M.C. Moran

Batch baptisms: Loughgilly, Co. Armagh

The NLI’s Catholic Parish Registers is pretty much the most amazing Irish genealogy site I have yet to come across. I could spend hours browsing its digitized images (of the microfilm images) of actual parish registers; and I have to admit that I sometimes do.

And if you browse through the parish registers, every once in a while you will come across something a little bit quirky, a little bit unusual. That’s the advantage of images of the actual records: they offer a sense of immediacy that transcriptions and indexes (as useful as they are) simply cannot provide. Here is where the parish priest crossed out a date that he had made in error; and here is where he made a brief comment in the margins; and here is how this one record looks in context, in relation to the records that came before it, and to the records that came after.

While browsing through the registers for the RC parish of Loughgilly (Co. Armagh), in search of McGlades and McNultys, I came across a couple of interesting examples of multiple-but-closely-related baptisms performed on the same day (“batch baptisms,” I guess we might call them).


What are the odds of conceiving and giving birth to quadruplets naturally, without the aid of fertility drugs? Apparently, nowadays it’s about 1 in 700,000; and the odds may have been even slimmer in 1831. But apparently Neal Toner and Sally Newell beat those odds, for on 18 April 1831 they presented their four quadruplets for baptism:1

Four Children of Neal Toner and Sally Newell, baptized 18 April 1831

Four Children of Neal Toner and Sally Newell, baptized 18 April 1831

It’s a boy! and a girl! and another boy! and yet another boy! The children’s names were recorded as Neal, Cat (for Catherine), Pat (for Patrick), and Francis. And lest there be any doubt about the relationship between these four siblings, someone (perhaps this was done later? the handwriting looks different) made the notation of “Quadruplets” in the margins. Poor Sally (Newell) Toner! what an unexpected handful she found on her hands. Let’s hope all four of her children made it to adulthood (I very much doubt this was the case, however).

Adult Baptisms

Was it something in the water?

In RC parish registers, an adult baptism generally signifies a conversion to Roman Catholicism, even when it is not explicitly flagged as a record of “abjuration of heresy” and etc. And it’s certainly not unusual to find the odd Protestant converting to Catholicism in the RC parish registers, most often because he or she was madly in love with a Catholic, and the star-crossed, of-mixed-religion, lovers were determined to marry, no matter what their families had to say about it. But five adult baptisms, of five people bearing the same surname, and all on the same day?! On 29 May 1835, five Edgars adults were baptised as Catholics:2

Adult baptisms of five people with the surname Edgars

Adult baptisms of five people with the surname Edgars, 29 May 1835

So here we have Elizabeth, Thomas, John, Henry, and Edward Edgars all baptized on the same day, and “all adults,” as the priest’s notation makes clear. This is highly unusual, and there must a story behind it.

Note that while the baptismal sponsors for the first four Edgars all had typically Catholic names, the sponsor for Edward, the fifth Edgars to be baptized, was none other than Elizabeth Edgars, the first of the Edgars to be baptized. Having been baptized a Catholic about ten minutes earlier, she was now in a position to serve as a sponsor for a Catholic baptism, apparently. There really must be an interesting story behind this.

  1. Page 22, Microfilm 05587/03, Loughgilly, Armagh ­ Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI.
  2.  Page 35, Microfilm 05587 / 03, Loughgilly, Armagh ­ Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI.

The second home of the Scots

Because Canada really is the second home of the Scots, every Canadian province has its own official tartan, of course.

When I was not yet two years old, my father went to Halifax (Canada), and brought me home a kilt in the Nova Scotia plaid, with matching socks:


I still have that Teddy bear, by the way.

Obituary for Thomas and Alexander Moran

While it may seem a glaringly obvious point, it’s a point worth keeping in mind when you discover an ancestor’s obituary.

That obituary or death notice1 that you discovered for your ancestor didn’t just write itself. Somebody had to write it; and was that somebody a staff writer for the newspaper, or a family member who paid for the announcement? And even if written by a staff writer, somebody (probably not a staff writer, unless your ancestor was famous or infamous, or at least, in the case of more local or regional papers, unless your ancestor was a highly prominent citizen of the locality) had to supply the relevant details.The thing didn’t just write itself, in other words: it had to be written by someone, based on information supplied by somebody.

A Double Obituary

Irish World, 13 February 1892, p. 5. Death and burial of Thomas and Alexander Moran.

Irish World, 13 February 1892, p. 5 (www.genealogybank.com). Death and burial of Thomas and Alexander Moran.

From the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator, 13 February 1892, here is an obituary (see image, right) for the Messrs. Thomas and Alexander Moran: a double obituary notice with details of a “double bereavement.”

And I certainly wasn’t expecting to find an obituary notice for my 2x-great-grandfather Alexander Michael Moran — of Huntley Township, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada — in an Irish-American newspaper that was published in New York City. Nor was I expecting to find one for his eldest brother Thomas. But that’s the wonderful thing about online, digital newspaper repositories such as GenealogyBank and Newspapers.com: they can help you turn up little gems that you never would have discovered otherwise.

Two brothers, Thomas Moran and Alexander Michael Moran, both of Huntley Township, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada died five days apart in late January 1892, of la grippe (influenza) with pneumonia. Thomas, a lifelong bachelor farmer known as “Uncle Tom” to “a legion of nephews and nieces,”  was the eldest son of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. His younger brother Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael was the husband of Mary Ann Leavy,2 with whom he raised a family of twelve children, one of whom, Margaret Jane, died young; six of whom married and remained in the Ottawa area; and five of whom emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

Though you won’t find any specific details of parental or spousal relations in this obituary notice from the Irish World: no, not even the names of the brothers’ parents, never mind the name of Alexander Moran’s wife, nor of his eleven surviving children. No mention, either, of Thomas and Alexander’s four surviving sisters, all of whom were alive and well and living in, or next-door-to, Carleton County at the time.3

Instead, the obituary focuses on the brothers’ standing in “the farming community of Carleton County”; on the respect paid to the men at their funerals, when the church was “appropriately draped in mourning;” and, in the case of the elder brother, on Thomas Moran’s status as an “exemplary Catholic.”

Who Wrote this Obituary?

So: who wrote this obituary?

Well, of course I do not, and cannot, know who authored this obituary. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d place my money on the Rev. Patrick Corkery, who is mentioned in the obituary as the “Father Corkery” who “performed the burial ceremony” for Thomas Moran.4

And here are the three reasons why I would guess Father Corkery (but I emphasize that this is only a guess, and perhaps a wrong one):


  1.  There’s no bright line, no hard and fast rule for distinguishing, between a death (or mortuary) notice and an obituary. In general, a death notice was very brief, perhaps only one or two lines of vital information, whereas an obituary offered at least a bit (or perhaps more than a bit) of narrative: a life story, or a biographical sketch, with some key names, dates, and details.
  2.  Daughter of John Leavy and Jane Byrne, originally of Co. Longford, Ireland.
  3.  Elizabeth Moran, wife of Peter Doyle, was in Montague township, Lanark County, Ontario; the other three sisters — Marcella Moran, wife of John Hogan; Margaret Moran, wife of Arsène Charlebois; and Henrietta Moran, a lifelong spinster — were in Carleton County. It was after the death of her brothers that Henrietta, moved to Ottawa.
  4. Thomas Moran’s funeral and burial took place on 23 January 1892, with the Rev. P. Corkery officiating. Five days later, on 28 January 1892, the Rev. P. Corkery performed the funeral rites for Alexander Michael Moran.

William McKelvey, Killyleagh, Co. Down, Northern Ireland to Canada

A reader is looking for information about his great-uncle William McKelvey (Mckelvy/McKelvie/Mckelvie), who emigrated to Canada in 1924.

William McKelvey, son of James McKelvey and Sarah Adams, was born in Killyleagh, County Down, Northern Ireland about 1894. On 28 January 1915, he enlisted with the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, and served throughout the First World War. In religion he was a Presbyterian; and his last known occupation was that of Farm Labourer.

mckelvey william canada arrival mar1924

Arrival of William McKelvey, 14 March 1924

On 14 March 1924, William McKelvey landed at Halifax, Nova Scotia, having sailed as a third class passenger on the S.S. Regina.1 His passage was paid by the Ontario Government; and he presumably came to Canada under a settlement scheme of the Empire Settlement Act of 1922. In the declaration that he made upon arrival in Canada, he gave his destination as “Ontario Government Party of A. Macdonnell 172 Front St. West Toronto.” 172 Front Street West, Toronto was the address for an employment bureau run by the Ontario Department of Immigration and Colonization. But whether William McKelvey ultimately settled at or near Toronto is not known.

For a number of years after his emigration to Canada, William McKelvey would send Christmas and birthday cards to his sister (the grandmother of the reader who is searching for his missing great-uncle). And then one year (possibly in the 1950s?), the cards stopped; and the family never heard from William McKelvey again.

A younger brother Alexander McKelvey, born about 1903, also left home and lost contact with his family.

Any information of William McKelvey and/or of Alexander McKelvey, originally of Killyleagh, County Down, would be much appreciated.



  1. Library and Archives Canada; Form 30A Ocean Arrivals (Individual Manifests), 1919-1924; Rolls: T-14939 – T-15248; database online: Ancestry.com. Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

James Michael McGlade: Inventory of Personal Effects

James Michael McGlade was born at Perth (Lanark Co., Ontario) on 17 September 1905, the son of Patrick McGlade and Elizabeth Cahill. When he enlisted with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry on 20 July 1940, he gave his occupation as “Diamond Driller.”

My mother was too young to remember this, but a couple of her older siblings have told me about their father’s cousin coming around to say good-bye, in case he never came home.

He never came home.

James Michael McGlade was killed in action in Belgium on 3 October 1944. He is buried at Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerpen, Belgium.

From his WWII service file, here is what he left behind: an inventory of his personal effects.1



RIP James Michael McGlade.

  1. James Michael McGlade, Service Number B41289. Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada; Service Files of the Second World War – War Dead, 1939-1947; Series: RG 24; Volume: 26463Ancestry.com. Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2015.

The Children of John Vallely and Anna Lillian Moran

John J. Vallely (1861-1935), son of Michael Vallely and Mary Ryan, was born 21 January 1861, in Lanark Co., Ontario, Canada. He emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota about 1882.

Anna Lillian (“Lila”) Moran (1861-1915), daughter of Alexander (“Sandy”) Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy, was born 17 May 1861, at Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada. She emigrated to Grand Forks, North Dakota about 1888 (and here she joined several Moran siblings who already emigrated to Grand Forks).

On 28 November 1889, at Grand Forks, North Dakota, John Vallely married Lila Moran.

The couple had four known children:

  • Mary Lillilan Vallely (1896-1982)
  • Margaret Irene Vallely (1898-1970)
  • Alonzo Joseph (“Jack”) Vallely (1900-1983)
  • Michael Alexander Vallely (1903-1947)

And here, with permission from the owner of the photograph, are the four Vallely-Moran children. This photograph is not a casual snapshot: it is a highly stylized studio portrait. It was probably taken about 1905:

Children of John J. Vallely and Anna Lillian ("Lila") Moran

Children of John J. Vallely and Anna Lillian (“Lila”) Moran

Samuel Morrison: from Northern Ireland to Ottawa, Canada

A reader is looking for more information about his grandfather, Samuel Morrison.

Samuel Morrison was born about 1882 in Northern Ireland, presumably Co. Down, the son of Samuel Morrison and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). In the 1901 and 1911 Irish census returns, he can be found at Shore Street, Killyleagh, Co. Down, with his parents and siblings. His occupation is listed as “Draper’s assistant,” and his religion as Presbyterian.

On 26 December 1913, Samuel Morrison married Annie Boyd at Belfast. The couple must have had at least one child before Samuel Morrison emigrated (alone?) to Canada. In June 1926, Samuel Morrison sailed from Belfast to Montreal on the Aurania, arriving at Montreal on 27 June 1926. He gave his occupation as Draper, and the name of his nearest relation as his wife, Mrs. Morrison, Shore Street, Killyleagh, Co. Down.

On 13 November 1948, Samuel Morrison died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the Royal Ottawa Sanatorium. He was buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa.

Any information on Samuel Morrison and his family would be greatly appreciated.

17 Years of Cheers, and No Green Beers

Paddy's Day brew pub sign

Paddy’s Day brew pub sign

Meant to post this on the 6 September (my Dad’s birthday), but got busy and distracted….

My dad spent the last few months of his life at an assisted living facility above a brew pub.

Yes, only Johnny Moran would agree to not go gentle into that good night above a damn brew pub. It was a pretty good pub, though: tasty chips, and the beer not half bad.

My father died on 14 March 2013.

On 17 March 2013, on a day when we were waking our Dad, a cousin and a sister of mine “borrowed” (some might say “stole,” but why quibble?) this sign, which I now have in my possession.

Here’s to you, Da; and, as always, no green beers.