Happy Shreeve (1811-unknown)
By Paul Ricketts
Happy Shreeve was born Happy Harvey, in 1813 in Norfolk, UK, to James and Elizabeth Harvey. She married John Shreeve in 1831, living in the town of Rollesby, Norfolk. Sometime between 1845 and 1847, when in her mid-30s, she immigrated with her family to Canada. The last record we have of Happy is in the 1951 Census of Canada, living in Dunn Township with her family, after which she disappears from view.
Happy Shreeve’s Birth
Happy Shreeve was baptized on 24th October 1813, in Ormesby St Margret, England. We can, therefore, assume that she was born shortly before that date. Her parents were James and Elizabeth Harvey who were living in Ormesby St Micheal, Norfolk. In the baptism record, James Harvey is noted as a ‘Husbandman’ which was a term used at the time to describe a tenant farmer.
In later records, we find out that Happy’s real name is Hepzibah. In The Sun Rides High, the narrator, Orrin Burright says that Happy also went by the name Happoch. While this is likely to be true, I have yet to find an official record that confirms this.
It’s worth noting that many researchers, including David Burright, have confused Happy with another Harvey in Norfolk around this time – Hephzibath Harvey – who was born in St Clements, Ipswich in 1811. Digging deeper into the UK census’ records we can separate Hephzibath from our Happy Harvey.
Hephzibah can be found in all the UK census between 1841 and 1890, living in and around Ipswich for the whole of her life, first with her family and then as a spinster until her death in 1892. In contrast, the census records show Happy living with her family in Rollesby in 1841, and in Canada in 1851.
Happy Harvey Marries John Shreeve
Happy married John Shreeve, in Rollesby on the 1st February 1831, where the Shreeve family has deep roots and just a few miles from Ormesby St. Michael. I found that some indexes have a different date for the Shreeve’s marriage – 23 January 1831 – but the later date is supported by an actual, signed Parish record. It’s possible that the January records are really a record of the reading of bans.
Birth of Happy and John’s First Children
The Shreeve’s first seven children were born in Norfolk, John (1831), James (1832), William (1833), Sarah (1838), Charles (1841), Henry, and Saul.
Immigration to Canada
Sometime between 1845 and 1847, the Shreeves make the journey to Canada. In The Sun Rides High, Orrin narrates that the family traveled through Quebec and Montreal. We know that by the time of the 1851 Census of Canada, they had made it as far as Dunn Township, not too far from the US border. During these years, the Shreeve’s two other children were born. Nelson (1848) and Emilia.
Happy Shreeve Disappears
So far, we have no record of Happy Shreeve after the 1851 Census. We find her husband John Shreeve living with his son Charles, a lady named Jenette and a boy called Benjamin in 1860, in Scott Township, Illinois, in the US Census. It’s true that many immigrants to Canada in the 1800s became disillusioned and returned to England, but by 1851 Happy had been in Canada for several years with her family, who after she disappears, moved on to the US. Happy may have returned to England, but it seems more likely that she died in Canada, sometime before 1860.
John Shreeve and his family migrated from England to Canada between 1845 and 1847. The family included a young Sarah Shreeve, who was later to marry Joseph Warren Burright. According to The Sun Rides High, John made the crossing from England several times, but there...