Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Elmsley Family

On the northern wall of the crypt in the basement of St. Michael's Cathedral is a vault dedicated to the Elmsley and King families. The crypt is not open to the public.

Charlotte Elmsley was the wife of Hon. John Elmsley, a prominent  well-connected Anglican. He announced to Bishop MacDonnell in 1833 his unexpected conversion to Catholicism via a heartfelt letter which has been preserved.  Read it in full here along with more on the early history of the Archdiocese.


  1. Sir John Elmsley is only partly buried there. Elmsley was extremely active in the Church and was probably Toronto's greatest Catholic philanthropist. In his last years he lived on land near St Basil's, and I believe the donated the land for St Basil's and for the nearby St Josaph's school for girls, and perhaps St Michael's college as well, which has a hall named Elmsley Hall.

    Sir John attended Mass at St Basil's every day, and was so devoted to the church that in his will he left instructions that after death his heart was to be removed and buried near one of the altars in the church. And that is why, to this day, there is a plaque on the Western wall of the church that reads in part in Latin: Here lies the heart of Sir John Elmsley.

    Thanks for the link.

  2. Btw, the King families had an interesting history as well. There were two brothers, whose names escapes me at the moment, one of whom was a doctor and a Tory, and the other was a newspaper publisher and editor who worked with fr. O'Grady on the Reform cause. Must have made for interesting reunions.

    At any rate, the doctor King was another close friend of +Power after the formation of the diocese. He was one of those attending the bishop's sick bed as he died, and it was he who closed +Power's eyes.