[ Market in London, Ontario in the Late 1880s, Unknown, University of Western Ontario Archives RC30056 ]

Crucial to any historical analysis is a thorough understanding of what we call the context, or the social, cultural, economic and political environments, of an event like the Donnelly murders. A complete grasp of how the Donnellys lived and died would be impossible without an understanding of the circumstances of their lives. Answers to the Donnelly mystery can, in part, be found in the nature of their experience as immigrants. They came from a community in Ireland beset with strife to a community that became much like what they had left behind. This family of farmers settled in the rural township of Biddulph near Lucan, Ontario, 25 km north from present day London.