The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Lieutenant-Colonel John By, son of George By and Mary By [Bryan]
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Narrows Lock and Blockhouse
Rideau Canal

Lieutenant-Colonel John By was born in 1779 and baptised at St Mary Lambeth on 10 August 1779, the second son of George By and his wife Mary, née Bryan. They lived in Archbishop's Walk, Lambeth, and all held positions at the Customs House where his father was chief searcher. After passing through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, John By was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 1 August 1799 and transferred to the Royal Engineers on 20 December. He was commissioned as a lieutenant on 18 April 1801 and in the same year married Elizabeth Johnson Baines, daughter of Cuthbert Baines of Penzance. In August 1802 John By went to Canada, where he was involved in repairs to the Cascades bateaux canal on the St Lawrence and superintended the construction of four Martello towers for the defence of Quebec. In 1811 he was in Portugal and took part in the first seige of Badajos and in January 1812 he took charge of rebuilding the gunpowder works at Waltham Abbeyand he also became engineer-in-charge of the works at Enfield, Faversham and Purfleet.

John's first wife Elizabeth died in 1814 of cholera and on 14 March 1818 he married Esther, daughter of John March of Harley Street and granddaughter of John Raymond Barker of Fairford Park, Gloucestershire. He remained in charge of the gunpowder works until August 1821 when he was retired on half pay. In January of the previous year John By had purchased Shernfold Park in Frant from James Cranbourne Strode; the house had been built in 1790 by Charles Pigou, a gunpowder manufacturer.

In April 1826 John By went again to Canada, having been selected to design and construct a military canal between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario, safe from attack by the Americans. The town which grew up around his headquarters, originally named Bytown, was renamed Ottawa after the union of Upper and Lower Canada. The story of this prodigious feat of engineering, of the parliamentary censure of John By, his recall in October 1832 and the subsequent committee of enquiry are told in "Building the Rideau Canal: A Pictorial History" (Robert W Passfield, Parks Canada, 1982) and is depicted on History of the Rideau

In the remaing few years prior to his death on 1st February 1836, John By extended the Shernfold Estate by purchasing numerous adjacent properties. He is buried at St Albans Church in Frant.

In 1924 the Rideau Canal was designated a Canadian historical site and in June 2007 the Rideau Canal was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. The Rideau Canal World Heritage Site includes the Rideau Canal, Fort Henry and the Kingston Fortifications. The Canal extends 202 kilometres from Ottawa in the north to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario in the south.

See also

c 7th August 1779
In the Parish of Lambeth, London
ODNB web site
10th August 1779
At St Mary in the Parish of Lambeth, London
29th November 1801
Elizabeth Johnson Baines at Madron in the County of Cornwall
IGI - Family Search
14th March 1818
Esther March at Cheshunt in the County of Hertfordshire
IGI - Family Search
18th February 1819
Birth of a daughter
Esther March at Great Cumberland Place, in London
IGI - Family Search
14th March 1821
Birth of a daughter
Harriet Martha in the Parish of Frant, Sussex
IGI - Family Search
Batch K14846-1
1st February 1836
At Shernfold in the Parish of Frant, Sussex
After 1st February 1836
At St. Alban's Church in the Parish of Frant, Sussex

Ancestor's report
Descendent's report
By, Bye individual records
The ancestral pedigree of Lieutenant-Colonel John By
 George Bym: 17th Apr 1771 St Marys, Lambeth, LondonMary Bryan 
 b: c 1750  b: c 1750 
 George Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry
 b: c 1775
d: 1840
 b: c 7th Aug 1779 Lambeth, London
ch: 10th Aug 1779 St Mary
d: 1st Feb 1836 Shernfold, Frant, Sussex
bur: After 1st Feb 1836 St. Alban's Church, Frant, Sussex
 b: c 1780
d: 1852 Selsfield Lodge, West Hoathly, Sussex
1st marriageLieutenant-Colonel John Bym: 29th Nov 1801 Madron, CornwallElizabeth Baines 
 b: c 7th Aug 1779 Lambeth, London
ch: 10th Aug 1779 St Mary
d: 1st Feb 1836 Shernfold, Frant, Sussex
bur: After 1st Feb 1836 St. Alban's Church, Frant, Sussex
  b: 1780 Cornwall
ch: 5th Oct 1780 Penzance
d: 16th Dec 1814 Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
2nd marriageLieutenant-Colonel John Bym: 14th Mar 1818 Cheshunt, HertfordshireEsther March 
 b: c 7th Aug 1779 Lambeth, London
ch: 10th Aug 1779 St Mary
d: 1st Feb 1836 Shernfold, Frant, Sussex
bur: After 1st Feb 1836 St. Alban's Church, Frant, Sussex
  b: c 1780 
 Esther March Harriet Martha
 b: 18th Feb 1819 Great Cumberland Place, London
ch: 31st Mar 1819 St Mary, Marylebone, London
d: 7th Feb 1848
 b: 14th Mar 1821 Frant, Sussex
ch: 7th Apr 1821 St. Alban's Church
d: Oct 1842 Frant, Sussex
bur: 13th Oct 1842 St. Alban's Church, Frant, Sussex

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