Friday, February 20, 2015

Finding my 10th Great Grandparents ---- and OMG, a SMITH!!

In my rush to fill in my Devon ancestors, now that the Parish Registers are on Findmypast -- I've been busy finding grandparents right and left.   Today, I had a big breakthrough on the Luscombe line, and took it back 3 more generations ---and found, the genealogist's nightmare, a SMITH!

Oh, Lord......I've always had some pretty unusual surnames in my research, without too many common names --- until now.  The only saving grace is that her first name is Wilmoth.

So, my 10th Great Grandparents are:
WILMOTH SMITH and WILLIAM HINGESTON.  Married in 1571 in Charleton, Devon, England.

I added some other unusual names:  Winchelsey or Winchelsea  and Neele.

More research needed on these lines, but for now I'm pretty happy to have taken my Devon roots back into the mid 1500's!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Irish DNA Soup!!!

On to my Irish side of the family.........oh, what a tangled web!

Most people throw their hands up when faced with Irish ancestors, and say "all the records were burned", and give up!   This is so not true!!!  Yes, researching your Irish ancestors can be challenging, but it is possible, there are plenty of records, and you just need to hone your skills even further and dig in.

The advent of DNA testing, has been a huge help in my research and it has helped tie up some of my loose ends and prove some of my suppositions, that I couldn't prove through traditional records.

Irish research also requires the use of "oral history", since the records don't go back much further than 1800 or so.  I am lucky in that my Grandparents emigrated in the early 1900's, and several of their siblings stayed behind in Ireland, leaving many cousins still living in the area.

My roots are in Connemara, the rugged area west of the City of Galway.  Irish is the native tongue, and many people still speak it today.  Local nicknames are important, as it is often a mini-family tree in a name!  To identify people with common names (Mary Walsh, for example), people are often referred to by their first name, their father's first name, and even his father's name.  So someone might be called Mary Bill, or Mike Tony, or Martin Seamus Padraig.   This helps distinguish families in conversation and oral history, but not in the written records.  So the written records say Mary Walsh, father Patrick --- which isn't helpful, when trying to sort out your family tree!   Occasionally you may see a name written in parentheses on a record (i.e. Griffith's Valuation) to distinguish the Father of 2 landholders with the same name.  Another record source that I've used, is the cemetery inscription book --- in these, the nicknames are listed, as well as a bit of the the family line.

I've DNA tested with both and FamilyTree DNA.  Since I'm a female, I've only been able to do autosomnal testing, but I had a 2nd cousin test our male line (surname CONNOLLY/CONNEELY).  Since so many Irish emigrated, there are plenty of researchers here in the USA who've tested, to try and find their Irish roots.   Thus, leading to LOTS of matches. Sorting them all through is a challenge, which is compounded by the fact that there was a lot of inter-marriage between cousins (both close and distant), and the isolated nature of Connemara, means the gene pool was small and families tended to marry amongst their local area. 

Update: Not sure what the point of this blog post was originally, other than my utter confusion!!  I am still busy working, so only able to dip in and out of my genealogy research, and I feel like DNA requires my full concentration!!  Maybe by the time I retire, I will have lots of close matches and it will all be sorted out for me! Ha!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Parish Records at the National Library of Ireland

Ah, another quick trip to Dublin to consult the Roman Catholic Parish Registers......

Currently the only place these records can be viewed are at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. This is all due to change in the Summer of 2015, when Ireland will enter the digital age and put these up online for the public to consult at their leisure!  What a day that will be! I will hold my breath until that actually happens, knowing that things move SLOWLY in the genealogy world of Irish records.  And there won't be an index, so even online you will have to slog through the records (albeit at your leisure).

I have looked at these records on several trips to Dublin, but always in short bursts, since the Library's opening hours are limited, and one's vision can only take so much of peering at bad handwriting and faded, torn and stained pages.

The first few times I looked at the registers I was only looking for specific names in specific villages.  I took down those in a spreadsheet and have consulted that initial file countless times, but as my research has progressed I've found new names and new villages that are connected, so it's been back to Dublin, once again.

This trip I was concentrating on the surnames: Nee, Conroy, Cannavin/Cannavan, with the assorted Toole, Conneely, and Walsh's I missed the first time around.  I was looking exclusively at the Rosmuc Parish Register, which only has baptisms (no marriages or burials) from 1840-1880.

The early 1840's have plenty of births, and then there is a pronounced decrease as the Famine occurs. By late 1850's into early 1860's the baptisms pick up again as would be expected.  The shear number of names and villages can be overwhelming, but the most amazing thing is that the Mother's maiden name is listed, so that you can get a "defacto" marriage record from the baptisms. The sponsor names also give you other possible family members (brothers, sisters, parents, etc).

Most of the names are incredibly common:  Mary, Bridget, Patrick, Michael, etc.  There are the occasional wild cards, some Irish names like Thadg (Thady) and Saints names like Colman/Coleman occur.  Then there are the varieties of names:  Honor, Honoria, Nora;  Penelope, Penny, Nuala; John, Sean; Bridget, Bridie, Biddy, Delia, etc.

A mystery I've been trying to solve is where my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Nee comes from.  She marries Patrick Walsh of the small village of Muckanaghkillew, but I suspect she may be from the Rosmuc area, as there are Nee's there.  In looking at her children's baptismal sponsors I'm trying to establish that connection.   It's still to be determined whether this will help.....