Fonds F 0033 - F.J. Mayhew fonds

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F.J. Mayhew fonds

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CA ON00354 F 0033

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  • 1863; 1879-1905 (Creation)

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12 cm textual records

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Biographical history

Frederick James Mayhew (1841-1907) was a 19th century merchant, banker, property-owner, farmer, and public servant based in Thamesville, Ontario. He was one of six children born to William (1800-1881) and Ann (née Aldis, 1810-1895) Mayhew of Suffolk, England. The Mayhews immigrated to Upper Canada in 1832, and sojourned at Port Stanley, London, and Delaware before settling permanently in Kent County in 1846, when their son F.J. was five years old. The 200-acre Mayhew homestead was located on Lots 14 and 15, Concession B, in Camden township; in addition to clearing the land for farming, in 1854 William Mayhew built and ran a hotel in Thamesville. In adulthood, F.J. would carry on this tradition of pursuing both farming and mercantile activity.

Having received his primary education in local schools to age 15, F.J. Mayhew spent a year clerking in C.B. Kyle’s grocery store, before pursuing several years of further education at schools in Ingersoll and London, Ontario. He then clerked, in succession, for C.B. Kyle, H.F. Cummings, and a Mr. Collier, before travelling to England in 1862 to meet his relatives. He clerked for a time in London, England for a wholesale and retail store, before returning to Canada where, in 1864, he purchased a former employer’s stock and set up his own mercantile establishment in Thamesville. The Mayhew store operated for some forty years, its commercial success enabling F.J. to branch into banking, purchasing and developing other town property, and owning/operating two farms in Kent County.

In 1864 F.J. Mayhew married Agnes Walker, and the couple had eight children: Walter F., Carrie, Charles W., William A., George A., Nellie May, Edith, and Kate. The family were members of the Episcopalian Church, and F.J. Mayhew was a member of the Masonic Lodge, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen (a fraternal order providing insurance for members and striving to improve working conditions). F.J. Mayhew was a prominent and well-respected figure in Thamesville and area, and was active in local politics, serving at different points as reeve of Thamesville, and as a member of the Kent County Council.

Sources: Contents of fonds; “F.J. Mayhew,” Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent Ontario (Toronto: J.H. Beers & Co., 1904), pp. 549-50.

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Scope and content

This fonds contains 25 personal diaries of Kent County merchant F. J. Mayhew, beginning with an 1863 trip to his birthplace in England, then following his daily activities back in Thamesville, Ontario and surrounding area, 1879-1905. The diaries are small, and the entries brief; some entries are “cross-written” (in which the diarist fills the available space, then turns the page at a 90-degree angle and writes another passage over the first). Mayhew comments on the weather, meals eaten, people he visited or received visits from, business activities, farming activities, and social or other events.

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