M.C. Moran

Irish Catholic Ancestors: How Far Back Can You Go?

You already know, of course, that you can’t really trace your ancestry back to Niall of the Nine Hostages, or to anyone grand and legendary like that. And you probably also suspect, if your family tree looks anything like mine, that traditional family lore along the lines of ‘We were once the kings and queens of Ireland!’ rests on dubious and shaky grounds at best; and turns out to be, upon further investigation, something more like, ‘We were once the agrarian underclass of the counties of Cork and Tipperary!’

So: how far back can you really, and realistically, go?

John McGlade and Bridget Dunne: same parish of origin?

I’ve long since known that my 2x-great-grandparents John McGlade and Bridget Dunn/Dunne came from the same Irish county (Armagh). I’ve sometimes wondered whether they also came from the same parish too?

Marriage of John McGlade and Bridget Dunn, St. Edward's, Westport, Leeds Co., Ontario.

According to their marriage record (now available online and free of charge through FamilySearch), they did. From the register of St. Edward’s, Westport (Leeds Co., Ontario), here is the marriage record for “John McGleade [McGlade], son of Michael McGleade and Elizabeth Kennelly of the the Parish of Parish [sic] of lower Killevy Co Armagh on the [one] Part, to Bridget Dunn, daughter of Owen Dunn and Anne Rock of the Parish of lower Killevy Co Armagh on the other part.” I currently have John McGlade as a native of the neighbouring parish of Forkhill, but this document suggests I need to dig deeper into the available records for my McGlade ancestors.

The above from a new online database at FamilySearch: Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923. For those researching Catholic ancestors in Ontario, this is a pretty huge development. While these records have long been available on microfilm through LDS Family History Centers, it’s pretty amazing to now have online access (and that online access free of charge). Some of the parishes are already available online through ancestry.ca’s Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967 dababase (which requires a subscription). But many of the parishes in the new FamilySearch database (from the Ontario counties of Leeds, Lanark, and York, to name just a few examples) are not, because they’re not part of the Drouin collection.1

FamilySearch’s Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923 database is not indexed at all, which means you’ll have to search the records the “old-fashioned” way (page by page, I mean), though in a “new-fashioned” manner (at home, on your own computer screen, say).

  1. Ancestry.ca’s Ontario Drouin database represents a digitisation of the parish registers that were microfilmed by the Drouin Institute/Institut Généalogique Drouin in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Since the Drouin Institute’s purpose was to preserve records pertaining to French Canadians, their Ontario records represent areas with significant French-speaking populations. So: Ottawa area parishes, but not Toronto, for example.

Bishop Guigues on John Lahey’s Donation

As a followup to my post on John Lahey the Elder, here is Bishop Guigue’s account of John Lahey’s donation of two acres to the mission of March (later the parish of St. Isidore, Kanata). The following (which I discovered through google books) is taken from Alexis de Barbezieux, Histoire de la province ecclésiastique d’Ottawa et de la colonisation de la vallée de l’Ottawa (Ottawa, 1897), which cites Guigue’s notes on his visit to March township in September 1848:

When the techno-clueless blog…

…they have email problems.

Well, that would be me. Techno-clueless, I mean.

I have an email glitch that I should probably attend to before going up to Ottawa for Christmas. Basically, I cannot get into the email account that is associated with this website. When I try to log in, I get a cryptic message (well, cryptic to me, because I’m techno-clueless) about “duplicate headers” (“Duplicate headers received from server. The response from the server contained duplicate headers. This problem is generally the result of a misconfigured website or proxy. Only the website or proxy administrator can fix this issue”). Can a website fix its own issue? I have no idea what this means. I think I need a “proxy administrator” (whatever that means).

For the time being, all email sent to my ottawavalleyirish dot com address is being forwarded to my gmail account. Which seems to be working, but: this temporary measures dates from only about two days ago, when I finally discovered the problem. If you sent me an email last week, before I realized I had a “duplicate header” problem and before I then set up an automatic forward to gmail, I have not read your message, and cannot read it until I (or my website, or my ‘proxy administrator’) have fixed the issue. But if you re-send your message, I should receive it through my gmail account.

When bureaucrats blog…

…they do it as a “pilot project.”

The newly launched Library and Archives Canada Blog is apparently a somewhat provisional affair, contingent on (funding? feedback?) some definition of success that will require putting a stop to all blog posts on March 20, 2012, for a month-long period of evaluation. It’s all explained on their “About the Blog” page, and it sounds a little bit awkward and strained: as if the desire to finally embrace the new social media is at cross-purposes with the habit of never doing anything without a 5-year plan.

In any case, the new blog is a welcome development, and I hope they can make it stick.

Btw, the National Library of Ireland’s NLI Blog is well worth reading, as is the British Library’s Untold Lives.

The Queen vs Kelly: Part IV

Continued from The Queen vs. Kelly: Part III.

Hard Times, Hard Labour

As reported in Part III, John Kelly entered the Dominion Penitentiary at Kingston on 15 May 1841, to serve a one-year sentence for the manslaughter of his brother-in-law Michael Hourigan.

Dickens described the penitentiary as ‘well and wisely governed’…

While we don’t have any details specific to Kelly’s one-year confinement in the penitentiary, we can assume it was a harsh, if not hellish experience. Though touted as a model of the new, and more humane approach to punishment and rehabilitation — when Charles Dickens visited the Dominion Penitentiary in the 1840s, he described it as “an admirable jail,…well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect” 1 — the new prison at Kingston was in fact “a place of violence and oppression.” From an online history at Correctional Service Canada:

At the root of its problems in the early years was its first warden, Henry Smith. Smith’s use of flogging, even in an age when it was an accepted form of discipline, was flagrant. In 1847, inmates were given 6,063 floggings, an average of 12 per inmate. Women, and children as young as eight were flogged. As well, Smith punished inmates with shackling, solitary confinement, bread-and-water diets, darkened cells, submersion in water, 35-pound yokes, and imprisonment in the “box,” an upright coffin. His son ran the kitchen, profiteering by diverting food and serving rotten meat. In his spare time, he tortured inmates, once putting out a prisoner’s eye at archery practice.

Even by the severe standards of the day, Smith’s treatment of the prisoners was considered outrageous, and he was removed from his post as warden after an investigation into his abuses in 1848.

  1. Charles Dickens, American Notes (London: Chapman and Hall: 1874), etext edition, University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center 1996, pp. 240-241.

1 Household, 8 Inhabitants, 4 Surnames

One household, eight inhabitants, four surnames…That’s one surname for every two inhabitants, or “inmates” as they were called in the 1861 Canadian census,1 and not surprisingly, not atypically, all eight were related…

Here is the household of James Traynor/Treanor in the 1861 census of Kitley township, Co. Leeds, Ontario, Canada:2

The “UC” in the above, btw, stands for “Upper Canada” (for Place of Birth); and the “RC” (for Religion) for “Roman Catholic.” And the inhabitants/inmates listed above are as follows:

  • James Traynor, son of Peter Traynor and Catherine McGinnis/Maginnis
  • Mary [Murphy] [Donovan] Traynor, daughter of James Murphy and Catherine Hardin, widow of Lawrence Donovan, and wife of James Traynor
  • Catherine [Traynor] McCarthy, daughter of James Traynor and Mary Murphy, and wife of Eugene McCarthy
  • Bridget Traynor, daughter of James Traynor and Mary Murphy (later married John Carroll)
  • Ellen [Traynor] Carey, daughter of James Traynor and Mary Murphy, and wife of John Carey
  • Mary Traynor, daughter of James Traynor and Mary Murphy
  • James Traynor, son of James Traynor and Mary Murphy (later married Catherine Jordan)
  • Mary Donovan, aka “Little Mary,” daughter of Patrick Donovan and Margaret McGinnis, and granddaughter of Mary [Murphy] [Donovan] Traynor and of Lawrence Donovan (later married Daniel Fowler, whose brother John Fowler married Ellen McCarthy, daughter of the above-named Eugene McCarthy and his second wife Honora McDonald/McDonnell)
  1. Nowadays, “inmate” carries connotations of institutionalized confinement, most notably with reference to prisons, but in the nineteenth century, it just meant one of several dwellers in the same house or building.
  2. James Treanor household, 1861 census of Canada, Canada West (Ontario), County of Leeds, Kitley Township, p. 3, lines 7-14.

‘Wilful Murder’ and Black Sheep Ancestors: Introduction

Bytown Gazette, 29 November 1837. The "Lachie" named here was Daniel Lahey, husband of Catherine Lahey, and "the person who struck the blow" was his brother-in-law, James Lahey.

Yet another tale of murder and mayhem in March township. And, like the case of The Queen vs. Kelly, yet another story of a drunken altercation between two brothers-in-law, ending in a shocking fatality. And, again like the case of John Kelly’s killing of Michael Hourigan, yet another instance of either murder or manslaughter involving my (ahem, not always illustrious, but comparatively well-documented: because the Crown, it tends to leave some records in its wake…) ancestors, the Laheys of March.

But where, in the case of The Queen vs. Kelly, it was a Lahey (Michael Hourigan, son of Timothy Hourigan and Mary Lahey) who was the victim; here we have a Lahey as victim: Daniel Lahey, husband of Catherine Lahey, who was the sister of Mary (Lahey) Hourigan and the aunt of Michael Hourigan; and also a Lahey as perpetrator: James Lahey, brother of Catherine Lahey and of Mary (Lahey) Hourigan and uncle of Michael Hourigan, and my 3x great-grandfather.