Sparks Family Search

Histories, pedigree charts, maps and more...


Family stories are interwoven dramas with many threads of triumph and tragedy. How do we convey the energy and uniqueness of these narratives to future generations? The intent of this site is to preserve and share our Sparks' family story for posterity.

Our branch of the Sparks family descends from the British Isles - primarily from England with later generations migrating to Ireland. Sparks descendants began to arrive in Upper Canada from Ireland in the early 19th-century with others following years later. Turbulent times in the old country and new life opportunities waiting in Canada were the push and pull to our forebearers.

This site assembles a collection of searchable genealogical records for the antecedents, descendants, siblings and cousins of Nicholas Sparks of Bytown. An extensive genealogical collection for Nicholas, his younger brother George Sparks of Bells Corners and his second cousin George Sparks of Gloucester is credited to the research work of family historians.

The collection will continue to evolve with the help of family and friends. There will always be some undiscovered family member, fact or story. Your contributions of local historical interest related to the Sparks family are welcome, such as old vintage photographs, published and online sources, etc., will be credited. Simply click the "Contact Us" at the bottom of this page, submit your comments, and we can exchange emails to arrange for submissions. All submissions will be answered.

Enjoy searching for your Sparks relatives and ancestors.

K. Wayne Lester
Sparks Family Researcher and Site Author

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Our Roots

main imageThe Sparks family heritage is rooted in the history of England and Ireland. A published source asserts that the Sparks name comes from the Old English term "sparrowhawk". Another source says the Sparks surname is derived from old Norse "sparkr or spraek" and adopted into Olde English in the Middle Ages. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Olde English versions gradually morphed into Spark and its West Country patronymic forms Sparke, Sparkes and Sparks.

Sparks lineage is traced back to Tudor England with two of the strongest monarchs sitting for 118 years on the English throne: Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. John Sparke, born about 1500 and living in Devon County, England, is the earliest known Sparks ancestor. John would have lived a more peaceful and richer life during England's transformation from Medieval to Tudor times, but still a tough life nonetheless.

Nicholas Sparke, a fifth-generation descendant of John Sparke, also a native of Devon County, is the legendary “founder of the Irish branch”, as told in Herbert Todd’s 1913 narrative of prominent pioneering Canadians. Nicholas and his family continued to prosper in his ancestors footsteps during the stormy reign of Charles I.

Joining the eighteenth-century British colonization of Ireland, the Sparke family of Devon County emigrated to County Wexford, Ireland. Nicholas Sparke's grandson Samuel Spark chose to move with his family from Devon County to County Wexford, Ireland, most likely to take possession of leased-land awarded to his grandfather Nicholas for his military service. The political and religious upheaval during the era of the Irish Protestant Ascendancy brought times of anxiety and fear to the lives of Samuel's family with heavy losses during the 1798 rebellion.

A fourth-generation grandson of Samuel Sparke, Nicholas Sparks of Bytown, Upper Canada, and for whom Ottawa's Sparks Street was named, journeyed from England in 1816 to work for Philemon Wright, settling years later as a prominent landholder and timberer in early Bytown, Carleton County, Upper Canada.

On the Lighter Side

Lighter Side


Click More to view updated LOOKING BACK charts, and other publications.



Glimpses into the Past

Our Ancestors lived the Life and Passion of their Times
Downtown Ottawa ca.1909
Sparks Street

Sparks Street

The home of many Ottawa department stores during the first half of the 20th century, including Murphy-Gamble, C. Ross and Bryson-Graham.

Until 1950, local department stores discouraged the entry of most national chains.

George Henry Sparks c.1930
Osgoode Farmer

Osgoode Farmer

George Henry Sparks and his wife Charlotte Morris

George Henry, a great-nephew of Nicholas (of Bytown) Sparks, lived in Osgoode, Ontario in 1888 moving to Hazeldean, Ontario in 1912.

Bytown, Upper Canada ca.1832
Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal

1841 depiction of the entrance to Rideau canal

Costing £822,804 which is $1B in todays' money, the Rideau Canal was completed in May 1832.

John Burrows Honey (1789 - 1848)
Soldier, Engineer and Artist

Soldier, Engineer and Artist

Living in a log cabin on Lot C Concession C Bytown before selling his property to Nicholas Sparks in 1821 for £95.

Adopted mother's name in 1826. Surveyed Rideau Canal dam and lock placement in 1827.

Charles I (1630 - 1685) King of England bottom image

Nicholas Sparke (1606 - 1674) lived under the reign of Charles I and had to endure over-taxation, controversial religious policies and warfare with Spain, Scotland and internal civil strife. Charles I's authoritarian rule and quarrels with Parliament provoked a civil war that finally led to a charge of treason and his execution. Was Charles I a Tyrant or Victim of Bad Timing? Click MORE to read about the crafty ways of Charles I.


Thoughts from Curious Minds

Enjoy some Inspirational Quotes

  • I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.
    ~ M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter
  • I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
    ~ Maya Angelou
  • I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance - waiting for the bathroom.
    ~ Bob Hope
  • We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestor's wisdom.
    ~ Maya Angelou
  • The names of families are the front doors of history.
    ~ Edward Ball
Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763 - 1798) Founder of United Irishmen bottom image

The 1798 Irish Rebellion brought losses and struggle to Samuel Sparks' family life in County Wexford. Wolfe Tone was a leading Irish revolutionary figure and one of the founding members of the United Irishmen, a republican society that revolted against British rule in Ireland. Wolfe Tone lead the United Irishmen going into 1798 Irish Rebellion. Click MORE for details about Wolfe Tone.


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