The theme of this blog is Irish origins or "where did they come from?" One of the most often asked questions I get is where specifically in Ireland did a person’s ancestors come from. In many cases I have had to answer that I don’t know. This has been the case for my many years of research on my own Frampton Irish ancestor James McLane (he spelled his name McLean in notaire documents). All I have been able to find on him in the Canadian census is that he was born in Ireland. So this has been a "brick wall" for me for quite some time. When I first started my research, I was able to quickly find the Irish county of origin on my Murphy, O’Connor, O’Farrell, and Doran ancestors, which was County Wexford. But that sort of information was not quick to reveal itself for James McLean. I read in a genealogy magazine once that if you can’t find out where your ancestors came from, then you should study the origins of your ancestor’s neighbors. That is precisely how I got started with my study of the entire Dorchester County Irish community. At first I thought that this community was rather small and that they probably came from only a few places in Ireland. Well my database now contains almost 12,000 names. However, these 12,000 names are all descendants or relatives of about 516 Frampton progenitors for which Ireland was found in a record as their place of birth. So it turned out to be quite a large community. It also turns out that the records indicate that there were Frampton Irish progenitors that came from all of the Irish counties except Clare and Louth.
I am sort of a "graphics" person. I like to see information displayed on maps, graphs and illustrations. It provides a way to quickly grasp the "big picture." Prior to my last visit to Quebec for the St. Malachie celebration, I thought it might be nice to display a large wall map of Ireland that displayed the counties of Ireland and illustrated the counties where the greatest number of Frampton Irish came from. I went through my database to count the numbers of progenitors identified with each of the specific counties. I then calculated the percentage that those numbers represented and displayed in grayscale with darker gray representing the higher percentages. It served to illustrate that the greatest numbers of Frampton Irish came from Southeastern Ireland with County Wexford being the highest percentage. Most of these Southeastern emigrants came to Lower Canada prior to 1830.
For the past year, I have been working on extracting records for the Irish Protestant community and this has increased the number of progenitors for which I can identify a specific Irish county of origin. Further, I have had contact with many descendants of the Frampton Irish that knew the specific Irish county of origin for their ancestors through family lore. So now it was time to re-evaluate the data, recalculate the percentages and re-draw the map. This process yielded that out of the 516 Frampton Irish progenitors, 202 could be identified with a specific Irish county and 52 could be identified with a specific parish or townland. The percentage per county was as follows (in descending order):
Offaly (Kings): 7%
Leix (Queens): 2%
This information was all derived from record sources with genealogical value. There are only two literary sources available that describe where the Frampton Irish may have specifically come from. The first is a "History of Frampton" written in a series of articles by Priest Theodore A. Gagnon in the Catholic newspaper L’Action Sociale from1913 to 1915 (this history is available on my publications page). The other is the 1909 Histoire de la Paroisse de Saint Malachie, by Priest Jules Kirouac. Both of these sources appear to be based upon oral history from those Frampton Irish descendants who were still living in the Frampton vicinity at the time they were written. They were both written almost 100 years after the arrival of the first Frampton Irish emigrants from Ireland.
In L’Action Sociale. Gagnon discussed the early pioneers of Frampton Township as follows: "The names of these valiant pioneers deserve to be recalled: they were the Brennans, the Reids, the Murphys, the Fitzgeralds, the Duffs, the Byrns and whose descendants yet inhabit Frampton. They came from the County of Wexford in Ireland." This source is certainly supported by the genealogical records that indicate that possibly 25% of the Frampton Irish came from County Wexford. This percentage is even higher if the neighboring counties of Kilkenny, Carlow and Wicklow are included. Clearly, the first Frampton Irish settlers came from this region of Ireland and these first settlers probably influenced their family and friends in Ireland to join them in Frampton. It should be noted that the early settlement occurred primarily in the Western part of Frampton Township.
Kirouac in his 1909 Histoire de la Paroisse de Saint Malachie, in reference to the Concession of Ballyporreen, stated: "It was Gilbert Henderson who gave the name to the Concession in memory of the towns of Ireland in the Province of Ulster, County of Antrim. The principle towns of that province had the names of Ballycastel, Ballymena, Ballymoney, and Ballyporreen." He stated further, "The greater part of the Irish emigrants, that arrived in Canada in 1830, came from the counties of Armagh, Limerick, Ardagh, Tipperary, and from Ballyporreen in the County of Antrim." First it should be noted that my research based upon genealogical records and on Irish place names has determined that Ballyporreen is actually in County Tipperary rather than Antrim and that Ardagh is actually a parish in County Longford. I am sure that Kirouac (a person of French descent) was not familiar with Irish geography and made assumptions based upon what he was hearing from the Irish descendants living in St. Malachie in 1909. So generally Kirouac’s statements appear to be true in reference to the settlement of the Eastern part of Frampton Township in the area that would become St. Malachie.
In my research I have found that family and friends from the old country tended to establish on farms quite near each other in Frampton Township and the neighboring Townships and Seigneuries. For example, the Northwestern part of Frampton Township where the first settlements were made are families that almost all came from Wexford and surrounding counties. Further, most of the settlers that lived in Concession Ballyporeen in East Frampton came from Tipperary (probably the Catholic parish of Ballyporeen). So knowing where your ancestors farm was and who their neighbors were can help in determining where in Ireland they might have came from.
In the case of my ancestor James McLean, I found through several notaire records that his neighbor in Concession St. Alexander of the Seigneurie of Jolliet (Ste. Marguerite) was Hugh McDonough. In one of those records, I found out that Hugh McDonough was his cousin. So it follows that if I can find out where in Ireland Hugh McDonough came from, I can find out where James McLean came from. I further found that Hugh McDonough’s parents were Philip McDonough and Elizabeth McCaffredy. However, I have yet to find anything on Irish origins on either family, so the search continues.
In terms of research tips, I would like to point out what sources have yielded information about Irish origins. One important source is Catholic marriage records where the parents of parties are named. When the parents were still located in Ireland, quite often the specific location is given. This is almost always the case when the priest was an Irish person. However, if you have taken marriage data from an extracted index, you might not get this information. That is why the original primary record should be consulted. Protestant marriage records seldom give the names of the parents or their origins. However, I have found several Protestant burial records where the specific Irish county is given for the deceased. So rather than just relying on index data or cemetery lists, it is wise to check the original record. Sometimes Irish origins can be found on gravestones. But just finding a ‘surviving" stone for people who died in rural Quebec in the 19th century is a challenge. As noted above, I have given you all that local histories in the Frampton vicinity provide in terms of Irish origins. But local histories written in other places in Canada and the U.S. have yielded information about Irish origins. Further, while obituaries are rare in Quebec newspapers in the 19th century, obituaries published elsewhere on Frampton Irish descendants have provided Irish origins. As always, the most overlooked source for Irish origins is notaire records. Quite often, when the Irish person was a recent arrival from Ireland, the notaire would identify them as "late of County Wexford, now of Frampton Township." Notaire documents were drawn up even when the person "fresh off the boat" went to rent or lease a room or house in Quebec City to live in. If such a document can be found, it may yield the information on Irish origins. I have found several Irish origins in notaire records. But finding and using these records is the subject of another future blog.
I have re-drawn the map of Ireland based upon the re-evaluation I have conducted. If anyone would like a copy of this image file, just e-mail a request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will e-mail it back to you.