very pretty English Church last Summer in this place. its build with gothic windows and a Porch, but it stan[d] . . . in a wrong site close to the school house. . . . they were five months putting up the Walls. it is ?not finish’d for the want of funds. if there is a show come along or any other foolishness they can all find money and go by wagg[on] loads to ?carry it, but ?the God that gives them all ?things is spard nothing. I wish I was able and I would finish it. old Eakins would not let them have stones altho’ he had so many that he could not cultivate his land; but he will come to the dogs. . . . your Father worked faithfull 4 months . . . and boarded himself, and I never heard him grumbl’d; but only the walls are up, and windows and doors. . . .”2

St Anne's Church, Byron, ON huronanglican.blogsome.com

St Anne's Anglican Church, Byron, Ontario. Built by Robert G Flint Sr in 1853

This quotation exemplifies the slightly complaining tone that permeates Hannah Flint’s letters. Evidently funds were found for completion, for the small Anglican Church that Robert Flint Sr built at Byron is still very much in use. “Last summer” relative to the letter above would have been the year 1853; perhaps the 1855 date given in the preceding quote was the year it was finally completed.

The two small houses that he built are today preserved under the Ontario Heritage Act as “rare local examples of the use of cobblestones for construction purposes”3.

Robert and Hannah Flint and their pets

A photo of this painting was provided by Lloyd Blinn, London, ON, 1986; it was digitally enhanced by my son, Jon E Shidler.

Robert and Hannah Flint loved pets and had a dog, Spring, a cat, Peter, and a parrot whose name is not remembered. The artist was Cyrenius Hall, who later made a career for himself in the American West. Hall's portrait of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce appeared on a 1968 U S stamp.


Apparently, the estate of Robert Sr’s father, Robert O Flint, had included tenant properties in his village of Hempnall, for in 1843, “Robert Flint, Westminster, Upper Canada, N. America” received a letter from J. Gordon, Esq., Saxlingham Nethergate, Norfolk, England (a village less than a mile and a half from Hempnall, the home of the senior Robert):

        “I am grieved that it is necessary for me to take my pen to inform you that your honest, faithful and good agent William Redgrave has this week been conveyed to his last resting place on Earth. . . . I had a very high opinion of him and hope that his love of truth and his conscientious discharge of his duty in all things will benefit him more where he has gone than they did in this world. May peace be with him.
        “I am now the only person in this kingdom who can demand the rents of your houses. I shall certainly do the best in my power to serve you, and will, when Michaelmas day comes, look after your tenants and obtain all the money possible,4 but from my knowledge of such as Jerry Harvey I dare say that I shall fall short and shall have to eject them, which I will most surely do sooner than let him or others go on without paying rent. from the last short conversation I had with poor Redgrave only a week before his death I fear that a part of last years rents are still due, and I find one of your houses on the Green has stood empty, for want of money to put it in tenantable repair. Soon after Michaelmas I will write you an account of how matters stand, knowing but little myself at present having trusted Redgrave in all matters and his papers not yet being placed in my hands.”5

The letter goes on to ask Robert to appoint someone in Hempnall to replace Redgrave so that there would be two persons authorized to look after Robert’s properties in England, in case something happened to one of those persons. No further correspondence on the subject seems to have been preserved.

Notes

1 Tausky (2005), p 9–10.

2 Flint, H (1854).

3 Quoted in Matsui and Dauphinee, "Stone Houses are Heritage Buildings" in the "Factfinders" column of the London (ON) Free Press, 18 Jul 1987.

4 Michaelmas Day, the 29th of September (this letter is dated 24 Sep), was the traditional day to settle accounts and pay rents.

5 Gordon (1843). Spelling not corrected; some punctuation added.

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