Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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HARRINGTON, JOHN (1811-1892)

HARRINGTON, JOHN, almshouse keeper; b. Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland, c1811; m. 1839, Elizabeth O'Keeffe, also a native of Co. Cork; d. Chatham, 22 Feb 1892.

John Harrington, who came to New Brunswick with his parents as a boy, was a stevedore in Chatham for much of his life. In 1869, when he was in his late fifties, he received an appointment as the first keeper of the county almshouse, or poor house. This residence for indigent persons who lacked family support was located next to Riverside Cemetery in Chatham. It had thirty-eight 'inmates' in 1870 in the care of Harrington as keeper, and his wife as matron. Life within its walls was grim, but the keeper and the residents of the town were generous in their efforts to make special occasions joyful and memorable. At Christmas, stated the Chatham World, there would be "a dinner of beefsteak, goose, duck, etc., with plenty of vegetables, all served in good form, followed by an excellent plum pudding, with dessert of apples and raisins."

Harrington and his wife kept their positions at the almshouse until his death in 1892. There were at least eleven children in their family, a number of whom died in infancy. Sons who survived to maturity included Timothy Harrington, a band leader and music teacher in Chatham, and John J. Harrington, a Bathurst lawyer. Three of their daughters entered religious life, including Joanna Harrington (Sister Mary Benedicta) of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax. A teacher by profession, she was elected to a three-year term as superior of her congregation and thereby qualified for an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.


[m] official records [d] Advocate 2 Mar 1892 / DCB (re. Joanna Harrington); tombstone; World 26 Dec 1885