M.C. Moran

Translating French Records: Catholic Marriage Records

Of the three types of Roman Catholic records most commonly used for genealogical purposes (baptismal, marriage, and burial), marriage records are often the most useful, and potentially the most complex.

Most useful because of the sheer amount of genealogical information that can often be gleaned from a Catholic marriage record.

While a baptismal record will supply the names of two family lines (the names of both the father and the mother of the baptized infant), a marriage record will often supply four: the names of both the father and the mother of the groom; and the names of both the father and the mother of the bride. And the mother of the bride or groom is typically listed with her maiden name, not her married name: in a Catholic marriage record, the parents are recorded as, for example, Michael Ryan and Bridget Lahey, not as Michael Ryan and Bridget Ryan, nor as Michael Ryan and Wife, nor as Mr. and Mrs. Michael Ryan. A Catholic marriage record can therefore be an extremely important source of information about maternal origins.

For early Irish to the Ottawa Valley (1st- and 2nd-generation emigrants), moreover, a marriage record will sometimes (not always! and not even very often; but often enough that it is always  worth checking the parish register) give the name of a county, and sometimes even a parish, of origin in Ireland (see, for example, Irish Origins in Canadian Roman Catholic Marriage Records: St. John the Evangelist, Gananoque, Leeds Co., Ontario, Part I and Part 2).1

Most complex because of the requirements that had to be met in order to marry in the Catholic Church.

Had the requisite three bans of marriage been published? Or did the couple have to obtain one or more dispensations from the publication of the banns?2 Were there any impediments (of blood or marriage, for example) which required dispensations? Was a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic? And if so, was this a case of a Catholic marrying a Protestant, which required a dispensation from the impediment of “mixed religion” (mixtae religionis)? Or was this a case of a Catholic marrying a non-Christian, which required a dispensation from the impediment of “disparity of worship” (disparitus cultus)? (Note: I have never come across an instance of “disparity of worship” in the nineteenth-century Ottawa Valley area RC parish registers, but here’s an example from the twentieth century). Were both parties of age? Or did one or both parties marry as a son or daughter minor, which required the consent of his or her parents?

The Formula: in English and in French

That said, and despite the potential complexities of Catholic marriage dispensations, whether the record was in English, French, Latin, or another language, the basic formula remained the same.

In English:

The [day of month of year], [1, 2, or 3] bans having been published [and/or the dispensation of 1, 2, or 3 bans having been granted], between [name of bridegroom], son of age [or: minor son] of [name of bridegroom’s father] and of [name of bridegroom’s mother] of [name of parish] on the one part, and [name of bride], daughter of age [or: minor daughter] of [name of bride’s father] and [name of bride’s mother] of [name of parish], on the other hand, no impediments having been discovered [or: a dispensation for the impediment of ________ having been granted], we the undersigned priest received their mutual consent and gave them the nuptial blessing in the presence of [name of witness] and [name of witness] who signed [or who could not sign].

In French:

Le [day of month of year], vu la publication de [1, 2, or 3] bans de mariage [and/or vu la dispense de 1, 2 or 3 bans de mariage], entre [name of bridegroom], fils majeur [or: fils mineur] de [name of bridegroom’s father] et de [name of bridegroom’s mother] de [name of parish] d’une part, et de [name of bride], fille majeure [or: fille mineure] de [name of bride’s father] et de [name of bride’s mother] de [name of parish], d’autre part, ne s’étant découvert aucun empechement, nous prêtre soussigné avons reçu leur mutuel consentement de mariage, et nous avons donné la bénédiction nuptiale en présence de [name of witness] et de [name of witness], qui ont signer [or: qui n’ont su signer].

An Example

 

Marriage of John Finnerty and Catherine Benton, 27 July 1875

The marriage record for John Finnerty and Catherine Benton 3 reads as follows:

Le vingt sept juillet mil huit cent soixante quinze, vu la dispense de deux bans de mariage accordés par Monsigneur Duhamel, évêque d’Ottawa, vu aussi la publication de troisième ban faite au prône de notre messe paroissial entre John Finnerty, fils majeur de Peter Finnerty et de défunte Ann Havey de cette paroisse, d’une part; et Catherine Benton, fille mineure de Thomas Benton et de Honorah Ryan aussi de cette paroisse, a’autre part, ne s’étant découvert aucun empêchement, nous soussigné curé de cette paroisse, avons reçu leur mutuel consentement de mariage, et nous avons donné la bénédiction nuptiale en présence de Michael Havey, Margt Finnerty et de Thomas Benton père de l’épouse qui aussi que les contractants n’ont pu signer. A. Chaine.

My translation of the above:

The twenty-seventh of July, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five, in view of the dispensation of two marriage bans granted by Monsignor Duhamel, bishop of Ottawa, in view also of the third ban having been published at our parochial mass, between John Finnerty, son of age of Peter Finnerty and of the deceased Ann Havey of this parish, on the one part; and Catherine Benton, minor daughter of Thomas Benton and of Honorah Ryan also of this parish, on the other part, not having discovered any impediment [no impediment having been discovered], we the undersigned priest of this parish have received their mutual consent to marriage, and have given the nuptial blessing in the presence of Michael Havey, Margt Benton, and of Thomas Benton, father of the bride, who, along with the contracting parties could not sign. A. Chaine.

Note that as a minor daughter (fille mineure), Catherine Benton required the consent of her parents in order to marry John Finnerty.

A Few Terms in Translation

French English
de cette paroisse of this parish
fille majeure adult daughter; daughter of age
fille mineure minor daughter
fils majeur adult son; son of age
fils mineur minor son
un empêchement an impediment
aucun empêchement no impediment
la bénédiction nuptiale the nuptial blessing
défunt (masculine) deceased (for a male)
défunte (feminine) deceased (for a female)
  1. But for the Ottawa Valley area, some of the early, pre-1850s records are extremely brief, and often (and much to the frustration of the researcher) lack the names of the parents of the contracting parties.
  2.  Note that the “publication” of the banns did not refer to the issuing of printed literature. It referred to the announcement (making public, so: publication) of the banns at the parochial mass.
  3. St (John) Chrysostom (Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1867-1882, p. 151, image 82 of 153, John Finnerty and Catherine Benton, M.6, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 13 November 2011), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Thomas Dooley (abt. 1810 – 1891)

A reader is looking for information on Thomas Dooley.

Thomas Dooley was born in Ireland about 1810, possibly in Co. Kilkenny. He emigrated to Canada in the early 1830s (the 1842 census of Upper Canada records that he and his first wife had been in Canada for 10 years), where he settled on a farm at Lot 15, Concession 6 in Nepean township, Carleton Co., Ontario.

Thomas Dooley was first married (about 1835? or perhaps a few years earlier?) to Catherine Quinn (born about 1816; died before 1860); and the couple had six known children, all daughters, all born in Canada.

Catherine Quinn died in the late 1850s; and the widowed Thomas Dooley then married (about 1859) Mary Coughlan/Coughlin (born about 1831; died 1885). The couple had four known children, all daughters. Their second daughter Sarah Jane Dooley married James Moran, son of Alexander Michael Moran and Mary Leavy.

Both Catherine Quinn and Mary Coughlan were born in Ireland, of counties unknown. Thomas Dooley and his second wife Mary Coughlan were certainly married in Canada. He and his first wife Catherine Quinn were probably married in Canada, although it’s possible they married in Ireland before emigrating.

The reader is trying to find the names of Thomas Dooley’s parents in Ireland (possibly Co. Kilkenny). Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa: Part 1

If you’re looking for Catholic ancestors in the Bytown/Ottawa area and beyond (see below), you will probably (and by “probably” I mean “almost certainly”) want to check the parish register for Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa.

The register is available online at two different sites:

  1. At FamilySearch.org, as part of their collection titled Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923. To access the parish register for Notre Dame, Ottawa/Notre Dame d’Ottawa: Go to Carleton; then go to Ottawa; then go to Notre Dame d’Ottawa.This database is available online free of charge, which is truly a gift from the LDS to the ancestor-seeking public. But: it has not been indexed, and is therefore not searchable by name. The only way to find records (and therefore people) here is to search the old-fashioned way, albeit in a new-fashioned mode: by browsing, sometimes page by page, through the online images.

  2. At Ancestry.ca, as part of their collection titled Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967. This set of Ontario Roman Catholic records is a subset of their larger (much larger! they claim to have over 25 million English and French Drouin records, and I believe them) Drouin collection, which includes Catholic records from Québec, Ontario, Acadia (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), and even some parts of the United States (from U.S. states which had French Catholic parishes). Note that on Ancestry’s main page for The Drouin Church and Vital Records, the Ontario Catholic records are listed as Ontario French Catholic Church Records. But some of the parishes in this “Ontario French Catholic” collection were predominantly Irish, and many of the records are in English (other parishes, including Notre Dame, Ottawa, were a mix of French and Irish parishioners, and the records are in both French and English). To access the parish register for Notre Dame, Ottawa: Go to Location Letter O; then choose Ottawa; then choose Basilique Notre Dame. This collection is available by subscription only. It has been indexed, and is therefore searchable by name.

notre dame ottawa titlepage

This Register is Huge

This is not the easiest Ontario Roman Catholic parish register to search, and there are at least a couple of reasons for its unwieldiness.

First, this was a very large parish, serving thousands of Irish and French-Canadian Catholics in the Bytown/Ottawa region. Now, I’m not saying that Notre Dame was a megachurch: it was far too Catholic, and far too old-school (but old-school in a new, frontier environment), to meet the definition of a megachurch. But its numbers were a bit megachurchy.1

Moreover, in addition to recording baptisms, marriages, and (much less frequently) burials for Catholics residing in Bytown/Ottawa, the early register of Notre Dame also served as a kind of repository for baptismal, marriage, and (much less frequently) burial records from surrounding missions in neighbouring townships. Did your Catholic ancestors live in March township in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s? Check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Did your Catholic ancestors end up in Pontiac Co., Québec by the 1850s? Check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Have you discovered your Catholic ancestors in Renfrew Co., Ontario in the 1861 census? Again, check the Notre Dame, Ottawa register. Indeed, if your Catholic ancestors can be found anywhere in the Ottawa Valley in the nineteenth century, you should not overlook the Notre Dame, Ottawa register.

Second, the priests at Notre Dame were mostly French Canadian and Irish (though there were also at least a couple of Scottish priests), and the two languages used in the register reflect this typically Ottawa Valley mix. The marriage of your French-Canadian ancestors might have been recorded in English by an Irish (or perhaps a Scottish) priest; the marriage of your Irish ancestors might have been recorded in French by a French-Canadian priest. Not surprisingly, the French priests sometimes had some difficulties with the Irish surnames, while the Irish priests sometimes had some difficulties with the French surnames. For this register especially, and especially for the early records, surname spelling variations which evade the algorithm of the Soundex are extremely common.

For example, in records pertaining to the Killeens of South March, the French-Canadian Oblate Father Damase Dandurand seems to have consistently used the spelling “Killahan” — which makes me wonder if my Killeen ancestors pronounced their name as something closer to Killean or Killian, which Father Dandurand heard as Killahan. Here, for instance, is the record of the marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh, son of Christopher Cavanaugh and Jane Malone, to Bridget Killeen, daughter of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, 2 May 1854.2

Marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killahan [Killeen]

Marriage of Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killahan [Killeen]

Note that Father Dandurand used the spelling Killahan even when two parties — the bride Bridget, and her younger sister Margaret, a witness — signed the register with the surname Killeen. Notice also that the record was written in English. Damase Dandurand, who was surely one of the most interesting and impressive parish priests that Bytown had ever known, 3 was fluently bilingual, and moved easily between French and English. For his French-Canadian parishioners, he wrote the records in French. For his Irish parishioners, he typically used English, though sometimes with some rather quirky phonetic spellings.

So: given its enormous size (there are thousands of pages in this register), and its sometimes quirky surname spelling variations which evade the logic of the Soundex, what’s the best way to search this register?

To be continued…

  1. In his Upper Ottawa Valley to 1855 (McGill-Queens Press, 1990, cxxiii), Richard Reid records that in the 1820s and 1830s, “John Cullen, the pastor for Bytown and Richmond, was responsible for 3,750 Catholics” in Bytown and its surrounding townships. By 1887, l’Annuaire de l’Église catholique au canada (Montréal: B.M. Advertising Inc., 1887) recorded the presence of 9,200 parishioners for the parish of the Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa.
  2.  Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1852-1855, image 122 of 244, M. 39, Patrick Cavanaugh-Bridget Killahan marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 25 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.
  3.  He was not only a priest, but also an architect; and though he contracted typhus at Bytown in the summer of 1847, he survived the disease to live on to the age of 102.

The hazards of early settler life

As I’ve mentioned before, 19th-century Roman Catholic burial records did not generally record a cause of death for the deceased, but there were exceptions to this general rule. In cases where a death was considered unusually tragic, dramatic, or violent, the priest might note the cause of death in the parish register.

Here’s an interesting example of some exceptions to the rule, which speak to the very real hazards of early settler life in Upper Canada (more specifically, in the Bytown [Ottawa] area). These two pages of burials for the years 1831 and 1832 are from the index of baptisms, marriages and burials for the parish register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa.1 (More on this index in an upcoming entry on search tips for this register).

notre dame ottawa burials 1831 1832

Burial listings from 2 July 1831 to 7 July 1832. See footnote 1 for citation.

 

notre dame ottawa burials closeup 1

Burial listings from 2 July 1831 to 1 August 1831. See footnote 1 for citation.

 

notre dame ottawa burials closeup

Burial listings from 3 June 1832 to 7 July 1832. See footnote 1 for citation.

 

On the page which lists burials from 2 July to 27 December 1831, most listings do not have a notation of the cause of death, which was in keeping with standard practice. On the page which lists burials from 2 January to 7 July 1832, on the other hand, 15 of the 24 listings do have a cause-of-death notation, which was a bit unusual.2

The causes of death recorded in these two pages offer a rare glimpse into the living conditions of a frontier environment that was fraught with perils and pitfalls. Death by drowning, for example, was an occupational hazard for lumbermen; and there were also some drowning fatalities experienced by labourers working on the construction of the Rideau Canal. And in performing the settlement duties of clearing and cultivating one’s acreage (a requirement for gaining a grant to Crown land), a man might be killed by the fall of a tree (“killed by a tree” is noted for several men on the above two pages).

And if the water or the woods didn’t kill you, if you were in Bytown in 1832, there was a very real chance that you might be carried off by cholera.

In the spring and summer of 1832, a cholera epidemic swept through Bytown, which “prompted the creation of the first Board of Health for Bytown” and which “also increased existing hostility towards immigrants, who were largely blamed for the outbreak of the disease” (“Cholera Wharf,” Heritage Passages: Bytown and the Rideau Canal [http://www.passageshistoriques-heritagepassages.ca/ang-eng]). In the image above (burial listings from 3 June 1832 to 7 July 1832), there are four cholera deaths recorded, for one adult male and three adult females. And in the three pages that follow (burials from 7 July 1832 to 19 November 1832), there are 37 cholera deaths recorded out of a listing of 58 burials. Men, women, and children alike might succumb to this dreaded disease: when it came to age and sex, cholera was an equal-opportunity scourge (though not when it came to social class: the poor were much likely than the wealthy to be struck by cholera, which was most often transmitted through contaminated drinking water).

“Drowned;” “killed by a tree;” “killed by a gun;” “cholera” (all of which causes of death can be found in the above images): Roughing It in the Bush really was quite rough, evidently.

  1.  Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), 1829 (Index), image 1411 of 1836, Funerals, 1831 and Funerals, 1832, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 25 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.
  2.  Another unusual, and especially poignant, exception can be found in Notre Dame’s burial listings for July and August 1847, where we find page after page of typhus deaths.

Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa

Coming up: some search tips for the parish register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa. An unwieldy parish register (full of perils and pitfalls, and hence the need for tips and tricks), but also a very important parish register for anyone searching for Catholic ancestors in the Bytown/Ottawa area and beyond.

Below: my high school graduation photo, taken in front of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa.

mc notre dame ottawa high school grad

From Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary to March Township, Carleton, Ontario

My Lahey ancestors came from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, Ireland;1 and emigrated to March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario, Canada from the mid-1820s to the early 1830s.

And the reason why we have their townland of origin is that John Lahey, sometimes known as John Lahy the Elder, signed the McCabe List, where he gave the family’s origins as Kilnacross [Killycross], Lurrough [Lorrha], Tipperary.2

mccabe ancestry lahy john

From Ballymacegan to March: Who Else?

Who else emigrated from the townland of Ballymacegan (Lorrha, Tipperary, Ireland) to the township of March (Carleton, Ontario, Canada)? As always, the lack of Irish census records and of Irish church records (the register for the RC parish of Lorrha and Dorrha does not begin until 1829) makes it very difficult (and in many cases, unfortunately, well nigh impossible) to trace backward from Canada (or the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, and so on), and to reconstruct early nineteenth-century Irish families. But the McCabe List, the Tithe Applotment Books, and the Canadian RC parish records (specifically, the register for Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa) suggest (and I do mean suggest: the following should not be taken as a set of well-established facts that can be confidently added to an Ancestry family tree, or anything like that) that the Laheys were not the only family to emigrate from Ballymacegan to March.

SOMERVILLE

Anthony Somerville also signed (or rather, marked with an X) the McCabe List, where he gave his townland of origin as Ballinriken, Lurrugh [Lorrha], Tipperary.3

mccabe ancestry sommervile anthony image 133

“Ballinriken” (a phonetic spelling of the place name that Anthony Somerville reported but did not himself write) might be a rendering of Ballymacegan; or it might refer to an older place name that was officially obselete by the nineteenth century, but which local people still used. For example, in the Hearth Money Rolls for the parish of Lurha [Lorrha], Tipperary (1666-7), there is a townland called Carigin which is not found in either the Tithe Applotment Books or in Griffith’s Valuation: might Anthony Somerville’s “Ballinriken” (as heard and recorded by someone else) refer to Carigin?4

In any case, the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary (1824) records the presence of an Anthony Summerill (and also a Richard Summerill). Note that in his McCabe List petition, Anthony Somerville reports that his brothers-in-law Matthew Dayly and John Daily (yes: two different spellings for what is surely the same surname) “are known to Jonathan Harding.” There is a Jonathan Harding listed in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary (1824), as well as an Anthony Summerill:5

Anthony Somerville (of the McCabe List, but probably also of the above Tithe Applotment Book listing) married a Mary McDonnell; and the couple had two known children born in Ireland (presumably Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary), and two known children born in March township. The children’s birth dates indicate that the family emigrated to Canada in the mid- to late-1820s.

The names Daly and Sommervile turn up in the baptismal record for Margaret Jane Killeen, daughter of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. From the parish register of Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa:6

 

Baptism of Margaret Jane Killeen (1835-1913)

Baptism of Margaret Jane Killeen, 22 October 1836

The above record reads:

October 22d 1836, baptized in Bytown Margaret Jane 13 months old, lawful child of Denis Keleine & Mary Herain Sponsors Matthew Daly & Mary Sommerville. W. Cannon, pte.

This Mary Somerville is almost certainly Mary McDonnell, wife of Anthony Somerville. Margaret Jane Killeen later served as godmother to one of the grandchildren of Anthony Somerville and Mary McDonnell: when Mary Somerville, daughter of Thomas Somerville and Elizabeth Little, was baptized on 1 October 1849, her sponsors were Patrick Burns and Margaret Jane Killeen.

And what of Margaret Jane Killeen’s godfather Matthew Daly? Is this the brother-in-law Matthew Dayly that Anthony Sommerville referenced in his McCabe list petition? Or perhaps a son or nephew of that brother-in-law?

Well, of course, Margaret Jane Killeen’s godfather might be another Matthew Daly, from another parish and county altogether. But interestingly enough, just nine days after Margaret Jane Killeen was baptized, her eldest known sibling Ellen Killeen (abt. 1818-1882) married a Matthew Daly in the presence of two Somervilles (here Summervilles):7

Marriage of Matthew Daly and Ellen Killeen, 31 October 1836

Marriage of Matthew Daly and Ellen Killeen, 31 October 1836

The above record reads:

October 31 1836, Married by me after three Publications at the Parochial Mass at Bytown, Matthew Daly of Huntly, to Ellen Keileine of March, and gave them the nuptial benediction in presence of Samuel Summerville, Mary Summerville & several others. W. Cannon.

Samuel was the eldest known son of Anthony Somerville and Mary McDonnell. The Mary Somerville listed here presumably refers to Mary McDonnell, wife of Anthony Somerville and godmother to Margaret Jane Killeen.

FAHEY

John Lahey’s sister Margaret Lahey married a John Fahey. The couple had five known children born in Ireland (presumably at or near Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary), and two known children born in Canada (March township, Carleton Co., Ontario). The name Fahy appears in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan.

KENNEDY

John Lahey’s brother William Lahey married an Ann Kennedy. The couple had two known children born in Ireland (presumably at or near Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary). William Lahey died in March township in 1827, shortly after arriving in Canada. His widow Ann Kennedy then married the above-named John Fahey, widower of the above-named Margaret Lahey. John Fahey and Ann Kennedy had a son Michael Fahey, whose Fahey-Lahey half-siblings were first cousins to his Lahey-Kennedy half-siblings. And Bob’s yer uncle. The name Kennedy appears in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan.

LOUGHNANE

Much more speculatively (as in, if the above is conjectural, the following is downright speculation), there is a Jas. [James] Loughnane listed in the Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan; and a Loughnane/Lochnan did emigrate from Ireland (probably Co. Tipperary, possibly Ballymacegan?) to March Township. Simon Loughnane/Lochnan (abt. 1811-1903) was in March township by 1834, when he married Margaret Hickey (on 23 November 1834). On 28 September 1852, Mary Lochnan, daughter of Simon Lochnan and Margaret Hickey, married James Fahey, son of John Fahey and Margaret Lahey (and half-brother of the above-named Michael Fahey, son of John Fahey and Ann Kennedy).

  1. Killycross Upper and Killycross Lower were sub-townland denominations within the townland of Ballymacegan.
  2. Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896, CO 384, War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England; database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 April 2015), Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896, 1817-1851, Volume 22: North American Emigration Societies; Individuals, 1829, John Lahy, Ireland, Fulnaerass (Kilnacross), Sipperary (Tipperary), image 90 of 135.
  3.  Emigration, Original Correspondence, 1817–1857 and 1872–1896, CO 384, War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office: Emigration Original Correspondence, The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Surrey, England; database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 16 April 2015), Canada, Immigration and Settlement Correspondence and Lists, 1817-1896, 1817-1851, Volume 22: North American Emigration Societies; Individuals, 1829, Anthony Somnserirlle (Sommerville), Ireland, Ballinriken, Sipperary (Tipperary), image 133 of 135.
  4.  Thomas Laffan, Tipperary’s Families: Being the Hearth Money Records for 1665-6-7 (Dublin: James Duffy & Co., 1911), p. 189.
  5. Tithe Applotment Book for Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary, The Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-1837, database, National Library of Ireland (http://titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/search/tab/home.jsp/: accessed 16 April 2015).
  6. Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1836-1840, p. 15, B. Margaret Jane Keleine (Killeen), database: FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 13 April 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

  7.  Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1836-1840, p. 16, M. Matthew Daly-Ellen Kelleine (Killeen) marriage, database: FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 13 April 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

John Killeen (about 1828-1906)

I found this photograph attached to a family tree at ancestry.ca, and contacted the owner for permission to post at my site. The owner kindly granted my request.

This is John Killeen, son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn.

John Killeen (1828-1906)

John Killeen (1828-1906)

John Killeen was born about 1828 in March Township, Carleton Co., Ontario.

On 20 December 1852, he married Margaret Fahey, daughter of John Fahey and Margaret Lahey. I believe he was the first in his family to marry a Lahey, but he certainly wasn’t the last. On 12 January 1858, John Killeen’s youngest sister Margaret Jane Killeen married John Lahey, son of James Lahey and Ann Armstrong, and first cousin of Margaret Fahey. And in the next generation, John James Lahey, son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen, married his cousin Bridget Loretto Killeen, daughter of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan. Said Patrick was also a son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, and therefore a brother of John Killeen and of Margaret Jane Killeen. Confusing? Yes. You really need visual aids to figure out the Killeen-Lahey connections.

And then there are the Galligan connections. As mentioned above, Patrick Killeen, son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, married Bridget Galligan (1835-1861), daughter of Patrick Galligan and Mary Cullen. Meanwhile Denis B. Killeen, son of John Killeen and Margaret Fahey, married Bridget Galligan (1858-1938), daughter of John Galligan and Ellen McGee, and a cousin of Patrick Killeen’s wife Bridget Galligan.

John Killeen and Margaret Fahey lived first in March Township and then in Torbolton Township, Carleton Co., Ontario, where they raised a family of ten known children, at least four of whom emigrated to Minnesota. Margaret Fahey died on 5 November 1899; and John Killeen died on 6 November 1906. They are buried at St. Isidore Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kanata (formerly March Township).

Hourigan twins baptized

Thomas Hourigan and John Hourigan were born in March township on 14 September 1849, the sons of Patrick Hourigan and Ann Teevens. I have no idea whether they were identical, or fraternal, twins, but in any case, the priest who baptized the infants — Fr. J. Ryan — made an interesting distinction between the two:1

hourigan thomas and john notredame 28sep1849

These are twin brothers, born on the same day (14 September 1849), of the same parents (Patrick Hourigan and Ann Teevens), and baptized on the same day (29 September 1849) by the same priest. And I see no less than four surname spellings here: Horehan; Honan; Hurican; and Hurrican. And then there is a Julia Lahay sponsoring Thomas Horehan, and a John Lahy sponsoring John Hurican.

Just to be clear, I don’t really believe these spelling variations have anything to do with distinguishing between twins! This kind of surname spelling variation is pretty much the norm in the early parish registers.

As I’ve said before (but I’ll say it again): Spelling does not count in genealogy.

  1. Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Carleton), Baptisms, marriages, burials 1848-1849, p. 102, B. 288, Thomas Horehan baptism; and B. 289, John Hurican baptism: database, FamilySearch.org (http://www.familysearch.org/: accessed 13 April 2015), Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923.

Married twice (to the same spouse)

Except that, in the eyes of the Catholic Church (and, perhaps just as importantly, in the eyes of the bridegrooms’ Catholic parents), the first marriage ceremonies did not count, because the brides had not been baptized.

Yes, that’s brides and bridegrooms in the plural, because:

Two Gaffney brothers, the sons of Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen, did the same thing: married a non-Catholic American woman in the United States; and then married the same woman again in Canada, in a Catholic ceremony held at Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa. In both cases, the brides were baptized as Catholics on the same day as their second marriage ceremonies. And in both cases, the godparents to these newly-converted daughters-in-law were the bridegrooms’ parents, Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen.

(Another example of a mother-in-law serving as godmother to an adult convert to Catholicism: when Elizabeth Malcomson, wife of John Moran, converted to Catholicism in 1892, her mother-in-law Mary Leavy served as sponsor).

Gaffney-Palmer Marriage

Edward Arthur Gaffney married Johanna Gertrude Palmer, daughter of John Palmer and Esther Toles, about 1887, in the United States, presumably in Michigan. And on 2 August 1891, he married her again in Ottawa. But only after Johanna Gertrude Palmer had been baptized into the Catholic Church:1

gaffney palmer baptism marriage notre dame ottawa 1891

The above record does not give an exact date or place for the initial marriage: the priest records that the couple “declared that they have already contracted marriage about four years ago in the United States.”

Gaffney-Randall Marriage

James Gaffney married Mary Florence Randall, daughter of John Randall and Salome Hoyt and widow of George W. Dickson/Dixson, on 10 September 1891, in Saginaw, Michigan. And on 26 August 1892, he married her again in Ottawa. But only after Mary Florence Randall had been baptized into the Catholic Church:2

gaffney randall baptism marriage notre dame ottawa 1892

The above record does give an exact date (and place) for the initial marriage: the priest notes that the couple “declared to have contracted marriage in Saginaw Michigan on the 9th September 1891″ (but the Michigian marriage records have 10th September 1891 as the date).

Note that in both cases, the couple made a declaration that they had been previously married in the United States. But in both cases, the American (and non-Catholic) marriage was “found null” because the bride had not been baptized. That is, “found null” by one or more Roman Catholic officials in Ottawa, not by any civil authority in the state of Michigan: the marriage of James Gaffney and Mary Florence Randall on 10 September 1891 in Saginaw, Michigan was perfectly legal and valid, but it was not a Catholic sacrament.

Needless to say, we’re not talking “consciously recoupling” here, or holding a recommitment ceremony (“I still do!”), or anything hip and contemporary like that. This was Ottawa in the early 1890s; and the Gaffneys were Roman Catholics. And when it came to marriage as a Catholic sacrament, there was a canon law to be obeyed. There were impediments to be overcome. There were immortal souls at stake.

And there was a pair of Irish Catholic parents — Bernard Gaffney and Catherine Killeen — who served as godparents to their Catholic convert daughters-in-law, and who also served as witnesses to the second (but first one to really count), Catholic marriages of their two sons. I can only imagine the family pressures that were brought to bear upon the two couples; and especially, I would guess, upon Edward Gaffney and Johanna Gertrude Palmer, since this couple had a son, Edward B. [Bernard?] Gaffney, born December 1890 in Michigan — born after his parents’ first marriage ceremony of 1887, but born outside the boundaries of a Catholic marriage, nevertheless. I bet Catherine Killeen couldn’t wait to sign that register, to bear witness to things having been set right, not only for her sons but also for her grandchildren.

Neither couple lived in Ottawa at the time of their second (but first to really count) marriages, by the way: both couples lived in Roscommon Co., Michigan, and were presumably just visiting the Gaffney parents in Ottawa when they found themselves at the altar for a second time.

And if I find evidence of a third Gaffney brother having done this, I think I’m going to call it a trend!

  1. Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1891-1893, image 39 of 158, B. 198, Johanna Gertrude Palmer baptism, and M. 45, Edward A. Gaffney-Johanna G. Palmer  marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 9 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

  2. Basilique Notre Dame d’Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario), Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1891-1893, image 103 of 158, B. 212, Mary Florence Randall baptism, and M. 36, James Gaffney-Mary Florence Randall marriage, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 9 April 2015), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.