The theme of this blog is the 1798 Rebellion and the Frampton Irish. I will present here a few of the things I have recently found relating to this event and how they relate to the Frampton Irish.
Any genealogical or research effort usually starts with a question. Or at least that is the way it works for me. Sometimes my curiosity about the answer becomes a driving force. Questions have driven me to find many new things about the Frampton Irish. In my research, I have determined that of all the Frampton Irish for which a place of origin is found in Quebec records that about 36% had come to Quebec from County Wexford, Ireland. This is especially true for those who arrived between the 1825 and 1831 Lower Canada census. If you add those who came from the neighboring counties of Kilkenny and Carlow, the percentage is even larger. So that brings up the question, why were so many of the Frampton Irish from County Wexford?
Recently, I have found some Lower Canada (Quebec) records that are proof positive that my Frampton Irish ancestor Miles Murphy and his family (including Frampton’s first settler, his son Andrew) arrived in Lower Canada in 1806. This proof was found in an 1810 land petition in which Miles identified the members of his family and stated that they had been in Lower Canada for four years. In an 1806 record, there is list of those asking for Crown land grants where the name of Miles Murphy can be found and immediately under his name was that of Peter Murphy. In a later petition, Peter Murphy would state that he and members of his family had chartered a brig in the City of Wexford to bring them to Quebec City. Peter Murphy would later be found living on a farm in Frampton right next to Andrew Murphy and the two of them along with Edward Brennan were the first church wardens of St. Edouard de Frampton church.
While doing research in the Notre Dame de Quebec parish register in the years 1806 to 1815, I couldn’t help but notice that there were very few Irish in the register. Most of the Irish entries were soldiers at the Garrison of Quebec. The Miles Murphy family and a handful of other families are the only "civilian" Irish found. Further, in my reading and research on Irish emigration patterns to Lower Canada, I have found many references to the fact that most of the Irish didn’t begin "mass" migration until after 1815. It seems that many of the Irish experienced some degree of "prosperity" during the Napoleonic Wars and their was little reason to leave until that war was over in 1815. The Quebec timber trade also began to boom in the last few years of that war which would influence cheap fares on the timber ships. So that presented me with the question, why 1806? What was the reason for my ancestors to leave their beloved Erin and emigrate to Lower Canada in such an "early" year?
Through the years I have collected a few clues on how some of the Frampton Irish were tied to the events of the 1798 Rebellion. The first big clue was geography. For a handful of Frampton Irish, records have been found in North American sources that names the parish and sometimes the townland in County Wexford where they came from. Almost all of these place names are located very near the epicenter of the events of the Rebellion of 1798 in County Wexford. Further, in several sources written about the Martin Murphy family, Martin is said to have been directly involved in the Rebellion. Martin Murphy’s nephew John Sinnott’s (another Frampton Irish) father was Thomas Sinnott who was a leader of the Rebellion and was killed in one of the battles. Also I had received a copy of a letter that was written by another researcher’s Great Aunt Margaret Murphy in 1977 that stated that her father’s (John Murphy’s) uncle once removed was a priest who was beheaded by the English. Those of you who know some of the story of the 1798 Rebellion will know that it was a Priest Fr. John Murphy (curate of Boolavogue, Parish of Kilcormick) who was a leader of the Rebellion in County Wexford and when he was captured he was indeed beheaded. So these clues lead me to the theory that part of the answers about "Why Wexford?" and "Why 1806?" could have something to do with the 1798 Rebellion.
I had heard of the collection of records referred to as the "Rebellion Papers" and I thought that research in that collection might yield some information. But until recently, those records could only be consulted at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin. But a few months ago I learned that the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana recently acquired the entire "Rebellion Papers" collection on microfilm. In April, I made the journey to Ft. Wayne and spent several days looking through some the "Rebellion Papers" and the several histories of the Rebellion that this library had on their shelves.
I soon learned that the "Rebellion Papers" are an imposing collection. To start research in the collection, consulting the "calendars" is the first step. The "calendars" are large books that list all the documents in the collection with their reference numbers so they can be found in the microfilm collection. I found out they are called "calendars" for a reason. It is because the documents are somewhat listed in a "chronological or calendar" order. Unfortunately, the titling of each document is not very precise from a "cataloging" point of view so I am certain I may have missed a lot. But I went through the calendars and made a list of the documents I wanted to consult later. Some of the things on my list were "minutes from courts martial," "Magistrate trials," "list of prisoners," etc. I was amazed at how many of the surnames in these records were the same as many of the surnames found in Frampton.
I have still yet to sort through all that I found and copied. But as I searched, a story began to emerge and by the time I finished in Ft. Wayne, I had the answers to my questions. The first mention of Miles Murphy in the "Rebellion Papers" was in a testimony given before Magistrate Hawtrey White by a Joseph Murphy accusing Miles Murphy of being a "United Irishman." In this testimony, Joseph Murphy said that he had been approached often by a Moses Donahough about becoming a United Irishman. Joseph Murphy further stated that Miles Murphy of Tinock (townland in Parish of Kilcormick) among others had showed to him the "signs and tokens of United Irishmen." This testimony was given on September 30, 1797 almost nine months before the outbreak of the hostilities. From Quebec records I have learned that Miles Murphy’s sister Mary Murphy was married to a Michael Donahue and their two sons William and Moses Donahue were later settlers in Frampton. Were these Donahues related to the "Moses Donahough" in the testimony? Probably so.
Sometime after the hostilities of the Rebellion ended between September 1798 and December of 1798, there was a Court Martial of a John Walsh for aiding and assisting in the murder of a John Keating at Vinegar Hill (a major encampment of the rebels). Apparently the route from Enniscorthy to Vinegar Hill went by the house where Miles Murphy and his family lived. Miles Murphy, an Eleanor Murphy, and a Edmund Murphy were called to be witnesses in the Court Martial. Their testimony related to the actions of the defendant John Walsh as he passed by their house with the victim and others. In his testimony, Miles Murphy was asked "How much nearer to Enniscorthy is Mr. Colclough’s gate than your house?" Miles answered that it was about three quarters of a mile. What was of specific interest to me here was that the family lore of my Murphy ancestors always said that they came from Enniscorthy! Here it was in this record in "black and white!" Further, his testimony gave a rather precise location. Also, I know from Quebec records that Miles Murphy did have a daughter named Ellen or Eleanor who was a young girl in 1798 and would later emigrate with her family to Lower Canada. However, I have no knowledge of an Edmund Murphy and how he might relate. Of note was that a "Colclough" had an estate with a "gate" in the area. The Colclough family were a large "landed" family of County Wexford that were known to mostly be Protestants. However, Dr. John Henry Colclough was one of the leaders of Rebellion who was executed for his part. More on the Colcloughs later.
The names of Peter Murphy, Miles Murphy, Thomas Murphy, and Michael Dunnahu were found in the "Rebellion Papers" on various lists of Rebellion prisoners. Peter Murphy and Michael Brennan’s names were also on a petition dated June 16, 1799 for release giving their places of residence in Parish of Kilmuckridge, Wexford. On the "State Prisoners/Convicts list" made in about 1800, Miles Murphy and Thomas Murphy are on the list in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. Miles had been confined by Major Sirr (police chief of Dublin) for rebellion and robbery. There are lists of those who had been discharged from imprisonment in 1799, but the above names are not on that list. There were also many prisoners who were sentenced to serve in the British military abroad (probably some of the soldiers later to be found at the garrison of Quebec City) and others who were transported (for life) to Botany Bay, Australia.
After reviewing those records, it was time to try to find a little background on the events of the Rebellion. In the Memoirs of the different rebellions in Ireland from the arrival of the English; also, a particular detail of that which broke out the 23rd of May, 1798; with the history of the conspiracy which preceded it, by Sir Richard Musgrave, I found an actual reference to Martin Murphy of Curraghmore (townland) in "recruiting his neighbors" to join in the rebellion. I found reference to the death of Thomas Sinnott in Persons who died in 1798 by Brian J. Cantwell. After three days of research I still didn’t quite know how the story would unfold. But I happen to be carrying my own copy of Revolution, Counter-Revolution and Union, by Jim Smyth with me on my trip. That night in my motel room I happened to be reading the chapter on Marquess Cornwallis and his liberal treatment of the Rebellion prisoners. I read a sentence about how some of the former prisoners found their way to Philadelphia and New York and how they were joined by some of the other "Fort George state prisoners" in 1805-1806. These prisoners had been "banished at the peace of Amiens." There was the year "1806" staring at me from a book I have had in my possession for several months. Now I couldn’t wait to get back to the library and research this "Fort George" and "peace of Amiens" connection.
The next day, I found a book entitled The Irish confederates, and the rebellion of 1798, by Henry M. Field. That book laid out the story of what happened to the some of the prisoners held in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. They had been held in jail since the end of hostilities in the summer of 1798. After about 12 months in captivity had passed (probably around August 1799) at least twenty of the prisoners were transported to Fort George on the eastern coast of Scotland. After finding a list of these prisoners, I found that Miles Murphy was not among them.
The peace of Amiens occurred in 1802. The French had direct involvement in the Rebellion of 1798 in a failed invasion of Ireland and were considered part of the hostilities against the British. Among the conditions made by the French in the peace treaty was for the release of the Rebellion prisoners which the British agreed to. The twenty prisoners at Ft. George were put in a ship and sailed across the channel and were turned loose on the shores of Holland and were to be banished from ever returning to Ireland. From there they scattered and many ended up in America.
But what about the other prisoners on the list of "State Prisoners" in 1800 at Kilmainham jail? The only other reference I found was in a short history of another Kilmainham prisoner "Ann Develin." In that item it was reported that "In 1806 following the death of Prime Minister Pitt a move was made to release all state prisoners from Kilmainham jail." Miles Murphy probable found his way back to County Wexford and began working on plans for emigration to Lower Canada. It may have taken some time to raise the necessary funds, gather the various families, and charter a brig at the City of Wexford (as Peter Murphy would say later in a Quebec record) and sail for Quebec. In 1806, there did not seem to be regular and recurring shipping between Wexford and Quebec, so a charter was probably the only way they could make a direct voyage.
It would be another decade (1816) before Andrew Murphy would receive his land concession in Frampton Township from Pierre Edouard Desbarats. Martin Murphy (a possible relative) and his nephew John Sinnott would arrive from Wexford a few years later in 1820, along with some other Wexford families. Before 1831, many of the Murphy’s family and friends from the Wexford parishes of Kilcormick, Kilmuckridge, and Ballyhuskard would find their way to Frampton. I am convinced that it was the Miles Murphy family that were the first to arrive in Lower Canada and they would influence the Wexford "chain migration" to Frampton. By the 1830s, Andrew Murphy was well established in the northwest corner of Frampton Township. Peter Murphy had the farm next to his. Andrew Murphy’s farm was also next to the first mill in Frampton and the Desbarats heirs had leased the mill to the second miller in Frampton history. That miller’s name was none other than Dudley Colclough. Dudley’s father John Colclough III was the first cousin of Dr. John Henry Colclough, an executed leader of the rebellion. A Colclough family had been the neighbors of Miles Murphy in County Wexford. Was it just a coincidence that a Colclough family was now the neighbors of Miles’ son Andrew in the forests of Frampton on the other side of the world? I think not. I believe most of the Frampton Irish from County Wexford all knew each other in the old country. I also believe the events of the Rebellion of 1798 was the start of a path of the families of County Wexford towards Frampton.
Few of the Frampton Irish may ultimately be found as directly involved in the events of the Rebellion of 1798. This is because almost all the Frampton Irish progenitors are a full generation younger than those who were directly involved in the Rebellion. But it was probably their fathers who were somehow involved. Many had lived in the Parish of Kilcormick where their own Parish Priest John Murphy was a leader of the Rebellion. The questions is, how could they not be affected? Many Americans take pride in finding out that one of their ancestors was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War. But for a person of Irish descendant, much pride can be derived from knowing your ancestor was a "United Irishman." So I am confident that I have proved that in my case. However, there is much more research to be done to support the story. But it may involved research in records only available in Ireland.
So what are the answers to the questions? Why 1806? Because my ancestors were imprisoned for several years and may have been "banished" they had to get out of Ireland and 1806 was as soon as they could make it. Why so many Frampton Irish from Wexford? The Miles Murphy family were in communication with many of the family and friends back in the old country. When conditions were such that emigration became necessary, the Wexford families went to a place (Frampton) that they knew about from information from the Murphys.
If any of you have family lore or other information that connects your Frampton Irish family with the Rebellion of 1798, please feel free to e-mail and tell me you story.
In terms of research tips! First I am sure those of you with access to Ancestry.com have noticed by now that the "Drouin Collection" (mentioned in the last blog) now has a functioning search engine that is quite effective. Second I would highly recommend the genealogy research facilities at the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Although it is only the "second largest genealogy library" it has a lot of resources for basic research and has some things (like the Rebellion Papers) that are not available at the LDS Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. I even found a book on their shelves that the FHL did not have that enabled me to overcome a "brickwall" in my wife’s genealogy. I was there on the week days and there were no lines to wait in for use of copy machines, computers or any other features. Further, copies made from microform were free!