M.C. Moran

Firstborn Son or Eldest Known Surviving Son?

It was virtually universal in every class and creed in Ireland for the firstborn son to be given the Christian name of his paternal grandfather. One can presume this with a degree of genealogical surety — provided one knows the name of the firstborn son, which, in an era of high infant mortality, was not necessarily the name of the eldest surviving son.
– Rosemary ffolliott, “Irish Naming Practices before the Famine”*

This is an obvious point, succinctly stated by Rosemary ffolliott in the passage cited above. And yet, I’ve seen enough people jump to hasty conclusions based on the name of the eldest known son that I think it bears repeating: if you don’t have the complete parish records for a given family (with all of their children’s baptismal records all lined up nicely in a chronological row), then you cannot assume that the name of their eldest known son gives you the name of his paternal grandfather.

So, for example, my great-great-great-grandparents James Moran and Margaret Jamieson emigrated from Ireland to Canada about 1820 (but possibly as early as 1818), and can be found in Huntley township (Carleton Co., Ontario) by 1821. Various Canadian records (especially census returns and Roman Catholic parish registers) allow me to reconstruct a family of three sons (Thomas, James, and Alexander ["Sandy"] Michael) and seven daughters (Marcella, Mary, Margaret, Julia, Elizabeth, Anna, and Henrietta), with the eldest known son, Thomas, born at Huntley about 1822. Can I therefore conclude that James the Irish emigrant was the son of a Thomas Moran back in Ireland? 

Home Children in Fitzroy Township: Charles Lambert and Benjamin Clayton

I came across Charles Lambert and Benjamin Clayton while researching my Galligan ancestors, who emigrated from Kilmore, Co. Cavan, Ireland in the early 1840s and initially settled in Fitzroy township, Carleton Co., Ontario (with some branches later moving to Arnprior and Eganville, in Renfrew Co., Ontario).
Charles Lambert 
In the 1901 census for Fitzroy township (Ontario, Lanark North, Fitzroy township, p. 15, family no. 143), Charles Lambert is found in the household of Michael Moran*, a bachelor farmer living with his widowed mother Anne Galligan and his unmarried sisters Anne Elizabeth and Margaret:
  • Name: Lambert, Charles
  • Sex: Male
  • Colour: White
  • Relationship to head of house: Domestic
  • Month and date of birth: Unknown
  • Year of birth: 1884
  • Age at last birthday: 17
  • Country or place of birth: England
  • Year of Immigration to Canada: 1895
  • Year of Naturalization: Left blank [this category was not applicable to someone born in England]
  • Racial or tribal origin: English
  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Religion: R. Catholic [Roman Catholic]
  • Profession or occupation: Farm labourer

Last Will and Testament of John Leavy

John Leavy1 was born in Co. Longford about 1801, possibly (this is undocumented) the son of Patrick Leavy and Mary Bambrick. Around 1830, he married Jane Byrne, who was born in Ireland (presumably Longford) about 1811. The couple had nine known children, with the first three — Patrick (1831-1886), Mary (1832-1907), and James (1833-1909) — born in Ireland; and the next six — Thomas (1835-1916), John (1837-1926), Ellen (1841-1930), Michael (1843-?), Jane (1846-1934), and Elizabeth (1850-1921) — born in Pakenham township, Lanark Co., Ontario. The children’s birth dates (the dates are approximate for the Irish-born children) indicate that the family emigrated to Canada in 1833 or 1834.

The Leavys farmed at Concession 11, Lot 22 and/or Lot 23,2 Pakenham township, Lanark Co., Ontario.

John Leavy died 8 April 1881; an Ontario civil death record lists the cause of death as “Asthma.” He was buried 11 April 1881 at St. Peter Celestine RC Cemetery (aka Indian Hill Cemetery) in Pakenham; a headstone describes him as “Native of Longford Ireland.” His will, which he signed (or rather, marked with an X) on 3 March 1877, was filed 4 June 1881, at which point his personal estate was valued at one thousand three hundred dollars. I have not yet found a burial record for his wife Jane Byrne, who apparently survived him but who probably died before 1891.

Last Will and Testament of John Leavy3

I John Leavy of the Township Pakenham, County of Lanark, and Province of Ontario, Yeoman, being in a sound and disposing State of Mind do make the following distribution of the property owned by me in this my last Will and Testament
After paying my just and lawful debts and burial expenses
leavy_john_byrne_jane_3.jpg
1st I Will and bequeath to my beloved wife Jane Leavy One hundred dollars per annum during the term of her natural life; the payment of said Annuity to be due and payable at the expiration of One Year after my decease; and each Succeeding Annuity to be due and payable with same order as to time, during the term of my wife’s Natural life

2nd I Will and bequeath to my daughter Mrs Morin [Mary Leavy, who married Alexander Michael Moran] one hundred dollars

3rd Having given my daughter Mrs Gormerly [Ellen Leavy, who married Patrick Gormley] one hundred dollars, I leave her nothing

4th I Will and Bequeath to my daughter Mrs Mcgunnigal [Jane Leavy, who married Patrick McGonigal] One hundred dollars

5th I Will and bequeath to my daughter Mrs McGary [Elizabeth Leavy, who married Henry McGarry] One hundred dollars

6th I Will and bequeath to my son Patrick Leavy One hundred dollars

7th I Will and bequeath to my son Thomas Leavy One dollar

8th I Will and bequeath to my granddaughter Cathrine Alice Leavy daughter of my son James Leavy [and his second wife Alice Farry], One hundred dollars, to be paid to her when she arrives at the age of eighteen, or when she gets married

9th With a view to carry out my intentions, as set forth in My last Will and Testament, I hereby nominate and appoint my son James Leavy, Alexander Moren [his son-in-law Alexander Michael Moran, husband of Mary Leavy], and Robert Dickson executors to this my last Will and Testament

10th In the event of there being a surplus of funds in the hands of my Executors, at the time of the death of my wife, after paying the foregoing bequests, I will and bequeath to my son Michael Leavy said Surplus

John X Leavy his mark [his X mark on the paper]

We the undersigned were present and saw John Leavy, Senior signe, or make his name to the above as his Last Will and Testament on the 23rd day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Seventy-Seven

James Levy [his signature] Robert Dickson [his signature]

  1.  Numerous variant surname spellings include Leavey, Levy, Levi, Levie, Levey, Lavey and Lavie.
  2.  In the Census of 1851, Canada West (Ontario), Lanark (county), Pakenham township, Schedule B (agricultural census), John Leavy is found at Concession 11, Lot 23 (200 acres). Later documents place his son James at Concession 11, Lot 22.
  3.  Will of John Leavy, filed 4 Jun 1881, Lanark County Surrogate Court estate files, file #524: microfilm reel 439, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.

Middle Name ‘Loretto’/’Loreto’

In my family tree, I’ve noticed the name Loreto/Loretto as a girl’s middle name from about 1860. It seems to peak around 1900 or so (though there are a couple of examples which occur a generation or two later).

So, for example, my great-grandmother, daughter of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan, was baptized Bridget Loreto Killeen on 11 Jun 1861. Her first cousin, daughter of John Killeen and Margaret Fahey, was baptized Celestina Loreto Killeen on 28 Mar 1871. Her second cousin, daughter of Thomas Daniel Galligan and Catherine Brady, was baptized Helen Loreto Galligan on 20 Apr 1896. Her husband John James Lahey’s second cousin, daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Henrietta Charlebois, was baptized Bridget Loretto Armstrong on 29 May 1898 (this Bridget Loretto is also connected to my father’s family through at least one other branch).
I had initially assumed that the name referred to the Marian shrine in Italy. However, given that the above were all Canadian Catholics of Irish origin, it seems at least as likely that the name was chosen with reference to the Loretto Sisters who first arrived in Canada in 1847.

What Happened to William Killeen?

William Killeen was born at March township, Carleton Co., Ontario in 1832, the son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. He was baptized 7 Mar 1833 (Notre Dame, Ottawa), with John Lahey and Mary Kennedy serving as godparents.

In the 1851 census of March (Canada West [Ontario], Carleton County, March, p. 4), William is found in the household of his older brother Patrick, along with his widowed mother Mary and seven other unmarried siblings. Here his age is given as 19.
He is not found in the 1861 census of March, however, and he seems to disappear from the Canadian records. Two possibilities immediately suggest themselves (there are, of course, other possibilities, but these two strike me as most likely): 1. between 1851 and 1861 he died  at March township, and was buried without a headstone; or 2. between 1851 and 1861 he emigrated to the US.
In the 1871 US federal census of Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada, there is a J.W. Killeen, born in Canada about 1835, occupation “Keeps Saloon,” who is married to an Alice who was born in Ireland about 1840 (occupation “Keeps House”). Could this Nevada saloon keeper be the son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn?

Home Children in Huntley township

George Lawrence Anderson and Richard Donning

I’ve come across a number of Home Children while researching my Ottawa Valley ancestors. Here are two that I found living with the Morans of Huntley township.

In the 1891 census for Huntley, Lanark North, Ontario, Canada, George Anderson is found in the household of Thomas Moran (here spelled Morin) and his sister Henrietta, who farmed at Concession I, Lot 11, Huntley township: