The Irish Family History Centre team of experts led by Fiona Fitzsimons traced the family of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back ten generations to 17th century Ireland. Through his mother, Margaret Sinclair, he is a direct descendant of the Bernard family from county Cork. In 1661 Francis Bernard married Mary Freake and had a large family consisting of 6 daughters and 2 sons. Francis died in 1689 defending Castlemahon against a Jacobite attack in the Williamite Wars. Prime Minister Trudeau is descended from their younger son, Arthur Bernard, who was High Sheriff of Cork in 1697 and M.P. for Bandon from 1713-14. In 1695 Arthur Bernard married Anne Power, of Mount Eglantine county Waterford. The Powers and their relatives the Boyles were very involved in the intellectual milieu of late 17th and early 18th Century Ireland. Arthur and Anne also had a large family, ten daughters and four sons, including Trudeau’s great (x6) grandfather Francis Bernard (their third son). Francis got his degree from Trinity College in 1729, but as a younger son had to carve out a career as he would never inherit land. He relocated to England. His grandson’s generation relocated to Singapore and Malaysia, which was then part of the colonial Indian ‘station.’ They remained there for a century, until 1906 when the Bernards emigrated to Canada.
The Irish Family History Centre team discovered many new documents, insights and stories about the Bernard family. These include Francis’s enrolment in the Trinity College student registers. It turns out he was in no hurry to graduate taking 7 years to complete his BA! The team also uncovered a wealth of evidence for the family’s journey from Ireland through Britain, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and eventually Canada. Charles Bernard worked as Comptroller of Taxes in London in the late 1700s. Their son, Francis, relocated to India and went on to found the Singapore Police force in 1819. His descendants settled in Malaysia, and then Indonesia, emigrating to Canada in 1906.
The global path of the Irish is rarely better documented.