James Retson Geneology Website

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My Introduction to Geneology

When I was but a lad of 10, a warm summer sunday afternoon I set out on my bike to make a loop from my Home in Salmon River, to Truro, over to Bible Hill, on to out to East Court Road thence on to Murray Siding and back to Home. The trip would take me over 8 miles. In no time flat I had arrived at my great Uncle John's farm on the East Court Road in Bible Hill and spied the old gentleman at the edge of his garden. I got off the bike and ventured over his front yard to say Hello. He was delighted to see me and encouraged me to stay a while while his wife brought me out some refreshment for my long return trip home. He called his wife who immediately returned to the farm house to find some cake.

While wating for his wife to return I started to engage in discussions with respect to our common relatives, his brother -my Grandfather, WR Retson and his wife. I was vaguely aware of some ill will between the families but had no inkling of its exact nature.

"Your grandfather and I came from Scottish stock while both our wives came from old "English stock". Both men came from a long line of dairy men and often coloured their language with that of farmers. Then, he checked himself and indicated that a way back we also had come from England. He went on to indicate that one of our ancestors, a commoner had married a noble woman. They had crossed the border between England and Scotland since her father wouldn’t give the young couple permission to marry. The groom couldn’t write and when his wife wrote out his name she failed to dot the “I” in Ritson and thereafter we became Retson.

I never really got to know my grandmother as she had suffered a stroke while I was very young and was very hard to understand.  I asked him what my grandmother was like before she had the stroke and was enlightened by being informed that she was a puritan who had come from “mixed stock”. I encouraged him on to elaborate, not being entirely sure whether "mixed stock" indicated an English-scottish mix or what.

He indicated that her father was a Baptist evangelist from whom I had received my given names “James Clifford” and as a youngster had been called “the little deacon”. Uncle John informed me that my grandmother had inherited an education on the Bible superior to any Baptist Minister in the Church we attended and for that reason instructed the adult sunday school. All the more strange in that James Clifford had been brought  up in a catholic household and educated with the Bible – a tradition uncommon for Catholics of the day. His father, John Clifford, the catholic, it was rumoured, had killed an itinerant Lebanese salesman. To make matters worse -or so I thought at the time - the grandmother had come from a long line of Hoars (I heard "whores".)

I was quite shocked by such revelations and discussed then with my father when I returned home. My father quickly explained that my uncles was refering to the surname Hoar. He indicated he knew nothing about the family descending from nobility. He explained there had been some ill feeling between the two brothers as Uncle John had taken over my grandfather’s job as Dairy Manager at a local Agriculture college as a result of a change in the local Provincial Government.

Later in life inspired by such stories, I began my genealogy research. I learned that the noble women in my ancestry was a gal whose surname was "Noble". For the rest of my life I have engaged in researching the long line of Hoars, one of the most fascinating lines in my geneology.


Picture by was Paulette Yorke presented to Mavis York in July 1981 on the occasion of her marriage on the property I grew up on in Salmon River owned by the family from 1951 to approximately 1996. Immediately below is a picture that appears on google street view 2010. Below that picture is a picture appearing on Royal LePage



Royal LePage's description: Absolutely Stunning! This heritage estate has been transformed into a tranquil oasis of luxury & comfort. Keeping the home's original character, while adding today's most sought-after styles such as marble floors and granite countertops has been beautifully accomplished. The grounds are truly breathtaking with a panoramic view, pond with fountain, slate walkways, fencing & gorgeous gardens, magnificent mature Maples line the driveway as you enter.

Some of My Most Interesting Ancestors

1 & 2. 8th Great Grandfather John Hoar (relative of Nova Scotia Retson's either through Beatrice Clifford-Agnes Hoar or through Bessie Johnson-John Lutes Hoar and then the common ancestor David Hoar) and his mother, Joanne (Hinkmen )Hoar, mother of our line North America.

3. Great Grandfather Deacon James Clifford - Father of Beatrice Clifford

4. Jeremiah Belcher has the distinction not only of being one of the earliest if not the earliest ancestors of this website 's designers, James C. Retson to touch foot on the North American continent in 1634 but also as being simultaneously his 9th and 10 great grandfather as one of Jeremiah's daughters, Abigail direct descendent Grace Retson married the direct descendent of her sister Dorcus, Cliff Retson.

5. Great Grandfather John Clifford - Grandfather of Beatrice Clifford alleged murderer of a travelling salesman.

6 & 7. George Retson b. 06 Apr 1848 and his son, WR Retson last of our ancestoral line to immigrate to Canada in 1903.

8. Grace Retson, First Female Justice of the Peace in Nova Scotia

9. Samuel Archibald (1719-1774) first ancestor to be die and be buried in Nova Scotia and Canada

10. David Nelson one of only 4 individuals to swear an Oarth of Allegiance to George III in 1977.l

The Retson Surname

There are many derivation of the family name Retson.  By far the most common root is for descendants from Western Europe who can trace their name ultimately to son of Richard: through Ritson, Richson Richardson or variations.  A second common root is through the Greece "Retsos".

Ancestors of Cliff and Grace Retson

Siblings of James C. Retson