Named after Sir Thomas Sydney Beckwith, quartermaster general during the period of the Perth Military Settlement, Beckwith Township was originally settled by emigrants from Scotland and Ireland who took advantage of the British government’s generous land grants for both civilians and discharged soldiers following the War of 1812.
McGregor Farm, Concession 10, Part Lot 15
The McGregors were among the earliest settlers to Beckwith Township, arriving from Comrie, Perthshire, and receiving land on the 10th Concession in 1818. John (1795–1859) was allotted SW Lot 15, Peter (1788–1862) NE Lot 15, and Robert NE lot 14. Peter was a magistrate of Beckwith by 1846, and both he and John are buried in St. Fillan’s Cemetery.
Kidd Farm, Concession 6, East Half Lot 21
The Kidd Family were also among Beckwith’s original settlers, with Andrew Kidd and his son John (1898–1851) arriving from the village of Coon, parish of Leighlinbridge, County Kilkenny, via Wexford, Ireland, in 1818. They were attracted to the possibilities offered by the area known as The Derry through which the Jock River flows, while the rest of the family settled in nearby Montague Township.
Derry means a grove of trees, and it is believed that the area got its name due the presence of a large stand of hardwood trees.
John’s wife died en route, forcing John to leave their infant son in Quebec until he had become established. He subsequently married Margaret Garland, whose family were neighbours of the Kidds in Ireland and The Derry, and had fourteen more children. They eventually set up homesteading on a clergy reserve lot as squatters and although they did not purchase the land until 1845, they built a stone house on it in 1842. Over the next fifty years, this oldest occupied stone house in The Derry became a huge complex of farm buildings. Although none is separate from the other, there are no doors going from one barn to the other; all doors open into a sheltered barnyard. This manner of farm layout was common in Beckwith in the early years, but had become rare after 1850.
After John’s death, the homestead eventually passed to his son Joseph (1847–1927). One of Joseph’s sons, Edward (1882–1947), became a distinguished surgeon during World War I, serving in Egypt where he was awarded the Military Cross, and head of the anatomy department at Queen’s University, before settling in Vancouver as an orthopaedic sur