Family tree

Margaret McKenzie

Connection to the Binneys: servant to the family of Stephen Binney

Dates: 1806-1893

Married: A widow in 1881

Children: assumed none

Other facts: Apart from the 1881 Canadian census which gives her name, status as widow and age, all we know about Maragret McKenzie is from family papers. Of course, she is not part of the Binney family, but the snippets from letters show something of the relationship between the family and their elderly servant.

Stephen Binney's letter mentions Lucy Binney and Margaret in the same breath, even if he describes them both as useless. It was rather a complaining letter! It does show that Margaret was considered part of the family.

Lucy Binney's letter describes Margaret nagging Lucy to get the house 'done' (cleaned?) She also described Margaret having a bilious attack, and surviving Irwin Binney's attempt at curing her!

Stephen Binney's will has a bequest to Margaret of "twenty five dollars in remembrance of her long and faithful services in my family". This is the same amount that he leaves to his children! This was because he was leaving all his estate to his wife, but it does show that there was no attempt to differentiate between Margaret and his children.

The first letter of Emily Binney tells of Margaret's joy at receiving a cap sent by Emily Dibblee. Emily had sent presents to all the family, and Margaret was obviously included in this. I wonder if she was the nurse of the children when young. The letter also later refers to "old Margaret and I", which makes Margaret sound like a companion. Margaret and Emily Binney were nearly the same age; Margaret was two years older. Still, Margaret talks of Mrs. Binney while Emily Binney talks of Margaret.

The second letter of Emily Binney (1888) says that Margaret "was down last week and I think it will be the last visit this Winter." This suggests that Margaret is no longer living with them. Margaret must be 82 years old by this point (judging from the 1881 census).

Emily Binney's will doesn't mention Margaret, but Irwin Binney's letters written just after Emily Binney's death mentions "The original amount dear Mother recd. was not $4000 after paying old Margaret." That sounds as if Margaret was pensioned off.

Her obituary: 26 October, 1893 Chignecto Post, Sackville NB. d. At the residence of Mrs. Torrie, Moncton, Margaret McKenzie, 89th year, for 42 years the faithful domestic in the family of late S. Binney. In the obituary column in this morning's issue is recorded the death of Mrs. Margaret McKENZIE, age 88, a resident of this city for the past 19 years. A native of Nova Scotia who entered the service of the late S. BINNEY, Esq., as nurse at Halifax in 1840, removing to Moncton with Mr. Binney's family in 1844 as a faithful domestic, only leaving when infirmities set in to reside with her daughter, Mrs. W.S. TORRIE where she died. Funeral today from St. George's Church, the remains to be interred in I.W. Binney's lot in Rural Cemetery.