Patrick Doran was born in Waterford, Ireland in 1757 and emigrated to Nova Scotia where he conducted an active business with New England. In 1785 he married the widow Desiah (or Desire) Cahoon Mack. Desiah was the daughter of Massachusetts-born William Cahoon, and the family had settled in Port Medway, near Bridgewater, as one of the original proprietors of Liverpool Township. Desiah's first husband, Connecticut-born Samuel Mack was an operator of two sawmills in Nova Scotia. Upon her first husband's death, Desiah bought 200 acres of land and received the rights to two sawmills from her father. Her second marriage to Patrick Doran in 1785 brought the mills under his control.
Under Patrick Doran, the mill business flourished with lumber shipments to New England and the West Indies. He was a prominent member of the community, serving as a Captain in the militia and long-time Magistrate of Mill Village. The family resided in Mill Village, in the house illustrated below, which still stands.
Upon Patrick's death, his personal possessions were divided between his three surviving children, and his will stipulated that his lands could not be sold for a period of 99 years. In turn, these descended to his grandson, Edward Davison I, who was raised by his spinster aunt, Catherine Doran, after the early death of his parents. At the age of majority Davison inherited 580 acres, a sawmill, fishing rights and the residence at Mill Village. An astute businessman, he increased the family's holdings to 200,000 acres by the 1880s, running five mills, of which three had an output of 250,000 feet daily. The family became known as the "Lumber Kings of Nova Scotia."
With such strong familial and commercial ties to New England, Patrick Doran would easily have acquired the suite of silver salt cellars and pepper casters in Boston. Engraved with his monogram, the suite has been passed carefully to successive generations of the Doran-Davison family to the present owner.
(See: The Canadian Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self Made Men, 1881; The Dictionary of Canadian Biography; The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, South Shore: Seasoned Timbers, Volume 2: Some Historic Buildings from Nova Scotia's South Shore, 1974; Will Books of Queen's County, Nova Scotia; T. B. Smith Collection of Queen's County Families). Special thanks to Queen's County Museum and the DesBrisay Museum, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, for their assistance.